African Leadership Academy alumna Geraldine Mukumbi has been named a 2022 Knight-Hennessy Scholar-Elect and will now pursue a PhD at Stanford University.
She was previously a Hesburgh-Yusko Scholar and a Kellogg International Scholar and graduated from Notre Dame in 2016 with a degree in English/Africana Studies. Whilst at the prestigious university, she won the Hammon-Wheatley Creative Arts Award, the Richard Sullivan Prize for Short Fiction and the Notre Dame Leadership Award. She was executive producer of the monologue show “Show Some Skin,” which gives voice to unspoken stories about identity and difference at Notre Dame.
“I’m pursuing a PhD in curriculum studies and teacher education with a specialization in Language, Literacy and English Education. My research is focused on exploring the role that Young Adult literature can play in improving the quality of literacy for students in English classrooms,” said Geraldine.
“I hope that I can leverage my research to create a learning environment that has an arts education at its core. I was born in Hwange in a province in Zimbabwe that consistently has relatively the highest number of underperforming and under resourced schools. I would love to see that change in my lifetime.”
She has previous teaching experience at ALA as a humanities and entrepreneurial leadership educator, and at LEAF Academy in Slovakia and the USAP Community School Zimbabwe. She credits her time at ALA as a student and educator for the insights she has gained “into the ways in which we can approach education differently.”
“ALA and a growing number of mission-driven start-up schools provide a template for how we can expand what it means to create a learning community,” Geraldine said.
“I love books. I am certifiably obsessed with both reading and writing them. My PhD is driven by my curiosity about the ways schools sometimes hinder the love of reading. I grew up as an avid reader, but I hated my English and literature classes. My hope is to learn about the ways in which we can improve the quality of literature instruction in Zimbabwe primarily so that more young people can be lifelong readers.”
Geraldine thanked her family and friends who’ve encouraged her to dream, and “the Africana studies department at Notre Dame, which exposed me to the type of community-based research that I aspire to carry out. I am also grateful to Professor Joe Buttigieg, who modeled an unflinching love for literature, as well as Professors Stuart Greene, Maria McKenna and Paul Ocobock, who have supported me in my journey as a writer and teacher.”
“My thinking has been shaped by friends and colleagues such as Chris Bradford, Taeyin ChoGlueck, L’ubica Lutz, Jaromír Sedlár, Dave Tait and Rebecca Zeigler Mano, who have served as inspiring soundboards in expanding my thinking about schools and community,” she said.