Mekada Graham brought a unique distinction with her to California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH): she is the first in her family to earn a college degree.
How is that unique at CSUDH, where many among the campus community are from local underserved communities?
The difference is she earned her Ph.D. at the University of Hertfordshire, in Hertfordshire, her Master of Social Work (MSW) at the University of Hertfordshire, and her B.A. with honors at Middlesex University, which are all in England, where she was born and raised.
“I am the first in my family to gain college degrees let alone become an academic, which seems improbable given my working-class background and inadequate high school educational experience,” she said. “My interests in these areas of social work are probably driven by my own experiences of migration, and my professional experiences in child welfare have drawn my attention to the contemporary understandings of childhood.”
Graham, who is interim chair and associate professor in the Master of Social Work program at CSUDH, received the 2015 Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award. The award acknowledges a professor’s research, scholarship and creative activities that are essential components of the mission of CSUDH, and recognizes his or her professional activities that provide intellectual stimulation and motivation for student learning.
Graham, who was recently in London attending a research seminar organized for her by the Royal Holloway University of London, focuses her teaching of empowering the voice and critical creativity of students.
“I am drawn to this diverse student body and its appreciation of the opportunities offered through university education, and enjoy and hold dear my commitment to students here at CSU Dominguez Hills,” she said. “I want students to not only understand and engage with ongoing projects for social change, but also experience the transformative possibilities of graduate education.”
Graham’s primary teaching areas are human behavior and the social environment, clinical interventions with children and families, and social work theory. Her research interests span several areas including childhood studies, migration, social work and student narratives. Her scholarly works also focus on social work, as well as theory, child welfare, and oppression studies.
“In my teaching I like to share my scholarly work with students to bring to life multiple perspectives,” she said.
Graham is author of the book, “Black Issues in Social Work and Social Care” and co-editor of “European Social Work.” She is also a prolific writer, and has published numerous scholarly articles, essays and book chapters, many of which appear in major academic journals, such as the British Journal of Social Work and the European Journal of Social Work.
“My first foray into academic writing was fraught with many bumps; however, after many years of writing, research has become an important aspect of my career in engaging in critical debate on many issues in the field of social work, and beyond,” she said.