Welcome, 2021-2022 Futures Initiative Fellows!

The Futures Initiative is delighted to welcome several new team members in Fall 2021!

Chinyere Okafor

headshot of Chinyere Okafor

Facilitator, CUNY Peer Leaders Program

Chinyere Okafor (she/her) is a Ph.D. student in The Graduate Center, CUNY’s Critical Social/Personality and Environmental Psychology program. Her research interests are on race & space, sexuality across the Black diaspora, Black women & femmes’ narratives in higher education, and healing modalities for Black mental health. She will join Lauren Melendez, Kashema Hutchinson, Kaysi Holman, and Stefanie Sertich in their work on the CUNY Peer Leaders Program.

Nik Valdez

Research Assistant for Prof. Cathy N. Davidson

photo of Nik ValdezNik Valdez (they/them) is a queer Chicane writer, learner, & teacher siempre making trouble at & through CUNY’s Graduate Center as a PhD student in English Lit. Their work encuentra su casa in a multi-disciplinary cross-section of Queer of Color Theory (notably Latine, Chicane, Indigenous, & Black Feminist/Queer thought), Abolitionist Pedagogy, Accessibility, Literature, & Creative Writing. As a multiply-disabled, first generation, former community college transfer student, their work seeks to be rooted in and accessible to su gente; to create work that is both a personal praxis and generator for transformative change dentro y fuera de sus comunidades.

Sham Habteselasse


headshot of Sham HabteselasseSham Habteselasse (she/her) is a doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology program at The Graduate Center, CUNY. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her research interests explore emotion development in social support systems. Specifically, Sham is interested in examining how adolescents and emerging adults of color engage in expressing their emotions and seeking advisement within friendship groups. She also works as a research assistant at Child Trends, a research nonprofit focused on evaluating and advancing child and family serving programs. She will serve as a participant-observer, primarily in the CUNY Peer Leaders Program and HASTAC Scholars.


Featured image: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309