The aim of the Black Graduate Student Association is to foster the intellectual, social and cultural community of Black graduate students at Stanford University. To that end, we envision and construct a thriving community characterized by joy, freedom, and intellectual curiosity. We focus on providing our members with academic and professional resources in addition to sponsoring events that not only cultivate Black social experiences, but ideally enhance the overall well-being of the black graduate student community at Stanford.

 

We are committed to leveraging our access to institutional resources to strengthen our communities and address the social, economic, environmental,  and political barriers that we face, while also collaborating with organizations  dedicated to achieving these goals both on and off campus and developing programming to promote equity and liberation across the Africa and the African diaspora.

About Us

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Kristen Jackson,
President

Kristen Jackson is a 2nd year PhD student in the Graduate School of Education, studying Race, Inequality, Language and Inclusion. She hails from Southfield, Michigan, and attended the University of Pennsylvania for her undergraduate and master's degrees, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and a Master of Sciences in Secondary Social Studies Education. Prior to matriculating at Stanford, she was a high school history teacher, soccer and swim coach, and teacher lead in West Philadelphia. Her research interests lie at the intersection of Black feminism and inclusive education. When not reading for class, she enjoys staring contests with her dog, lifting heavy things, attempting to learn rugby and trying out new recipes.

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Marie Tano,
Vice president

Marie Tano is a 2nd year PhD student in the Linguistics Department interested in sociolinguistics, raciolinguistics, education, African-American English, and African linguistics. She holds a BA in Cognitive Science from Pomona College, with a double minor in Linguistics and Africana Studies. As a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, her senior thesis examined how Black-accented speakers are affected by reverse linguistic stereotyping, and how online uses of African-American English further anti-Black stereotypes. Marie is especially interested in applying psycholinguistic approaches to this question of what it means to “sound Black,” as well as understanding how language is used to perform gender and sexuality.

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Favour Nerrise,
Financial Co-Officer

Favour Nerrise is a 2nd year PhD student in Electrical Engineering. Her current research interests are in optimizing brain computer interfaces and other organic bioelectronics, closed-loop adaptive control systems, deep learning, and functional neuroimaging. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Engineering and Mathematics and minors in Arabic and Global Engineering Leadership from the University of Maryland, College Park. When not tinkering in the lab or on her computer, Favour is dedicated to leadership, teaching, and global engineering. She currently serves as the National Chairperson for NSBE, teaches K-12 students throughout the year in AI/ML and core STEM programs, and has traveled to 21+ countries by age 21 and speaks over 5 languages. She also loves reading science fiction and fantasy, cooking varied cuisines, playing sports, and listening to Dutch hip hop.

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Nayla Abney,
Financial Co-Officer

Nayla Abney is a 2nd year PhD student in Bioengineering originally from New Jersey. Her research interests lie in the development of cancer therapeutics by utilizing protein engineering techniques to develop antibodies against specific cancer targets. Nayla enjoys meeting new people at Stanford and exploring the  Bay area.

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Jayson Toweh,
Social Co-Chair

Jayson Toweh is an E-IPER PhD student focusing on identifying the health, environmental, and social impacts of climate change and creating co-benefits from developing sustainable energy transitions. He hold's a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan’s Program in the Environment and a master’s degree in Environmental Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His thesis focused on evaluating and mapping emission changes after installing scrubbers to coal power plants. Prior to Stanford, Jayson worked as a Management and Program Analyst at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Office of Inspector General, where he evaluated EPA's water programs and made recommendations for improvement. Jayson was elected and serves on the Harvard Board of Overseers, the university's governing board.

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Wrayzene Willoughby,
Social Co-Chair

Wrayzene Willoughby is a 2nd year PhD Student in Chemical Engineering. Originally from Washington D.C., Wrayzene got her bachelors in Chemistry and Math from Spelman College. Wrayzene wish esto use Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and her background to enter into a larger conversation of the environment, social justice, and the world. In her future, she sees herself creating new technologies that address the issues of sustainable food, water, and energy supplies.

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Farrah Harris,
Community Outreach Co-Chair

Farrah is a 2nd year Geophysics graduate student hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee. Farrah holds a Bachelors in Physics from Fisk University. The goal of Farrah's research at Stanford is to use remote sensing data and analysis to map flood risk and near-real-time response to flooding events in a way that does not require concentrated and expensive local study or resources, thereby leveling the playing field for disadvantaged and advantaged communities worldwide.

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Juliet Nwagwu Ume-Ezeoke
Community Outreach Co-Chair

Juliet is a 2nd year student in Civil and Environmental Enginering, originally from Abuja, Nigeria. Juliet holds a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering & Computer Science from Harvard University, and has a focus in sustainable design and construction at Stanford. She is a researcher in the Stanford Urban Informatics Lab focusing on the intersection of technology, design, and global development.

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Daniel Oluwalana,
Academic Chair
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Daniel is a 2nd year student in the Aero/Astro department and is originally from Lagos, Nigeria. Daniel was an active member of the Syracuse chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, and plans to use his education to build and optimize aerospace power generating systems. Daniel is excited about connecting Black students and professors as your Academic Chair.

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Lauren Howell, Co-Historian
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Lauren Howell is a 2nd year MFA student from Raleigh, NC. Lauren is a documentary filmmaker and is interested in black experimental Non-fiction film narratives. She earned her BA in Public Policy from Duke University, where she was awarded the 2020 Terry Cinematic Arts and Education prompted her to utilize visual storytelling as a means of employing justice for the Movement for Black Lives in the summer of 2020.  Lauren is an alumna of Black Girl Film School, an institution designed to place Black women at the forefront of film education and create pipelines for them to enter the film industry. She is interested in utilizing documentary to amplify marginalized voices.

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Cyan Deveaux, Co-Historian
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Cyan Deveaux is a human-computer interaction researcher and 2nd year PhD Student in the Communication department. As a member of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab, she builds and studies immersive augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) experiences to understand their psychological, behavioral, and sociocultural implications. Her current research explores AR/VR in education and how identity is understood, perceived, and expressed in virtual environments. Cyan is originally from Spring Valley, NY and worked as a Software Engineer at Google after earning an interdepartmental B.A. from Duke University in Computer Science and Visual & Media Studies.

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Temesgen Worku, Communication Co-Chair
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Temesgen Worku is a 2nd year Masters student in Mechanical Engineering. Temesgen, who is originally from Ethiopia, is fascinated by the intersection of design thinking, systems thinking, and mechanical design. He hopes to one day go back to Ethiopia and work on areas ranging from energy to manufacturing to Education.

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Amalya Johnson
Communication Co-Chair
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Amalya Johnson is a 3rd year PhD Candidate in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering. She obtained her Bachelors in Physics & Women's and Gender Studies from Columbia University, and currently studies the thermal properties and excited state dynamics of two-dimensional semiconductors. Amalya is broadly interested in using academic research to make advanced technologies more accessible and beneficial to disadvantaged communities. She enjoys playing soccer and exploring the Bay area.