This Thursday will make 1 year since I passed my dissertation defense and became Dr. Ijeoma Kola!
I remember the exact moment that I realized that my PhD wasn’t just for me. I felt that part of the reason I was put in my program, and had doors open for me to lead me to the pursuit of higher education in the first place, was so that others could see that it was possible to get a PhD and also be:
- a Black woman
- a Black woman with a side hustle
- a Black woman with a family
- a Black woman who wasn’t restricting her career to academia
- a Black woman who did her PhD on her own terms
Although I had an all-female cohort with whom I could share some of the challenges of being a woman in a doctoral program, as a Black woman, there were unique challenges that I faced in my program that my cohort sisters could only empathize with. From being the first in my family to pursue a doctoral degree to having professors struggle to remember my name simply because I got braids to being unable to finish papers because the emotional toll of police brutality rendered me unproductive.
I want other Black women interested in doctoral level research and scholarship to be better equipped with the resources, support system, and mentorship needed to thrive in their programs, which is why I created Cohort Sistas, a supportive online community for Black women navigating the Ivory Tower of doctoral studies and beyond. It’s a place for prospective, current, and alumni doctoral students to share resources, spotlight success stories, and communally navigate the trials of Black women in white academic spaces.