Aleemah Williams ‘24 was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina and graduated from North Carolina Cyber Academy. At Dartmouth, Aleemah is currently pursuing a modified major of Government (with a heavy emphasis on International Relations and Comparative Politics) and Physics while minoring in International Studies (and potentially Public Policy).
During her high school career, Aleemah has held several internships with Superior court judges, private attorneys and state representatives. Aleemah is currently on Dartmouth’s varsity women’s rugby team where she is both a player and a member of the of the leadership team and participates in multiple organizations on campus such as Al-Nur, Dartmouth Women in Law and Politics, serves as member on the DP2 Inclusive Excellence Council, and has participated in the Leadership Lab at Dartmouth. After graduation, Aleemah plans to attend law school and become a practicing international attorney.
Key points Aleemah shares:
"The students here are amazing. The professors are amazing. And if you just have a random conversation, it's you just see how lucky you are to be surrounded by these amazing and brilliant minds."
"Find out what feels comfortable for you. When you're making this [college] decision, don't base your decision on what other individuals want you to do."
Q; What do you think made you stand out to Dartmouth in particular?
A: How I would say I stood out would have to do with my varied interests and the opportunities that I was exposed to. And so one thing would be just like, my passion for helping others, which I know is a very basic answer, but it's more so what I did. I tried to help others in a way where diversity was always one thing that I emphasized.
"I would coach middle school kids so they'd see what a hijab Muslim looks like, and okay, this Muslim is also coaching us, you know, she's also a really good rugby player and making sure that I stand out in the way that I carried myself. "
One thing that did help was my interview went great. I really bonded with the interviewer. And so I think that's one thing that helped me stand out and identify this shared passion for Dartmouth and showed I would be a good fit for Dartmouth. That was one thing in addition to exposure and diversity. Another thing was that I wrote them an extra letter talking about how much I love Dartmouth and how I wanted to be one of the alumnae there. I wanted to have the same opportunities that amazing women like Shonda Rhimes, you know, Leah Daughtry, and so many other women have had that opportunity. That's what I wanted. I was saying I loved to contribute to campus in so many ways. I think that letter definitely made me stand out. I had an amazing quote in there — I can't think of it right now — but that letter, and just how unique my application as a whole was, helped me. For instance, I decided to write my essay on Lilo and Stitch and not a lot of individuals do that. So just like that, coupled with everything else kind of made me stand out, in my opinion.
Q: You mentioned that many schools recruited you to play rugby, yet you chose to go to Dartmouth although they didn’t recruit you. You also mentioned this is because the school has been a childhood dream. Was this any easy decision to make?
A: Honestly, it was a pretty easy decision. I did have offers from other places, but I knew if I get into Dartmouth, I want to do that on my own accord, based on my academic success. So I never put forward a recruitment application, and whatnot. And with other colleges, usually Ivy Leagues or rugby schools that are in the northeast, or even in the north or the West Coast, they do not recruit from the southeast. In my case, my high school rugby program was just booming, we're doing great, we're running, all these festivals are winning all these tournaments, yada, yada, all these games.
And so we kind of put ourselves on the spot, which is why at least in my senior class, we had so many offers compared to the class before us. And I decided no, these schools are great, but I love Dartmouth and I did attend a camp at Dartmouth and then after I talked to their coaches, it was like Dartmouth became my dream. But I decided I wanted to get in based on my own success, as opposed to being recruited athlete. I have so much respect for recruited athletes, and everything that they do, but I just wanted to, I guess separate my academic success from my athletic success. In a way, I don't know if that makes sense — I got myself in, as opposed to having extra support.
"And if you just have a random conversation, it's you just see how lucky you are to be surrounded by these amazing and brilliant minds." ~ Williams '24
Q: What type of student do you think would fit going to Dartmouth?
A: I will say that Dartmouth is just an amazing place. I just have so many amazing peers. I have a friend from South Korea, I have a friend from Boston, he's like, the US debate champion. I know people who are from New Zealand and or individuals from Singapore who actually competed and played for the Singapore team, I believe, just they're so amazing.
They all have these different interests.
And you know, it's always amazing being surrounded by such amazing people, but also having that social aspect. Yes, we're an Ivy League, but we also understand that we're still growing and developing, and so it's fun to get all your work out. But it's also fun to socialize with your friends at the same time.
There's a balance between the two. The students here are amazing. The professors are amazing. And if you just have a random conversation, it's you just see how lucky you are to be surrounded by these amazing and brilliant minds.
Q: What would you tell students that are stressing about college right now?
A: For me, personally, I tend to not stress.
I like to just relax and understand that things happen even if I've worked for it. And if I don't get it, I can always work harder next time around, which is kind of what I did with being admitted regular decision as opposed to early decision.
But I would suggest finding a school that you're passionate about, going on a few tours, but in addition to going on tours, randomly talk to students, because tour guides will always just really hype up their school.
And if you're a recruited athlete, go out of your way to talk to some students on the team. Of course, in regards to the NCAA policy, also talk to students at the school that isn't associated with the team just to get different perspectives. Reach out to the professors in areas that you're interested in, and also just tour the school on your own in addition to that, so make sure that you like the food, you like the people, you've liked the classes, you like the location because Dartmouth is isolated.
Literally, we're in the middle of the woods and our phrase is, “Welcome to the woods." I say this because there are students here who are uncomfortable with that, but I would suggest that high school students who are currently looking at colleges visit the location and see, hey, I would like to be in the suburbs, or I would like to be in the woods, or I would like to be in a city.
Find out what feels comfortable for you. When you're making this decision, don't base your decision on what other individuals want you to do. You're going to be in college for the next two to four years, depending on where you're at with your life. And this is about you being happy. So you might be recruited to, let's say, Boston University, but your dream is to go to a school like Queens University in Charlotte, go ahead and do whatever makes you happy, not other individuals around you.
The last thing I'll say is, as an undergrad, although it's a college and not necessarily considered a university, it does have a grad school program. Because the grad school program is so small, most of the research that the professors do, their research assistants are usually undergraduate students. It's so amazing, like one of my friends is studying Lyme disease with the geography department and it's just so interesting. You never know what you could do. You can also work for the business school or the medical school. They spend so much money on databases for us to access so we can connect and have access to endless amounts of research. In addition to that, we have access to information about NGOs that we might be interested in. We have the opportunity to contact them. That's one thing that makes Dartmouth stand out. In addition to that, it's the support from the professors in smaller classes and a more personalized experience. It really helps. That’s when you know that your professor actually cares about you. It definitely helps with your performance and your overall experience.
Q: What are some unique opportunities offered by Dartmouth?
A: The networking is amazing — they have something similar to an alumni database.
They have one for all students, and they have one for athletes. I'm lucky enough to be in the one that's for athletes. You go in there and you can connect with alumni who are in a place that you want to be and are active in your current or your future career goal. We have something called the career professional development center. and they work with you on applications and essays. They also connect you with internship opportunities or research opportunities. Some of the programs that they put on are just like remarkable and amazing.
We also have this one department where they will help you finance your internship. It's a very competitive program, but if you're accepted or admitted into the program, they will connect you with a nonprofit organization that you can work with for the whole summer.
It's a really rewarding experience from what I understand.
If you're not placed with one of these pre-existing programs, or NGOs, then you can create your own internship opportunity and go to this department, and they will finance you as well. Moreover, Dr. Seuss is a famous alumnus that went to Dartmouth, so we have a medical school named after him. We have some of his original works in our library. In addition to his original works, we have books that are over 100 years old. We can go in there and we can actually touch and read the books. There's just all these opportunities.
The last thing I'll say is, as an undergrad, although it's a college and not necessarily considered a university, it does have a grad school program. Because the grad school program is so small, most of the research that the professors do, their research assistants are usually undergraduate students. It's so amazing, like one of my friends is studying Lyme disease with the geography department and it's just so interesting.
You never know what you could do.
You can also work for the business school or the medical school. They spend so much money on databases for us to access so we can connect and have access to endless amounts of research. In addition to that, we have access to information about NGOs that we might be interested in. We have the opportunity to contact them. That's one thing that makes Dartmouth stand out. In addition to that, it's the support from the professors in smaller classes and a more personalized experience. It really helps. That’s when you know that your professor actually cares about you. It definitely helps with your performance and your overall experience.
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