Why Major In African American Studies

Name, Major/Minor, Year: Kristin Therese Jones – Double Major in African American Studies & Rhetoric with a minor in Education

Current position/title and brief job description – Special Assistant and Personal Aide to the First Lady

Why did you become an AfAm major? When I decided to major in African American Studies I did so because I felt stuck between two worlds – neither of which I totally felt “home” in – my community in Los Angeles and the community at U.C. Berkeley. I initially sought out this major in an attempt to learn more about myself. In turn, I actually found myself, I found knowledge, I found the world, and I found peace.

What was the most valuable part of your experience as a major in the department? The experience that I value most as an alumni of the department is the high level of critical thinking and analysis that was demanded out of every student in every class and lecture. It was never enough to solely discuss my experience as an African American as a means of defending or challenging a point. Instead, the department was comprised of students and professors that were thoroughly read in race and class theory. Consistently engaging in such high level thinking was invaluable and the ability to do so accurately (as the department trained me to be able to), is a skillset that I use each and every day on the job.

Kristin walking with First Lady

How do you feel your degree in African American Studies has helped you since you graduated? My degree in African American Studies has helped fuel my thinking about communities and the world. At U.C. Berkeley, the African American Studies Department was diverse and full of opportunities to engage with and learn about people of other diasporas. As I strive to positively contribute to the work of the Obama Administration and help move this country forward, I do so with an open mind and deep compassion to improve the lives of all people, everywhere – a framework that my professors and colleagues in the CAL Af. Am. Department critically challenged me to develop.