2012 Edgewood College Community
Leadership and Friendships
Akouvi Nofodji (l-r), Nina Liamba and Marcia Morales
entered Edgewood College four years ago as Edgewood’s
second Community Scholars cohort.
and appreciating these people for whom they are, people trying to search for this help and wanting to talk to someone. At the Canopy
Center, I stayed with the kids while their parents are in sessions, just talking. It was nice because I felt like I was actually doing
something meaningful and helping these people out. With the kids, what’s nice about it. They are taken away from their usual situation
and can just be kids and be happy and have fun. With that being said, it wasn’t as stressful. If anything, when I was at DAIS, it was a
little more stressful because some of the stories are very, very emotional when you think about what people are actually going
Liamba feels that she has come a long ways during her Edgewood career. She was particularly shy and retiring as she came on
campus. All of that has changed for her.
“I learned leadership skills,” Liamba said. “And I’ve seen myself through the years do things that I never thought I would do. I work for
the Center for Multicultural Education. Every semester, I give about 10 presentations to different classes about the ethnic studies
minor. And if you told me my freshman year, ‘Nina, you’re going to be giving these 10-minute presentations to about 20 people,’ I would
have said, ‘No way. I would never do that.’ I was nervous and I don’t like public speaking that much. But I have definitely grown and I’
m able to do that now. I gave a 15-minute presentation and I’ve been on panels and talked about my opinion.”
Liamba volunteered at AIDS Network and Olbrich Botanical Gardens. But the volunteer position she enjoyed the most was as a mentor.
“I’m currently a mentor for a freshman at LaFollette High School in the Committed to College Program and mentored in it for the past
year,” Liamba said. “That is the one that I really connected with the most. I enjoyed being a positive role model for her and helping her
get to college. We talked about my experience and the steps that I took to get there. I just feel good about helping someone to be able to
go to college and be a role model and show them that they can do this. My mentee is only a freshman. I just helped her know what she
needs to do to get there. I definitely want to keep contact with her. I’m kind of like a Big Sister.”
In Morales’ view, the biggest thing she takes away is her personal growth.
“I can see now that I care more about what I am doing and I’m focusing on what I want,” Morales said. “It’s just really, really different
than where I started. I feel like I’ve matured as a person. I loved Edgewood. Like Akouvi said, I’ve had my ups and downs, but mostly I’
ve had a great experience. Everyone has been so helpful. And I’ve made great friendships.”
Morales had a blend of Nofodji’s and Liamba’s volunteer experiences. She worked at AIDS Network and DAIS.
“I’ve just recently been volunteering at DAIS,” Morales said. “And I volunteer at Kids’ Base, which is this child care, a block of two
hours. The moms are either in group therapy or just having time for themselves. I think that is very important because like Akouvi said,
the kids just get time to be kids and not worry about what is going on inside the home. As meaningless as childcare is, it just gives the
mom the opportunity to empower herself and to heal and to hopefully get better. Kids’ Base is in the basement of DAIS. They have
games and arts and crafts, books, all sorts of stuff. You definitely have to have patience, a lot of patience. Through volunteering there,
it just made me very compassionate for them and their experience. You notice that these are kids who definitely seen abuse or maybe
have experienced it. It just makes me feel really, really bad and I just really want to help them in any way that I can.”
Morales also had the opportunity to volunteer at Kromrey Middle School.
“It was cool because it’s the same ESL program that I was in,” Morales said. “The teacher is the one who had me. So I went back and I
thought it was a really neat experience because I got to talk to the kids about college and encouraged them to pursue higher education.
They would ask me, ‘How do you do this? How do you get scholarships?’”
Of the three students, Nofodji has the most concrete plans. She will be taking the LSAT in October and then plans to go to law school.
“I really do want to have some type of job that relates to advocating for children and helping them through different processes in life,
just being there for them,” Nofodji said. “Being a lawyer for these kids, I can’t really picture how the dynamic will be, but I hope that it
will be a positive one that is going to help them in the long run.”
Liamba wants to eventually get an advanced degree and then work in a non-profit or higher education. She will work for a year in a non-
profit, which she feels will help her make up her mind.
Morales hopes to travel back to Peru where her family is from for a year to work on global health issues before she heads back to the
states to get an advanced degree in public health.
Through the four years, these Community Scholars have formed close bonds. As they receive their degrees and move on with their
lives, it will seem like they are leaving home once again.
“I really enjoyed being a Scholar,” Morales said. “I feel like they are my family, so when I graduate, I’m really going to miss them.
These are people you see every week. You have meetings every week and you have different events that you go to and these are
people who have been there for my four years. I feel like the Scholars was a wonderful experience for me.”
I think Morales spoke for all three as it really began to dawn on them that they would be parting company in a matter of a week. The
Community Scholars program had worked its magic.
By Jonathan Gramling
It seems like it was only yesterday that Akouvi Nofodji, Nina Liamba and
Marcia Morales were relatively shy, newly-arrived Community Scholars
arriving on Edgewood College’s campus. Four years later with a lot of
classes and life experiences under there belts, they are confident and
ready for whatever the world brings their way.
Nofodji majored in criminal justice and French and took advantage of her
college days, feeling that she had “definitely accomplished what you are
supposed to accomplish in college, to grow to become my better self.”
For the community service requirements of her scholarship, Nofodji
volunteered in some pretty intense organizations, DAIS and the Canopy
“I gained this ability to be an active listener and not having anything to say
back,” Nofodji said with a laugh. “I do like to talk. I learned to listen