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Alena A. Hairston is an author and college/university professor, specializing in English literature and composition, creative writing, African American Literature, social justice literature, humanities, and the social sciences. She earned her B.A. with Honors in English and Integrative Studies from Guilford College, her Master of Arts in Humanistic Psychology from Saybrook University, and her Master of Fine Arts in English and Creative Writing from Brown University. At Guilford College she helped to establish the major in African American Studies. She has published award-winning works in poetry, fiction, hybrid genres, and nonfiction, most notably her first poetry collection The Logan Topographies and selections in the groundbreaking anthology Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry.
Alena has held several tenured and adjunct college and university teaching positions for over 20 years, including positions at Brown University, Rhode Island College, Bryant University, Santa Clara University, Merritt College, Berkeley City College, and more. She has served as instructor and program coordinator for Umoja and Puente, and she has served on various institutional committees such as the Basic Skills Initiative, the Learning Communities Program, and the Ethnic Studies Program. She has served as the Humanities Academic Senator and as a Master Panelist Reviewer for the Obama Administration’s Federal Department of Labor's Trade Adjustment Assistance and College Training Programs Grant Competition for national community colleges. Alena's experience also includes technical project management, technical writing, web content development, and grant-writing for various companies such as Pearson Publishing, Thomson Publishing, and Pacific Gas and Electric.
Alena’s works have been published in journals and outlets such as Callaloo, Elixir Press, verse Wisconsin, Appalachian Heritage, nocturnes review, and KQED/NPR. She is the winner of Persea Books’ inaugural Lexi Rudnitsky Memorial Prize in Poetry and winner of the Rhode Island Council on the Arts Fellowship. She also won the John Hawkes Memorial Prize in Fiction at Brown, as well as Bear Star Press’ Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Award. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and an advisory board member for the University of Kentucky Press' new book series, Appalachian Futures: Black, Native, and Queer Voices.
Alena is currently a doctoral student in the Psychology, Public Policy, and Law Program at Alliant International University. Her studies focus on public policy related to the mitigation of risk factors in higher education student homelessness and housing insecurity.