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Work That Makes You Smile - Dr. Terah 'TJ' Stewart

Title:  Assistant Professor, Division of Higher Education, Iowa State University

Age:  37

Education: B.A., psychology, Ohio State University; M.A., higher education & student affairs, Ohio State University; M.LHR, human resource management, Ohio State University; and Ph.D., counseling & student personnel services, University of Georgia

Career mentors: Dr. Chris Linder, University of Utah; Dr. Stephen John Quaye, Ohio State University; Dr. Darris Means, University of Pittsburgh; Dr. Cynthia Dillard, Seattle University; and Dr. Christa Porter, Kent State University

Words of wisdom/advice for new faculty members: “Do the work that inspires you. Do the work that makes you smile, brings you joy. It’s important that you don’t sacrifice your values and your beliefs, thinking you might do something different once you have tenure.”      

Dr. Terah “TJ” Stewart is no stranger to studying marginalized populations. As a former multicultural center assistant director at The Ohio State University, his work was rooted in equity and justice. Heading into his doctoral program, that focus didn’t change all that much. He dove even deeper into the research.

“When I started my doctoral work, what I started to sort of realize is, even as someone who had a really strong awareness of equity and justice and all the various different issues, there were still people in groups, in concepts that were missing,” Stewart says. “When we talk about things like ‘in the margins,’. . . racially minoritized people, maybe sexually minoritized people, issues around classism – there are still issues that are absent from that conversation.”

Stewart, an assistant professor of higher education and student affairs at Iowa State University, describes his research as being about the people, populations, and ideas that are “in the margins of the margins.” That means he investigates often overlooked but “very interesting” topics such as college students doing sex work to pay for their education, fatphobia and sizeism in higher ed, and anti-Blackness from non-Black people of color.

“My research is looking at the ways that minoritized groups also sometimes engage in oppression – this idea that you can be oppressed and also be oppressive,” Stewart says.

The self-described Black feminist focuses on racially and sexually minoritized communities as well as activism and resistance, such as the everyday sort Black women engage in through social media.

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