Her mother could not stop crying on the phone and hadn’t been eating or sleeping much. The phone call was coming from Cameroon, on the western coast of Africa, where Bie Aweh was visiting family with her father when the big earthquake struck Haiti in January, 2010. Her Haitian-born mother was worried about relatives and friends. The earthquake disaster “… has affected my life in some major ways,”states Bie. “The country has been through a lot already. They didn’t deserve anything like that.” While concerned and grieving herself, Bie translated the concern for extended family and friends into constructive action. She immediately organized a clothing drive with her peers in the UNH Black Student Union (BSU). Her room soon overflowed with clothes and essential items for daily living, and the clothing and supplies collection grew into a campus-wide event. It will all be shipped to Haiti by her Boston-based church. For Bie, it was natural to provide leadership in the service of her extended community.
So how did Bie Aweh, a junior majoring in Political Science and Women’s Studies, end up at UNH from her high school in Charlestown, Massachusetts? “I was hoping to attend Bryn Mawr through the national Posse Foundation. UNH was not even in my top five schools, but my guidance counselor pulled me out of class one day.” (UNH Associate Director of Admissions) Richard Haynes wanted to speak with her. “As a result, I kept UNH in mind,” said Bie. Many months later after several college acceptances and much uncertainty in her direction, the deciding factor was Haynes calling her house and personally talking with Aweh and her mother over the summer. “Only Richard took the time to do that," she states. The following August she arrived at UNH with a number of classmates from
Charlestown High, but one very notable exception. Her twin sister Anim headed to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, despite her parents feeling that they should stay together. However, the tough separation from a twin has been ameliorated by long-time friend and current roommate Kenlyne Exumé. The strong connection goes back to their first meeting in ninth grade at Charlestown. “Having Kenlyne here is like having a sister and always having someone to talk to,” declares Bie.
And how did Bie end up at Charlestown High School, when it was a 60 to 90 minute one-way commute each day from her family’s home in Brighton, Massachusetts? “When I was younger the only thing that was im- portant to me was basketball, and Charlestown had a really good basketball program.” She was captain in her senior year for that
18 and 3 team, but also ran sprints/middle-distance and threw the javelin for the girl’s track team and also played in the well-known and highly competitive Boston Neighborhood Basketball League (BNBL). Yet, basketball was not the only focus in her life. Bie states that, “My parents always impressed upon me how important education is. I grew up in a very strict household and it's made me the person that I am today." She was highly involved with Crossroads for Kids and its Camp Wing, which provides opportunities for at-risk youth from the Boston area. She also credits the many benefits of her in-depth involvement and role as President of Keystone
Club, a small group leadership development program for teenagers that is an integral part of Boys and Girls Clubs
It’s now no surprise that the list of Bie Aweh’s contributions and involvements in the UNH community is broad and deep … Business Manager of the Diversity Support Coalition, member of the Student Activity Fee Committee, active member of the BSU and United Asian Coalition, member of a committee that oversees three academic minors, participant in the annual MLK Celebration Week, Admissions Ambassador, and past participant in the intensive MLK Leadership Summit organized by the Office of Multicultural Student
Affairs (OMSA). She is especially known for bringing various groups together to work collaboratively on common goals and projects. CYOS nominator Larry Brickner-Wood wrote that “(Bie) understands the connections between issues of privilege and social justice, and the need to build relationships amongst and between a variety of groups. She is a person with a strong religious identification and sees that as a foundation for communities of inclusiveness. She is articulate and strong, and a great listener and very respectful of others." What does the future hold for Bie? "I've always had a sense of community, and feel the importance of helping people where I'm from.” She is investigating graduate programs with an international focus and currently participating in the UNH McNair Graduate Opportunity Program, designed to prepare students for graduate school admission and success. As she makes plans for her education and career after UNH it is clear that Bie Aweh is a skilled and natural leader, caring and committed to actions that benefit the lives of her many extendedcommunities.