Growing up in the Chicago area, Mia Rogers found it challenging to speak out about the troubles she was experiencing.
"My mom passed away from breast cancer when I was , and my dad was left to take care of me and my sisters. Then, my grandparents got sick and I took on caregiving responsibilities for them. At 14, I got a job to help out with household expenses."
Luckily, she had the support of her family to navigate these hardships and responsibilities far beyond her years, but thinking back, she realizes that's not the case for many people.
"It made me want to help others, especially if they don't have the same support system I did or access to needed resources."
At UNT, she found a community where she could grow personally, make quality friendships and learn from a network of professors who cared about her success in class and in life.
With its social and cultural emphasis, the Applied Anthropology program at UNT has given her the academic expertise she can use to make a difference in the world.
"If you're going to learn something, then you should be able to apply it to better the community around you. Anthropology is so versatile. It gives you the tools to work in whatever area you want, learning from people and using that to make improvements."
And she has already brought positive change.
As a student ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, she helped market Anthropology by assembling a department newsletter and discussing career planning with prospective students. She also took the initiative to lead diversity, equity and inclusion projects, including one to build better connections between anthropology students and alumni who identify as Black, indigenous and/or people of color. Her efforts were recognized last spring with UNT's Golden Eagle Award, the most prestigious honor that UNT bestows upon a student leader.
After taking the Citizenship, Borders and Belonging course with senior lecturer of Anthropology Jara Carrington, Mia was inspired to research how racialization impacts the asylum-seeking process for Latin Americans.
"I ended up taking a special projects class because I wanted to delve into this topic even more. It's a true issue that we are experiencing in the world and I felt like I had the ability to contribute something to the conversation about it."
In the future, Mia hopes to expand her research, possibly with a Fulbright Award to Spain, possibly a stint in law school on her way to becoming a human rights legal advisor for non-governmental organizations and eventually to academia as a professor.
Separately, Mia is working with her sisters on the nonprofit "Lisa's Girls," which will offer a mentorship program for African American girls and women.
"We wanted to create this in honor of my mom. She was always bringing people up. She really loved caring for others and trying to help the ones who needed help the most."