A colleague once asked me, “How do you do it? How do you manage it all?” She asked after I shared that I was in a Ph.D. program, a mother of a baby girl, and was working full-time. My answer was simple, “I compartmentalize each of my responsibilities”. However, this response felt dismissive and overly simplified. If she were to ask me again, I would have a more helpful answer.
Rachel’s poetry collection, BLACK BALLAD, published by Bull City Press will be available in Summer 2022. You can preorder a copy or find out more about the author and the collection on Rachel’s website.
Yasmin Elgoharry, IRT ‘14, ’20 Yasmin is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s (UCONN) Neag School 2022 Alumni Board Scholarship. Yasmin is a doctoral student at UCONN in Leading, Learning & Educational Policy with a concentration in higher education racial justice and decolonization.
Reginald Wilburn, IRT ’98 Congratulations to Reginald who has been appointed Dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Texas Christian University. Wilburn earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in English from the University of Connecticut, and his B.A. in English from the University of the District of Columbia.
Brighid Dwyer, IRT ’01 Brighid was named Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania beginning in December. Congratulations to Brighid on this appointment. She received her undergraduate degree in sociology from UCLA and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.
Monica Muñoz Martinez, IRT ’05 Monica was named a 2021 MacArthur Fellow. The MacArthur Fellowship is unrestricted and unofficially known as the “Genius Grant.” The MacArthur Foundation considers that the fellowship “is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential.” Congratulations, Monica, on this prestigious award.
The Beyond the Border series explores questions and engages in conversation on race and diversity issues. The fourth session, “A Hip-Hop Mogul & A Financier,” aired on March 31, 2021 and hosted by IRT alum Shantel Palacio. This session focuses on issues of access and pathways to success, and features John Forte, Grammy Award Winning Artist, producer for the seminal hip-hop group The Fugees, writer and activist, and Eric Logan, Principal, Industrial Manufacturing Strategy; Operations CoE lead at KPMG.
Commentary byPatricia Feraud-King, IRT ’14, ’17 PhD Candidate in Higher Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
On February 3, 2021, four UMass Amherst graduate students, including IRT alumnae and PhD candidates Patricia “Tita” Feraud-King, IRT ’14, ’17 and Kat J. Stephens ’13, presented at National Conference on Race and Ethnicity’s (NCORE) webinar series. Their interactive session titled, “ADOS, Sh**t-Hole Countries, and (Which) Black Lives Matter: Engaging Contemporary Intra-racial and Transnational Dynamics Surrounding Black College Students” had over 200 attendees. Their session focused on the complexity of the Black transnational collegiate identity and the implications of contemporary issues such as the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) movement, Black Lives Matter, U.S. political climate and policies, and the pandemic. They spoke about the differences and shared experiences of Black immigrant collegians, Black international students, and Black children of immigrant collegians, including experiencing nativism and racism. Their presentation was grounded in the following research studies: their ongoing Diverse Black Student study, Feraud-King (2020), Feraud-King & George Mwangi (2020), and Stephens (2020) studies. Based on these studies, the theme that connects the three groups of the Black transnational population is that it is essential to build intra-racial relationships among the Black population regardless of the nativity because of their shared Black identity. Yet it is also vital to acknowledge that each group has their unique experiences related to their foreign identity.
Their presentation’s goal was to “connect the influence of the U.S. sociopolitical climate to the college experiences of diverse Black students, particularly racist nativism, anti-Blackness, racial homogenizing, and intra-racial dynamics (tensions and community); identify practices that address Black student heterogeneity and Black intra-racial dynamics across ethnicity and nativity, especially during the pandemic; and assess whether their campus practices acknowledge Black student heterogeneity,” (NCORE, 2021). For Tita Feraud-King, M.S.Ed, the presentation has “affirmed my identity as a second-generation Black immigrant and reminded me why I am doing this work—this work matters, people care to learn more about foreign-born and children of immigrant Black experiences, and the importance of discussing the ill results of white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and nativism”. To watch their webinar online, click here.
Commentary by Kat J. Stephens, IRT ’13 PhD Candidate in Higher Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
I had the tremendous opportunity and privilege to share research on a topic and community close to my heart. Myself alongside three of my University of Massachusetts Amherst colleagues, presented a webinar for NCORE, (National Conference on Race & Ethnicity). It was titled “ADOS, XYZ Countries, and (Which) Black Lives Matter: Engaging Contemporary Intra-Racial and Transnational Dynamics Surrounding Black College Students”, and we were invited to speak and deliver the webinar to their audience and membership. As a Black immigrant from the Caribbean (Guyana, to be exact), with the majority of my formative secondary and postsecondary education in the United States, this academic experience was personal and exciting.
I entered my higher education doctoral program with a primary research agenda which encapsulated a desire to bring forth narratives, experiences, and solutions regarding the lives of Afro-Caribbean immigrants and international students. Being invited to speak with my peers was a welcome experience, and any opportunity to share my own empirical research on this topic is welcomed. I thoroughly enjoyed a platform like NCORE’s which graciously allowed us their platform to center and recognize our work. In sharing some of my findings from my research study titled, “Caribbean Scholar Tings: Afro-Caribbean Collegians Navigate Race while Enrolled at Predominately White Institutions”, it re-solidified the importance of my research, and that there is a true need for an expansion of Blackness in the African Diaspora. This opportunity was one I will never forget and will remain a signifier to keep my focus on the work, and to continue doing meaningful research.