Dr. Ryan Evely Gildersleeve exemplifies Inclusive Excellence through his scholarly work, investigating the social and political contexts of educational opportunity for historically marginalized communities. Specifically, his research focuses on college access and success, higher education policy and critical qualitative inquiry. Dr. Gildersleeve is an Associate Professor and the Program Coordinator in the Higher Education (HED) Program. He is an alumnus of Occidental College, and after, received his M.A. in Higher Education and Organizational Change and Ph.D. in Education from UCLA.
Currently, Dr. Gildersleeve is embarking on research that explores Latino graduation ceremonies. On a previous project, Los Estudiantes Migrantes y Educación (LEME), Gildersleeve worked with 12 migrant youth and their families, in California, over an eight year period. During this time all but two of the youth graduated from college and invited him back to attend their graduations. Of those 10 students, nine participated in Latino graduation ceremonies, preferring Gildersleeve to attend the Latino specific ceremony over the institutional commencement ceremony. His notion of the graduation ceremony was reimagined. Gildersleeve explained, “I noticed they were somewhat different than the institutional commencement ceremonies that I had become accustomed to; there was something really interesting in how the Latino ceremonies focused on students and families.” This is where his focus on Latino graduation ceremonies began, “One of these students from LEME was on a graduation committee, and he invited me to be the keynote speaker. That was really the beginning of the project for me.”
“I noticed they were somewhat different than the institutional commencement ceremonies that I had become accustomed to; there was something really interesting in how the Latino ceremonies focused on students and families.”
For Dr. Gildersleeve, part of why it’s important to examine Latino graduation ceremonies is that “ceremonies produce and reflect changing power structures in the purposes and values of higher education. Particularly, as we see the demographics of the United States changing rapidly, and an ascendancy of a stronger Latino middle class.” Morgridge HED students Darsella Vigil and Ben Clark are aiding Gildersleeve throughout the project. As Gildersleeve’s research gets underway, he will be visiting with student organizers of Latino graduation ceremonies and attending a number of these ceremonies throughout the spring of 2015. We look forward to the findings of his research and his continued dedication to inclusive excellence!