Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

Growing up, Liberia felt too far away for me to fully grasp. What I was able to understand is that the country’s civil war had kept my parents in America, forced my cousin to flee to Côte d’Ivoire, and caused turmoil for as long as my grandmothers could stay. I understood Liberia became dangerous and so America became home. But as I grew to know these United States, I discovered the dangers that lurk here as well. For those of us who are Black, womxn, and queer, they are obvious—harassment, gentrification, an unjust justice system...The duality of America’s education system is that it shapes both these dangers and their remedies. In wanting to pursue pedagogical work that is simultaneously corrective and innovative, I am pursuing an M.A. in Art History at The University of Texas at Austin with the intention of becoming a professor of Modern and Contemporary African Art History.
Throughout my life, information on Blackness and Africa was taught to me by people who are neither Black nor African, and who espoused a racist, anti-immigration perspective at its worst, and a speculative, patronizing perspective at best. What followed is that there was much I had to learn and unlearn about being Black, African, and American because over the course of my education, I met sympathy where I hoped to find empathy. In becoming a professor, I strive to become the empathetic resource for students who I myself was once seeking.
In recent years, it has become tragically transparent that the field of African Art History does not encourage continental and diasporic Africans to become scholars. While African Art History does not belong exclusively to us, it is ours. Descendents of the continent should be encouraged to be our own experts and I hope to become both that and an advocate. My parents have always hoped that my siblings and I will one day make our homecoming to Liberia. Attending graduate school is a crucial part of the journey to begin mine.

Nectar from Pennsylvania
University of Texas at Austin