Last week, one of my first McNair Scholars, Whitney Le’lani Griffin, graduated with her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology, Learning Sciences & Human Development and Cognition from the University of Washington. Her dissertation is titled, “Who is Whistling Vivaldi?: How Black Football Players Engage with Stereotype Threats in College.”
Whitney was part of my very first McNair Cohort in Summer 2008. She was a Critical Studies major in the School of Cinematic Arts working with Ellen Seiter; I received an MA from CTCS in 2006 and also worked with Dr. Seiter. Her project, “The People’s Champion: Positioning the Multiracial Actor in the Action Genre,” was an amazing comparative case study of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Vin Diesel, and how their mixed race status intertwined with the evolution of their respective careers. It was a McNair Mentor match made in nerd heaven.
6 years and more than 30 McNair Scholars later, I still remember working with Whitney. Her inquisitive approach to research and critical fascination with culture, combined with general brilliance, a strong work ethic, and a tenacious attitude, made Whitney an amazing student and I am proud to have her in my academic family. Congratulations Dr. Griffin. You earned it!
PS: @Whitney: How did we not connect in 2011 for the premiere of Fast Five? I am planning a Fast & Furious marathon before Fast and Furious 7. Will you join my virtual movie club, where we watch every F&F for 6 weeks before the premiere, chat about it our favorite scenes online, and then to go on opening night (April 10, 2015) in our respective cities? I’ve already made a Facebook group.