ELP alumni, Jeffrey Burt was recently appointed Superintendent of the Colchester Public Schools as noted in the Norwich Bulletin.
San Fransisco Chronicle (Research by EDLR’s Joshua Hyman impacts policy in California)
Congratulations to Julia Anderson (‘18) and Lisa Famularo ('18) who successfully won first place in the American College Personnel Association’s (ACPA) 2018 Winter Case Study Competition for graduate students. The competition, which was was sponsored by the ACPA’s Graduate Student and New Professional Community of Practice, brought graduate students from programs across the nation to compete against one another. Students assumed responsibilities as acting members in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to create an 8-10 minute video which outlined an action plan to address the concerns of a specific transgender student. Through this lens, participants grappled with the treatment transgender students face on campuses nationwide in the current political climate. We caught up with current HESA students Julia and Lisa to talk a little more about the competition.
The challenge for this competition focused on building an inclusive higher education environment (specifically for trans students). Can you talk about why inclusivity in higher education is so important, and how you’re learning to be inclusive in your practice?
JA: This case study centered on a trans student who was concerned about her career goals unravelling, and she was also reporting that she was being misgendered by professors on campus. As someone who has worked with students facing similar situations, I am so thankful to work on a campus with a designated resource for LGBTQ+ students. Not all campuses are designed this way, so all student affairs practitioners must be prepared to support all students they encounter. This is a commitment that we must make anew each day – I work to re-commit myself to inclusivity by consistently considering intersections of identity within the LGBTQ+ community.
LF: The years a student spends in college can sometimes be some of the most influential years of their life. Because the primary reason students pursue higher education is typically to learn, it is important for higher education professionals to create and maintain spaces where every student feels comfortable enough to learn; there is nothing more distracting than feeling alienated, unwanted, or uncomfortable. One of the founding values of the field of student affairs is to tend to the whole student, so it is vital that student affairs professionals take the whole student into account when planning programs, events, and services in order to be inclusive and equity-minded. As a young student affairs professional about to fully enter the field, I believe that one of the most powerful equity-minded practices I have learned is challenging the underlying assumptions for each decision that is being made in order to avoid perpetuating assumptions that are biased, inequitable, or wholly incorrect. I believe this practice can and will little-by-little identify and eradicate some of the problematic assumptions and resulting decisions that persist in higher education today.
How did your UConn HESA experience help you with this challenge?
LF: My UConn HESA experience both directly and indirectly gave me the knowledge and skills I needed to be successful in this competition. When putting together our plan to address the issues presented in the case, Julia and I relied on information about student development
theory we learned in our classes, programming/campaign ideas that have proven successful in our assistantships, and the connections we have made with various offices on UConn's campus throughout our time in the HESA Program. In the end, we were successfully able to develop a plan to follow up with a student in crisis, put on support and educational programming, and establish beneficial campus partnerships to work towards a more inclusive campus climate.
JA: I believe that I was equipped to respond to students in crisis by my assistantship in the Rainbow Center. There, I work with students who are encountering difficulties related to their gender identity every day, and we work together to find and enact solutions.
What does this award mean for you and your career goals?
JA: This award was based on our recommendations for a case study about a transgender student who was experiencing difficulties in her personal, professional, and academic life. I am seeking positions in LGBTQ+ services, and my assistantship is in the Rainbow Center, so this award was an affirmation of the work I do each day.
LF: I am proud of achieving first place in this case study competition sponsored by a national organization because it shows that the knowledge and experience I have gained in the UConn HESA Program truly does make me stand out from other graduate students in the field. I plan to pursue a career as either a career counselor or career coach for college students, and in order to do so successfully, I need to be able to work effectively with students from a variety of backgrounds. This case, especially since it was focused on supporting a student with a marginalized identity, was putting my abilities in this regard to the test, and winning first place was an encouraging indication that I am headed in the right direction.
Pauline Batista is a first year doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership and Education Policy program in the Department of Educational Leadership. Her current work goes beyond country borders while challenging the traditional approach to research, as she incorporates film directed by student responses into her final product.
Batista’s research focuses on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)'s power over Educational Policy & Curriculum in Latin American (Traditional) Communities that have obtained UNESCO's Heritage Site titles. The methodology for this data collection draws from yPAR (Youth Participatory Research) and other participatory research methodologies, in which the objective is to center students as co-researchers during the data collection process. In this way she is empowering students in this community to speak out about their educational experiences and capture the attention of policymakers through film and digital media.
Batista has recently returned from a self-funded, pre-research trip in Brazil where she established connections and gathered information for the basis of her research. She will be returning to South America this summer to design a Participatory Video Initiative at previously selected schools, with the help of El Instituto’s Predoctoral Fellowship and the Tinker Fellowship. This Participatory Video initiative will entail a two week-long filmmaking workshop in which student-learners will be offered basic film making lessons, discuss what they believe are relevant issues for their communities by engaging in various activities, and gain experience by documenting key concepts, directly from the field. Rooted in Paulo Freire’s participatory action framework, the goal of this initiative is to capture the attention of local policymakers by showcasing the students’ ideas and critiques of their schoolwork under UNESCO’s influence, using short films.
This trip will include schools in Cartagena, Colombia and Paraty, Brazil where Batista is originally from. Batista is humbled and motivated by the opportunity for her work to impact her own community as she explains,
“It is rather different when you go back to your community as a scholar with a purpose. I had to be very careful and very open to hear from the community, because I believe that this is part of my duty as I was given the privilege of being educated.”
During her initial trip this past winter, Batista met with students who, in her words, "run schools." These students had a mature understanding of the oppression the education system possesses and how the system was not designed for them. This perspective fostered incredible conversations with the students’ ideas surrounding what their education should look like. “I have been learning that schooling demands are changing, but oppression remains, therefore as educators our work must serve as a medium of expression for these communities,” explains Batista on her takeaways thus far from this unique research endeavor.
Batista's passion was ignited during her studies at the University of Connecticut’s El Instituto where she achieved an M.A. in International Studies (Latino & Latin American Studies). The theoretical body of work that she was exposed to during her studies motivated her to become an educational advocate for her own community as well as others in South America. For this reason, she decided to focus her research on communities with Educational Policies that are not necessarily reflective of the communities' desires and needs as she entered the Learning, Leadership and Educational Policy Program at the University of Connecticut.
Batista currently studies under Dr. Erica Fernández and Dr. Kimberly LeChasseur serves as her Graduate Assistantship manager. She thanks EDLR’s incredible faculty for introducing her to new ideas and perspectives, which have broadened her perception of the world and how the educational model of the U.S. has been influencing Latin American communities. The knowledge she is continuously building in her work with EDLR mentors drives Batista, and she is honored to share that with the communities she is working in.
Batista plans on traveling to Brazil on July 17, 2018 and to Colombia on August 1, 2018 to host the Participatory Video Initiatives for students. The Department of Educational Leadership looks forward to watching Batista’s research develop further and for the premier of the films on Vimeo when the project is complete. This is only the beginning of Batista’s journey and she hopes to expand her research efforts so that it is applicable and relevant to communities across South America.
Student, Jenna Stone, and staff member, Patricia Bellamy, were recently awarded for their excellence in Public Engagement.
Download Awardee Profiles
Editor’s Note: The following was originally published on the UConn Innovation Portal and then again on the Neag School of Education’s website.
Joseph Cooper, an assistant professor of sport management and educational leadership in UConn’s Neag School of Education, is a co-investigator with Drew Brown, assistant Africana studies professor at the University of Delaware, on a grant from the American Athletic Conference to study the topic of whether and how white coaches are fulfilling the cultural needs of black college athletes.
Nine out of the 12 universities in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) have white football coaches, but many of the athletes on these teams are black, and the quality of the relationship between black college athletes and white coaches often impacts athletes’ developmental experiences in college and post-college, according to the researchers.
The quality of the relationship between black college athletes and white coaches often impacts athletes’ developmental experiences in college and post-college, according to the researchers.
Cooper and Brown will conduct interviews and administer surveys to college athletes from three different AAC schools to better understand if black college athletes feel their relationship with their white coaches fulfill their cultural needs.
The study will apply co-cultural communication theory, which studies how nondominant groups in society create alternative forms of communication to articulate their experiences. In addition, this study will incorporate critical race theory, which scrutinizes existing societal power structures that marginalize people of color and is germane to the study of the dynamic between white coaches and black college athletes. Thus, this study will explore the role race, culture, and communication styles play in the relationship between “in group” and “out group” members across the lines of race and sport role involvement.
After completing this study, Cooper and Brown will generate suggestions for the direction of future research in this area to improve these critical relationships.
Cooper received his Ph.D. in kinesiology and sport management and policy from the University of Georgia. His areas of interest are sport management, gender and race in sports, racism and other forms of oppression, higher education and qualitative research.
Access the original post on the UConn Innovation portal.
EDLR’s Sarah Woulfin comments on class size reduction in California for a piece published by The 74 Million.
UConn Daily Digest. (Preston Green was elected to represent the Neag School of Education in the University Senate)
UConn Soapbox. (HESA’s Denée Jackson named a recipient of the 2018 Neag School of Education Alumni Board Scholarship)