Meet Tomorrow's Leaders

The annual CEW scholarship celebration is a highlight for CEW staff and friends. This year’s awards ceremony will be the 42nd time we have gathered to honor our scholars and fellows and their families. On Sunday afternoon, September 30, we will welcome 53 women to our impressive list of winners. And, as always, the 2012-2013 recipients inspire us with their intelligence, persistence, and dedication to serving their fellow human beings. We delight in sharing a few of their stories with you.

Doreen Kembabazi

Doreen Kembabazi, pictured left, was a high school student in her native Uganda when she decided to become a history teacher. “My interest was a result of a bloody 1961 war between my ethnic group and a neighboring one. We were brought up in an atmosphere of hatred. Our elders used racially derogatory names to refer to our neighbors, who did the same. We were enemies and, as young people, we had no idea why.”

Then, during her last year of high school, Doreen had a roommate from the “enemy” group. “I realized that there was nothing bad or immoral about her. She was a normal teenager like me, caught up in the hatred of our ethnic groups.” From that point, Doreen committed herself to challenging a Ugandan culture that not only inculcated hate but also forced women to lead constricted lives. She earned a BA in Education and an MA degree in history from Makerere University.

Convinced of “the lack of widely available, accurate information and the tendency for leaders to promote politically expedient, rarely questioned versions of history,” Doreen applied to the U-M’s History Department, where she is now a Ph.D. student. When she finishes her studies, Doreen will continue lecturing at the University and “research issues of gender, ethnicity and politics in Africa.”

CEW has awarded Doreen Kembabazi a Margaret Dow Towsley Scholarship.

Victoria Hicks

“Until I was sixteen,” says Victoria Hicks, “I lived what I consider to be a normal American life. I was a successful student and an active member of many school and church groups.” Then Victoria became pregnant and, in the midst of other family turmoil, “closed the door on my childhood and embraced the future as a mother and the head of my own household.”

Victoria, pictured left, formulated three goals for herself: Give her daughter a life of opportunity; reach her educational dreams; and “not succumb to pressure and become a tragic statistic.” She succeeded on all counts. Her now teen-aged daughter is thriving, and Victoria is excelling in her career and academic pursuits.

At age 19, Victoria was a part-time student and a full-time welder in a factory. Over the next decade, she rose from skilled trades to a management position overseeing multi-million dollar construction projects. “I wish I could say it was easy, but honestly it wasn’t.” She credits the mentoring she received from two of her Washtenaw Community College professors with giving her the strength to “push harder, think smarter and not give up.”

Victoria is now in the process of earning her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering. Her goal is a master’s degree in industrial operations and manufacturing engineering.
With her strong analytical skills, Victoria is bound to succeed and thrive in her chosen profession.

CEW has awarded Victoria Hicks an Irma M. Wyman Scholarship.

Anna Koskiewicz

Anna Koskiewicz, pictured left, knows that “the tough trials and tribulations in my life have made me who I am today, an optimistic, determined, motivated individual.” Anna, raised in Hamtramck, has truly had her share of obstacles
to overcome.

Though she was a happy and high achieving student in grade school, Anna became the object of bullying when she hit the 7th grade. “I was known as the heavy girl with glasses, and not a single day went by without my being teased.” Miserable and confused, Anna left school in the 9th grade. And for the next ten years she worked menial jobs.

When she decided it was time to transform her life, Anna says, “I set a goal to graduate with a G.E.D. and sign up for college within two years. I did it in six months.” She found support at the Mercy Education Project in Detroit, where she studied for her G.E.D. Not only did Anna pass, but she did so in three months–six to nine months less than the average; and she made one of highest scores in the state on the math portion of the test!

Finally ready to face her fears about returning to school, Anna enrolled at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where she is now thriving as an undergraduate psychology major. Anna proudly proclaims that “No one is going to stop me this time.” Those who know and have worked with Anna share that belief.

CEW has awarded Anna Koskiewicz an American Association of University Women Scholarship.

For more information about the CEW Scholarship Program, see or call Mary Lynn Stevens at 734.764.7291.