ACADEMICS | Loyola Marymount University had a strong presence in Atlanta at the annual Black Doctoral Network conference, a premier gathering of African-American scholars.
“The Black Doctoral Network Conference was a historical moment for LMU because it marked the first time that 11 students and staff presented at the annual conference,” said Steven Neal, director of the Academic Community of Excellence. “The BDN conference provided a joint opportunity to showcase the scholarly work of doctoral students from the School of Education and undergraduate scholars from the Academic Community of Excellence.”
The Black Doctoral Network, a clearinghouse for individuals of African descent who are holders of or scholars engaged in the pursuit of doctoral degrees from accredited institutions of higher learning worldwide, met Oct. 26-28, and heard from six of LMU’s doctoral candidates from the Educational Leadership for Social Justice program: Krystal Huff, Tina Evans, Melinda Love, Geneva Matthews, Nadia Despenza and Frederick Smith. They presented a workshop that highlighted how they successfully navigated their undergraduate and graduate programs into careers within the K-20 educational system, a study on the absence of black female secondary science teachers and a presentation on the politics of ethnic studies, cultural centers and student activism.
Significantly, four undergraduate students for the first time attended the conference: senior Anita Marks, sophomore Gabriel Say, junior Laina Washington, and junior Makeen Yasar. They were accompanied by Neal, director of ACE, which prepares underrepresented students for graduate and professional studies through coursework, mentorship, scholarly activities, and other services.
“The conference provided a forum for ACE students to publicize and articulate their research to an external audience and exposed them to a network of African-American leaders, scholars, and undergraduate students from across the country,” Neal said. “Our students also heard talks on the issues and intersections of race, culture, class, education, and academia. Our students’ attendance at the conference reaffirmed the importance of ACE’s function as a pipeline to graduate and professional school for underrepresented students. I am confident that our students were not only inspired, but empowered in their academic journeys.”
Marks, Say, Washington and Yasar participated in the undergraduate research poster competition with students from universities from across the country. Washington received an honorable mention for her study titled “Underrepresented Students’ Experiences of Racial Microaggressions at a Private, Catholic University.” Neal also facilitated a workshop on “Financing Your Graduate and Professional Education” to students and administrators.
LMU faculty were also part of the conference. Professor Brad Stone of the philosophy department, and Juliet Anyanwu, clinical assistant professor in the School of Education, participated in the BDN Career Fair, engaging aspiring professors about open faculty positions. Also, Karen Huchting, associate director of LMU’s doctoral program, supported the students through an Office of Intercultural Affairs grant. The BDN provides opportunities for networking and collaboration and fosters interconnectedness within the black intelligentsia to eliminate the achievement gap among persons at all education levels while creating a pipeline of the most underserved students toward the upper echelons of the academy and beyond.