Ciani C. Wells, an English major who aspires to be a lawyer, will deliver the student commentary on behalf of the class of 2021 at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s winter commencement exercises Dec. 17.

Ciani C. Wells

“I want to use my words to congratulate, uplift, inspire and encourage my fellow students, and everyone in the audience,” she said.

Wells, who hails from Philadelphia, took at an aggressive, year-round approach to carrying a heavy course load and will graduate – with honors – in 3½ years.

She plans to spend early 2022 focused on preparing for the law school entrance exam so she can continue her studies in the fall of 2022.

Those familiar with her across the UMES campus are confident she’ll achieve that goal.

Wells said she’s hopeful of practicing law with a focus on social justice issues and representing those who deserve legal representation but may not have the means or know-how.

During her first three years, Wells’ classmates elected her to senior leadership positions, including class president as a sophomore and a junior.

She also impressed peers and faculty with her work at the UMES Writing Center, where she assisted “students with writing assignments” and tutored them on “writing concepts and principles” as well as conducted orientations for new undergraduates.

In a letter of recommendation submitted to the speaker screening committee, classmate Leah Swindler wrote that “when it comes to Ciani speaking, it definitely moves whoever she is talking to.”

“I wouldn’t want anyone else to give this speech than Ms. Ciani Wells,” Swindler wrote.

Wells also found time to volunteer in promoting voter registration, assisting with weekly COVID-19 testing, participating in campus clean-up initiatives and as a Women’s History Month project, played a key role in organizing a drive to collect and donate cash and hygiene products to a local homeless shelter.

Wells left her mark as student speaker-writer-ambassador for the university’s communications office.

During the spring 2020 pandemic-induced lockdown of campus, Wells agreed to write an essay describing strategies she employed to cope with distance-learning.  Focus on time management – “me time,” she called it, including binge-watching a favorite TV drama – was her shared advice to create some sense of adjusting to the so-called “new normal.”

She accepted the challenge of representing UMES in an Instagram Live interview organized around a “Support Black Colleges” theme and impressed the event’s organizers with her grasp of the university’s colorful history, which she researched on just a few days’ notice.

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