Portrait of Nafisa Tanjeem (left) and Danielle Morales

Two professors selected for ALANA/BIPOC faculty fellowships

December 12, 2022
By: Nancy Sheehan

The New England Board of Higher Education has selected two new Worcester State professors to take part in the North Star Collective Faculty Fellowship, a multi-institutional collaborative to boost faculty of color at New England colleges and universities.

Danielle Morales, assistant professor of Urban Studies, and Nafisa Tanjeem, associate professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, will begin their semester-long fellowships in January. The North Star Fellowship aims to support early-career ALANA/BIPOC (African, Latine, Asian, Native American and/or Black, Indigenous, People of Color) faculty by providing a nurturing community of care, mentorship, and professional development. 

“On behalf of academic affairs, I am delighted to congratulate Danielle Morales and Nafisa Tanjeem for their attainment of the prestigious North Star Faculty Fellowship for 2023,” Provost Lois A. Wims said. “They will spend the spring semester with theNorth Star program which promotes healing and repair for early career ALANA/BIPOC faculty. They will participate in a supportive community to aid them in their tenure-track faculty careers. We look forward to their enthusiasm and commitment to our students for a long time to come and know that they will continue to enrich our community.”

Morales joined the Worcester State faculty in September 2022, coming to the area from El Paso, Texas. As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at El Paso, she was part of a research team that conducted various projects examining mentoring relationships. Study results have been published in numerous academic journals.

She has worked with the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), a national initiative for developing mentoring opportunities for researchers from diverse backgrounds. She was trained by the NRMN as a facilitator in 2015, and since then has been providing training on how to develop healthy and effective mentoring relationships. 

Tanjeem grew up in Bangladesh and came to North America for her master’s degree studies at the University of Toronto. She earned a Ph.D.  in women’s and gender studies from Rutgers University in 2017. She joined Worcester State in September 2022 in the new Department of Interdisciplinary Studies. Among her research and teaching interests are transnational, postcolonial, and decolonial feminisms; critical race theory; globalization and feminist politics.

She is working on a book that examines transnational labor activism and activist discourses that developed in relation to the deadliest garment industrial disaster in human history, the 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza – a factory building housing five garment factories in Savar, Bangladesh.

The Board of Higher Education developed the North Star Collaborative to restore, nourish and uplift BIPOC faculty in the region and support leaders as they transform institutions around racial equity. The Fellowship was created by BIPOC faculty for BIPOC faculty to support their professional development. It focuses specifically on supporting fellows’ writing and publishing endeavors and overall wellbeing, which are essential to advancement, tenure, and promotion.

The fellowship provides a support network for participants to help navigate the challenges they face in their academic careers, to promote wellness and healthy work-life balances, and to foster a community of care for fellows’ holistic growth.

The North Star Collective name has several historical and contemporary influences. “North Star” pays homage to the fact that enslaved Africans and African Americans used the North Star in the night sky to guide them to freedom. The name is also a nod to The North Star, the antislavery newspaper published by African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

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