Peculiar Awa

Degree: Ph.D. in International Crime and Justice

College/School: Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs

As a young woman growing up in Nigeria, Peculiar Awa witnessed frequent gender discrimination and even gender violence.  She lost friends to the terrorism and tribal clashes that plagued the West African nation. She learned to flee when danger was approaching. 

In spite of many challenges, Peculiar pursued her education, graduated law school and became a practicing attorney. In 2016, a visit to a hospital to see a sick friend would change her life – and her career path. She met women and girls suffering serious disabilities and incontinence brought on by early childbirth. She began to see child marriage as a major public health concern that warranted further study.

Peculiar followed her passion to a doctoral program in international crime and justice at Florida International University. She began investigating how women and girls become involved in terrorism through kidnapping and forced marriage. To complete her dissertation she returned to Nigeria to interview kidnapping victims of the terrorist group Boko Haram. Because of the political climate between the U.S. and Nigeria, Peculiar worried she might not be able to return to the U.S. She was ready with letters from her professors documenting the reason for her visit.

Fortunately, she was able to return and complete her dissertation. Next year, she will begin a position as assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Central Missouri. She hopes to continue her work to help women and children in Nigeria.

By Amy Ellis
Senior Communications Manager
Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs