When Sagen Kidane was applying to colleges, she did not think she would end up ten minutes from her Prince George’s County home at the University of Maryland. However, Kidane said her ultimate decision to come to the university was one of the best she has made. Kidane hopes her passion for the school will come across in her speech at the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences winter commencement ceremony December 19, 2018.
Kidane is graduating this month with a double major in sociology and criminology as well as a minor in public leadership. She said she found her place on campus within the criminology department, and this pushed her to become more involved in the college throughout her time as an undergraduate student.
Thus, she became a BSOS ambassador which allowed her to volunteer at a variety of college events and gave her a “behind-the-scenes look into what the college actually does.” She said volunteering at open houses, student-faculty dinners and other college events through this program made her want to become a more present leader on campus.
Kidane then joined the BSOS Dean’s Student Advisory Council in her junior year.
“On the advisory council, I not only got to hear their intentions and goals for the college, but I also got to express my views and propose my own program initiatives for the college,” Kidane said. It was interesting to learn more about the structure and organization of BSOS because she may want to work in an academic setting sometime in the future, she added.
Her leadership inside and outside of the college continued this past summer when she completed the Ronald E. McNair Achievement Program and the BSOS Summer Research Initiative at the university. The SRI is a program for underrepresented students in colleges around the country. The students work as research assistants for professors in different departments, so Kidane worked with Dr. Rashawn Ray of the sociology department on his policing project. In addition to helping with his research, she was able to complete her own research as an extension of his research.
“It gave me first-hand experience on how research is actually conducted from start to finish and that was really great,” she said. Kidane had previous research experience from an internship at the Department of Homeland Security this past spring.
Many students in the program plan to continue their studies in graduate programs, and although she is not applying to sociology graduate programs until about two years from now, Kidane said the program gave her a head start on the whole process. “I also got to meet really intelligent people from different campuses who I now call friends,” she said.
Kidane is passionate about research and plans to use her research skills throughout her career. She recently accepted a position as a research analyst at a public policy research firm which will begin in February.
Before she leaves the university though, Kidane will take the stage at graduation to educate her fellow BSOS students on the importance of capitalizing on every opportunity they are presented and taking advantage of resources provided to them throughout their lives.
“UMD as a whole provides an abundant amount of resources, but I think the problem is sometimes students don’t know what is out there or what to take advantage of,” Kidane said. “I researched all different programs on campus, and that’s how I came across Federal Fellows and SRI and McNair. All these things have happened because I took the initiative to search for these opportunities.”
Kidane explained while she did not initially want to come to Maryland because it was so close to home, she did her best to expand her horizons and worked hard to make the university feel more like a college campus than an extension of her hometown.
“Living on campus taught me to make the most out of where I am,” she said. “But that doesn’t necessarily only apply to being in college. That can apply to any job or new place where you don’t feel like you fit in.”
While Kidane has been an independent, resourceful student throughout her four and half years at Maryland, she gives BSOS credit for inspiring her and pushing her to success.
“I think BSOS has definitely facilitated that spark in me because it was the first place I found something I was interested in and wanted to pursue long-term,” she said. “I think they do a really good job of providing resources to students, and they have so many scholarships they give out for internships and other learning experiences every semester.”