Academy Leaders


The MLK Academy employs Academy Leaders who assist participants throughout their academic journey while attending WMU. Academy Leaders must have a grade point average of at least a 3.0 and must hold junior, senior, or graduate status by fall of the academic year they are interested in working. Academy Leaders must be flexible and have the ability to work with a diverse population.

Academy Leaders

Bell, Ci'Erah

Ci'Erah Bell
Hometown: Kalamazoo, MI
Major: Early Childhood Elementary Education
Minors: Language Arts, Social Studies, and Dance
Year in School: Senior
More about Ci'Erah: I’m studying to become a teacher to help inspire children while learning. I love children and love helping others while having fun. I’m committed to everything I’m a part of. I love to listen when someone just needs to vent, and if his or her heart is heavy, I will try to lift him or her up some type of way.
I wanted to work with the Academy because as an MLK Academy participant myself, I know what it’s like to go through this program. I want to help freshmen know where to go or what to do if there are any issues. I’m not just a leader; I’m a mentor and someone who really wants to make sure that their freshmen year will be successful.

Gichinga, James

James Gichinga
Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya
Major: Aviation Maintenance Technology
Year in School: Senior
More about James: I really enjoy helping students make the most out of their experience in college. I think that as students transition into the university, I can help them avoid wasting time and to successfully meet their goals. By majoring in aviation maintenance technology, I have learned the importance of being organized and professional. I hope to be able to start job opportunities in Kenya related to the field of aviation maintenance technology since they do not presently exist. My other goals are to further develop leadership skills and to improve my country by working closely with its citizens. MLK Academy is a space that allows me to start working on these goals while helping students like myself.

Henriquez, Joel

Joel Henriquez
Hometown: Bonao, Monseñor Nouel, Dominican Republic
Major: Aviation Management Technology
Minor: Management
Year in School: Graduate
More about Joel: I hope to be able to finish what I already started with pride and I hope on the time it had been set. I always hope for the best to happen even when the storm is in its best momentum. Parts of my dreams have been to attend to a university where I could gain the knowledge that will lead me to accomplish my maximum goal. That goal would be to start running my own aviation company back in the Dominican Republic and that is why I chose to minor in management, but that doesn’t end right there. I hope when I achieve this goal that will give me the opportunity to help others, especially children.
I really wanted to work for the Academy because I want to encourage the students to pursue their dreams no matter how difficult the obstacles are. That will be achieved based on the experience that I have gone through these years especially after I left the Air Force Academy in the Dominican Republic.

King, Jazmine

Jazmine King
Hometown: Lansing, MI
Major: Exercise Science
Minor: Spanish
Year in School: Junior
More about Jazmine:I plan to finish my undergraduate program here within a couple years and head straight to graduate school to
pursue my career as a physical therapist. I love helping people and
encouraging others to be the best and do the best they possibly can. I am a very proactive, positive, and hands-on individual who will do anything to help someone out. I am very determined and self motivated and I love to watch people grow as they reach their goals.

I wanted to become an MLK leader because of the impact my MLK leader had on me. She was a huge encourager, always positive and believed in me so that I could believe in myself. I believe that I possess the same traits and have the ability to help the MLK students through their college journey and to help them grow into the successful individuals I know they can be.

Pacheco, Laura

Laura Pacheco
Hometown: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Program: Counseling Psychology
Year in School: Graduate
More about Laura: I am passionate about working with people from diverse backgrounds, particularly students. MLK Academy has given me a great opportunity to do this. I believe there is always so much to learn from those collaborative experiences, and I welcome opportunities conducive to growth. I am originally from the Dominican Republic, where I got my bachelor’s degree in psychology. I have lived in Kalamazoo since 2008 and am currently working on my doctorate in counseling psychology. My goals are to be involved in teaching and clinical practice that will enable me to assist others in achieving their own personal and professional goals. I would also like to travel around the world and have a big family!


Peter D. Ruei
Hometown: Sudan, North Africa
Major: International Development Administration
Year in School: Graduate
More about Peter: Peter was a "lost boy," the name given the thousands of orphaned children left to wander the deserts of their war-torn country. In 1988, 17,000 Sudanese youth like him became refugees as they fled to Ethiopia, as well as to Kenya, seeking safety. He came to Kalamazoo, specifically Western  Michigan University in the Fall of 2006, as a participant in the John Seita Scholars Program. The Seita Scholars Program is a tuition scholarship that supports WMU students who have lived some or all of their teenage years in foster care. In 2011, Peter received his Bachelor of Science degree in aviation science and administration.  

I value education and I have wanted to be involved in a leadership position since being a participant in the MLK Academy. Because of the opportunities afforded to me here at WMU, I also want to be able to give back. I enjoy learning, politics and listening to NPR. My career goal is to make a difference whether in the United States or in Africa. With my degree I would like to be able to assess the programs that purport to support people in Africa to see if the resources are really available to them and if these programs really make a difference. Lastly, as a result of my personal testimony, I want to encourage others to pursue their dreams. "I've been through so much, and I want people to know, if I can make it, they can too."

Wang'Alia, Rodney

Rodney Makuto Wang'Alia
Hometown: Nakuru, Kenya
Major: Electrical Engineering
Minor: Public Relations
Year in School: Junior
More about Rodney: I am from Nakuru, Kenya and my dream is to impact change in my family, both economically and intellectually, and to move on to empower the community at large, which I hope to do through becoming the best I can be as an electrical engineer and an innovator. I really wanted to be a part of the MLK Academy as I believe it will foster my leadership, intellect as well as relationship skills as students learn from me and I from them.

Yarrell, Angela

Angela Yarrell
Hometown: Lansing, MI
Major: Secondary Education - Mathematics
Year in School: Junior
More about Angela: I am a junior at Western Michigan University. I've been working in the MLK Academy since the beginning of Fall 2012. I love my job working with the first-year students. They are so much fun and I love the feeling I get from advising them and making sure they are on track in all aspects of WMU. In my free time I enjoy hanging out with friends, doing arts and crafts, and just enjoying all the great opportunities I have in my life. I also work in the student ambassador program in the admissions office, so I get to encourage high school students to come here. I get to work with younger students and help them understand the importance of college. Before graduation I plan on studying abroad in Rome and I am so excited. After graduation I plan on being a high school math teacher, then to eventually become a college professor, have a family, and to be successful in all that I do.




Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Academy
2260 Ellsworth Hall
MI 49008-5233
Phone: (269) 387-3317
Fax: (269) 387-3390

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Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Academy

Division of Multicultural Affairs

2260 Ellsworth Hall
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5233 USA
Phone: (269) 387-3317 | Fax: (269) 387-3390