Afia Ofori-Mensa provides strategic leadership of the Emma Bloomberg Center’s efforts to examine new ways to make postgraduate pathways in academia and higher education more equitable. In that capacity, Afia designs and directs postgraduate resource and readiness programs for undergraduates and new alumni at Princeton and beyond. She is the Administrative Coordinator of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) at Princeton, a PhD pipeline initiative of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that aims to diversify the professoriate in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. She is also the founding director of Princeton’s Aspiring Scholars and Professionals (ASAP) program, an undergraduate research and professional internship program that pairs non-Princeton students with faculty and staff mentors both at Princeton and at the students’ home institutions. The ASAP program seeks to introduce undergraduates to scholarly careers, and careers in higher education more broadly, as well as to foster cross-institutional connections among faculty and staff by engaging them in collaborative student mentorship.
Afia’s work focuses on managing strategic partnerships with colleges, universities, consortia, and other organizations in higher education--as well as with various units at Princeton--to expand the range, and increase the visibility, of postgraduate resources for Princeton and non-Princeton undergraduates. She leads program development, curricular design, and student success for MMUF and ASAP; designs new Postgraduate Pathways initiatives; and provides advising and support for undergraduates who are interested in pursuing PhDs.
Afia came to Princeton from Oberlin College, where she initially held a postdoctoral fellowship in Comparative American Studies and Africana Studies before going on to serve as Assistant Professor, Director of Undergraduate Research, and Assistant Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. She earned her BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a recipient of MMUF. She earned her MA and PhD in American Culture from the University of Michigan. Her research interests explore relationships among gender, race, and national identity in the 20th- and 21st-century US, with a focus on beauty pageantry. She has had media mentions and interviews on BuzzFeed, New Hampshire Public Radio, NPR, and in the New York Times.