Interview with a Graduate Student: Yathrip Abdelgadir’s Community Impact


For our latest student feature, the Graduate School had the honor of speaking with Yathrip Abdelgadir, a Master’s degree candidate in the Sociology Department in the College of Arts & Sciences. Her research interests concern nationalism, ethnic conflict, and social movements; particularly, in relation to the Sudanese diaspora. In thinking about the remainder of her time here at UNCG, she hopes that her research will leave behind a lasting impact on the Sudanese community in Greensboro, and she talked to the Graduate School about her career goals and the focus of her upcoming thesis project.


Yathrip's Article Picture



Yathrip is quite familiar with both UNCG and the Greensboro Community. She and her family moved to Greensboro from Sudan twenty-one years ago, and they have lived here ever since. Growing up, Yathrip was first exposed to religion from listening to her dad’s teachings of their Islamic faith. But she had always been curious about other religions as well, and her father motivated Yathrip to start researching on her own. 


“Everytime I asked my dad about other faiths, instead of shutting down any of my questions, he always encouraged me to ask questions and delve into my own research,” she explained.


Her early interest in religion persisted for most of her life, shaping her educational path and choices, and Yathrip completed her undergraduate studies here at UNCG. Her chosen fields are a direct reflection of her personal identities: both as a Muslim and as a Sudanese woman. When she completed her required undergraduate courses, she earned a double major in Religious Studies and Political Science with a concentration in Global Politics. 


“I was a sophomore in college taking a class on International Systems when I developed a keen interest in Sudan and all things Sudan,” she explained. “It was in this class that I wrote my first paper concerning Sudan: “The Plight and Role of Least Developed Countries in the International System: A Case Study of Sudan.”

It was also during her second semester of undergraduate school when Yathrip decided to add her secondary major in Political Science. She wanted to learn more about Sudan – as an important part of her ethnic background – and the Political Science track offered her the chance to explore a subject that would soon become a passion. She also tells the Graduate School that obtaining her degrees at UNCG provided her with another opportunity to give back to the place she calls her “home away from home.”




Yathrip also spent a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in Winston-Salem. According to their mission statement, AmeriCorps VISTA members are placed in full-time roles within community organizations throughout Winston-Salem. Each member is primarily concerned with poverty alleviation, but other focus areas include educational equity, economic empowerment, and health and food justice.


As part of Yathrip’s work with Forsyth County Government, she gained a newfound interest in statistics and research regarding Winston-Salem. But she had always wanted to inquire about these same insights in Greensboro, especially since a substantial Sudanese Community has found a niche home within the larger area. The Sudanese community has led many events in Greensboro, including a protest in solidarity with Sudan during the revolution in 2019. 


Most importantly, Yathrip spent the latter half of her VISTA experience exploring Sociology and how it might accommodate her research interests. “Through events like this, I have gained immense love for the Sudanese community and Greensboro as a city,” she said. “Greensboro has provided me and the broader Sudanese community with a sense of security because it is our home away from home.” 


After completing her undergraduate studies, she decided to pursue an advanced degree in the Graduate School here at UNCG. Yathrip chose the Sociology program, one of the top-ranked in the nation, because she hoped to use the tools and perspectives she gained from her Sociological studies to further her own research: “It was the best field that I felt would allow me to enhance my critical and analytical thinking skills while gaining careful insight on issues that I care about,” she said.


She also felt supported by the Faculty members in the Sociology department. It was their support and encouragement that provided a motivating force behind her decision to pursue an advanced degree because she knew that she could count on their continued support. “My former supervisor once said to me that there are those that research the problems and those that find the solutions for said problems,” she explained. 


The topic of her Master’s thesis reflects this advice, and Yathrip’s research is grounded in the Sudanese Revolution that created a sense of unified national identity among the Sudanese diaspora in Greensboro. But she’s also looking at the changes that occurred in the interactions between different Sudanese ethnic groups as well.


Research and Engagement


Yathrip tells the Graduate School that she wrote a composition during her undergraduate studies that involved an examination of existing ethnic divisions in Sudan. The title of her paper was called “Exclusive Nationalism: The Formation of Sudanese National Identity and the Exclusion of Minority Groups.”


This paper became an important turning point in Yathrip’s academic career, and it served as a catalyst for pursuing research at a higher level. She started to develop a strong passion for studying the Sudanese region, including its history. She also learned more about Sudan’s political, social, and economic background, and this foundational knowledge furthered her interests.


Through her learned studies and lived experiences, Yathrip discovered more about the ethnic divisions that persist throughout Sudan which allowed her to explore her research topic. She also took a course on African Studies to understand more about national identity in Africa and the impacts of colonialism on the African continent.


The intersection of all these topics evolved into the development of her own research questions concerning ethnic conflict in Sudan: “I used this to link my research on ethnic conflict in Sudan by identifying the ways in which colonialism heavily impacted the Sudanese identity and how the fight for independence was led by a specific ethnic group that was once empowered by British colonial powers,” she explained.


By looking at the origins of disparate ethnic divisions, and the ways these divisions impacted Sudan’s national identity in the 1950s, she has been able to learn more about and understand the political and social transformations that took place throughout the twentieth century. 


Community Impact


At the heart of her research, Yathrip’s commitment to issues of community concern remains an important focus: “I’ve realized that I alone cannot change the world, but I can impact and teach others how they can do so,” she explained. 


Yathrip also told the Graduate School about her current experiences as a Refugee Employment Specialist at CWS-Greensboro: a resettlement office that partners with the local Greensboro Community to welcome refugees to the triad. Yathrip and the rest of her team help refugees find employment opportunities in Greensboro. Some of her other responsibilities include creating resumes, acting as a liaison between clients and potential employers, assisting clients with job applications, and empowering refugees to become self-sufficient with employment opportunities. 


“This position has shown me that helping people or ‘changing the world’ isn’t just through big grand gestures, but through small gestures and kind words,” she said.


Yathrip also serves as one of the Youth Secretaries on the executive committee for the Sudan House Global Corporation, or Bayt Al Sudan, – an organization that conducts social, cultural, academic, and sports activities that serve the Sudanese community. “The organization plans and executes events and activities for the community and provides a backbone to the Sudanese youth and children to be able to integrate into Sudanese society in a place that is considered home away from home,” she explained. 


This allows members of the Sudanese community to preserve their language, culture, traditions and habits. In some cases, the organization has also helped members find employment opportunities, housing, medical assistance and other important necessities. These actions help foster a strong community where everyone can feel like they belong.


“It is important to me because all of my goals – academic, career, personal, etc.- revolve around one thing: my community,” she said.


It stands to reason that community and collectivism are both central themes in Yathrip’s personal and academic life and as part of her long-term commitments. She hopes to instill this same passion for community involvement in younger members who will take on the same responsibilities. 


She’s also been exposed to so many amazing opportunities, including attending her first GAPAC (Greensboro African Public Action Committee) meeting. “I’ve also gotten closer to the rest of my committee members [who] are all older than me, but treat me as their equal and have made an effort to let my voice be heard in all of our meetings,” she said.  


Future Impact


For Yathrip, her experiences in the refugee resettlement at CWS-Greensboro and the Sudan House Global Corporation have taught her that change begins at the local level with smaller acts of community impact. “Perhaps the most important thing for me is that my research opens the door for more research on the Sudanese diaspora and the Sudanese community. I want my research to have a positive impact on the Sudanese community and to empower future scholars to also pursue research,” she said. 


Finally, Yathrip would love to see her research and community-level involvement open more paths and opportunities for local youth participation in the community, so that they can also develop a passion for research that will teach them more about their individual identities and their impact on the Sudanese community.


Yathrip Abdelgadir


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