Hear from UIS alums who graduated in or around 2008 about how they have navigated career-related challenges and triumphs.
A.D. Carson, MA (2008), Assistant Professor of Hip Hop, University of Virginia
Nikki Overcash, BA (2005), MA (2007, 2019), Lead Academic Coach, Illinois College
Kelly Turner, MA (2008), Legislative Director at Illinois Federation of Teachers
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Get to know our panelists!
A.D. Carson is an award-winning performance artist and educator from Decatur, Illinois. His work focuses on race, literature, history, rhetorics & performance. He received a Ph.D. in Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design at Clemson University. His album, i used to love to dream, the first-ever rap album peer-reviewed for publication with an academic press, was released with University of Michigan Press in 2020. This work extends from his doctoral dissertation, Owning My Masters: The Rhetorics of Rhymes & Revolutions, a rap album that is the primary feature of a digital archive at phd.aydeethegreat.com. Owning My Masters was internationally heralded and was also recognized by Clemson’s Graduate Student Government as the 2017 Outstanding Dissertation.
Dr. Carson was a 2016 recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Excellence in Service at Clemson University for his work with students, staff, faculty and community members to raise awareness of historic, entrenched racism at the university through his “See the Stripes” campaign, which takes its name from the poem featured on his dissertation album. He is also the author of a novel, COLD, which hybridizes poetry, rap lyrics, and prose. Dr. Carson’s work has been featured by Complex, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Forbes, The Guardian, Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, NPR’s All Things Considered, OkayPlayer, Quiddity International Literary Journal and Public-Radio Program, Time, USA Today, and XXL among others. His projects are available to stream/download free from aydeethegreat.com. Dr. Carson is currently assistant professor of Hip-Hop & the Global South at the University of Virginia.
Nikki Overcash has earned three degrees from UIS. She graduated from the Capital Scholars Honors Program with a BA in English in 2005 then earned an MA in English from UIS in 2007. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in China from 2007-2009 where she taught at Chongqing University of Science and Technology. She earned her second master's degree from UIS in 2019, this time in Communication. She currently works at Illinois College as the Lead Academic Coach in the Center for Academic Excellence.
Kelly Turner graduated from UIS in 2008 with a Masters in Communication. She is a Legislative Director with the Illinois Federation of Teachers. Kelly has worked as a government relations practitioner for over 17 years. She resides in Springfield with her husband and two daughters.