PhD Alumni

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Featured Alumni

Photo of Ph.D. Student Esther Ajayi-Lowo

Esther Ajayi-Lowo, PhD

Esther O. Ajayi-Lowo, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of women’s studies/women’s health in Comparative Women’s Studies at Spelman College. Dr. Ajayi-Lowo holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in multicultural women’s and gender studies from Texas Woman’s University (TWU); a master’s degree in international law and diplomacy from the University of Lagos, Nigeria; and a B.A. in philosophy (first-class honors) from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. She was trained in human rights and the United Nations systems at the United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Ajayi-Lowo worked for over a decade on health, gender, human rights and development issues in Nigeria with both non-governmental and governmental organizations, including the U.S. Mission in Nigeria. 

Dr. Ajayi-Lowo’s recent scholarly research focuses on birth and reproductive justice for Black women of African descent at the intersection of race, gender, and nationality. Her dissertation, “Decolonizing Childbirth: Women, Traditional Birth Attendants, and Reproductive Justice in Nigeria,” explores the significance of indigenous birthing knowledge and women’s birthing standpoints for reproductive justice in Nigeria with transnational connection to Black women in the U.S. Among other several international and competitive scholarships and awards, Dr. Ajayi-Lowo’s research received the American Association of University Women’s International Fellowship, the Mellon Foundation–funded Social Science Research Council’s International Dissertation Research Fellowship, and the Philanthropic Educational Organization’s  International Peace Scholarship. 

As a scholar-activist-teacher, Dr. Ajayi-Lowo is committed to bridging research, advocacy, and pedagogy for social justice globally. In addition to her research, publication, and teaching commitment to women’s studies and global Black women’s health, she led campus-wide reproductive justice advocacy events, facilitated workshop sessions on sexuality education and reproductive justice, and co-facilitated an anti-racist pedagogy workshop as a doctoral student at TWU. As a well-rounded doctoral student at TWU, Dr. Ajayi-Lowo’s excellent scholarship and commitment to teaching, leadership, and community service earned her the 2020 Doctoral Student Award of Excellence, the 2021 Virginia Chandler Dykes Award for College of Arts and Sciences, and the 2019-2020 TWU Alumni Association’s Denton County Scholarship Award for academic excellence and service to the university and community.

Portrait of Ph.D. Student Marcella C. Clinard

Marcella C. Clinard, PhD

Marcella C. Clinard earned her master's degrees in women's studies and English and a doctoral degree in multicultural women's and gender studies at TWU. Her dissertation was a qualitative case study exploring how women’s and gender studies instructors teach (or don’t teach) about religion, and the social justice implications of these pedagogical choices, particularly related to the intersections of religion and race, ethnicity, and nationality. Since graduating in May 2021, Dr. Clinard has been working on a book project based on her dissertation, tentatively titled Teaching Religion Intersectionally in Introductory Courses: Interdisciplinary Lessons from Women’s and Gender Studies. While at TWU, Dr. Clinard taught first-year composition courses as well as lower- and upper-level women's and gender studies courses, including a competitively selected senior-level online seminar on sexualities and religion, which Dr. Clinard designed to foreground transnational and post-colonial approaches to sexuality and LGBTQ+ identity and experience. In 2020, Dr. Clinard received the Pioneering Spirit Graduate Teaching Assistant Award of Excellence, the highest award given to graduate students at TWU in honor of her excellence in teaching, both online and face-to-face.

Research Interests: religion and social justice; critical race theory and intersections of religion, race, ethnicity, and nationality; Gloria E. Anzaldúa; new materialisms and ecofeminism; theorizing about intersectionality and epistemology; feminist qualitative research; feminist/womanist pedagogies; reproductive justice

Sara Ishii, PhD
Adjunct Professor, TWU Visual Arts and UTD Visual Arts

Activities and accomplishments: 2019 Summer Core Writing Fellow; nomination by students for the 2019 STAR (Students for Assignment and Teaching Recognition) Symposium

“I am able to bring my MWGS training and education into my Visual Arts courses to expand/build on the current art history canon.” - Sara Ishii, PhD

Page last updated 5:03 PM, November 3, 2021