Discussions of first-generation students (FGS s) in academic spaces can easily fall into talks of deficits. Indeed, FGS s may lack the benefit of a parent or guardian who can act as a knowledgeable guide to and through post-secondary contexts. However, FGS s may also draw upon unique personal assets and characteristics to succeed academically. One crucial element for success that I have identified in my own first-generation academic journey is the importance of a growth mindset amidst a lack of capital (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977), namely, the (academic) cultural knowledge possessed by continuing-generation students. In this autoethnography, I chronologically explore my post-secondary journey as a first-generation doctoral student, identifying points in time in which I lacked capital but employed the asset of a growth mindset to fill in the gap. The data reveal how a growth mindset developed during the undergraduate and early-graduate years due to my first-generation status, and how this new outlook resulted in a meandering yet fulfilling doctoral journey.
The doctoral journey is not for the faint of heart. When you are in the middle of the journey and recognize that you are “the faint of heart,” do you push forward, or do you withdraw for some needed self-care? Yielding to these feelings could mean giving up our educational progress as well as personal academic dreams and career milestones. Similarly, blindly plowing forward could potentially result in physical, mental, and emotional health issues. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 9:11 that “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.” You quickly realize the doctoral journey is a slow race riddled with challenges and victories. Maintaining our emotional, mental, and spiritual health was critical to thriving in the process. This duoethnographic inquiry recounts the personal narrative of two Black female doctoral students as we initially navigated the doctoral journey independently and later developed a flourishing friendship/support system seemingly by chance. The emotional, mental, and spiritual support that we found in each other seemed to be by divine appointment.
In the United States, doctoral education suffers a long-standing issue of low completion rates (Smallwood, 2004a). Within doctoral education, the dissertation requirement can be a huge stumbling block, leaving many students stuck in the dissertation writing stage. In this chapter, we employ duoethnography as a methodology to reflect on our experiences as dissertation writers and writing tutors, and highlight points of convergence between these two roles. To do this, we first explain our theoretical framework, which includes Engeström’s (1999) perspectives on activity theory and Graham’s (2018a, 2018b) writer(s)-within-community model of writing. We then adopt individual voices to describe and analyze two major themes that came out of our reflection: 1) identity tensions in our doctoral journey in general; and 2) tensions in our dissertation writing journey in particular. We conclude our chapter with final thoughts on lessons learned from engaging with these tensions, positing that doctoral students who take advantage of writing center services as one dimension of a support network are well-equipped to navigate the dissertation writing process and the transition from student to emergent scholar.
The purpose of this duoethnography was to explore disconnections that arise in relationships among international peers in online doctoral programs. Using duoethnography, we explored the messy aspects of online interpersonal relationships based on the experiences of two doctoral students in online U.S. programs who were also observers of international astronaut training. To collect data, we used recollections, authors’ journal entries, and text-based artifacts of peer communication. Publicly available astronaut diaries, observations, and other relevant publications constituted materials for comparing experiences. We drew parallels between behavioral markers identified for the behavioral training of space explorers and intercultural communication strategies employed by international students in online programs. RCT formed the theoretical foundation for this study. Findings showed unexpected similarities between some of the conditions experienced by space explorers and online doctoral students. The contribution of this study is a candid evaluation of the more problematic aspects of interpersonal relationships that are an integral part of authentic connections. We provide recommendations for building online relationships across cultural and geographical differences based on astronaut competencies.
Guided by Pinar’s (1994) conception of currere, Foucault’s (1972) discursive approach, and the methodology of duoethnography as described by Norris et al. (2012), we created a transformative dialogical conversation with the aid of researcher-found photographs. The data analysis of the photo-elicitation interview transcript comprised two found poems (Butler-Kisber, 2002). This analysis resulted in a new conceptual space and understanding of the other in regards to how the past informs the present and future as married parents. Guiding this research was the central question: How does a married couple with a daughter negotiate their shared and different perspectives on family and child-rearing in relation to the past, present, and future? Findings shed light on how the academic gaze helped to further our personal discussions, due in part to social performance—but that ultimately moved us closer to understanding the perspective of the other better in relation to hope, death, normative behaviors, adventure, and family.
In this autoethnography, I explore the sociocultural and systemic forces influencing the post-secondary educational trajectories of urban Appalachian students by reflecting upon my own personal experience as a first-generation urban Appalachian college graduate through the lens of secondary scholarship investigating educational outcomes in the Appalachian community. In this chapter, I use this scholarship as a catalyst to explore my liminal identity—I live between two worlds, the world of my rural Appalachian ancestors and the world of the urban academic who has had a successful career in secondary education. I conclude this autoethnographic exploration by addressing the understudied impact of socioeconomic educational segregation (SES) on US public school students, focusing particularly on the socioeconomic composition (SEC) of the schools I attended. By drawing connections between SEC, the complicated intersectionalities at play in my life, and my own academic successes, I argue that while my personal educational and career decisions were in some ways limited by Appalachian cultural mores, they simultaneously were expanded by the urban environment I grew up in and the opportunities I had to attend socioeconomically diverse elementary and secondary school programs.