Where Are They Now?: Imani Lewis 13C
After graduation, African American Studies major Imani Lewis moved to Montgomery, Alabama, to work as a justice fellow at the Equal Justice Initiative. She left that fellowship after one year and returned to Emory for a two-year fellowship in the Business Practice Improvement (BPI) University Strategic Consulting Office, where she completed a practicum as manager of academic administration for Goizueta Business School. Afterwards, she was offered a full-time position as an instructional designer at the business school and remained there until she started working at BrightHouse, a division of Boston Consulting Group, in October 2016.
Imani graduated in May 2017 with a master of science in instructional design and technology from Georgia State. She says that her course work in African American studies prepared her well for graduate school. “During my senior year I completed an honors thesis under the advisement of Dr. Leslie Harris (now at Northwestern University), Dr. Regine Jackson (now at Agnes Scott College), and Dr. Nagueyalti Warren. Participating in the honors program required taking graduate course work, which was excellent exposure to the lifestyle of a graduate student,” she says. “Still, the bulk of my preparedness stemmed from the rigor of the African American Studies program and the classes I had been taking since my sophomore year. The interdisciplinary approach to the pedagogy enabled me to think creatively about the issues we explored in class. I learned to find relationships between seemingly disparate sources, synthesize my findings, and craft compelling and strong arguments supported by existing and emerging research. Graduate school has been a welcome challenge, and I have the African American Studies program to thank for that.”
In her role as strategist at BrightHouse, Imani works with companies to help them define their purpose. She says this work has a very academic “feel” and follows some of the same paths as conducting research. “We start with a hypothesis and then conduct research, vet sources, take robust notes, synthesize information, and engage with thought leaders from divergent fields to gather findings that lead to a purpose area,” she explains. “I love my work because I value social responsibility and corporate social responsibility—the notion that we are changing organizations, the people that comprise them, and the communities they touch is extremely gratifying. I feel very prepared for this type of work thanks to my exposure to academic excellence in the African American Studies program. I am able to hone many of the skills that I refined in the African American Studies program on a daily basis, and I excel at what I do.”
She adds, “It’s hard to believe, but I’m only  years out from graduation. I haven’t won any major professional awards yet—I hope those will come in time. Still, what I am most proud of so far has been my ability to secure jobs that I love and move to new ones seamlessly throughout my short career. I started college in the midst of the recession, during a time when students were encouraged to choose practicality over passion or the pursuit of knowledge. I couldn’t and cannot fathom doing something that doesn’t move me, so I always followed my heart. When I declared a major in African American studies, people asked me all the time, ‘What can you do with that?’ Given my varied professional background in the fields of law, business, higher education, and technology, I can wholeheartedly say that I can do anything. I have never been without a job since graduating, and I have surrounded myself with a robust professional network. I have my AAS degree and the skills it taught me to thank for all these successes.”
Outside of her graduate work and professional work, Imani currently volunteers with the Junior League of Atlanta (JLA). All of its members have made a commitment to serve the Atlanta community and address issues in the areas of early childhood education, diversity, human trafficking and child sex trafficking, and poverty. “Service is a large part of who I am,” Imani says. “The service of others has afforded me a multitude of opportunities, so I love to give back in hopes of helping someone else and advancing the communities in which I live.”