Her background rooted in student affairs and social justice is evident in the ways in which she ties co-curricular experiences into her courses and ensures that the majority of her courses are Z-courses, meaning there is zero cost for books and materials. In the educational environments she fosters for students, both inside and outside of the classroom, she utilizes art as a medium for teaching and social change. She encourage students to engage in artistic expression as they examine their identity, beliefs, and values. More specifically, she asks students to explicitly write themselves into their work and become cognizant of their privileged and marginalized identities as well as how their experiences and the intersectionality of their identities shape the lens through which they view society. It is her hope that through this process of self-exploration students will embrace cultural pluralism, find commonalities across differences, and engage in research and dialogues that seek to benefit the greater good of society through positive social action.
Dr. Kaya’s research, projects, workshops, and writing center on the intersections of art and activism. More specifically, her sociological work focuses on spoken word poetry, the self, multiraciality, unconscious bias, leadership and social justice. She is the Community Liaison for the Critical Mixed Race Studies Association and founder of Mix-Represented a multiracial social justice based clothing line co-designed with one of her former students Alexander Pryor. Dr. Kaya earned an A.A.S. from Shoreline Community College, a B.A. in Sociology from Hampton University, and received her M.A. & Ph.D. in Sociology at George Mason University. Outside of the classroom, you are likely to find her engaging in martial arts or utilizing photography to advocate for homeless and abused dogs in Prince George’s County, Maryland.