Graduate student at Chapman University
African American Studies drew me in because it was a part of American history that was being greatly hidden. It was also my history that was being hidden from me, so I wanted to learn about it and learn why it needed to be such a well-kept secret.
This department has allowed me to enter into creative and academic spaces that have allowed me to speak on the history of blackness as a whole as well as where the culture is at today and where it is going. It has allowed me to see that as a black person I can do whatever I want as seeing blackness is rooted in the foundations of all academic, creative and professional spaces.
I am currently working on my M.A. in literature, specifically African American literature. The next step is becoming a professor in literature as well as publishing different analytical and creative pieces of writing.
"My advice would be to keep going. In the words of Nipsey Hussle, “I will say it’s worth it, I won’t say it’s fair. Find your purpose, or you’re just wasting air.”
Ph.D student in Political Science at USC
In his current position as a database training coordinator, Tolulope Babalola provides proper data collection etiquette-training to homeless service professional. Part of the curriculum includes cultural sensitivity training for service providers to better understand the needs of people experiencing homelessness. Having minored in African American studies makes Babalola an effective educator and communicator (i.e. written and verbal communication). Unfortunately, black Americans experience homelessness at a greater rate than any other racial group in Los Angeles County, and they are often assessed and served by homeless service providers who do not descriptively represent them. This in turn makes his role as an educator at LAHSA important, which he attributes to the knowledge he obtained as a student of African American Studies at Cal State Fullerton.
I encourage future African American students to not be intimidated from applying their knowledge in other disciplines. Applying this knowledge provides nuances in other disciplines since race plays a role in most aspect of life. It forces scholars to examine how race plays a role in the respective field, which is necessary examine.
Sara Williams Sanchez
Graduate Student at University of Sussex, Human Rights Program
I became interested in African American Studies while I took a few elective courses as a Chicana/o Studies major. I found that taking African American Studies courses not only provided me with a deep and rich foundation of race in the United States, but also gave me a greater context to feminism and women’s issues. The defining moment for me was taking a Black Women’s course taught by Dr. Brooks and realizing my personal definition of feminism was lacking. The intellectual work of Black women as feminist theorists was stunning in its thorough deconstruction of oppression.
From there, I took the Black LGBT course offered by Dr. Brooks and again, found that topics without Black voices are incomplete. I took so many African American courses out of my own enjoyment that I ended up graduating with an African American Studies minor. In these classes, I was pushed to think critically about my own role in society as a white woman, which I found other Ethnic Studies classes did not touch on. I view this constant self-analysis as a strength that was shaped in the classrooms of African American Studies and continues to benefit me academically and professionally. My perspective on topics I thought I had a decent understanding of greatly shifted and expanded and I am humbled to have had the opportunity to gain knowledge that is so often pathologized, ignored, stolen or erased.
In 2020 I will be starting the MA Human Rights program at the University of Sussex where I am looking forward to working alongside other students and specialists of multiple disciplines to address key debates in the field, familiarize myself with international issues and develop research skills.
My advice for future African American Studies students would be to take advantage of this time in their education to broaden their knowledge and skills and not focus on only taking classes for “employability”. While some students may believe African American Studies is irrelevant to their resume, I have found the opposite to be true. Compassion, advocacy (including self-advocacy), critical thinking, and cultural competency are valuable in every discipline and field and will make a student a stand-out candidate in all that they pursue.
Alumna of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
“People might think a degree in African American Studies is simply a degree in the study of Black culture. That is not the case, nor is it exclusive to only African Americans.”
“I was majoring in Communications when I started taking the African American studies courses as electives.” Dominique recalls, “I thoroughly enjoyed the thoughtful discussion and space it provided to dialogue, confront, and critically think about issues in our society that have shaped our world view.”
Finally, after several consecutive semesters signing up for courses in African American Studies, she figured she might as well add it as a second major.
Some aspects of the program that Dominique particularly enjoyed, and that she believes have been helpful were the cross-disciplinary collaborations, often with students from other departments, as they are indicative of what her post-grad experience would be like.
Speaking of post-grad – after finishing up at CSUF, Dominique went on to Arizona State University where she earned her Master’s degree in Mass Communication at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. “I am currently working full time traveling both nationally and internationally utilizing my skills as a journalist and researcher, both of which I have to thank CSUF for setting the foundation.” Dominique says.
“People might think a degree in African American Studies is simply a degree in the study of Black culture. That is not the case, nor is it exclusive to only African Americans.” Dominique explains, adding, “To everyone whether African American or not, it provides the opportunity to deepen your understanding, to question and confront your perceptions and beliefs about what you think you know.”
"African American Studies teaches you how to think critically, how to treat others with respect, and how to place yourself in others' situations before making an assumption about who others are.”
Yvonne came to CSUF specifically for the African American Studies Program. Following high school she had been admitted to several universities, but was unsure of what path she wanted to take. While attending a welcome event here at CSUF, exploring her options, she had a chance encounter with one of the program’s professors. “I felt very inspired and I knew I wanted to be as passionate about something as she was.” Yvonne recalls, “She was also very welcoming and friendly, which stood out to me because I had never ran into any professors that immediately made me feel like family.”
Yvonne believes that her degree has been tremendously beneficial in both her professional and personal life, stating “Having studied how prejudice is formed and maintained throughout society has made me more aware of my own personal behavior patterns and attitudes throughout my interactions with others.” Virtues she has put into practice working for the city of Anaheim teaching middle school children about ethnic and cultural competence, and how to avoid prejudices towards those who are different from them.
Yvonne’s future plans include going back to school for a masters in Business Management with the hope of ultimately forming her own nonprofit organization that strives to fight towards racial justice.
“I highly recommend the program” Yvonne says, adding that she believes, “what is taught throughout the program can be applied to any other discipline and all career paths. African American Studies teaches you how to think critically, how to treat others with respect, and how to place yourself in others' situations before making an assumption about who others are.”
And her advice to students who might be on the fence about the program – “at least take a few courses from the program as all courses reveal to students how society truly works.”
- Dr. Natalie Graham, AFAM Adviser: firstname.lastname@example.org (657) 278-2791
About Our College and Campus
African American Studies is a part of the larger College of Humanities and Social Sciences at CSU, Fullerton. H&SS offers its students more than 20 unique degree programs ideal for students who plan to continue their studies in graduate programs, or who want to work in areas such as education, law, politics, business, psychology, public administration, and more.