Ask Meron Medhanie where she is from and she hesitates. Her identity is clear, but it takes a little explaining. She was raised in Oakland, but her parents are natives of Eritrea; she knows America best, but she feels African, too.
Her heritage and a fascination with politics drive Medhanie’s interest in African affairs. A recipient of Loyola Marymount University’s Academic Community of Excellence research award for spring 2009, Medhanie, a junior communications major with a political science minor, will use the grant to delve further into the role of women in Uganda’s politics.
The ACE awards are research grants that strategically prepare undergraduate scholars for admission into graduate and professional studies programs. Students who receive undergraduate research awards work with a faculty adviser over the course of a semester and present their work at the annual ACE Research Symposium in the fall.
Medhanie will work with Jok Madut Jok, associate professor of history in the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. “He was the first person who came to mind. After taking his Contemporary Africa class, I knew he would be the right professor to guide my research.”
Medhanie has worked on campus to educate the LMU community about the troubles that plague Africa. She was a special projects coordinator for LMU’s Office of Intercultural Affairs and was instrumental in organizing programs about the plight of child soldiers. She also helped form Melkam Akwaaba, a student service club whose mission is to increase Loyola Marymount’s awareness about Africa and to eliminate misunderstandings about the continent.
About her LMU experience, she said, “The emphasis on social justice and interculturalism on the campus is very important to me.”