Second in a Series Profiling Graduates of the Class of 2012

May 23, 2012

Major: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Fort Washington, Md.

Dominique is a student leader who has worked to increase interfaith understanding on campus. She is a member of the Multifaith Council and is the president of Ethos, Wellesley’s main organization for students of African descent. She is also a proud part of the youth climate change movement, focusing on inclusion within the movement and on environmental justice. During the past four years, she has served on the executive board of the nation’s largest student environmental activism organization and has helped plan multiple nation-wide youth conferences on climate change. Dominique has conducted original research on the relationship between climate change and native bee populations, urban food deserts, and the impact of development on Gullah-Geechee land ownership and community health in the Lowcountry.

While at Wellesley, she founded a community organization to help Prince George’s County (Maryland) students gain better access to scholarships and highly selective institutions of higher education. She also participated in a Wellesley funded service trip to Peru, taught environmental studies for a summer in Uganda, and was named as both a Harry S. Truman Scholar and a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow by the U.S. federal government. As a student she has also enjoyed “playing the bassoon, learning Swahili, and singing in the MIT Gospel Choir.”

Q&A with Dominique

What's a favorite Wellesley memory, or what will you miss most about being a student at Wellesley?
Some of my most important, poignant, hilarious, informative, and transformational moments at Wellesley have occurred over meals with my peers. Collectively, these conversations are my favorite memories and the aspect of Wellesley I will miss the most. I will miss meeting new friends over dinner regularly, knowing exactly where some of my favorite people will be every day at 12:30 and taking a break from my hectic schedule to share an hour with them, and sitting through multiple iterations of a dinner table as I complete a reading response or enjoy some peppermint stick ice cream. I will miss the level and variety of discussion had at these meals. When again will I have conversation that comfortably shifts between the ridiculous viral YouTube video of the day, a mathematical revelation my roommate just had, the latest drama in Café Hoop, our most recent efforts to bring down the kyriarchy, and how incredibly attractive Jesse Williams is, with a diverse group of some of the most intelligent and driven young women in the world? 

Where's your favorite place on campus?
Undoubtedly the place on campus where I've spent the most time is Harambee House! In fact, my friends frequently joke that I am the unofficial permanent resident of the house, which serves as a space for students of African descent and a cultural education center for the campus at large. Harambee House is definitely my favorite place on campus as well. I have such a wide range of memories there—Ethos and Ministry to Black Women meetings, all-nighters, mixers, retreats, lectures, study breaks, movie nights, hair sessions, debates, brunches and teas, shedding tears and celebrating successes, strategic planning sessions with other campus activists, recording goofy videos with my friends—that in a way Harambee House represents the fullness of my Wellesley experience.

How have you changed since you first came to Wellesley?
I hope that during my four years here at Wellesley I've become a little smarter! I can definitely say that I have grown wiser. I have identified my weaknesses and learned how to capitalize upon my greatest strengths. I have at once become more confident in what I believe, and more comfortable questioning my ideologies and challenging the dominant paradigms of the society around me. I would say that my worldview has expanded significantly—from literally traveling the world with Wellesley's support, from interacting with peers with such a variety of backgrounds and identities, and from taking dozens of incredible and formative courses. Along the way, I have also developed a fondness for Brie, bubble tea, and feminism, and developed meaningful relationships with members of this community that I hope will continue to nourish my growth for years to come.
Is there a particular person or group who's had a significant impact on you during your time here?
One of the groups that has meaningfully shaped my time here at Wellesley is Multifaith Council (MFC). I joined the council not really knowing what it was, but it has been the source of some of my most moving experiences. Each week, a group of representatives from different faith traditions gathers in the Multifaith Center to learn from each other by just talking—about our faith traditions, how we practice them, how we relate to them and to each other, how they shape our ideas and lives at Wellesley and beyond. For me, sitting in the circle each week was meaningful because it represented what Wellesley is all about—meeting, befriending, and learning from a diverse community—as well as Wellesley's commitment to enriching all aspects of students' lives. Additionally, it means a lot to me as a powerful model for building community solidarity. Through sharing what we learn with our individual faith and humanism communities and leveraging the strength of the relationships we forge each week, MFC is a mechanism to spread multifaith understanding and cooperation throughout the entire campus. I feel incredibly blessed to have been a part of such a unique and passionate group of students and the chaplains who guided us.

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation I will be participating in the Emerson National Hunger Fellowship, which involves a six-month placement at a community organization working on solutions to hunger and homelessness, followed by another six months at a federal agency or policy group that is tackling the same issues. I know that I want to pursue a public service career in the areas of environment, community health, or education, and I'm hoping that through the Emerson I will learn whether I am more comfortable in a nonprofit or government setting. After working for a bit I will be going back to school to earn a master's of public administration degree!