Easter Wood: African Diaspora in the Americas

Easter WoodEaster Wood

African Diaspora in the Americas
B.A., June 2008 Magna Cum Laude
New York City Life Graduate Fellow
Salzburg Seminar Participant and Intern
Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship
Harriet Brows Scholarship
Center for Teaching Excellence Essay Contest Winner, 1st Place
Beacon Scholar’s Conference, 1st Place Winner (Social Sciences)
Valedictorian, Bronx Community College
Dean’s List

Easter Wood says of her concentration, “The relatively unified bodies of African society were torn apart, beginning around the 1500s, and the individual cells of those bodies were driven into Diaspora throughout the Americas and the world. African peoples were enslaved, their cultures and histories largely stripped away, their families torn apart and the entire structure of their societies changed forever. Despite a release from physical bondage some 142 years ago, people of African descent remain in a marginalized and tumultuous state. Diseases, such as AIDS, proliferate in the continent of Africa and in Black communities in the United States, Brazil and other countries at epidemic rates, and the worldwide Black population remains in last place both economically and educationally. Despite these difficulties and the atrocious way in which it came to be, the global African Diaspora is a beautiful thing, worthy of study in all of its glory and sorrow. The literature, art, philosophical worldviews, psychological and sociological structures and pedagogies that have sprung forth from the Diaspora are viable and may hold the key to easing some of the tribulations that continue to afflict African descended peoples and, in fact, the entire world.”

Wood has had numerous opportunities to study the African Diaspora at CUNY and elsewhere, including study abroad courses in Ghana, Egypt, and in Salzburg, Austria where she participated in a special program that focuses on global citizenship (she was later invited back to the Salzburg Seminar to participate in their renowned intern program). Her course of study – with her mentor, Dr. Jo-Ann Hamilton, English, City College, with whom she worked on a major project in conjunction with the historic Apollo Theater – included courses at City, Hunter and Baruch in Africana Studies, History, Anthropology, Philosophy and English. In her senior year, she also began to study Portuguese; Brazil has one of the largest African descended populations in the world and she hopes to conduct research there while working on her Ph.D.

She has also been deeply involved in campus life, first at Bronx Community College (A.A., Psychology, 2006; Valedictorian) where she was President of the Speech Drama Debate Team and President and Editor-in-Chief of the campus newspaper, The Communicator, and later at City College, where she served as a Student Ombudsman, Vice President of a chapter of the national student organization Campus Progress (which she co-founded) and Managing Editor of the City College publication The Paper. She also continuously participates in relief efforts in New Orleans through the Gulf Coast Relief Society. Wood served as a student member of the University Committee on the CUNY Baccalaureate, the program’s governing board, and of her experience in CUNY BA/BS, and CUNY at large, she says: “The journey has been amazing and deeply rewarding. The ability to plan and pave my own road to success has been invaluable and I consistently recommend CUNY and CUNY BA/BS to young scholars who are thirsty for knowledge and eager to make their mark on the world.”

Wood served as the student speaker at the 2008 CUNY BA/BS commencement ceremony.  After graduation, she returned to tour the African continent, then came back to CUNY as a New York Life Graduate Fellow in the Master’s in History program at City College.  She is now a Ph.D. student at Harvard, on a full-tuition plus fellowship.