Tell us about your Dickinson experience.
Dickinson College was a whirlwind and a life-changing experience. I transferred to the college after completing a two-year associate degree in business administration at Northampton Community College. My family and I are immigrants to the United States, and I’m a first-generation college attendee and graduate. Even though the honors program at my community college featured a liberal-arts-style curriculum, I knew little about the residential liberal-arts approach to college education. I did, however, prioritize smaller class sizes, a supportive learning environment (such as in Dickinson’s writing center) and accessible, hands-on faculty. Dickinson delivered on all fronts.
Dickinson allowed me to explore and dream big about what was possible with my life. As a first-generation attendee, I drew inspiration from my classmates, who came from a variety of racial, socioeconomic and political backgrounds. Their lifestyles, travels and points of view made each day a learning exercise.
The faculty at Dickinson made my experience top notch. I befriended many members of the political science faculty, and they were generous with all sorts of advice. I completed my senior seminar in my junior year and successfully wrote and defended a senior honors thesis. I graduated with honors in the political science department. None of that would have been possible without the support of the faculty at Dickinson.
How has Dickinson’s useful liberal-arts education helped you?
Dickinson’s useful liberal-arts education has helped me in two striking ways.
Dickinson has bestowed upon me a deep love of reading closely and widely. I read about one book monthly, plus several daily newspapers, contemporary news publications and academic journals. This was imbued with the heavy workload that Dickinson students come to love! My love of reading has made me better-informed and has expanded my vocabulary. Truthfully, it also has made me much more interesting at dinner parties!
In my work life, my Dickinson education has trained me to ask strategic questions, look for solutions in unconventional places and be able to work collaboratively across diverse teams. Above all, my time at Dickinson made me a clear communicator, both in written formats and through public speaking.
What inspired your gift to Dickinson?
Dickinson has given me a world-class education, an amazing network and a sense of confidence. Paying that forward is an easy decision.
What do you hope your gift will do for fellow Dickinsonians?
My giving over the last several years has been directed toward the Popel Shaw Center for Race & Ethnicity. Esther Popel Shaw was the first African American woman to graduate from Dickinson College. Professionally, she was a published poet of the Harlem-Renaissance era and an antiracist and feminist activist. Named in her honor, the Popel Shaw Center is a campus resource for students, faculty and staff dedicated to transforming Dickinson into an inclusive antiracist learning environment. My hope is that supporting the Popel Shaw Center and its programming and scholarship benefits the entire Dickinson community.
Why is it important to give back to Dickinson?
As I’ve previously stated, Dickinson has given me a world-class education, an amazing network and a sense of confidence. Paying that forward is an easy decision. That said, I have a desire to build a legacy of giving and support in my family to the institutions that have conferred transformational life experiences to us. Taking it a step further, I strive to encourage my friends and classmates to support the college with their time and talents as opportunities allow. Lastly, I push them to support the college via the Annual Fund and other personally meaningful avenues of giving. The college needs our support, and future generations need our support, just as past generations have supported us.
What is your favorite memory from your time as an undergrad?
Too many to choose from! However, I remember a small group session that I attended as a senior with Dickinson’s then-president, Bill Durden. He was very relaxed and waxed poetic about his life as an academic, corporate executive and college president. I absorbed several life lessons in that session that I still reflect on to this day.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I’m pursuing an MBA at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. It is an incredible program. Several Dickinson alumni are graduates of Darden! I serve on several boards related to my fraternal and professional associations. In addition, I serve on Dickinson’s board of trustees. I enjoy reading American history and spend a great deal of time reading about the development of the American middle class through the lens of African Americans.
What advice would you give to today’s students?
The world is more connected now than ever before, thanks to modern technology and the power of the internet. Spend as much time as you can speaking and engaging with, befriending and seeking to understand people who look nothing like you and who hail from socioeconomic, geographic and political backgrounds much different than yours. You’d be amazed at the things that you will uncover.
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Published April 21, 2022