An influential point in my leadership journey was when I interned at a low-income elementary school and learned about the hardships that these families and children encountered everyday. Prior to becoming a social work major, I was an elementary education major but I soon realized that I wanted to make a difference for these students not only in the school setting but in their home lives as well. What really captured my attention was beyond the four walls of a classroom and I asked myself, “how am I going to make an impact in my community?” That is when I decided to pursue a social work degree at UMBC at USG.
The social work program and my time working at the Center for Student Engagement and Financial Resources (CSEF) encouraged me to join student organizations and become a part of the campus activities. It was then I realized that if I wanted to be a leader in my community that I needed to start by being a leader on campus. I became the president of SWSA (Social Work Student Association) and collaborated with other clubs to organize community events where I could apply the social work values of social justice and service. Additionally, I wanted to advocate not only for social work students but for students at USG as a whole, which led me to run for Student Council. Through this role, I represented a student perspective when meeting with county leaders, organizations, and USG leadership. As a Student Ambassador, I learned about the needs and concerns of students and how difficult it can be to navigate the college process, which enabled me to better express these needs to USG leadership. I am honored to have been selected as one of only two USG Leadership and Service Award Winners for the academic year – shout out to Ebonie as well! – and I have learned that the wisest thing a leader can do is find collaborators, seek to make change greater, and empower others to play an active role in their communities.
USG creates a close-knit environment that feels like family. I have met some of the most amazing mentors and formed friendships that will last a lifetime. So much of who I am today is encompassed by my experiences and the people I have met at USG. I have only reached this part of my journey because of the support I have received from my family, professors, student leaders, and the individuals who have invested in my education. I would not be where I am today, if it wasn’t for the support of the USG community.
To my fellow student leaders, although we are not able to be together for the annual Student Achievement and Leadership Breakfast, please know that your hard work, dedication, and commitment has had an impact on USG and the larger community. Through your Academic Achievement, Leadership and Service, or Academic and Community Excellence you have created a memorable experience for your peers, your faculty, and the individuals that you have served. As we are just weeks away from graduating, may we never forget the importance of service and leadership and how this contributes to the empowerment and betterment of our community. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us, but if I could leave you with one piece of advice, it would be to continue to play an active role in your community by participating in activities that you are passionate about and always remembering that your service matters and has a greater impact than what you imagined.