Maya Angelou and Rollins: A Reflection

March 01, 2011








Maya AngelouEveryone has their heroes… some real, some imaginary, some living, some long passed. For me, I can’t think of anyone I’ve admired more than Maya Angelou. Renowned poet and author of 12 best-selling books, she is hailed as a Renaissance woman and considered a national treasure.

My profound respect for Ms. Angelou began in 1989 as I started my first year at Berea College. As part of our summer reading program, we explored her book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” intensely discussing the book, her life and her legacy.

On my first day of college, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Angelou with my fellow college peers. She inspired me as a woman of color to reach for the stars no matter what obstacles were placed on my path. 

So, imagine my delight when I joined Rollins College in 2008 and learned about all of the ways Rollins has paid tribute to Maya Angelou through the years, including presenting her with an honorary doctor of humane letters in 1985.

In 1994, President Emerita Rita Bornstein dedicated a stone to her along the Rollins Walk of Fame. Her stone is located in front of Mills and reads: “Maya Angelou; Poet Professor; Scholar”.  In March 2007, Rollins hosted a Colloquy to Explore the Role of a Liberal Education in the 21st Century.  Maya Angelou visited once again and participated in a series of intense conversations on what the students of tomorrow should take away from their time at college.

In 1989, the Maya Angelou Resource Library was created during one of Ms. Angelou’s visits to Rollins. It houses a collection of books and films dedicated to the promotion of equality and multiculturalism in and outside the classroom. She was so thrilled when she heard about this endeavor, saying “I am honored, I am delighted. My heart belongs to Rollins College. Joy!”

Now, I have the honor and the privilege of honoring Maya Angelou once again with the establishment of the Maya Angelou Resource Libguide a tool that arranges and lists the collections of books and DVDs in the Resource Library.

During the 2011 Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) and Women's Studies Department at Rollins provided Olin Library with a wide selection of materials addressing racism, discrimination and identity.  Susan Montgomery, Olin librarian, dedicated her time to designing and creating the Maya Angelou Resource Libguide.

At OMA, we believe the collections of books and DVDs in Maya Angelou Resource Libguide serve the purpose behind the 2007 Colloquy as well.  We also asked ourselves, “How can institutions of higher learning remain relevant in our 21st-century world in which there are a number of alternative forms of education, such as online learning?” The Libguide is certainly here at Rollins to provide 21st century based information about the world and its people, which prepares our students well as they enter a multicultural workforce.

By Mahjabeen Rafiuddin, director of multicultural affairs


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