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De'Zjana Phiniezy Featured in AFA Spotlight

De'Zjana Phiniezy

De'Zjana Phiniezy, who graduated from EKU in 2019, is featured in this series intended to let EKU faculty, staff, students, or alumni discuss their encounters with African or African American studies, peoples, and societies as students, instructors, researchers, or travelers.

Briefly state your educational background, past and current academic positions held, most recent or significant accomplishments.

I graduated from EKU in the fall of 2019 with my bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in African and African American Studies. While at EKU, I was the president of the African and African American Studies (AFA) Club for about two years. I am currently a graduate student at Augusta University, in the Counselor Education program. I also work as a graduate assistant for the African American Male Initiative (AAMI) at Augusta University. 

How have you encountered Africana Studies, peoples, and societies in your research, studies, travels, scholarships, teaching, or associations? 

As an African American woman, I have been surrounded by African American history and culture for as long as I can remember. However, before attending EKU, I had never been exposed to much of the rich history and culture present throughout Africa's continent. After enrolling in my first AFA Studies course, AFA 201: The African Experience, I fell in love with Africana studies. The AFA faculty also inspired me to authentically and courageously highlight the Black experience on campus as the president of the AFA Club.  As president, I also connected with and learned from other student organizations a part of the African diaspora (e.g., African Student Association, Black Student Union, and Minority Collegiate Connections). Additionally, AFA led me to complete my Honors Thesis project, in 2019, on the perceptions of diverse populations regarding the efficacy of mental and medical health care providers. My experiences with AFA also allowed me to gain the relevant experience to obtain my current position as a graduate assistant for the African American Male Initiative (AAMI). Learning the relevant experiences and historical context of African American men allowed me better to support the AAMI students and the program itself. 

What is the most gratifying experience of those encounters, and why? 

It is tough for me only to name one gratifying experience because I honestly feel that all of my encounters with Africana Studies, peoples, research, and associations have been very meaningful! However, my previous position as president of the AFA club was highly significant. I cultivated so many meaningful relationships and learned so much about other Black cultures, customs, values, and traditions outside of my own. I was also able to share that information with others. I gained invaluable knowledge from my involvement in AFA, and I continue to reference that knowledge, even today.

What should anyone who is yet to experience African studies learn from your experience?

There is always more to learn! The more you learn regarding Africana studies, the more you will develop as an individual. The educational and personal growth opportunities are limitless when you open your mind to new learning experiences!

Published on February 22, 2022

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