Umoja Student Stories

As part of Black Student Success Week (April 25-29, 2022), we're highlighting our Umoja students and their stories. Click the tabs below to read about each of the featured students.

Meet Some of Our Students

  • Mason

    Mason Hughes, a first-year student at De Anza, is actually in the sophomore year of her college career. She started out at Indiana University but relocated to California with her mother after the latter got a job at Santa Clara University in 2021. She will take over as the Black Student Union president in fall 2022.

    Mason Hughes

    Her words: “I am working towards getting my associate degree in graphic design and mak[ing] my application for four-year colleges more competitive. Umoja and the BSU have been spectacular in helping me find a community after moving over 2,000 miles. I still had to put in the work to be active in the pandemic, but once I got out there the students and advisors have been so welcoming and encouraging. I'm so glad to be here now and I am thrilled to be the new BSU president!”

  • Micah

    Micah Rudin is a first-year student at De Anza College. He is planning to major in sociology but has taken an interest in many of the subdisciplines within the humanities and social sciences. In his time at De Anza, he has been a proud member of Umoja and the De Anza Black Student Union.

    Micah Rudin

    His words: “Umoja was able to provide a space for [me] to find and help create a network of inspired Black students, a network that can lean on and bounce off of each other for mutual success and (hopefully) long lasting friendships.”

    In addition to academics, Micah has dedicated himself to competing on De Anza’s track team. He competes in long jump, triple jump and short distance sprints — primarily the 100- and 200-meter dash. He is most competitive in triple jump.

  • Ami

    Ami Henry is currently a student at De Anza in her last year of study here. She is a psychology major and plans to transfer to Sacramento State University this fall.

    Ami Henry

    Her words: “With Umoja, I have learned great leadership skills from Maurice. He guided me while I was president of the Black Student Union (BSU) and help[ed] me shape the club into the way it is today. Without his and Umoja’s help, BSU could have not done our first ever clothing drive and gained new members every quarter. I am excited to take these skills on to my next journey at Sacramento State.”

  • Thomas

    Thomas Asrat, who is originally from Ridgecrest, CA, has been a student at De Anza College for four years. He is currently pursuing his bachelor's degree in civil engineering. Thomas turned down a four-year university to attend De Anza first, which he describes as one of the best decisions he's made.

    Thomas Asrat

    His words: "I’m passionate about many different things and De Anza has so many readily accessible resources that it made it easy to explore what I wanted to do moving forward and develop myself as a person, first and foremost. Since my first year at De Anza, Umoja has been an important part of my success especially in that difficult time between transitioning from high school to college. I partially owe my success in college thus far to the support that Umoja was able to provide me."

  • Justice

    Justice Merriman is currently a third year sociology major at the University of California, Irvine. She transferred after studying at De Anza College and participating in the Umoja program here. She is working toward graduating from UC Irvine next year and then attending the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa to earn a master's degree in sociology.

    Justice Merriman

    Her words: "I'm always thankful when I can share how I was able to reach my transfer goals because of the Umoja program and the people in this community. Umoja was the first family I found in college; the family that saw what I couldn't see in myself at the time. There are plenty of campus resources/services meant for students, and there are many students who could really use the help. At De Anza, I saw how Umoja functioned in spite of the institutional barriers built against students of color, in order to connect me and other Black students to those resources ...The Umoja Program is close to my heart, as they've provided me with much support, love and friendship in some crucial years of my academic career."

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