Dr. Lydiah Kananu Kiramba, PhD.,Curriculum and Instruction, 2016; MA, African Studies, 2011
Lydiah Kiramba is an assistant professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She graduated from the University of Illinois’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction in 2016 and from the Center for African Studies in 2011. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Educational Linguistics. Her teaching includes an emphasis on language and literacy development of emerging bi-multilingual populations and teacher preparation to effectively work with culturally and linguistically diverse students in super-diverse classrooms.
Dr. Kiramba has authored a book chapter and journal articles and has presented at conferences and seminars in both English and Swahili. Her recent research focused on communicative practices of emergent multilingual and multicultural students in super-diverse classrooms. She examined how multilingual learners and teachers negotiate restrictive language policies including how
studentsdemonstrate their knowledge of literacy through translanguaging practices and other multimodal literacies.
Dr. Kiramba also examined teachers’ and students’ views about their communicative repertoires and how these views are shaped by the wider social, economic, and political contexts. Her recent work, “Heteroglossic Practices in a Multilingual Science Classroom,” has been published in the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. She also has a new publication out titled “Translanguaging in the Writing of Emergent Multilinguals” in the International Multilingual Research Journal.
Dr. Kiramba’s research interests include bilingual and biliteracy development of emerging bi-multilinguals and second/additional language development and teacher education, in K-12 classrooms in US and Kenya. Her current research investigates how individuals (students and teachers) develop an understanding of diversity and how educators respond to language and literacy needs of migrant/immigrant populations. Dr. Kiramba is currently working on a proposal to examine the experiences of African migrant/immigrant students in the American Midwest K-12 schools.
Lilian & Anna, a 2016 MCF Graduate
Dr. Batamaka Somé, MA (2006), PhD (2010), Anthropology
Batamaka, in a Refugee Camp, South Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, May 2015
Batamaka Somé is a Burkina national and an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and a WennerGren Foundation Fellow. He holds a BA in English (1993), a Master’s degree in African literature (1994), and a Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching Education from his home Université de Ouagadougou (1996). At Illinois, Batamaka earned a Master’s degree (2006) and a PhD in Anthropology (2010), as well as a Master's Certificate in Gender Relations in International Development (2007). His doctoral dissertation focused on intra-household dynamics in smallholder cotton and food crop farming, and women’s strategies for securing and controlling incomes. He is currently based in Burkina Faso, where he works as an Independent consultant.
Since graduation, Batamaka has worked mostly with philanthropic and humanitarian organisations with a focus on agriculture, gender, and sociocultural issues. He worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, within the Markets Access team of the Agricultural Development Program. Then, he joined the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Rome, where he led the implementation of the gender strategy of the agency’s flagship initiative, the Purchase for Progress (P4P), then, a pilot initiative that built on WFP's purchasing power and partners' technical expertise to strengthen smallholder farmers' capacity and integrate them in markets. The P4P pilot, which covered 20 countries in three continents, included 15 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. Batamaka guided the women’s economic empowerment pillar through which he identified entry points and opportunities for women to also take advantage of the financial benefits of agricultural production and markets. After Rome, he occupied a position as Senior Regional Gender Advisor at the WFP Regional Bureau for the West and Central Africa. Some of Batamaka’s seminal assignments included the exploring the economic impact and women’s roles in smallholder poultry raising and nutrition in Burkina Faso, drafting a gender strategy for the World Food Programme’s West and Central Africa Region, and assessing local governance and adaptation to climate change among pastoralists in Southeast Burkina Faso. The relevance of the research on the economic impact of poultry on households convinced the Philanthropist Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to invite Dr. Somé to a side event during the Forbes 400 Summit on philanthropy and to feature him in his personal blog in June 2016 (https://www.gatesnotes.com/Development/Why-I-Would-Raise-Chickens). Batamaka recently accepted a position as Regional Representative of the McKnight Foundation’s Collaborative Crop Research Programme (CCRP) for the West Africa Region, and hopes to tap into his social science background and gender work experience to move the work forward. Batamaka participated in dozens of international conferences and events on gender, agriculture, and food security, drafted seminal reports, and participated in project assessment and programme evaluation activities.
Stephanie Birch, Joint MA in African Studies and MS. in Information Sciences, 2016
Stephanie Birch graduated from the Center for African Studies and the School of Information Sciences in May 2016, with joint master’s degrees in African Studies and Library Science. As a single mother, Stephanie was a non-traditional, underrepresented student and an advocate for increased support services and social equities across campus. During her time at UIUC, Stephanie was awarded the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship for the advanced study of the Swahili language. She also served as a graduate assistant in the Department of African American Studies and the graduate coordinator of the Figure One gallery through the School of Art + Design. Stephanie was actively involved in the African Student Organization (ASO) and the Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA), as well as the various community organizations, and frequently shared her research on African fashion and transnational Vodou practices. Her graduate work has resulted in forthcoming publications on the shifting functions of kanga textiles in East African society, the intersections of African fashion and Black activism, and the use of Vodou religious principles in African diasporic research. In August 2016, Stephanie re-located to Gainesville with her son, where she is a tenure-track assistant librarian at the University of Florida’s George A. Smathers Libraries. She is the subject specialist and selector for the African American Studies collection and serves as a liaison to researchers across and beyond campus.
Meagan McClain-Mckinney, BA (2009) and MA (2011), Political Science
Morgan with Reverend Desmond Tutu at the UN General Assembly in September 2011
Morgan McClain-McKinney is a graduate of the Department of Political Science at Illinois (B.A. and M.A). After graduate school, she headed straight for Washington D.C. to pursue her international aspirations. Morgan’s career to date has largely been spent working on issues across the African continent, having supported efforts to mobilize private investment flows for development, increase power sector generation, transmission, and distribution through the President’s Power Africa Initiative, and expand opportunities and networks for outstanding leaders in government, civil society, and business through the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). During her time at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) she has been embedded as a detailee in several African partner institutions including the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Finance in Abuja, Nigeria. Her work has taken her to numerous other countries on the continent including South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, and Ghana. She is currently a Foreign Service Officer, responsible for strategic planning, budgeting, and monitoring and evaluation and is passionate about measuring aid effectiveness and reducing systemic barriers to inclusive and sustainable development. The Center for African Studies has been a valuable resource on her path, providing insightful research and field work which built a foundation for her policy career. She underscores that CAS is a great place to hone research and language skills to make students well rounded Africanists be it in an academic or other professional setting.