Amazing Students Profiles

Ondra Dismukes

Ondra Dismukes

Ondra Krouse Dismukes came to UGA with a background in the business world, as the director of sales and a marketing representative for Tuskegee University’s Kellogg Conference Center. She has been a very strong role model to women graduate students throughout her studies at UGA. Each year she presents numerous talks, both around UGA and at professional conferences, in her areas of interest, which are African American Literature, Multicultural American Literature and African Performance and Dance. She has served in a leadership capacity in both GAMS, the Graduate Association for Multicultural Studies, and GAPS, the Graduate and Professional Scholars Organization. She was selected two years ago as a summer intern for the Harriet Jacobs Papers Project, directed by Jean Fagan Yellin, in New York City. Dismukes recently spent four weeks at Florida International University in Miami participating in a Ford Foundation international graduate seminar on performance in the African diaspora. She has earned certificates both in Global Policy Studies and Women’s Studies from UGA.


Snellville, Ga

High School:

Montgomery Catholic High School

Degree objective:

Ph.D. in English (Multicultural American Literature)

Other degrees:

M.L.A., English, Auburn University Montgomery
A.B.J., Public Relations, University of Georgia

Expected graduation:

Spring 2008

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I was selected for the “Graduate Student Highlight” page, on the UGA English Department website, for the month of February 2007. In 2006, I was selected for a Ford Foundation Fellowship for a project titled “Interrogating the African Diaspora: Performing African Diasporas.” The fellowship was at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. In 2005-2006, I was co-chair of the Graduate Association of Multicultural Studies. In 2005, I published an article called “Dancing to Transgress” in the Langston Hughes Review. From 2004 to the present, I have been secretary of Sigma Tau Delta Honor English Honor Society. Additionally, in 2004-2005, I was selected as a member of the English 1102M (Multicultural American Literature) Final Exam Planning Committee. In 2004, I was selected for a research internship working on the Harriet Jacobs Papers Project at Pace University in Manhattan. Jacobs is the only former slave woman who left a considerable body of papers and manuscripts after her death. From 2003-2005, I was secretary of the Graduate Association of Multicultural Studies, and from 2002-2005, I was part of the Women’s History Month planning committee at UGA.

Current Employment:

I currently work in the English Department as a teaching assistant, in which capacity I have been teaching Multicultural American Literature (ENGL 1102M) for the past three years in the First-Year Composition Program. Last year, for the first time, I taught an online version of ENGL 1102M and met this new challenge with the joy of integrating technology and learning. For the past few years, I have worked as a Reader and Scorer for the Regents Essay Test. I also have worked as a reader and scorer of Journalism School Placement Tests.

Family Ties to UGA:

One cousin, Dr. Jan Egins-Hildreth, earned a bachelor’s degree in Food Science from The University of Georgia in 1982 and the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from UGA in 1986.

I chose to attend UGA because…

…I wanted to major in journalism as an undergraduate and I was excited by the fact that UGA ’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication was ranked among the top five J-schools in the country. As a graduate student, I was already familiar with the Athens/UGA community, and I loved it. Also, having written my master’s thesis on Zora Neale Hurston and Zelda Fitzgerald, I knew that I wanted to expand that project into a dissertation on women writers. I was attracted to the Women’s Studies Program, where Mary Carruth, former assistant director of Women’s Studies, and Barbara McCaskill, my major professor, were instrumental in making me feel welcome and helping me establish a plan of study conducive to my research interests.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

…to walk! I love walking, but especially around North Campus. I especially like walking to or from North Campus at the end or beginning of a work day, because doing so helps me, mentally and physically, to prepare for or unwind from the events of what are often very long, stressful days. I also enjoy visiting the main library, especially the second and third floor, where most of the books on dance and literature, respectively, are located. Last, I like to visit with colleagues at Jittery Joe’s in the Student Learning Center. The java keeps me “percolating” a few hours more and it affords me a much-needed outlet for socializing. Moreover, I love being a part of the amazing cross-current of energy always emanating from the SLC.

When I have free time, I like…

…to read, to dance and exercise, and to shop. Since I’ve been in graduate school though, I haven’t had the disposable income to do as much shopping as I’d like to do.  Fortunately, downtown Athens has a lot of inexpensive vintage shops, which fit my taste as well as my budget!

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

…ignore the excruciating pain I had in my neck for three months earlier this year. I thought I was having muscle spasms. Instead, I had a herniated disk, which ruptured and caused severe nerve damage to my left and right extremities. As a result, I’ve had to overcome paralysis on my left side and I have learned to manage with the sustained numbness on my right side. From this experience, I have learned to listen to my body, and I would advise everyone else to do the same. Our work here is important, but it’s not worth sacrificing quality of life.

My favorite place to study is…

…in the recliner in my bedroom or on the futon in the office. These are, by far, the most comfortable places in my house. The futon is in the office, away from the television, but next to the computer. It’s the one piece of furniture that makes my office actually comfortable enough to spend long hours uninterrupted. I can get a lot of work done in my recliner because it’s almost as comfortable as being in my bed. Besides, as corny as this may sound, my recliner is the only thing I own that makes me still feel close to my father, who died almost five years ago. He always wanted me to continue my education. I wish he knew that how much he’s contributing to that goal.

My favorite professor is…

…Barbara McCaskill, associate professor of Multicultural American Literature in the Department of English. When I returned to UGA as a graduate student in the Women’s Studies Certificate Program, Professor McCaskill was the first person I met in the English Department. She embraced my interest in Southern women writers and encouraged me to apply to UGA’s English Department for doctoral study. She has sense served as my professor, major advisor, mentor and friend. She helps me to define and work steadily toward my professional goals. Above all, she maintains high standards of excellence and accepts no less from her students.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

…African American anthropologist, folklorist and author Zora Neale Hurston. She is, without a doubt my, my muse. I consider Hurston’s one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century. Her anthropological work on the retentions of African culture in Haiti and the African American South inspires my current interests in African dance as sites of what Toni Morrison calls “cultural memory” in African American women’s literature.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…devote the rest of my life and money to researching a cure for cancer. I spent ten years of my life caring for my father who succumbed to cancer five years ago. Now, in between doing research, teaching, presenting my work at conferences or writing for publication, I travel to Tuskegee, Alabama, to care for my mother, whose battle with incurable breast cancer is having a devastating affect not only her body, but on our family unit. Cancer, I believe, is the modern-day plague; and, if I really felt like I could make a difference, I would exhaust every effort in helping to obliterate it from the face of the earth.

After graduation, I plan to…

…get a job, pay some bills, nurture the beautiful family that my husband, LaMont, and I are starting.  We are eagerly anticipating the birth of our first child in November.