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Graduate School

Ph.D. Student Wins Graduate Student Trustee Fellowship

Rhude M. Patterson earned her master’s degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina in 1952. She was the wife of William H. Patterson, the university’s 24th president, and was curator of the University Collections for three years. But perhaps most importantly, Patterson was concerned that women were not receiving adequate financial support for graduate education.

The Rhude M. Patterson Fellowship was first awarded in 1983 to a female graduate student in the humanities or social sciences field. Last week, Ph.D. student Agnes Nzomene Kahouo Foda was named this year’s winner of the $5,000 award to assist her in doctoral studies and research.

“Winning the Rhude M. Patterson fellowship means that I am making positive and durable contributions to the social work discipline,” Nzomene Kahouo Foda says. “The fellowship will be a powerful source of encouragement to overcome greater challenges on the path for a better future for myself, my family and other families in need around the world.”

Nzomene Kahouo Foda was required to submit a statement on research and scholarship as part of the nomination process. Her statement included how her personal immigration experience shaped her desire to further her studies and complete her Ph.D. She included an excerpt from one of her research papers regarding her research interest:

"I think immigration is gendered and it influences marital outcomes. I am interested in exploring the impact of immigration on gendered relationships, and marital expectations from my experience as a Cameroonian-born, and from my experience working as a social worker with refugees and asylum seekers. I am passionate about the study of relationship expectations, marital expectations, and gender role expectations, as they relate to marital satisfaction during immigration experiences. My research explores how the gender norms of the immigrant host country influence the way individuals think of their personal, traditional, and cultural beliefs on gender and marriage after migrating. I have not read written gender norms, yet every society around the world has individual gender, traditional, and cultural norms/values that have molded their personal expectations of different genders, and the gender expectations of their partner."

Nzomene Kahouo Foda also mentioned the challenges of learning a new language, since she was only fluent in French upon moving to the United States. 

“Writing about my statement on research and scholarship allowed me to really reflect on my personal immigration experience,” Nzomene Kahouo Foda says. “Although I know what my own experience has been like as an African immigrant woman in the United States, I am eager to study how other women that move to the United States have experienced the changes in gendered expectations along with challenges that come with it.” 

Kristen Seay, the interim Ph.D. program coordinator and associate professor, said the award reflects Nzomene Kahouo Foda’s strengths as a graduate student and her potential research contributions to academia.

“Agnes is a dedicated and thoughtful scholar who is committed to learning,” Seay says. “Her perspective and insights will strengthen our field. I am so excited that this was recognized by the university and The Graduate School and that they awarded her the Rhude M. Patterson Fellowship.” 

Read the full story here.

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