Analyzing Juneteenth announcements at colleges and universities.

Researching the pandemic’s influence on the makeup of school boards.

Using Indigenous knowledge in research.

These are a few of the ways that faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences will spend the summer.

Eight faculty are part of this year’s Juneteenth Scholars Program, which the college launched in 2020 in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the national outcry against police brutality.

The program supports scholars whose research aligns with the Juneteenth holiday’s themes, such as resistance to systems of oppression, emancipation movements, and institutional racism. Each recipient receives a $5,000 summer salary, along with funding to hire an undergraduate research assistant, which is provided by the Office for Inclusion and Diversity.

In 2021, President Joe Biden declared June 19 as Juneteenth, a national holiday that recognizes the end of slavery in the United States and celebrates African American freedom, culture, and achievements. Virginia Tech will observe the holiday on Monday, June 20.

“We are proud to support the work of these remarkable scholars,” said Laura Belmonte, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “The Juneteenth program exemplifies the college’s commitment to promoting research that tackles some of the world’s most pressing challenges and that advances equity and justice.”

The appointment for each scholar begins July 1.

Learn more about the following 2022-23 Juneteenth scholars and their research.

Amaryah Shaye Armstrong
Amaryah Shaye Armstrong. Photo courtesy of Armstrong.

Amaryah Armstrong, an assistant professor of race in American religion and culture, will use the funding to complete her book, “The Trouble of Redemption: Blackness, Desire, and the Reproduction of Christian Order.” Much of Armstrong’s research is set in the post-Reconstruction era — a period following the Civil War that sought to bring back southern states to the Union and guarantee rights to former enslaved people. Her book will serve as a guide for understanding imaginations of Blackness that push the call for Black freedom beyond Christian models of redemption.

Silas Moon Cassinelli
Silas Moon Cassinelli. Photo by Leslie King for Virginia Tech.

Silas M. Cassinelli,  an assistant professor in the Department of English and teaching faculty in the Women’s and Gender Studies program, will conduct research for a book he is writing on feminist and queer kinship formations within contemporary U.S. narratives about the Korean American diaspora. His work for the Juneteenth Scholars Program includes developing a new chapter based on Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s experimental novel, "DICTÉE." Given the advent of anti-Asian attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the 2021 Atlanta Spa Shooting, Cassinelli will discuss Cha’s novel and 1982 murder within the broader context of sexual violence against Asian and Asian American women.

Sherri Craig
Sherri Craig. Photo by Leslie King for Virginia Tech.

In a peer-reviewed article, Sherri Craig, an assistant professor of English in the rhetoric and writing program, will examine universities’ and colleges’ Juneteenth announcements, as well as their statements regarding anti-police violence and anti-Black racism. Craig is passionate about holding universities accountable for the texts they release. Ultimately, her research will examine the information available on university and college websites to analyze their stance, institutionally and structurally, to ensure Black students the ability to freely navigate campuses.

Cana Itchuaqiyaq
Cana Itchuaqiyaq. Photo by Leslie King for Virginia Tech.

Cana Itchuaqiyaq, an assistant professor of professional and technical writing, will start a book project, and create a method that effectively and ethically uses Indigenous knowledge in research. Itchuaqiyaq is a tribal member of the Noorvik Native Community in Northwest Alaska. Her project will examine timely issues, such as Indigenous knowledge and data sovereignty.

Karin Kitchens
Karin Kitchens. Photo by Leslie King for Virginia Tech.

Karin Kitchens, an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, is examining the ways in which the pandemic has influenced the minority composition of school boards. The pandemic has placed significant stress on school board members, with several media reports detailing board members’ decisions to quit and not seek reelection, Kitchens said. She is collecting information on school board members across 14 states.

Fernanda R. Rosa
Fernanda R. Rosa. Photo by Leslie King for Virginia Tech.

Fernanda R. Rosa, an assistant professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, researches social justice and communication sovereignty among Indigenous peoples in Latin America. Rosa intends to examine how Indigenous people’s lives and acts of resistance have played a role in the coronavirus crisis — especially the ways they have maintained their wellbeing during this time. She also plans to create a systematic literature review database to understand Indigenous scholarship, such as authors, their localities, publication outlets, and the main questions that arise.

Clara Suong
Clara Suong. Photo by Leslie King for Virginia Tech.

Clara Suong, an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and deputy director of the Tech4Humanity Lab for Computational Social Science Initiatives at Virginia Tech, will submit a paper on ambassadorial race and influence on U.S. foreign policy to an academic journal. She also will work on a second article. Suong researches how attributes of individual policy makers — such as race and ethnicity — influence policy making and affect political, economic, and military transfers between countries.

Tyechia Thompson
Tyechia Thompson. Photo courtesy of Thompson.

Tyechia Thompson is an assistant professor in the Department of English. Her digital storytelling research project, “Never to Return Again: James A. Emanuel and His American Expatriation,” examines poems by Emanuel, which are archived at the Library of Congress. Her project aims to make 50 of his poems addressing systemic racism and police brutality digitally available to the public.

Written by Kelsey Bartlett