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Graduate Students

Our doctoral and graduate programs have a combined total of more than fifty students actively pursuing the PhD or MA degree in Afro-American Studies, or our graduate certificate in African Diaspora Studies. Our students come to us from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Ivy League liberal arts colleges, as well as from international institutions as far away as Japan, France, China, Colombia, Brazil, and Austria. Each year’s class forms a cohort that collaborate and support each other in a collegial way. Recent cohorts of MA and PhD students are listed below:

2017
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Biko (Jefferson) Caruthers grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He received his BA in Social Studies Education from Oklahoma Christian University, MA in History from the University of Central Oklahoma. His interests include Black Sexuality and the Black male body in Literature, Third World Liberation, gender Studies, Black Queer Studies, Performance Theory, Black Masculinity, feminist theories, and competing notions of freedom & democracy. He is on the literature and culture track.

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Alexander Horton
Alex is on the history and politics track.

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Yelana Sims is from Spartanburg, S.C. She received her B.A. in African American and Diaspora Studies from Vanderbilt University and her M.A. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from George Washington University. Her interests include Black female sexuality, gender and sexual performativity within social media and popular culture, as well as modern iterations of respectability politics. She has received the REAL fellowship from the University and is on the literature and culture track.  
 
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Bianki Torres

2016
Travis Davis
Travis Davis is from Mobile, Alabama. He received his BA in History from the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama, and his M.Ed. with a concentration in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has also studied at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and Bishop State Community College in Mobile, Alabama. His interests include the intersection of race and education, and how this intersection has historically impacted the black community. He is on the history and politics track.
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Candace King
Candace King is from Maplewood, New Jersey. She studied Journalism and Politics at Ithaca College in upstate New York. Her interests are in formations of black female identities and misrepresentations in mainstream media. She is on the literature and culture track.
 
Betty Kodoso
Betty Kodoso is from Kenya. She received her BA in Education English and Literature from the University of Nairobi, and MS in Labor Studies from UMass. She is interested in researching issues on African-American history and diaspora, race, critical race theory, and culture. She is on the history and politics track.
Kymberly S. Newberry
Kymberly S. Newberry is from Los Angeles, California. A proud Frances Perkins Scholar, she received her B.A. in International Relations from Mount Holyoke College. Her interests include, the intersectionality of visual art and diplomacy, Francophone Africa and the influence of Africa on the Iranian Revolution. Kymberly is on the history and politics track.
Erika Slocumb
Erika Slocumb was born and raised of Springfield, MA. She is a mother, an artist, a community organizer, world traveler and an advocate for social justice. Erika is the cofounder of the community organization the Western Mass Women’s Collective. Erika received her B.A. in Social Justice Education and a MS in Labor Studies from UMass Amherst.
Cecile Yezou
Cecile Yezou is from Paris, France. She received her double License (equivalent to B.A.) in French Literature and Language / English studies from Sorbonne University Paris IV. She then pursued a M.A. in English studies, specializing in Afro-American history and wrote her first thesis on Hip Hop. She spent the second year of Master’s at Baylor University and wrote her thesis on the NAACP in Texas. Her interests include Twentieth Century history, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, Hip Hop culture, political history, and contemporary black activism. She’s interested in researching the gaps between de jure decisions since the Civil Rights and white society’s fantasies on advancements for the black community, and the need for cross-cultural education. She is on the history and politics track.
2015
Kiara Hill
Kiara Hill is from Sacramento, CA. She received her B.A. in Mass Communications from Sacramento State University, and her M.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Alabama. Her interests include Black female sexuality in popular culture, transnational feminism, Black feminism, and Anti-haitianismo in the Dominican Republic. She is on the literature and culture track.
Chloe Hunt
Chloe Hunt is from Eugene, Oregon. She attended the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington where she studied Literature and African-American Studies. Her interests are in identity formation in contemporary Black literature and television. She is on the literature and culture track.
Christopher Martin
Christopher Martin (C.J.) is from Smithfield, Rhode Island. He received his BA in History from Assumption College, MA in English from UMass Boston, and he is finishing his MA in History at UMass Boston. He is interested in researching slavery, freedom, and racial conflict in the antebellum North. He is on the history and politics track.
Nandi Marumo
Nasir Marumo is from New Orleans, Louisiana. They received their B.A. in Afro-American Studies from Smith College. They are interested in practices of badness within the African Diaspora, with a specific focus on how black communities critique, employ, and deploy badness practices and how those practices take on new meanings as they travel between the Caribbean and the United States. Nasir's work focuses on theories of refusal to the social order and thinks through different iterations of this idiom such as badness, social outlawry, rebellion, and revenge as represented and articulated through modes of popular culture. Nasir is on the literature and culture track.
Ivan Rosario

Ivan Rosario was born and raised in Springfield, MA. He received his B.A. in Ethnic and Gender Studies from Westfield State University. Ivan interests focus on the use of Hip Hop, sports and other forms of entertainment as social tools of exploitation and degradation of Black culture. He is on the history and politics track.

Kourtney Senquiz

Kourtney Senquiz grew up in Eastern Mass and currently resides in Springfield. She received her B.A. from UMass Amherst in Afro-Am, and M.A.T. from Elms College. Kourtney has also studied at Mass Bay, University of Ghana, and Kokrobitey Institute in Ghana. Kourtney is interested in exploring the role African American literature plays in promoting activism against an oppressive patriarchal society. She is on the literature and culture track.

Leydi Vidal

Leydi Vidal is from Bogota, Colombia. She has a B.A. from Distrital University Francisco Jose de Caldas. Leydi is a recipient of the Fulbright scholarship. She is interested in proposing new alternative models of education in which the real history of African and African descendant people will be visible in schools and universities’ curricula in Colombia. Her plans are to focus on enhancing her knowledge of African American Studies, Africa and its Diaspora in both a historical and contemporary context. She is on the history and politics track.

2014
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Nadia Alahmed is from Palestine. She received her BA in English Language and Literature from Birzeit University and MA in Comparative Literature from Rutgers University. Her interests include the Black Arts and Black Power Movements and aesthetic, historical and political relations between these movements, and the Palestinian Liberation Movement and Palestinian Poetry of Resistance. She is on literature and culture track

Evan Ashford

Evan "Howard" Ashford is from Kosciusko, MS. He received his B.A. in Accounting and M.A. in Public Policy and Administration from Mississippi State University. In 2013, Howard received a M.A. in History from Jackson State University. After researching his family history from age 11, he published an 18 volume book series detailing each individual line from which he descended. This research enhanced his interest in African American History. Evan is on the history and politics track.

Olivia Ekeh

Olivia Ekeh is from Worcester, Massachusetts. She received her B.A in History and minored in Black Studies from UMass Dartmouth. Olivia’s interests include 20th Century Black History with a special interest in black identity during the Black Arts Movement of the 1950’s to 1970’s. She is also interested in researching the history of the Gullah people of the Sea Islands. Olivia is on the history and politics track.

Keyona Jones

Keyona Jones joined the M.A. program and is from Springfield, MA. Keyona received her B.A. in English and Afro-American Studies from UMass Amherst. She is president of her sorority, Delta Xi Phi Multicultural Sorority Inc. Keyona’s interests include Women of the Harlem Renaissance. She would like to examine the female artists, both musicians and writers of the time, with a focus on the literature of Zora Neale Hurston. She is on the literature and culture track.

2013
Nneka Dennie

Nneka Dennie is from Leonardtown, MD. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Williams College. She is interested in researching political theory, racial politics in the Caribbean, 19th century Black feminism, and global expressions of Black feminism. Nneka is on the history and politics track and is the recipient of a 2013-2014 diversity fellowship.

Carlyn Ferrari

Carlyn Ferrari is from Rohnert Park, California. She received her B.A. in English from Pacific Union College and her M.A. in English from San Francisco State University. She is passionate about higher education and spent her professional career working with and teaching at-risk, underrepresented students. Her research centers on representations of blackness and black figures and identifies the ways in which past racial dogmas have influenced our current understanding of race. Carlyn is on the literature and culture track.

2012
Maria Ximena Abello Hurtado

Maria Ximena Abello Hurtado is from Cali, Columbia. She is a social worker who graduated from Universidad del Valle. As an active member of the Afro Colombian Group GAUV, she has participated as researcher in several projects related to the problems of Afro Colombian women and families. Her research has helped established complex linkages between family, gerontology and intercultural issues; effects of multiple forms of discrimination on Afro descended women in the case of access to public health care in Cali.

Anthony Phillips

Anthony Phillips is from Philadelphia, PA and received his M.A. degree in Black Religion in the African Diaspora from Yale Divinity School. In 2010, he graduated as a Benjamin Elijah Mays Scholar with a B.A. in African American Studies and Philosophy from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Anthony is an alumni member of The Institute for Responsible Citizenship and is the proud Co-Founder of Youth Action, a Philadelphia based youth-led service non-profit operated by young African Americans. Anthony is on the history and politics track.

Rita Zhou

Huan “Rita” Zhou is from Huanggang, China. She received her B.A. in English from Central China Normal University and worked as an English teacher for two years in a high school in the Sichuan Province. Rita’s research interests focus on Afro-American women writers. She is on the literature and culture track.

2011
Peter Blackmer

Peter Blackmer is from Marcellus, New York. He receive his B.A. in History and M.S. in Education both from Wagner College. Peter is on the history and politics track.

Rosa Clemente

Rosa Clemente from the Bronx, New York. She received her B.A. in Africana Studies from Albany State University and her M.A. in African/African American Studies from Cornell University. She is on the history and politics track.

Erin Judge

Erin Judge is from Middlefield, Massachusetts. Erin received her B.A. in Ethnic and Gender Studies from Westfield State College. Erin is on the history and politics track.

Robert Williams

Robert Williams was born and raised in the Pioneer Valley. He received his B.A. in Education/History from American International College and an M.A. in Medieval History from Saint Andrews University. He is interested in examining the ghettoization and marginalization of African American experiences in American Secondary School U.S. History curricula and is on the history and politics track.

2010
Fangfang Zhu

Fangfang Zhu is from China. She received her B.A. in English and an M.A. in British and American Literature from Central China Normal University. Barbara is on the literature and culture track and her research interests focus on 20th century Afro-American literature, as well as music and literature.

2009
Alex Michael Carter

Alex Michael Carter received his B.A. from Alabama State University and an M.A. from the University of Iowa. His academic interest is the Black Panther Party's international influence on social movements, specifically, with the Dalit Panthers of South Asia. Alex is a native son of Washington, D.C. He is on the history and politics track.

Johanna Ortner

Johanna Ortner is an international student from Austria who started her undergraduate studies at the University of Vienna in the African Studies and American Studies for two years, before transferring to Rutgers University. She continued her undergraduate studies in African and African American Studies and graduated in May 2009. Johanna is on the history and politics track and her research interest is black women's history.

2008
Cynara Robinson

Cynara Robinson is from New Orleans, Louisanna. She received her B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in History from Howard University. Her research interests include looking at social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, inclusive of interests in the urban rebellions and those occurring on black college campuses. Cynara is on the history and politics track.

 
   
2006
DeRoy Gordon

DeRoy Gordon received his B.A. in Political Science from Long Island University and an M.A. in Public Administration/Management from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in N.Y. His research interests are African American politics focusing on 19th Century African American political theory. DeRoy is on the history and politics track.

2003
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Angelique Warner received her B.A. and M.A. in English from Kent State University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New Mexico State University. Angie is on the literature and culture track and the title of her dissertation is “Negotiating the Law: Black Women Writing Out The Abject.”

2001
Cristina Tondeur

Cristina Tondeur is from Chapel Hill, NC. She received her MA from Indiana University at Bloomington and is currently finishing her dissertation entitled, “We Are Tired of Your Games: A History of the Civil Rights Movement in Evansville, Indiana.” In addition to her dissertation research, Cristy also utilizes critical race theory in her other research, presentations, and community activism. She is presently on the faculty of American Public University. She is on the history and politics track.