By Adama Kamara
Each year Emory welcomes a great deal of new students to its main campus, ranging from Oxford continuees to freshmen who come from all over the world. These new faces with diverse interests will unite on Emory’s main campus this fall, eager to empower their passions and display their various talents.
Take incoming Freshman and Gates Millennium scholar, Muhammad Mukaaram for example. Muhammad was born in Atlanta but growing up he split his time between Atlanta and Dakar, Senegal. He says that growing up in these two cities was a “Great experience. I was able to get more grounded culturally and also really appreciate my African heritage. It also helped me spiritually, being Muslim.” Mukkaram took his passion for his religion and connecting with his heritage and decided to take a gap year in Senegal to focus on Islamic studies. “Throughout high school I worked really hard and wanted to take a break. I also wasn’t sure If I was mentally mature enough for college, and this gap year has really helped me get to that point,” he says. As for the future, Mukaaram is most excited about learning new things and knows that Emory will be the perfect environment for him to do so.
Some are coming from a little bit closer to campus, like junior and Oxford continuee Maya Rayann Foster from Brooklyn, New York. Maya was heavily involved on Oxford’s campus, both her freshman and sophomore year. She worked closely with the BSA as both a freshman representative, and eventually president, in addition to her involvement with the NAACP, Emory Spear Club and more. Maya says she wants to use these leadership positions and experiences towards “building a sense of unity in the black community by facilitating and fostering communication.” In addition to being BSA president, Maya’s really proud that “Black people, and especially black women, had their hand in everything at Oxford,“ and hopes that this involvement will continue in the following years at Emory.
For Freshman Aaron Campbell, from Charleston, South Carolina, Emory really struck his interest when he took a tour of the campus last fall. “I especially enjoyed that there seemed to be plenty of culture especially within the black community. The uplifting vibe of that community is something I really wanted to be a part of.” In high school Aaron took up numerous leadership positions. He even received The Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney Scholarship – in memory of the late Reverend C. Pinkney of the Charleston 9- for his admirable efforts in bettering his community. However, Aaron says, “Leadership wise, I want to take a backseat as a freshman and understand the environment of Emory. I want to see everything and take in as much as possible to grow and become the leader I want to be in this community.”
Another new face committed to service is Oxford continuee, Jaelaan Gore, from Conyers, Georgia. Jaelaan is particularly proud of all the work she helped accomplish for future Oxford students as the historian of the BSA and as a member of the Inclusive Curriculum Committee. “Oxford definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone because I was able to have a voice on campus without ever feeling overwhelmed,” she says. “The biggest thing that I learned from Oxford was how to advocate for myself and others. I hope that I can continue to contribute to my campus and specifically the black community through advocacy work. I especially hope to apply these abilities as the service chair for BSA this year and as a member of my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta.”
Freshman Rachel McNeil from Dallas, Georgia hopes to be able to combine two of her passions as a student in her coming years at Emory: art and science. Rachel values her involvement in the arts from the visual arts to performing arts, at the same time Rachel is excited about research she’s done with biotechnology and hopes to continue that in her educational experience and ultimately transition that into a career. Rachel is passionate about making people aware that being involved in the two areas are not mutually exclusive, but, in fact, can be used together. She wants to be a part of the shift from STEM to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math. “I want to bring a different point of view to Emory, especially when it comes to STEAM,” she says. “I want to bring some leadership skills to this initiative and I’d and like to show people with my own experiences that there are ways to fulfill a passion in both the arts and sciences.”