- Year: Class of 2019
- Program: Clinical Psychology
- Hometown: Hamilton, NJ/No. Providence, RI
- Award: Donald C. Howard Pillar of the Community
Kebeh G. Sando was born in Liberia, on the West African coast. During the fourteen-year-long Liberian Civil War, Kebeh immigrated to the U.S. at the age of eight as a refugee, leaving behind her mother. Raised by a single aunt, she has said that she owes her accomplishments to "faith, hard work, and perseverance," as well as to the "wonderful support systems" she has found throughout her life.
Kebeh holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Kean University, NJ, and is graduating from UMass Dartmouth with a master of arts in clinical psychology. She has been selected as the student speaker for the 2019 Graduate Commencement Ceremony.
She will remind her fellow graduates: "The opportunities we've received at UMass Dartmouth will change our lives forever . . . We have everything we need academically to fulfill our dreams and achieve the goals we set out to achieve . . . Keep having faith, keep putting in the hard work, and continue to persevere."
Lifelong appreciation for education
Throughout Kebeh's journey so far, there has been one constant: a lifelong appreciation for the value of education. She has vowed to help impoverished children reach their educational goals. Towards this end, she has worked with national and international nonprofit organizations that focus on youth empowerment. She currently volunteers at Young Life Rhode Island and Change Agent Network, organizations that both focus on Christian mentorship and education. Recalling her own experiences in Liberia, Kebeh has also founded Eve's Grace Scholastic Initiative, which is poised to send 150 Liberian children to school by the end of 2019.
"I believe that everyone deserves a second chance," she said. "Education gives that to us because knowledge is indeed power when used for good."
During her graduate education, Kebeh received the Donald C. Howard Student Leadership Award and served on the Student Affairs conduct resolution review panel. She interned at the SouthCoast Geriatric Center and at Child & Family Services in New Bedford.
After graduation, she will put her compassion, her education, and her clinical skills to work as a clinical therapist for sex offenders at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater, MA. Her professional work experience has included positions as a life skills trainer, case manager, and mental health specialist—always with the goal of improving the lives of others through support, advocacy, and training.
In addition, Kebeh is the author of Unquenchable (2017), a semi-autobiographical novel that "demonstrates the need to recognize one's inner strength and the importance of claiming unquenchable happiness."