Amina and Marcus

Sanford School grad students recognized in ASU social science poster contest

Amina Melendez-Mayfield and Marcus Donaldson awarded at contest hosted by ISSR

Jennifer Moore
April 26, 2024

On April 22, two Sanford School graduate students won awards at ASU’s biannual Institute of Social Science Research (ISSR) poster contest. This poster contest occurs each semester and awards prizes in two categories: Proposed Research – research in the preliminary stages without data or results – and Completed Research – research with analyzed data to present.

Submissions are judged based on how compelling and well-supported the topics are, the visual interest and clarity of the poster and the rigorousness of the research.

First place: Amina Melendez-Mayfield

Amina Melendez-Mayfield, a PhD student in sociology, won first place in the Completed Research category for a poster titled “Navigating Intersectional Identities: Experiences of Queer Black Women in Predominantly White Educational Spaces.”

“My research poster delves into the lived experiences of individuals who identify as Black, queer, and women, or have been socially perceived as women, within educational settings (K-12 and higher education),” Amina says. “It explores how their intersectional identities influence their navigation of predominantly white institutions and their involvement in placemaking.”

Amina’s study, based on interviews with nine Black queer female college students, highlights how they navigate their educational journey through an intersectional lens, acknowledging the interconnected impact of race, sexuality, and gender on their experiences. It advocates for educational spaces that both recognize and address the specific needs of queer Black women within predominantly white institutions to ensure their success and well-being.

“As a queer Afro-Latina researcher, receiving recognition for my work is deeply gratifying,” Amina says. “My research focuses on amplifying the voices and experiences of Black queer individuals, often marginalized and overlooked. I'm immensely grateful to be acknowledged and rewarded for the collaborative effort my participants and I have put into this work.”

Honorable Mention: Marcus Donaldson

Marcus Donaldson, also a PhD student in sociology, earned an honorable mention in the Proposed Research category for a poster titled “More Than A Game: The NBA Foundation's Role in Promoting Black Empowerment in Western U. S. Cities.”

“My research poster is about the NBA’s newest $300M league-wide initiative, the NBA Foundation, which is a decade-long effort to create economic opportunities in the Black community through employment and career development,” Donaldson says.

Since its establishment in 2020, the NBA Foundation has been supporting organizations in major cities to facilitate smooth transitions from school to meaningful careers for Black youth aged 14 to 24. The foundation's financial backing is scheduled to conclude by 2030.

Donaldson's proposed research focuses on assessing the NBA Foundation's effectiveness and its potential as a model for inspiring similar initiatives by other professional sports organizations.

“I think any recognition of my work - in any realm - is always appreciated,” says Donaldson. “I’m grateful that ISSR believed this work was worthy of being honorably mentioned and that others who attended the event also found it to be of interest.”

Both students won cash prizes for their work.