Anna Palmer

By Laura Paisley
Critical Theory & Social Justice

Anna Palmer has devoted her college career to mentorship, supporting social justice and her research on Afro-Carribbean motherhood.

One of Anna’s earliest memories is being with her father at an immigration rally in Washington, D.C. She was five years old.

“From a really young age, my Dad in particular really emphasized caring about how other people experience life and exist in the world,” she says. “My parents really tried to convey the importance of working with others and making sure everyone has equitable access to resources.”

Coming to Oxy, Anna had an interest in sociology, which was reinforced early on through her participation in the Multicultural Summer Institute and the mentorship of Associate Professor of Sociology Richard Mora.

“I was so lucky to meet Professor Mora right away and have his guidance throughout college,” she says. “While working with him both in and out of the classroom, I've had opportunities to develop my own research, teaching and writing skills. I know how much mentorship has impacted me, which made me want to offer the same to others.”

She served as an MSI teaching assistant twice, and loves seeing how her students have grown and blossomed. She has worked for the Center for Community Based Learning as an Education In Action program coordinator, helping her peers develop projects and research together with community partners, professors and students.

The summer before her senior year, Anna began research through the Undergraduate Research Center that laid the groundwork for her senior comps project, which centers on Afro-Caribbean motherhood. The head start enabled her to attend a Caribbean Studies Association Conference in Cuba, funded through an Oxy Academic Student Project grant.

“My research was definitely inspired by the strength of my mom and of my grandmother, who came from Guyana. I wanted to examine the experiences of other black Caribbean mothers in the U.S. because I think it’s a complex identity.”

Anna interviewed 22 first- and second-generation Caribbean mothers from across the United States, some of whom she connected with through her internship with the Caribbean Heritage Organization in Los Angeles. She is currently working on getting her comps research published.

Outside of academics, Anna has explored other passions, including her love of music.

“I found out that Oxy has applied music classes for beginners, so this semester I decided to learn to play the trumpet. I’ve also taken classes on the music of Latin America, and social movements and music, so I’ve developed an interest in ethnomusicology.”

Anna has served as president of the Black Student Association, and she and a few friends founded the Queer and Trans People of Color group on campus.

“Students were excited to have a space to share their experiences and have support from other people in the community. It was an amazing experience to build that with other folks that believed deeply in doing that work.”

This summer, Anna will be at the University of California, Berkeley doing a research fellowship at the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. Through its Global Justice program, she will focus on climate refugee research and case studies, and she hopes the fellowship will help refine her focus for graduate school.

“I’m excited to strengthen my research skills from a more public policy-oriented perspective,” she says. “I want to pursue a career in the realm of social justice, because that’s what’s most important to me.”

Anna Palmer received a 2019 Deans Award