What have you been up to since graduation?
After graduating, I went on to attend the Urban Teacher Education Masters Program at the University of Chicago. I spent my first year studying the histories and philosophies of education and tutoring CPS students around the city and I taught a cohort of students during a Summer enrichment program. This year, I’ve been in two different CPS schools completing my residency. Throughout my residencies, I’ve taught some really cool things. One unit that I’m most proud of was my unit on gentrification in Chicago. It was truly a sight to see 9-year-old students talking about ownership, developers, displacement, poverty, and urban development. I’ve really used my residencies to test just how much our young students can do and comprehend. I’ve really tried to develop a teaching practice that is both representative and relevant to the students in front of me. I’m always thinking about the ways in which I could bring in student’s life experiences into an academic setting - the same way ABD did it for me. Outside of teaching, I’ve grown a love for travel, fitness, museums, theatre, photography, and painting. When I’m not with students, you can probably find me doing any of those things.
What led you to declaring an ABD major in undergrad?
I came into DePaul as a Psychology major with a focus on Human Development. I was, honestly, misinformed. I didn’t understand racism as structural but as an individual dislike for another individual. I went to an event that the Lambda Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. hosted on campus where they screened a documentary called Hidden Colors. While I realize now that some things in the documentary aren’t completely true, I value it for what it did for me. It exposed me to the history of the Black Diaspora before and beyond slavery. I realized how much was missing from my education and I decided to be intentional about seeking out this information and learning more. I, then, changed my major to ABD. The more ABD classes I took, the more I was able to learn about oppressive structures and systems and more Truth. In addition to that, I was finally able to see myself in my coursework and amongst my peers.
How has declaring a major in ABD helped you in your post-graduate life?
When I still attended DePaul, I didn’t realize how much ABD would help me in the future. In my graduate program, a great majority of people in my cohort were not able to understand systems, oppression, and had never thought about race. Because I was well-read and had done a lot of that work in undergrad, it was an easy adjustment to be critical of history and other oppressive issues having to do with education in Chicago. I was able to critically think about and question in a way that other people were not used to at all. I also just knew a lot about the issues affecting Black people and in a program that prepares teachers to teach Black and Brown students in the city. For example, I was able to connect the mass racialized incarceration to the school-to-prison pipeline to the disproportionate discipline of Black boys and girls in schools to teacher bias. These connections were fairly easy for me. It absolutely made me a stand out student amongst everyone else in the Cohort.
What would you say to anyone deciding on declaring an ABD Major?
Do it. Even while I was still at DePaul being in Psych or Poli Sci classes, I had a frame of mind and a contextual understanding that other students just did not have. Whether you plan to continue on in your education or start your career, the rigorous curriculum and high expectations that are expected from you from faculty pay off in any context. The pride and confidence you get from knowing who you are and studying Blackness and the world is something that others cannot emulate.
What are your long term goals as it relates to ABD?
I just accepted a job as a Middle Grades Social Studies Teacher. As it relates to African and Black Diaspora Studies, I plan to teach my students about history from a non-Eurocentric view. My class will be called ‘Social Studies’ however it’ll be a course about Race and a course about Identity and a course about freedom. My classroom will provide students with a culturally relevant and sustaining curriculum which means that students see themselves in the curriculum, their identities are affirmed in academic spaces, and their experiences in the world as children of color are valued and welcomed in my classroom. Most importantly, I will teach students about the systems that exist in the world, teach them to (1) navigate them because we must survive and (2) to use whatever their passion is to do their part in dismantling that system. I would not be able to do this well if I, myself, didn’t dedicate my time to studying history and social issues amongst the Black Diaspora.