Hello, after a year recovering from completing my Ph.D., I decided to come back to and update this blog on a whole new site. I had started it before I finished my Ph.D. and it became overwhelming trying to finish a dissertation as a single mama who navigated her way through academia from being a community college student who was kicked out of school (academic probation and dismissal) to become part of the .02% of Chicana/os in this country who attain a Ph.D. every year. I didn’t keep posting consistently under the pressure I had to finish my degree and to finish it fast (having no funding for school is real). Getting to the point of passing the finish line was no grand celebration like I had hoped, but I learned to take time and try to celebrate myself. I had heard from many friends it would feel anti-climatic which to an extent it was. I defended my Ph.D. in August, moved back to Southern CA a week later and then had to edit and file while facing unstable housing, having my son with me 24/7 and looking for work (which was no easy task considering I had lived away from Southern CA for ten years). I had moved out of home at age 18 and accomplished what I did thanks in large part to support from people I met along my journey, those who would become my chosen family.
When I filed I cried. I was alone with my son and rushing to get it in before the deadline that same day. Then when I saw it go through and took the Survey of Earned Doctorates, the same survey I saw statistics from when I was a transfer student that told me that we were only .02% of Ph.D.’s earned in this country and I saw the numbers of how I was not supposed to be here. As a community college student the numbers told me I would never even make it out of community college. I paused and I said to myself-I did it. I did it. I am the impossible and like the first line of my dissertation said “I am here”. This journey was never just for me, but initially to defy those numbers that tell so many of us, one-I wasn’t supposed to be here and two-We can’t complete these degrees. I am not going to lie and say it is easy, maybe for some it is and they have support and that’s great, but for myself which this blog speaks from my own experience and for many of my friends who are also WOCIA it is isolating and challenging in multiple ways-personally, emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
From this blog, I hope you learn from my experiences navigating higher educational institutions that were not meant for us to be in to begin with and I hope you can take away tools and resources you may need to navigate your own academic pathway whatever that may be. Above all I hope you can pursue your dreams and stay true to them no matter if you are on path to pursue a Ph.D. or are trying to get out of community college, or graduate high school.
My Ph.D. is in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies-Higher Education. My dissertation was titled “Testimonios of Transformation: The Experiences of Latina/o Community College Students Redefining Achievement and Success”. It is informed by my own experiences and the desire I had to center the voices of students who are often ignored in higher education. I looked at how to celebrate the journey at all points.
To break down the disconnect between academic and personal and how we cannot and should not leave who we are outside the gates of the ivory tower. We are whole. I look at celebrating right now wherever you find yourself. For many students an achievement does look like graduating high school since in many districts there is still a 50 percent push out rate for Chicana/os and Latina/os. For many students an achievement looks like getting a C in a class you failed twice previously. For many students an achievement is continuing school despite the challenging and overwhelming life hardships you are dealing with at the same time and showing up and declaring I am here is more than enough. You are enough. I am here. You are here. We are here.
I look forward to connecting with you.
(Updated: March 18, 2017)
Photo: Rah Azul