Today we celebrate PhD candidate Andia Augustin-Billy, who is concluding her graduate career with some singular achievements. Recently she traveled to Yale University, where she was inducted into the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society. The Bouchet Society recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education and the professoriate. Its network of preeminent scholars exemplifies academic and personal excellence, character, service, and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy.
"The Bouchet induction was one of the memorable moments in my graduate experience at Washington University,” Andia tells us. “At Yale, I met scholars from various universities and disciplines – many already accomplished in their fields. I left invigorated and inspired to approach my scholarship with a strong sense of dedication, and to stay actively involved in leadership, service, and advocacy, much as Dr. Edward A. Bouchet has done."
Soon after the announcement of her induction into the Bouchet Society came more news, that she had received honorable mention in this year’s competition for the Mary McLeod Bethune Award for graduate leadership. The award recognizes leadership, service, and scholarship among graduate students at Washington University. Its namesake, Mary McLeod Bethune, founded a school for African American students in Delray Beach, Florida, that eventually became Bethune-Cookman University. She also served as an advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt.
Both of these announcements came on the heels of another noteworthy bit of news: a job offer from Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport, where she will begin her career as a tenure-track assistant professor of French come autumn.
Andia defended her dissertation, “Bodies in Transgression: Exploring Same-Sex Relations in Contemporary Caribbean Francophone Literature,” in April. Her thesis director, Seth Graebner, associate professor of French, took note of the path-breaking nature of her research: “While literary scholars have made several applications of queer theory to literature of the Caribbean world, very little work has yet appeared on the Francophone islands, despite the widely recognized literature coming from them. Moreover, most of the work presently available has not included the socio-anthropological inquiry into the meanings and conditions of same-sex relationships in the islands that Andia’s thesis brings to the question. Surprisingly few scholars have taken Andia’s approach of combining study of Haitian texts with those (often better known) from the still-colonized French Caribbean, and her thesis provides an excellent example of the benefits of this approach."
We wish Andia well as she begins the next phase of her career, the foundations for which she laid so well here at Washington University.