Associate Director's Welcome


Dr. Cheryl A. Brown

Associate Director, African & African American Studies

As the first ethnic studies program at Stanford, AAAS has a time honored role in the university. Students who agitated to begin the Program and faculty who organized and continue to sustain it all have strived to make sure all institutions recognize the importance of the study of peoples of African descent.

As with similar ethnic departments and programs, AAAS began by questioning and re-writing dominant historical and cultural paradigms. Our Program continues to explore the myriad experiences, expressions, needs, and global impacts of people of the African Diaspora. For example, AAAS majors can focus their studies on the Caribbean, mixed race communities, African American culture, or African arts (see thematic emphases in requirements for the major). In addition, AAAS is solidly based in the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE), which pushes students to understand how Africans, African Americans, and Africa’s Diaspora contribute to our understanding of race and ethnicity. AAAS majors thus take courses on race theory and can focus their intellectual pursuits in this arena.

The AAAS Program requires majors to build a firm foundation through the examination of African and African American history and culture. It then encourages students to create thematic emphases among topics of particular intellectual interest. It is a truly interdisciplinary program that emphasizes intellectual rigor, cultivates perspectives that enhance abilities to question and make sound judgments, and introduces a broad set of skills that can be applied to graduate study, business, the arts, diplomacy, medicine, policy making, and law.

You are most welcome to visit our lounge and library, to talk to us about the major and minor, and to take an AAAS course.

Cheryl A. Brown's Biography
Dr. Cheryl Brown’s passion for African American Studies started as an undergraduate at UCSB where she earned a B.A. in Black Studies. After completing her B.A., she enrolled in UCLA’s Afro-American Studies masters and teaching credential programs. The combination of her coursework in Afro-American Studies and Education and site visits and student teaching in low performing schools engendered her desire to begin a research agenda involving issues of educational access and equity.

After completing her Master’s degree she enrolled in a doctorate program in UCLA’s School of Education. While in the Higher Education and Organizational Change program she examined college access issues and worked with the young Black scholars program. During this period she began to notice that some Black students who were successful gaining access to college struggled to stay in school and complete their degrees. Therefore she began a research agenda that looks at the types of involvement that enhance the experiences of Black Students who attend traditionally white universities. Her dissertation examined the experiences of Black students in African American Studies programs at two highly selective traditionally white universities. This research provided empirical evidence of the significance of culturally relevant curriculum and faculty support to the retention of Black students. It also provided evidence of the need for mentorship and spaces that promote intellectual growth and leadership.

Her work experiences include working as a research assistant for UCLA's CHOICES project and at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, and as a TA for UCLA's high school advising program. After completing her doctorate she worked at St. Mary’s College as a research consultant examining issues of diversity and inclusion on their campus. More recently, Dr. Brown worked at Santa Clara University where she taught classes, advised students and managed a program for first generation college students. She assumed her role as Associate Director in the Summer of 2009 and has enjoyed advising AAAS majors and minors and teaching in the program. In 2010 Cheryl began her service on campus as a College Director in Freshmen Sophomore College (FroSoCo). In her short time at Stanford Dr. Brown has received two awards. Spring of 2011 Dr. Brown received the "Faculty/Staff Mentor of the Year" award from the Black Community Services Center. In 2012 she received the "Teacher of the Year " award from the Associated Students of Stanford University. In 2013 she was recognized by Stanford's Basketball program for her support of student athletes.

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