I am pleased to announce that I have officially completed the second year of my PhD program in Sociocultural Anthropology at NYU! In addition to coursework, I completed by first of three comprehensive exams which are considered a rite of passage and meant to test my knowledge before I undertake my dissertation research. This is the first step to transitioning from a PhD Student to a PhD Candidate. Although I am nowhere near to finishing my program (I’ll be lucky if I’m done by 2026) I am feeling a lot of graduation, completion energy. Recently, I did a deep dive into my hard drive and found undergrad graduation photos I had forgotten about. Looking at them, I am struck by how much I have morphed and transformed since then as well as how much I am also the same — more of who I am and always was. Finding these pictures made me realize I need to stop and take stock of all of the growth that has taken place.
If you told me in 2020 — when I took a year-long leave from my PhD program before even starting that I would excel as a graduate student and new mother, I would not have believed you. I had so much imposter syndrome as I was recovered from my manic-depressive pregnancy that I almost dropped out before I even began. Two years later, I am stunned by how much I have healed and all that I have been able to accomplish with the support and care of my advisors, my psychiatrist, and my husband. My eyes are tearing as I write…
This Spring 2022 semester really showed me the full extent of what I am capable of. I reaped the fruits of my labor when I was selected to join the 2022-2024 cohort of the Birth Equity Research Scholars Program with the National Birth Equity Collaborative. I was very disappointed when I did not get in the first time I applied in the Fall of 2021. It felt so aligned with the work I do that I re-applied and was accepted on April 15th, two days before my 28th birthday. It could not have been better timing. I felt deeply seen by the congratulatory email which read:
“The Review Committee was thoroughly impressed with your commitment to improving perinatal mental health outcomes for Black women and birthing people, particularly for individuals with accessibility needs. Further, the application of your perinatal mental health curriculum, and your vision to expand accessibility of maternal health programming via various media modalities was outstanding. We are confident that your experience in perinatal mental health, disability studies, and podcasting and documentary filmmaking will make you an excellent addition to the scholars program. It was very difficult for us to not offer you a fellowship last year, and thus we are delighted to have you join the 2022-2024 scholars cohort and look forward to working with and learning from you.”
This generous acknowledgement of my work and statement of their interest in me from the beginning.
Since I will be producing an autoethnographic film on my experience with mania and psychosis during my pregnancy, I applied for and was awarded the SVA-Lemelson Fellowship from the Society for Visual Anthropology providing financial support for my filmmaking activities over the fall and summer. As part of the fellowship, I will present my work-in-progress at the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Annual Meeting to be held in Seattle November 2022.
In addition to the AAA meeting, I will be presenting at the following conferences:
- Pluralizing Global Mental Health: Care, crisis, and critique at the University of Edinburgh, June 9th (virtual)
- Reunion·Recuperation·Reconfiguration: Knowledges and technosciences for living together hosted by The Society for Social Studies of Science in Cholula, Mexico, December (in-person)
- The 136th Annual Meeting hosted by the American Historical Association in Philadelphia (in-person)
I’ll also be attending Postpartum Support International’s 35th Annual Conference in New Orleans where I hope to begin shooting my film. I feel so incredibly blessed that I found this organization last summer when I attended my first PSI conference virtually and then began volunteering for them as a peers support group facilitator.
I am incredibly grateful for all of these professional opportunities that demonstrate that I was built for this and my advisors picked the right person for the job when they offered me a position at the department in 2019. I may have been battling mania and psychosis with grandiose ideas about how my work was going to make a big difference in the world, but it looks like I may not have been too far off… All that amplified manic intellect that may have gotten me in the door at UC Berkley, NYU, Brown, Emory, and Yale has always been a part of me. Now I’m just learning how to tap back into it with more discipline and control.
Life is starting to feel like a series of small graduations where a cycle completes and something new begins… There is so much more I want to say about this graduation energy, perhaps I will write more about my milestones with personal growth in a second post. Stay tuned!
Read Part 2 here:
It’s truly remarkable how quickly one’s life can change in the span of a few days or weeks. If I had to pick a tarot card to sum up my life since my last Graduation SZN post in May, I would choose The Tower. The Tower card emerges when monumental life events disrupt our mundane…Keep reading
Image Description: Nadia, a light-skinned Black woman, stands on a New York sidewalk lined with scaffolding. She wears a baby blue Columbia cap and gown, wearing a green and blue batik head wrap, adorned with a blue, green, yellow and orange African Student’s Association sash that says “2017” and a green rope around her left shoulder.