Office Hours: Asantewaa Darkwa


Asantewaa Darkwa @AsantewaaDarkwa

Sociology Ph.D. Student at Georgia State University

B.A. in Psychology, with a Multicultural Certificate from University of Missouri-Columbia


What inspired you to attend grad school?

The thought of attending grad school did not come to me until my second to last semester at Mizzou. I took a Black Studies course with Dr. Antoinette Landor. She was the first female African American professor I had ever had. She was working on a research study 

(Health and Relationships During College) studying African American and Latino college students experiences within the college setting. She was looking for research assistants, so I decided to apply. During the few short months I worked with Dr. Landor on this study, she went from being my Principal Investigator to my mentor. Before meeting Dr. Landor, the idea of applying to grad school never even crossed my mind. Whenever I had any doubts or questions about grad school, she was always there. I decided to go to grad school to be just like Dr. Landor, and hopefully inspire many other Black girls that they can do it also.


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

Ask me this question again once I’m #BlackAndHooded.


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

This changes almost every day, but today it’s After the Storm (Feat. Tyler, the Creator & Bootsy Collins) by Kali Uchis. Grad school is rough, and I have wanted to give up so many times. I’ve told my mother that I’m dropping my classes and quitting school so many times that she doesn’t believe me anymore. But I’m always reminded that “The sun’ll come out, nothing good ever comes easy. I know times are rough, but winners don’t quit, so don’t you give up.”


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

My biggest obstacle in grad school has been my imposter syndrome. When I first started my program, I questioned if I really deserved my spot in the program, if I was good enough, if I was smart enough, etc. I was accepted to my program, so even if I don’t fully believe I’m good enough, somebody in the department does. And I just have to keep telling myself that.


What has this experience (pursuing a graduate degree) taught you about yourself?

I’m way stronger than I thought I was.


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

I actually wish I could go back to before the first day of grad school. I would tell myself that grad school is not a competition, it’s okay to take a few years off after undergrad before jumping into a PhD program.


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

While there are a few people of color in my cohort, there is only two Black women in my actual department. Because there is so few of them, it motivates me to work twice as hard to be able to increase the number of Black women with PhDs.


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

My research focuses on the effects of maternal incarceration on Black children. While I would love to be a professor and teach, my long-term goal is to go beyond researching maternal incarceration. I want to be able to use my degree to actually help these children, whether it’s mentoring, policy making, etc.


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

Take your time. Figure out if grad school is something you really want to do. Figure out why you even want to go to grad school. Figure out if grad school is really worth it. Grad school is not for everybody, sometimes I question if it’s for me. If you really want to go to grad school, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.

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Follow on Twitter: @AsantewaaDarkwa