Cornell University
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Cornell University

Community engagement was critical for Ama Bemma Adwetewa-Badu Ph.D. ‘22

College: Graduate School| Arts & Sciences
Field: English language and literature
Hometown: Worcester, Massachusetts

After graduating with her Ph.D., Ama Bemma Adwetewa-Badu will serve in a new role as an assistant professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis this fall. Adwetewa-Badu said she benefited greatly from the NextGen Professors Program run by Colleen McLinn and Sara Xayarath Hernández.

“It helped me to write drafts of cover letters, prep my CV and learn about a career in the professoriate,” Adwetewa-Badu says. “The workshops, speaker panels and support really cemented for me that this was a career I wanted to pursue.”

A Digital Humanities Fellow, she says the program served as a catalyst for much of her secondary work in cultural analytics, the history and future of the web and computing and digital infrastructures in literature.

“The skillsets I learned during the fellowship and my subsequent projects helped me produce my first public-facing article, which in turn led to a series of invited speaker engagements and consulting,” she says.

Adwetewa-Badu says that volunteer opportunities have been influential in her life, and the Learning Where You Live program led her to teach a community-engaged course.

“This was a formative teaching experience for me because it taught me to open up the borders of the classroom to the wider community,” she says. “It also taught me that the work we do in the world and for the world is worthy of study and engagement in classroom spaces.”

Students in Adwetewa-Badu’s class engaged in various ways with community partners doing work such as building websites, running after-school programs and serving on committees. The course also included a series of guest speakers in fields such as diversity, equity and inclusion, digital transformation, arts activism and public health.

“This course shaped what scholarship can be–community-informed and -directed and beholden to the constituents we often write about,” Adwetewa-Badu says. “This mode of thinking has fed back into other projects and into my pedagogy.”

She says graduate school is a long journey, but it becomes a better environment with the right people around you. Adwetewa-Badu says she’s fortunate to have found herself in community with faculty, peers across various departments, library staff, west-campus residential life staff, building care staff, dining hall staff and many others.

“Cornell is a place with so many people from various walks of life,” Adwetewa-Badu says. “People are the lifeblood of this institution.”

Cornell’s Class of 2022 has a great deal to be proud of: They have worked hard to forge their futures and make their mark, all the while finding success and demonstrating great resolve through a host of challenges, including the historic adversity of pursing their degrees during a pandemic.

Read more about this incredible group of Cornellians.

Written by Jesse Osbourne
Strategic Communications at Cornell University



Cornell’s mission is to discover, preserve and disseminate knowledge, to educate the next generation of global citizens, and to promote a culture of broad inquiry throughout and beyond the Cornell community.

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