Aria S. Halliday, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky. She is the editor of The Black Girlhood Studies Collection, the author of Buy Black: How Black Women Transformed US Pop Culture, and co-editor of a special issue on hip-hop feminism in the Journal of Hip Hop Studies*. *
How did you get to where you are today, professionally?
Some of my mom’s friends—a super cute couple—had met at Davidson College and refused to let me apply to colleges without also considering Davidson. I visited and thought it was much too small for my big personality; my mom thought it was perfect and the financial aid package did the rest of the work. I attended and was so enthralled by the deep discussions of Black history, literature, and culture I experienced in a few classes (shout out to Dr. Hilton Kelly, Dr. Nancy Fairley, Dr. LaKisha Simmons, and Dr. Shante Paradigm Smalls) that I developed my own major in Africana Studies. I completed a research project on Africana Studies programs at small liberal arts colleges and a senior thesis on Black Caribbean women’s memoir. Both really prepared me for graduate level work.
Dr. Simmons encouraged me to attend the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT at Phillips Academy Andover) my junior year and I quickly realized that I LOVED research and ideas. IRT requires that interns apply to 10 schools, so I applied to 11. I only got into one school: Purdue University, in American Studies. It was basically a full-ride, so I went!