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ASU communication graduate student awarded prestigious scholarship


Portrait of ASU student Liahnna Stanley.

Hugh Downs School of Human Communication doctoral student Liahnna Stanley.

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May 02, 2022

Liahnna Stanley, a doctoral candidate in Arizona State University's Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, is one of 100 women in the U.S. and Canada selected to receive a $20,000 Scholar Award from the P.E.O. Sisterhood

Stanley's nomination was facilitated by Professor Sarah J. Tracy in the Hugh Downs School, a member of the P.E.O.'s Tempe, Arizona, chapter.

The P.E.O. Scholar Award was established in 1991 to provide substantial merit-based awards for women pursuing a doctoral degree. Award recipients are a select group of women chosen for their high level of academic achievement and potential for having a lasting, positive impact on society. 

“Through both academic discourse and Indigenous storytelling, Liahnna’s research expands what Native communities envision as possible in their futures,” Tracy said. “Given their significant activities in scholarly publication and social justice activism, it is no surprise to me that Liahnna was chosen for this prestigious award, and I can't wait to see how this work continues to impact both scholarly and community audiences.”  

The P.E.O. Sisterhood, founded in 1869 at Iowa Wesleyan College, is a philanthropic educational organization dedicated to supporting higher education for women. There are approximately 6,000 local chapters in the U.S. and Canada with nearly a quarter of a million active members. 

“I am incredibly grateful to have been selected to receive the P.E.O. Scholar Award,” Stanley said. “It is so exciting to have Indigenous scholarship recognized and affirmed in this space.”

Stanley’s dissertation looks to Afro, Afro Indigenous and Indigenous speculative futurist fiction as a means of building Black and Indigenous solidarity and coalition building. This project aims to explore the impasses that arise in connecting Black and Indigenous mobilizations to build more lush, abundant and humanizing political imaginaries invested in decolonization and abolition. 

“Liahnna is an interdisciplinary critical cultural scholar/storyteller/artist who centers intersectional praxis — informed by antiracist, queer and trans, and decolonial theories and commitments — in service of Indigenous sovereignty,” said Loretta LeMaster, assistant professor and Stanley’s adviser in the Hugh Downs School. “The result is a strong and growing repertoire of award-winning scholarship pressing the field of human communication toward more radically humanizing ends.”

After graduation, Stanley, who uses the pronoun they, plans to pursue a career as a tenure-track professor in academia. The award funds will enable them to more fully commit to their research and career goals.

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