Eight black women are receiving their PhDs in Education from Indiana University this May. The history-making "Great Eight" are setting a precedent, as the University has never had such a large group of sistas completing a PhD program at one time.
While the women did not all start the program together, they were able to find and support one another through their academic career. "We understood very early on that we had a distinction, a commonality, a thread between all of us and so we began to meet as a group," PhD candidate Nadrea Njoku told Indianapolis' FOX 59 News. The women cheered each other on through the struggle of sometimes being the only woman of color in the classroom. "When you're the only or one of a handful of people of color in the classroom particularly when it comes to speaking about issues of race. You can often become the token or spokesperson," PhD candidate Jasmine Haywood said.
While their success is monumental, the Great Eight say this accomplishment isn’t just about them, but “Standing in solidarity with each other as women and as black women but also opening up a space where we’re standing in solidarity with other historically underrepresented marginalized groups in the university,” said PhD candidate Tiffany Kyser.
In a field that sees less than two percent of African-American women, the Great Eight are paving the way for women to come. “If we get more images of showing us in these positive lights, then we can truly say this is nothing special because it happens all the time. So until we get to that point we'll be the great eight and we'll shine that light on it," said PhD candidate Demetrees Hutchins.
The Great Eight will defend their dissertations and cross the stage in ceremonies between May 5th and May 8th on Indiana University’s Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses.