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Student Stories by Students
Using Leadership to Foster Change at UD
While most people their age are focused on school and a social life, Kevin Gyamfi and Angela Akumiah, both sophomores and first year resident assistants, are focused on using their leadership roles as a way to foster positive change on UD’s campus.
Recently, Gyamfi and Akumiah were crowned the University’s first-ever “Mr. and Ms. DASA,” (Delaware African Student Association) a title earned by representing and highlighting the different cultures of Africa. Both winners represented the country of Ghana.
More than an inspirational platform
Akumiah’s platform was based on advocating for more representation in the arts. She’s committed to fostering cultural representation in the performing arts and in more traditional art forms like music and poetry.
“For African students specifically, art is infused in our culture, it is something that we have grown up with, which is why I felt the need to advocate for more representation," she said. “It is something so important in our culture that I find it necessary to bring awareness to.”
Part of the inspiration for her platform came from noticing a lack of funding for African artists and her experience being one of the only women of color on previous dance teams. As Ms. DASA, Akumiah hopes to promote a culture of representation within the UD community.
Gyamfi cited his extrovert personality type as one of the reasons he chose inclusivity over diversity as his platform, because he feels he can be the voice for other minorities who may feel less inclined to speak out.
Gyamfi found the inspiration for this as his platform through RA training . RAs are encouraged to bring “inclusivity over diversity” into the residence halls, and Gyamfi saw the opportunity to bring this one step further.
“You can diversify as much as you want, but you’re not getting anywhere if not everybody feels like they want to be in the room,” he said.
Being an RA Leader
While their newfound titles of Mr. and Ms. DASA are now an integral part of their lives at UD, their first leadership positions were as resident assistants. While both Gyamfi and Akumiah wanted to hold leadership positions, their paths to becoming RA leaders were a bit different.
“I’m trying to go far in life and the only way you can go far is through your experiences at college and making the best out of what you decide to do,” said Gyamfi.
In addition to his passion for leading, he also cited his positive freshman year experience as a reason why he decided to become a RA.
“I would come in the RA office and just help them with their duties,” he said, “I would go on rounds with them, just because all throughout my life, I have always wanted to take [my] place in leadership roles.”
For Akumiah, her inspiration to become an RA came from working as a customer service representative in the Residence Life and Housing.
“I started working in the ResLife office in Gilbert the summer before I started going [to UD], which is how I was introduced to the whole ResLife side of campus,” she said. “I always thought it was super cool seeing all the RHCs doing all the background work, and answering the calls brought my attention to some of the things happening around campus which is what inspired me to get involved.”
Being an RA to sophomores, juniors and seniors, is comfortable role for Akumiah, because she’s able to relate to her residents as her peers, while simultaneously understanding the value of her leadership role.
“I didn’t expect to feel so connected to my residents ... it surprised me how natural it came to me,” Akumiah said. “I’m really just someone who knows the ins and outs, and I can help [my residents] with that. That’s something that I really love about this position.”
While being an RA is an important role, Gyamfi and Akumiah are also focused on how they can take the skills they’ve learned - and will continue to learn - from their DASA work into the future.
Eye on the Future
Gyamfi and Akumiah both have big plans for the future. Akumiah hopes to use her title as a way to create more events within the DASA community to specifically showcase African artists.
“I have a vision to create a DASA mixtape complete with viewing parties, where members and non-members of DASA can come together to watch movies produced by African artists,” she said.
Akumiah hopes that these mixtapes will bring more people of all backgrounds together and help everyone on UD’s campus learn about cultures different from their own.
Gyamfi also has plans to incorporate the larger UD community in his quest for inclusivity.
“I’d love to bring together the sorority and fraternity members, from both the Multicultural Greek Congress and Chapters as well as the Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council because they both share similar values; service and a passion for sisterhood/brotherhood,” he said.
While Akumiah and Gyamfi have different approaches, their goals both speak to the main message of the DASA community: to celebrate and share African culture.
Written by Mary Holmes and Marissa DiGiacomo
Residence Life & Housing is part of the Division of Student Life, which contributes and facilitates critical learning and development within healthy, inclusive and supportive communities, so that all students may thrive at UD and beyond.