By: Hailey Temple

Delicia Greene, a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Information Studies (iSchool), was recently awarded the Ronald E. McNair Graduate Fellowship for the 2013 – 2014 academic year. The McNair Graduate Fellowship is highly competitive and one of the most prestigious awards given to doctoral students at Syracuse University. The University annually funds up to six McNair Fellowships.

With a stipend and no work commitment, The McNair Graduate Fellowship will allow Greene to devote full time to her dissertation research study throughout the academic year.

“Delicia is a vibrant young scholar with great ideas, passion, and work ethic,” said Dr. Steven Sawyer, Dean of Research and Professor at the iSchool who nominated Greene for the fellowship. “ The McNair Fellowship is a great opportunity for her to take her study to the next level during her final year of research.”

Greene’s dissertation research study, titled Concrete Roses: The Exploration of Black Adolescent Girls’ Literacy Practices in an Online Street Fiction Book Club, focuses on how black adolescent girls’ experiences and literate lives influence the construction of their identity. Situated within an urban public library, her dissertation focuses primarily on: (1) how black adolescent girls’ gendered and racialized positioning within society influences how they see themselves (2) how black adolescent girls’ use of digital tools to make meaning of street fiction texts in a book club shapes their construction of identity (3) how the legitimization of black adolescent girls’ literacy practices can serve to bridge their out of school and in school literacy practices.

Inspired by Tupac Shakur’s poem “The Rose that Grew from Concrete, ” Greene sees her study as an opportunity for black adolescent girls to shape their own identities and find their own voices despite deficit labeling in formal school spaces and in the media. By focusing on the intersection of technology, information science, and urban literacy, Greene hopes to inform both researchers and practitioners about the experiences and literate lives of black adolescent girls in out of school spaces, a demographic often absent in academic research.

“In this qualitative study, I want to address deficit labels such as ‘at risk’, ‘struggling’, ‘underperforming’ that are often used to describe black adolescent girls whose discourse of learning is different than the dominant discourse. As an activist researcher, it is my ultimate goal to serve as a vehicle that allows black adolescent girls to engage in identity work within out of school spaces, specifically urban public libraries and create their own counter-narratives about who they are as black adolescent girls, who they are as readers of street fiction texts, and who they are as users of digital tools.” said Greene.

As Greene enters her fifth year as a doctoral candidate at the iSchool, she attributes her success as a researcher to the support of her dissertation committee, including her advisor Dr. Ruth Small, Dr. Marilyn Arnone, Dr. Carsten Oesterlund, and Dr. Marcelle Haddix (School of Education).

She also receives continuous support from Dr. Patricia Stith, assistant provost for Equity and Inclusion and Organizer of the Minority Graduate Student Orientation Program (MGSOP).

Rooted in activist driven research, Greene’s study addresses issues of power, privilege, and positionality and situates marginalized black adolescent girls at the center.  Ultimately, she wants to address the invisibility of the lived experiences and literate lives of black adolescent girls.

“Delicia is in a great place, as she is working as a scientist to intervene the world with data and science. It takes passion and emotion to change the world,” said Sawyer. “I am confident in her talent and passion and believe she has what it takes to make great things happen.”

Greene, a native of the Bronx, New York, holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute, a master’s degree in Secondary English Education (Grades 7-12) from The City College of New York, and an advanced certificate in Administration and Supervision from Hunter College. Prior to pursuing her doctoral studies, Greene worked several years for The Department of Education as a school library media specialist and an English educator (Grades 6-8) in the South Bronx and for several years for The New York Public Library as a young adult librarian.