How Blackness is Lived: Eric Adjei-Danquah ’17

Adjei-Danquah '17 (right) and Yates

Adjei-Danquah ’17 (right) and Yates

Eric Adjei-Danquah ’17, a rising senior biology major with minors in health care ethics and behavioral neuroscience, loves learning. “I like to learn in a way where I am in control, where I am deeply invested, and where my experience is self-driven,” he says. It’s no surprise, then, that Eric would apply to the Summer Scholars Program.

An aspiring physician, he’s spent much of his time at Saint Joseph’s studying the sciences, and deciding he wanted to step away briefly from pipettes and sterile technique, he elected as a Summer Scholar to work with Assistant Professor of History Brian Yates, Ph.D., whose expertise focuses on identity construction, Ethiopian history, The Oromo, African state building and modern African history.

With Eric’s interest in African culture and the Pan African diaspora in mind, he and Dr. Yates — who taught Eric in Forging the Modern World, HIS 154 — developed his project, which Eric says explores several dynamics, including perceived philosophical and value system differences within the black community, based on country of origin, generational length and self-identity. He’s also looking at the idea of a tangibly distinct culture as a comprehensive black community. Eric is analyzing national data to determine if socioeconomic outcomes and trends of persons considered black match their individual ethnic cultures, identities, philosophies and values.

“I had the pleasure of teaching Eric in my History 154 class for which he wrote an exceptional philosophically centered paper,” says Dr. Yates. “Since then, we’ve tried to connect on a class together, but his schedule precluded that, so I’m glad this project gives us the opportunity to work together again.

“We’re  looking at specific cultural practices, beliefs and values that are helping to answer Eric’s research question, and he is making significant progress,” he adds.

“I’m having fun with this project,” says Eric. “I wake up every day excited to be doing what I’m doing, and about where this work could lead. The Summer Scholar’s program allows me to be an adventurer, an explorer and a true learner,” Eric says.

A fellow of SJU’s Institute of Clinical Bioethics, Eric says he plans to carry the work he produces this summer into a paper analyzing the “legacy of mistrust in the African American community toward the medical profession related to end-of-life issues.”

Before he attends medical school, he would like to do service work in an inner-city, urban community. Eric is also interested in doing post-undergraduate work in philosophy.

A third year returning RA and a captain for the 2020 Student Orientation Team, Eric is involved with several Institute initiatives  and also teaches for the GeoKidsLINKS program. As a first year student, he received a travel grant to present research at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farms Research Campus. He has also presented at the annual Sigma Xi research symposium and at the American Society for Cell Biology.

–Patricia Allen ’13 (M.A.)

Office of University Communications


Summer Scholars Project Title: “How ‘Blackness’ is Lived: An Exploration of Cultural and Economic Experiences Between Africans, African Americans, and Black Americans”

Mentor: Brian Yates, Ph.D., assistant professor of history

High School: Preparatory Charter High School of Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Careers (Prep Charter), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Follow @sjuartssciences @haubschool on Twitter to learn about this year’s summer scholars. #SJUSSP