Interview by Miah Hardy
Asia Reese is a sophomore Comparative Women’s Studies major, African Diaspora Studies minor from Baton Rouge, Louisiana who was a participant in a pilot research cohort at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
Thank you for sitting down for this interview. What are your career aspirations?
Upon graduating from Spelman, I want to become a Humanities or Social Sciences professor.
It’s fantastic to hear about Black women aiming to diversify the academy! Tell me more about your research experience.
This summer, I participated in the pilot cohort of the First-Year Research Experience through Johns Hopkins University. This program was a subset of the Andrew Mellon Foundation which funds opportunities for less-represented groups within academia to gain research opportunities. This year, they partnered with HBCUs to give current first-year students opportunities to complete interdisciplinary research within the Humanities. I was granted the ability to research film and queer theory using the movie Moonlight as my literature of choice.
It sounds like your summer research experience definitely prepared you for your career goals after Spelman. How has being a part of the Spelman College Honors Program helped you to navigate those spaces in academia?
The Spelman College Honors Program has taught me my value as a Black woman and as a scholar as complementary identities. All of the HBCU students within the program offered different perspectives because we were more conscious of the different layers of a person’s identity that would impact their experiences. The Honors Program requiring classes such as Honors Philosophy and Honors Composition taught me how to be more critical of what other people perceive as truths. I have become more introspective and reflective thanks to the Honors Program.
You represented Spelman College and the Honors Program well. Do you have any advice for Honors Program students who may feel intimidated by the application process of competitive research opportunities like the one you participated in this summer?
Be yourself and believe in your Spelman education. Though the programs are described as “competitive”, the classes in which we take at Spelman require as much, if not more, critical analysis. You will be prepared and remember to always put your best foot forward. Understand that you will be going into a space in which you are the minority instead of the majority, meaning that every move you make, whether it be right or wrong, will be charged to the institution, not you as an individual. Your Spelman sisters will also support you through your academic experience because I definitely felt the sisterhood while I was in Baltimore, hundreds of miles away from Spelman and my home.