Denise Ghartey ’12 has been awarded Hamilton’s Bristol Fellowship. The Bristol Fellowship was begun in 1996 as part of a gift to the college by William M. Bristol Jr., (Class of 1917). The purpose of the award is to perpetuate Mr. Bristol’s spirit and share it with students of the college that was such an important part of his life. Created by his family, the $22,000 fellowship is designed to encourage Hamilton students to experience the richness of the world by living outside the United States for one year and studying an area of great personal interest.
A Posse student from Cambridge, Mass., Ghartey is an Africana studies major and philosophy minor. Through her project titled “Nowhere and Everywhere: A Cross Cultural Exploration of How Multicultural Young People Explore Their Identities,” she will explore how multicultural youth ages 14- 20 navigate and perform their multicultural identities and negotiate a sense of belonging. She will travel to Germany, England, South Africa, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago.
In her proposal Ghartey explained, “As races and ethnicities are constantly transformed and multicultural communities created, humanity has never been in a better position to consider its vast diversity. Recent research, however, illustrates the cultural and social obstacles that multicultural young people, in particular, face when attempting to understand who they are, and where they belong, in a world that defines them in terms of homogenous groups. Many experience the ironic, confusing and frustrating feelings of belonging ‘nowhere and everywhere’ simultaneously.
“Research on this topic focuses on the social and psychological problems that young people face when establishing their mixed identities, an approach that emphasizes pain and struggle… I propose a celebratory project, one that recognizes the struggles, but actively examines identity creation through cultural forms of expression that young people use to discover who they are, as they produce their own fluid multicultural identities.
“In each country, I will explore ‘identity performances’ namely the fusion of different forms of cultural expressions including music, dress, food, dance, language and festivals. Through my own experiences working with a diverse group of youth, I recognize that young women and men, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously, mix many elements of their cultures together. Becoming recognized to the public eye through the embodiment of their hybrid identities, and by claiming a mixed sense of representation through body movement, and through the music that they listen to and talk about, the body and persona become palettes for performing multicultural identity,” Ghartey explained.
Last summer, Ghartey was a Mellon Initiative Scholar at the Leadership Alliance Summer Research Early Identification Program at Brown University. She worked with Professor Corey D. B. Walker in the Africana Studies Department and produced a research paper, “Who Cares What I Say?” A Critical Analysis of Race, Education, and Identity in 21st Century America then presented work at the Leadership Alliance 2011 National Symposium.
Ghartey is co-founder and co-director of the Young People’s Project (YPP) at Hamilton, a math literacy project aimed at developing young leaders. She also was a volunteer and math literacy worker for YPP in Boston.
She is a Kirkland College Scholar, was selected for Was Los Honor Society in 2009 and Doers and Thinker’s Honor Society in 2010. Ghartey received a Diversity and Social Justice Project Summer Fellowship in 2010 and was awarded the Harris Prize Scholarship in Philosophy in 2011.
A member of the Social Justice Initiative, Ghartey is president of Sigma Lambda Upsilon, a member of Feminists of Color Initiative, former president of Black and Latino Student Union, student representative to the Cultural Education Center Advisory, on the planning committee for the Voices of Color Lecture Series, and she served as class of 2012 treasurer/secretary for Student Assembly.
Ghartey is village manager for Sadove Student Activities Center and provides administrative support to the Student Activities staff. She is office assistant for Bristol Center and served as a research assistant in the Philosophy Department.
She is the daughter of Diane Ghartey of Cambridge, Mass., and is a graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.
The Bristol Fellowship is intended to be highly personal and is open to all interested Hamilton seniors. Proposals are evaluated based on inquisitiveness, a spirit of adventure, depth of personal interest, and openness to other cultures. While not a requirement, proposals are also considered for their sense of family connection.
William Bristol served as a Hamilton trustee, president of the alumni association, fundraiser and benefactor. He was one of seven generations of Bristol family members to attend Hamilton, dating back to the chartering of the college in 1812. Mr. Bristol's great, great-grandfather became one of the college’s first trustees after helping to found the Hamilton-Oneida Academy, which later became Hamilton College in 1793.