African Studies MA Graduates

Michael Cappello
Chair, Council on African Studies

Harry, Ethan, Jonathan, Connor, Yoofi and Sam,

On behalf of the Council on African Studies, affiliated faculty and administrative team, please accept our heartfelt congratulations on this important milestone. We thank for your many contributions to the MacMillan Center and Yale community over these past two years, and we especially appreciate your grace and resilience in the face of challenging circumstances. The Class of 2020 will always have a welcoming home in African Studies, and we look forward to following each of your many successes in the future. Please keep us in your thoughts as you pursue what are destined to be exciting and fulfilling careers!

With warm regards and best wishes,

Michael, Cristin and Norah

David Simon
Director of Graduate Studies

There are six MA students – make that graduates – who comprise the African Studies class of 2020: Connor Compton, Jonathan Doernhofer, Harry Green, Yoofi Nketsiah, Ethan Timmons-Schiffman, and Sam Weber. They have epitomized the best of what Masters students can achieve, contribute, and simply be at the university.  They have excelled in classes in every corner of campus (south of science hill, anyway).  They have traveled to the African continent to conduct thesis research, shining both as scholars and de facto ambassadors for the university while there.  They have found a place for themselves in campus life – for example as champions, back-to-back no less, of the graduate and professional schools intramural basketball league.  It is a great shame we can’t all be together one last time, but I can honestly say that reading each of their respective Masters theses has brightened the gloom of a chilly may on a ghost-town campus.  These theses included – with my apologies for the absurd reduction of tens of thousands of words into the simplistic statements I am making here – insights into the global ideology that motivated Kwame Nkrumah to lead a boycott of baldly racist FIFA in 1966 (Connor), the prospect that public investment might have the potential to attract private investment in rural South Africa (Jonathan), the difficult path for the deepening of support for democracy in South Africa (Harry), the paradoxes of promoting the study of traditional music and dance in a contemporary African university (Yoofi), the many bumps in the road between Kankan and Kissidougou in Guinea (Ethan), or a study in the motivations of the various actors who comprise the Catholic church and its organizations in the DRC (Sam).  All of them projected a combination of humility and expertise that left me beaming with pride.  Collectively, they showcase what this program can do. I wish them all luck, success, and happiness in the next and subsequent chapters of their own lives.

Graduating MA Students

Connor Compton received his B.A. in Honors History at the University of Notre Dame in 2018. At Yale, he focused on political and cultural history, with special emphasis on the role of football in the policy and political ideology of Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana. While at Yale, Connor also worked as a research assistant and made invaluable contributions to his intramural basketball team, the Sorcerers, who won two consecutive Graduate and Professional School championships. He hopes to work in the realm of United States’ policy in Africa following graduation, with an eye toward potentially pursuing a PhD in the future.

Jonathan Dörnhofer received his B.S. in International Politics at Georgetown University in 2018. At Yale, he focused on the political economy of institutional development in southern Africa, with a focus on rural regions in South Africa. He plans to work in the field of political analysis after graduation.

Harry Green received his Bachelor’s in International Politics from Georgetown University in 2015. Before starting his Masters, he interned with the US Commission on International Religious Freedom and several international politics-oriented non-profits, including the Enough Project. At Yale, he has focused his African Studies MA on politics; over summer 2019 he conducted original research in South Africa on territorial autonomy. He hopes to work as a research associate with a think tank.

Yoofi Nketsiah is a citizen of the Republic of Ghana. He received a BA in music and Pyschology from the University of Ghana in 2013. Subsequently, he worked with the Office of Social and Economic Development located in Haifa, Israel as a program officer following grassroots Bahá’í-inspired development efforts in the area of communications media and education. At Yale, he focused his studies on the role of music in constituting societies. After graduation, he plans to work in the non-profit sector.

Ethan Timmins-Schiffman received a B.A. in English from Williams College in 2010. After college he herded goats and nursed a baby pig in Massachusetts and worked in Mali and Guinea as a Peace Corps Volunteer, where he had a weekly radio show on American culture.  At Yale, he has focused his studies on African literature while also leading his basketball team, the Sorcerers, to two consecutive undefeated championship seasons in the graduate/professional intramural league.  He plans to discover more of the world after graduation, starting in New York City.

Samuel Weber received his B.A. in International Relations from George Washington University in 2018, directly before coming to Yale. As an undergraduate, he held a variety of internships at NGOs and in the U.S. legislature and spent a year living in Tanzania as a Boren scholar. At Yale, he pursed an M.A. in African studies with a political science concentration and worked as a research assistant, a teaching fellow, and as a content editor at the Yale Journal of International Affairs. His master’s thesis was on the role of the DR Congo’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference in the country’s 2018 presidential elections, and he spent summer 2019 in Kinshasa conducting research in pursuit of these ends. Samuel is a Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) finalist and intends to work for the U.S. government following graduation.