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PhD student researches diversity at work

UNC’s research magazine Endeavors featured Angelica Leigh (PhD candidate). Asked to define her research in just five words, she responded: “Diversity’s dynamic nature at work.”

When you were a child, what was your response to this question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

phd-student-researchesA lawyer and a teacher. My mom was a middle school history teacher and then she went to law school. She is now a practicing lawyer — and I always wanted to be just like her! It is interesting to me that, as a professor, I will actually be fulfilling one of these dreams.

Share the pivotal moment in your life that helped you choose your field of study.

When I was an undergraduate student at Michigan State University, I had two professors who encouraged me to pursue a PhD. While I was interested in that prospect, I wanted to get out in the “real world” and work before I considered doing any graduate studies. After working in corporate finance for three years, I decided to attend a conference that was sponsored by The PhD Project — an organization that is dedicated to increasing the diversity of business school faculty. It was during this conference that I decided it was the perfect profession for me.

Tell us about a time you encountered a tricky problem. How did you handle it and what did you learn from it?


When I first started my doctoral program, I was pretty lost — I had no idea how to navigate the process of starting a research project. After spending about a week agonizing about this, I talked with two students in my program, who told me to start building relationships with faculty in our department. After a series of one-on-one meetings, I formed collaborations with two faculty members and, by the end of the semester, began building a relationship with my current advisor, Shimul Melwani. I learned that relationships are important — and that it’s okay to ask others for help and guidance.

What are your passions outside of science?

Tap dancing. I started dancing when I was about 3-years-old and danced competitively throughout middle and high school. After moving to Chapel Hill for my doctoral program, I reconnected with my love for tap. It provides me with the energy I need to persevere when I hit road blocks within my research.