Ph.D. in American Studies
Why did you choose graduate school at IUPUI?
It may seem cliché or trite, but as a Methodist clergywoman, the scripture in John 15:16 comes to mind as I considered this question. The scripture in part says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last...” I’d have to say that I don’t feel as if I chose the graduate school at IUPUI, but rather, the graduate school at IUPUI chose me. At the time of my acceptance to IUPUI I was single parent, social entrepreneur, and a full-time local pastor of an AME Church here in Indianapolis. Although I had always wanted to pursue a terminal degree in Philosophy, it seemed out of reach for me with my responsibilities as a parent, a professional and a pastor. When I saw the advertisement on a local listserv to have coffee with Dr. Ray Haberski to learn more about the American Studies PhD program, and I learned about the innovative approach to doctoral studies that the American Studies Program offered, along with the financial aid available for full-time students, not to mention being able to work with Dr. Joseph Tucker Edmonds, and it all seemed like it was kismet. I feel very blessed to be part of this program.
What has been your favorite academic accomplishment since you’ve been here?
Winning the 3MT Competition feels like a great academic accomplishment, but I suppose my favorite accomplishment since I have been here would be having two articles published in peer reviewed journals in one academic year. In addition to the publications, being selected as one of the IUPUI Elite 50 last year and successfully completing Qualifying Exams have been highlights.
What do you enjoy most about life in Indianapolis?
Indianapolis is a wonderful place to raise a family. The cost of living is low, especially compared to the Washington, DC Metropolitan area, where our family is originally from. Additionally, I have found that there is a bourgeoning or renaissance of culture that enlivens me and makes me proud to be a Hoosier by choice.
Please provide some details about your work/research as a graduate student and/or any activities you are involved in.
Throughout the week, I work at the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute as the Graduate Assistant for the Religion, Spirituality, and the Arts (RSA) Seminar. Through that project, I support Dr. Jason M. Kelly, as we sojourn with local artists, religious practitioners, and other diverse conversation partners as they explore, analyze, and imagine correlations between religious texts and their respective expertise. This has been a remarkably enriching synthesis between my vocational calling as pastor and my academic training as a scholar of religion and culture in the Americas. Additionally, due to the influence and mentorship of my minor advisor, Dr. Jamie Levine Daniel, the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs has enabled me to produce some community engaged scholarship for which I am extraordinarily proud. Most recently, a central aspect of my dissertation project, a community film festival, was selected to be part of the Spirit & Place Festival. The Common Grounds Cinematic Conversations: The Enduring Legacy of the Plantation, was a day long film festival I developed that was underwritten by a grant from the Indiana Campus Compact and included community and university partners such as the O’Neill School, along with the IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute, the IUPUI Center for African Studies and Culture, Good to the SOUL, and Crossroads AME Church. I am humbled and excited to represent the university at the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools Annual Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this upcoming spring.