In August, Spelman rolled out the blue carpet for members of the Class of 2019, welcoming nearly 600 students and their families for New Student Orientation. During NSO, students bonded through several activities that included team-building exercises, convocation, first-year student induction and more. Be sure to check out the NSO photo gallery below.

Professor Krishna Foster at Cal State L.A. Bioscience lab. Photo by J. Emilio Flores/Cal State L.A.

Chemistry professor Krishna Foster, Ph.D., C’92, has been recognized among “100 Inspiring Women in STEM” by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for encouraging and inspiring young women to pursue careers in science. An advocate for women and minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Dr. Foster serves as associate director for the Minority Opportunities in Research Programs at California State University, Los Angeles.  She and other award recipients are featured in the September issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity.


Lieutenant La’Shanda Holmes, C’2007, the U.S. Coast Guard’s first African-American female helicopter pilot, has been appointed to the 2015-2016 class of White House Fellows by the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. After growing up in the foster care system, Holmes put herself through college, became a pilot, and amassed over 1,500 flight hours conducting search and rescue, counter drug and law enforcement missions. The Bonner Scholar was previously stationed at Air Station Atlantic City as an aircraft commander and managed over 6,800 flight hours for the Coast Guard’s largest MH-65 helicopter unit. She deployed five times to Washington, D.C., as a Rotary Wing Air Intercept pilot, where she supervised an 18-member team and sustained two strip alert aircraft to defend the president and the nation’s capital in support of Operation Noble Eagle.




Spelman College 134th-Founders Day



Amidst a sea of black gowns that will fill the Georgia International Convention Center during the Spelman College 2015 Commencement ceremony on May 17, attendees will see a large swath of powder blue tassels hanging proudly from the mortar boards of some of this year’s graduates. The tassels symbolize their participation in the Senior Legacy Giving Campaign, an initiative to create awareness within the senior class about the importance of giving back to Spelman.

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With a name that means “a beautiful tree with strong roots,” Banah Ghadbian, C’2015, stands as a proud warrior for social justice whose impact is felt throughout the Spelman College community. A scholar-activist since arriving at Spelman, Ghadbian has brought awareness of global women’s rights, the crises in Syria and Palestine, as well as sexual violence on college campuses. Her passion also shows up around educating individuals about issues of racism and other injustices.

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Research Day 2014.2

rise_researchday_winners2When Lindsay Stanford, C’2015, began her academic journey at Spelman College, she knew she wanted to leave an indelible mark upon the world by conducting ground-breaking research that would impact the lives of future generations. As one of 200 students who presented during Spelman’s 2015 Research Day, the biology major is moving closer to her goals and enjoying the rewards bestowed upon those who demonstrate scholarship and research excellence.

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President’s Safety Net

CourtneyMack-GleeClubThe President’s Safety Net Fund, Starfish Initiative Scholarship has literally transformed dreams into a reality for hundreds of Spelman College students. Created in the spring of 2008 to assist students who were negatively affected by the economic downturn, the Starfish Initiative has continued to help students who otherwise would not be able to complete their Spelman education.


As a result of this initiative, Courtnie Mack, C’2015, will be able to graduate with her class on May 17. Mack said that support from the President’s Safety Net Fund and other financial assistance she has received from Spelman throughout her time at the College has afforded her experiences that shewould not have had at any other institution. Read more…


As the campaigns for the next president of the United States begin to coalesce, veteran political strategist Donna Brazile will deliver the keynote address at Spelman’s 128th Commencement. The founder and managing director of Washington, D.C.-based Brazile & Associates LLC, and the first African American to run a presidential campaign, will also receive an honorary degree during the graduation ceremony Sunday, May 17, 2015, at 3 p.m. at the Georgia International Convention Center.

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Since 2004, Travis Tatum, Ed.D., has been immersed within the Spelman College community. In the last few weeks he’s been attending numerous celebrations of his wife, Spelman President Beverly Daniel Tatum, who will be retiring in the summer of 2015. As her tenure ends, Dr. Travis Tatum is reflecting on the more than a decade he has spent on campus.

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Malika Anderson2

Malika Anderson

Alumna Malika Anderson, C’97, was recently named the superintendent of Tennessee’s Achievement School District. Anderson has served as a member of the ASD executive leadership team since 2012. In her previous roles as chief school portfolio officer and deputy superintendent, Anderson helped lead the development of the district, which was created in 2011 as part of Tennessee’s “First to the Top” legislation. The Achievement School District’s mission is to move the state’s bottom 5 percent of schools to the top 25 percent. Read more here.

Aditi Pai

Spelman College will be part of a companion program to the new “Finding Your Roots” curriculum based on Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s acclaimed PBS documentary series of the same name. The college-level component, “Personalized Genetics and Genealogy Exercises to Enhance Introductory Biology Courses,” funded with a $304,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, will launch in fall 2016. It will be led by Spelman biologist Aditi Pai, Ph.D., and conducted at Spelman in association with Wallace Sharif, Ph.D., assistant biology professor at Morehouse College, and Joseph Graves, Ph.D., associate dean for research at North Carolina A & T State University.

“The project aims to promote science education through an interdisciplinary approach of using genealogy, and for learners to engage in biology concepts through exploring their personal DNA,” explained Dr. Pai, associate professor of biology and co-director of the Teaching Resources and Research Center. “Students will be taught the basics of genetics and evolution by exploring their own DNA with a genetic testing kit, and ways to investigate their family history using the genetics and DNA tools of biology as well as the tools of history.”

Dr. Pai was included in a think tank of more than a dozen scholars in different disciplines that began meeting in 2012 at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, North Carolina, to explore ways to engage disadvantaged and minority middle school students in the sciences.

Through the program, students will be introduced to key concepts in biology and evolution, human variation and health, through hands-on measurement and quantitative analysis and the visual display of their personal information. Dr. Pai will invite noted experts on race, genetics and identity to speak on campus, and include both a two-day workshop and a symposium open to the Atlanta University Center. “The most exciting aspect of this project is that first-year biology majors will be initiated into the discipline through a very personal, interdisciplinary, and relevant exploration of their own DNA,” she said. “Whereas we teach students evolution, natural selection, population genetics, migration, etc., with textbook examples – in this new approach their own DNA will be the script they read.”

Another new approach includes the use of a mobile app. Lynn Fellman, a multimedia artist and designer of science visualizations and member of the “Finding Your Roots” team, has developed an app through which students can create an artistic version of the students’ DNA profile.

In addition to Pai, six Spelman faculty have also committed to the project: Yonas Tekle, Ph.D., assistant professor, biology; Jennifer Kovacs, Ph.D., assistant professor, biology; Anna Powolny, Ph.D., lecturer, biology; Hong Qin, Ph.D., assistant professor, biology; Shannon Sung, Ph.D., assistant professor, education studies; and Mark Lee, Ph.D., chair of the biology department and associate professor, biology.

The main project, “Finding Your Roots,” which received $355,000 in funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is spearheaded and led by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Ph.D., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard, and Nina Jablonski, the Evan Pugh Professor of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. It focuses on developing middle school curriculum through summer camps at Pennsylvania State University, the University of South Carolina and the American Museum of Natural History. Campers will explore their own genomes and heritage. Through videos and direct video links, campers will also be exposed to scientists working in STEM fields who will serve as role models.

Another long-term goal of the project is to make the entire curriculum – detailed lesson plans, links to content videos and digital templates – free and available to teachers and educational administrators through a special web site. With these resources, schools and communities will be able to set up their own “Finding Your Roots” summer camps and after-school programs.