Timeka’s research focuses on race, gender, media and spirituality and the ways in which black women engage with media as content creators and as audience members. New media represents a unique frontier, with low barriers to entry for black women to present their own stories in multiple formats without the filter of established media channels. Her dissertation uses interview data to determine how media and faith intersect to shape Black women’s understanding of womanhood.
Timeka is involved with the Black Humanities Collective, a Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop that serves as a gathering of students from all levels of graduate study whose research involves black populations in the U.S. and abroad. The group is designed to connect people across disciplines, serve as a support system for students at different stages, host workshops and speakers, and provide community-building events like movie nights. For the past two years, the group has hosted a workshop for undergraduate students affiliated with the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies to help them prepare for advanced degrees. At the workshop a panel of graduate students presented, answered questions, and sat down one-on-one with the students to work on their applications and essays. Every undergraduate student they helped got into their program. “That was the best experience for me.”
As a Rackham Merit Fellow, Timeka considers it a luxury to focus on her research and not have to balance it with too many teaching responsibilities. She also has more opportunity to work with faculty to make important professional connections, thereby creating a space where she is groomed for the next steps in her career. This is pivotal to finishing her dissertation and developing professionally as well. “Rackham is the core of the graduate student experience in that it is the first slice of the larger institution students get to know intimately. By giving me funding, Rackham made the Michigan difference for me.”