Student Conversations

Afrika Owes ’16
New York, N.Y

Recipient of a 2016-17 Fulbright to South Africa; major in sociology, double minor in Africana studies and public policy; member of Hai Timiai; president of Sankofa, the Black Student Union; student worker in IT Services; writing colleague; resident assistant; studied abroad in South Africa; co-chair of the Stewardson Society

When I arrived, I actively sought a community on campus and found it in the culture clubs. Intercultural Affairs became my home. My first-year seminar was “Hip-Hop Culture” with Assistant Professor of Music Mark Olivieri. What an amazing class; I was writing papers on Kanye West and the politics of rap. I followed that with courses on race, gender and sociology.

I don’t think I knew the strength of my voice until I helped organize the student protest in November 2015. We had a walkout to show support for students at the University of Missouri, to create dialogue, and to support marginalized people on campus. People started listening to me, focusing on my voice. I understood that I needed to be more concise and precise, to say what I mean with clarity. A great leader inspires others and that’s what I want to do – to keep on the cycle of change.

So many people came to that protest – students, faculty, administrators. It could have gotten messy but we had support from the community. Our president is welcoming and open and people are willing to listen. There’s a new sense of accountability. This is beyond a race issue and instead involves fraternities, policies and student life as a whole. The campus conversation over the past four years has been about finding a sense of balance, of feeling like we belong.

HWS has set the example for other schools on how to move forward on difficult issues. We are responding and doing good work here.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.