Genevieve Abena Yirenkyi, Ph.D.


The way I found out about SisterMentors was through my oldest sister, Caroline. It was December 2001 and it had been six months since I had relocated back to Maryland, after living and schooling in California for three years. I was literally, “burnt out” in every sense of the word and was not motivated to work on my dissertation. To add to my phobia about tackling this life-changing project, I had an advisor who was long distance and did not monitor my progress. Therefore, to relieve some of my graduate student guilt and anxiousness about my un-productivity, I would complain to everyone who would listen. While my family and friends wanted to help, there was nothing they could do to “pick me up” from this fear and loss of enthusiasm to complete this task.

Then after six months of self-pity, no check-in phone calls from my advisor, and realizing that if I wanted to graduate in 2004 I needed to complete this project, there was a significant break in the heavens. My sister told me that she had heard a testimonial on WPFW 89.3FM Pacifica Radio from a woman who received dissertation support from a group called SisterMentors. Immediately, she gave me the phone number and I called and left a message for Dr. Shireen Lewis to call me back. I was so excited and eager to find out what they could do to get me out of this dissertation “funk.”

As they say, the rest is history. Six months after joining the group I successfully proposed my dissertation topic which had been on “hold mode” for a year. This simultaneously allowed me to apply to internship, the other critical graduation requirement. Surprisingly, eight months after that breakthrough I successfully completed and defended my entire dissertation. My time with SisterMentors has been invaluable and has included, but not limited to, support, encouragement, sisterhood, laughs, and community awareness.

Specifically, my commitment to the larger community has greatly heightened, due to the essential mentoring component of the program. Mentoring these energetic and highly motivated girls of color has given me the additional responsibility of giving back to the community and reinforces my mission to improve the educational status of people of color. During these sessions, the girls candidly communicate their dreams, aspirations, and fears about pursuing their educational goals. Personally, this gave me an opportunity to share my story and encourage their unique purpose in life. These awesomely diverse, group of women and girls have added to my personal, professional, spiritual, and emotional development in ways that I will never be able to put into words.

As a result, I would like to thank Dr. Shireen Lewis and the intellectual women of color of SisterMentors. It has been a prosperous and successful fourteen months. I could not have gotten a “Breakthrough in 2002” on my proposal, without your positives vibes. More importantly, I would not have believed and actualized that “The Best is Yet to Come For Me in 2003,” without your encouragement and enthusiasm. You all have been the key to completing this life-changing task. Thank you my Sistas.