Student Spotlights


Our program is powered by the scholarship and stories our students bring to their studies. We asked them to reflect on why they declared African and African American Studies, and here is what they had to say…


Stanford University Class of 2018 | Springfield, OR

Ashlea Faith Haney

Growing up Black and Multi-racial in a society that fetishized my "mixed-ness," and encouraged me to distance myself from a Black identity, though always citing my Blackness as the source of my inadequacies, I became hyperaware of how my body could move through the world and the projections placed upon it. When I came to Stanford as a first-generation college and low-income student, I felt even further jaded by what appeared to be the inaccessible and elitist "scholarship" I was expected to produce. However, in taking classes offered by the AAAS program, I began to find an interdisciplinary practice that integrated my academic passions with my lived experiences. I am honored to be one of many AAAS students who, through rigorous scholarship, research, and creative practice, propel the movement for Black Liberation forward.



Stanford University Class of 2018 | Arlington, VA

Tesay Yusuf

I declared a minor in AAAS because once I got to Stanford, I realized that I had never critically thought about race and how I fit into Blackness. There was a lot of history that I hadn't learned, a lot of vocabulary and context that I felt compelled to understand for the first time, and so much that I wanted to explore. AAAS gave me the opportunity to get a better understanding of my own Blackness, and the historical, political, and social context for Black identity formation over time.



Stanford University Class of 2020 | Philadelphia, PA

Charles Wattley

I declared AAAS because of the home that it provides me. Not simply a home where I can explore my own culture, but also where I can find intellectual vitality and academic rigor. Above all else, AAAS is a family that pushes me academically, personally, and spiritually. Without AAAS,  I wouldn't be the person nor the academic that I am today.



Stanford University Class of 2020 | Harvey, IL

Dayonna Tucker

I happened to declare African and African American studies as my major the fall of my freshman year, and there are only a few other decisions that I have been this sure of. After working at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, I discovered that there was so much more to Black studies than what I imagined. I also discovered that researching topics about the diaspora was more fulfilling to me than research in the other majors I was considering. What sealed the deal was interacting with the staff of the program. They truly create a familial environment for everyone who walks into the office; whether you be officially affiliated with the program or not, you are family. I am honored to be able to contribute to AAAS with my position as student staff, however, there is no way to pour into this program as much as it has poured into me.


Indya McGuffin