Woman of the Month - Ms. Alhia D. Harris
Everything happens for a reason, and for sure, Alhia D. Harris, Founder of D.I.W.C. (Diverse International Women of Color) and I, were meant to meet. Kismet brought us to a Pop Up in Queens, where Alhia was checking out other vendors and networking. When she came across my table, she was super friendly and professional. She introduced herself as the founder of her organization, and I immediately knew I needed to know more. With months of planning, we finally made it happen.
D.I.W.C – is a scholarship fund specially made for women that need financial assistance to study abroad. The financial assistance covers anything from books to pocket money during travels. The organization itself officially started in June 2018, but the idea came together a year prior at a reunion set in Copenhagen, Denmark. While Ms. Harris met with peers she studied with; she thought, “What if I created something for other Black and Brown girls so they can experience the same things that I experienced and meet some of the people that I met” to make lasting connections. Over the next year, Ms. Harris raised $1500, and the scholarship was born. She was able to award 4, $500 scholarships, and this year, she will be able to award 6 — wonderful progress for just two years.
For Ms. Harris, Black and Brown Woman need to study abroad because “we’re not regularly given the opportunity.” “Everyone I studied with was Caucasian, Asian, or Indian. My friends have been traveling since they were kids. Where we are from, a lot of us haven’t taken the first plane ride”. Our discussion continued, pointing out that quite often, it’s the fear of the unknown, not having the monetary resources or otherwise that prevents us from experiencing it as well. But regardless of that, Ms. Harris strongly believes that “it’s important to travel, keep an open mind, learn other cultures, experience life and find yourself,” and see what the world has to offer, “stepping out of their comfort zones to explore the world and expand their global network.”
Her experience allowed her to study in Hong Kong, China, for about five weeks in the Summer of 2012. While there she took two classes in Business Policy and Strategy and Human Resource Management, in addition to enjoying culture trips, some of which included, the Chinese Square, a visit to the Big Buddha, several Chinese villages mostly traveled by boat, Ocean Park, the Victoria Peak and experienced the Night Life. As she described her stay, you could tell it was a great experience. Her passion for learning, new experiences, and living a full life is evident. Since then, she’s traveled to numerous places, including a great deal of the Caribbean, Copenhagen, as mentioned above, India, London, and has a trip to Switzerland coming up. The experience changed her immensely. She’s looking forward to helping others have a similar experience via her scholarship.
For more information on Diverse International Women of Color, it’s scholarship program and how to donate, go to her website diwcfund.org and check her out on Instagram @d.i.w.c. Awards are granted on June 20th; I encourage you to donate if you can. Every bit helps!
Bold. Authentic. Sincere. Successful. You! Ms. Alhia D. Harris is a BASSY woman indeed.