Cue the introduction

Hello fellow human reading this!

Hope the vibes are right wherever you are tuning in from and the weather is just as you like it! My name is Sham Habteselasse and I am excited to be joining the Futures Initiative! Officially titled a fellow-in-residence, I will be exploring where I fit and can offer support across the CUNY Peer Leaders and HASTAC Scholars programs. Outside of the GC, I work at a nonprofit supporting with research evaluations on youth/family serving programming. Prior to this, I worked as a teaching assistant in Northern Virginia. Currently, I am a second year Ph.D. student in the Developmental Psychology program at the CUNY Graduate Center.

My work flowers from a love of coming-of-age films, unapologetic conversations with friends, and a desire to see and hear more stories – and yes, that means yours, if you are willing and open to share. I explore emotion, identity, friendship, and migration. Through these, I am trying to reconceptualize what it means to utilize silence and voice, when, why, where, and with whom we share our deepest struggles and peak emotional highs, what it means to listen and be heard, and finally, what it means to respond – whether with love, with advisement, with debate, etc. More concisely, my work explores how young immigrants use their inner social circles to express, unpack, and find resolve in their emotions. I hope one day I can co-create and contribute to spaces where youth and young adults are able to freely and honestly express their feelings and selves without the pressure to filter themselves. This is where my passion sits, working alongside others: learning, teaching, and growing. Through my program and being part of the Futures Initiative, I aim to pick up the tools needed to disrupt normative ways of expressing ourselves.

What does it mean to be and feel free? I have been asking myself this a lot lately. I am working out how that operationalizes in my real-world life. Most days it feels like something I am seeking; through my blogs posts, I’ll continue to come back to this question, shaping and reshaping my answer/s. I want to end this post with the following quote from Gwendolyn Brooks, “We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” It reminds me that I feel most free when I am in conversation and movement with others.

Signing off for now,


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