Diana Estrada is passionate about higher education. So much so, that she has spent the last six years pursuing both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Denver. When she walks across the stage this time, she will be graduating with a masters in Higher Education and plans to use her degree to improve financial aid opportunities and reduce the likelihood of college debt for other students.

Morgridge College of Education second year Higher Education PhD student Liliana Diaz-Solodukhin has been awarded the Newman Civic Fellowship from Campus Compact, a national coalition of 1,000+ colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. The fellowship, named for Campus Compact founder Frank Newman, recognizes and supports community-committed students who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. The fellowship is a one-year experience for students in which fellows have access to in-person and virtual learning opportunities, networking events, and mentoring. Diaz-Solodukhin was nominated by University of Denver Chancellor, Rebecca Chopp.

According to Dr. Cecilia Orphan, professor of Higher Education at Morgridge, this award is one of the highest honors a student can receive in the civic engagement movement.

“It has been those few but critical individuals that helped me achieve my educational and professional goals,” said Diaz-Solodukhin.  “Today, I am privileged with the skillset necessary to continue on this journey and recognize the individuals who took time to mentor and guide me.”

Diaz-Solodukhin has experiential expertise about the nexus between college access and civic engagement as an activist, researcher, and student. For Diaz-Solodukhin, a doctorate is an expanded platform to create social change. She is a collaborative leader who draws on her network of policymakers, community, nonprofit and postsecondary leaders to effect change. In educating herself about civic engagement scholarship, Diaz-Solodukhin was dismayed to discover that much of the research about Latinx individuals paints a deficit-based picture about these communities that fails to capture the civic contributions they make that does not match her own experience of her communities. As a result, Diaz-Solodukhin is planning to examine the civic behaviors of Latinx communities in her dissertation so that she can educate the civic engagement field about the important contributions of these individuals. She is excited to continue this work as a way to say thank you to those who made her goals a reality.

Higher Education Ph.D. candidate Varaxy Yi Borromeo has been recognized as the Asian Pacific American Network’s Outstanding Graduate Student of 2017. The award is presented by the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Coalition for Multicultural Affairs (CMA). The CMA works to promote diversity within ACPA and addresses the changing cultural dynamics within higher education.

Yi joined the the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) community in 2013 and has had an “overwhelmingly positive experience.” She attributes her academic success to strong faculty support, opportunities to contribute to impactful projects, and a close-knit doctoral cohort. Yi is passionate about inclusive excellence, equity, inclusion, diversity, culturally engaging campus environments, and critical race theory, all of which are topics she has infused into coursework, research, and impact projects. Her research connects her to programs, organizations, and individuals whose experiences help to inform transformations in campus environments. One such organization is the Culturally Engaging Campus Environments (CECE) Project, where she currently serves as a Research Associate.

In addition to her studies, Yi participated in and led a number of research projects that contributed to a greater impact in her community. Most notably, as a Graduate Fellow for the University of Denver’s (DU) Interdisciplinary Research Incubator for the Study of (In)Equality (IRISE), Yi developed the Roger Salters Writing Institute in partnership with Anthea Johnson Rooen, Director of Graduate Student Success at the Center for Multicultural Excellence, and with support from the Writing Center and English department faculty to create a writing program for doctoral students from historically underrepresented communities. According to Yi, the Institute creates a cohort-based learning community in a collaborative, supportive environment to not only provide tips and strategies for productive writing but to address the vulnerabilities inherent in the writing process and to combat feelings of isolation in students’ programs. She considers the project to be one of her most significant accomplishments at DU.

Yi is expected to complete her studies in the Fall of 2017. She is honored to receive the award, and credits her success to her research team and community at MCE, saying that “similar to many other doctoral students of color, I face daily feelings of inadequacy and anxiety about the relevance and quality of my work…this recognition tells me that I am seen, my contributions are important, and I must continue my work to ensure that academia is a more equitable and inclusive space.”

The Morgridge College of Education extends its heartfelt congratulations to Higher Education Ph.D. student Meseret Hailu, who received the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Award. Hailu will use the award to conduct a study examining gender inequality within science and technology in Ethiopia.

Prior to enrolling in the Ph.D. program, Hailu attended the University of Denver and Regis University for her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in biological and biomedical sciences. She has served as an affiliate faculty member at Regis University and as an Academic Fellow at College Track, and currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant to supplement her doctoral studies. Hailu’s research interests revolve around international education and gender equality in STEM fields, particularly for Black women.

Congratulations, Meseret!

We are excited to highlight Morgridge College of Education Higher Education PhD student Delma Ramos. Delma focuses on social justice in higher education and explores systems of access and opportunity for underserved populations that stem, in part, from her experience as a first generation student. Her inspiring scholarship has led to a variety of opportunities including a summer associate position at the American Council on Education Center for Policy, Research, and Strategy! Below Delma shares her professional experience and advice:

Current research

I have been involved in collaborative projects guided by both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Currently, I am participating in a study that explores the transition to college of low-income and first generation families and the systems institutions have in place to determine their involvement in their children’s college experience. Another project examines the academic trajectories of low-income, first generation women of color in racialized and sexualized academic settings.

Most recently I was invited to collaborate in two studies one which seeks to understand the role that low-income and families of color play in cultivating their children’s educational aspirations and ideologies, and one that involves the construction of a series of measures of Funds of Knowledge. I am also currently working with the Colorado Department of Higher Education on projects related to developmental education and performance metrics.  This summer, I look forward to joining the American Council on Education Center for Policy, Research, and Strategy in DC as a graduate summer associate exploring federal policies impacting higher education. Findings from at least two of the projects have been widely disseminated at forums including ASHE, NASPA, and AERA. Several publications that have emerged from this work are currently in the pipeline.

Collaborators

Most of the research inquiries I have participate(d) in are collaborations with various researchers.  In these settings, I play different roles as part of the research process from proposal development to finding dissemination and the creation of recommendations. These partnerships have taken place within the University of Denver, primarily with my academic advisor Dr. Judy Marquez Kiyama and with colleagues from outside organizations including the University of Missouri, the University of California-Los Angeles, Teachers College, the Denver Scholarship Foundation, RAND Corporation, and the Education Commission of the States.

Initial Inspiration

My research interests include access, retention, and graduation from higher education institutions, with an emphasis on underserved populations. Additionally, I focus on the assessment of programs with similar foci and on issues pertaining to educational quality and inclusive pedagogies in higher education, with a special interest in measure development. Philosophically, my research agenda is driven by my passionate commitment to social justice and my vision for a more inclusive and accessible higher education system. My research interests are further strengthened by my background as a first generation student and my exposure to scholars who study inequities in higher education as influenced by economic, social, and political contexts.

Biggest Challenge

As a woman of color, my biggest challenge has been to identify support systems that strengthen my ability to persist and succeed in my program at DU. My support network is composed of colleagues within and outside of DU as well as family and friends outside of Higher Ed.

Research Advice: Make Connections

I have found networking to be a very effective tool to access a wide array of research and other professional development opportunities.  Reach out to those people you would like to work with, you’ve got nothing to lose!

NOTE: This blog post is being featured from the official blog of the University of Denver’s Office of Graduate Studies.

Keelie Sorel, a master’s candidate in the Higher Education department (HED) at the Morgridge College of Education, has been selected as one of two Distinguished Graduate Community Leaders for December 2015. The masters in HED empowers students to explore topics of access, equity, and inclusive excellence, and Keelie has developed a critical lens she uses to examine the effects of systemic inequity in education. She is committed to addressing these concerns through merging theory and practice.

At DU, Keelie serves as the program coordinator of the Social Justice Living and Learning Community, as a graduate assistant in the office of Student Outreach and Support and as an apartment fellow in Housing and Residential Education – and she loves it all. In each position, she has the opportunity to work with dedicated and passionate members of the DU community. Through her engagements, she works to support the holistic development of the students she works with while engaging with the larger community to support DU’s focus on inclusive excellence.

In that vein, she is eagerly planning a variety of events to support DU as we engage in equity work on our campus; she is working with the Colorado Women’s College to host a LunaFest film screening which is a series of short films directed and filmed by women about women’s issues, planning the fifth annual Social Justice Colloquium, which unites members of the community to engage in meaningful conversations that advocate for societal change, and will present about the need for interfaith cooperation at DU’s Diversity Summit this January.

She is incredibly grateful to be a part of the DU community and is honored to engage with peers, faculty, professional staff and students that are committed to making positive change in our communities. For more information about any upcoming events or to collaborate in the future, you can email her at keelie.sorel@du.edu.

DGCLA winners are selected through a peer-nomination process. To nominate a colleague, email du.gsgs@gmail.com with a 250-500 word statement describing why the nominee deserves to be an DGCLA winner.

The Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) held their 40th Annual Conference right here in the mile high city from November 5-7. We are excited to announce that 12 University of Denver faculty and students participated and shared their research on institutional change. These movers and shakers’ research covered a broad range of important issues that are sure to advance the conversation of inequality in Higher Education and stimulate collaboration among researchers and decision makers. We took some time this month to visit with these individuals and discover what their scholarship is all about.

Post Doctoral Fellow

Dian Squire

Dian Squire

Dian Squire, PhD Loyola University, Higher Education: Dian Squire is the postdoctoral fellow in the Interdisciplinary Research Incubator for the Study of (in)Equality. His research examines diversity, equity, and justice in higher education.  His current research focuses on the experiences of graduate students of color.

Presentation: 

  • Graduate Student Session: Conversations with Newly Minted PhD’s.  
Doctoral Students

Meseret Hailu

Meseret Hailu

Meseret Hailu, PhD student, Higher Education: Meseret’s research interests are grounded in comparative international education, with a special emphasis on gender issues in STEM programs in Ethiopian higher education. Methodologically, she aims to craft a mixed-methods research agenda.

Presentations: 

  • Examining the role of Girl Hub in Shaping College-­‐going Culture for Women in Ethiopia
  • Understanding Diaspora women’s Experiences in Ethiopian STEM Higher Education

Delma

Delma Ramos

Delma Ramos, PhD student, Higher Education: Delma’s research interests include access, retention, and graduation from higher education institutions, with an emphasis on underserved populations. Additionally, she focuses on the evaluation and assessment of programs with similar foci and on issues pertaining to educational quality in postsecondary education.

Presentations:

  • The Uphill Battle: An Analysis of Race and Gender Struggles in the Academic Pathways of Doctoral Women of Color
  • Limiting Levels of Involvement of Low-Income, First-Generation, Families of Color through Controlling Images
  •  Inequity in Workforce Outcomes of College-­educated Immigrants of Color: Human Capital Transferability and Job Mismatch

MSarubbi headshot

Molly Sarubbi

Molly Sarubbi, PhD student, Higher Education: Molly crafted a 3-day, embedded conference experience for local Indigenous practitioners and Tribal College Presidents in which they could have participated in various conference presentations, events, and community building sessions. In an effort to further celebrate the Indigenous cultures of expression, she also scheduled local spirit leaders to lead the group in opening and closing ceremonies. Local artists also were invited to showcase their cultural works.


Raquel Headshot

Raquel Wright-Mair


Raquel Wright-Mair, PhD student, Higher Education: 
Raquel’s research is grounded in social justice and focuses on issues of access and equity, as well as the identification of ways to create inclusive campus environments for underrepresented populations. Her research agenda includes looking at the experiences of students, faculty, and administrators of color on college campuses and examining structures, policies, and systems necessary for their growth, development, and success.


Bryan Hubain

Bryan Hubain

Bryan Hubain, PhD candidate, Higher Education: Bryan’s research is multifaceted and mutually informing. He focuses on the intersections of identities and how specific intersections of marginalized identities influence someone’s personal experiences and perceptions. His current dissertation research agenda focuses on a queer and intersectional analysis of the narratives of Black gay international students and racism in LGBTQ communities.

Presentation: 

  • Dialoguing the improvisation of risk: Critically addressing racial inequality and racial incidents in higher education 

Varaxy

Varaxy Yi-Borromeo

Varaxy Yi-Borromeo, PhD student, Higher Education: Varaxy’s research focuses on historically underrepresented and marginalized populations in higher education. Specifically, she is interested in Southeast Asian American college student success.  Varaxy is also interested in graduate student support, especially for graduate students of color.

Presentations: 

  • The Uphill Battle: An Analysis of Race and Gender Struggles in the Academic Pathways of Doctoral Women of Color
  • Understanding the Experiences of Faculty Engaging in Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Curriculum in the Classroom
  • The Impact of Culturally Engaging Campus Environments on Sense of
    Belonging among White Students and Students of Color
  • Navigating Two Worlds: Educational Resilience of Burmese and Bhutanese Refugee Youth
Master’s Students

Jeffrey Mariano

Jeffrey Mariano

Jeffrey Mariano, Master’s student, Higher Education : Jeff’s research uses the Culturally Engaging Campus Environments (CECE) model as a means to explore how faculty members across various disciplines (STEM, professional fields, arts and humanities, and social sciences) incorporate culturally relevant pedagogy and curriculum into their classrooms. Specifically, this study highlights the ways these faculty engage the cultural backgrounds and knowledge of their students and the barriers and challenges they face.

Presentations: 

  • Understanding the Experiences of Faculty Engaging in Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Curriculum in the Classroom
Faculty

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Dr. Nick Cutforth

Dr. Nick Cutforth, Research Methods and Statistics: Dr. Cutforth’s research and teaching interests include school health and physical activity environments, qualitative research, physical activity and youth development, university/community partnerships, and community-based research. His current research involves school-based intervention studies related to physical activity and healthy eating among K-12 students in the San Luis Valley in rural Colorado.

Presentations:

  • The Civic Engagement Movement: A Symposium and Participatory History
  • Exploring the Power and Potential of Community-Based Research to Address Educational Inequality

Ryan Gildersleeve

Dr. Ryan Everly Gildersleeve

Dr. Ryan Everly Gildersleeve, Higher Education: Dr. Gildersleeve’s research agenda critically investigates the social and political contexts of educational opportunity for historically marginalized communities. He pursues this agenda in three inter-related braided lines of inquiry: critical policy studies, cultural analyses of higher education institutions, and poststructural philosophy/critical qualitative inquiry. Cumulatively, he hopes to contribute new tools for the study of inequality and the role(s) of postsecondary education in affirming social opportunities for non-dominant youth.

Presentations

  • Ritual Culture and Latino Students in American Higher Education
  • Exploring Posthumanism in Higher Education: Methods, Contexts, and Implications

Judy Kiyama

Judy Marquez Kiyama

Dr. Judy Marquez Kiyama, Higher Education: Dr. Kiyama’s research examines the structures that shape educational opportunities for underserved groups through an asset-based lens to better understand the collective knowledge and resources drawn upon to confront, negotiate, and (re)shape such structures. Dr. Kiyama’s current projects focus on the high school to college transition experiences of first-generation, and low-income, and families of color and their role in serving as sources of cultural support for their college-aged students.

Presentations: 

  • Limiting Levels of Involvement of Low-­‐Income, First-­Generation, Families of Color through Controlling Images
  • Presidential Session: Reflections on Connecting Research and Practice in College Access and Success Programs
  • Presidential Session: Culturally Relevant Research in Higher Education
  • Exploring the Power and Potential of Community-Based Research to Address Educational Inequality

Frank Tuitt

Dr. Frank Tuitt

Dr. Frank Tuitt, Center for Multicultural Excellence: Dr. Tuitt’s research explores topics related to access and equity in higher education; teaching and learning in racially diverse college classrooms; and diversity and organizational transformation. Dr. Tuitt is a co-editor and contributing author of the books Race and Higher Education: Rethinking Pedagogy in Diverse College Classrooms, and Contesting the myth of a post-racial era: The continued significance of race in U.S. education.

Presentations: 

  • Dialoguing the improvisation of risk: Critically addressing racial inequality and racial incidents in higher education
  • The (un)intended consequences of campus racial climate on university faculty
  •  The Black Womanist Manifesto: Navigating Media Influences in Higher Education

NOTE: This blog post is being featured from the official blog of the University of Denver’s Office of Graduate Studies. View the original post here.

Intern: Ashley Bartlett, second-year master’s student in higher education

Employers: Arapahoe Community College: A two-year college in the greater Denver area  offering more than 100 degree and certificate programs.

Suitts Graduate and Alumni Career Center: Operated by the Daniels College of Business, this center offers opportunities for graduate students to explore career options, prepare for interviews, and advance professionally.

What She Did

Arapahoe Community College (ACC): I worked at ACC as an academic advising intern where I assisted with database management and academic advising for scholarship students in effort to increase retention and persistence of these students.

Graduate Intern at Suitts Graduate and Alumni Career Center: I provided career coaching for graduate and alumni students of the Daniels College of Business that included resume and cover letter assistance, job search strategies, and networking advice.

How her Internships Helped her Career

Due to my grad student schedule, I was actually able to accommodate both internships during the school year. My goal upon entering the Higher Education program at DU was to get a job in career services in the Denver area upon graduation, and I knew coming in that higher education in Colorado is a close-knit industry where everyone knows everyone. Keeping that inWordpress Quote (1)
mind, I was very intentional about seeking internships. I did informational interviews with directors at different types of institutions (community colleges, business schools, law schools, etc.) and discovered that certain types of institutions prefer you to have experience at an institution similar to theirs. That prompted me to seek out an internship at a community college so that I could diversify my resume. I also capitalized on my B.A. in business administration since so many business schools have their own career centers. Between each of these internships and my required fellowship, I was really able to take what I learned from the classroom into a real world setting. I also feel that my contributions in class were better informed due to my outside experience.

Advice She’d Give to DU Grad Students

Grad school provides you with the unique opportunity to be in a position where people want to help you and develop you. Get out there and meet the key players in your field early on, and make great relationships with them. The more fans you have, the more opportunities will come to you. Also, be open to new and relatable experiences you may have not considered before. Advocate for yourself, and find ways to make new opportunities.

Lastly, my taking advantage of multiple opportunities helped to substantially grow my network in a short amount of time. This networking certainly paid off. I had options in my career search, and have even been able to secure a position prior to graduation.

This blog is a part of the University of Denver Office of Graduate Studies blog series, True Stories. The purpose of the series is to share DU student internship experiences to help prepare students for their upcoming summer jobs/assistantships/internships. The last True Stories blog featured Ben Lampert, a  master’s student majoring in sport and performance psychology who interned at Rivermend Health Wellspring Camps.

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Sarah Blizzard

The 28th annual National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals (NAGAP) Conference was held in New Orleans on April 8 – 11. The conference’s purpose is to bring graduate education management (GEM) professionals together to share and gain insight on a range of topics including, admissions policies and processes, career and staff development, graduate student support and financial aid, legal and ethical issues, marketing and recruitment, and student services. The theme of this year’s conference was, GEM Defined, A New Kind of Rhythm.

Morgridge College of Education Admissions Counselor and Higher Education EdD student, Sarah Blizzard, presented at this year’s conference. Her presentation entitled, Identifying Inclusive Admissions Practices for Transgender & Gender Nonconforming Graduate Students, created dialogue around admissions practices for creating inclusive spaces for Trans* and gender nonconforming graduate students, specifically related to language. Sarah’s presentation is extremely timely as many institutions are having conversations around ways to better serve and be more inclusive of non-binary gender identities. As she discussed in her presentation, applications, forms, statements, and policies are most often what prospective students see when inquiring about grad school; “The language we use and the culture(s) we demonstrate can change whether or not someone applies to our institution.”

Importance of language

A slide from Sarah Blizzard’s NAGAP presentation

Language is important and impacts whether or not students feel welcome/safe in our campus environment. To further engage in this conversation or to learn more email Sarah at Sarah.Blizzard@du.edu.


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