Meet Taylor Cenac – Black Studies administrative assistant

The Department of Gender Studies recently announced Taylor Cenac as the new Black Studies Program and Administrative Assistant.

In this newly created role, she is responsible for the daily administration and operation of the Black Studies undergraduate program, and she coordinates recruitment events, experiential learning opportunities, and student engagement activities. As the Black Studies Program and Administrative Assistant, Cenac will provide administrative, finance, and research support to Black Studies faculty members.

“I really like doing administrative work, I like working in this department, I like the faculty in this department, so it made sense to apply for the position,” says Cenac, who holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Toronto, an Master of Arts in Gender Studies from Queen’s, as well as a Social Service Worker Diploma from St. Lawrence College. “I’m excited about the launch of the Black Studies program and having a chance to shape the course of the program is wonderful.”

Cenac says things are going well and there is a heavy emphasis on taking time and being deliberate about how things are unfolding. She has already been involved in creating new partnerships with faculty, staff, students and also the extended Kingston community.

The program has been bolstered by the hiring of seven new faculty members including four Queen’s National Scholars (QNS) in Black Studies, a first for Queen’s University, and an additional three faculty members in Black Studies.

“The cluster hire has been absolutely fantastic,” says Cenac. “My workspace feels like an extension of my home when I come to campus and having new faculty members who moved to Kingston for this job is wonderful. We’ve been able to work closely in the office, go for lunch, socialize. It’s nice to be able to extend the work we do to our lives in our community.”

With the new Black Studies program, Cenac says it’s important that Black Studies is being recognized as a formal program even though students have been working in that area of academia for years. “I find it interesting how we are making space institutionally but it’s not necessarily to fit Black Studies into the institution but to recognize the work of Black Studies in the institution and what is already happening. Now that it is formally recognized, that can come with funding, access, promotion, etc. Students who may not have seen themselves affiliated with Black Studies are doing that work and are now able to do that work more formally.”

With any new opportunity, setting goals is critical for success. Cenac has several goals including seeing students inspired by the courses, enrolling in the courses, and seeing that excitement extend outward.

“I did my Gender Studies practicum in the community when I first came to Kingston. I was able to take the work I was interested in and extend that to real life. I’m excited to see how that happens for other people. Connective threads we may not be imagining today can be created very easily. That’s what I’m most looking forward to. How do students apply the work of Black Studies and the excitement of studying Black culture and Black people and practicing that.”

Looking forward to the impact Black Studies could have on the university, Cenac says she is thinking the new programming could change how the university engages with EDII. Black Studies could also help build more robust discussions around EDII.

“I’m most hopeful that it will remind us that it’s much more than the creation of a course, the hiring of new faculty, the writing of a mission statement. It must be so much more. We are planting seeds across the university and the creation of Black Studies could change the discussion across the university. I’m hopeful what we learn and what we study is naturally woven through everything we do in FAS and at the university as a whole.”

To learn more about the Black Studies program visit the Black Studies and Gender Studies website.