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NewsJul 8, 2021

J’Nye Sibley '24 and Maya Volaitis '24 Receive the McKenna Scholarship

Two students recognized for commitment to public service and leadership for social change

j'nye Sibley and maya Volaitis
Above: J’Nye Sibley ‘24 and Maya Volaitis ‘24

At first glance, J’Nye Sibley ‘24 and Maya Volaitis ‘24 seem to have significantly different passions and career goals. Sibley is a biology major with hopes of adding sociology as a minor, while Volaitis is majoring in global studies and minoring in psychology. Both women, recipients of this years’ Margaret McKenna Scholarship do, however, exhibit a strong commitment to public service and leadership for social change.

The McKenna Scholarship, established by President Emerita Margaret McKenna, is given every spring to one or more rising sophomores who are selected by faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It is competitive and need-based, totaling $5,000.

“I wanted the basic foundations in science, but I wanted to be exposed to other areas of education, which is where sociology comes in. I would like to have a well-rounded background and apply it to what I want to do,” says Sibley.

Originally, Sibley planned to double major in biology and global studies. As she delved into her courses, particularly Introduction to Political Science, Sibley found herself leaning more toward sociology.

“The course description piqued my interest, but after taking [Introduction to Political Science], I learned so much about myself as a learner and as an individual in the world we’re living in and with the current events,” she says.

Serving underrepresented communities

Sibley is part of our Black Student Union, a student organization that  aims to provide students of color with a voice to establish a sense of identity, culture and pride.  

“I want to continue finding my voice and applying that in the present moment of social events and change,” says Sibley.

Sibley is passionate about helping underrepresented minorities, which she hopes to continue doing once she enters the medical field. After Lesley, she looks forward to applying to medical school.

Volaitis exhibits her own passion for helping underrepresented communities through the organization Communities for Restorative Justice.

“I’m a volunteer, and I attended a training to become a facilitator, so I get to work with at-risk youth who have committed minor offenses,” Volaitis says. “We work with them through a diversion program … they learn more about their actions, how they impacted their victims, and ultimately how they can make reparations to their victims,” which helps participants avoid jail and a criminal record.

Volaitis is also involved with the Lesley Housing Justice & Outreach Collective, Lesley Votes and the Office of Community Service.

Global studies is another of Volaitis’s passions, ignited in high school during her time as a member of the Model United Nations program.

“I loved learning about human rights issues around the world and conducting research papers,” she says.

After completing her undergraduate degree, Volaitis says she would like to study human rights law or criminal law.