"I will never forget speaking Spanish with faculty during lunches and teatime, and I am proud that I was able to take a full readings course in Spanish. My Spanish is no where near perfect, but the RC gave me a solid foundation that I lean on often." Mariama, like many RC alums, maintains multiple careers at once and leverages aspects of her RC experience in ways she may not have expected while a student at U-M. She uses her Spanish in her teaching career which has included a stint as a Teaching Fellow for Citizen Schools in Oakland, CA, and as a program coordinator and then director of education at 826National and 826 NYC, a national network of K-12 literacy centers. Nowadways, she's coordinating programs for Kentucky YMCA Youth Association, where she helps teens engage in leadership, policy and advocacy, and character development. She earned her Masters in Education in 2009 from Lesley University. 

"The RC is where I learned the importance of community service, and where I made some of my long-lasting friendships. It's also where I grew to be a stronger writer, under the instruction of faculty like Ken Mikolowski." Mariama majored in Creative Writing & Literature at the RC and what was called African American studies in LSA. In addition to her work with youth nonprofits, she has maintained an active writing practice and career. She attained a second masters degree, this time her MFA in Poetry from San Francisco State University in 2013. Her poetry chapbook "The Lucky Daughter" was published in 2017 by Damaged Goods Press, and her debut middle grade novel-in-verse FOR BLACK GIRLS LIKE ME from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for Young Readers came out in July 2019. Her essay “What A Black Woman Wishes her Adoptive White Parents Knew” trended on Buzzfeed News Reader in August 2016. She has edited and contributed to many youth-centered book projects including: Be Honest and Other Advice from Students Across the Country (2011, The New Press), Growing Our Hearts and Brains: Poems on love, technology, and success (2014, 826NYC), Chicken Makes the Ice Cream Taste Better: Stories on Food and Community, (2015, 826NYC), and her co-authored lesson plan “The Science of Superpowers” is included in STEM to Story: Enthralling and Effective Lesson Plans for grades 5th-8th (2015, Jossey-Bass). She is a Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Alumni, Voices of Our Nation Arts Alumni, a Literary Death Match Champion, and she continues to teach writing all over the country.

"As graduation grew nearer, I found myself called to Northern California, where I had no previous ties or connection to. Moving to the Bay Area forced me to slow down, build a home in a completely new place, and it's where I believe I grew to be an independent, fully-formed, human. When I did finally move to NYC after grad school, I found that it did not feel like home, and was not in fact a place I wanted to be in very long. It's funny how space and place can alter your concept of home and belonging so drastically... In 2015, I married my partner in San Francisco City Hall, and we have a little dachshund named Henry. I'm super proud of our little family."

Congratulations, Mariama, on your dual career and the influence you have on young people in your programs and writing. We are proud to call you an RC graduate!

RC students are encouraged to see Robby Griswold in Greene 1812 or by email at robbyg@umich.edu to get Mariama's contact information. 

Photos provided by Mariama J. Lockington. 
Top photo: author head shot. Middle photo: cover design for FOR BLACK GIRLS LIKE ME, forthcoming from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for Young Readers in July 2019. Bottom photo: Jumping the broom at her wedding, San Francisco City Hall, 2015.