Dr. Samarah Blackmon recently completed her doctoral studies in the Urban Schooling Division of the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS). Her dissertation examined the college preparatory pathways of Black female high school students in a community-based organization. Dr. Blackmon’s research interests focus on non-traditional school and community-based interventions that centralize the racial, gender, and classed experiences of youth into the fabric of their work.
In the fall of 2015, Dr. Blackmon became the Associate Director of the Black Male Institute (BMI), in which she leads projects examining educational interventions aimed at improving life opportunities for Black male youth. Prior to her role as the Associate Director, she spearheaded research projects including Saving Our Sons, which examined single-sex interventions for Black males in school, and the BLOOM Project, a five-year initiative aimed at supporting young Black men involved in the Los Angeles County probation system. As the Associate Director, Dr. Blackmon will lead research and evaluation for the BMI, as well as the new Gateway-to-Graduation project, which provides a unique intervention to support the retention of Black students at UCLA.
While still a doctoral student, Dr. Blackmon founded the JANRAH Program for young women of color. JANRAH is based on the pillars of education, entrepreneurship, and empowerment, with the goal to support Black and Latina girls from urban communities as they successfully pursue their educational, career, and life goals. This passion has long been a part of Dr. Blackmon’s life, as prior to returning to graduate school, she coordinated and directed community and university-based college preparation programs for high school students. She worked in cities throughout the U.S., including serving as the former Director of the UCLA GEAR UP Program at Inglewood High School. Beyond Samarah’s professional experience, she deeply believes in empowering young women through thoughtful, creative, and socially conscious programming that supports girls in following their dreams, while gaining a sense of responsibility for their communities.
In addition to a Ph.D. in Education, Dr. Blackmon holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Washington in Seattle.