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Behind the Leader: Ariel Dickerman

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

All SBS students acquire and exhibit leadership qualities through their participation in a variety of campus activities; however there is one group in particular that is focused on empowering leaders within the SBS community.

The Academic Leadership Fellows Program (ALFP) supports SBS undergraduate students to develop their academic and leadership potential to their fullest extent. The program gives students an academic community in which to grow and flourish.

Ariel Dickerman, Academic Leadership Fellow, is very involved in the program and on campus.

“When I received the email inviting me to join ALFP, it was the first time I’d been identified as a leader,” says Dickerman. “This recognition helped me understand that my particular skills and interests can be channeled into leadership roles. Since then, I’ve become more involved in the UMass community and all it took was someone telling me that my leadership skillset was an asset, not something to hide.”

Dickerman isn’t just involved with ALFP. She also is one of the pioneer alumni of UMass Women into Leadership (UWiL), president of the National Political Science Honor Society Pi Sigma Alpha, a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, and she volunteers remotely for the American Immigration Lawyers Association/CARA Pro Bono Project, which provides free legal aid to women and children who enter the US to escape domestic and gang-based violence who are being detained in a detention facility in Dilley, Texas. “I plan to travel to the Dilley detention facility as a volunteer in January,” she says.

Dickerman also currently interns at Curran & Berger LLP, an immigration law firm in Northampton. Previously, she interned for US Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office in Boston. “Each of these experiences continue to shape my professional development and outlook on the world,” explains Dickerman. “I have learned how to dress and conduct myself in an office setting, and have honed other skills necessary to the types of careers I want to pursue. I’ve developed a great network of professionals as well as other interns who have connected me with other opportunities.”

Prior to coming to UMass, Dickerman never saw herself as someone who would have the opportunity to be an agent of change. She quickly learned the resources available to her on campus and got in contact with faculty and administrators, opening her eyes to a world of opportunity she hadn’t previously known or considered.

“I plan to graduate this spring, a year early, with a double major in Political Science and Legal Studies with a certificate in International Relations. I hope to work as a paralegal at an immigration law firm for the next few years while preparing for the LSAT and ultimately attending law school. I hope to work for the federal government, as a legislator or lawyer, to pass the first major federal immigration reform since 1965.”

SBS creates leaders, and the Academic Leadership Fellows Program is an excellent venue for learning how to develop leadership qualities and opportunities. If you’d like to learn more, visit the ALFP webpage.

If you’re a member of ALFP and would like to be featured in our new Behind the Leader series, or would like to nominate someone to be profiled, please email Emilie Ferreira at



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