A Rewarding Experience Enuma Anekwe-Desince '22 has found her niche at Washington and Lee University through her involvement in the Advanced Immersion and Mentoring Program, leadership roles in student organizations, and work as a research assistant in the sociology and psychology departments.
“The foundation that I am being equipped with right now will prove to be invaluable in my future, and that’s why it is so rewarding.”
~ Enuma Anekwe-Desincé ’22
Hometown: Stone Mountain, Georgia
Major: Cognitive and Behavioral Science
Minor: Africana Studies
Q: What factors contributed to your decision to attend W&L?
I attend W&L through the Questbridge National College Match scholarship, which is a program that allows high-achieving, low-income high school seniors to attend prestigious colleges and universities around the country for free. W&L had everything I wanted in a school academically: a low student-to-teacher ratio, the option to attain a BA or BS in Psychology, rigorous coursework and dedicated professors. Questbridge made it financially possible for me to attend this school, because I could not afford to pay for an education here on my own.
Q: Why did you choose your major, and what do you hope to do after graduation?
I’ve always been interested in psychology (now called Cognitive and Behavioral Science here). I actually earned my associates degree in psychology while in high school. I’ve always believed that if you can get to the root of man, you can understand any of the world’s systems, institutions and problems. When I graduate from W&L, I hope to transition immediately into a Ph.D program for industrial/organizational psychology. From there, I hope to work on institutional reform, employee satisfaction and making organizations more equitable.
Q: How have you been involved in the Advanced Immersion and Mentoring (AIM) Program at W&L, and what have you gained from that experience?
My first experience with AIM, then called ARC (Advanced Research Cohort), was the summer before my first year at W&L. I was part of the third-annual cohort of about 15 students selected to spend five weeks on campus. The goals of the program were to take a diverse group of students and grant us the opportunity to get familiar with administration, academic and extracurricular resources, and most importantly, the chance to have our first undergraduate STEM research experience even before matriculating. It was such a rewarding experience, and I met some of my lifelong friends through ARC.
Fast forward to this summer, things came full circle and I was blessed with the opportunity to be one of the Program Advisers (PAs) for this year’s AIM cohort. Although the program was held virtually this year, just like in previous years, PAs acted as liaisons between the AIM faculty and incoming first-year students, hopefully helping the students bond and feel comfortable adjusting to life at W&L. I absolutely loved being a part of the program in a different capacity this year. I owe to ARC/AIM so much of the confidence that I have traversing W&L’s campus, so it was more than fulfilling to watch students form relationships, ask questions, and fully enjoy all that AIM had to offer. I can only hope that the program was as helpful for them as it was for me. I was so grateful to give back to a program that had given so much to me.
Q: What have you enjoyed most about being a research assistant in the sociology and psychology departments?
For me, researching is about getting a preview of what earning a Ph.D will consist of, as well as the chance to apply the concepts I learn in classes to real-world questions. Lately, I’ve been reflecting considerably on my research experience thus far, and I am honestly amazed that I have been able to accumulate so much in only two years at W&L. I love the process: the meticulousness of creating experimental measures, learning how to seamlessly analyze data, and the excitement I feel at the prospect of finding statistical significance! To know that I will one day be doing research that could change how we think, relate to one another, create policies and effect change is truly flooring. The foundation that I am being equipped with right now will prove to be invaluable in my future, and that’s why it is so rewarding.
Q: Tell us about your work with the Student Association for Black Unity and the African Society. What has that work meant to you?
It has honestly meant more to me than I could have ever expected. Being a Black woman at a predominantly white institution, you grasp on desperately to whichever pieces of the culture are available, even if that means you are responsible for creating it yourself. I was ‘welcomed’ into a very broken Black community, so taking leadership positions on both executive boards has given me a direct hand in ensuring that the Black students after me do not have the same negative experiences with upperclassmen that I had. Connecting with the Class of 2023 and being one of the PAs for AIM’s Class of 2024 has been just as beneficial to me as I hope it has been to them. We need each other badly on this campus, so creating and maintaining community here has become essential.
Q: Do you have any post-COVID-19 plans that you’re excited about?
When things get a bit more settled, I’d love to just appreciate experiencing the little things in life again that I took for granted before. Like seeing and hugging my friends, running into a store without a mask, being in airports, and crowds being a good thing. I’d especially love to get back to traveling as soon as possible (when it is safe), because I have missed out on a considerable number of trips due to the pandemic. I was supposed to take the Black Writers in Paris class, taught by Dean of the College and English Professor Lena Hill and Africana Studies Professor Michael Hill, in the spring, and I was supposed to visit my homeland of Nigeria for the first time this summer. So it is safe to say that when COVID-19 is ready to go, so am I!
Q: Has anyone served as a mentor to you at W&L?
Many, but the first one that comes to mind is Dr. Michael Hill. He makes fun of me a lot, but I think it’s because I remind him of a younger him. When I first met him, after already being enamored with Dean Lena Hill, it was hard for me to conceptualize that such enormous amounts of intellect and charisma could exist within one person. He could be the most intelligent person in the room and still the most personable. He was himself, 100 percent, uncompromising yet favored by all. I want to be like him when I grow up.
If you know any W&L students who would be great profile subjects, tell us about them! Nominate them for a web profile.
More About Enuma
Q: Personal motto?
Be your own biggest fan.
Q: Favorite shop or restaurant in Lexington?
Q: What do you get there?
Crispy shrimp with extra broccoli and chicken satay sauce on the side
Q: What’s your favorite spot on campus?
My room LOL
Q: What book or film do you recommend to everyone?
“The Secret Life of Bees” (both the book & film)
Q: Favorite W&L event?
A: Taste of Africa! It’s hosted by African Society and is a perfect time to learn all about the continent and enjoy some of our cultural foods!
Q: What’s something most people don’t know about you?
A: My first name starts with an “EH” sound, like egg, not “UH”, like umm.