Mabel Tejada '17: working for change

Mabel Tejada '17 envisions a career that will be driven by her values and beliefs.

Mabel Tejada
  • Year: Class of 2017
  • Majors: Crime & Justice Studies, Psychology
  • Hometown: Springfield, MA
  • Honors: Dean's List, 4 years; Chancellor's List
  • Awards: Emerging Leader of the Year, Frederick Douglass Unity Award, Lamar E. McClinton Student Leadership Award, Donald C. Howard Pillars of the Community
  • Scholarships: Jean F. MacCormack Scholarship, Javon Brown '01 Scholarship
  • Internship: DC Corrections Information Council, Washington D.C.
  • Service: America Reads; Leduc Center for Civic Engagement; Orientation Leader; Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality; Worthy Village, Guatemala, volunteer; SouthCoast Serves, youth leader
  • Student Representative: Diversity & Inclusion Council; Class of 2017, secretary; We Are Women, president; Student Government Association, senator, recording secretary

Critical thinking about the world

In the seventh grade, I knew that I wanted to study psychology, and then, as I got older, I decided I would go to school for forensic psychology. We don't have that major here, but I double-majored in Crime and Justice Studies.

The best decision I’ve made in my academic life was becoming a Crime and Justice Studies major. The most rewarding part of my studies has been the Crime and Justice Studies Department's approach. Every class promotes critical thinking: I have never felt so free and challenged in any other academic setting.

The major is constructed to develop critical-thinking skills and consciousness of the world and those who live in it. That’s the most rewarding part: gaining those skills to analyze things for what they are, what they appear to be, how they function—and how to create change.

Introducing new students to UMassD

I became an Orientation Leader my first year here and have been one ever since. Being an Orientation Leader has had a huge impact on my life at UMass Dartmouth. I became a walking resource for students (and sometimes even for faculty and staff).

I don't know what my experience would have been like had I not worked at Orientation. It not only gave me the tools to help other students and build new relationships but also helped me become a well-rounded person. Helping new students navigate the University and their first year of college has been very special to me. I have been welcomed into so many people's journeys through this experience, and that's priceless.

Mabel Tejada - volunteering in Guatemala
Mabel reads to a group of children during her volunteer experience in Guatemala.

Growing as an individual

My service in the community here—such as contributing 60 hours of service—made me really think about all the factors in our lives and how every person is capable of making an impact.

I feel as though I can say the same thing about my leadership roles on campus. Being in leadership postitions was a challenge, because I never wanted to get lost under a title. The majority of the time, while I understood that and moved about under this concept, those around me did not.

I truly do not like to title myself "student leader." I prefer "student representative" or just Mabel, my own person.

The things that make you somehow get lost in the fight for change. This did, however, teach me patience and acceptance. I learned that fighting for the students and trying to improve things was good, but I also had to fight for me, always, and sometimes that meant just not "fighting" it. Letting things be.

Internship in Washington, D.C.

My experiences here were what made me want to do an internship, which I did in Washington, D.C., at the DC Corrections Information Council. I wanted a change from the cycle of meetings, classes, late nights, and what it's like to be a student and a student leader.

The DC Corrections Information Council is a monitoring body that inspects and report on the conditions of confinement at facilities where DC residents are incarcerated. During my internship, I gathered information from incarcerated DC residents, their family members, and loved ones. I maintained the council's database and responded to letters, calls, and other inquiries.

A value-driven professional path

I've learned that where I see myself heading professionally is powered by my beliefs and values, and similar to all the things I got involved in on campus. The opportunities I see myself seeking and taking will be social justice based and team driven. 

UMass Dartmouth taught me that there is a need for change, which is constant.

I plan to go into the work force and eventually go back to school. I'm not sure for what, and I'm not worried about it. Life happens, and things always work out.

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College of Arts and Sciences, Features - Commencement