A group of eight African-American PhD candidates at the Indiana School of Education has made a name for themselves as the “great eight.” They have formed a supportive sisterhood for each other, soon after realizing that there were not many women of color for them to relate to in their program.

“We understood very early on that we had a distinction, a commonality, a thread between all of us and so we began to meet as a group,” said Nadrea Njoku.

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In a field that, they knew, only saw two percent of African-American women, they banded together.

“We often deal with this idea that we always have to do more. And our collective black female community here we were able to tell each other you’re enough,” said Jasmine Haywood.

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For many of them, it was the group that kept them going on their long and hard journey.

“We really value the fact that we need each other to deal with emotional expression,” said Johari Shuck.

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“Standing in solidarity with each other as women and as black women but also opening up a space where we’re standing in solidarity with other historically underrepresented marginalized groups in the university,” said Tiffany Kyser.

While they were surprised by the attention their story received, all eight hope that their story will help inspire other women of color.

“If we get more images of showing us in these positive lights. Then we can truly say this is nothing special because it happens all the time. So until we get to that point we’ll be the great eight and we’ll shine that light on it,” said Demetrees Hutchins.