Emissaries

Zeba Khan-Thomas

Ph.D. in African American and African Diaspora Studies

What is your hometown?

Miami, Florida

Where did you complete your Undergraduate Studies?

Florida State University

What is your major?

African American and African Diaspora Studies

What degree are you working toward?

I am currently working to earn the Ph.D. in African American and African Diaspora Studies. My degree and major concentration utilizes interdisciplinary methods to study the lived and constructed experiences of African-descendants in North America and the African diaspora as subjects and not objects of our world history. This degree also considers the intersections that race, class, and politics contribute to the shared experiences of oppression and liberation concerning people of color within their respective geographies. My subfield is literature with concentrations in African/Caribbean/African American works. I love my major degree field, and all of the potential world and self-discovery it offers.

Why did you choose graduate school at IU Bloomington?

I chose to attend IU Bloomington because it had all of my "must-haves" as far as my desired professional and graduate degree preferences. Prior to arriving at IU Bloomington, I researched my program online, and also spoke with my department several times on the phone. Everyone that I spoke with was quite friendly, and supportive of my research interests. I was also able to attend The University Graduate School's recruitment program, Getting You Into IU (GU2IU) to visit the campus prior to attending. During my visit with GU2IU, I got a chance to walk around campus, and also meet and greet other prospective students, admitted students, and current faculty at IU Bloomington. Another perk to my visit was that I got to sit in on a class lecture with one of the professors in AAADS, which was awesome! Based on my experience with GU2IU, and the reception I received while reaching out to the department initially, I was thrilled to apply. I also learned, perhaps more importantly, about my funding opportunities within my department program and The University Graduate School, which was the "icing on the cake" for me.

What's been your favorite academic accomplishment since you've been here?

As I look back in hindsight as an approaching second-year PhD, reflecting on my first year, I am most pleased that I was able to win my department's William Wiggins Outstanding Instructor of Record Award this past spring semester. I came into IU Bloomington with a significant teaching background from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, an HBCU. I was concerned that as a non-traditional PhD student I was not going to be able to connect my subject matter with the student body as well, due to the drastic change in demographic and age difference. However, what I found is that students were just as engaged, and that my classrooms were more diverse than I anticipated. Receiving this award at our spring departmental ceremony reassured me that I made the right decision professionally and academically. 

What do you enjoy most about life in Bloomington?

I enjoy Bloomington's quaint charm. As a city girl who has lived in many country or rural places, I tend to like the contrast of town's with a bit of a slower pace, especially if I'm trying to accomplish a goal. I find that there are many activities and places to go to remain active (mostly outdoors) like the B-line. I also appreciate all of the events that you can attend on campus, those that are non-academic, like the African American Arts Institute's Soul Revue each semester, which showcases student talents and highlights the performing and musical arts of African American culture. There are also many academic events that students and faculty can attend relating to social justice, environmental, or political issues as they present themselves in the media. Bloomington is really like a blank canvas where others have left their murals. New and prospective students are truly encouraged to cultivate their visions, and paint the lives they imagine for themselves in the future as proud Hoosiers.