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The AAAS community came together on June 2nd for our annual Student Awards and End of Year Celebration. We took time to reflect on a challenging year when so many of our students and faculty perservered, accomplished impressive works and organized events of great significance.
Professor Robert Baum opened the 2021 AAAS Awards and End of Year Celebration with a reflection on the trials many students and faculty faced during a year of social distancing and myriad social justice concerns. The events of the past year became a call to action which many students and faculty answered with seminal works, significant events, and acts of resistance and awareness. The struggle was overwhelming for many, compelling us to work together to do better for our students and colleagues in the future.
Students accomplishments during this year are worth celebrating!
Marina Cepeda, with both AAAS and Computer Science majors and a minor in Film and Media Studies, held a presentation to introduce her film, Hacking the New Jim Code. Marina explained her research and screened her animation which narrates how Afrofuturism can pave the way for a society free of biased technology.
Lexi Warden, a Theater modifed with AAAS major, directed and produced a radio play, "Bulrusher" by Eisa Davis as a component of her Senior Honors Thesis. She produced a thoughtful, moving portrayal of a multiracial girl growing up in rural America in the 1950's.
Professor Baum also took time to reflect on the graduating class. AAAS majors, minors and modifiers reflect a diverse and talented group of scholars, activists, change-makers, and artists. Our graduating students held majors and minors in an impressive selection of disciplines such as Computer Science, Sociology, Government, Digital Arts, History, Film and Media Studies, Anthropology, Global Health, Economics, Theater, and Middle Eastern Studies.
AAAS Chair, Professor Ayo Coly, thanked the Class of 1982 and all the generous donors who worked for and donated to the African and African American Academic Enrichment Fund. She explained this new endowment supports activities within AAAS that encourage civil dialogue about race and racial injustice, and promote anti-racist study, discovery, and models of academic and experiential learning. This endowment will be most beneficial to support faculty research and scholarship, student research, curriculum enhancement, and programming. Our appreciation is immense for the Class of 1982's efforts and for all who support a dynamic and impactful AAAS into the future!
AAAS Vice Chair, Professor Michael Chaney, was pleased to announce faculty accomplishements this past year and to extend warm wishes to those who are moving on to new opportunities.
Dr. Shamell Bell, Visiting Lecturer in AAAS, was the keynote speaker for the HOP Center 2021 MLK Celebration. Recently Dr. Bell appeared on ABC News7, New York, in conversation about how activism has evolved since the murder of George Floyd.
Joshua Bennett, Professor of English and Creative Writing and AAAS Affiliate, was promoted to full professor. He also had two new books this past year, Owed and Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man. Professor Bennett capped off an extraordinary year of accomplishments with two awards, the Whiting Award for poetry and nonfiction and a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship.
Alex Blue, our Thurgood Marshall Post-doc Fellow will become an Assistant Professor of Music at the College of William and Mary in the fall.
Vaughn Booker, Assistant Professor of Religion and AAAS, had a book released at the start of the academic year, Lift Every Voice and Swing: Black Musicians and Religious Culture in the Jazz Century. Professor Booker also had numerous articles published in a variety of journals including: Religions, Evangelicalism, and Faithfully Magazine. He appeared on New Hampshire PBS to discuss Henry Louis Gates' newest documentary, The Black Church.
Marvin Chochotte, Mellon Faculty Fellow and AAAS Assistant Professor, received an honorable mention for the Jack Goody article prize for the article which best represents the mission of the journal, Comparative Studies in Society and History. Professor Chochotte was recognized for his "originality and insight." Chochotte is also the winner of the Andres Ramos Mattei-Neville Hall Article Prize for his article, "The Twilight of Popular Revolutions: The Suppression of Peasant Armed Struggles and Freedom in Rural Haiti," published in the Journal of African American History. This work was praised for contributing to a new portrayal of Haiti.
Matthew Delmont, Professor of History and AAAS Affiliate, among many accomplishments this year, was appointed Special Advisor to President Hanlon working on faculty equity, diversity, and inclusivity. Professor Delmont received an NEH Public Scholar Award. In July, he will take the role of Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Programs.
Jazmine Graves, our Thurgood Marshall Pre-doc Fellow, is moving on to the University of North Carolina, Greensboro as an Assistant Professor in the African American and African Diaspora Studies Program.
Iyabo Kwayana, Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies and AAAS Affiliate, was Awarded the LEF Project Development Filmmaker Fellowship. This was followed-up with her winning the BlackStar Pitch Co-Production grant with World Channel for her film By Water. Also, in October she presented work at the New Negress Society's Black Women Film Conference.
Monica Ndounou, Professor of Theater and AAAS Affiliate, was recognized by the Boston Globe for her production of Pass Over. The Globe noted her work as one of the top ten productions in Boston in 2020. In addition, The Craft Institute, founded by Professor Ndounou, received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to work on their mission to curate culturally inclusive ecosystems throughout the world of arts and entertainment.
Doyin Ogunfeyimi, Senior Lecturer in Writing and AAAS, is transitioning to a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of English and African Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.
AAAS held a range of activities this year in response to current and historic local and global events
AAAS@50: Black Studies in the Age of Black Lives Matter – Professor Coly organized a slide presentation and discussion of the catalyst, development and future of AAAS. Dartmouth alumni and scholars, who helped shape the early development of Black Studies and AAAS recounted the efforts and drive for a Black studies program.
Narrating Black Futures, a conversation with Nnedi Okorafor, Wanuri Kahui and Dayo Ogunyemi - Professor Coly and Professor Kwayana brought together filmmakers and writers in an event focusing on Africanfuturism.
Racism Not Race - Professor Trica Keaton, Professor Craig Sutton and Professor Zaneta Thayer invited Dr. Joseph Graves and Dr. Alan Goodman to lead a public discussion on race.
Police Violence: Global and Local Perspectives - Organized by Professor Trica Keaton and Professor Mary Coffey in collaboration with a wide number of departments and groups across campus. This event was a week-long international symposium exploring the complex, difficult and urgent issue of police violence through discussions, art exhibits, and films. The symposium included discussions with scholars, student activists, filmmakers, journalists, lawyers, and community activists.
The Afro-Digital Migration: House Music in Post-Apartheid South Africa - Professor Brown organized a presentation and question and answer session with Lynnée Denise, South African DJ, artist, scholar, and writer.
Awarded to the student with the most successfully completed research project as part of AAAS.
Due to the high caliber of student ability and achievement, we had two outstanding scholars we felt were meritorious.
Oumy Kane was one of those exceptional students who very early in her time at Dartmouth, was noticed for her critical thinking and enriching contributions. Ms. Kane was a Middle Eastern Studies major modified by AAAS. She was nominated by numerous faculty, each emphasizing she was among their top students. Oumy was lauded by several professors with Professor Keaton noting, "Oumy is an exceptional student who performed beautifully in my courses and has demonstrated the type of intellectual acumen on par with graduate study…. As always, her presence enriches experiences, underscored by her endearing qualities, among them her thoughtfulness, dedication, sensitivity, and capacity to inspire everyone around her."
Marina Cepeda is an innovator and activist. Her creative and innovative approach to research and social change is reflected in her majors of AAAS and Computer Science, along with her minor in Film and Media Studies. In her thoughtful research and production, Hacking the New Jim Code, Marina took on the challenge of working in a new medium and produced research which was forward thinking and publicly accessible. Ms. Cepeda was a leader in many organizations at Dartmouth, often focusing on promoting race and gender equity and ending gender- and power-based violence. Many faculty highlighted Marina's keen and creative scholarship, insight, and leadership.
Awarded to the best graduating senior who has taken at least four AAAS courses and has the support of at least two professors who instructed the student in an AAAS course.
Nai-Lah persistently rose to challenges and exhibited leadership, scholarship, and service, throughout her time at Dartmouth. Professor Keaton emphasized Nai-Lah is "an inquisitive, courageous, generous, and thoughtful young woman who embodies the best of whom we are in the academy and beyond. From developing and implementing projects designed to promote greater inclusivity and diversity at the College, to mentoring incoming, first-generation students to ensure their success through her social networks, Nai-Lah has demonstrated time and again she is a force for positive change, indeed a change agent of the highest order. "Professor King agreed stating, "The Pamela Joyner Prize is intended for "the best" graduating AAAS student. Nai-lah Dixon is certainly worthy of that honor. . . . she is engaging broad scholarly inquiries into the life, conditions, and agency of African Americans."
This prize is awarded to a fourth-year student or students whose work displays an interest and excellence in African-American arts and letters. This award is chosen in collaboration with the English Department.
Lexi was recognized by faculty as a thoughtful, deep and critical thinker, who not only "demonstrates but also exceeds excellence in African American arts." Professor Ndounou enthusiastically affirmed Lexi's excellence, "My appreciation of her work has grown immensely due to her integrity as a person and artist . . . The maturity and fortitude she demonstrated in researching the possibilities . . . are as award worthy as the production itself…. She respected the identities of each person in her cast . . . while respecting the work of the playwright and expanding the possibilities for ethical approaches to casting in the 21st Century. Every step of the way, Lexi considered the ways in which this work aligns with her values and vision for herself as an emerging artist and scholar."
Please congratulate our award winners but also all AAAS students. Students have excelled in so many personal, service, and scholarly efforts during a year of provoking demands.
Professor Baum requested a minute of silence for the students and loved ones we lost this past year.
The ceremony closed with a congratulations to the hard work and dedication of the past year and for the best of wishes for those students and faculty moving on to new prospects and adventures.