CHARLEMYA ERASME, a University of Massachusetts Dartmouth graduate, was recently named among the commonwealth’s “29 Who Shine.” Students are nominated for the “29 Who Shine” awards by faculty or staff members of state universities and community colleges that recognize their promise as a future state leader. Erasme, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology, is an Endeavor Scholar who provided many hours of community service to local civic organizations. She also helped develop and lead a monthly social justice dialogue series on campus titled SPEAK. Erasme will pursue a master’s degree in public health and policy at UMass Dartmouth.
What prompted you to become involved with civic engagement on campus? I cannot think of one moment, so I’d like to think that it was the combination of things, people and places that brought me to this point. It felt like a natural evolution. Social-justice work allows me to make real change in the communities I serve. I am so passionate about this work and so thankful that I am able to do the work that I do.
Which organizations have you helped as an Endeavor Scholar? I have encountered a lot of organizations throughout my time at UMass Dartmouth. I hope I was able to help them all in some way. Not an organization, but the Frederick Douglass Unity House [an intercultural center] at UMass Dartmouth has helped me more than ever. It has provided a home away from home. The Unity House is dedicated to the success of students by providing resources and support.
What kinds of topics do you address during the SPEAK series? We have discussed privilege, economic injustice, environmental injustice, prison reform, the crisis in education, black feminism and womanism, and oppression. There are so many intersections within social justice that topics overlap and discussions evolve in enlightening ways for the team and the participants.
How has Nicole Williams, director of the Frederick Douglass Unity House and multicultural affairs, been instrumental in your success at UMass Dartmouth? Nicole is invested in her work and she inspires me to do the same. She has been there from the beginning of my college career. She has seen me grow over the years. I could not imagine my college experience without her. She has such a caring and loving spirit that is infectious. She reminds me to elevate my perspective and to stay encouraged. Most of all, she reminds me that I am capable and worthy.
What are your plans after college? I’m looking to attend graduate school. I’m exploring fields and opportunities that will allow me to continue to do social-justice work. So, I guess we’ll see what is next for me, but it will definitely involve social justice.