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Dhaara Antani

Major: Women's studies
Will be a senior this fall

The Barrier Breaker

Dhaara Antani is a dedicated student. An avid learner. A committed scholar. Maybe too committed, to hear her tell it.

Her first year at U-M, Antani was living on North Campus, studying a lot. Books were her comfort zone. She was laser focused in on academics, sometimes to the exclusion of other opportunities.

But with the help of friends, she started branching out.

“When I was stressed about school, they would hide my homework. We would find other things to do. It taught me that I gain a lot of enjoyment out of other people, and it made me grow as a person versus just as a student.” 

One small social step has led to another for Antani, who has worked hard to challenge herself and take advantage of all that LSA offers—far beyond academics.

Take the Body Peace Corps, for example, a campus organization that works to foster positive body image and prevent eating disorders. Antani liked the organization right away because it actually accomplished things. “Some clubs are just a gathering, but this club had lots of projects to get involved with, and we could all contribute whenever and wherever we could,” she says.
 

 

 

“There’s a big expectation in society that you have your life planned out and you know how it’s going to go, but that hasn’t worked for me. Trying new things, making new friends, and working hard—the combination of those three things has been a lot more rewarding than thinking ‘I’m only going to do what I planned.’”

 

She signed up and, so far, has gone on an eating disorder awareness walk, has helped with a performance where individuals told stories about what it’s like to live in their individual bodies, has participated in educational opportunities on campus, and much more. “It’s an inclusive, supportive community,” Antani says, noting that she’ll be serving in a leadership position on the organization’s board next year.

Antani has continued to push herself to keep taking on new LSA opportunities. She had her eye on an alternative spring break service opportunity for years before she thought she might be able to do it. “It was something that I’d never tried before, and there’s always this fear of, ‘How is this going to be?’ It took me a while to take action on it.”

This year, she finally jumped in and went to Texas on an HIV awareness trip.

“We helped out a nonprofit where people with HIV/AIDS are housed. People with these issues often struggle with homelessness and addiction, but at this nonprofit they were given good care, opportunities, food, and more. I was able to interact with the residents there, and help out with projects.”

The undertaking was transformative for Antani.

“It was a way to gain experience that you couldn’t otherwise get just by staying in Ann Arbor. It was always there, but I had to open my mind to it.”

Today, Antani, an LSA senior, is deciding on her plans for the year to come. And that’s okay, because she knows she can go beyond her comfort zone to figure it out.

“There’s a big expectation in society that you have your life planned out and you know how it’s going to go, but that hasn’t worked for me. Trying new things, making new friends, and working hard—the combination of those three things has been a lot more rewarding than thinking ‘I’m only going to do what I planned.’”

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