RESEARCH & MORE

Aya M. Waller-Bey is a proud Detroiter and Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Michigan where she also received her M.A. in Sociology in 2021. For undergrad, Aya attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., majoring in Sociology, graduating Cum Laude. After graduation, Aya remained at Georgetown working as an Admissions Officer and the Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. In 2015, she was awarded the Gates Cambridge Scholarship to the University of Cambridge in England—a scholarship awarded to only 40 people in the U.S. each year—and completed her Master of Philosophy in Education.

Aya has shared her insights on postsecondary access, diversity, and inclusion in op-eds in Forbes, Huffington Post U.K., University World News, and the 2016 White House Summit for Advancing Postsecondary Diversity and Inclusion. Her leadership and research have also been highlighted in a PBS Newshour special and the Cambridge Alumni Magazine, the Washington Post, and the University World News. She continued her commitment to access and inclusion through her work with national, not-for-profits and spoke with staffers on the Hill in September 2018 about advancing higher education policy that serves historically underrepresented college students. In March 2019, Aya discussed the experiences of historically disadvantaged students attending elite institutions as a panelist at SXSW Education in Austin, Texas.

Aya’s research on trauma narratives in college essays has also received national and local praise. In March 2020, Aya was selected as a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship awardee—a prestigious fellowship awarded by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine aimed to increase the diversity of the national college and university professoriate. Aya received an invitation from the Aspen Center for Physics Virtual Winter Conference 2021 to present her research at the winter conference. She was also one of 20 graduate students to receive the National Center for Institutional Diversity Anti-Racism Summer Research Grant for her dissertation project titled, “I didn’t want it to be a sob story”: Black Student Identity Narration in College Personal Statements” in 2021. She has presented her research at the University of Amsterdam, University of Florida Center for Public Interests Communication frank gathering, and symposiums at the University of Michigan.