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Rasheed Atwater CAS Students' summer series

Rasheed Atwater

EMU Alum, Class of 2019

Graduate Certification: Africology and African American Studies

What inspired you to pursue a graduate certification in Africology and African American Studies?

"I chose to earn my graduate certificate in African-American studies to increase my knowledge of the discipline and learn more ways in which African people have created and maintained their culture and history in spite of outside destructive influences. In addition, I wanted to learn more from the amazing faculty and staff in the Africology department at EMU. They not only gave me the academic tools for success, but also the push and encouragement success but also the push and encouragement to achieve my personal and professional goals.”

What did your studies in Africology and African American Studies at EMU primarily focus on?

"Primarily, my studies revolved around using Afrocentric education as a tool for community development in African and African-American communities."

Why did you choose EMU for your graduate certification?

"The community of Ypsilanti and faculty in the Africology and African-American Studies Department were the main reason I chose to stay at EMU and pursue my graduate studies. As an undergraduate student I was introduced to the City of Ypsilanti by way of Parkridge Community Center. There I created such a bond with many of the students at the center and overall south-side neighborhood that I knew there was no better place for me to grow personally and professionally than Ypsilanti."

"The faculty in the Africology department really made me feel part of a large family and challenged me to excel academically. Dr. Ana, Dr. Okafor, Dr. Wood, Dr. Pieh, Dr. Pressley-Sanon, Prof. Evans, and Cheryl Olverson were instrumental to my academic and personal growth. The faculties pioneering work in Afrocentric discourse attracted me to the department and I knew it would be the best place for me to prepare for doctoral studies at Temple University."

In what ways did you evolve as an academic, or an individual by completing this academic program?

"I could spend all day discussing my growth from this department, so I’ll try to keep it short. I joined the department as a transfer freshmen student that only came to EMU to run track. When my track career ended, I planned to drop out of college and would have, had I not taken my introduction to African-American studies class with Dr. Woods that semester. Since taking that course I have committed my life to using the discipline as a catalyst for African community development in the continent and throughout the diaspora. The departments care and academic rigor enabled me to graduate with honors and set me on the path towards a PhD."

What do you hope to gain by pursuing a PhD in Africology and African American Studies at Temple University?

"In pursuing my PhD at Temple I hope to become a better scholar and gain a more advanced understanding of the discipline, its praxis in community development, and how Africology departments develop. Ultimately, I hope to use the new skills and knowledge from Temple to land a tenure-track position in an Africology and African-American Studies Department once I’ve earned my PhD."

How has, or will your time at EMU influence your future endeavors?

"EMU was a transformative journey to say the least. The faculty and staff have taught me so much about academia and life that will stay with me forever."

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