Graduate School

Shanelle Haile ‘23 PhD Selected as New Alumni Trustee

Newly minted graduate Shanelle Haile defended her dissertation this summer, will receive her degree this October, and was selected as New Alumni Trustee by the Corporation in the Spring. She’s also starting a new job in Boston next month. It’s been a very busy year for Haile, who is exceptionally modest about everything she’s accomplished.

Shanelle Haile headshot; wearing a black sleeveless top with a neutral background“I'm excited to start my role as a Trustee, especially at a time when the university is emphasizing academic excellence and a strong commitment to diversity, while also following the law. These are key elements in fulfilling Brown's mission, and I fully support them,” says Haile.

She went through a multistage process to become a trustee: application, interviews with board members and University staff, concluding with an election among three candidates during which alumni voted for the Trustee. She was excited and surprised to be selected.

Haile is a strong advocate for campus life. The Sarah Doyle Center for Women and Gender played a significant role in her time at Brown and she credits them for her success as both a student and an individual. She believes, together, these aspects of the university community are crucial for student success, and they are the reasons she applied to serve in this role.

“I will miss my time at the Sarah Doyle Center for Women and Gender (SDC). As a graduate student, I had the privilege of working there but also spent countless hours writing my dissertation in their study spaces. As both a parent and a graduate student, the SDC provided an incredibly supportive and affirming environment. It was where I found a sense of community and connected with like-minded individuals who became friends,” says Haile.

Haile’s doctoral degree is in Sociology. Her research delves into the motivations and experiences of Black Americans who migrate to Ghana. 

“Shanelle’s dissertation is a fascinating study of the African diaspora. She has been curious, already during her policy work before entering graduate school, in the political and social relations between Black Americans and African countries,” shares Nitsan Chorev, Harmon Family Professor of Sociology and  International and Public Affairs, and chair of Haile’s dissertation committee.

Haile investigates the cultural and socioeconomic factors, as well as the influence of emotional connections to West African countries, such as racial identity, that attract Black Americans to Ghana. Additionally, she analyzes how Ghana's policy initiatives contribute to shaping the perception of social inclusion for Black Americans. Her dissertation is titled, Migrants in the Marketplace: Black American Diasporization and Homemaking in Ghana.

Through her work “Shanelle is able to reveal a fascinating story of how Black Americans negotiate and reconfigure their identities - class, race, but also nationality - in their new home,” says Chorev.

“My sociological courses and training have deepened my passion for understanding socioeconomic mobility in new ways. This theme now permeates all of my research projects,” says Haile.

While at Brown she received proctorships in both the Office of the Provost and the Sociology department, from the Mellon-funded Cogut Institute Proctorship. 

In addition to the supportive mentorship Haile received from Chorev, the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship was a space that provided her valuable mentorship and training. She received the Center’s Explore and Expand Grants, which helped fund a project to assist researchers at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) obtain federal research funds. She created an online platform that serves as a virtual Office of Sponsored Research for HBCUs. Many of these institutions have limited resources in their own offices of sponsored research and thus limited capacity to compete for and manage large research awards. Haile continues this work with the Nelson Center (now with a team) to find funding sources to expand this project.

Next month Haile is starting at a position with McKinsey and Company in Boston. She is excited to work in the public sector and higher education areas and is also looking forward to being part of the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, which focuses on improving Black economic development around the world.

When asked about what she’d like to be doing five years from now, Haile says, “in five years, I hope to still be solving social problems, but on a much larger scale.”