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Saffiyah Coker

Class of 2024-2025

About Saffiyah

Saffiyah Coker grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts where she learned the value of community activism and the strength of the BIPOC community. Saffiyah is currently a senior at Tufts University where she double majors in Economics & International Relations. The majors align Saffiyah’s passion for economic development in the global South as well as the ability to understand how systems of oppression result in economic disenfranchisement. Travel and exploration are hallmarks of how Saffiyah understands the world. Saffiyah spent her junior year at Tufts studying in Accra, Ghana for a semester with the School of International Training and then in London, U.K., for a semester at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Her time abroad began her research with female head porters in Ghanaian open-air markets—Kayayei. Through her work with Kayayei, Saffiyah began volunteering for Ilmiha Lab—a socio-behavioral lab based in Accra that aims to provide period education and intervention strategies to increase Kayayei’s bargaining abilities and quality of life. In June 2023, Saffiyah returned to Accra, Ghana, to conduct solo research on the community and coalition building amongst the Kayayei. The fieldwork conducted has informed Saffiyah’s future aspirations for a career in human-centered research. As well as a desire to explore public policy through an economic lens. At Tufts, Saffiyah is a part of the Tisch Scholars Leadership Development Program—a three-year leadership development program that combines coursework with fieldwork in the Boston area to analyze the root causes of social issues and enhance skill-building for social change. As a Tisch Scholar, Saffiyah has interned at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and the Massachusetts Voter Table to learn how law and advocacy can merge to shape policy for marginalized groups. Cultural organizations such as the African Student Organization and the Black Womxn’s Empowerment Conference have been mainstays of Saffiyah’s undergraduate experience. For two years at Tufts, Saffiyah collaborated with the Africana Center to create the Black Womxn’s Empowerment Conference—a two-day conference for all collegiate Black womxn in the Northeast. She is passionate about Black joy, community, and space-making. Saffiyah will graduate from Tufts University in May 2024.

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