My name is Keonia Ridley, I am a senior in the Class of 2016 with a major in Sociology and a minor in women studies gender and health.
Prior to my higher education journey, the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives just seemed like an unseen place that I would only walk into on very special occasions. For example, as a GEAR UP future from 7th through 12th grade I had only visited the actual office a handful of times during campus visits. It was only after my acceptance to study at the University of Michigan that I began to realize that OAMI was a resource and a support system that would carry me to my senior year. The support that the office has provided me over the last 3 years has been the one factor that keeps me so connected to OAMI. The office not only fosters a foundation of aiding students educationally, but the programs that are available allow for you students to recognize and build on their personal growth.
Leaders and Best was the first program that I joined out of high school. As a protégé, I was provided a community of students that were diverse in appearance and culture, but shared upbringings similar to mine.
I felt like I came into the university with a family. I eventually branched out to other OAMI programs like It’s Great to be a Girl. With IGTBG, my role transferred from being a pupil seeking guidance to providing guidance to my fellow peers and adolescent youth. The OAMI office provided me with a campus family, which allowed me to build my confidence as a student and that confidence led me to recognize that I can hold a leadership position and support others just as others have done for me.