PhD in Cultural Studies

Ayondela McDole

Ayondela McDole


Saginaw, Michigan! (USA)

What is your favorite part about being a Mason student?

It’s been understood that George Mason enslaved several Africans in his day and people tend to get hung up on that. But being a Black woman on campus I like to think my presence on campus serves as a redeemable quality for the Mason legacy.

What is your favorite part about your degree program?

That it is Cultural Studies! My undergraduate degree is in Cultural Studies from Columbia College Chicago and that experience had a pivotal influence on my life and consciousness. After a few missteps in trying to find the right doctoral home I’ve discovered Cultural Studies is where I’m supposed to be. It is my “church home” as I like to refer to academic disciplines. I like to think of myself as a Cultural Studies baby: my consciousness was birthed and raised in the discipline. Cultural Studies is what I’m about through and through. My favorite part of this program specifically is the fellowship amongst like minded students who are also what you’re about. It so nice to sit, laugh and organize with students who are determined to brush away at culture to reveal the systemic mechanics that lie beneath. Cultural Studies at it heart is about organizing to make seismic changes and the program naturally gathers together individuals driven with that motivation.

What is the one part of your degree program that has had the most impact on you?

The relationships with faculty are an important impact that I’ve had to acknowledge. I’ve heard so much about faculty and their egos from other programs not just on campus but at other institutions that truly does get in the way of fostering growth on behalf of students and stunts the professional process but in the program I’ve come to not only enjoy the relationships built with faculty but also I’ve come to depend on it. Our faculty more than other programs understand the importance of the voice from below and are dedicated to staying true to that political motivation in the classroom.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

For the love of goddess, I hope to be in a tenure track teaching position at a university serving as a gatekeeper that props the gate open for others to walk through, if not, I hope to be running a folk-art center serving as a curator of Black culture or both!