Jun 7, 2000 | Article

by R. Erica Doyle

1997, SHIREEN LEWIS WAS ANOTHER isolated scholar climbing up the ivory tower, teetering on the brink of that limbo known as ABD (all but dissertation) “Something was going to give,” Lewis remembers, “and It wasn’t going to be me!” Drawing on her Trinidadian roots, which stress Interdependence and education, Lewis created SisterMentors Dissertation Support Groups, her antidote to the academy’s chronic undervaluing of scholarship by and about women of color. In a space donated by SisterSpace and Books, a Washington, D.C. bookstore, Lewis and four colleagues began to meet, employing an interactive model of goal setting, time management, and peer mentoring. A year and a half later, all but one have received their Ph.Ds. (Only about half of entering doctoral students ever finish, and only 2.5% of those are women of color.) SisterMentors has attracted the praise of the American Association of University Women and, today, boasts three groups totaling 20 women, with an extensive waiting list. Six will graduate this year–among them, the first Tibetan woman to receive an advanced degree outside of Asia.

“My Dream is for these groups to change the theory and practice of the academy and create communities of genius.”

Shireen Lewis

Original Article

More in this Category

Black Girlhood

Black Girlhood

The Black Scholar continues to celebrate the journal's Fiftieth Anniversary with the release of its latest issue, “Black Girlhood," which highlights the significance, challenges and beauty of Black girls. There is a growing body of scholarship on the experiences of...

read more

Lewis ’89 is Ebony “Unsung Hero”

Originally published in UVA Lawyer - Fall 2009 - View Original Article Dr. Shireen Lewis '89 received an “Unsung Hero" award from Ebony magazine, for making a difference for children, schools, and communities. Lewis is the executive director of EduSeed and founder of...

read more

Duke Magazine Mini-Profile on SisterMentors

When Shireen Lewis entered grade school in Trinidad and Tobago, her country was in its early years of independence from Great Britain. Fortunately, it had a leader who acted on the maxim that educating its young people was essential to a successful future for the young Caribbean nation.

read more