Friday, May 13, 2011

Becoming Dr. Shani :)

Greetings Family!

I am happy to announce I graduated from Loyola Marymount University this past weekend with a Doctorate in Education! Although I still have a few, small loose ends to tighten up on my dissertation, I have walked across the stage, and I'm ready to begin the new chapter of my life as Dr. Shani Anana Byard-Ngunjiri!

My goal for pursuing a doctoral degree in education was not to get a job or a higher pay grade. Many of you know and/or have experienced my work with Message Media Ed, either through The Digital Elder Project, Diversity Leaders, Rise Above the Noise, the Hopscotch Element, or through our other professional development trainings in social media marketing, one-on-one computer tutoring, etc. With that said, I entered the doctoral program at LMU because I had a theory I wanted to explore at a scholarly level, as I practiced it hands-on in the community. This theory is the core of Message Media Ed, the principles by which we operate, and the organizational framework in which we work. Please read the organizational framework on our home page here

My theory relates to the combination of African-centered and media literacy education, as a formula for mentally liberating African American descendants of the trans-atlantic slave trade. The title of my dissertation is: Combining African-Centered and Critical Media Pedagogies: A 21st Century Approach Toward Liberating the Minds of the Mis-educated in the Digital Age. You will hear more from me regarding my work in the months to come. :) And you can experience a version of it during The Digital Elder - 2-day Empowerment Retreat, May 21st & 22nd, at the LA West Adams/Baldwin Hills Worksource Center. (Pre-registration is required by Friday, May 13th) More info here: or call 323-708-2526.

In the meantime, I am celebrating a major accomplishment! Over this past weekend, I participated in two significant graduation ceremonies. The first, on Friday, May 6th, was Kente Graduation, an African American rites of passage produced by the Office of Black Student Services and other key faculty and staff at LMU. Kente Graduation includes guest speakers/performers, African drummers, a naming ceremony, and the placement of kente cloth around the necks of the undergraduate and graduate students ending their studies at LMU.

I'm proud to share that during the Kente naming ceremony, I received a standing ovation when Dr. Cheryl Grills, Ph.D. announced I was the first Kente graduate to receive a Doctorate in its 20 year run at LMU! It felt amazing! My husband was able to catch a bit of the applause below on video. What you can't see is how packed the chapel was as well!  I was given the name: Adwoa Sabola Maat, meaning, "The prophetess guided by justice."

Lastly, Sunday, May 8th was the official graduation for all graduate students receiving their Masters and Doctorates! As you can see in the photo at the top of this post (as my dissertation chair, Yvette Lapayese, Ph.D., prepares to place the hood over my head), I was elated!  I am still floating!

I look forward to sharing this important work with you!  Please make it a point to peruse our website, attend our workshops, share our mission, and look out for books, articles, and more events from me. I am focused on tackling the root issues contributing to the plight of African Americans in the Digital Age... one youth, adult, and/or senior, at a time! This is my calling and I am answering it. Our village must heal and reconnect to our essence. Only then, will humankind advance. 

Many blessings to you and I hope to see you soon!

In service,

Dr. Shani