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People

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:


Miles Collins-Sibley Miles Collins-Sibley
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

mcollinssibl@umass.edu

2019

Miles Collins-Sibley is a poet and they received their MFA at UMass-Amherst’s program for Poets & Writers. They are Senior Poetry Editor for Cosmonauts Avenue. Their poems can be found in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Felt, Peach Magazine, poets.org, Split Lip Press' 2019 Anthology, and are forthcoming in TRACK//FOUR, Black Warrior Review, and Crab Fat Magazine. Miles is interested in Afrofuturist literature and music, cyborgs, and folklore.

Maya Cunningham
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

mccunningham@umass.edu

2019

 

 

 

Radiance Flowers
MA
History & Politics
Valencia Harvey
Ph.D.
History & Politics
Njoki Ngugi
MA
History & Politics
picture of Zia Zhang Jia Zhang
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

jiazhang@umass.edu

2019

Jia Zhang obtained her master’s degree in English Language and Literature from Guangdong University of Finance and Economics in 2018. During her undergraduate years, Jia co-translated into Chinese two novels (The Little Voiceby Joss Sheldon; Liar Girlby Andre Michael Govier) and a narrative poem (The Chronicles of Romeoby Ikenna Chinedu Okeh). She also published a paper on Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Streetand contributed an entry on Mae Cowdery to the Harlem Renaissance Encyclopedia (ed. by Professor Venetria K. Patton). 

Mtali Banda Mtali Banda
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

mtalikabanda@gmail.com

2018

Mtali Banda grew up between Madison, WI and Atlanta Georgia. He received his B.A. in Afro-American Studies from UMass Amherst. He is interested in how black music has been used to share marginalized narratives and to help develop needed conversations. A musician himself, Mtali is on the literature and culture track.

Rachel Bogdon

2018

José Gonzalez José Gonzalez
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

jigonzalez@umass.edu

2018

José Gonzalez currently resides in Springfield, MA. He received his B.A. in Sociology with a double minor in Philosophy and Ethnic Studies from Westfield State University. José is interested in investigating how Colonialism has impacted the development of African descendants in North America and the Caribbean. His plan is to bridge the divide amongst African descendants in the Americas through educational praxis.

Quaram Robinson
Ph.D.
History & Politics

2018

Biko (Jefferson) Caruthers Biko Caruthers
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

jcaruthers1@uco.edu

2017

Biko 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.

Alexander Horton
Ph.D.
History & Politics
Yelana Sims
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

simsyn@gwu.edu

2017

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.

Bianki Torres
Ph.D.
History & Politics
Travis Davis Travis Davis
Ph.D.
History & Politics

tdavis@educ.umass.edu

2016

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.

Paul Fowler
Ph.D.
History & Politics
Candace King
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

csking@umass.edu

2016

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.

Betty Kodoso Betty Kodoso
Ph.D.
History & Politics

bkodoso@lrrc.umass.edu

2016

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.

Kymberly S. Newberry Kymberly S. Newberry
Ph.D.
History & Politics

knewberry@umass.edu

2016

Kymberly 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. 
 

Erika Slocumb
Ph.D.
History & Politics

eslocumb@umass.edu

2016

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.

Cécile Yézou Cécile Yézou
Ph.D.
History & Politics

cyezou@umass.edu

2016

Cécile Yézou 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. Her research interests include 20th century history, women's history, and interdisciplinary approaches to history including psychology, theory and communication studies. Her current research focuses on a comparative analysis of interracial sexual assault, with an emphasis on black women's experiences.

Kiara Hill Kiara Hill
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

kiarahill@umass.edu

2015

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.

Chloe Hunt Chloe Hunt
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

chunt@umass.edu

2015

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.

Christopher Martin Christopher Martin
Ph.D.
History & Politics

cjmartin@umass.edu

2015

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. 

Ivan Rosario Ivan Rosario
Ph.D.
History & Politics

irosario@umass.edu

2015

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.

Kourtney Senquiz Kourtney Senquiz
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

ksenquiz@umass.edu

2015

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.

Leydi Vidal Leydi Vidal
Ph.D.
History & Politics

lvidalperlaz@umass.edu

2015

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.

Olivia Ekeh Olivia Ekeh
Ph.D.
History & Politics

oekeh@umass.edu

2014

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.

Keyona Jones Keyona Jones
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

kijones@umass.edu

2014

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.

Maria Ximena Abello Hurtado
Ph.D.
History & Politics

mabellohurta@afroam.umass.edu

2012

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
Ph.D.
History & Politics

aphillips@afroam.umass.edu

2012

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.

Rita Zhou Rita Zhou
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

huanz@afroam.umass.edu

2012

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.

Rosa Clemente Rosa Clemente
Ph.D.
History & Politics

raclemen@afroam.umass.edu

2011

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.

Erin Judge Erin Judge
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

ejudge@afroam.umass.edu

2011

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

Robert Williams Robert Williams
Ph.D.
History & Politics

rwillila@acad.umass.edu

2011

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.

Fangfang Zhu Fangfang Zhu
Ph.D.
Literature & Culture

fzhu@afroam.umass.edu

2010

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. Fangfang is on the literature and culture track and her research interests focus on 20th century Afro-American literature, as well as music and literature.

Alex Michael Carter Alex Michael Carter
Ph.D.
History & Politics

amcarter@afroam.umass.edu

2009

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.

Johanna Ortner Johanna Ortner
Ph.D.
History & Politics

jortner@afroam.umass.edu

2009

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.

Cynara Robinson Cynara Robinson
Ph.D.
History & Politics

ckrobins@afroam.umass.edu

2008

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.

DeRoy Gordon DeRoy Gordon
Ph.D.
History & Politics

gordonderoy@gmail.com

2006

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.

Cristina Tondeur Cristina Tondeur
Ph.D.
History & Politics

ctondeur@afroam.umass.edu

2001

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.