Barbara-Ann Hamilton-Hinch, from the community of Beechville, has been told that she is the first African Nova Scotian-born to graduate with a PhD from Dalhousie University.
Barb’s history with the university is extensive. A faculty member in the School of Health and Human Performance, she’s a Dal alumna twice already (Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Master of Arts) and also holds a Bachelor of Education from Mount Saint Vincent University. This spring, Barb adds another honour as she graduates with her PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies.
“It’s fantastic that I’m able to teach, work and learn at a university that has given so much to me and that I’m able to give back,” she says.
Barb is also one of the original founders of the Imhotep’s Legacy Academy, a university-community partnership that aims to increase the representation of African Canadian students in STEM subjects. She’s also co-chair of PLANS (Promoting Leadership in health for African Nova Scotians), which aims to do the same in health fields.
As a Dal undergraduate student in the late ‘80s, she was actively involved in the proposal to then-President Howard Clark for establishing a Black student advising position for campus. It was a role she herself would later fill, from 2002-2008. “That was exciting for me to be in a position that I helped create,” she says.
Barb resigned from the advisor’s role to accept a limited term teaching position in the School of Health and Human Performance. Inspired by Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard’s national research project on racism as a form of violence, she became involved as a research assistant and community advisor, subsequently asking Dr. Bernard if she could use the data as part of a PhD. She defended her thesis that explored racism, health and the well-being of women of African ancestry living in Nova Scotia in December, and hopes to develop courses from it for students in the Faculty of Health Professions as well as in Dal’s new Black and African Diaspora Studies Minor.
“My coming back here, and staying here, is based on the fact that I thought — and I still think — that I have more to contribute to the African Nova Scotian students, students of African descent, and the general student population that is coming to Dalhousie,” she says.
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