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Four Spelman Students Place on HBCUBuzz ‘Top 30 Under 30 Winners’

Each year, HBCU Buzz, a leading source of news for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, honors students from HBCUs nationwide who have achieved academically, and who are making an impact in their local communities, the state, nation and the world. This year, three Spelman woman – Danyelle R. Carter, Banah Ghadbian, Maci Peterson and Mea Boykins – were named to the HBCU Top 30 Under 30 list.

Danyelle R. Carter (rank no.1)

Class of 2016 | Bachelor of Arts, Comparative Women’s Studies | Political Communications 

Danyelle R. Carter communications journey began in fifth grade when she was elected Class Representative of Room 17 at North Miami Elementary. Back then she didn’t realize that she could aspire to be a communications professional and represent others; however, she have always possessed an innate passion for all facets of communications. Her passion stems from wanting to understand the way people interact with messages and stories. Her experience covers creating, shaping and delivering content to target audiences to achieve the best results.

Most recently she traveled to Josai International University in Chiba, Japan to study Japanese and Cross-Cultural Communications. Upon returning back to the U.S., she began her 10-week UNCF PRIME (Public Relations Internship, Mentorship and Education) Scholar Program interning at Univision Communications Inc. as a corporate communications and public relations intern. Per student organizations, she serves as the president to the Black Public Relations Student Society – Spelman chapter; brand strategist to Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance; publicity chair to Senior Class Council; and public relations director to Morehouse College’s The Maroon Tiger. She is also a member of Theta Tau Chapter of the Lambda Pi Eta Communication Honor Society, National Association of Black Journalists.

In March 2014, women’s history month, Carter launched Her Communications Network. Her Communication Network is a first-of-its-kind multi-platform network that bridges the gap between interest and entry-level for young women aspiring to enter communications fields. In March 2015, she launched Her Communications Agency, a purpose driven pro-bono agency that powers stories, media and technology to accelerate social change to make the world a better place for women and girls. HCA includes audits and plans, social media listening, and assisting clients in articulating their thought leadership and crafting messages in earned media channels. Carter, a three-time consecutive awardee of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award awarded by President Barack Obama and United States Congress graduated summa cum laude from Miami Dade College with a joint Associate of Arts degree in mass communications and journalism degree in Miami, Florida.

Banah Ghadbian (rank no. 4)

Class of 2015 | Social Justice 

“My family is originally from Syria. I came to Spelman because I knew of its reputation of being a leader for women of color, women of African descent and of the African diaspora especially, to pursue issues related to social justice and its academic excellence. I had all these passions that I wanted to bring them to fruition at Spelman. I wanted an education that could reflect those complexities. I grew up in a place that was racially hostile where I was used to hearing things like my classmates calling me ‘dirty little Mexican.’ I wanted to be in a space where women of color were encouraged constantly and I thought it was so inspiring that this was a place where Black women could be nurtured,” she shares.

“My family was displaced for speaking out against a government that outlawed freedom of speech since 1963. The power of words and education mean a lot to our community. We are systematically punished by the government — for speaking out — with imprisonment, torture and death,” begins Ghadbian during her valedictorian speech at the 128th Spelman College Commencement. “Right before I came to Spelman, an uprising in Syria broke out and for the first time since my family left, the thought of liberation in our home country for my family became a possibility. Protesters flooded the streets demanding freedom and justice. They were met with live bullets from government forces. The summer before I came to Spelman, I decided to make a video in solidarity with the protesters of Syria and uploaded it to YouTube, while in my living room at my home in Arkansas. My brave mother decided to reach across the diaspora to raise money for Syrian refugees on the Turkish borders. We traveled their together joining other women activists and gathered underwear and socks for refugee children. I met Syrian refugees and activists who witnessed unspeakable violence. When we noticed suspicious people following us and recording our conversation. It turns out regime agents from Syria recognized my face from my YouTube video.”

While chatting casually with smugglers, Ghadbian and her mother were told there were orders to kidnap them. They were wanted for 50 million Syria lira, the equivalent of $1 million. The “YouTube Girl” would be sent to the regime prison notorious for killing and torturing activists who dare speak out. “With the threat of this ransom looming over us, we fled and joined Syrians elsewhere who were planning civil resistance. A few days later, I packed my bags, came to Atlanta, put on my white dress and wobbled in heels, to start my first semester at the illustrious Spelman College,” she reveals.

Fast forward four years later and Ghadbian, who was a double major in sociology and comparative women’s studies and who’s credited with bringing awareness to global women’s rights, the crises in Syria and Palestine, as well as sexual violence on campus, was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Lambda Delta honor societies. She established the Atlanta University Center Students for Justice in Palestine and co-founded the Women Against Violence Brigade, a student organization that advocates against discrimination. 

Maci Peterson (rank no.6)

Public Relations and Advertising | Entrepreneurship 

Maci Peterson, the CEO and co-founder of On Second Thought, is a DC-based entrepreneur with roots in Chicago. In 2015, she was named “Tech’s Newest Innovator” by Essence Magazine and recognized among Washington Business Journal’s “40 Under 40”. An experienced marketing and brand development professional. She received her bachelors of Arts degree in Public Relations and Advertising from Chapman University. During her tenure there, she gained exposure to Journalism as well as advanced studies in Film Production. While a student at Spelman College, Peterson studied cultures of the African Diaspora and marketing. Maci is the founder and editor-in-chief of the former Mwari Magazine: A digital publication that deals with issues ranging from politics and world affairs to fashion, travel, beauty, mentorship, and seeks to give young, black women necessary tools to becoming effective leaders of our global society.

Second Thought won First Place at SXSW’s annual pitch competition #StartupOasis in 2014, was named “The Texting Savior” by AT&T, and was recently named a Top 10 finalist in the Women Who Tech Startup Challenge, in partnership with Craig Newmark of craigslist and Fred and Joanne Wilson. Before launching On Second Thought, Peterson was a brand manager at Marriott International and a marketing strategist for The Root. Peterson received her Bachelor of Arts in public relations and advertising from Chapman University. Maci Peterson is a member of many professional and community development organizations namely: the National Association of Black Journalists, Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce and Michelle in Training (MiT), amongst others. Currently Peterson is a cabinet member of Platform H and a board member of Carson Scholars Alumni. She is also a former board member of New Light Leadership Coalition and an alumna of Alpha Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Mea Boykins (rank no. 25)

Class of 2011 | Bachelors of Psychology | Field: Mental Health, Global Advocacy, Philanthropy, International Public Speaker

With a heart focused on uplifting the global community, Ms. Mea Boykins majored in Psychology at Spelman College. While attending Spelman, Boykins was active in many organizations, including the French club where she was inspired to do her first study abroad in Paris. It was there that Boykins learned to speak French fluently and was instilled with a desire to help others around the world. Upon retuning to Spelman, Boykins sought to provide financial support for students at risk of expulsion by creating the Student Emergency Assistance scholarship fund (S.E.A.). To date, Boykins has awarded 5 scholarships to students to help them attain their goal of graduating. Since graduation, Boykins created the S.E.A. Inc., which she uses to empower youth and help eradicate homelessness in cities around the world. Boykins most notable events took place in Brooklyn, NYC with MTV and Bravo TV sponsoring give-a-ways for youth, free hair cuts/makeup/hair stylists with a professional photo-shoot for youth. Boykins also coordinated an International Youth Empowerment Event in London, England with a celebrity model/author as the keynote speaker; live performances & school supply donations. Boykins’ work has been featured in countless publications, magazines, TV shows and radio shows, including Hello Beautiful, Black Celebrity Giving & BBS Arise Talk Show in London, England.  Boykins was most recently featured in “We Are The City” a British publication, which highlighted her international work.

Boykins attended Kings College London for her first Masters degree in Child Psychiatry. Currently, Boykins is working as a Therapist, Corporate/Celebrity Event Planner and Public Speaker as well as managing S.E.A., Inc. Boykins is also working on her second Masters degree in Global Entrepreneurial Management through the University of San Francisco where she will be living and interning in Spain, Taiwan & California. Future plans include commencing an international consulting firm and a mental health clinic as well as continuing to create a positive impact on the global community.

Endia Hayes is a junior, Sociology and Anthropology major at the illustrious Spelman College. An aspiring college professor with hopes on earning her PH.D. in Sociology, Endia is a scholar activist and UNCF Mellon Mays Fellow who believes that through education anyone can change the world. If you see or know of an issue, take a stand because the world will continue to turn with or without your impact. She loves all types of music, however, she is convinced Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong are the best duo of all time. Les Miserables is the absolute BEST musical and no one can convince her otherwise.I am not longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept ~ Angela Davis
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