Aaliyah McLean, a third-year student at James Madison University, has distinguished herself as a leader in the field of access and inclusion in higher education. A Media Arts and Design with a concentration in Journalism at James Madison University, she is dedicated to highlighting the narratives of underrepresented populations in her reporting. Aaliyah is the Executive-Assistant for the Student Government Association. She is the Revitalizing President of Women of Color, an organization on campus to help empower other minority women. Aaliyah is a Spring 2018 Initiate of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, where she now serves as the Lambda Chi Chapter President. Aaliyah also serves as a council member on the Women of Madison Council, which is a diverse network that seeks to enhance the collective involvement and financial impact of women giving to the university. Aaliyah was a Resident Advisor and currently works for the Community-Service Learning Office as an Alternative Weekend Break Coordinator. She will also be serving as a 2019 Orientation Peer Advisor for the incoming Class of 2023. Aaliyah has received the 2017 Freshman of the Year Award and 2018 Sophomore of the Year Award from the JMU Branch of NAACP for outstanding dedication to service to her community.
Growing up I was faced with the challenge of raising myself and raising my family. My mother is a type one diabetic who is also a single parent. She worked an overnight shift to provide for us and constantly sacrificed to help us make ends meet. Drawing on this experience, I have sought out opportunities to support women of color spiritually, mentally, and physically through networking and leadership interactions. Through organizations like Women of Color, which I helped reestablish at JMU, I work to initiate conversation, inspire activism, cultivate attitudes of inclusion, and motivate people. In my career, I want to address racial injustice in higher education as a journalist.