UM Graduate Student Wins Prestigious National Award

English doctoral student Samina Ali wins Yarbrough Fellowship for project on representations and treatment of Latin American and South Asian women after 9/11
graduate student wins award

Samina Ali, a doctoral student in English at the University of Miami, earned the Marilyn Yarbrough Dissertation Fellowship from Kenyon College for her project, “Bad Women and the Politics of Recognition.” 

Ali studies how literature, ethnography, and popular media have represented Latinas and South Asian women in the U.S. as “brown” and threatening, especially when they practice Islam in a post-9/11 era. Donette Francis, an associate professor of English at UM who advises Ali, praised her for moving “beyond a black/white binary” to “consider how other racial formations intersect with religion in the U.S.”Ali is the first graduate student from UM to receive this competitive award, named after the legal scholar Marilyn Yarbrough who studied racial and gender discrimination. 

According to Kenyon College, the fellowship supports “young scholars who are members of underrepresented groups” interested in careers at liberal arts colleges. The fellowship provides housing, health benefits, and a $36,000 stipend. Previous recipients include graduate students from Berkeley, Brown, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and Yale.

 Blending literary analysis with original oral histories of New York and Miami immigrant communities, Ali’s graduate research benefited from the English Department’s and UM’s commitment to hemispheric and Caribbean studies. 

Tim Watson, Chair of the English Department said, “Samina’s terrific accomplishment is a testament to her great research and teaching credentials, and it is also an important validation of our PhD program and our commitment to supporting the careers of scholars from underrepresented groups.” He added, “We couldn’t be prouder of her.”

Ali looks forward to her year at Kenyon. “I am so excited because of their amazing student body, diverse faculty research, and the success of previous Yarborough fellows,” she said. She noted that UM’s “dedicated faculty” and especially “Dr. Francis have helped flesh out my ideas” to “appeal to a broad audience.”    


April 10, 2018