Forman Scholar Ayanna Chapman Encourages All Students to Become Global Citizens
When Ayanna Chapman reflects back on her college journey, she is proud of every opportunity she took to gain exposure to new cultures and communities around the world.
In particular, one semester stands out as her favorite – her study-abroad experience in the Dominican Republic. The recent graduate and Forman Scholar says time spent playing on the Puerto Rican National Field Hockey Team inspired her to travel to Latin America and experience life in the region for herself.
“If you do one thing during your time in college, please explore outside of the United States,” Ayanna said. “Go study abroad, even if it’s for a semester. You never come back the same person. You always come back for the better.”
Ayanna’s experience did not disappoint, as she says her time in the D.R. provided her with a greater global awareness and a new outlook on life.
“While I was abroad, I realized American societies emphasize individuals more than other places around the world do,” Ayanna said. “Once you leave the U.S. and experience the diversity of life abroad, you are able to adjust that mindset and become a global citizen. Having a broader outlook is key to an appreciation of other countries and cultures.”
The lessons Ayanna learned abroad stuck with her as she traveled back to Rowan University, where she recently graduated with a degree in political science. Unlike most students, Ayanna completed her degree in three years, a testament to her academic determination.
“In school, I always challenged myself to go above and beyond the workload of an average student,” Ayanna said. “I took International Baccalaureate courses in high school, and I decided to take six courses each semester at Rowan. I appreciated the busy schedule, and I always wanted to push myself in the classroom and in my studies.”
An interest in law initially led Ayanna to study political science. She says she enjoys debating with others, learning their perspectives and viewing issues from different points of view.
“Growing up, my parents said I would make a great lawyer because I would always speak my mind and try to get my point across, even if I would argue a little too much,” Ayanna said.
Now living in Arizona, Ayanna is taking a gap year to ponder her next adventure. She says law school may be in her future, but her time abroad sparked a newfound interest in international relations.
“I’ve always been one to plan out my life and be on the go,” Ayanna said. “I told myself that, during this gap year, I’m just going to go with the flow. I’m taking the time to self-reflect.”
While the current global health crisis has put a damper on celebrations for the Class of 2020, Ayanna says her family has made the most of these uncertain times. They even shipped her a surprise graduation ceremony.
“My whole family set up a secret graduation on Zoom. They mailed my cap and gown from Rowan, and they wrote me a special commencement speech,” Ayanna said. “They even printed out my degree on a little piece of paper and signed it. Even though I was across the country in Arizona, I appreciate that my family still wanted to celebrate all of my achievements.”
To all students, especially her fellow Forman Scholars, Ayanna recommends not dwelling too much on the tumultuous times we currently live in.
“A year from now, five years from now, you won’t even remember what you were worried about,” Ayanna said. “Instead of worrying, take advantage of all of the opportunities that come your way. You never want to look back and have regrets. Opportunities often come around only once. Do what you can while you can.”