Originally from sunny Florida, Aja Gregg’s post-high school plan was simple—get away from Florida and become a dental hygienist. That was before recruiters started calling with offers to play basketball in college. Among those recruiters was Northland’s own Daryle Tucker who had something the others didn’t—a campus 1,800 miles away and generous scholarship support.
With an initial plan to major in biology and go to dental school after college, Aja headed north.
Once at Northland, Coach Tucker created a supportive environment for Aja and her teammates. Believing college is an opportunity to grow as people and athletes, he invited Professor Kevin Schanning to speak to them about what it means to be a good student. This opportunity sparked Aja’s interest in Professor Schanning’s sociology program and created a teacher-student connection that would change the course of her studies—and her life.
Inspired by Schanning’s passion for the subject and a meaningful identification with its concepts and her lived experience, Aja changed her major to sociology. Now, after three years of working with Dr. Schanning as a mentor and friend, Aja aims to become a sociology professor to inspire others to make social change just like Professor Schanning did for her.
Northland’s small class sizes provided Aja with the individualized attention necessary to grow academically for success in graduate school and beyond. Now in her senior year as a McNair Scholar, research assistant for two professors, the Don Chase alumni relations intern, and returning as a member of the LumberJills basketball team, Aja is leaving no opportunity untapped.
When reflecting on her time at Northland, Aja has immense gratitude for the mentorship she received from Coach Tucker and Professor Schanning. Without them, she would have headed back to Florida years ago. But, with their support and scholarships from generous donors, Aja used her Northland experience to thrive. With commencement on the horizon and grad school to follow, we can’t wait to see where she goes from here.