After graduating in 2007, I worked for two years in democratic politics, first as a consultant with Global Strategy Group and then as Communications Director for New York City Council Member David Yassky. Upon leaving New York, I entered graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, where I now hold one of four fully funded Powers Presidential Fellowships to pursue my Ph.D. in American Studies. The William J. Powers, Jr. Presidential Fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin provides five years of funding, beginning in fall 2009.
As a political consultant, my ability to write clearly and quickly mattered more than almost any other skill I gained at Amherst. I attribute this skill almost entirely to the rigorous program offered by the Black Studies Department. In graduate school, where professors assign large amounts of reading over short periods, I rely heavily on the critical approaches I gained in Black Studies 11 and 12.
As mentioned above, I attribute these skills almost entirely to my work in Black Studies at Amherst. The rigorous, skills-centered approach taken by the department set my reading and writing on a disciplined course that has since become invaluable, first professionally and now academically.
Black Studies shaped my interests and crystallized race as one of the most relevant lenses through which to view America’s history and politics. It also exposed me to authors who have since become some of my favorites and friends who I now call some of my best.
Advice for current majors:
Embrace the writing advice the department offers. Refining your writing skills can be maddening, but the result will be valuable. Strong communication skills have proven themselves an important asset in my post-Amherst career. If you want to get into politics, be willing to start at the very bottom, put your nose to the grindstone and never complain. Proving that you’re smart usually won’t cut it. The people who make it are the ones who get things done.