Roberta Hannah

Undergraduate Student, Columbia University
  • Columbia University
  • People
  • United States of America

About Roberta Hannah

I'm a second year student at Columbia majoring in African-American and African Diaspora Studies (and possibly public health or psychology). I'm really into politics surrounding identity and the ways societal values affect young Black women.

I am a/an:

Undergraduate Scholar

Area of Expertise

Diversity and Inclusion Humanities Politics Social Sciences

Research Topic

African Studies Ethnic & Racial Studies LGBTQ+ Poverty Sociology

Laidlaw Cohort Year



Columbia University

I am from:

United States of America

I speak:


My hobbies/interests are:

Art Reading Spirituality Writing/blogging Yoga

I am open to participating in mentoring/buddy programmes


Influencer Of


Channels contributed to:

Arts & Humanities Research

Rooms participated in:

Columbia University Arts & Humanities

Recent Comments

Jun 24, 2022

Week 4: What challenges and/or difficulties have you encountered and how did you go about resolving them? Speak to a specific challenge you have encountered and some of the ways that you tackled the problem.

As the summer progresses, my work became much more independent than it hard previously. My supervisor has been working remote after some family conflicts occurred, leaving my to self-assign tasks to develop our curriculum. At first, I tried to manage it on my own, but I began to find inspiration scarce. Once I reached my plateau, I decided it was time to reach out to my supervisor, as well as other leadership members around the office to see where my work would best fit. The director of trans services actually allowed me to participate in the Pride Month planning events. Some of these were disrupted because our office lost power for a few days, but even remotely, I was able to arrange deliveries for our graduation and other events. My supervisor also offered suggestions to maximize the impact of our course, so my work has begun to pick up again.

Jun 11, 2022
Replying to Avi J Adler

Week #3:

A typical day of my research begins with a run in Riverside Park. Although not inherently connected to my work, I find this helps me focus through the rest of the day as I continue my work. As I settle into my dorm, the library, or any place I find myself at work that day, I always begin ensuring I am up to date on the literature I will be pursuing that day. From here, I quickly transition to the nuts and bolts of course development. From sourcing data and figures, to figuring out ways of presenting material, the rest of my day usually aligns along these lines. While not flashy, I have come to learn that developing a course is, at times, about effort and work. While it doesn’t always appear complex, the simple lessons and ideas presented in classroom are more often than not highly researched, sourced and articulated. A typical day for me has not only been about developing this backbone but learning the structure behind it.

Hey Avi! I definitely relate. I didn't realize how much thinking goes into developing a course until I had to do it. Funny enough, I didn't realize how well you had to understand the material before teaching it. When it came to making the financial literacy materials, I thought I would be fine just making budget templates and whatnot, but so much research and intention has to go into directions, instructional materials, and the handouts. Hopefully, we both can get our teaching certifications by the end of this haha, but I wish you the best.

Jun 10, 2022

My typical day includes going into the office at 12. I wake up around 7:30-8 and just do nonsense until then. Normally, I chat the receptionist James when I first get in because he is the "wise old owl" of the organization. He usually comments about the show he's watching and the events we have coming up. I will then go into our computer lab where my desk is and where clients can come in to do work or get assistance with something. I have done less tutoring in these first few weeks as I have been working on our financial literacy program. That project has been taking up most of my day, but around 3:00 pm, we have clients start to come in more. We usually have small conversations about their days and they'll give me advice as the youngest in the office, but it's always really insightful. I finish up around 6:00 pm and head back to campus. 

Jun 03, 2022
Replying to Jeffrey Xiong

Week Two:
Does your research incorporate any outside participation, such as interviews or ethnographic observation? If so, how do you plan on approaching research participants or spaces in an effective and, most importantly, ethical manner?  If you are not conducting ethnographic research, what communities do you engage in your research, and how have they informed your project?

A lot has changed over the past week! Originally, I was hoping on conducting interviews in the Boston area with local queer folks, but as I dived deeper into conversations with my mentors, I think I want to situate this project less on local queer experiences and more broadly on queer experiences interacting between tech developers and creators (since that is the general focus of Queer in AI and I am getting more direction there). I think this is a cleaner and more directed goal with regards to developing standards of use for artificial neural networks.

How do you find your own self coming through in your research, if it all? Is your project more suited towards the invisibility of the researcher, or is it a project that would benefit from the researcher being more present (whatever ‘present’ means)?

This question is a bit challenging to tackle. The invisibility of the researcher (me!) is in some ways ideal, in some ways impossible; in some ways undesirable, in some ways inevitable. The end product of this summer's work is invariably biased by my own experiences in tech, the particular fields and methods I'm interested in, and my own negotiations with identity. This is good to recognize. This also allows me to provide my own ontological perspective of how artificial neural networks ought to be used and endows the standard of use with a deeper understanding of one particular position than a truly invisible paper would. Yet this may also blind the final result to all other positions from which I could have spoken. This is why collaboration with others is key and I'm hoping to ask my mentors for advice in this.

Hi Jeffrey!

I definitely feel your project shift! I am currently building the curriculum for our financial literacy program that we hope to start and I realized that while I wanted to think in terms of purely New York, it would be more efficient to think of the global, or at least national, queer community. This meant redoing a lot of the statistical and research work I had done, but it does give a more clear path that can then be specified. I am not in the tech world, but I wish you the absolute best and I hope we can talk soon!

Jun 03, 2022

Week 2: If you are doing a leadership-in-action or community engagement project, how do you interact with community members, and what kind of conversations are you having? How do you connect with this community of people, and what common cause do you find?

For my project, I work within the resource clinic that we have. This requires a lot of interaction with Black LGBTQIA people within New York City. Often times when they come in, they are looking for career and financial assistance so I have to assist with resumes, contacting food banks, etc. In my interactions with our clients, I find myself learning a lot about their lives. They all have lived very full lives and while I help them, we exchange gossip, life stories, and advice. It is extremely refreshing to be able to converse with people outside of my own generation, background, or university. They often ask me how I stay on track, which is interesting given that I am only 20 and still learning about the world, but I realize we have that in common. The intense oppression they face often set many of them back and in the same way I am learning how to navigate as a queer Black woman, they are also. We are all just trying to make our way as unscathed as possible. 

May 27, 2022

If your project this summer differs from your project last summer, has last summer’s project influenced your project this year, and if so how?  If your project is different, what tools have you developed to help you work on this project?

This year, I will be working a Destination Tomorrow, a Black LGBTQ+ organization in the Bronx. While I did a research project last year, the educational, economic, and health disparities uncovered in my research last summer motivated this transition into the grassroots world. With Dr. Moore, I work on In the Shadow of Sexuality: Social Histories of African American Lesbian and Gay Elders, 1950-1979. That book project was a rewriting of the previous narratives of what Black LGBTQ+ life encompasses and entails. Through those six weeks, my work highlighted the challenges one faces at the intersection of race and sexuality inequality. Many of the respondents reported high rates of unemployment and mental health difficulties due to inaccessibility to proper academic and health resources and educations. My work made it impossible to ignore the challenges facing the Black LGBTQ+ community. With this, I decided to dedicate my summer working in the queer Black Mecca, the Bronx. The heart of ballroom, activism, and culture, New York City is where the community’s heart is. Destination Tomorrow works to empower all of its clients and students to further develop their community. We provide academic assistance, career development, and health referrals. I hope that the work I do this summer will work to alleviate the gaps I found previously.

Jun 07, 2021
Replying to Hassan Javed
  • What new ideas, challenges, or other issues have you encountered with regard to your project (this might include data collection, information that contradicts your assumptions or the assertions of others, materials that have enriched your understanding of the topic or led you to change your project, etc.)? How have these ideas or challenges shaped the bigger picture of your research? Has the scope or focus of your topic changed since you began this project? If so, how?
  • What research resources have proven particularly useful to you as you continue your research?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced for my project was the availability of information surrounding my original topic. I came into the program wanting to research the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and how it negatively impacts Pakistan with high interest rates, burgeoning debt, and unstable ownership. However, by the time I began researching, I could not find any data available on the topic. Most, if not all, information available was from media outlets rather than academic/government sources. So, this challenge shaped my research by changing the focus of my project. Now, I am studying how China's history of foreign policy has led to the Belt and Road Initiative (the program of which CPEC falls under the umbrella of) and what threats the problem creates. In this new topic, CLIO has helped me find numerous sources from the Chinese and other foreign governments that allow me to source necessary data.

Hi!! My formal research project doesn't relate, but I started looking into one of a random research topic recently and there's very little "academic" pieces on it. It's super frustrating, but I think it's kind of cool that if we were to pursue these topics further, we would be the initial resources for it. I'm glad you were able to adapt your project though (I know it'll still be amazing if not more).

Jun 04, 2021
  • What new ideas, challenges, or other issues have you encountered with regard to your project (this might include data collection, information that contradicts your assumptions or the assertions of others, materials that have enriched your understanding of the topic or led you to change your project, etc.)? How have these ideas or challenges shaped the bigger picture of your research? Has the scope or focus of your topic changed since you began this project? If so, how?

   I think one new challenge is that the use of archives can add so much to a project, but not keeping them all together can create entirely new issues. The entirety of my interview transcripts were not given to me in the place that we normally share things and it resulted in me thinking I had about 5 hours of work left instead of the actual 12+. This definitely taught me to make sure I create a clear plan for organization because not everything is easily implied.

  • What research resources have proven particularly useful to you as you continue your research?

   My biggest resource so far has been my advisor, the graduate student that works under her, and my GSM. They have all given me really valuable advice and it's nice to know that some of the aspects I struggle with are not a me problem.