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News Alumni Dialogue: Briana McLean

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First AAP student inducted into Delta Alpha Pi discusses her experiences

​Briana McLean (fifth student from left, second row) was inducted into Delta Alpha Pi on Feb. 27, 2016. She graduated from the AAP in May.

​​​​​​At the beginning of the spring  semester, Briana McLean — now a 2016 graduate of the Wilmington campus — was the first-ever AAP student to be inducted into the Delta Alpha Pi International Honors Society, an academic honor society that recognizes high-achieving college and university students with disabilities. In a recent interview, Briana discussed her history with the Associate in Arts Program, her challenges and successes as a student, and her plans for the future as she prepares to continue her education in Newark.

Briana, who attended Appoquinimink High School, will likely feel more at home than many relocating AAP grads: Newark is her hometown, so unlike many of her fellow students, she won't face the dual challenges of navigating both a new town and a new campus this fall. She plans to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies, with a concentration in Environment and Society. She also plans to minor in Japanese. "With this combination of language, business, economic, and environmental skill, I plan to travel, focus on conservation and sustainability, and take care of the nature that has been taking care of us," she says. 

While she hasn't yet decided on a specific career, Briana knows she wants to stay within this field and is weighing several options. Her study of Japanese might lead to a career in interpretation, she says, although her concern for the environment has led her to consider incorporating her language studies with her ENVR degree to become an environmental consultant in foreign countries, or an international-relations and sustainability consultant.​

Challenges and successes on path to degree

​​McLean, wearing her Delta Alpha Pi honors cord.

Looking back on her time at the AAP, Briana says she faced several academic challenges to stay on track for her eventual four-year degree. "One was practicing Japanese," she says. "They didn't offer [the] language in this program, so I had to travel to main campus to keep my language skills from high school in the two-year gap." In addition, she says, "The math department's rules made me unable to take a bachelor's in science without an extra two years of math." This "happy accident," as she calls it, led to her shifting her sights to a Bachelor of Arts degree instead.

Despite some of these obstacles that she faced in preparing for her four-year degree, Briana credits the AAP's faculty and staff for helping her achieve her goals. "I would say that all the professors were helpful to me in some way, even in the small imparting of knowledge to me," she says. "It shaped who I was, what I knew, and how I viewed the world, and they all took part in that process."

Briana also acknowledged the skill-building exercises in public speaking and leadership she completed during her final semester at the AAP and the advisors who helped her stay on track as she navigated the program. She is particularly grateful for the assistance she received from the staff of the University's Office of Disabilities Support Services, as well. "The DSS helped me in getting the things I needed and was crucial to my success," she says.

As Briana looks forward to student life on the main campus, she says there are things she will miss, such as the smaller classes and the personal attention they afford. "The UDAAP was amazing despite its minor obstacles and was definitely a blessing," she says, adding that she would recommend the program to future students. "Without it, I would've never been so sure about my major, met these great people, and got the attention I needed on a personal level. I'm almost sad to leave this, but change is always good."


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Recent grad Briana McLean discusses her time in the program, her challenges, and her plans for the future as she prepares to transition to the Newark campus.

Recent grad Briana McLean discusses her time in the program, her challenges, and her plans for the future as she prepares to transition to the Newark campus.​​

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Alumni Dialogue: Briana McLean
  • Associate in Arts Program
  • UD Academic Center
  • 300 N. Orange St.
  • Wilmington, DE 19801
  • Phone: (302) 571-5395
  • Fax: (302) 657-5198