What Is a Reedie, Anyway? (continued)

Photo by Matt D'Annunzio

Maya Campbell history

Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland

Adviser: Prof. Radhika Natarajan [history 2014–]

Thesis: So we don’t have to beg anymore: Black Power and Self-Defense in Radical Social Movements in the United States and United Kingdom in the 1960s and 1970s.

What it’s about: How black/non-black and American/non-American radical social movements coming out of the late 1960s connected to and ultimately used black power and the ethno-political identity of “blackness” as organizational concepts in their formulations of community self-defense.

What it’s really about: Interracial and international solidarity and collective responses to societal oppression in the postcolonial moment.

Who I was when I got to Reed:  A shy, fast-talking, field-hockey-playing, sometimes-poet—completely unsure of who I was or who I wanted to become. 

Influential professor: Prof. Doug Fix [history 1990–] taught me how to view all kinds of things as historical artifacts: from houses and songs, to music, and food preparation practices. It was the first class that truly challenged me to “think out of the box” and to reevaluate what it means to study history. I’m always thinking, “What else can I do? How can I make this broader, tell this story stronger?” Doug really taught me that.

A concept that changed the way I think: Kimberlé Crenshaw’s intersectionality became a key part of my daily lexicon. Formally learning about the term was such a “duh” moment. “You mean there’s a term for the fact that my identity is multifaceted and that influences how I experience life? Wow.”

Outside the Classroom:  Worked as a social justice educator at the multicultural resource center. Spent a semester abroad in France. Traveled to London on a Reed grant to do research for my thesis. House adviser in French House. Restarted the Black and African Student Union. Worked as a student coordinator for the Peer Mentor Program. Spent a summer as a research assistant for Prof. Margot Minardi [history 2007–].

Obstacles I overcame:  Reed was the first time I had ever been somewhere where I did not regularly see someone who looked like me or had a similar experience to my own. I ended up channeling this frustration into my extracurricular activities and tried to make Reed a more comfortable place for students like me.

How Reed changed me: Reed taught me to never be afraid of my ideas, to never silence my voice, and to constantly reaffirm the value of my own individuality. I can think quicker on my feet, am better at listening to someone else’s argument and much more able to figure how things fit together.

What’s next: Antitrust paralegal at Cohen Milstein in Washington, D.C.

Financial aid: Financial aid made it possible for me to stay at Reed and I will eternally be grateful for it.

Word to prospies: Reed will push and stretch you in ways you didn’t even know you could bend. But part of that newfound flexibility is the greatest academic and social experience that you will ever have. Reed is a place where the learning never stops and frankly, it is a place where you will never want to stop learning.