Little did they know how much she had accomplished beyond earning a degree.
“I was really surprised and honored to get the award,” Bruce-Baiden says. “It’s good to know that people see that potential in you and believe in you.”
“I’m Ghanaian, and having the opportunity to express that culture at school, I never had that before,” says Bruce-Baiden, who grew up in Randolph, Massachusetts. “It was extremely impactful for me to meet so many people with similar backgrounds and cultures and stories and to be part of a community. I was just really dedicated to the organization and I felt so connected with all of the students.”
“I wanted to get the Black-identified groups to join together and have a town hall, Uniting Our Voices, to see how students were feeling and how we could help,” she says. “And from there, we just kept going.”
Helping to establish BLAC was the culmination of Bruce-Baiden’s growth at the university. She came to UMass Lowell intent on becoming a lawyer. But as many of her classmates began to study for the Law School Admission Test and pursue a concentration in legal studies, she hesitated.
“I felt like I couldn’t commit to it fully, and I had to stop and reflect and think about why. I realized I was interested in how communities can be improved through public policy and community engagement,” she says. “And the more time I spent on campus as a student leader and listening to students and stories about their lives, I thought maybe this would be a direction I could go.”
She switched her concentration to American politics. Then, wanting to learn more about policy and the legislative process, she applied for and got an internship in the office of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. She spent fall 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, doing research on nonprofits and responding to constituents trying to access business, housing, unemployment and immigration assistance.
“It was a very trying time to work in that office,” she says. “But I definitely learned a lot about how the different roles and responsibilities within the office come together.”
At UMass Lowell, she says, she gained the skills and confidence to be a thoughtful leader, thanks to Liss and other mentors in Multicultural Affairs. She’s also grateful to many of her political science professors, who advised her as her interests changed and she began to consider graduate school.
“It helps a lot to find a mentor,” she says. “Amy is wonderful. I think a lot of opportunities opened up for me after getting to meet her. I’m truly so appreciative and thankful for everything she’s done for me, and for my political science professors for helping me understand what I could do next.”
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