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Aretha Butler graduated from DePauw in 2009 as a Black Studies and Women’s Studies double major. Her reason for becoming a Black Studies major at DePauw was that “prior to college, I had yet to experience a space where it was acceptable to be immersed in my own culture and history.”  Soon after declaring her major, it was difficult for Aretha to watch television without a critical eye.

At DePauw, Aretha’s most rewarding and memorable experiences occurred outside of the classroom. Many of her current research interests, such as the construction of identity and Pan Africanism, began as tiny seeds planted at DePauw.

Aretha’s senior thesis on Hip-hop and feminism grew out a Women’s Studies class during her freshman year that discussed how poor women of color were hesitant to claim their feminist identities because they saw them as predominately associated with white, middle-class, educated women.

Many experiences have influenced Aretha’s decision to pursue a doctorate degree in American Studies. Her experience as a Teach for America Corps member in New York City sparked her interest to explore the intersections between race, class, and access to quality education.

Aretha declares, “Like the Sankofa Bird, it has been impossible to forget my roots.”  Black Studies at DePauw appreciates the contribution Aretha made to the program during her college years, her continued interest in the program, and role as an ambassador of the program.  Congratulations to Aretha on all her achievements since graduation. We wish her success in applications to do doctoral work and for life as a whole.