Amplified Voices, Intersecting Identities: Volume 1

First-Gen PhDs Navigating Institutional Power


Volume Editors: and
The contributors to Amplified Voices, Intersecting Identities: First-Gen PhDs Navigating Institutional Power overcame deeply unequal educational systems to become the first in their families to finish college. Now, they are among the 3% of first-generation undergraduate students to go on to graduate school, in spite of structural barriers that worked against them.

These scholars write of socialization to the professoriate through the complex lens of intersectional identities of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and social class.

These first-generation graduate students have crafted critical narratives of the structural obstacles within higher education that stand in the way of brilliant scholars who are poor and working-class, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, immigrant, queer, white, and women. They write of agency in creating defiant networks of support, of sustaining connections to family and communities, of their activism and advocacy on campus. They refuse to perpetuate the myths of meritocracy that reproduce the inequalities of higher education. In response to research literature and to campus programming that frames their identities around “need”, they write instead of agentive and politicized intersectional identities as first-generation graduate students, committed to institutional change through their research, teaching, and service.

Contributors are: Lamesha C. Brown, LaToya Brown, Altheria Caldera, Araceli Calderón, Marisa V. Cervantes, Joy Cobb, Raven K. Cokley, Francine R. Coston, Angela Gay, Josué R. López, Rebecca Morgan, Gloria A. Negrete-Lopez, Lisa S. Palacios, Takeshia Pierre, Alejandra I. Ramírez, Matt Reid, Ebony Russ, Jaye Sablan, Travis Smith, Phitsamay S. Uy, Jane A. Van Galen, Jason K. Wallace and Lin Wu.

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Jane A. Van Galen, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Education at the University of Washington Bothell. She has authored multiple articles and co-edited two books on class, mobility, and education. She leads the First in Our Families digital storytelling project.

Jaye Sablan, MA, is Assistant Director of Graduate Student Affairs in The Graduate School at the University of Washington and leads the First-Gen Graduate Student Initiative. She is Native Chamorro, genderqueer, and first in family to go to college.
List of Figures
Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Amplified Voices, Intersecting Identities: First-Gen PhDs Navigating Institutional Power
Jaye Sablan and Jane Van Galen

1 Memories and Migration in Misanthropic Times
Josué López
2 Scenes from the Life of a Burgeoning Mother-Scholar
Becky Morgan
3 A Doctoral Odyssey: Navigating Family, Culture, and Community in a Foreign Land
Travis C. Smith
4 Confessions of a Single Mother in Academia
Araceli Calderón
5 “I Wish Someone Had Told Me It Was Going to Be Like This”: Lessons Learned as a PhD Student
Marisa V. Cervantes
6 Black and in Grad School: Demystifying the Intersections of Race and Gender in Higher Education
LaToya W. Brown
7 Locating Struggles with Sociology and Surviving with Mindfulness
Matt Reid
8 From the Mekong and Delaware River to the Merrimack River: The Intentional Road to the Doctorate
Phitsamay Sychitkokhong Uy and Francine Rudd Coston
9 Enduring: The Misadventures of Navigating a PWI as the Mythical Being Named a Strong Black Woman
Takeshia Pierre
10 Smile Now, Cry Later: Navigating Structures of Inequality in Academia through Resistance, Resilience, and Humor in Our Women of Color Writing Group
Gloria Negrete-Lopez, Lisa S. Palacios and Alejandra I. Ramírez
11 A One-Sided Conversation with Academia
Joy Cobb
12 Just What Is a First-Generation Chinese Male Immigrant and College Student Doing in a Nice Field Like Teacher Education?
Lin Wu
13 Strangers Can Make No Noise
Altheria Caldera
14 A Black Girl’s Magic Is Often Her Blues
Angela Gay
15 A Particularly Ferocious Fire within Me
Ebony N. Russ
16 This Is Soul Work – A Portrait of Three Black First-Gen Docs
Jason K. Wallace, Raven K. Cokley and Lamesha C. Brown

Author Index
Subject Index
Academic libraries, graduate students across disciplines, Student Affairs professionals, sociologists of education, mentors and advisors of graduate students, higher education faculty and staff working toward diversity and social justice.
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