Skip to page content

Amazing Student: Stephanie Toliver

  |   Permalink   |   Amazing Students

Stephanie Toliver is a third-year doctoral student studying language and literacy education. She recently received an Honorable Mention by the 2018 Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship Selection Committee and is the 2018 recipient of the American Library Association's Diversity Research Grant. Toliver hopes to provide imaginative options for other adolescents to see more depictions of black youth in futuristic and imaginative stories.

Degree objective:

Ph.D. in language and literacy education

Expected graduation:

Spring 2020


New Castle, Pennsylvania is the place I call home, but I was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and I finished high school in Lake Mary, Florida.

High school:

New Castle High School/Lake Mary High School

Some of my favorite professors are...

My advisor, Dr. Jennifer Graff, is one of my favorite professors because she gives me the support I need to be successful in the program. This goes beyond just research support. It's also her ability to provide emotional and social support when necessary. In the Ph.D. process, various levels of support are essential, and I'm glad I have a professor who is willing to be a beacon of encouragement on all fronts. Another favorite professor would be Dr. Tisha Lewis Ellison because she helped me see the ins and outs of the research process. This was essential for me because I did not have a traditional research background before entering the program. She is also a professor who checks in on me every so often to see how I'm doing, and I value those conversations because I get a chance to debrief about everything that is going on—academically, socially, and psychologically. I also really appreciate Dr. Anneliese Singh, associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion. I've worked with her for the College of Education's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference for the past two years, and I took her Social Justice Frameworks course, and I admire how she is unafraid to have courageous and necessary conversations in spaces that may not always be welcoming. She has given me additional courage and grounding in doing brave and meaningful research.

Some of the accomplishments I am most proud of are...

One major accomplishment that I am proud of is being a 2018 recipient of the American Library Association's Diversity Research Grant. I am the primary investigator on the grant project, and I am working with another amazing scholar, Mariah Parker. Our project is called Black Girls Dreaming: Black Girls Analyzing and Evaluating Speculative Fiction by Black Authors. For the project, we are creating a speculative fiction book club for black girls that will be housed at the East Athens Community Center. We want to work with the black girls in the book club to read and evaluate speculative fiction books with black protagonists, create standards for speculative fiction that can be used by all literacy stakeholders, and provide imaginative options for other adolescents to see more depictions of black youth in futuristic and imaginative stories. Another accomplishment would be my year in publishing. Before coming to UGA, I had never published anything. In fact, I didn't consider publishing an avenue to discuss topics that were important to me. However, in the years that I've been here, I have done so much - things that I never thought I'd be able to do. By the end of this semester, I'll have five peer-reviewed publications in academic journals (one book review, three solo-articles, and one co-authored paper). I also have one accepted book chapter that will hopefully come out next year and one book chapter in review. Additionally, because I wanted to be a public scholar, I've published opinion articles, one in Huffington Post and three in Blavity. So, in a few years, I've really learned how to use writing as a platform, and I'm grateful to UGA and the Journal of Language and Literacy Education (housed in our department) for really helping me to see writing and publishing as a way to delve deeply into important topics.

When I have free time I like to...

I really like movies, so I became an AMC Stubs member, and I go to the movies at least eight times a month. It's relaxing, and I can stay current on what's happening in the movie world. I also really love to read YA science fiction and fantasy novels. I can get lost in the stories, and I always feel refreshed when I'm done reading them.

Something you might not know about me is...

I love anime. I used to watch it on Toonami when I was younger, but my access to different shows was limited. As I got older, I got bored watching reruns, and I didn't have access to the shows on my computer. Now, with Hulu and Crackle having large selections, I've been able to get back into it. Right now, I'm watching Black Clover and My Hero Academia.

After graduation I plan to...

I want to be a tenure-track faculty member in language and literacy education or English education at an R1 university. I have found a love for research and want to build on that in the future, and I think an R1 would be a great place to do the work that I'm interested in doing in the future.

© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602