Reality checkpoint: Aya Waller-Bey

Reality checkpoint: Aya Waller-Bey

  • Aya Waller-Bey

Photo by: Laura Pannack

Aya Waller-Bey (Clare Hall 2015) is a Gates Scholar who studied for an MPhil in Education.

I love music – I study and read listening to it, and my friends will tell you I’m the DJ when I work at the ALB.

I grew up in Detroit, in a neighbourhood where few went to college. I’m a first generation college student, but that never stopped me from exploring educational opportunities inside and outside the USA.

When I arrived in September 2015 I felt very homesick. I’m a people person and outgoing, so signing up to work at the College bar was a great way to get to know students and fellows. We called the bar the ALB – short for Anthony Low Bar. I worked mostly Wednesday nights, which is Formal Hall night – it was our busiest time. I saw people I know, we played music – it’s a very social space and that tied me in Cambridge.

My research was about how hip hop informs adolescents’ understanding of gender identity and sexual consent. I love music – I studied and read listening to it, and my friends will tell you I was the DJ when I worked at the ALB. One of my favourite parts of the job was choosing the bar’s music and I was very picky about what was being played. My playlist might include Rihanna’s 'Work' or a collaboration by Drake and Future – American artists connected me to home.

Working was also enjoyable to me – it grounded me and kept me in the real world. Most of all, though, I got a rush seeing other people enjoy what I’m playing.

This article first appeared in CAM - the Cambridge Alumni Magazine, edition 78. Find out how to receive CAM.

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