University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Contact Us:

Cheryl Ajirotutu
Associate Professor
Dept. of Anthropology &
Associate Director
Cultures & Communities Prog.
Phone: 414-229-2298/
Fax: 414-229-5848
Please place "New Orleans" in Subject Box

Monique Hassman
Project Assistant
Phone: 414-229-1159

Community Scholar Valeria Schexnayder


Lower 9th Ward resident and community activist, Valeria Schexnayder, has been the UWM in New Orleans Program’s Community Scholar since 2009.  As a Community Scholar, Ms. Schexnayder is instrumental in connecting UWM professors and students with New Orleans residents and community organizations.

Being a pivotal member of the UWM instructional staff team, Ms. Schexnayder provides guidance to the ongoing developments of the UWM in New Orleans Program, as well as facilitating and coordinating a variety of learning opportunities, including on site tours of her neighborhood and organizing interviews with local residents to collect oral narratives documenting stories and experiences of disaster to resiliency.

Besides educating UWM students on the socio-cultural, political, and environmental history of New Orleans and the Lower 9th Ward, Ms. Schexnayder instructs other audiences by presenting at academic conferences alongside engaged professors and students, including the 2009 Imaging America conference in Seattle and the 2010 Society for Applied Anthropology conference held in Merida, Mexico. She has also written about her own experiences with Hurricane Katrina, which was featured in:

United Steelworkers USW@work publication: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3

Times-Picayune: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4

NY DailyNews

With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in US Today:

and Day Life:


New York Times Student Journalism Institute:

American Anthropologist Journal:

Vimeo video:

Spike Lee’s If God Is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise: