Current MA Students

Students (left to right): Zachary Enumah, Alex Bowles, Klara Wojkowska, Justin Scott, Camille Davidson, Damilola Oladeru, Nyasha Karimakwenda


Helinna Ayalew graduated from Macalester College with a BA in International Studies, focusing on Political Science and African Studies. Having grown up both in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Washington D.C., she had always known her academic and professional interests were never far from the African continent. While an undergraduate she studied abroad for a year, first in Cape Town, South Africa then Maastricht, the Netherlands, undertaking and eventually publishing research on globalization and leadership in multicultural societies. It was while on this year abroad that her interest in conflict studies was sparked. After graduating she moved back to Addis Ababa to work in this field, completing internships at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and had the opportunity to work for an American public health NGO. Various assignments took her to several corners of the country and the wider Horn of Africa region, including some of the conflict-riddled border zones. Her work facilitated a greater understanding of on-the-ground concerns while exposing her to different perspectives on peace and conflict from across the region.  At Yale, Helinna intends to continue exploring the nexus between conflict and development in the Horn of Africa, focusing particularly on ethnic and environmentally driven conflicts, as well as the role of leadership.


Erdong Chen did his undergraduate studies at American University, where he double majored in International Relations and Business Administration. He was born in Nanjing, China and went to Washington DC for college at the age of eighteen. He has traveled widely and has conducted research in many fascinating locations, including North Korea, Cuba and South Sudan. As an undergraduate his research focused on Washington-Beijing-Taipei triangular dynamics, nuclear crises in the Korean Peninsula, and civil society development in the Greater China Area. He worked briefly with a political risk analysis firm following his graduation in May, 2011. In the Fall of 2011, he took a research trip to Africa where he focused on strategic interactions and energy gaming between the United States and China in the region. During that trip, he visited South Africa and the newly established South Sudan. He is the first and, thus far, the only Chinese independent scholar to visit South Sudan for in-depth research. He is currently providing investment recommendations from Chinese companies interested in doing business in Africa.

Erdong’s interests include writing, fashion design, and business. He has written extensively for policy journals and newspapers, including the Foreign Policy in Focus, the Hong Kong Journal, the Asian Times Online, the China Post, among others. In 2010 he published his first book, From Washington to Taipei – Observing Taiwan from a Mainland-Chinese Student’s Perspective. The bestseller has received wide attention and generated profound debates across the Taiwan Strait. He has co-founded an education consulting company in China and plans to start a men’s wear boutique soon.


Lila Ann Dodge graduated from Smith College with a BA in Dance and American Studies. At Smith, Lila completed a thesis on site-specific dance comprising a written thesis, theorizing and tracing the history of place-based dance work, paralleled by her own 40-minute, itinerant, site-specific choreography. Her interest in contemporary dance of Africa was sparked particularly during her junior year abroad in France, studying at several Parisian universities and interning at the Centre National de la Danse. Lila received a Fulbright Fellowship for 2009-10, and spent ten months in Burkina Faso researching the development of communities around “contemporary” dance practice, as they loop between tight local systems of training and creative production in Africa, and highly international circuits of performance, collaboration, funding and accompanying political dynamics.
Lila has most recently been living in San Francisco, where, among other projects, she was performing and assisting on the administrative team for Kiandanda Dance Theater, directed by Byb Chanel Bibene (Republic of Congo/USA). At Yale, Lila aims both to continue the line of research she began in Burkina Faso, and to investigate her attention to movement and somatic experience as a lens for examining social phenomena beyond the purview of dance.


Joseph Guido graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in International History. He has worked in the government and private sectors across the spectrum of conflict over the past 14 years in a wide variety of roles and locations to include Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and the Balkans. Joe, as a US Army Foreign Area Officer with a regional specialization in Africa, has most recently served at the US Embassy in Djibouti as the chief of security cooperation and has also served in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania. He intends on deepening his understanding of security and defense issues in Africa as a MacMillan and Kenneth R. Miller Jr. Fellow while focusing on the Touareg peoples of the Sahara.


Denise Lim graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2008 with a B.A. in both English and sociology and a minor in Africana studies. After her second year of undergraduate study she received a grant from the Bryn Mawr Department of Sociology to work with a foreign NGO called World Camp for Kids, Inc.  She spent five weeks traveling to rural villages outside of the capital city of Lilongwe, Malawi, where she taught HIV/AIDS prevention education to primary school students throughout the region. She went on to study abroad at the University of Cape Town, where she further developed her social research in HIV/AIDS in South Africa as well as apartheid history and post-apartheid literature. Her senior thesis focused on the political influence of racialized Christian theologies during the apartheid regime and its residual effects on post-apartheid literary discourse. At Yale, Denise continues to concentrate in Anglophone African literature and cultural sociology. She plans to write her master's thesis on how African literature is defined, canonized, and taught in South African universities.


Etienne Mashuli graduated from North Central College where he majored in political science. As a sophomore, Etienne was awarded the Richter fellowship enabling him to travel to Uganda where he interviewed Congolese refugees. He was a research assistant at Michigan State in 2011 and at the University of Michigan the following year. Etienne is recipient of the prestigious Soros fellowship for New Americans and a senior fellow with Humanity in Action.


Shatreen Masshoor graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in African Studies in 2012. As an undergrad, she was a Global Health Fellow, and her African studies focused on medical anthropology, particularly in relation to women’s reproductive health and development. Shatreen’s senior thesis was based on research she gathered during work with the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, on the building of maternity waiting homes in Monrovia, Liberia. Her thesis examined the continuation of these kinds of projects as part of the “anti-politics machine” of development. Shatreen plans to continue examining women’s health, specifically in the area of conflict and post-conflict regions and sexual violence. Her main regions of interest are Swahili-speaking areas of Central and Eastern Africa. Having studied advanced Swahili in Mombasa, Kenya, she will assist the elementary Swahili class at Yale as a Teaching Fellow, and will begin her fourth year of study in Swahili, to add on to her proficiencies in French and Dari. Locally, Shatreen works as a Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor with the Milford Rape Crisis Center.


Catherine Nelson is a writer, researcher and editor in international affairs with a focus on Africa. She holds 12 years of experience across several regions, including East Africa, the Andes, and the Baltic states. She has returned most recently from the Great Lakes Region of Africa where she conducted conflict and justice research on Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs) in Rwanda and Burundi. She specializes in alternative dispute resolution, human rights, gender, and peacekeeping and the rule of law. Earlier research focused on forced migration and land rights, and Catherine received an MA in Migration Studies from the Brussels School of International Studies, University of Kent (2009).


Scott Ross graduated from Arizona State University where he triple-majored in Secondary Education, American History, and Global Studies.  As a part of his Global Studies coursework, he volunteered at a number of organizations in Lira, Uganda in 2010.  He also taught high school American History and Government classes full-time as a part of his Education degree.  His interest in African studies centers around the history of how states approach conflict resolution and how the International Criminal Court gets involved in conflicts today.  At Yale, he hopes to concentrate on history and politics to learn more about the interplay between international law and conflicts. He is also interested in non-governmental organizations' work regarding human rights in central Africa. In his free time he enjoys spending too much time on Twitter, playing racquetball, blogging, and spending time with his wife.


Kevin Winn graduated from Emory University in May of 2011 with a BA in African Studies and Middle Eastern Studies. While there, he studied Arabic for three years, which sparked his interest in North Africa. After graduating, Kevin moved to Agadir, Morocco to teach English at an elementary school for a semester. Once returning, he began an internship at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia where he worked in the Office of Development. While at The Carter Center, Kevin worked closely with staff members to solicit possible donors to The Carter Center’s health and peace programs in Africa and the Middle East. This internship, along with coursework at Emory University, got him interested in focusing on the postcolonial history of Eastern and Southern Africa. As a graduate student, Kevin hopes to broaden his understanding of the Arabic language as well as learn Kiswahili.