Saturday, October 20, 2012

What "Latina/o Pathway to the Ph.D: Abriendo Caminos" Has done for Me

One of my wonderful mentors, Dra. Janett Castellanos, along with Alberta Gloria and Mark Kamikura edited the Latina/o Pathway to the Ph.D: Abriendo Caminos (2006). This book talks about the following topics:
  • The absence of Latina/os in doctoral programs around the country, due largely in part that the under-education of Latina/o youth begins early.   
    • By 12th grade half will stop or be pushed out of high school, and only 7% percent will complete a college degree; it is not surprising so few enter graduate studies.
    • When Latina/o students do enter higher education, few attend those colleges or universities that are gateways to graduate degrees.   
    • Regardless of the type of higher education institution they attend, Latinas/os often encounter social and academic isolation, unaffordable costs, and lack of support.
  • The book proposes educational and administrative strategies to open up the pipeline, and institutional practices to ensure access, support, models and training for Latinas/os aspiring a Ph.D. 
  • By reviewing the pipeline from K-13 (university), this book provides the needed data and insights to effect change for policy makers, administrators, faculty, and staff; and material for reflection for aspiring Latina/o Ph.D.s on the paths they have taken and the road ahead. 
  • Later, the book addresses the unique experiences and challenges faced by Latina/os in doctoral programs, and offers guidance for students and those responsible for them.
  • Chapters cover issues of gender and generational differences, the role of culture in  graduate school, mentorship, pursuing research, and professional development opportunities for Latina/os. 
  • Lastly, the book closes with the voices of by Latina/o students who are currently pursuing or recently completed their doctoral degree.   
    • Personal narratives describe their cultural and educational journeys, providing insight into their personal and professional experiences. 
    • These stories bring alive the graduate experience for anyone interested in successful recruitment, retention, and graduation of Latina/o doctoral students and provide inspiration and guidance to those aspiring to the doctorate.  
I had bought this book a few years back while I was an undergraduate at UCI. At the time, I was just beginning to contemplate a Ph.D.-- maybe it was for me, maybe not.  The book was difficult for me to read though was because I was not exactly at point where I was ready to apply to a Ph.D. program.

The book is written for an academic audience and when I first bought it, I was not at that reading level (even though I was already in college!). It was just too difficult for me to read and focus my attention for even just five minutes , much less understanding the content.  

A couple of weeks ago, I finally finished this book! I learned so much and I am motivated to search for the tools and learn the skills I need to enter a doctoral program. I am ready now :)

What helped me the most was the advice from graduate students and learning about their personal and academic experiences. I also learned more about what the statistics say about Latina/os in education: the higher in education, the fewer Latina/os are represented.

From first-hand experience, I know that the under-education of Latina/s does begin early in life.  I was at a disadvantage since very early in my childhood, not only because I come from an immigrant, working class background but for a large number of other  reasons (that I will one day write about!)   

Had someone told my parents (when I was 8, recently arrived to L.A. from Mexico) that I would one day finish a Master's degree and pursue a Doctoral degree-- they would not believe it because they would not have understood it. However, without knowing it, my mom and dad DID prepare me to fight for what I want in life. Without knowing it , they DID prepare me to pursue a Ph.D. They taught me to work hard, perseverance, persistence, tenacity and to be resilient during difficult times (tears are now filling up my eyes). 

My parents struggles were not in vain. They've come this far; I've come this far.  I am still here and I am still struggling to climb the academic ladder in efforts to represent my parents, my family and my community.

In spite of what the statistics say about Latina/os in education and despite the odds being against me I am going to reach my dreams of earning a Ph.D.  I feel that I am just beginning to ask myself some serious questions and discovering the new, improved Bea who is already to embark on this life-long journey. 



I came accross this article and I just wanted to share it:

Latinas blaze path to doctoral degrees

By Elaine Ayala, Saturday, May 12, 2012 
METRO: Patricia Portales,  Margaret Cantu-Sanchez, and Candace de Leon -Zepeda are receiving their doctorate degrees in English from UTSA this weekend.  While Latinos make up 15 percent of the U.S. population, they account for only 3.6 percent of the doctoral degrees awarded in the United States and can be counted in the low thousands.   Helen L. Montoya/San Antonio Express-News Photo: HELEN L. MONTOYA, SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS / ©2012 HELEN MONTOYA PHOTOGRAPHY

No comments:

Post a Comment