And by she, I mean Eunice Owusu, a 2018 Framingham State University graduate. She walked across the stage, shook hands with the president of the institution while her family, friends, and plenty of others who look up to her, support her, and love her, cheered her on. Currently, Eunice is a cheerleading coach for South High Community School, building and creating a group that fosters a positive energy for supporting all of the teams they are motivating at every game. Filling the world and the people around her with positivity is only one of Eunice’s many strengths. Eunice is extremely talented in the art of makeup and began her very own business, Hint of Ebeauty, creating wigs. However, her passions do not stop there. Her interest in Family Law and Policy drives her future for changing the lives of low-income families and immigrant families through looking at the policies that effect these populations. Because of this passion, Eunice plans on attending graduate school next fall. In addition, because of what we learned in our course studying careers of Black women in public policy in Washington, D.C. I had the opportunity to learn more of who Eunice is, who Eunice was, and everything that Eunice will be:
TC: What did you learn through your independent study: From Margin to Center—women of color in policy? Why did you take the course and what did you learn about yourself?
EO: One of the biggest things I learned in this study was that in order to be the most confident Black woman, you cannot be afraid of your own voice. There is so much importance and weight in speaking up for those who cannot be at the table, when the table is full of those can never relate. The very few Black women proves that there is in fact racial disparities in American work life. But it is one thing to sit and complain rather than to become informed and aware. To be informed and aware is to make sure that our faces are necessary and are holding positions that lead to redirection of policy to benefit evenly and equally for everyone while bringing justice. Black women in policy such as Janelle Jones, Valerie Wilson, Angela Hanks, Misha Hill, Cherrie Bucknor, and Jessica Fulton all agree that educated Black women are needed and should not be afraid to speak up. For me, in the past, I shied away and became passive because of the fear of being “too passionate” or “too angry” in situations where my voice would have secured the change I wanted to see. It was important to me to see what women from similar backgrounds as my own did to get where they are today. This study became my motivating push to follow their footsteps while creating my own path into policy work.
The study was formulated by my professor, Dr. Virginia Rutter, who helped us to connect with Black women doing policy work in DC. I took this class to help me really figure out what I wanted to do in my graduate studies and what kind of career I can make out of my Sociology and Political Science background. It helped me understand what policy work actually is and what kind of things go into it on a day to day basis. To see first-hand what kinds of people are part of organizations such as the Economic Policy Institute and DC Fiscal Policy Institute really helped my understanding of what life after grad school could be like. To me, there is no formula or handbook on how to be a successful woman after college. The truth is that months after graduating from Framingham State, I’m still trying to figure out how to get to the next step. This study made me realize that my presence, my knowledge, and awareness of the community I come from can speak volumes in public policy.
TC: How do you feel your identity, as a Black woman, has impacted your experience in college?
EO: My identity as a Black woman impacted my experience in college because of the fact that I knew that I was not “cut from the same cloth” as others. In other words, being an African woman in college that represented my entire family, immigrants, and the ones that live in my country, Ghana, college was less of finding myself and more of making sure I was making all the ones counting on me proud. That pressure alone was my motivation to make sure I was soaking up all the knowledge I could for the ones in family that didn’t make it past their first few years of high school; some, their first years of junior high. As a Black first-gen woman, my layers made me excited to study the main things that were affecting my family first hand: immigration, education, and income inequality.
My identity as a Black woman impacted my experience in college because it framed my passions in my studies. It motivated what classes I took and what kinds of organizations I joined. My dark skin tone combined with my intelligence shows people that not only are Black women capable, our ideas are worth listening to. While attending a white institution with undercover racial bias and people who always underestimate the minorities who attend the school, I was able to understand not only what it means to be a Black woman but what it means to be myself. From freshman year to post grad, I no longer find myself sitting in in the back and listening to others. I have become a brave voice potential of change in the communities I am a part of.
TC: What would you tell high school Eunice?
EO: High school Eunice was my most indecisive self. This is because I battled back and forth in whether or not I wanted to pursue family law or do something STEM related. I became the only one taking classes like human geography while my friends took classes like physics. Coming from an African family, the expectation to become a doctor or engineer or anything STEM related was the ideal and that discouraged me from following the beat of my own drum. I would tell high school Eunice that there is nothing wrong with making a career out of passions. There was no need to seek the approval of others because it didn’t matter what field I chose. What mattered for me was whether or not it fed my want to help others battling things that I witnessed and went through, coming from a single-parent-immigrant household. I would tell high school Eunice that nothing comes easy, but it will make sense in the end. I would tell her that studying something that you are passionate about is extremely important because that determines your ability to not only retain information but to apply just about anything.
Tasia Clemons is a 2018 graduate at FSU in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. She is currently a Hall Director and in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration program at Canisius College. Follow Tasia at @TasiaClemons. Eunice Owusu is a Council on Contemporary Families Public Affairs Intern and a 2018 graduate of Framingham State University in Sociology with a minor in Political Science.