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African American Studies Program


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Alumni

Our alumni are an accomplished group and we love hearing about where they are now. Our current students can draw inspiration from people who went through this program before them.

African American Studies Scholars

Our alumni are a diverse group. Scholars in African American Studies come from all racial and ethnic backgrounds and work in fields that deepen the public understanding of minority experiences.

As an African American studies graduate, you're a part of a community of scholars from many different colleges and universities that includes historian Darlene Clark Hine, artist Jonathan Green, and economist Julianne Malveaux. All three of them, among others, have been lecturers at our annual Robert Smalls Lecture Series, which we welcome you to attend and support even after graduation.

 

Meet Our Alumni

Amartha Ogburu (Class of ‘12)

 

"It was an honor to receive the Dr. Grace Jordan McFadden Scholarship sponsored by the African American Studies Program. I received this scholarship for my academic achievements and my commitment to leadership and service.

Through this scholarship, I was given the unique opportunity to pursue an endeavor that I never thought was possible: studying abroad.

I was able to travel to Poland, Lithuania, and Germany on a summer study abroad trip, where I studied the Holocaust. We visited places where Jews were either displaced or completely annihilated by the Nazi regime. My understanding of the consequences of racism and the need to prevent mass murder has forever changed because of this scholarship."

Amartha is currently pursuing her M.D at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Hakeem Jefferson (Class of ‘11)

”I knew when I came to USC that I was going to major in political science, and become a high-powered attorney,” explained Hakeem Jefferson. But as is often the case, plans change once you become fully immersed in college life.

Two professors: Drs. Bobby Donaldson and Todd Shaw, kept Hakeem on the edge of his seat in class, and before long he was inspired to become a college professor. Shaw also helped Hakeem conduct undergraduate research on the 2008 presidential election, which turned into a co-authored research publication. This prepared Hakeem to ask tough questions and find answers as he pursues his graduate degree.

Hakeem has long been inspired by the intersection of race and politics. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in political science at Dr. Shaw’s alma mater, University of Michigan. His interests include American Political Institutions, focusing mainly on Congress and the courts as well as how decision making models take into account politics and race. Hakeem looks forward to publishing scholarly work that is accessible and relatable so that people will know how to apply it to their daily life.

Michael Boynton (Class of ‘03)

"In August of 2000 I left my Brooklyn, N.Y. home as an 18 year-old with questions about my place in the world. In December 2003, with the guidance of great professors in the AFAM department, I had answers. A terrific group of men; Dr. Cleveland Sellers, Dr. Bobby Donaldson, Dr. Kwame Dawes, Dr. Todd Shaw, and Dr. Chris Leevy Johnson played a pivotal role in my development.

Another professor, Dr. Valinda Littlefield, taught me great lessons both academically and socially. Their commitment to being not only teachers, but also mentors who wanted me to think outside the box and set goals I never thought would be achievable, was vital to my growth into being a man, and something that I will forever cherish. Many of the decisions I make today are a direct result of conversations that I shared with these mentors; conversations that we shared long after our class time expired. I appreciate the AFAM program for molding me into a positive contributor to society and will forever feel proud of my experience."

Michael is the former Director of Student Athlete Development at the University of South Carolina. He is currently the head basketball coach at Oklahoma State University.