Growing up, senior Feyikemi Ajayi had a lot of questions about the world that she couldn’t easily find answers to. Those questions are ultimately what led her to choose sociology as her major at the University of Maryland.

“Sociology has allowed me to study phenomena like the school-to-prison pipeline and the war on drugs and has given me the key to unlocking many of society’s mysteries,” Ajayi went on. “In another life, I would’ve majored in Sociology, African American Studies, Criminal Justice and Anthropology all at once…but, I wouldn’t be able to graduate on time!”

To satisfy one of her many interests, Ajayi picked up a minor in French and recently returned from a semester-long study abroad trip to Pau, France.

“It’s difficult to really practice or speak French in the U.S., so I thought it was best to go to a truly immersive environment where I would be forced to speak French,” Ajayi said. “It was nice that I studied at a university in Pau and not in Paris, because most people in Pau do not speak or know English, whereas many Parisians are well-versed in English and probably would’ve felt inclined to speak English to me instead of French.”

While in Pau, Ajayi volunteered as an English teaching assistant at local elementary and high schools, traveled through Spain, Portugal and the U.K., and got to simultaneously experience both the American and French elections.

“It was interesting to compare my own experiences with the American election to what had been transpiring with the French election,” Ajayi recalled. “In fact, the French elections had been playing out eerily similar to the American elections: Le Pen was a far-right candidate who was often compared to Trump. Macron was a centrist or moderate candidate who had ties to banks and corporations and was sometimes compared to Clinton. The elections even had their own Bernie equivalent in Melenchon.”

Ajayi has made the most of her college experience by getting involved on campus; having worked as a research assistant in the Children of Color Lab in the Department of African American Studies, and being a part of the Maryland Crew. One of her favorite UMD memories is celebrating the soccer team’s Big Ten championship win against Rutgers, where the crew jammed to sing-alongs hits from the’90s and 2000s.

“There’s something special about being in college,” Ajayi stated. “For a set period of time, you can learn about a plethora of subjects and you have access to so many resources to help you learn about the world’s greatest mysteries…It’s mind-blowing how much information is out there that students can really take advantage of.”

After completing her undergraduate degree, Ajayi aspires to work at the U.S. Census Bureau to “get a better understanding of who lives in the U.S. and common issues that Americans face around this country.” She says she is also considering becoming involved in education reform.

“I see myself as a lifelong learner, always asking questions and open to learning about different cultures and people,” Ajayi concluded.

Feyikemi Ajayi, SOCY Senior