Student Spotlight March 2016
Sandra attended school in several different countries growing up. It wasn’t until she began high school in Egypt that she realized her love for learning. After graduation, Sandra attended Berea College. There she was able to further explore her love of learning by double majoring in French and International Relations. Sandra is now at the University of Louisville where she will complete her MA degree in French this spring.
My research has focused on Africa in general and West Africa and Senegal in particular. I’m currently doing my thesis on the Casamance conflict in the southern region of Senegal, examining how identity and nationalism change and how it is influenced by the low level conflict. I have also explored other cultural, political, and social issues regarding Senegal.
I would like to contribute to the greater society’s understanding of Africa as a continent. There is much to explore, to learn, and relearn about the rising continent. But unfortunately, negative events get more attention than the positive, particularly here in the West. That is not to say that negative doesn’t exist because it does, but it shouldn’t define peoples of an entire continent.
I see myself in academia and would like to pursue a PhD so I can work in public policy research and eventually teach at a university.
Finishing undergraduate studies and being in a master’s program despite lack of educational opportunity when my family had to relocate to Egypt.
I like that I get to meet people from different academic and cultural backgrounds. It’s really neat! I also like my French section very much! All of my professors are wonderful and caring teachers who have been willing to help and offer advice, both inside and outside of the classroom.
I think the greatest challenge is balancing personal life and school life. Sometimes graduate students get consumed in classes, research, and papers, and school life simply becomes life. This has definitely been true for me, but I think it’s important to keep those separate, to have a healthy balance. I wouldn’t say I’ve been totally successful, but having a non-academic goal or activity to engage in has been very helpful for me. Keeping up with family and friends every weekend with a phone call also makes a huge difference.
Favorite book: Une si Longue Lettre by Mariama Ba.
Favorite quote: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” - Martin Niemoller.
If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now? I would be with my family.