Meet the 2021 graduate ambassadors

The Graduate School is proud to welcome its newest graduate ambassadors! We asked them why they chose to attend graduate school, what they like most about Detroit, and what makes them proudest to be Warriors.  

Alicia Arkwright
Master’s student in public administration
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

“What I like most about the Detroit community are the urban farming opportunities. I've experienced firsthand the power of knowing where your food comes from. My favorite memories during my time as an organic farmhand were leading tours for elementary school kids. Most of them had never visited a farm or planted something in the ground. When they learned that the alien-like shoots that sprouted from potatoes were new potato plants, they couldn't wait to plant the ones they saw growing on their counters at home. Detroit is a community that has faced and overcome great adversity leaving large open plots of land. The urban farming movement is a beautiful example of using this land in a powerful way.” 

Alexandria Ballard Sims
Doctor of Nursing Practice student
College of Nursing
Other WSU memberships: Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, Chi Eta Phi, Sorority Incorporated, Lambda Chi Chapter

“My grandmother first inspired me to become a nurse. After becoming a nurse, I later realized the health disparities that impact our Detroit community. I believe that the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program will provide me with the tools to use evidence-based programs to close the gaps in health disparities in heart and kidney diseases in Detroit.”

“I wanted to be a graduate ambassador because I’m excited to share my story. Many of our peers feel alone, but with support and mentorship, we can improve our chances of success.”

Tracy Boyce
Ph.D student in learning design and technology
College of Education 

“I want to support the Graduate School’s efforts to make sure graduate students have a memorable and meaningful experience at Wayne State. I hope that we are able to build community and serve as a support network.”

“I am also excited about enhancing my skills as a researcher. I look forward to discussing my research with others at some upcoming conferences, exploring opportunities to get published, identifying potential collaborators, and, prayerfully, defending my dissertation.”

Ta'Shara Francis-Brown
Master's student in Studies of Law
Law School

"As a single mother of two boys, I want to be able to show them that the path to higher education is attainable."

"I wanted to become a graduate ambassador because of my journey to higher education. It was not easy, and I believe that my story may help someone else. I dropped out of undergrad after freshman year. I didn’t think I’d go back, and I especially did not think I would go on to get a master's and then start another master's at the prestigious Wayne State University Law School. I want to inspire people who come from a similar background."

Tiara Hinton
Ph.D. student in pharmaceutical sciences
Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Other WSU memberships: Dean’s Diversity Fellow, Success for Underrepresented Students in Graduate Education (SURGE) mentor, People of Intense Self-Expression (POISE) secretary

“Finding a sense of community is important, and that is what I have found in the Graduate Ambassador program. I genuinely enjoy meeting new people and sharing my academic journey. I am looking forward to getting back to attending in-person events and continuing my research!”

Gibson Kirui 
Ph.D. student in chemistry
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Other WSU memberships: National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) social media director, Department of Chemistry Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee member

“I chose Wayne State because it is among the urban research universities in the U.S. that lead in STEM related fields, with a good ranking in academic research and community engagement.”

“I like that Detroit is a diverse city full of a variety of cultures from around the world, a city that is community-based and easy to get around.”

James Liakos
Master’s student in business administration
Mike Ilitch School of Business

“I always knew I wanted to pursue education beyond a bachelor's degree. My twin sister also went to grad school, so I couldn't let her show me up.”

“I chose Wayne State, because I had just moved to Detroit to start a job here. I had always heard great things about the Mike Ilitch School of Business and was excited to join the community. I hope to mentor new and current students that are pursuing an MBA.” 

James Mallare
Ph.D. student in kinesiology
College of Education
Other WSU memberships: McNair Scholars mentor, Graduate Employees’ Organizing Committee

“During the last year of my undergrad, my mentors gave me two pieces of advice: ‘If you still have unanswered questions, don’t stop searching until you find the answers that will satisfy you.’ Second, ‘where your passions meet the world’s needs, that is where you are supposed to be.’ At that time, I still had unanswered questions about my field that I knew a combination of research and experience could answer. My passion for community and school health has led me to experiences that could only be found in graduate school. It’s in graduate school that I am starting to clearly see where I am meant to be.” 

Kianna Mateen
Master’s student in business administration
Mike Ilitch School of Business

“The Business School offers a Senior Rule program that allows seniors to earn graduate credits for courses taken in excess of your undergraduate degree requirements. The opportunity fit perfectly with my schedule, even more so in the midst of the pandemic. This, paired with my inner goals of obtaining my MBA by the age of 25 with the hopes of going into leadership and eventually entrepreneurship, inspired me to attend graduate school.” 

Ariel Seay-Howard
Ph.D. student in communication
College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts

Other WSU memberships: Communication Graduate Student Association, Graduate Employees’ Organizing Committee

“I chose Wayne State because of its strong research record. I knew that I was interested in researching racial violence from a communication perspective, and Wayne State could provide me with the tools to strengthen my research skills. I also identified with the Warrior-Strong culture and wanted to become a part of the community.”

“Being a first-generation graduate student in my family, I had to learn about the academy on my own. Now I want to give back and help make it a bit easier for the next generation of students to find the proper resources to be successful.”

TiKilah Turner
Master's student in social work
School of Social Work

"My childhood summers were spent doing enriching activities like traveling, completing mini-history projects, or creating vision boards. While creating a vision board, I searched for inspirational quotes, and one quote resonated with me so much so that it became a mantra. It goes, 'Don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon.' My seven-year-old self encouraged me to attend graduate school; I'm here to enjoy my journey to the moon."

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