Help Me Stay In Grad School

My name is Jovante Anderson and I’m done with the first year of my PhD in English Literature! Not exactly how I imagined closing it off, but an end is an end, nonetheless.  If nothing else has become clearer, I know now more than ever that I know nothing. A truism, I know. But spend a year pressing harder against language, asking more of it, spend a year trying to stay a while longer in its softer interstices, trying to confront your own frustrations with it and you begin to glimpse, only glimpse, how much is at stake in every single word.

I am learning that words, too, have a life, even beyond any air we can breathe into them. They, too, sit on their verandas at sunset. They, too, take the bus every day to work. They, too, burn the chicken in the frying pan. This year has been a lesson in the life of words. As I get closer to figuring out what I want my dissertation to look like, I know I want to unsettle the lives of some words. I want to ask more of how we understand queerness, pleasure, and violence in Jamaica. I think some words have been too comfortable, have put their feet up on the dining table and have, consequently, overstayed their welcome. One such word is "homophobia." In short, I am trying to continue the work of scholars who are committed to understanding not just the violence that queer folks are subjected to, but the fullness of their lives.

But I need your help to get there. As an international student who is living and conducting research in the United States in the throes of a pandemic, I have very limited options available to me where resources are concerned, especially during the summer when I am not paid the graduate stipend which usually sustains me. Despite the many, many, struggles I've encountered as a low-income student, I am determined to succeed, so here's a little bit about me:

I'm 24 years old, the eldest of six children, and I graduated last year from Lafayette College with honors in English as well as in Anthropology and Sociology. However, my love affair with English started from a very early stage and, in high school, during our regional exams, I had the second highest score for English in the entire Caribbean for the year 2013. I would go on to do well at Lafayette being awarded the Lafayette-Jamaica Scholarship upon admission and then, being awarded twice the English Department's Gilbert Prize, for "demonstrated superiority in English." I was also, in 2018, awarded The Poet Laureate of Jamaica Young Writer's Prize for Poetry for my work which explored the complexities of a black queer identity. You may read some of my published poetry here: You may also read my work as guest editor for the same literary journal here:  And listen to me talk about writing here:

One of my most cherished awards was the Leroy Nunery Award for Intellectual Citizenship "given to a student whose research on important social, political, or economic issues advances knowledge and involves the student in activities within a community" after completing my senior thesis on queerness and the policing of space in Jamaica. I have also been awarded several fellowships and grants including the Francis A. March Fellowship "given to a senior who has distinguished himself or herself in English studies and who has been admitted to a graduate school approved by the department of English at Lafayette College." This fellowship is part of the reason I was able to record A's across the board in all my classes for this first year in graduate school.  This was no easy task especially since I've now just recently acquired a functioning laptop before which I had to type all my seminar papers up on my cell phone, including my finals for this semester.

For the last five years, I have also mentored one high school senior through the college application process for free. All my mentees have gone on to be awarded full scholarships to schools such as: Cornell University, Brandeis University, University of St Thomas, and the University of Miami. 

These are just a few of the things about which I'm passionate and proud. I am no stranger to struggle, even from as early as high school, and my family has always, always tried to help where they can but this time around, I do need some more help. Here is a breakdown of what I am asking for.

Not only does my school not provide us with graduate stipends during the summer, but I have several restrictions and prohibitions for employment in the US as an international student. I am also trying to conduct research on dancehall and queerness that will contribute to my dissertation.  I will be unable to support myself for the month of July and part of August. Here is what I need your help with:

Rent and Board: $1685. This goes directly to helping me cover rent, transportation, and to buy enough basic groceries to last for the month. 

Fees owed to the school: $850. This is the exact total I would need to pay on my fees owed to the school in order to be able to register for the coming semester.

Emergency fund: $700. As an international student, I am always told to keep emergency funds around in case I might need to evacuate quickly. With no family in this area of the United States, that is even more crucial. However, since March, I have had to send money back home to relatives to assist with basic needs which has now depleted my resources. This is not as fixed a value, of course. It is just based on what I had had saved beforehand and so I am grateful for any contribution towards this.

I appreciate any and every donation you can give which will not only help me survive, but will help me to continue on my journey to finishing this PhD and doing the kind of work I hope will help us, even just a bit, to see the beautiful, nuanced, and complex lives of queer folks in the Caribbean. 

Thank you for spending a little time with my words. May light, love, and justice be with us all in this incredibly difficult moment.

A Regular Day After Graduate Seminar!
After Winning The Poet Laureate of Jamaica's Young Writer's Prize in 2018.
You can read about it here: ( and here:

Mom and I after I was awarded the Lafayette-Jamaica Scholarship with the then Prime Minister of Jamaica the Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller, one of the initiators of this scholarship.

Mommy and I the day I graduated. Such a beautiful day.

After winning the Gilbert Prize at Lafayette College.
You can also read more about my earlier achievements here:


  • Catherine Peters 
    • $20 
    • 29 d
  • Robert Blunt 
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Nicole Brigstock 
    • $20 
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  • Jo Elbourne 
    • $40 
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  • Anna Sacks 
    • $10 
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Jovante Anderson 
Miami, FL
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