Black women are out here making academic history.
A group of eight women at the Indiana School of Education are set to graduate with their PhDs this summer, AOL reports.
The women formed a circle of support after realizing there were so few people of color in their program.
“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,” said PhD candidate Nadrea Njoku.
Less than 2% of the educational field is comprised of African American women. The PhD candidates credit their core group of friendship for helping them through the program, which is often isolating.
“We really value the fact that we need each other to deal with emotional expression,” said PhD candidate Johari Shuck.
The women want to shed a light on diversity and help other minority groups progress through academic programs where they aren’t represented.
“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,” Jasmin Haywood of the “Great Eight” said.
PhD candidate Tiffany Kyser elaborated on this point, explaining they are “standing in solidarity with each other as women and as Black women, and also opening up a space where we’re standing in solidarity with other historically underrepresented marginalized groups in the university.”
The women hope media attention around their accomplishments will help encourage others to continue to strive.
“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.
That is definitely the goal, and the Great Eight is leading the way.