Pascale is not the same shy and reserved young woman that she was when she arrived as a freshman at UMass Lowell. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but getting involved on campus pushed me out of my comfort zone and led me to explore my strengths,” she says. With encouragement from a fellow student, Pascale joined the active student organization Association of Students of African Origin (ASAO) and then took on a leadership role. At the same time, she was learning about public health issues in her classes. By the end of her freshman year, she says, “I really understood that the core values of my major aligned with the work I was doing through student activities and leadership. My passion for social justice and advocating for women around health issues—especially for women from minority populations—came about through my coursework. Now I want to make a difference.”

Pascale acquired the skills to make a difference through hands-on experiences in her major and through shepherding the young campus organization Sisters of Integrity Striving Toward Empowerment, Respect and Success (SISTERS) through a growing phase. During an internship at the Lowell Community Health Center Teen Coalition, she developed effective approaches to working with teens and presenting information on sexual health. As the president of SISTERS, which seeks to raise awareness on campus about a number of women’s issues, Pascale has learned a lot about building networks and public speaking. She’s had valuable support along the way from the office of student activities and leadership.  “The university added a lot of staff in this area and it’s made a difference,” says Pascale. “It’s where there is good dialogue happening.”

Pascale is now working on a one-year master’s in community and social psychology at UMass Lowell. “I am ready to be an effective advocate for minority women’s health. My academic experiences combined with leading a student organization gave me the knowledge and skills to pursue my life’s passion with confidence.”