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Blaque Robinson is a third year doctoral student in the Department of Sociology. Her research focuses on the Black racial identity, attitudes, and mental health in predominately white schools. She also a Mellon Fellow and Beinecke Scholar.

Blaque Robinson

What made you choose UNC-Chapel Hill when deciding on a program/place to study? 

I decided to pursue graduate study at UNC-Chapel Hill because community is an important core value of mine. I knew from the moment Dr. Karolyn Tyson called to congratulate me on my acceptance that I would have undeniable support here. That sense of community and support made UNC, but more specifically, working with Karolyn an easy choice for me. In addition to that heartfelt sense of support from Karolyn, I also knew that having a Black woman as an advisor would be game changing not only as a Black woman, but also as a first-generation student. I have beaten so many odds as a first-generation Black college student from a working-class family living in Milwaukee. To complete this last educational hurdle, I needed to see another Black woman who had completed this journey and is now at the top of her career. Even more than being able to have that representation in the department, it was more important for me to know that she was on my team (as my primary advisor) and would be rooting for me every single time I emailed a draft, came into her office for a meeting, or popped in to talk about anything from personal struggles to natural hair.

Tell us about your research.

My research broadly focuses on the experiences of people of color, specifically Black people, in White spaces. This includes an analysis of added burdens, racial identity, racial ideology and mental health. My master’s project looks at expressions of Black Nationalist ideology among Black college students attending predominately white colleges and universities. In addition, a colleague at Duke and I are working on a paper about the taxation that faculty women of color face and Dr. Taylor Hargrove and I are developing a series of papers concerning the relationship between mental health and attending predominately white colleges and universities.

What does it mean to you to be a first-generation graduate student in your family?

Being the first in my family to attend graduate school is a major feat for me. I would not be here without my family and so I dedicate this journey to them, especially Velta Hill, my grandmother, and my younger siblings who are in their early years of their undergraduate career.

What are you hoping to accomplish with your Carolina degree?

Since I have entered graduate school, my goal has been to become a dean of undergraduate students. My educational career, especially my experience as a Black woman in predominately white schools, has revealed the importance of mentorship that extends beyond representation. Therefore, I aim to be a dean of undergraduates and alter the way the predominately white universities interact with and care for the students of color they are increasingly admitting to their campuses.

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