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Scholar. Author. Disruptor. 

Nicole A. Telfer (Dr. Nicky), an Afro-Caribbean woman, is a trained applied developmental psychologist specializing in youth development, educational context of development, and community engagement. Dr. Nicky, a community-engaged research scholar, has collaborated with various community organizations and educational institutions across multiple states such as Michigan, Maryland, North Carolina, Washington, DC, and New York. She is dedicated to enhancing the well-being of racially and ethnically minoritized (REM) youth through her research and practical work. Dr. Nicky's research is rooted in African-centered psychology, intersectionality, and disability critical race theory, focusing on areas such as parents' ethnic-racial socialization practices, diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and accessibility (DEIBA) initiatives in the educational outcomes of youth, neurodevelopmental disabilities, and the impact of socio-cultural factors on REM youth's development.


Currently, Dr. Nicky is a postdoctoral fellow at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill. In this role, she contributes to various research projects centered around early childhood education and the optimal development of REM children. As a postdoc, Dr. Nicky has also been the recipient of grants from foundations, like the Brady Education Foundation and American Psychological Foundation, to continue her work focused on Black youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Prior to this, she gained experience as an intern at the pediatric unit of the University of Maryland Medical Center, a trainee in Georgetown University's Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program, and a trainer and consultant for the Color of Autism foundation.


An accomplished and award-winning change maker, Dr. Nicky is dedicated to promoting social change, liberation, and challenging oppressive systems that have adversely affected marginalized communities. Her exceptional work has garnered recognition, with appearances on numerous podcasts, like Listen Up, Listen In, and interviews from local magazines, like VoyageBaltimore. Dr. Nicky is frequently invited by many organizations and institutions to share her expertise as a guest speaker, shedding light on her academic and community-focused endeavors. Several factors shape Dr. Nicky's work, including the profound significance of her name, which translates to "Victory of the People." Additionally, she draws inspiration from powerful quotes by Toni Morrison and Fannie Lou Hamer, emphasizing the importance of freedom and collective liberation. Lastly, Dr. Nicky's Jamaican heritage and Ghanaian ancestry serve as constant reminders of her proud and courageous lineage.


Dr. Nicky, apart from her professional commitments, is passionate about traveling, exploring new places and reading new books. She has been honing her skills as a spoken-word artist for the past 9 years and has had the privilege of performing for celebrities, such as Meagan Good, Jasmine Mans, Jasmine Guy, and Kimberly Elise. Additionally, she takes immense pride in being an auntie and a God mother to seven incredible little ones, while also nurturing her green thumb as a plant mom. Dr. Nicky's literary accomplishments include the authorship and co-authorship of four books, with her most recent works being "Our Doctoral Journey: A Collection of Black Women's Experiences" and an Amazon bestseller, "A Black Woman's Guide to Earning a PhD."

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, 2020
Master of Arts in Applied Developmental Psychology


University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 2022
Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Developmental Psychology
 Specializations in Child Development, Community Engagement, and Educational Contexts of Development


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,
Dr. Nicky

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