Gihanah Seb-Di Dio ’21 had an undeclared major when she arrived at Lesley, but it wasn’t because she had no idea what she wanted to do. It was the exact opposite.
“For me, it was more that there was so much I wanted to do. I couldn’t put it in a box or one specific category, so I wanted to take my first year to really explore my interests and utilize my general electives to do that,” says Seb-Di Do, a Littleton, Massachusetts resident.
Because of her demonstrated passion for learning during her four years at Lesley, Seb-Di Dio was named this year’s Edith Lesley Wolfard Award-winner. Selected by faculty and administrators, the recipient is a graduating senior in our College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who demonstrated impressive academic achievement and leadership as well as a commitment to professional excellence and lifelong learning during their time at Lesley. Named for the university’s founder, Edith Lesley, the award is one of our highest honors.
Although Seb-Di Dio arrived at Lesley unsure of her career path, civil rights law and journalism were at the top of her list. Yet, as she immersed herself in the academics and community at Lesley, other career options presented themselves. One of the courses that stuck with her the most was Social Problems, a Social Sciences course that taught Seb-Di Dio about the school-to-prison pipeline and the inequities that currently live within the public education system in the United States.
“I was shocked,” she says. “I never knew what the school-to-prison pipeline was, but when I was learning about it, it kind of all clicked for me. I thought, ‘Something needs to be done about this,’ and that’s when I changed my major to secondary education. I feel like as a teacher, I can’t fix the entire public school system, but I can at least have a role in the system.”
An avid writer, she also particularly enjoyed her English classes.
“I’ve always loved to write, so it kind of makes sense to be an English teacher. A lot of my mentors in high school were my English teachers, and I just love the craft and how language can be used as a tool to expand perspectives and one’s exposure to different ways of life,” says Seb-Di Dio, who double-majored in Secondary Education and English.
During all four years at Lesley, Seb-Di Dio was a member of the CommonLYNX diversity program, a peer-led retreat at Lesley that focuses on identity and social justice issues surrounding race, religion, sexuality, privilege, allyship and more.
Having started as just a participant her freshman year, Seb-Di Dio ended as a director her senior year. She says the organization allowed her to meet incredible leaders, which helped her evolve as both a leader and a learner, qualities she will bring with her into her career.
“I was able to see how a diversity program, or a program centered around equity, inclusion and social justice really takes form. I think a lot of my work in that group inspired the way that I want to teach. How can I ensure that everyone I’m educating and working with feels welcome and included?” says Seb-Di Dio.
Seb-Di Dio recently accepted a position as a ninth-grade English teacher at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. She also looks forward to starting her master’s degree in International Higher Education at Lesley in the fall. One day, Seb-Di Dio would like to transition into the world of higher education, possibly in diversity, equity and inclusion or admissions.