Her journey began more than 25 years ago
Lakisha Dumas of Farmington Hills joined an elite group of students across the globe who were chosen to present papers for the Undergraduate Conference in Philosophy (UCiP) hosted by Eastern Michigan University this spring. Dumas was the only community college student presenting among a field of university students who came from various parts of the country as well as India, Australia and Canada.
Dumas’ paper, Self-Perception: Can an accurate self-perception be concluded without the perception
of those around you? explores whether it is possible to develop an accurate self-perception of oneself
without the opinions, views and judgments of others.
A new journey at age 43
This extraordinary achievement came after Dumas restarted her journey to pursue her dream of becoming a motivational and inspirational author and speaker. She started taking classes at OCC in May 2021 to complete her Michigan Transfer Agreement requirements and finish the bachelor's degree at Eastern Michigan University she started over 25 years ago.
Dumas explained she left EMU in 1998 due to being unable to pay for school and started work in administrative roles, got married and had a child. The pandemic put her future goals into focus.
“The pandemic made me realize if I wanted something, I couldn’t just talk about it or dream about it, I actually had to apply actions to my goals to achieve them. And this is the main reason I came back to school at 43 years old.”
She is on track to graduate from OCC in May with an Associate of Arts degree.
Dumas’ essay and abstract were made possible thanks to the philosophy class she had with OCC faculty member David Strand. After reading all the philosophers Strand assigned, Dumas noticed that self-perception was a common thread in a lot of their writing.
“Just before our essays were due in class, I read ‘The Black Feminist Thought’ by Patricia Hill Collins, and I questioned why it is so difficult for others to see someone else’s perspective, especially when someone is talking about themselves,” she said. “It got me thinking about how important it is for anyone to include other people’s opinions in their self-perception. This started the idea for this essay.”
Strand said Dumas’ work throughout the introduction to philosophy class was engaging and thoughtful. When she submitted her essay for the class, he could see that it had so much potential.
“I suggested that she work on it some more to prepare to submit it to Eastern Michigan University’s annual undergraduate philosophy conference, and I was so excited to see that it was accepted. At the conference, Lakisha presented her ideas with such confidence and poise, and was able to learn even more through the Q&A session after her presentation,” Strand said. “Returning to EMU as a conference participant was a perfect segue to finish up her bachelor’s degree at Eastern. I was so proud of her impressive work.”
Dumas also commentated for another presentation at the March 2022 international conference on “Imposed Food and Its Challenges to Food Security?”
A bittersweet achievement
Dumas said because she loves to write, and getting her essay and abstract accepted for presentation was a wonderful surprise but it also came at a devastating time for her family.
“The semester this essay was originally due (Winter 2021), I had just lost my stepdaughter in a fatal car accident. I considered dropping out of school again, but I thought about what she would want me to do,” Dumas said. “And though I was mourning then and still am now, I use her memory to fuel me to succeed. That semester I received a 4.0 in all three of my classes and happy I didn’t decide to quit.”
Dumas said she wrote that essay just hoping she would get a passing grade. “To my surprise, I received an A and was encouraged by Dr. Strand to submit it to UCiP.”
Like mother like daughter
While Dumas is graduating in the spring, her daughter will begin her college journey at OCC as an early college student.
“OCC has been an awesome school to go to,” said Dumas. “Each class I have taken has challenged me and the administrative staff I have interacted with has been very helpful in assisting me to graduate this spring,” she said. “My daughter, who is in high school, is also enrolling in OCC next year Oakland’s ACE program. I’m so happy to see her begin her journey here.”
Offering nearly 100 degrees and certificates, OCC is Michigan’s largest multi-campus community college and No. 1 transfer institution in the state. The College provides academic, career training and enriching experiences, designed to empower students to reach their potential and enhance our community. More than 1 million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965. A seven-person Board of Trustees governs OCC. Board members are elected on a non-partisan, at-large basis, serve as volunteers and are not paid. Mission statement: OCC is committed to empowering our students to succeed and advancing our community. Learn more at oaklandcc.edu.
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