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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Experience Abroad Reveals Vocation

Ajà McMichel knew she belonged at UD since she first stepped foot on campus, but it was her UD trip to Ghana that truly guided her to find her passion. 

“UD just felt like home,” she shared. “It had all the resources that I was looking for. Obviously, my education is most important, but I wanted to be a well-rounded person once I graduated, so I was really looking into student life and what that was like outside of academics.”

McMichel, now a senior, has taken full advantage of the range of student clubs and organizations UD has to offer. This year, she is serving as the president of both Black Action Through Unity and Women of Remarkable Distinction. In addition to her leadership positions, she works as a student research assistant through the Learning Teaching Center and is heavily involved with the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center.

She credits her ability to stay so engaged on campus to donor-funded scholarships, including the Deborah F. Tobias Scholarship and the Jan and Tom Montiegel Endowed Scholarship.

“I have had a lot of educational and career opportunities that are going to help me succeed. I wouldn’t have had those if I was not given the opportunity to attend UD,” she said.

In addition to her extracurriculars, the psychology major is truly passionate about her studies and, thanks to scholarships, was afforded a once in a lifetime opportunity to study abroad in Africa over the summer.

While taking an anthropology of human rights course, McMichel learned about summer fellowship opportunities hosted by UD’s Human Rights Center. With support from the Daniel J. Curran and Claire M. Renzetti Scholarship Fund for International Studies, she went to Ghana for a two-month fellowship opportunity with the Initiative for Gender Equality and Development in Africa.

While in Ghana, McMichel had the opportunity to research women’s rights to property in the case of divorce, separation or annulment. Using two human rights instruments to analyze four different nearby countries, she made suggestions for how to handle cases based on the nature and environment of the area.

“[The fellowship] has given me a whole new outlook on life and how much is actually possible in the world.” 

“[The fellowship] has given me a whole new outlook on life and how much is actually possible in the world,” she reflected. “Even looking at post-graduation, I’ve discovered how truly passionate I am about women’s rights and thinking about how I can intertwine that into my discipline.”

Following graduation, McMichel is looking into master’s programs for anthropology abroad, specifically programs that focus on issues impacting women of color. Her ultimate goal is to work in the nonprofit sector, with the dream of owning her own nonprofit organization that provides services for communities of color and mentorship for young women.

She credits finding her true passions and vocation to her experiences at UD — experiences that wouldn’t be made possible without those initial scholarships.

“I don't feel like I would be here, let alone be able to travel abroad without scholarships. The opportunity to be a Flyer and to apply my education in the real world has had a big impact on my career plans. Honestly, I’m extremely grateful to be here.”

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