Event to Explore Issues Facing High-Achieving Students of Color

Friday, February 10, 2012:  9:00am – 1:30pm

Macaulay Honors College at The City University of New York will host a conference this semester exploring a critical aspect of diversity in higher education:  What unique issues do high-achieving students of color face at the University level?  Notable Macaulay Honors College alumni, CUNY faculty and other higher education experts will explore racial diversity and the challenges facing underrepresented students at prestigious academic institutions at the conference on February 10 from 9:00am to 1:30pm at Macaulay Honors College at 35 West 67th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.

The conference, Supporting Excellence: Discussing the Experiences of High Achieving College Students of Color; A Starting Point for Continuing Conversations on Challenges Facing Underrepresented Students at Prestigious Academic Institutions, was initiated by two Macaulay students:  Shekeima Dockery ’13 and Ana Billingsley ’13 (both of Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College). The students say the idea for the conference was sparked by real experiences of students of color.   

“As honors students of color studying issues of race, our college experiences have made us aware of the need to confront the meaning of diversity at the University level,” they said.  “This awareness has prompted us to work with members of the Macaulay administration to create a more formal space to have discussions about racial diversity and academic achievement in higher education.” 

The students  have been working closely with Drew Adair, Macaulay’s Associate Director of Student Development and Mike Lamb, Ph.D., Associate Director of Immersive and Personalized Education, on organizing the conference. Mr. Adair is Macaulay’s chief student affairs officer and holds both an MSEd in Counseling from Fordham University, and a dual BA in English and Theater from Antioch College. His previous positions have included Director of Student Life, Rockefeller College, Princeton University; Director of Diversity/Director of Community Service, Friends Seminary; and International Student/Scholar Advisor, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Lamb develops programming at Macaulay to encourage critical thinking, intellectual camaraderie, and the development of cultural capital–ideally in festive settings. He has published articles in Cartographica, Urban Affairs Review, Arcade, Nonprofit Quarterly, and other journals.

The conference begins with a continental breakfast from 9:00am-9:30, followed by a keynote panel featuring five experts: 

  • Anthony Browne, Ph.D., Hunter College, Department of Africana & Puerto Rican/Latino Studies
  • David Campbell, Ph.D., Princeton University, Clinical Psychologist, Counseling & Psychological Services
  • Cynthia Chalker, Friends Seminary, Director of Diversity/Director of Financial Aid
  • Sasha Ahuja, Macaulay at Hunter, Class of 2009, MSW, Columbia University, 2011, Organizing Consultant, Street Vendor Project at Urban Justice Center
  • Ianna Owen, Macaulay at Hunter, Class of 2008, M.A., African American Studies and Doctoral candidate, University of California, Berkeley

Following the keynote panel, participants will attend one of four interest-specific breakout sessions from 11:00am to Noon, including: 

  • Diverse Institutions, Diverse Populations: Campus Realities
  • Oppression of the Different: Impact and Treatment
  • Preparing and Acclimating High Achieving Students of Color: From High School to College and Beyond
  • Developing and Sustaining Successful Mentoring and Assistance Programs 

Lunch will be served after the breakout sessions, followed by closing remarks. The conference is generously supported by the Horace W. Goldsmith Scholars Program.  As space is limited, please register online by 5:00pm, Wednesday, February 1, 2012 by clicking here

Conference Agenda

9:00am – 9:30am: Breakfast

9:30am – 10:45am:  Introductions & Keynote Panel

11:00am – Noon:  Interest-Specific Breakout Sessions

Noon – 1:15pm:  Lunch

1:15pm – 1:30pm: Closing Remarks


Keynote Panelist Biographies

Anthony Browne, Ph.D., Hunter College, Department of Africana & Puerto Rican/Latino Studies.  Professor Browne has been teaching at the university level since 1997 and joined the department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies in 2001. He received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and masters degree from UCLA. Trained as a sociologist, he earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University. His teaching, research and scholarship concerns issues related to Black Diasporic communities with a focus on community organizations, social movements, racial inequality, Africana sociology, and popular culture (particularly hip-hop). 

He is the recipient of several grants and awards for his research, including the George M. Shuster faculty fellowship; Several PSC-CUNY awards; and the Roosevelt Faculty Seminar. He is the former book review editor for the journal Wadabagei, and is currently vice president of ATIRA Corp., a think tank focused on the African Diaspora. Professor Browne has served as a consultant to several foundations and community-based organizations around the issue of capacity building and neighborhood change. He is a longtime resident of the Bedford-Stuyvesant community in Brooklyn, New York. 

David Campbell, Ph.D., Princeton University, Clinical Psychologist, Counseling & Psychological Services.  Dr. Campbell is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and holds group therapy certifications from the Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society and National Registry of Certified Group Psychotherapists.  His attended graduate school at City College and received his B.A. from Hunter College.  Dr. Campbell interned at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.  His professional interests include identity, diversity and difference, power and privilege, intersubjectivity (psychoanalytic) theory, group psychotherapy, and motivational conflict.  

In Dr. Campbell’s recently published, Oppression of the Different: Impact and Treatment, he writes:  “Those who are most motivated and care most deeply about the area in which they are stereotyped negatively, are more susceptible to stereotype threat. For example, an African-American college student who is dedicated to academic achievement is at greater risk to suffer the impact of diminished performance on tests when cues in the environment elicit the negative stereotype about the intellectual limitations of black people. The cues might include the absence of other African-Americans (faculty, staff and peers) at the University, segregation, prejudicial comments from others in the environment, etc.” 

Cynthia Chalker, Friends Seminary, Director of Diversity/Director of Financial Aid.  Ms. Chalker has worked supporting students in various capacities for over ten years. She received Masters in both Social Service and Law and Social Policy from Bryn Mawr College an in the past has worked with Bryn Mawr College, Barnard College and Trinity School. She has also worked with student enrichment and support programs and such as Posse and the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Program. Currently, she serves as Director of Diversity at Friends Seminary working closely with admissions, students, and families. She is also continuing her education at Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis as a candidate in the Certificate in Psychoanalysis Program.

Sasha Ahuja, Macaulay at Hunter, Class of 2009, MSW, Columbia University, 2011. Ms. Ahuja is an Organizing Consultant with the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center.  Previously, she was Program Coordinator at South Asian Youth Action.  She served as a social work intern with the Undoing Racism Internship Project at the National Association of Social Workers NYC Chapter and with the Family PEACE Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital.  She was also a DMI Scholars Program Associate at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and a vocational coordinator at the New York Asian Women’s Center.  

Ianna Owen, Macaulay at Hunter, Class of 2008, M.A., African American Studies and Doctoral candidate, University of California, Berkeley.  Ms. Owen is currently a Ph.D. student of African Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her areas of research interest include asexuality and sexuality, critical whiteness studies, and Diaspora theory. She has also been involved in direct action projects prioritizing militancy and care.

Macaulay Honors College offers exceptional students a uniquely personalized education with access to the vast resources of the nation’s largest urban university and New York City itself.   Selected for their top high school records and leadership potential, every Macaulay student receives a full in-state tuition scholarship, a laptop and technology support, and a $7,500 Opportunity Fund to pursue global learning and service opportunities.  For more information, see


Joseph Giumarra
Dentsu Communications

Anjali Saxena
Dentsu Communications