Student and Faculty Spotlight
The Graduate Center has created several fellowships and initiatives in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the world’s leading research facility focused on the global African and African diaspora. Programs are designed to enhance the collection, preservation, and access to materials that document black life, while providing an immersive experience for students:
Paula Austin is the inaugural recipient of the Graduate Center/Schomburg Dissertation Year Fellowship—the first time that a graduate student will have dedicated office space at the Schomburg Center. Proximity to the vast collections, which include more than 10 million items amassed since the Schomburg Center's founding in 1925, will ensure close collaboration with scholars.
Austin will also take part in the seminar attached to the Schomburg Center’s Scholars-in-Residence Program, working closely with faculty fellows from across the country pursuing their own research projects at the Schomburg. This is the first time that a graduate student has been asked to take part in the program, which was established in 1983.
Zohra Saed and Gwendolyn Shaw have been selected as Schomberg Digitization Fellows, in partnership with the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC). Now in its second year, the fellowship provides hands-on experience with the digital humanities, according to Dr. Robert Reid-Pharr, director of IRIDAC.
“We knew the Schomburg Center has a huge collection, almost none of which is digitized,” Dr. Reid-Pharr said. “We saw the fellowship as a win-win: Schomburg gains access to scholars who can help digitize materials, and our students have the opportunity not only to do both archive and digital work, but also to be compensated for their work.”
“This fellowship is meaningful because it provides access to an incredibly rich archive and an opportunity to work with the Schomburg director [Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad],” Saed said. “I still cannot articulate how exciting this is for me, my work, and my writing. It is a place where I can be in regular conversation with experts and where I am welcome to look over the material. It is just an absolute privilege.”
Graduate Center students are also helping with the organization of the Conversations in Black Freedom Studies series at the Schomburg, curated by professors Jeanne Theoharis (Brooklyn College) and Komozi Woodard (Sarah Lawrence College).
A focal point of Harlem's cultural life, the Schomburg Center is a research unit of the New York Public Library system. It functions as the national research library in its field, providing free access to its wide-ranging non-circulating collections, and sponsoring programs and events that illuminate and illustrate the richness of black history and culture.
"I arrived from South Korea in 2007 to pursue a Ph.D. at the Graduate Center…The diverse classes on urban sociology, race, ethnicity, and immigration, as well as my participation in the Immigration Working Group, allowed me to communicate with scholars and students from diverse backgrounds…and/or those who understand and share our struggle [as persons of color with non-U.S. accents]. This experience at the GC clearly has broadened my understanding of racial and ethnic diversities in the U.S. context and made me feel a sense of community…It has also made my practice of sociology more visible and more participatory."
■ Jinwon Kim is a doctoral candidate in the Ph.D. Program in Sociology. Her dissertation investigates how Korea's nation-branding strategy, entrepreneurs in Koreatown, and various New York City-based consumers have shaped Manhattan's Koreatown as a new type of ethnic enclave, a space for "Seoul-style."
"As a MAGNET Fellow, I have had the privilege of working closely with the CUNY Pipeline Program, whose aim is to increase diversity in the professoriate ... Listening to [Pipeline] students discuss their notions of graduate school in particular has helped challenge some of my assumptions about the role of academia in society ... And, in turn, I hope that my own background—born in a small border town in New Mexico to a Mexican-American family that went from having no college experience to a wide range of educational experience in various settings—has helped me and those around me imagine new possibilities for approaching the notion of what it means to be a scholar."
■ Ignacio Montoya is a doctoral candidate in the Linguistics Program. His academic interests include phonology and morphology, functionalist approaches to syntax and semantics, and how cognitive science can inform us about linguistic structure. His work has included research in Romance and Semitic languages.
"I came to the GC from a private university where I was often the only student of color in my classes, and the difference between there and here is profound ... The Office of Educational Opportunity and Diversity Programs is especially wonderful ... I'm actually working with my dissertation advisor on an online guide for non-traditional, under-represented students applying to graduate programs, a project she dreamed up and took on in her spare time because she saw a need. Diversity isn't a catchword at the GC; it's a value that's lived out in scholarly and political practice. That's an amazing thing to see, and a privilege to be a part of."
■ Sara Remedios is a doctoral candidate in the Ph.D. program in English. Her dissertation focuses on the cultural memory of Shakespeare in Virginia Woolf's fiction and essays. In April 2014, she began serving an Assistant Dean of Students and Coordinator of Academic and Learning Initiatives at Columbia University's School of General Studies.