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"The Bright Way to Foster Belonging"

In this talk, Jean-Pierre Vertil, Stanford MBA, uses my life as a focal point to offer four practical tips we can use in our mundane interactions to create belonging.

Grants & Fellowships (Selected)

External Recognition


Social Science Research Council Andrew Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship, 2020

  • 1 of 70 awardees selected from over 930 applicants nationwide to receive the IDRF to support my research in Grenada, Suriname, England, Ghana, and Senegal


The Fulbright Fellowship to Ghana, Institute of International Education Fulbright Program, 2020

  • Awarded a national fellowship to support my research in Ghana


Social Science Research Council Dissertation Proposal Development Program, 2019

  • 1 of 24 awardees selected from a pool of graduate students from Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago to participate in interdisciplinary, faculty-led workshops and to receive $5000 for a 6-10 week summer research project.


Institutional Support

  • Morris Goodman Language Research Award, Program of African Studies, Northwestern University, 2019

  • Hans E. Panofsky Pre-dissertation Research Award, Program of African Studies, Northwestern University, 2019

  • Graduate Fellowship, Northwestern University, 2017

  • African Studies Centre, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, University of Oxford Research Grant, 2017

  • Kellogg Institute for International Studies Junior Research Fellowship, the University of Notre Dame, 2015

  • Nanovic Institute for European Studies Fellowship, the University of Notre Dame, 2014

  • Kellogg Institute for International Studies, Experiencing the World Fellowship, the University of Notre Dame, 2014

Honors & Awards (Selected)

External Recognition


Edward A. Bouchet Honor Society, 2022

  • Named for Edward Alexander Bouchet, the first African American doctoral recipient in the United States, the Bouchet Society recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education and the professoriate.


Inaugural Winner of the Ghana Studies Association’s Conference Paper Prize for Emerging Scholars presented at the African Studies Association Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, 2019

  • This international award recognizes the outstanding work of a graduate student, a post-doctoral researcher, or an early career scholar within three years of the award of a doctorate degree.


The Thomas J. McMahon IV Endowment for Excellence for the Pursuit of Scholarship at the University of Oxford, 2016

  • Awarded a scholarship to obtain an MSc in African Studies at the University of Oxford


Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2015

  • This nationally recognized program identifies and supports students of great promise and helps them to become scholars of the highest distinction. I was one of twenty students selected.


The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, 2014

  • Awarded a scholarship to support study abroad in London, England. 


Public Policy and Leadership Conference Fellow, Harvard University. Cambridge, MA, 2013

  • 1 of 50 students, selected from over 500 applicants nationwide, for participation in a prestigious leadership conference at Harvard Kennedy School


Internal Recognition

Society of Fellows, Northwestern University 

  • The Presidential Fellowship is the highest honor Northwestern University bestows upon a graduate student."

Honorable Mention Distinction for the 2020-21 McBride Student Award, Northwestern University 

  • This award recognizes one graduate student and one postdoctoral trainee who go above and beyond in any or all of the areas of diversity, service, and engagement. I was one of two student honorable mention awardees.


Wright, Flint-Hamilton & Mason Award for Best Africana Studies Senior Thesis, University of Notre Dame, 2016

  • This award recognizes one undergraduate student for writing an outstanding senior thesis based on original research.  

In the news

  1. Featured in The Graduate School, “Announcing the 2020-21 Ver Steeg and McBride Award Recipients,” March 2021.

  2. Featured in The Graduate School, “TGS Spotlight Series: Meet Bright Gyamfi,” February 2021.

  3. Featured in African Studies Association, “ASA News: Enhancing the Exchange of Information about Africa,” Fall 2020.

  4. Featured in Ghana Studies Association, “Best Paper by an Emerging Scholar Presented at the GSA Triennial Conference,” January 2020.

  5. Featured in Kellogg Institute for International Studies, “‘Connecting Across the Generations’: Kellogg Scholars Reunite at Annual ASA Conference,” December 2019.  

  6. Featured in Kellogg Institute for International Studies, “Paper by Former ISP Wins Ghana Studies Association Award,” November 2019.  

  7. Featured in the University of Oxford African Studies Center Newsletter, “African Studies Class of 2016-17,” 2017.

  8. Featured in Kellogg Institute for International Studies, “Exemplary Mentoring Boosts Undergraduate Scholarship,” February 2016.

  9. Featured in College of Arts and Letters Newsletter, “Two Arts and Letters Students Receive Gilman Scholarship to Study Abroad,” December 2014.

  10. Featured in National Public Radio, “Class of Dreams: Students Take on Dr. King’s Legacy,”August 2013.

  11. Featured in Africana Studies Newsletter, “A Conversation About Africa, the Africa Diaspora, and the African American Experience,” May 2013.

  12. Featured in College of Arts and Letters Newsletter, “Students Find Inspiration in Public Policy Conference” at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, February 2013.

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