Monday, January 29, 2018

Stephanie Samedi (CAS ’17) on her DURI Project and How It Shaped Her Career Goals



What did you study at NYU?

My major was Social & Cultural Analysis. I focused on American Studies and Africana Studies through examining history and current events. In the SCA program, we studied sociological theories, and I conducted a lot of research in my four years. My degree in Social and Cultural Analysis equipped me to utilize interdisciplinary scholarship to focus on issues of social justice.

What is your favorite memory of your time at NYU?

I have a lot of favorite memories! I would have to say that my experience studying in Florence for a semester is my number one. I had a seamless academic experience, in terms of my credits and requirements. It was a great opportunity to experience the language and the culture, and learn about the history of the Tuscany region. I was a research intern at La Pietra Dialogues at NYU Florence and examined immigration policies in the European Union. I interviewed experts in the field, such as members of the United Nations, and wrote blog posts. I was able to transfer the skill sets I had developed in New York to my work in Florence.

Can you tell us about the Diversity Undergraduate Research Incubator (DURI) and the Diversity Summer Student Research Conference?

The Diversity Undergraduate Research Incubator program connects CAS undergraduates from diverse backgrounds to GSAS doctoral student mentors to collaborate on original research during the summer. I applied for the program during my junior year and participated in the summer between my junior and senior year. It was great! I was matched with a doctoral mentor in Sociology, Francisco Vieyra (GSAS ’16), whose area of study focused on what he defined as racialized knowledge – methods that people of color use to communicate to their communities. He helped me design and complete my own research project, which I presented at the Diversity Summer Student Research Conference.

My project was titled "The Circulation of Racialized Knowledge by Leaders of Black Student Organizations at New York University and Columbia University." I focused my research on student organizations for people of color in higher education. I employed Francisco’s definition of racialized knowledge in examining communication within various student groups. I compared the ways that student groups operate now to how they operated between 1965 and 1975, after the passing of the Higher Education Act. I focused on their goals, inner workings, and use of racialized knowledge, advice, and warnings as tools for success both within the classroom and the overall campus environment at predominantly white institutions.

Participating in the DURI program was a huge factor for me in deciding to pursue education policy as a future career. I’d previously thought that I would pursue a career in law, but doing the research for my project opened up other avenues that I didn’t know existed previously.


What have you been working on since you graduated last year?

I have been working as a paralegal at the New York Legal Assistance Group. We provide assistance to low income New Yorkers who are facing eviction. Many of the cases I have worked on so far have centered around gentrifying neighborhoods in Brooklyn and renters who are being accused of non-payment and facing eviction. I am Haitian and speak Haitian Creole, so I work with many clients in the Haitian community. I help them navigate the Housing Court process and I am able to translate for non-English speakers.

What are your future plans?

I see myself working at a change-making organization in education policy for K-12 students. My studies at NYU have given me the foundation to examine current education policy in sociological and historical ways. And looking back at my interests and activities, education policy is an area that I have always been interested in. Since high school, I have done a lot of volunteer work in schools and acted as a mentor for younger students.

I have applied to several master’s programs for Fall 2018, and I am excited to further explore race and education in New York City. The DURI was the catalyst for me applying to graduate school. The structure of the program allowed me a great deal of autonomy, and I found that I really enjoyed conducting research and delving deeply into the topic. During my senior year, I continued reading and studying about NYC education policies. In my senior thesis, “Separate and Unequal: The Re-Segregation of NYC Schools,” I explored segregation in NYC public schools by not only analyzing the historical legacies and implications of cases like Brown v. Board of Education, but also tracing the housing and education policies that help to encourage segregation and inequitable distributions of resources.

I would eventually like to pursue a PhD and possibly teach. I think that it is important for people who are generating policy in education to have some experience in the classroom.

What advice do you have for current students?

Don’t be afraid to explore opportunities. That is a lesson I wish I had learned early on in my academic career. For a while I had my mind set on a specific path instead of recognizing that my interests were changing as I was learning new things. I also recommend seeking out mentors. Carly Rose DiGiovanni, in the FAS Dean’s Office, was one of my mentors. She would remind me to expand my horizons instead of limiting myself based on my preconceptions.


Donor support makes the Diversity Undergraduate Research Incubator possible. To support undergraduate research opportunities for students like Stephanie, please click here to give to DURI.

If you have any questions about the DURI program, please reach out to Carly Rose DiGiovanni, Chief of Staff to the Faculty of Arts & Science Dean, at (212) 998-8032 or cd80@nyu.edu.

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