What Comes After Graduation: African-American and African Studies Alumni Panel

Career Administrator

Come network with alumni from the African-American and African Studies program! Find out what awesome career paths AA/AS alums have taken and get information and contacts for your own career search. AA/AS majors and minors are particularly invited and encouraged to attend! Open to all students, not just African American/African Studies Majors! Check out Handshake for more details! Below are the brief descriptions of our panelists:

Niya Bates | Public Historian of Slavery and African American Life | Monticello | AA/AS Alumna Class of 2013

Niya Bates is a native of Charlottesville, Virginia and a two-time graduate of the University of Virginia with an M.A. in Architectural History and B.A. in African American and African Studies. Her research interests include historic preservation, vernacular cultural landscapes, cultural heritage, slavery, and race. Niya is now Public Historian of Slavery and African American Life at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, where she is director of the Getting Word Oral History Project. She is currently serving on the board of Preservation Piedmont and is a member of the Landscape Studies Advisory Group for the UVA Landscapes Studies Initiative. She recently published an article titled “Race and Architectural History: An Appeal” in Arris: Journal of the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians.

Elisa Bell | Marketing Director | Transurban | AA/AS Alumna Class of 2003

 Elisa Dobbins Bell graduated from the University of Virginia in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a minor in African-American Studies. While at the University, she was an active leader on campus, holding leadership roles within her sorority, the Theta Kappa Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and the Black Student Alliance. After graduating, Elisa went on to get her master’s degree in Communications, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University and began a nine-year career in financial and business operations. In 2012, Elisa earned her MBA with a concentration in marketing from the Johnson School at Cornell University. She attended Johnson as a Roy H. Park Fellow (full-two year scholarship and leadership program) and Consortium member and was very active within the Cornell community as a Johnson Leadership Fellow, chair of the admitted students’ weekend, and co-chair of the annual diversity conference. After graduation, Elisa was classically trained as a Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) marketer. She worked at The Clorox Company as a brand manager and at Sephora as a senior marketing manager in charge of the marketing efforts for more than 60 beauty brands in the hair, clinical skincare, and tools space. Upon moving back to the East Coast last year, Elisa became the Marketing Director of Transurban’s North American business, where she is using her customer-first marketing approach to improve the customer experience with Express Lanes users and disrupting how marketing is done in the tolling and transportation space. In her “spare” time, Elisa enjoys spending as much time as possible with family and friends, trying to stay active, and learning how to develop websites. Elisa lives in Northern Virginia with her amazing husband, Jason (CEAS 04), and children, Sloane (4) and Stokely (2).

Kelsey Watkins | Law School Student | University of Virginia | AA/AS Alumna Class of 2016

Kelsey Watkins graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences in 2016 with majors in African American and African American Studies and History. She is from Long Island, New York. While at UVA, Kelsey participated in Black Voices Gospel Choir, the Black Student Alliance, Sustained Dialogue, Black Monologues and the AAS Distinguished Majors Program. She is now in her second year of law school at UVA Law. and will graduate in 2019. Immediately following law school, she plans to pursue a career in corporate law in New York. She hopes to one day do legal work for a nonprofit. 

RSVP on Handshake here