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Scholar. Author. Activist.

Dr. Nicole A. Telfer earned her PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).  She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State University, and a Master of Arts degree in Applied Developmental Psychology from UMBC. Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised on ackee and saltfish, Nicole is a proud daughter of Jamaican parents and takes pride in her heritage. Furthermore, Nicole’s research focuses on finding ways to improve the educational experiences and developmental and health outcomes of racially minoritized youth. Ultimately, Nicole hopes to create preventive intervention programs and centers in inner-city neighborhoods to aid the overall wellbeing of Black children and adolescents. She believes that understanding the role of socio-cultural factors, like racist discrimination and neighborhood quality, can help close the achievement gap that exists in the U.S. Outside of her work, Nicole loves to travel, enjoys listening to H.E.R and Jazmin Sullivan, finds pleasure in reading radical books, and spends ample time tending to her plants. She is a spoken-word artist and author and co-author of four books: Freed, A Black Woman’s Guide to Earning a Ph.D., Phoenix Phenomenon, and Our Doctoral Journey.

Dr. Telfer's Books

Freed: Book of Poems 

covers a personal and vulnerable journey about abuse, healing, love, Blackness, and womanhood into three chapters. Freed also has a fourth chapter that invites five poets to share their amazing pieces. The poems in this book are intended to inspire others to share their story. Everyone has thoughts in their mind that are worth acknowledging. Indeed, Freed speaks to the life experiences of various people from various backgrounds, but in the voice and story of a Black woman.

A Black Woman's Guide to Earning a PhD

More Black women
are needed in the academy. More Black women may want to join the academy, but the academy has not always been accepting of us. Black women who are currently in academia or in doctoral programs face a wide array of social challenges, from racial discrimination to sexism to anti-Black women experiences. Many Black women have hesitated on applying to or starting their doctoral programs to avoid such social challenges. A Black Woman’s Guide to Earning a Ph.D. provides Black women with tips and resources on how to navigate and survive as a doctoral student at a predominantly white university or program. This book focuses primarily on the first two years of graduate school as years 1 and 2 are typically the most challenging. In this book, Black women will read personal stories related to mental health, the impostor syndrome, racial discrimination experiences, and much more. Lastly, this book was written to encourage more Black women to write about their experiences in their doctoral program for others who will come after them. We are all we’ve got.

Our Doctoral Journey: A Collection of Black Women's Experiences

Data from the Education
at a Glance in 2019 states that less than 2 percent of the United States’ and world’s population holds a doctorate degree. Germane to this fact, the National Center of Education statistics reported that, in the 2018-19 academic year, of the doctoral degrees awarded to women, only 10.9 percent were awarded to Black women compared to 63.6 percent awarded to White women in the U.S. Black women who are interested in pursuing a doctorate, already in doctoral programs, or in their field of doctoral work are in crucial need of resources, community, and support. For too long, Black women have faced many systemic barriers and various forms of racist exclusion and oppression in educational settings, which has often led to burnout, low sense of belonging, and low retention rates. This memoir, “Our Doctoral Journey: A collection of Black women’s experiences,” serves as a resource and toolkit for Black women doctors, future doctors, and professionals. Prepare yourselves to read transparent and ground-breaking stories from 24 co-authors, ranging from doctoral students to doctors to professionals, who, with great tenacity, have chosen to share their doctoral experiences. Undeniably, this memoir will give you hope, motivation, and determination to choose what is best for you and persist in your program or in your field of work. As the saying goes, “We’re all that we’ve got.”

Education and Training


The Pennsylvania State University, 2018
Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies (Lifespan Developmental Science)
Minor in Psychology


University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 2022
Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Developmental Psychology; Specialization in Educational Contexts of Development


University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 2020
Master of Arts in Applied Developmental Psychology


Georgetown University, 2023
Certificate in Early Intervention, Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities


UNC Chapel Hill, 2023
Certificate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Research

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Until Liberation,


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