Aretina is a Human Geographer whose love of all things Atlanta has brought her back to the city and Lab Atlanta. In 2004, she left the city to pursue graduate studies and has spent a majority of her career researching, writing and teaching about Atlanta. After spending some years in higher education, she was drawn to the program because of its commitment to civic engagement with the city. As a former urban planner, she is also fascinated by the possibility of introducing students to participatory action research within diverse communities across the city.
Before joining Lab Atlanta, Aretina taught African American Studies and Geography at various universities in Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Kentucky. As a teacher, she encourages student-centered learning initiatives. She views her classroom as a depository of knowledge where students develop critical thinking skills and apply those skills to real-world situations. Through Lab Atlanta, she plans to introduce students to the history, culture, and social geography of Atlanta. It is her belief that these experiences will help these young adults become productive, involved citizens.
Aretina earned a Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in Sociology from Kentucky State University. After living in Atlanta for a few years, and observing the economic, political, and social changes in the city, she decided to pursue a Masters of Arts in Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Delaware. Upon earning her degree, she taught at-risk youth in North Carolina, an experience that had a profound impact on her. Her desire to introduce students to the world beyond standard textbooks motivated an approach that she developed and honed further in Delaware. After teaching for one year, she enrolled in the University of Kentucky to pursue a Ph.D. program in Geography. She is currently a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Kentucky and holds a Certificate in Gender and Women's Studies.