Fleciah Mburu had a decision to make. She’d narrowed down her choice of colleges to Eastern Washington University or the University of Washington Tacoma. Fleciah called UW Tacoma and spoke with a campus ambassador. “I remember her talking about her struggles growing up and about being a first generation student maneuvering a system she didn’t know about and I remember thinking, ‘if she can do it, I can do it.’ ”
Four years later Mburu is set to graduate from UW Tacoma with degrees in Ethnic, Gender & Labor Studies and Criminal Justice with minors in Law & Policy, Human Rights and Politics. Her next step is graduate school. She applied to a total of 13 domestic and international schools and has been admitted to 12. Fleciah has winnowed the list down to three and will make a decision in soon. She plans to major in either education policy or social policy.
Whichever one she chooses, she’s already got a solid grounding. In addition to her academic work, Fleciah has a long record of volunteerism. Among many activities, she has been a STEPS mentor at UW Tacoma, meeting weekly with high school mentees to coach them on the college admissions process. She received a 2015 Gift of Service award and the 2016 Rod Hagenbuch Service Award from UW Tacoma. She has served as the vice-president of the Black Student Union since 2014.
Fleciah’s mother came to the United States from Kenya and raised two children largely by herself. Fleciah will be the first person in her family to graduate from college. “At the end of the day everything I do is for my mom,” said Fleciah. “She sacrificed a lot, so, for me it’s a matter of letting her know her sacrifices didn’t go unnoticed.”
Success, in Fleciah’s case, means change. The three graduate schools she’s considering are not in Washington. Fleciah is a Seattle native and current Tacoma resident. “Not being around my friends, not being around my support system at UW Tacoma will be weird and going to a different institution is going to be interesting—but I’m excited,” said Fleciah.
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org