Currently, I am at the University of Michigan earning Masters degrees in Social Work and Educational Studies, where I study the impact of play & art exposure on the social-emotional development of children experiencing intergenerational poverty and trauma. After I graduated from UM-Dearborn, I did a few years of AmeriCorps at Community Action Network (CAN), which led me down a path of social work and education. I continue to work for CAN in the Art and Design program, where I teach art to the after-school program students at community centers. We work on social-emotional development and resilience in our art curriculum and CAN works to provide its students with the extra resources and time they need to succeed in school. I hope to continue this type of work in the future.
What makes you a Difference Maker?
I’m a Difference Maker because I’m incredibly passionate about human rights and social change. I use my degree in Anthropology and Women's & Gender Studies to look at systemic and societal issues through the lens of an engaged, activist anthropologist committed to community aid and positive social change. Through my time at the UM-Dearborn, I’ve seen firsthand the incredible transformative power that comes from an engaged community of activist scholars given even the smallest space to exist, brainstorm and act together within. I strive in my daily life to work towards inclusivity of all people and their voices in every conversation and concern. Difference Makers, to me, are people who work for the greater good of their community through their talents and capacities as scholars and people. I use my voice, my writing, my degree and most importantly my listening ears to learn and enact change in our community and beyond. The UM-Dearborn Difference Maker is a title I’ll strive to carry with honor, and take back to the community to continue the transformative work we have begun.
Highlight your campus achievements:
Over the years, I’ve earned University Honors each semester, been placed on the Dean's List every semester, and have been named a James B. Angell Scholar three times. I was also named the Anthropology Honors Scholar in 2016, received the Chancellor's Medallion in December 2016 and graduated as a Distinguished Scholar with High Distinction.
I have research published in three places: ethnographic research on women lace makers in Malta published in Omertaa, a catalog entry on a Northern European print in Art in an Age of Transition, and a biographical sketch of Lydia Flood Jackson in Alexander Street Press.
During my time on campus I was a part of Women in Learning and Leadership, the Association of Student Anthropologists, Lyceum, the National Society of Leadership and Success, Golden Key Honor Society and participated in a study abroad experience through an anthropological field school in Malta.
Highlight your leadership experiences both on and off campus:
While on campus, I was part of a number of student organizations. Through Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL), I served as the on-campus coordinator, in which I planned all on-campus events from start to finish. In this position, I planned events and programs such as Take Back the Night, Feminist Coming Out Day, a Women's History Month program, a Women in STEM Panel, film screenings and guest speakers to ensure WILL's positive and transformative presence on UM-Dearborn's campus. We work towards activist issues from an intersectional perspective, advocating for all those who have been systematically marginalized and work for social change. Through Take Back the Night, we invited the campus community and surrounding community to come together and discuss experiences and the issues regarding sexual assault, sexual harassment and domestic violence that are so often kept quiet and swept under the rug in our society today. During Feminist Coming Out Day, we helped dispel rumors and misconceptions about feminism and women's and gender studies to create a dialogue about human rights, systemic sexism, intersectionality and activism. The Women's History Month program was the first of its kind and we held many events throughout the month to shed light on the incredible and ever-important accomplishments of women in our world—both past and present—who are often underappreciated and unknown, thus helping to educate our community on the real contributions of women and why women's rights discussions are important.
Through the Association of Student Anthropologists, I played a role in the evolving of the organization in which we worked to hold fundraisers and bring guest speakers to campus to help gain more traction on campus. We brought speakers from all over the subfields, holding discussions on physical/forensic anthropology and childhood stress indicators, primatology and how mutual ecologies allow for shared space between the indigenous Waiwai and nonhuman primates, and cultural anthropology and the space that femme lesbian parents hold in the community.
During my time with Lyceum, I held each editor position, starting out as the publishing editor and moving up to managing editor, then to editor in chief. Here, I helped revamp the organization. Especially as editor in chief, my team worked to bring the organization and product back from its decline. I published three journals during my term as editor in chief and created the online summer edition as a shared experience to train the next person to take this role. Our journals had more submissions and campus participation than in years past, we started a relationship with the campus's Berkowitz Gallery for our release events, redid our website to improve usability and user experience, and rebranded ourselves with a new logo and new social media methodology. We reached out to the campus more than Lyceum had in the past by holding National Novel Writing Month write-ins in our office, Writers' Roundtable events before and after submission deadlines to build a discussion around submission policies and methods and opened a conversation with contributors on content.
In addition to these, I run the Dearborn-based Odyssey community. Odyssey is an online content platform which aims to democratize media and the way stories are told today. I built the community from the bottom up, edit weekly submissions by content creators and provide the opportunity for people in our area and even nationally to build their voice, get their voice heard, discuss issues they care about and build a portfolio. This page can be found at www.theodysseyonline.com/@university-of-michigan-at-dearborn. In addition to editing and managing this team, I write weekly primarily on topics relating to social justice, human rights, politics and under-reported news. I use this platform to curate my voice and knowledge concerning these topics. My page can be found at www.theodysseyonline.com/@angelina-camilleri.
What is your dream career and/or long term life goal?
My future holds active engagement with people—learning about systems of oppression and connection that shape daily life for real people in our world and using this knowledge to aid in transformative engagement and change. While I’m still figuring out what my absolute end goal is, I think it’s important to let the course of my life and this world lead me to where I can work within this revolution. With a constantly changing world, it’s important to stay adaptable and work where I can to organically build a career in human rights. I believe in the power of education and aim to earn a Ph.D. in the human rights/social sciences sector. I hope to use this to engage with local, national and even international institutions and movements which aim to positively impact the very real lives of people in our world to free the many who are marginalized from oppressive conditions and thus, ultimately, allow our world to grow with depth, love and peaceful action.
What was your most defining moment at UM-Dearborn?
It’s clear to me that the trajectory of my life changed completely after my first Women’s and Gender Studies (WGST) course. The intersectional material we covered, the stories we heard, the voices that were showcased and the daily lessons within that classroom and outside of it were absolutely transformative and showed me the power of education and social action. This first course led to my nomination and acceptance into the Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) program, where I first met the incredible community of activists and scholars who would be my support system for the rest of my years here and beyond. WILL lead to a minor in WGST, which then led to my double major with WGST. The education that came from this major provided me with a critical, intersectional lens from which to see the world, only made stronger when coupled with my anthropology major for a degree with which to create impact. The dynamic courses offered by the WGST program, the service encouraged by WILL, the opportunities offered by the social sciences and UM-Dearborn as a whole uncovered my passion for people and their rights. This community I was welcomed into gave me an avenue of networks for transformative action and supportive spaces to grow as a person and as an engaged activist scholar alongside my peers.