COLUMBIA, S.C. (courtesy columbiasc.edu) — “Never limit yourself.” That is the advice from Columbia College alumna Kayce Munyeneh, recently elected as the youngest and only Black mayor in Cheverly, Maryland’s ninety-year history. After high school, Kayce decided to follow in her aunt’s footsteps and attend Columbia College, which soon became her home away from home. She joined every club and enjoyed every experience that campus had to offer. She wants to encourage current and future Koalas to “find out who you can be, and then don’t limit yourself, even to that.”
Growing up, Kayce dreamed of being the first African American Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court; she even laughed and shared that she has a homework assignment from childhood that proves this claim. Her favorite show as a child was Matlock, and she was confident that she could do Ben Matlock’s job as a beloved, yet grumpy criminal defense attorney just about as well as he could.
With Supreme Court dreams, Kayce started her journey at Columbia College with plans to pursue a law degree. It was during her time studying political science under the tutelage of Dr. Edward Sharkey that she discovered that law school was not the only possible path for her. Dr. Sharkey even advised her that her brutal honesty would serve her well in politics. This guidance, in tandem with the knowledge that women apologize too much in the workplace – and her learned skills to combat this tendency – equipped Kayce to chase her dreams in an unexpected way. Kayce noted that Columbia College has the best professors and staff – bar none – that she has come into contact with throughout her career.
Today, the newly elected mayor looks back fondly at her time at Columbia College. She is grateful for the leadership principles she learned as a Koala: Do not limit your potential. Do not limit your power. Do not limit your voice. Never in her wildest dreams did Kayce see herself in politics, but Columbia College fostered a sisterhood among the student body that empowered her as a woman, gave her the confidence to never fear using her voice, and instilled the idea that “anyone can create real change.” With all of that in mind, when faced with a new opportunity, Kayce thought, “Why not me?” She credits her experiences at the college for that confidence.