F&M Stories

Embracing "And": Junior Genab Diallo on the Liberal Arts Experience

The ampersand in the middle of our College’s name symbolizes the rich space of possibility that awaits students at F&M. Meaning “both/and,” the ampersand is the purpose—and the power—of the liberal arts: recognizing and forming connections between things that at first glance don’t seem to go together.

For junior Genab Diallo, the freedom to explore classes across disciplines helped her discover her passion for studying community health inequities. 

Diallo arrived at F&M interested in a pre-med path, but after taking an introductory public health course, realized she wanted to study preventative measures to optimize community well-being before individuals need to visit the doctor. 

She discovered her passions for sociology and Africana studies in a similar way—introductory courses that sparked her curiosity—and began to see connections between the fields. Diallo is now a public health major on the sociology track with a minor in Africana studies. 

Last summer, she conducted research at the intersection of these fields by analyzing public health resources on skin cancer.

“This research allowed me to develop an understanding of what institutionalized racism looks like in disciplines imperative to the health of individuals with darker skin,” Diallo said.

Diallo found that resources lacked representation of what the warning signs of skin cancer looked like on darker skin, which could result in negative health outcomes in communities of color. She said her courses in Africana studies provided historical context for this and other health disparities in marginalized communities.

“Studying sociology at F&M has allowed me to reach a deeper understanding of how elements of America’s early history are foundational for embedding inequalities,” Diallo said.

Just as central to her F&M experience have been Diallo’s extracurricular activities. She is a member of F&M Dance Company and Choomies K-Pop Dance Club. In February, she helped plan and choreograph dances for Apollo Night, an annual Black History Month showcase.

F&M’s emphasis on the liberal arts allowed Diallo to seriously pursue her love of dance. “I’m not certain if I would be able to have that at places that don’t emphasize the liberal arts experience as much as F&M,” Diallo said. “It’s really nice to have a place where I can see dance as valued and not just something I do on the side.”

Diallo has also taken for-credit courses in dance, and while they fall outside of her major, she said they are vital to her academic experience.

“It’s very much interactive. You have to dance and move and find new ways to engage with new materials. You find new ways to learn,” she said. 

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