Aparajita (AJ) Jeedigunta is a social psychologist with a specialization in cultural studies, immigrant transition and adjustment processes, and interpersonal relationships. With over a decade of experience as a researcher, AJ loves to use statistical analyses to reframe prevalent socio-cultural theories to make social science more representative of minority populations.
As a student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, AJ helped restart and revitalize the Psychology Club and Psi Chi, the National Honor Society for Psychology, as its President. She then went on to complete her MA/PhD in Social-Personality Psychology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, where she was the first person of Indian heritage admitted into the program in its history. While in Hawai’i, AJ was also a dynamic educator who taught over 1,000 traditional and non-traditional students in her career as a lecturer. After her doctorate, she drew on her varied interests and knowledge to develop an inclusive, person-centered model of organizational culture, and a suite of tools to assess cultural competence in organizations. Most recently, AJ has spent over two years collecting data and understanding the intricacies of race and gender dynamics in competitive gaming virtual online communities.
AJ has always been a dedicated champion of highlighting cultural heritages of minority populations – especially of immigrant groups from the Indian diaspora. To this end, she has volunteered with various Indian organizations and initiatives to increase visibility and awareness of Indian cultures through performance arts for over 20 years. She has also given talks in Michigan, Hawai’i and internationally on the importance of shifting the focus of corporate diversity initiatives to inclusion, on the salience of people’s cultural identities in their professional lives, and, on the social imperative to create better systems to address the mental health needs of minority group members.
As an immigrant woman and as a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor, AJ is passionate about the inclusion of minorities, women and individuals with invisible disabilities, illnesses and injuries in all spheres of life. Click here to read the detailed version of her life story, in her own words. She is also currently a Fellow at the Detroit Chapter of the New Leaders Council, a non-profit organization that aims to train the next generation of leaders who fight for progressive reforms in their communities. In her spare time, AJ loves to spend time with her family, and explore with her husband, their spirited 3-year-old daughter and their two puppies.