Five CCAS PhD students will be inducted in the Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, which recognizes diversity and excellence in doctoral education.
Five Columbian College PhD students will be joining a network of preeminent scholars from across the country when they are inducted into the Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society at Yale University in April. Danielle Haywood, Kristy Ortega Johnson, Mary Mbaba, Ahleah Miles and Semret Seyoum are being recognized for their work in exemplifying scholarship, leadership, character, service and advocacy for the voices of those who have been historically underrepresented in the academy.
“Each of our nominees—through their impressive achievements and scholarship in workplace inclusivity, mentorship for women in STEM, efforts to limit barriers to equitable health care access and more—demonstrates the need for diverse perspectives and experiences to advance a more equitable and just society,” said GW President Thomas LeBlanc, who spoke during a special recognition ceremony hosted by CCAS Dean Paul Wahlbeck on Monday. “Through their work, [they] are charting paths to new discoveries and inspiring others to take action.”
The Bouchet Graduate Honor Society was named for the first African American doctoral recipient in the United States. Edward Alexander Bouchet received his PhD in physics from Yale University in 1876, and the society was chartered jointly by Yale and Howard universities in 2005. The society now includes 18 chapters at universities around the country.
“As a research institution, we’re the catalysts for the free and open circulation of new knowledge,” noted Dean Wahlbeck in his opening remarks. “We encourage dialogue and discovery, and we celebrate the diversity of our community. The individuals we are recognizing today, represent the culmination of what we’re all about.”
Meet the Inductees
Danielle Haywood is a PhD candidate in public policy and public administration, with a research focus in program evaluation. As a Selective Excellence Fellow at the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, she analyzes the workforce impacts of non-degree credentials. A trained phenomenologist, her scholarship extends into culturally responsive and racial equity informed research and evaluation. She is a certified health education specialist and has experience in project management, data analysis and writing across academic and non-academic settings.
Kristy Ortega Johnson is a PhD candidate in molecular medicine. Her research focuses on the role of nerve cell NMDA receptors in visual topographic maps. She serves on the Association for Women in Science DC Chapter executive board and is a past board member of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. She is an engaged advocate for STEM-learning and mentorship opportunities among underrepresented minorities, volunteering with nonprofit science-based organizations and mentoring underprivileged youth in STEM careers. She hopes to pursue research in vaccine development.
Mary Mbaba is a PhD candidate and mixed methods researcher in applied social psychology. She studies the theory-driven processes—such as stereotypes and identity formation—that impact the psychological and social structural factors effecting Black peoples’ mental health. Her current research investigates depression, substance use and HIV-treatment and prevention in Black men. Her past studies have examined HIV-testing methods in prisons, jail suicides and the relationship between opioid use and HIV-care outcomes. She is the founder of the student-led GW Psychology Graduate Association.
Ahleah Miles is a PhD candidate in industrial-organizational psychology. Her research interests include career assessment feedback, high potential leadership and workplace incivility. She supports underrepresented students and professionals through her work with organizations such as the GW Black Graduate Student Association and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, where she sits on the Committee on Ethnic and Minority Affairs and Women’s Inclusion Network. Her goal is to apply the principles of industrial-organizational psychology to higher education and continue advocating for women and minorities in educational and professional settings.
Semret Seyoum is a PhD candidate in public policy and public administration with a concentration in health policy. Her research interests include understanding the impact of inequitable policies that contribute to disparities in health outcomes. She has conducted studies on care challenges involving cystic fibrosis, cancer, unmet prescription needs and food insecurity. In addition, she led a Missouri Foundation for Health qualitative analysis of the state’s COVID-19 response. She plans to continue health policy analysis on systematic barriers to equitable access to care.