Minnie Quartey (GRD ’06) is a Patrick Healy Fellow and a Resident Advisor in Harbin Hall. She attends classes at Gallaudet University twice a week, learning American Sign Language from hearing-impaired teachers and peers. Two years ago, she founded a charity Girls for Grace in her hometown of Valdosta, Ga., to help prepare under-privileged girls for college. After receiving her master’s degree next year, Minnie plans to return to Georgia to oversee her charity’s growth.

What are you most passionate about on and off campus?

On campus, the first passion would be being an RA. This is my second year as an RA. Being an RA has taught me about leadership, how to deal with people and different situations that are unexpected and how to think on your feet and act quickly, not to be a problem solver but to help [residents] solve the problem.

It’s about making a community on the floor. Also, being an RA allows you to meet a lot of new people, but not in a superficial way, because you really get to know them.

The other passion is [the] Patrick Healy Fellows. It’s a CMEA [Center for Minority Educational Affairs] program for minority students who are really outstanding in their communities.

There are four or five components of the program, we do community service . one of the biggest things that’s helped me is the mentorship. We network with most of our alumni, who are really successful people in law fields, the nonprofit sector, pretty much any field you need to go into, and they match you with a mentor.

Off campus, I’ve started a nonprofit organization called Girls for Grace, and over the next two years I’m working on getting it incorporated in Valdosta, Ga. Right now it’s very small . we serve about 20 girls, and we’re hoping to grow to 50 to 100 girls in the next two or three years. It’s a mentoring program to give them direction about college and life skills . [the girls] start at age 12 and usually end at 17, when we help them get into college.

What does Black History Month mean for you?

It’s not a time to celebrate black culture, but more of a time to bring in the world community into the rich history of African Americans . for me Black History Month is not just a month, it’s exposure for other people to the history. It’s also a chance for me to learn about my own history, my own culture, my own past.

What’s important to remember is we can’t isolate it from February 1 to February 28 and learn about all the wonderful black people in the world, but we also need to learn about the issues that surround [African-Americans] and it needs to be an ongoing process.

I think February is a time to expose those issues to people who are interested because it’s Black History Month, but we need to continue with the spirit throughout the year and help those who have lost their way, and get them back on track. Black History onth is the gate to all that.

What is one aspect you particularly like about Georgetown, and what is one thing you would change about the school?

Spiritual diversity is very promoted and very evident, but other types of diversity sometimes get lost in the shuffle. For me that’s a problem because it almost limits people. By that I mean, if I don’t fit the Jane Joe Hoya I have to work even harder to excel in the classroom or to meet or exceed expectations, and that’s almost unexpected of me, and I feel like I’m looked down upon because of that. That’s the one thing I want . to see that it’s not all about being Jane and Joe Hoya but about being yourself, and that we celebrate all types of diversity and not just spiritual diversity.

What I do love about Georgetown is that it opens a lot of doors, you have the experience you wouldn’t have at other schools . one, the location, and two, because people here really take their Georgetown experience into their own hands and make it their own. People take time to make the experience their own, whatever that may mean, maybe getting an internship or working with inner school children who can’t read at grade level, or maybe that means being the professor who challenges students to go beyond their comfort zone, or being the administrator who reaches out to the students they see having a hard time, to me that’s what encompasses the Georgetown experience.

I give you $20 for the day. Where would you go, and what would you do?

I would pack a picnic, I’d go down to East Potomac park, and there’s a statue there called The Awakening, over by the Jefferson and FDR memorials. The actual place I’m talking about is called Haines Point . there’s this statue of a man coming out of the ground, his face is filled with determination and so much liveliness and intensity . the statue’s about revitalization of the Potomac river, and he’s coming out of the ground to say “I’m back, I’m here.”

I think I would spend the day there and take friends along. We just would have a good time. For me it’s just a place of serenity and also just a place of encouragement. If I only had $20 I would spend it on lunch and a cab ride over and just spend the day there.

– Interview by Fred Lestina

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.