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''Ivory Tower'' Toppled at Convo

Convocations bring a myriad of different, acclaimed people to Berea’s campus. May 2 marked the last official convocation of the academic year and it also marked the addition of Dr. Stephanie Evans to an already long list of distinguished speakers.

Dr. Stephanie Y. Evans

Dr. Stephanie Y. Evans is an assistant professor in African American Studies and Women Studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She was born in the District of Columbia but is a self proclaimed “transient” because of her military upbringing. Dr. Evans’ research focuses on the relationship of black women and the “ivory tower” which is a common symbol of higher education.

Despite it being the final convocation of the 2007-2008 academic year, this convocation had people on the edge of their seats for a different reason. Dr. Evans engaged the audience with banter and anecdotes that were easy for students to relate to. She began by saying that she was “blessed to be back.” She was returning to Berea after first arriving as a guest speaker for the Peanut Butter and Gender lecture series earlier this year. She also had a message for the audience by jokingly telling them to stop complaining, saying, “I am still seventy thousand dollars in debt… I don’t want to hear about it.”

Her book, “Black Women in the Ivory Tower, 1850-1954: An Intellectual History,” focuses on the role of Black women in academia because, as she states “There were no role models for black women who were bookworms.” The book took her ten years to write, even though through her own context she has been researching it her entire life.
Dr. Evans has literally travelled the world to learn the black woman’s perspective and has gone so far as to Africa in order to learn what women there were educating themselves in. The answer was surprising. People describe Africa as this dark continent, but African women were studying science, anthropology, history, and education,” said Evans.

Her goal to increase education in minorities culminated when she asked the audience “How dare you? How dare you not seize the opportunity and continue to graduate school?” She continued in this vein this by giving out her website and personal web address to anyone who would like to talk to her or needed advice.
Dr. Evans left the crowded room with the parting words “Amani moto,” which means “May you find a balance between peace and passion.”

Dr. Evans was one of the most approachable speakers that the convocation program has had in a long time. After her presentation, she was swamped with students and a few starry-eyed professors who were clamoring to speak to her in person.

The convocation was sponsored by CELTS, the Campus Christian Center, and the Convocation Committee.

For more information on Dr. Stephanie Evans, please click the link below.

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