Office Hours: Sarah Bruno


Sarah Bruno @ricansaruhh

Cultural Anthropology Ph.D. Student at University of Wisconsin-Madson

M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from University of Wisconsin-Madison


What inspired you to attend grad school?

I wanted to be able to conduct research that is important to me as well as become a professor. I was a Ronald E. McNair scholar and the program always encouraged me to pursue graduate school, and convinced me that even if my professional goals changed I would not regret the decision to invest in my passions and curiosities.


Tell me about your proudest grad school moment. Why was it special for you?

My proudest moment straddles between hosting the beginning of my weaponizing joy workshops and also getting an A from my advisor. The first one is more special because it is as shallow as a grade (but I’d like to highlight in my university you can get an AB, which is what I repeatedly gotten from my advisor until that glorious moment...he is into tough love). Radical softness, and furthermore weaponizing joy changed my life intimately and professionally. I had always used a tough exterior to ignore, hide, and protect myself from harsh realities I faced due to personal life but also what comes along as a WOC in academia. However, reading about affect theory and the radical softness movement, started by Lora Mathis--changed everything. It was another way of freeing myself and giving others around me the applicable tool and safe space to begin that process for themselves. I also began to use weaponizing joy as a theoretical approach to my anthropological studies on diasporic tradition of the cipher as a means of participating in a spiritual habitus. Anyways, it was a real moment for me because I chose to feel for the first time in a long time and in academia emotions/mental health is not prioritized.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten while in grad school?

That no one can do the work I can do, simply because they are not me. Likewise, I cannot do what they can do, how they do it because I am not them. Basically create my lane, understand it is mine, and rock out in it for all its worth.


If you had to describe your Black grad experience with one song, which one would it be, and why?

It is between "Devastated" x joey bada$$ and "Who's that Girl" X Eve or "Like This" x Kelly Rowland.


What has been your biggest obstacle in grad school? What strategies have you used to try to overcome it?

I think the imposter syndrome has ran numerous fades on me. But also outside of academia life still happens. I grieved a lot during grad school, for both the living and the dead. I choose joy. I remember that amidst my feelings I love myself and that means I have to honor my commitments to myself, grad school being one of them.


If you could go back to the first day of grad school, what advice would you give to yourself? Why?

Do not get involved in undergraduate affairs. They have the time and you used to have the time graduate school is a 24/7 job.


How do you think your identities have informed your graduate experience?

I am a Black Puerto Rican cis hetero woman and they shape my experiences entirely. They dictate how I move in my department, in my studies, and how my classroom works as an instructor as well.


How do you intend to use your degree in the future?

As a professor, an author of both academic and creative texts. I also want to develop a voice that outlasts my lifetime.


What’s something that you would tell someone who is interested in pursuing a similar path?

That they can do it. Become disciplined to your dreams and put forth your best efforts. Trust yourself and reach out and grab whatever destiny they want. If they don’t see a clear cut path to one that appeals to them...create one. Also, do not pay to go to graduate school. Get funding and know your worth.

Feel free to reach out to Sarah:

Follow on social media: @ricansaruhh