Like many students, Angela Watley discovered Marygrove College via community college. She was attending classes at the downtown campus of Wayne County Community College (WCCC) when a counselor recommended she consider Marygrove to complete her degree in Social Work.
“Marygrove has changed my life,” says Angela who expects to graduate in December 2010. “I appreciate Marygrove’s strength-based approach to learning.” She was impressed that Professor Jann Hoge called her on a Sunday evening to describe Marygrove’s program and to encourage her to enroll. Angela was selected for the Alumna of Tomorrow Award because of her excellent academic performance, leadership in campus and community organizations and because she has overcome a great deal of adversity to earn her degree. She exemplifies the highly motivated, mature students who return to school decades after high school.
Tall, slender, dignified and with a ready smile, Angela has earned a nearly perfect grade point average and the support of several scholarships including the Spirit Award and the Marygrove Scholarship Award. She is on the National and Marygrove Dean’s Lists.
During the summer Angela served an internship assisting residents and staff at Peggy’s Place, a transitional housing facility located in a former Carmelite convent. Angela is able to identify with the single women, mothers and their children who are pulling their lives together after homelessness, abuse, and the sorts of tragedies that often make headlines. In the past, Angela and her young daughter Zaria spent three months in a shelter called Lifehouse, giving her insight into the desperation many women experience—including much of what she’s faced in her own life. Angela, however, has a very positive attitude, “I try never to let negatives outweigh the positives. I try to live by a motto I learned in my social work studies, ‘Be prepared to get involved.’”
A campus leader, Angela has been president of the Marygrove Student Chapter of the Association of Black Social Workers for the past two years. She has been motivating fellow students to help with service projects such as collecting warm clothing for the residents of Alternatives for Girls, a center for girls who have been living a precarious life on the streets; and collecting funds for the poor at the Lakota Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, among others. She also was a member of a faculty search committee at Marygrove and helps with student recruitment at WCCC. For the past two years, she has also organized a Social Work recognition event at Marygrove for graduating seniors.
Angela was a leader on the senior seminar script committee too. The senior seminar continues a long college tradition that is an important aspect of a liberal arts education. Her group prepared a public presentation entitled “Human Trafficking: Today’s Slavery.” They presented facts about child prostitution, organ selling, illegal adoption, child soldiers and agricultural slaves.
Angela’s list of community service is extensive. She has volunteered as a life coach at Matrix Human Services, assisting with parenting classes and substance abuse groups as well as speaking to community organizations on Matrix. She was given the Matrix Marvel Award in 2008 and the Matrix Certificate of Accomplishment in 2009. For the Detroit Recovery Project she distributed information on HIV/AIDS. She works with the Moratorium Now! Campaign against foreclosures and evictions and has participated in rallies in Detroit and Lansing. She says that Professor Diane McMillan encourages students to understand and get involved in political issues.
Angela has volunteered at other agencies including: The Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Interim House Domestic Violence Shelter and Vista Maria, a residential facility for adjudicated teen girls.
Unofficially, Angela provides a safe space for children and teens in her eastside neighborhood for talking, tutoring and employment assistance, according to Professor Hoge. Her eleven year old daughter Zaria confirms her mother’s dedication to others, “She always helps people a lot.”