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Afaf Humayun

2016 Aiding Communities

AFAF’S STORY

What makes you a Difference Maker?

My choice to connect, share, and expand the future of the Humanities makes me a Difference Maker. I aspire to aid communities by providing people platforms for discourse on issues that are often overlooked. I recognize there are disparities nationally and globally. To me, a Difference Maker is someone that gives voice to those unheard and silenced. Just having someone check in to ask-Are you okay?-could be enough to keep a person safe. I use my writing to share poignant thoughts with others to connect people and myself to truth. I work at making safe spaces in my immediate surroundings, and I strive to be inclusive.

Campus Achievements:

My campus achievements include being published numerous times in Lyceum: The Literary and Fine Arts Journal; my submissions included poetry and photography. In 2014 I won first place in the campus Writing Awards for Creative Non-Fiction. That fall I co-authored an essay in a unique photo-essay catalog titled Cardiovista: Detroit Street Photography. Paired with the research and catalog, I was the liaison between the artists and students in the organization of a three-month exhibition that showcased the artists featured in Cardiovista. For this, I curated display cases and chose other components that were important to the exhibit. In 2015 I was nominated and accepted into the nationally recognized academic program Women In Learning and Leadership (WILL). In WILL I was voted to be the Membership Coordinator; this position allowed me to create community within the group, and the duality of WILL as a campus organization provided me with opportunities to support my peers while building on my own skills leadership. In 2016 I was honored as the Humanities Honor Scholar; this honor is bestowed to only one student per major each year, and the student chosen serves as a reflection of academic achievement and community and leadership involvement.

Leadership Experiences:

Three years of my university experience was spent as the Creative Director of the Humanities and History Internship Office. In this position I helped students to find internships based on their passions and aspirations. Some of these students went on to get hired at their placements, or their internships led them to jobs after graduation. In the Women In Learning and Leadership I began an initiative to help nursing moms to have a better college experience. There is only one mothering room on the main campus, and women have been unable to meet their reproductive health goals because of this. As the WILL Membership Coordinator I helped to keep the members connected with one another through new modes of communication outside of what had been used in the past. For Lyceum, I was given honor to write the dedication for a beloved professor that had passed; as a poet, my self-expression comes through in my writing. My work on the inaugural TEDxUMDearborn event provided me a platform to learn more leadership skills by seeking out speakers for the event, and by delegating tasks to my assistant. The work I did on Cardiovista was invaluable as it provided me a space to use my creative vision through detail; I helped choose the exhibit colors, curate display cases, and provide support for the professor, artists, and students involved. As a member of Narratives of Pain, a storytelling collective that seeks to provide safe spaces for people to heal through the sharing of stories, I am a part of the cast and planning committee. In Narratives I lead by example; I have observed events and provided advice for improvements, which have been implemented. Narratives is a dance between all members in order to make sure the collective goals of the team are achieved. At Lampshade, I am the Volunteer Coordinator and Communications Specialist. I provide the downtown Ypsilanti community a space to volunteer for youth programming, people interested in the arts, and those who are able to provide skill-sharing. Lampshade has given me the opportunity to spread my leadership wings by giving me creative control and by entertaining and accepting my ideas and projects for the space.

What is your dream career?

My future entails me continuing to work within communities to see what imbalances are causing oppression; I plan on learning from individuals about their stories to better help others not to have the same difficulties. I plan to do this by getting more involved in local efforts, and by continuing to channel my own story through writing, art, performance, and education. I believe that by changing policies and procedures that limit individuals, and also institutions, communities are able to form more organically; a community formed with depth will last, but one built out of fear will not thrive. I hope to start my own inclusive space that works with youth to personalize their mentoring to what they need got better futures.

What is your most defining moment at UM-Dearborn?

Attending UM-Dearborn has been a unique experience for me. The guidance I've received from faculty, and specifically from my colleagues and friends in the Internship Office, I have been lucky to have my own safe space on campus that allowed me to navigate my way to a major that best fit my interests. My English classes provided me peers that understood me and I them; there is no experience like when a person is surrounded by people just like them in terms of interests and passions. The Journalism and Screen Studies program provided me with the tools to write creative non-fiction, and it gave me an eye for directing and composing different types of media. The Art History program provided me with research capabilities and a place to connect with the past through truth and beauty; I was given an inner peace from studying glass and how its manipulation over centuries has led to fantastic moments in history. And the Women's and Gender Studies program has provided me with a critical eye on social construction; the program opened my eyes to how the world has been highly gendered from elementary classrooms to well-known institutions. I have had multiple defining moments at UM-Dearborn through my many interests being engaged, explored, and understood.