Ready to take on the world, with tenacity and supportive community

Published: May 4, 2023

A student with light rimmed glasses and a red and white blouse stands outside with large cement arches behind her
Jennifer Boateng '23, global studies. (Marlayna Demond '11/UMBC)

Jennifer Boateng

Degree: B.A., Global Studies
Hometown: Bowie, MD
Post-grad plans: Multimedia content creation for a global humanitarian organization

Jennifer Boateng is ready to take on the world, with a supportive community cheering her on. Boateng joined UMBC with a love for the creative process and interest in designing solutions for people who were also living with sickle cell disease. Later, she was drawn to global studies to explore other approaches to having a global impact through creative work.

Boateng decided to pursue a global studies major with minors in entrepreneurship and visual arts (focusing on cinematic arts), combining methods from a broad range of fields. These approaches also introduced her to the concepts of cultural sustainability and comparative justice, preparing her to find new solutions to both old and new problems and reach a wide and diverse audience.

During a seven-year journey to graduation, Boateng developed an awareness of the importance of investing time in relationships and listening as a crucial skill in creating content that is relevant to the intended audience. She could often be found having deep conversations with faculty, peers, and staff. She strongly believes in the power of human connection and encouragement, celebrating others’ successes, lending a friendly ear during challenging times, and drawing from helpful support and guidance when needed.

Boateng shares that the kindness of this community made it possible to manage the complex challenge of balancing college life and longer-term goals while dealing with sickle cell disease, even when taking classes in the hospital. She feels that it has taken a village for her to complete her undergraduate journey and she is grateful for all the faculty and staff at UMBC and her family and friends, who she says went above and beyond to make it happen. She wants anyone who is facing adversity to know that with the right support, they can graduate, no matter how long it takes or what challenges they encounter

Two supportive community members stand outside talking with a building and trees in the background
Jennifer Boateng and Brigid Starkey. (Marlayna Demond ’11/UMBC)

Has there been a mentor or fellow student who influenced your time at UMBC?

Brigid Starkey, principal lecturer of political science and director of the global studies program, has been my biggest cheerleader. Right from the very beginning, she was determined to help me and shared valuable insights about my courses that shaped my path in an incredible way. She helped me not to give up, even though it took me seven years to get to the finish line.”

What has been the best part of your UMBC experience?

“I have appreciated the small classes. I thought I would only have large lecture classes and wouldn’t have an opportunity to connect, not only with the professor, but with the other students in the classroom. We were encouraged to share our different perspectives on things that were happening around us, like racial issues, police brutality, and politics.”

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