CUNY Peer Leaders Showcase 2024

1. Isabela Bandeira
Isabela Bandeira is an international student from Brazil, currently majoring in English Literature. She has written a few novels in Portuguese and started crafting her debut poetry book, “Moonlight,” a year ago, inspired by personal grief. The book is set to be published in May.

2. Rosalind Hernandez
Rosalind is a student at John Jay college criminal of Justice, studying forensic psychology. She aspires to become a clinical psychologist because she wants to help underrepresented people of color gain access to mental health and resources.

3. Aurora Hernandez
Aurora Hernandez is currently a senior at Hunter College, majoring in Spanish with a concentration on Translation and Interpretation for Spanish and English. Aurora comes from a Mexican background, bilingualism has been part of her entire life. She is currently pursuing to attend a university in Spain to continue her Audiovisual Translation studies.

4. Christopher Arzu
Christopher Arzu is a passionate, inquisitive, and charismatic young man who grew up in the South Bronx, a community bustling with cultures predominantly Black, Hispanic, Latino, and rich with a deep history. Chris is a student at CUNY Hunter College majoring in political science, while also being a part of their Pre-Law program.

5. Lily Shahidi (Studying Abroad in Italy)
Lily Sahadi is currently a junior majoring in Finance at Baruch college. Outside of school she enjoys designing, crochet, and sewing. This is her second year participating in CUNY Peer Leaders.

6. Enrique Rodriguez Brito
Enrique Rodriguez Brito is a DREAMER from Dominican Republic, whose love of learning guided him to the university that he’s at now, Queens College. He is double majoring, studying history and philosophy. In the future, he hopes to one day work at one of the many museums here in New York City.

7. Robert Thompson
Robert grew up in a humble and hard-working family in Honduras with multi-cultural roots that cherish his identity. He attends CUNY Lehman College, pursuing a degree in Social Work.

8. Shehnija Afrin
Shehnija Afrin is currently a senior at Queens College. She is pursuing her undergraduate degree in Psychology and minoring in English. She wants to pursue her master’s in public administration or education. Her interests are working with HR or teaching at a university level. Currently, she is busy finishing her undergraduate degree and exploring her career to find the right field to pursue a master’s degree.

9. Jonaki Debi
Jonaki is a first-generation college student who aspires to become a compassionate individual capable of assisting others. She endeavors to improve the world for those in need through healthcare, community service, guiding fellow students through college, or fulfilling her role as a dependable older sister.

10. Sayquan Wooden
Sayquan Wooden is a writer and recent Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) graduate from Brooklyn College in Creative Writing. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, he shares a passion for self-expression, leadership, creativity, collaboration, and the creative arts.

11. Sarah Joyce Koch
Sarah Joyce Koch is a sophomore at Hunter College’s Macaulay Honors College. She is also part of the interdisciplinary Thomas Hunter Honors Program. She double-majors in Hebrew and Greek/Latin with a minor in English literature and criticism. She is also on the pre-law track.

12. Kimberley Hill
Kimberley Hill is an award-winning musician, freelance music writer, and proud Humanities student at The City University of New York. 13. Samantha Quintero (Studying abroad in Spain) Bio: Samantha Quintero is a junior at Baruch College. She is an Economics major, minoring in Latino Studies. She has worked for various nonprofit organizations focused on social issues.

CUNY Peer Leaders Showcase 2023

CUNY Peer Leaders 2022 Showcase

Lionel Colon

Creating a CUNY-Wide STEM Hub

Lionel Colon (he/him/his) is a student at the City College of New York, CUNY (CCNY) and an alumnus of the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY (BMCC). He is currently working on completing a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. In the past, Lionel has worked as a research student at both BMCC and CCNY. His research interests include biomedical sciences, neuroscience and behavior, and cell and molecular biology. In addition to being a student, Lionel serves as the Coordinator of the BMCC Science and Technology Entry Program, a program designed to increase the number of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students in college. After graduation, Lionel will be attending Albert Einstein’s College of Medicine to pursue a doctoral degree in developmental and molecular biology. In his free time, Lionel enjoys cooking, spending time with his three dogs, and collecting comic books.
Based on Lionel’s personal and past work experiences, his project aims to increase the accessibility of careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) to low income and minority students. Lionel will be creating a publicly accessible, holistic, and online hub aimed for high school students. Since the hub will be new and the first of its kind, it will focus on the City University of New York (CUNY) system, with the hopes of eventually including more colleges. As a first-generation student, whose associates and bachelor’s degrees were completed within the CUNY system, Lionel understands the need for a hub to contain information on college programs, scholarships, and support resources throughout the CUNY system. Lionel has encountered countless moments in his academic career with other students, and himself, have missed out on opportunities because the necessary information was not easily accessible. The resources Lionel will be researching to include in the hub will also revolve around issues of mental health, disability, and financial aid. The goal of taking a holistic approach to the hub is ensuring that a student has access to all the necessary resources they would need to have a successful and fulfilling academic career.

Xueqin Ruan

Double Mission-Starseeds & Twin Flame Lightworkers

Xueqin Ruan is a student at Medgar Evers College. She is majoring in Special Education and Childhood Education. Xueqin is interested in spiritual growth. She is a lightworker, who is healing the world by healing herself. After she healed herself, she is shining more light and love to the world. She has been on the twin flame journey since 2020. After she recognized her divine masculine partner, her spiritual journey was unfolding.
Xueqin’s project is a collection of essays, short stories, poems and photos that share her twin flame journey. This project is important because many twin flames feel so lonely in this world due to people’s not understanding. In this project, she will introduce twin flame groups, starseeds, and lightworkers. She will also tell you about the Ascension process in the earth at present, and what the “New world” is like.

Katelyn Madera

Lying to my Therapist

Katelyn Madera (She/Her/They) is a Senior at Baruch College and is majoring in Marketing with a minor in English. Some of her passions include: writing fantasy novels, gaming, baking, poetry and art. During her time at Baruch, she has participated in the Anime Club, Japan Club (as a casual member) and worked as the Marketing Coordinator in the Conversation Partners Program! Outside of school she works two part-time jobs: One as an Activity Specialist in JHS 185 where she shares her passion for writing/literature and art with her students, creating a safe space where her students can express themselves without judgment. The Second at a Queens-based Non-Profit Organization known as Alley Pond Environmental Center where she works as an Educator/Social Media & Marketing Coordinator/Front Desk, where she teaches students about nature and the importance of conservation!

Katelyn’s current project is compiling/creating works of poetry and art for a currently untitled poetry book: to spread mental health awareness for students who have been experiencing: burn-out, imposter syndrome, depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Culturally, mental health wasn’t “important” or really talked about and was considered a “taboo topic”, so it wasn’t until college that they really started to understand why they were feeling a certain way. Their goal is to show students that they are not alone in this rapid and fast-paced society. There is a need to take care of your mental health, and to destigmatize what is thought about mental health, therapy and medication. Focusing on mental health is as important as ever since the future for a lot of youths and adults are uncertain. Katelyn hopes to touch the hearts and minds of all ages with this project.

Tori Caserta

The Shadows We Don’t See at Night Final Project 1

Tori is a student at Queens College. She majors in Secondary Education – English and will graduate this coming May, 2022. She transferred to Queens College from LaGuardia Community College with an Associates Degree in the same subject. She has been on the dean’s list and honor roll every semester at both institutions and continues to strive for educational success. She is looking at Masters programs at Columbia, Gallaudet, and Hunter in pursuit of furthering her educational development in the upcoming years. Currently, she is a part of the CUNY Peer Leaders (funded by the Mellon Foundation) and has been an active participant in volunteer work with young people struggling with substance addiction for 10 years.

Her project is a series of short stories, or “moments”. These moments are not chronological but are focused around one main character, Q. Q is a queer woman who struggles with addiction and the lifestyle it brings. These snapshots into her life will expose the darkness, sadness, and discomfort that come with the growth of a young addict before and after recovery. The moments will be written in 3rd person, but there will also be moments of thought written in 1st person narrative. These pieces are meant to eventually make up enough moments to create a picture of a life. An important aspect of this literature is that although the main character identifies with the LGBT community, this is not a “hot topic”; it is just a given. Attempting to normalize literature having queer characters, especially main characters, and creating drama outside of their sexual or gender identity is a huge part of this project. Q is complex and controversial as a person regardless of sexuality. As a reader, you get to be challenged to become comfortable with discomfort which is a parallel to the experience of addiction and recovery.

Dawn Ressy


Dawn Ressy is a first-generation student at Hunter College. A theater major who has an interest in creative expression and the law, Dawn is in the Hunter Pre-Law program and looking to minor in Public Policy/Human Rights. She is interested in social justice, to advocate for those who have no voice, and to be an agent of change. Last summer she was accepted into the New York Law School LSAT prep program and submitted for her capstone project a “Dear Mayor” letter that outlined how the incoming mayor could help provide more decent and better affordable housing that is self-sufficient, lightens the carbon footprint and generates income. She is a current CUNY Peer Leader (funded by the Mellon Foundation), a JFEW scholar (JFEW Eleanor Roosevelt Scholars Program) and an IMPACT Peer Mentor at Borough of Manhattan Community College. She is a Baker Fellowship recipient. She also is a proud active member of two honor societies – the NSLS (National Society of Leadership and Success) and PTK (Phi Theta Kappa).

Her varied interests as seen through an intersectional lens (the politics of the brown, black and women’s bodies) has inspired her to write a theatrical piece (in progress), poetry and photography. She is looking forward to a trip sponsored by JFEW to Washington D.C. to expand on learning about public policy and lawmaking, and hopes to help build the bridge to eliminate the disconnect between the community (local) and government (federal) levels.

Dawn’s project is a play that she started writing last semester that touches on the very things she finds fascinating and concerning in social justice.

Nina Hogan

Being a Woman in a Misogynistic World

Nina Hogan is a sophomore at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She is majoring in Criminal Justice and strives to be an attorney in the future. Some passions she has is learning new things, traveling, astrology, examining holistic healing methods, exercising and simply taking care of themselves. She is apart of the Cuny Peer leader program and also Financial Crime Compliance Program with Standard Chartered Bank. She has many goals and aspirations for her life. One including ending the stigma of sexual violence and bringing to light the issues that arrise from it. While also humanizing individuals with disabilities.

Her project is a presentation on the facts of what sexual violence and abuse causes an individual. How victims of these crimes should be taken seriously and how to end the shame of an act and get potential resources. Also in the project she explains the ways this problem should be addressed. To prevent further tragedy.

Rafael Dobles

Stardust Drifters

Rafael Andrés Dobles is currently an Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies major at Hunter College, and graduated with an Associate in Science as a Fine Arts major at LaGuardia Community College. If the seemingly divergent degree paths serve as any indication, Rafael is passionate about both visual art/storytelling, as well as exploring the historical contexts and stories integral to his cultural identity. It is his hope that, through the stories of his own, he can continue this cultural exploration, and provide meaningful and resonant insight for himself and any others struggling with the eternal, existential question, “who am I?”

Stardust Drifters is a sci-fi adventure comic centering primarily around themes of identity (racial/cultural or otherwise), especially in relation to systems of oppression. The series centers around Naima Campos, a 17 year old girl living on the galaxy’s largest imperial superpower, the metallic monster planet known as The Imperium. Naima belongs to a race of beings known as the Caonans, a pre-Imperium indigenous people hailing from the humble planetoid Caona. With the Imperium’s mass colonization of the galaxy, the Caonans, along with the galaxy’s other indigenous races, became the victims of mass displacement, disenfranchisement, and erasure. 100 years have passed since the Imperium’s galactic takeover and the beginning of the “Imperium Age”, and things are far from utopian. Society remains systemically stratified, with the Eternals, an enigmatic race of emotionless, ironclad entities serving as the dominant race of the Imperium. Naima struggles with reconciling her identity as a Caonan living on the Imperium, so far from what she was told “home” was. Donning her mother’s Caonan Defense Front jacket, she drifts among the stars on a quest to find her people, her planet, and with any luck, herself. She’ll need more than just luck, however, as her quest draws the ire of many fearsome enemies, not the least of which being the Eternal Acolyte, Dennard. The story of Stardust Drifters, while indeed fantastical, is ultimately a familiar story to any child of the diaspora.

Sam Ascencio


Sam Ascencio is a student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (JJC). He is majoring in English, transitioning toward the CUNY BA. Sam currently minors in Film, Interdisciplinary studies (ISP), and Art. A recent lecturer at CCNY’s 6th Annual Men’s Leadership Summit, Queer in America: Navigating the Political Landscape (Queens College), and the LGBTQ+ & Women’s health series: The masculine and Feminine paradoxes & Energies (BMCC).  Sam combines art, film, and wit to engage students on LGBTQ+ issues via social media and more. Currently a McNair Post-Baccalaureate scholar, Campus Activity Board (CAB) community chair, CUNY LGBTQ+ advocacy cohort peer, CUNY leadership academy peer, and Co-chair of the CUNY University Student Senate committee of LGBTQ+ equity and gender diversity, Sam hopes to bring LGBTQ+ equity to higher education.

Sam credits his involvement with the lgbtq+ community at John Jay as spectra president and as Peer Success Coach as the inspiration for his LGBTQ+ advocacy project: Q’onnections. A semester-long queer peer to Peer mentoring program that connects LGBTQ+ students and allies with dedicated mentors. Q’onnections provides workshops and programming related to community, advocacy, leadership, and identity. Sam hopes that his work with Q’onnections can be an example of the micro engagement and retention possibilities for LGBTQ+ students. He believes that higher education practices such as LGBTQ+ peer mentoring can provide a larger CUNY-wide community framework to build a dedicated LGBTQ+ pipeline.

Malachi Davidson


Malachi Davidson is a Black man, born and raised in Queens and is an English major and Black & Latinx Studies minor at CUNY Baruch College. Malachi has a deep love of music, writing and stimulating conversations. He is passionate about education and is actively seeking opportunities that would equip him with the qualities of a leader. He has worked on the grassroot level with various social justice organizations in New York City, where he learned first-hand of the impact of activism. 

Through the stimulating coursework offered through the Weissman School of Arts at Baruch and his research as a Black and Latino Studies Archival Scholar, Malachi has been able to explore his interests in creative writing while building a stronger understanding of the history of injustice, both in the United States and around the world.

Malachi’s project is a collection of essays, short stories, poems and photos that center the experience of Black youth in the United States.

Marisa Iovino

Soup Kitchen

Marisa Iovino is a senior at CUNY Queens College. They major in Women and Gender studies and minor Honors in Social Sciences. They are devoted to examining the body under late capitalism- particularly how the draconian economic system dehumanizes the working class. Marisa is a member of QC’s Transfer Honors Program. Recently they were a panelist at the TRANSForming Feminism event, participating in a crucial conversation about Transgender rights. Marisa has been studying through QC’s Accelerated Masters Program of Media for the past year. This distinct opportunity has cultivated an impetus to detect the esoteric surveillance as technology proliferates. They will carry this interest throughout a Master’s program in Fall 2021. 

Marisa’s background within the Accelerated Master’s Program is the catalyst for their Peer Leaders project: Soup Kitchen. They remain skeptical about the nefarious digital surveillance from esoteric organizations, and their work conceptualizes non-digital mediums for community engagement. 

Soup Kitchen is a platform for marginalized individuals to interact, disseminate information about local events, and institute community. It homogenizes elements of signal and slate, presenting itself as a tool for talking and circulating events. The program’s information is only accessible when the user scans a QR code. This allows the program to be tangibly available instead of existing solely on an arcane app source. Furthermore, relying on a QR code allows users to scramble data if there is a concern about hacking from above. Fliers deploy the app and are hung on boards around neighborhoods – it is truly a community-driven enterprise. The ultimate objective for their work is rendering tools to subvert our ongoing monitoring. They hope to enact autonomy within this technocratic epoch, cultivating a digital space for life in common.

Sheila Janeo

Revival Now! People, Not Prisons

Sheila Janeo is a senior at Baruch College majoring in English with a focus in composition and rhetoric and minoring in Black and Latinx studies. Her next step after graduating from undergraduate education is graduate school, with the overall goals of receiving her PhD and becoming a professor within higher education. She is the managing editor for the student-run publication, Refract Magazine, and uses her affinity towards writing to initiate change for the community. 

Sheila’s final project is a product of a concept that is so vital in taking the first steps towards a collective liberation: reimagining. Titled Revival Now! People, Not Prisons, this mock project proposal serves as a baseline for the implementation of programs across all CUNY institutions that are geared towards assisting formerly incarcerated individuals with a smooth transition back into society. Mass incarceration has affected millions of people throughout the country, and most specifically, Black and Latinx communities. This includes the 91,000 individuals that are incarcerated in New York State alone. With a population of approximately 294,000 students, it is evident that there are so many people across each campus that have been directly exposed to the traumas of the prison system. Revival Now! argues for a safe space for these individuals to seek out resources that help maintain educational and mental health wellness, assist with employment opportunities and preparedness, and incorporate community advocates in fundraising and revolutionary mobilization. Revival Now! aims to give direction and autonomy back into the lives of people who have been victims of the United States carceral system and promote their physical and emotional livelihood and wellness. 

When thinking about the theme for this year’s CUNY Peer Leaders Cohort, “reimagining”, it becomes evident that dreaming and imagination are so vital in producing radical change. To reimagine a world without prisons, a world where access is afforded to everyone, is the first step in collective liberation. Imagination creates the movement, and the movement creates history. It is up to us to speak up for power and change, to dismantle the carceral system, and to create a world where we no longer are in survival mode, and we can just live.

Moses Mateo

Keep on Rolling

Moses Matos is a student at Lehman College. He is undecided as of right now but is very interested in Media Communications. Whether it’s a blog post or talking to friends about music or television, Moses loves to write and have discussions in and out of the classroom. He is taking the necessary courses needed to commit to this major next year. Not only is he excited for this potential major, but the potential of refining his voice and who he is through his interests. 

His passion for having interesting conversations and being there for his friends sparked his idea for his project being his very own podcast. The original vision was to have this podcast be a beacon for those who needed it. What he didn’t expect was to need his own spark and motivation during this crazy pandemic. The focus shifted from being something for others to it being something to keep him driven and proud. Trying to find balance and becoming infatuated with the yin and yang symbol inspired the name and message of the “Keep On Rolling Podcast”.

Tarrell McCall


Tarrell McCall is a student at Baruch College. He is currently majoring in English and Psychology and minor in film. Born and raised in the east side of Brooklyn, Tarrell has always had an interest in people and their life story. He began writing after taking a screenwriting class at LaGuardia Community College. While there, he took the next step and started writing about mental illness and how it affected people of color.

Tarrell’s project for the CUNY Peer Leaders Program is a screenplay titled “Metropolitan”. The story follows a young Ecuadorian woman on suicide watch at a NYC Hospital. While at the hospital, she meets other young adults who suffer from a range of different mental illnesses. As a person who himself suffers from mental illness, Tarrell hopes this screenplay will shed light and break stigmas around mental health. He describes “Metropolitan” as a story about faith and how environments shape who we are.

Download Mxetropolitana y la Medicina de Amor

Julian Mejía and Kristina Graham

Sounds of Quarantine

Julian Mejía is an aspiring filmmaker based in NYC who is working towards creating his own film production team. He has created his own films and produced the vision of other filmmakers, organizations, and freelanced all while still maintaining his undergraduate studies as a Film Production and Marketing student at Brooklyn College.

Kristina Graham is a student at LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC). She is majoring in Liberal Arts: Film and Television. Kristina is currently a Student Success Mentor and a CUNY Peer Leader for LAGCC. One of Kristina’s passions is storytelling; especially storytelling through the visual arts of photography and videography. She applies storytelling to share her interpretations of the world in general and the complexities of human emotions in particular. Kristina has also started creating instructional videos to support students in their journey through academic experiences at LAGCC. Kristina is preparing to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in documentary filmmaking.

Julian Mejía and Kristina Graham have collaborated on a project titled “Sounds of Quarantine,” an experimental piece which highlights isolation within quarantine. Kristina and Julian have documented their own realities of everyday life by drawing attention to the sounds during quarantine, a time of limited visual experiences. Using tools such as sound and imagery can further convey the feeling of loneliness and drive the narrative of two separate lives. These narratives come together at the end to show that no one is alone. During our times of isolation, we are united by the shared feeling of isolation and the world of sounds.

Teresa Mettela

The Gossip Book

Teresa Mettela is a student at the City College of New York with the Macaulay Honors Program. She is majoring in International Studies and double-minoring in Journalism and Sociology. As a freelance journalist, Teresa hopes to shape the pedagogy surrounding WOC entering literary and digital fields. Currently, she writes for a number of local print and online publications such as the Queens Daily Eagle, the Harlem View, the Queens Courier, and the Indypendent. Teresa works with these media outlets to amplify the voices in her community in NYC. 

Teresa’s final project, the gossip book, dives into the mind of a young woman finding her place in the 21st century. This collection of prose is split into three parts: spill my guts, india, and stranger things. The intent of the book is to communicate the complexities and nuances of everyday life. Teresa hopes that her project evokes thinking about how one’s identity is dynamic and ever-changing. It celebrates the good, bad, and the ugly. 

Carolina Rosa Martinez

College Life

Carolina Rosa Martínez is an upper senior student at the City University of New York Brooklyn College. She is majoring in English with a minor in Comparative Literature. Rosa Martínez will pursue a Ph.D. degree in comparative literature since her goal is to become a professor, writer, researcher, and translator. Rosa Martínez participated in the Mellon Undergraduate Transfer Student Program (MTSRP) at Brooklyn College with research on English influences in Dominican slang. Her undergraduate dissertation is based on Dominican mythological creatures and oral storytelling. She is interested in continuing her research on Dominican Spanish and Caribbean mythology. Her motivation is to satisfy his intellectual curiosity, make the unknown known and help others both academically and personally.

Rosa Martínez’s project, College Life, is a series of podcasts with advice and information for freshman and transfer students at CUNY. Inspired by her student experience thus far, Rosa Martínez gathered a set of important topics that she wishes she knew more about at the beginning of her journey. When she moved to the U.S seven years ago, she wanted to go to college but the language barrier and her lack of understanding of college bureaucracy delayed her plans. The project’s goal is to help students to have a better experience. Rosa Martínez talks about choosing a major, academic advisement, CUNY First, financial aid, scholarships, college as a support network and an opportunity nest, time management, stress management, the importance of physical and mental health, leadership within and outside of the college community, the language barrier, family, housing, and workplace. The podcast is focused on delivering information on resources, tips, and strategies that will help students succeed in college from a firsthand experience. Rosa Martínez seeks to impact other people’s lives positively through encouragement, inspiration, proactive thinking, and support.

College Life 1 [English]: Hello guys! I hope all of you are doing okay. When I started college I was super lost. The podcast focuses on resources, tips, and strategies that will be extremely helpful for you to succeed in college. This is the first episode!!! And my first solo podcast ever! Here, I briefly talk about Choosing Your Major, Academic Advisement, CUNY First, Financial Aid, and Scholarships. In the following episodes, I will discuss time management, stress, taking tests, and much more! There is also a Spanish version of it coming up soon!! Stay tuned!

College Life 1 [Español]: ¡Hola, chicos! Espero que todos estén bien. Cuando comencé la universidad no sabía qué hacer. El podcast se enfoca en recursos, consejos y estrategias que serán de gran ayuda para que tengas éxito en la universidad CUNY. ¡¡¡Este es el primer episodio!!! ¡Y mi primer podcast en solitario! Aquí, hablo brevemente sobre cómo elegir tu carrera, asesoramiento académico, CUNY First, ayuda financiera y becas. En los siguientes episodios, hablaré sobre la gestión del tiempo, el estrés, la realización de exámenes y mucho más. ¡Cada uno tendrá una versión en inglés y español! ¡Manténganse al tanto! 

College Life 2 [English]: Hi guys! I hope you are doing okay! This is the second episode of College Life!!! A podcast with tips, strategies, and resources for CUNY and all students. This time I touch on time management, stress management, the importance of physical and mental health, and leadership within and outside of campus. I invite you to listen to these tips and try them. I hope you find something that works for you and helps you to have a better college experience. In the following and last episode, I will talk about the language barrier, family, work, housing, and much more. It will have a version in English and Spanish!

Sharifa Thompson

The Stories of Now

Sharifa Thompson is a senior undergrad at Brooklyn College and is majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Criminal Justice. She is an aspiring Clinical Psychologist and storyteller. Through this project, Thompson has gained a larger understanding of how the individual self and the grander society have a symbiotic relationship with one another, manifesting in a work which will resonate for years to come. She draws deep inspiration from cultural critics and race theorists, such as Angela Davis, Kimberle Crenshaw, and Ta-Nehesi-Coates. She hopes to create more work in the future focused on the politics of black bodies–encompassing race, gender, and class– and the criticism of deeply indoctrinated American values and beliefs.

Thompson’s project focuses on concepts centered around blackness and features a collection of short stories, poems, and other written pieces. The commonly woven themes throughout her pieces discuss issues and topics such as radicalism, the criminal justice system, police brutality, and black masculinity. She finds importance in this work because it serves as a viable outlet for her to creatively voice her opinions and thoughts. In a broader context, her work is important because it serves and adds to the growing body of work in African American literature. Furthermore, Thompson’s work continues to highlight concepts of anti-blackness and systemic racism, which are essential to address in order to implement lasting societal change. Her goal in presenting such a body of work is to challenge widely popularized misconceptions and to shed light on issues that inextricably affect all of us, consciously and unconsciously.

The Stories of Now:

Alice Varghese

A Conversation on Mental Health in the South Asian American Community

Alice Varghese is a student at Brooklyn College. She is majoring in Cultural Anthropology and minoring in Global Studies with a concentration in Human Rights. She served as Global Medical Brigades President and created a new service orientated club, Concern Worldwide, during her time on campus. Alice was a recipient of the Goldsmith Award from the Macaulay Honors College in 2019, and has pursued various internships that are involved in public and global health. One of Alice’s passions is volunteering and interacting with her community, and she has dedicated many hours to her local nursing home, soup kitchen, school, and parish. She aspires to work in public health and policy, and is looking forward to obtaining her MPH in the coming years.

Alice’s project is an integrative look on mental health in the South Asian American community. She includes a personal reflection and interviews of multiple first-generation South Asian Americans in order to highlight the unique plight this community faces. Alice hopes to shine light on the immense stigma and lack of community support many face while grappling with two different cultures, overwhelming expectations, and one’s own sense of worth. She hopes her presentation will encourage productive conversations around the topic of mental health, and looks forward to more South Asian Americans finding their voice and embracing the mental health journeys we all ultimately find ourselves on.

Download the presentation

Alexis Ward

What is Misogynoir?

Alexis’ project addresses the subject of Misogynoir, when sexism and racism overlap. The title, What Is Misogynoir, touches upon common stereotypical and derogatory depictions directed toward and against black women outside and even inside the Black community. Essentially, it’s how a Black woman can’t take up the same space as Black men nor can they take up the same space as White women. It’s vital that this term is defined, described, because intersectionality is real and we can’t address one facet of a Black Woman’s identity and ignore the other. Alexis takes Misogynoir and fleshes it out for viewers to understand, address, relate to in their own lives.