Tiara McKinney ’25 traveled to the U.S. to attend Dickinson because of the college’s emphases on global education and civic engagement. A tour guide, peer advisor and admissions ambassador who interns at a local nonprofit through Dickinson’s Center for Civic Learning & Action, McKinney discusses why involvement in the campus and local community is so beneficial to students, her experiences studying abroad in Spain and the class that’s helping her make the most of her experiences as a student in the U.S. McKinney also describes the essay she published in an anthology about the experiences of young Black women students and her hobby of researching true crime.
Eleuthera, The Bahamas.
Clubs and organizations:
Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society.
Best thing about my Dickinson experience so far:
The people at Dickinson are the best thing about my experience here. Many professors and students are compassionate to both friends and strangers. During my first year, I tried various activities and could freely pursue my interests, which I credit to the welcoming and noncompetitive environment among Dickinsonians. Everyone has their niche, and even among those whose interests overlap, there is usually collaboration.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead.
On choosing Dickinson:
I decided to attend Dickinson because of its close relationship with the Carlisle community and its emphasis on a global-centered education. The Center for Civic Learning & Action, along with other Dickinson departments, allows Dickinsonians to find their place within the college and local community through service and other collaborative efforts. Additionally, every Dickinsonian is encouraged to study abroad and learn more about the world beyond Carlisle and the broader United States by studying different languages and cultures and doing research.
Favorite place on campus:
Favorite class so far:
My favorite class has been Culture and Psychology with Assistant Professor of Psychology Rui Zhang. I have been able to apply knowledge from this class to my experience as an international student, and there is overlap between this course and others that I have taken. In this course, we reviewed psychological research to explore how and why cultures differ, and we examined our own experiences and how our cultures have impacted who we are.
Researching true crime. I watch videos and research true crime because I have always loved mystery, and listening to real-world stories allows me to empathize and engage more with cases. Since crime is out of the realm of my everyday life, I often wonder about people’s motivations to commit such heinous acts, and I try to apply my knowledge from psychology courses to presume the aggressor’s motivations.
As I kid, I wanted to be …
… a teacher.
On studying abroad:
This past summer, I studied in Málaga, Spain. While there, I took two courses, one about the Spanish language and the other about Spanish culture and history. During the week, I took classes at the International Center of the University of Málaga, and on weekends, I went on excursions with the Dickinson group to other cities in southern Spain. The highlight of my experience was the trip to Sevilla, a city in southern Spain. In Sevilla, we toured a cathedral and were able to see the amalgamation of the Catholic and Muslim forces in Spain’s history. Overall, I became immersed in the lifestyle of Spain while staying there, and I improved my Spanish speaking skills. I am grateful to have had such a life-changing experience, and I hope to return.
If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …
… Sir Lynden Pindling (first Black prime minister of The Bahamas).
About my internship:
I am currently an intern with the Carlisle Victory Circle through the Center for Civic Learning & Action’s Community Engagement Fellows program. Carlisle Victory Circle (CVC) is a local organization that works with middle- and high-school students to promote character development and success through education. In the future, I want to work with children, so this experience naturally intrigued me. I spend time with high-schoolers through CVC’s after-school program, and I have gotten to learn more about the students whom I work with while also gaining experience with planning and organizing events. I have also improved my problem-solving abilities, a result of fostering communication between students with different personalities and goals.
Proudest accomplishment so far:
Publishing an essay in an anthology. I was published in Black Girl, White School by Olivia Clarke, an anthology that details the experiences of Black, young women at predominantly white institutions. In my piece, I detailed the pressures that I felt to assimilate as a Black international student while attending a predominantly white boarding school.
Most important thing I’ve learned so far:
I am still learning how to let go of my desire for perfection, and this process allows me to extend grace to myself and others. It also allows me to prioritize my mental health and to recognize that I cannot control everything.