MA in Liberal Studies

stephanie robinson

Success Stories

Stephanie Robinson (graduated in 2022)

Right before she attended an information for the MALS program in 2020, Stephanie had just become a new mom. She had already earned a B.A degree in History, and was using that background to tutor independently. She’s now a History Ph.D. student at Fordham University and holds an Assistantship at The Bronx African-American History Project, where she shares responsibility for organizing, transcribing, and publicizing oral history archives that display the histories of Black and Afro-Latinx communities of The Bronx.

MALS: What motivated you to apply for Lehman’s MA program in Liberal Studies?

Stephanie: I enjoyed the opportunities my bachelor’s degree was able to provide, but I always felt limited in what I was able or wanted to do.  I knew I wanted to progress, not simply for myself but to use myself as a tool to uplift my family and community; I knew one way to do this was to achieve my master’s degree to open up even more opportunities. I also knew I wanted to get into a Ph.D. program in the future, which at the time felt like a long shot, but obtaining a master’s degree would be a start. What better place to do this than my Alma Mater?

MALS: Who has inspired you or helped make your journey at Lehman a success?

Stephanie: I couldn't have asked for a better faculty that supported my progress and success at Lehman. Honestly, I shouldn’t have been surprised because my experience in undergrad was similar. My professors inspired me to create quality, meaningful work during my program.  Which, in the middle of a pandemic and experiencing personal obstacles, was so beneficial. I’m incredibly grateful to Professors Alborn, Spencer, Ohmer, and Sanford. They truly made the best experience for me to create my success.

MALS: Describe your thesis—how did it connect to your work/life outside of the program? 

Stephanie: I wrote a thesis titled, The Social Upward Mobility of Black Women In a Capitalist Society. Looking back, the concept and foundations of my thesis started as early as the first semester. My courses prepared me to intensively navigate a world of research in various disciplines through multiple methods. They also helped me finetune my thought processes and philosophy as a Historian. The interdisciplinary nature of this program gave me access to anthropological and sociological lenses, all of which are reflected in the work I would create. I used excerpts from my thesis in my Ph.D. applications; showcasing my ability to work and navigate various disciplines helped make me a competitive candidate in the Ph.D. application process.

MALS: How has MALS helped you achieve your goals since graduating?

Stephanie: During the information session, I expressed that I would prefer to do a thesis because I wanted to prepare myself in case I decided to pursue a Ph.D. program. I went in with that mindset, and my professors, knowing that, gave me all the resources I would need to achieve that goal. The MALS program helped me achieve a goal that, at times during the process, I didn’t think I could achieve. Having a faculty that believes in your capabilities, even when you don’t, indeed was a motivation.

MALS: What do you think other people should know about MALS and Lehman? 

Stephanie: MALS and Lehman are one of the best investments you can make for yourself. No matter what level you think you might be at or how long you’ve been out of the academic world, they have the resources to develop your natural talents into something bigger. This program and school genuinely care about their students and their goals.

MALS: What advice would you give to current or prospective MA students?

Stephanie: Reach out. You never know who will reach back out to you. In my case, my professors were very willing to collaborate and work with me. I always had a question answered. If they couldn’t answer it themselves, they pointed me toward someone who could. Take opportunities to network or explore parts of your discipline you might not have otherwise considered. Also, talk to your classmates; I’ve met many people from different professional backgrounds and experiences, and it keeps you attuned to the perspectives around you.

MALS: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Stephanie: I want to say how grateful I am for the MALs program. Not only did it help me achieve some of my most desired goals, but I also continued to transform into the person I’ve always wanted to be: someone who can support and create opportunities for others just like me.