Where I am now: Graduate Student at Bowling Green State University (MA - College Student Personnel)
"Minoring in Africana Studies gave me tools and knowledge that has continued to benefit me after graduation. The historical context, cultural traditions and practices, and course foundation have helped me develop my own sense of Black identity which has been critical in my development as a professional. The upper division courses challenged my perspective and put me ahead of the game in the pursuit of my graduate-level education."
Rahwa Meharena holds a Masters of Arts in International Relations from Hult International Business School in London and dual BA in Africana Studies and Journalism from UNC.
Rahwa served an an intern at All Africa Media, LLC covering the latest news pertaining to women and human rights in Africa. Her articles appeared on the online news site, including an interview with the Vice-President of Malawi, Ms. Joyce H. Banda. Rahwa's also started a blog, AFRICA'S HEARTBEAT, which is geared towards discussing and exploring current issues in Africa.
For her master's thesis Rahwa wrote, filmed and produced a documentary addressing the perceptions of female genital mutilation in Ethiopia. She partnered up with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNCIEF) and Minister of Women Affairs on their grassroots initiatives which focused on traditional harm practices within the Awasa region.
In her final year at UNC, Rahwa was the keynote speaker for the McNair Scholars winter banquet and commencement speaker for her graduating class. She was also listed in the Denver Post's Who's Who and was also featured in Delta Sigma Theta - Soror of the Month.
I graduated from UNC in 2004 with a double major in Africana Studies and Journalism. In 2006 I was accepted as a Teach for America corps member to teach 2nd grade in the rural Mississippi Delta. I taught in Sunflower, Miss. for three years and then moved to Mexico to teach 3rd grade. I then came back to the U.S. and now teach at a charter school in New Orleans.
Africana Studies has allowed me to see and learn from a different point to view from that which I was taught throughout my years in K-12. I was taught to look at and understand things from a non-Eurocentric point of view. I am forever in debt to the Africana Studies program at UNC because I continue to take what I learned and apply it in my teaching. In Mississippi and New Orleans I have taught at high-poverty schools with 94 percent of students on free or reduced lunch, and where 98 percent of the students population is black. I incorporate lessons on the true history and experience of Native Americans and African Americans in this country. I teach them about the extraordinary leaders and events that have unfolded in our history, and continue to impact the lives of Americans today.
Africana Studies opened my eyes to the truth about our country and the measures people have had to take in order to bring justice to this country. AFS taught me how to speak about race and what it means in this country. This past year my students had the highest test scores out of all of the Recovery School District (RSD) schools in New Orleans. However, equally as important, they know the stories of the Trail of Tears, slavery, Jim Crow, Reconstruction, Harlem Renaissance, Malcolm X, W.E.B. Dubois, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Fannie Lou Hammer and the realities of race in this county today.
The Africana Studies Program at the University of Northern Colorado afforded me a plethora of educational and professional opportunities. The challenging courses and supportive faculty prepared me for graduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I completed a Masters degree in Library and Information Science at this institution in 2008. Concurrent with graduate school, I completed three internships. I worked as a curator for the National Park Service – Indiana Dunes; research fellow for the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.; Digital Librarian for the City and County of Fairfax in Fairfax, VA.
A degree in Africana Studies has proven to be viable and has paved the way for several professional opportunities. I have been employed as a middle teacher, legal librarian, and digital records supervisor. I currently serve as the library director for the Del City Public Library in Oklahoma City, OK. All of these professional experiences have allowed me to utilize the leadership and human relation skills that one gains as an Africana Studies major. Moreover, graduate school matriculation and an auspicious professional future are inevitable for anyone who completes this program.