American Studies Alums – In their Own Words (Stephanie Stevenson)


“I truly appreciated the department’s emphasis on both research and social activism.”


Stephanie Stevenson
Major: American studies
Graduation Date: May 2010
Honors Thesis: “Scholarship and Empowerment in the Age of the Video Vixen: Promoting Black Adolescent Girls’ Positive Development & Academic Success”


Stephanie decided to major in American Studies after finding it difficult to choose between broadcast and print journalism. Her interests in African-American studies, women’s studies, history, sociology, and politics led her to find a home in the interdisciplinary American Studies program. As an undergraduate, Stephanie’s research interests included historical representations of black women’s sexuality, the socialization of black adolescent girls, and hip-hop studies. She explored these topics at length in both her departmental honors thesis and as part of her McNair Summer Research Program project, which she conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Sheri Parks, associate professor of American Studies and Associate Dean for Research, Interdisciplinary Scholarship and Programming in the College of Arts and Humanities. As an undergraduate, Stephanie was very active outside of the classroom. She participated in the university’s Federal Semester Program on Homeland Security, she interned on Capitol Hill in the Office Jerry McNerney (CA-D-11), and, in April 2009, was selected to introduce President Barack Obama at the White House to advocate on behalf of increased Pell Grants for lower- and middle-class college students. Stephanie continued to pursue both academics and activism after graduation by enrolling in the doctoral program in American Studies at the University of Maryland. She is now both a student and an instructor in the department. Her undergraduate training was crucial in developing her ability to “think critically about the real life implications of theory and praxis, and how merging these two approaches can greatly affect social change.”