A Bright Light in the World

Portrait of Mariam Salama
Photo by Jacob Van Blarcom, CLAgency student

Bright Lights is an annual event the College of Liberal Arts holds to celebrate the achievements of our most extraordinary undergraduate students. The program showcases our award-winning students for their leadership, creative and academic work and applied experiences in the Twin Cities and around the world. 

Meet Mariam Salama, a fourth-year student who was chosen to tell her story at last year’s Bright Lights event. Salama has a double major in global studies and physiology with a minor in Latin, “just for fun,” she says. She has had some incredible experiences in her four years.

Teamwork and Encouragement

Salama’s collegiate journey began with the College of Liberal Arts. “I was drawn to CLA because I get to combine the sciences and humanities in a way that makes sense to me,” she says. “There is something really beautiful in that union that you don’t necessarily get to see in many other colleges.” 

Salama stood out as a remarkable student, both for her academics and her passion for the college. She became a student ambassador for CLA in the fall of 2015, and the job was a perfect fit. She got to speak to prospective students about why they should come to the University and why they should look forward to becoming part of the College of LIberal Arts. 

Salama explains how important the ambassador program has been to her, saying, “I could not speak more highly about being a College of Liberal Arts student ambassador. CLA and the ambassador program experience have been such a wonderful support system. My father was beginning to decline in health when I joined in 2015. These strangers, at the time, embraced my problems and helped me recover every step of the way.”

Her satisfaction with the ambassador program is also linked to her admiration for her boss, Andy Gammons, CLA’s recruitment coordinator. Salama explains that Gammons constantly pushes them toward new challenges and new opportunities. One of these opportunities was the Mulhollem Cravens Leadership Scholarship. This award gives exceptional students funds for internship opportunities across the globe. Gammons encouraged her to apply, and soon after Salama prepared for her internship in Uganda. 

Global and Incredible

Her internship was with Child Family Health International in Kabale, Uganda. She worked under the lead of Dr. Geoffrey Anguyo through Kigezi Healthcare Foundation (KIHEFO), a local not-for-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to community development in the Kabale District, located in southwest Uganda. 

“My internship experiences focused on HIV/AIDS, maternal prenatal healthcare, and included shadowing and making observations about what rural health care looks like in the area,” she says. “I circled through a maternal clinic as well as the HIV/AIDS clinic, a malnutrition clinic, and a general clinic.”
Salama was grateful for being able to examine the healthcare industry of another country. Her internship taught her about the different practices in the industry that she hopes to one day apply to her career in healthcare. 

Self Reflection

Back in the US, Salama reflected on her collegiate career as she prepared her speech for the Bright Lights program. She looked back on her experiences as an ambassador, her internship, and the relationships that helped her through hardships outside of her studies. 

To Salama, experiential learning was a combination of all of these experiences. It was about grasping lessons about life that couldn’t be understood without each instance of adversity or triumph. It was about capturing every opportunity that life had to offer and making the best out of it.

In her speech, she laid out her main lessons as she congratulated and encouraged her fellow students. “I do not take lightly the lessons that I have learned throughout the course of this past summer, and how quickly I now am to advocate for internship opportunities—especially those that drastically push us out of our comfort zones.”

“Thus, regardless of our many differences of passions, frameworks of experience, and projected career outcomes, I congratulate each and every one of you inspiring liberal arts students.” 

“May you continue to grow as successful, loved, happy, and healthy individuals. May you continue to encourage and utilize your tenacity to follow your curiosity and to cultivate your knowledge further than the walls of your classrooms, and—crossing my fingers—may you accept the internship opportunity of your dreams.”


This story was written by an undergraduate student account executive in CLAgency. Meet the team.

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