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An unexpected knack for mentoring forges connections on campus and beyond
Portrait of Camille Goldmon

As Camille Goldmon graduates with her PhD in history, she leaves a mark on Emory and the community as a groundbreaking researcher, engaging teacher and impactful mentor.

When Camille Goldmon was applying to doctoral programs in history, she thought Laney Graduate School (LGS) at Emory University could be a longshot. But, when her mother encouraged her to apply, Goldmon couldn’t say no.

The campus had made an impression on Goldmon and her mother when they visited some years before, when Goldmon was considering where to go for her undergraduate education. She earned her bachelor’s and master degrees closer to home, at the University of Arkansas, but remembered Emory’s campus fondly. “It was so green,” she says.

Now, thanks to her mother’s encouragement and her own hard work, Goldmon is part of the LGS Class of 2022, graduating with a PhD in history. During her time at Emory, she has made her mark through groundbreaking research, teaching and mentorship.

The phenom

“Camille Goldmon is, like a riff on the Maya Angelou poem, Phenom, Phenom, Phenomenal Scholar,” says Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor and chair of African American Studies and Goldmon’s advisor. “Her research is innovative and forces us to rethink radicalism. Her teaching is engaging, powerful and transformative. Her mentoring of students in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program is outstanding. Her work on uncovering Atlanta’s past for the Just Futures Mellon grant is mind-blowing and narrative disrupting.”

“If this sounds like a string of superlatives, it’s simply because that’s Camille,” Anderson adds. “She is superlative.”   

Goldmon came to Emory with a strong research interest in Black farmers in Alabama from the end of Reconstruction through 1940, around the start of World War II. Her dissertation examines the Tuskegee Institute's crucial role in the livelihood of Black agrarians and proposes a framework that highlights the school's work as radical.

As she engaged with her research, she came to see the farmers she studies in a new way.

“When I started my research, I was looking at it from an institutional point of view — how institutions helped Black farmers pursue the goal of land ownership,” she says. “But as I worked, I was struck by how much farmers had done on their own, before the institutions arrived. These farmers kept persevering. My focus shifted to how farmers chose to partner with institutions and organizations.”

Goldmon’s research earned her a 2021-22 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship and an honorable mention from the Ford Foundation Fellowship.

Mentoring and community connections

Being a student at LGS also has given Goldmon a chance to explore — and to help her realize how much she has to offer as a mentor.

“I didn’t know how big a deal mentoring was until I had so many great mentors myself,” she says. “I learned that I don’t have to wait until I am at their level to be a mentor. Being a mentor is one of the most fun, affirming things I get to do.”

She has served as a graduate mentor for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program and has mentored talented, diverse undergraduate students through LGS-SOAR (Summer Opportunity for Academic Research). She also has served as a program mentor for LGS’s P2P Grad Connect: Peer-to-Peer BIPOC Mentoring Program and has been involved in LGS-EDGE (Emory Diversifying Graduate Education).

In addition, Goldmon has found powerful ways to connect with the community during her time at LGS.

One way was through her work on the Crafting Democratic Futures project. The initiative, funded by the Mellon Foundation, seeks to connect humanities scholars at colleges and universities with community-based organizations to develop research-informed reparations plans. Emory is one of nine participating colleges and universities.

“It is great to be able to do this work with people in other disciplines,” Goldmon says. “We get to see how all of these things in our communities are connected.”

As she moves forward in her career, Goldmon will keep her time at LGS close to her heart. “I am grateful for the time I spent at Laney and in Atlanta,” she says.

After graduation, she will embark on a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at Princeton University, followed by a tenure-track position at the University of Oregon.

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