On Friday, December 9, UNC Greensboro awarded 1,486 baccalaureate degrees during its fall commencement ceremony.
One of those degrees went to Azariah Rafael Journey, a history student, who used her time at UNCG to break down barriers – both through her study of queer history and her commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion on campus.
“Azariah is an awesome student who exemplifies the best of UNCG,” said history professor Dr. Anne Parsons. “Perhaps the most striking accomplishment was Azariah’s public history research project on Anne Lister, an 18th century lesbian.”
Anne Lister was a diarist in West Yorkshire whose writings earned her the moniker of “the first modern lesbian.” Journey’s research on Lister also included a video blog that documented the historical figure’s life, the archives that held her history, and the process of public memory.
In recognition of this project, Journey received a competitive, all-expense-paid scholarship to travel to England in 2022. And shortly after graduation, in 2023, she will again travel to West Yorkshire to present her research during Anne Lister’s Birthday Week.
“When I started at UNCG, I wasn’t aware that I could study queer history and how it has often been erased,” said Journey. “Working with my professors, especially Dr. Mandy Cooper and Dr. Anne Parsons, gave me the courage to break down barriers in the history field, to continue my community activism, and make a place for myself at UNCG as a queer woman and first-generation college student.”
Journey’s activism at UNCG has been extensive. She was both a senator for the Student Government Association (SGA) as well as its Social Justice, Diversity, and Inclusivity chair; she served as president of the History Club; and she helped create an engaged community of transfer and nontraditional students who are new to college.
“I also am extremely proud to have written legislation in SGA for Transgender Remembrance Day,” she said.
So what’s next for Journey? In addition to presenting her research on Anne Lister in 2023, she also plans on applying to UNCG’s history M.A. program with a concentration in museum studies. There, she hopes to continue her research into queer history and how it is portrayed in museums and in society.
“I’ve learned from my history professors how to fight for my passions and my dreams – in my research but also simply in life.”
Story by Elizabeth Keri, College of Arts & Sciences
Photography courtesy of Azariah Journey