At Connecticut College, economics professor Maria Cruz-Saco first noticed Fabiola Miakassissa when the Davis UWC Scholar—who was born in Congo, grew up mostly in England, and attended UWC of the Atlantic — took one of her classes as a first-year student. “She disputed. She challenged the theoretical foundations of this very formal way of thinking about the economy,” the professor recalled. “Because of her questions and the way she framed them, I saw that she had a very critical mind. And I enjoyed that.”
Cruz-Saco has also enjoyed seeing Fabiola’s impact on other students in the classroom. “She brings this very different perspective, from the developing world—that it’s a different reality,” the professor said. “She is very critical in her views, and that helps propel a great discussion. She infuses the learning process with her clarity, with her perspective. It’s contagious!”
By the time Fabiola was a junior, she’d been awarded the Beverly G. Kowal prize as the international student who had done the most to enrich her college’s intellectual, cultural, and social life. A philosophy and economics major, she had served in a number of volunteer roles on campus committees and student initiatives. She created and co-administers a Facebook page for the Economics Department; and when she needed to raise $2,000 to join a clean-water project in a village in northern Ghana, Fabiola cooked dinner for 200 people, each of whom donated $10 or more.
“I talked to them about the water crisis in Ghana, how it affects people, and what I would be doing,” Fabiola recalled. Completing that project with the nonprofit Community Water Solutions Project, “I realized that we can do so much in a very short period of time, as long as the project is well-planned and well-organized,” Fabiola said in a telephone interview from Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, where she was doing a semester’s work on international commerce and trade.
“She has an impact on American kids—they look up to her,” Prof. Cruz-Saco observed. “It’s just wonderful to have students like Fabiola in the classroom. I wish I had many more!”