Keeper of the Dream: D’Zariah Hopkins


2023 Keeper of the Dream recipient D’Zariah Hopkins.

After her first college class, Oakland University sophomore D’Zariah Hopkins felt out of place. As a first-generation student, she experienced imposter syndrome that made her feel like she didn’t belong.

When Hopkins received the Keeper of the Dream Award (KOD), she recognized OU as a place she could call home. 

Hopkins was enrolled in 12 different schools prior to her college education. She credits her nomadic childhood with exposing her to many different people and cultures.

“I’ve lived in multiple different states, multiple different cities,” Hopkins said. “It’s helped me be more aware of other cultures, other people — basically understanding that not everyone thinks like you, and the importance of being exposed to other ways of thinking.” 

As Hopkins grew roots in Michigan, she also planted seeds at OU. Hopkins works as a first-year assistant at the First Year Advising Center and is a mentor for the Center for Multicultural Initiatives. She also bonds with other students as a hairstylist

“I interact more personally with people, instead of just on the surface level, [by being a hairstylist],” she said. 

Aside from her work experience at OU, Hopkins also feels it’s important to be a role model for other students like her. 

“[In] one of my classes now, I’m the only black girl, and others — there may be one or two people who look just like me,” Hopkins said. “I just feel it’s good to just represent and not fade into the background, because there’s not many people who look like me here.”

When Hopkins became a KOD recipient, she unlocked a world of opportunities beyond her wildest dreams. She has connected with different departments on campus, and her sponsors for KOD have expressed interest in her and her endeavors. 

“[KOD] opened a lot of opportunities to make connections so that I can grow,” she said. “I’m also more acquainted around campus now. Though people didn’t know me before, now people that I don’t even remember meeting just come up to me and say, ‘congratulations.’ I think [KOD] just broadens my horizons.”

Hopkins is confident that she has the ability to conquer anything she sets her mind to due to the opportunities that have opened up for her. 

“I just want to elevate myself,” Hopkins said. “[I just want to] be a completely different person from when I came [to OU] with no knowledge of what the world could truly be, and then just leave like, ‘okay, I can go out here and conquer anything.’” 

Though she has many ambitions, Hopkins is certain she wants OU to be a constant in her future, as well.

“I do know that I want to work on campus,” she said. “I don’t know if I want that to be my career, but I guess it just depends on what I’m interested in, because I just have so many things that I want to do after Oakland.”

After her childhood of travels and what she has experienced at OU, Hopkins hopes to settle down in Michigan.

“I do want to live my life in Michigan,” Hopkins said. “I kind of don’t want to move to another state, anymore. Though, say an amazing opportunity came up somewhere else — I just want to collect opportunities like cards.”

This article is part of a series of articles about the 2023 Keeper of the Dream Awards recipients.