Since arriving on campus in 2012, current BCSSW MSW student Afua Laast has been hard at work in her ambitions to build a more just community at Boston College. Last year, she was acknowledged with both a Heights Momentum Award and an Ever to Excel honor for her ongoing commitment to promoting dialogue around issues of race, sexuality, and disability rights.
Her accomplishments as an undergrad in this regard have been many: Laast served as vice president of diversity and inclusion for the undergraduate government where her job was to advocate for policies that benefited the African, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American descent (AHANA), GLBTQ, and students with disabilities communities; she also notably organized the peaceful Blackout on campus in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Missouri.
Laast’s commitment to social justice has been strong since she decided to come to Chestnut Hill: as a freshman, she was accepted into the competitive Shaw Leadership Program, and volunteered through BC’s PULSE Program for Service Learning at the FoodSource Hotline, a state-sponsored program designed to refer callers to needed food resources available in their community.
Laast’s experiences with the Shaw and PULSE programs further established a budding call to serve those living at the margins; eventually, this call inspired her to pursue BC’s five-year BA/MSW program.
“I fell into this call in the best way possible,” she explains, “thanks to my experiences with exceptional people. At the beginning of my time at BC, I started to think about either a career in law or social services, and as I’ve studied more, I’ve become drawn to family therapy and access to education.”
Laast’s field placement last semester was at Wheelock College, where she was the school’s institutional diversity project and strategic partnership coordinator. Here she was able to address an issue that is close to her heart: helping disadvantaged youth to break the cycle of poverty through education by developing programs to get more students into college, and then finding ways to ensure that they stay long enough to earn their degrees.
Laast says that she loves working with collegians, and that she can envision a career in the field of higher education, with a focus on college access and success, following graduation. The macro concentrator says that law school is “definitely on the radar” for her future, and that while she enjoys the opportunity to work with students, she hopes to continue to find ways to create lasting change by molding policy.
“Whatever I choose to do,” she explains, “I really hope to move the needle in helping a larger number of students to be able to meet their dreams.”