Author: Ashley Robinson

Fall 2021 Alumni Welcome from Program Coordinator

(Photo courtesy of Kenny Nienhusser)

Dear HESA UConn Alumni,

Greetings from Storrs! I hope this newsletter finds you and your loved ones well as we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to engulf our lives. 

I thought to begin my inaugural newsletter as HESA Program Coordinator with a story I enjoy sharing with prospective and incoming students. While UConn is composed of about 40,000 members, the acronym “HESA” is widely recognized on our campuses. 

When I arrived at UConn, over three years ago I would reveal my affiliation with HESA with colleagues across our campus and they immediately recognized our program, and often they would share how they were connected to our Program (most often through current and/or past students who had assistantship and/or practicum in their offices). I share this experience because our community is a special place and you have contributed to that legacy—working at your assistantship, engaging in your practicum, connecting with and supporting the thousands of students who made their way to our offices, participating in campus activities, and countless other ways. That legacy is the foundation we use to continue to strengthen our program and develop HESA professionals to be the next generation of change agents on our college campuses and in our society.

Now, let me transition to some program updates. In true HESA fashion, there has been much going on in our vibrant community in recent months. This semester we greeted our first- and second-year cohorts to campus for our welcome events, which were held in person in late August. Our first-year cohort has a slightly adjusted program of study, including some revised titles of our course. You can view those modifications here

Recently, the HESA faculty decided to pursue a pilot admission process, which makes some slight adjustments to how we have admitted students in the past. While this pilot admissions process unfolds, we remain committed to support the learning, development and growth of HESA students as practitioners who are grounded in our field’s scholarship. In particular, we strongly believe that practical experiences in higher education and student affairs are vital to the learning and success of our students, and are committed to identifying and placing HESA students in graduate assistantships, practica, and other professional experiences relevant to our HESA practice. I encourage you read that information in this edition of HESA Happenings.

We are actively recruiting for our UConn HESA Class of 2024. Please encourage interested students to attend one of our upcoming information sessions scheduled for Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 5:30pm EDT and Tuesday, Nov 16, 2021, 8:30pm EST. More information about our program and admissions process, including how to sign up for an information session, can be found here

Last academic year the HESA faculty was successful in getting a new PhD concentration approved—Higher Education, Racial Justice, and Decolonization—in the department’s Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy Program. The title and focus of our concentration align with ACPA’s Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice and Decolonization. We are actively recruiting students for that new program; if you are interested or know of people who might be interested please encourage them to explore our program. More information about the new Higher Education, Racial Justice, and Decolonization PhD concentration can be found here. General inquiries about the new PhD concentration can be sent to Dr. Saran Stewart.

While the faculty have been busy with (re)envisioning our curriculum, programs, and processes, they continue to excel in our field and on our campus. Their work is truly inspirational and at the core of that work is disrupting persistent and systemic inequities in Higher Education while also making campuses more welcoming spaces, especially for minoritized students, including at UConn.

We are launching some new initiatives to further engage with you, our alumni. We want to know about all the great things happening in your worlds—good news, publications, promotions/new jobs, programs developed, and more. To let us know, please complete our HESA Insider. We plan to highlight some of these good news on our social media accounts, website, and/or future newsletters. 

Another way to get involved with our program is to consider hosting a practicum opportunity for a current student. We are currently collecting practicum opportunities for the spring 2022 term. Practica can be in-person or virtual, so if you are an alumni a far distance from Storrs, this is your opportunity to supervise and mentor a current UConn HESA student. To see more information about hosting a practicum opportunity and how to submit a potential site you can go here. If you have any inquiries about how to host a practicum opportunity, please contact Dr. Adam McCready.

Also, I encourage you to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We enjoy hearing about all the wonderful work you are doing, so do contact us via email and/or by tagging us on social media.

Wishing you a positive conclusion to 2021 and that 2022 brings you health, happiness, and more good news for you to share with the UConn HESA community!

Take care . . . cuídense!

Kenny Nienhusser, EdD (él, he, him, his)

Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, Higher Education and Student Affairs

Faculty Director, La Comunidad Intelectual

2021 HESA Pilot Admissions Process

After careful consideration, the HESA faculty has decided to engage in a pilot admissions process for up to two admissions cycles that we believe will make our admissions criteria and process more equitable. Our decision involved a careful examination of our past admissions data, trends we were seeing in our applications and cohorts, and peer and aspirant HESA programs’ admission processes. We want to share these important changes with our alumni, who are wonderful ambassadors of our program with prospective students. 

  • We will no longer require a Graduate Assistantship for admissions into the HESA Program. However, for students admitted into the HESA program, who would like to have a graduate assistantship, we will continue to work with our campus partners to secure and organize interview placements for available graduate assistantships. 
  • In an effort to be more equitable in our admission process, we will offer a virtual admitted students program in addition to our traditional in-person experience. 
  • Applicants will be admitted to the HESA program by the middle/end of January, prior to having the opportunity to interview for graduate assistantships. 
  • Finally, we are rebranding “HESA Interview Days Weekend” to another name, likely “HESA Admitted Students Weekend”: Because admitted students will not be required to participate in assistantship interviews during this event, we are considering a name that better reflects the nature of the experience and is more inclusive for attendees who elect to not participate in these interviews. 

We strongly believe that practical experiences in higher education and student affairs are vital to the learning and success of our students, and are committed to identifying and placing HESA students in graduate assistantships, practica, and other professional experiences relevant to our HESA practice. Also, the program will continue to strive to recruit a strong number and pool of applicants to UConn.

Deepening our Learning During Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) and at UConn, this month is celebrated each year in April. As we recognize APAHM this year, we have been reflecting on the increase in anti-Asian violence and racist attitudes that we have seen over the past year in the United States and in our own university community. The HESA program expresses our solidarity with the Statement on Anti-Asian Violence released by the UConn Association for Asian American Faculty and Staff last month. 

We echo our colleagues’ sentiments about the need to systemically fighting anti-Asian racism: “What is happening is wrong and we must stand together to not only identify and call-out this kind of behavior and its bad actors; but we must work systemically and synergistically to change culpable aspects of our university and society, to ultimately eradicate this malignancy” (UConn AAAFS). Toward this aim, our program has committed to three goals: 

  1. Enhance our curriculum and course syllabi to be more critically-inclusive of Asian and Asian American experiences in higher education;
  2. Host a set of teach-ins to better demonstrate our commitment to a more critically-inclusive curriculum; and
  3. Continue to work with our campus partners to share and receive best practices on cultural competencies and solidarity initiatives.

Though we intended to hold our teach-ins in April, our HESA community experienced an unexpected tragedy during that time, so we have chosen to delay these events until a future date. However, we still want to offer a set of virtual learning resources to our HESA community based on filmmaker and UCLA professor Renee Tajima-Peña’s PBS documentary series “Asian Americans.” We hope that members of our community will engage with and learn from these resources to deepen their understanding about the Asian American experience. 

Interviews with Filmmaker Renee Tajima-Peña

New Yorker interview with Renee Tajima-Peña about the History of Anti-Asian Violence in the U.S. 

NPR Podcast Interview with Renee Tajima-Peña about the Docuseries “Asian Americans”

PBS Documentary Series “Asian Americans” 

Episode 1: “Breaking Ground” 

In an era of exclusion and U.S. empire, new immigrants arrive from China, India, Japan, the Philippines and beyond. Barred by anti-Asian laws they become America’s first “undocumented immigrants,” yet they build railroads, dazzle on the silver screen, and take their fight for equality to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Episode 2: “A Question of Loyalty” 

An American-born generation straddles their country of birth and their parents’ homelands in Asia. Those loyalties are tested during World War II, when families are imprisoned in detention camps, and brothers find themselves on opposite sides of the battle lines.”

Episode 3: “Good Americans” 

During the Cold War years, Asian Americans are simultaneously heralded as a Model Minority, and targeted as the perpetual foreigner. It is also a time of bold ambition, as Asian Americans aspire for the first time to national political office and a coming culture-quake simmers beneath the surface.”

Episode 4: “Generation Rising” 

“During a time of war and social tumult, a young generation fights for equality in the fields, on campuses and in the culture, and claim a new identity: Asian Americans. The war’s aftermath brings new immigrants and refugees who expand the population and the definition of Asian America.”

Episode 5: “Breaking Through”

“At the turn of the new millennium, the country tackles conflicts over immigration, race, economic disparity, and a shifting world order.  A new generation of Asian Americans are empowered by growing numbers and rising influence but face a reckoning of what it means to be an American in an increasingly polarized society.”

In Solidarity with our Asian and Asian American Community

Dear HESA Community,

Just a few days ago, we wrote to you with heavy hearts to name, acknowledge, and reckon with the racial violence impacting BIPOC communities, particularly Asian and Asian American communities. We have few words to express the sadness we feel as we mourn the murder of eight people in Atlanta, of which six were Asian and Asian American women. These murders are horrific and we ache at the continued violence hurled at Asian and Asian American people.

To our Asian and Asian American community members, we grieve with you. We understand this violence is part of a long-standing anti-Asian history that continues today. And, we acknowledge our responsibility to show up in our practice and in our community in solidarity and with love.

We strongly encourage our HESA community to attend a virtual panel this evening March 18 at 5pm ET on “Asians in America: Anti-Asian Violence and the Fight Against Invisibility” which will feature UConn students, faculty, and staff; provide perspectives on today’s climate; and discuss its impact on UConn’s Asian and Asian American community. Register for the event here. 

We in HESA continue our resolve to be more inclusive and supportive of our Asian and Asian American community members. We are committed and continue to work on the following:

  • Enhance our curriculum and courses to be more critically-inclusive of Asian and Asian American experiences in higher education;
  • Host a set of teach-ins on April 7th and 8th for our students to better demonstrate our commitment to a more critically-inclusive curriculum; and
  • Continue to work with our campus partners to share and receive best practices on cultural competencies and solidarity initiatives.

In solidarity, and with love,

HESA Faculty

Exploring Intersectionality Methodology During Women’s History Month

Saran Steward, headshot
Dr. Saran Stewart

During this Women’s History month, we want to consider, in particular, the intersectional oppression that impacts the lives and experiences of women and girls. In this post, we explore the concept of intersectionality by focusing on our own Dr. Saran Stewart’s work with several colleagues of conceptualizing an Intersectional Methodology (IM).

Intersectionality is a concept coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1991. Crenshaw offered the idea that legal analyses on a single-axis of Black women and women of color’s identities (race only, or gender only), contributes to their erasure (Haynes et al., 2020). Crenshaw argued for an analysis that examines the intersections of race, gender, and class in understanding the unique forms of domination that Black women experience. As Haynes and colleagues (2020) point out, Crenshaw’s analysis was “…rooted in the legacy of Black feminism, which contends that the experiences of Black women and girls illuminate a particular understanding of their position in relation to sexism, class oppression, racism, and other systems of domination” (Haynes et al., 2020, p. 3). Intersectionality is often used as a theoretical framework in higher education research, but Dr. Stewart and colleagues aimed to understand how intersectionality is used in research methodology.

In a 2020 paper, Dr. Stewart and several colleagues used a literature synthesis to explore how scholars drew on intersectionality within their research methods, with the aim of “provid[ing] scholars with a nuanced methodological approach for taking up intersectionality in their study of Black women in education research, and social science research broadly” (Haynes et al., p. 13). They found that scholars who engaged Crenshaw’s intersectionality framework tended to employ four strategies in applying intersectionality to their research methods, which they termed Intersectional Methodology (IM):

  • Feature 1: Centralize Black Women as the Subject
  • Feature 2: Use of a Critical Lens to Uncover the Micro-/Macro-Level Power Relations
  • Feature 3: Address How Power Shapes the Research Process
  • Feature 4: Bring the Complex Identity Markers of Black Women to the Fore

“Our analysis suggests that intersectional interventions in higher education are needed because not all Black women (or Black people or women of color, for that matter) experience oppression in exactly the same way. IM presents researchers with the opportunity and ability to generate data-driven intersectional interventions that are transdisciplinary, effective, and focused on the needs of Black women” (Haynes et al., 2020, p. 31).

Dr. Stewart and her colleagues’ work articulating Intersectional Methodology “presents researchers with the opportunity and ability to generate data-driven intersectional interventions that are transdisciplinary, effective, and focused on the needs of Black women” (Haynes et al., 2020, p. 31). To read the full article, click here.

Dr. Stewart also presented a talk for the Center for Education Policy Analysis, Research, and Education this fall on Intersectional Methodology. You can view the full recording and transcript of the talk here.  Dr. Stewart and her colleagues’ work provides an important guide for scholars conducting research about Black women, ensuring that intersectionality is not an abstraction, but meaningfully applied into research methods and interventions.

UConn HESA at ACPA21

UConn at ACPA21 | A virtual conference 1-17 March 2021 | Support UConn scholar-practitioner during the ACPA 2021 Virtual Convention

The UConn HESA program is pleased to be participating in ACPA’s Virtual Convention as a whole program this year. Between March 1-17, ACPA 21 will offer a wide variety of educational, scholarly, and networking programs. ACPA21 aims to center attendees’ experience, focusing on building community, dedicated to a strong curriculum, and embracing the future of ACPA’s Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice and Decolonization.

ACPA-College Student Educators International is the leading comprehensive student affairs association that advances student affairs and engages students for a lifetime of learning and discovery. A key focus of ACPA‘s work is the Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice and Decolonization, through which the association directs resources, energy, and time toward addressing racial justice in student affairs and higher education around the world. Many of our HESA program faculty have been actively involved in ACPA, including in  commissions and communities of practice. Since we signed up for whole-program registration in the fall, our students have also had memberships to ACPA and been able to participate in year-round programming. 

Although we are excited for everything that ACPA 21 has to offer, we are particularly enthusiastic about the five programs that were accepted from faculty and students in the HESA program. We have provided a full list of these sessions below. Convention registrants can access all of them, and the other great convention content by logging in with your ACPA account information to the virtual convention platform. 

Session Type Date & Time Title Presenter(s)
Research-in-Process Monday, March 8, 2021, 2:30-3:30pm The Personal is Professional: Exploring Emerging Student Affairs Professionals’ Intimacies Ashley N. Robinson, Sade Erinfolami, Tania Flores, & Trevor Madore
Research-in-Process Monday, March 15, 2021; 1:15-2:15pm Anti-Blackness and the Monolith Construction of Higher Education Latinidad Luz Burgos-López
Convention Program Monday, March 15, 2021; 3:45-4:45pm An Institutional Transformation Approach to Recruiting Racially Minoritized Faculty Milagro Castillo-Montoya, Ashley N. Robinson, Luz Burgos-López, & Jillian Ives
Research-in-Process Tuesday, March 16, 2021; 2:30-3:30pm Finding Our Voice: Combating Anti-Blackness and COVID-19 in Higher Education. Saran Stewart, Milagros Castillo-Montoya, Jasmine Sindico, Irvine Peck’s-Agaya, Nicole Hyman, Alquan Higgs, Rachel Wada, & Kiara Ruesta
Research & Practice Poster Supporting Undocumented Immigrants in the Current COVID-19 Era Kenny Nienhusser, Omar Romandia-Diaz, Kiara Ruesta

Interview Preparation: A Reflection on Mind, Body, and Soul

By Jillian Ives

Interviewing season is upon us, although it might look a bit different this year. I’ve had a fair amount of virtual and in-person interviews over the years, both as an interviewee and interviewer. There is a wealth of information out there, so I do not plan to summarize it all here. However, I would like to offer my fellow HESAs a different perspective on interviewing as they prepare to search for summer internships or full-time positions. When facing the daunting job search, taking the time for reflection is essential. Interviewing is just like any other learning experience—it is a developmental process for the mind, body, and soul, not an obstacle to overcome for a final result. I like to reframe interviewing, to see it as an opportunity to check in with myself and further refine my values, my goals, and my experiences. 

When facing the daunting job search, taking the time for reflection is essential. Interviewing is just like any other learning experience—it is a developmental process for the mind, body, and soul, not an obstacle to overcome for a final result. I like to reframe interviewing, to see it as an opportunity to check in with myself and further refine my values, my goals, and my experiences. 

The Mind

First, reflect on how your mind functions under the stress. When you are nervous, do you talk fast, slow, or stumble over your words? Do you get easily distracted? Try to think through these things and be proactive where you can. For example, if you are virtually interviewing and know you get easily thrown off by distractions, close out of your email, silence your phone, and try to find a quiet and minimally decorated space. I know that I tend to not talk much when I’m nervous, so I purposefully post bullet lists of key experiences I want to highlight near my computer screen so that I can remind myself to expand on my answer by adding an example. For the things you can’t control, just be honest about them. If you get nervous and you forget what you were saying or can’t get the right word out, just reset by saying something like, “I’m sorry, I’m so excited to be interviewing for this position that I think my brain was moving faster than my mouth!” Reframing your nerves as excitement can make them less intimidating. Admitting your nerves can also go a long way with a search committee. We are all human after all, and they are probably nervous and stressed too!

The Body

Also know how your body functions under stress. Reflect on your nervous habits in an interview—do you tap your foot or pen? If you aren’t sure, run a mock interview with a friend or at the Center for Career Development and have them look for those habits. I know I tend to play with my jewelry when nervous, so I make sure to wear smaller earrings and no necklace when I interview to mitigate that habit. Although sometimes these small habits help us relieve stress, so if you are interviewing virtually you can take advantage of the format by squeezing a stress ball under the table. Also know how your body reacts to prolonged stress if you have an all-day interview on campus or are doing multiple virtual interviews in a row, like at The Placement Exchange. Pace yourself, and do what re-energizes you during breaks. Listen to a song, meditate, eat a snack, or whatever helps de-stress you.

The Soul

Lastly, reflect on your soul. By this, I mean whatever soul means to you—whether that is spiritual, religious, or just what centers and nourishes you. One of the best ways to feed your soul is to not compare yourself to your peers during job season. Everyone will get jobs at different times, and it is not a reflection of your worth. Plan ahead of time what you are willing to accept and not accept in a job offer so that you do not question whether you are settling or not when you start to feel peer pressure. You do not need to find the perfect job because this will be the first among many. However, you do want to find a position that you can be happy in for at least a few years. Your soul impacts your mental and physical wellbeing—they are all connected. This is proven in research on how racially minoritized people end up facing physical and mental health conditions when working in a racist workplace—it is damaging to the soul, body, and mind. During the interview, pay attention to the diversity of the office space and gauge whether they value and prioritize equity. Ask questions about whether they have the resources that will feed your soul, whether that be affinity groups for faculty and staff, churches nearby of your religion, or beauty salons or barber shops that cater to your hair type. Make sure to reflect on what you personally need to be happy, healthy, and positive. For me, family nourishes my soul. I made finding a position near family a priority, so I didn’t feel pressured by the normative idea of conducting a national search.

A Few Other Tips and Tricks

Staying organized is perhaps the best advice I have for tending to your mind, body, and soul during interview preparation. Start by creating a spreadsheet to track every position you are planning to apply to. List the positions in rows, and the different information about the job and application in columns. For example, in the columns note the application materials required to apply, due dates, basic information about the institution, office, and position. Color code or mark off each as you submit the application. This will help you stay on top of due dates, but it will also help you remember what you’ve applied to and where, as your mind starts to muddle the applications over time. Then create a folder for each position, and save the final versions of the application materials you submitted and any research notes you collected about the position. If you get an interview, this will be very helpful for you to refer back to. Not only will it help you not duplicate your research efforts, but it will also help you remember what experiences you mentioned in your materials. 

There are many resources out there on how to research a position and prepare for interview questions, so I won’t expand on that much here. However, one tip I have to save you some time—and thus save you effort in mind, body, and soul—is to have an interview question cheat sheet that can apply to all positions. Write out the most common interview questions in higher education (you can find many online), and the ones that are common to your functional area (experience advising, supervising, organizing programs, etc.). Write out your general philosophy for each question—what is your advising or supervision style for example. However, the key here is to think about all your experiences over time and map them onto these questions. You can actually create a table with the questions in rows and the experience examples in columns. This is important because a good interview answer moves from the hypothetical or theoretical, to include a specific example to illustrate your answer. This is often called the STAR method—the example should briefly explain the Situation, Task at hand, Action you took, and Result. So the table will help you think through the different experiences you have, what questions they might apply to, and if you have any gaps to consider. This really helped me in my interviewing experiences. When they asked a question about advising a student who was facing personal challenges, I knew I had 2-3 stories in my pocket to use. Maybe I had already used one that overlapped with another question they asked about advising students with minoritized identities, so I had 1-2 back up stories planned. 

Additional Resources

There are so many resources out there about interviewing. I’ve listed a few below as a start. 

UConn Center for Career Development has many great interviewing resources, from videos on how to answer common questions, mock interviews, negotiating job offers, and more. They also have resources specifically for graduate students, and the common materials required for job applications.

The Student Affairs Collective has many blog posts written by student affairs professionals going through the job search process, and their tips and tricks. For example, see this post on the TPE experience.

Also, don’t forget that your network is a resource. Lean on HESA and UConn alumni. Check LinkedIn or HESA alumni groups to see if you know anyone working at the institution you are applying to. Email or call them to see if they can give you some insight into the institutional culture—what do they like or dislike about working there, what are the students like, etc. This will help in your preparation, but also give you better insight into whether you would want to work there.


Jillian Ives is a 2014 graduate of the HESA Program and a current PhD candidate in the Neag School of Education’s Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy program. Jillian also represents the Department of Educational Leadership as a representative on the Center for Career Development’s Graduate Student Career Council. 

Celebrating Black History & Black Futures in Student Affairs Practice

During this Black History Month, we in the HESA program find that there are countless examples of Black scholars, Black student affairs professionals, Black thought, and Black history that should be explored, uplifted, and celebrated. However, as we reflect on Black history, we recognize the importance of Black futures, specifically the futures and possibilities of Black student affairs professionals and Black students. 

To focus on Black futures, we first highlight some of the professional communities for Black student affairs professionals. These organizations and groups work tirelessly to create and sustain connection, support, and community for Black student affairs professionals. We encourage Black student affairs professionals to engage with these communities, and we encourage everyone to support and uplift their work. 

Secondly, we want to highlight and uplift research that has been published in the past year (2020-present) about the developmental, social, and academic experiences of Black college and university students. This list, while by no means exhaustive, illuminates the breadth and depth of scholarly work centering the experiences of Black students in just the past year. This list of scholarly resources calls all of us to engage with new and emerging research and ideas about Black students’ experiences–ideas that often necessarily challenge long-accepted ideas and practices about college student development. We encourage members of our community to engage with these and other works that center Black students’ experiences, and to create spaces for Black student development, Black student possibilities, and Black student futures. 

All of the below articles are available as full-text through the UConn Library.

    Celebrating Native and Indigenous Higher Education Scholarship

    November is Native American Heritage Month (NAHM), and as we in the HESA program pause during UConn’s fall break, we reflect on the critical importance of recognizing and honoring the role of Native American and Indigenous scholars, practices, and thought in our field. UConn’s campuses are located on land that is the territory of the Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot, Eastern Pequot, Schaghticoke, Golden Hill Paugussett, Nipmuc, and Lenape Peoples, who have stewarded this land throughout the generations. We thank them for their strength and resilience in protecting this land, and aspire to uphold our responsibilities according to their example. Native and Indigenous people bring rich knowledge and experiences to our educational spaces, including the field of higher education and student affairs. Indigenous methodologies, pedagogies, and existence in higher education are acts of resistance against an oppressive educational system that has expropriated native lands and attempted to erase native knowledge and ways of living. 

    In celebration of NAHM, we highlight some of those Native and Indigenous methodologies, pedagogies, and practices in higher education and student affairs. We offer a very brief selection of resources below, which may serve as a starting point for further engagement. We encourage members of our HESA community to engage with these and other resources to deepen your learning about Native and Indigenous communities, educational experiences, and ways of knowing. 

    Professional and Scholarly Communities

    Indigenous Student Affairs Network (ISAN)

    ACPA Native, Aboriginal, and Indigenous Coalition (NAIC)

    NASPA Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Community (IPKC)

    Edited Volumes

    Beyond Access: Indigenizing Programs for Native American Student Success (2018), edited by Heather J. Shotton, Shelly C. Lowe and Stephanie J. Waterman

    Reclaiming Indigenous Research in Higher Education (2018), edited by Robin Starr Minthorn and Heather J. Shotton

    Beyond the Asterisk: Understanding Native Students in Higher Education (2013) edited by Heather J. Shotton, Shelly C. Lowe, Stephanie J. Waterman

    Journal Articles

    “New Research Perspectives on Native American Students in Higher Education”  (2019), Stephanie J. Waterman

    “I Thought You’d Call Her White Feather”: Native Women and Racial Microaggressions in Doctoral Education (2017) Heather J. Shotton

    “Home Away From Home: Native American Students’ Sense of Belonging During Their First Year in College” (2016) Amanda R. Tachine, Nolan L. Cabrera & Eliza Yellow Bird

    “Toward a Tribal Critical Race Theory in Education” (2006) Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy

    UConn at ASHE Highlights

    UConn faculty, students, and post-docs from the Department of Educational Leadership, the HESA program, and Office of Diversity & Inclusion will be involved as presenters and volunteers during this year’s annual ASHE (Association for the Study of Higher Education) virtual conference on November 18-21 and pre-conference for the Council for Ethnic Participation (CEP) on November 13. Ten of our faculty, recent graduates, and graduate students from UConn will present 12 papers and interactive symposia and serve as discussant or chair on five paper sessions and interactive symposia. You can see a full overview of UConn participation in the ASHE Conference here.  Our faculty and students will be presenting on a wide variety of research and scholarship that enhances the study of higher education within the theme of Advancing Full Participation. We asked some of our faculty and students three quick questions about the work that they will be presenting during the conference.

    “Making Space for Community, Support and Healing in Racial Equity Higher Education Work”

    Dr. Milagros Castillo-Montoya, Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs.

    Why did you undertake this work?

    As a community of racially minoritized faculty, it is important to create space for community, support and healing. I experienced this in a profound way during a trip to the Netherlands with amazing higher education scholars who exemplified what this means and feels like. I want to share about how powerful that experience can be.

    What are the important takeaways?

    With a strong sense of community, racially minoritized faculty can thrive. As such, having space for this community to develop is critical to our well-being in the academy.

    What do you hope practitioners can learn from this work?

    I hope practitioners will learn that creating space for racially minoritized folx to connect and create community has to be more of an institutional priority.

    “How Does Whiteness “Show Up” in Student Affairs Work? A Literature Analysis and Framework for Practice”

    Ashley N. Robinson, PhD Candidate, Leadership and Education Policy

    Why did you undertake this work?

    Research shows that efforts for racial equity in higher education consistently fail because racism and white supremacy pervade higher education, a social institution built on exclusionary and racist foundations. I wanted to explore how exactly racism and white supremacy are being made real, institutionally, on a day-to-day basis? What is happening with actual texts—written policies, forms, visuals, media representations—as they land in people’s real, everyday work, that continually creates situations in which educators who really want to enact antiracist responses to racist harms end up doing things that uphold institutional racism instead?

    What are the important takeaways?

    I offer a framework to interrogate the tensions of responding to racist harms toward the aim of uncovering how the discourse of whiteness might show up in textually mediated ways in response work. The framework consists of nine concepts that are characteristic of the discourse of whiteness in student affairs work, offers a literature-informed description of each concept, and analytical questions that foreground the materiality of the concept related to responding to racist harms.

    What do you hope practitioners can learn from this work?

    In practice, I recommend using this framework to analyze texts like incident reports, incident reporting forms, protocols, procedures, policies, training materials, investigation reports, meeting notes, budget documents, and public statements. The purpose of such textual analysis is two-fold: firstly, to name and uncover the specific ways that attempts to respond to racist harms may, in fact, uphold white supremacy and institutional racism, and secondly, to empower student affairs educators at all levels to transform their approaches to responding to racist harms.

    “Decolonizing Academic Spaces: Advancing Full Participation Globally to Promote Racial Equity in Postsecondary Education”

    Dr. Saran Stewart, Associate Professor & Program Director of Higher Education and Student Affairs

    Dr. Frank Tuitt, Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs & Chief Diversity Officer

    Saran Steward, headshot

    Why did you undertake this work?

    Central to our work is developing critical consciousness and to do that, we argue you must confront and disrupt the colonizers’ gaze and epistemologies.

    What are the important takeaways?

    • Decolonising the mind through ways of knowing and knowledge construction;
    • Decolonising pedagogy;
    • Decolonising structures, policies and practices; and
    • Reimagining the academy from a decolonised lens. 

    What do you hope practitioners can learn from this work?

    We hope that the presentation will provide concrete examples to create decolonised spaces both in and out of the classroom where minoritised students can engage in learning that suggest their lives and lived experiences really matter. 

    “Masculinities as Barriers to Full Participation: A Longitudinal Study on Fraternity Masculine Norms and Hazing Motivations”

    Dr. Adam McCready, Assistant Professor In-Residence, Higher Education & Student Affairs

    Why did you undertake this work?

    Surprisingly little is known about how men are socialized to perform gender during their undergraduate experiences. Looking specifically at fraternities, fraternity leaders often claim that these organizations “make better men”, but these groups are associated with troubling outcomes like hazing.

    What are the important takeaways?

    While fraternity men reported statistically significantly lower conformity to misogyny after three years of fraternity membership, their conformity to eight other masculine norms and their hazing attitudes did not change significantly over this time period. Increased adherence to misogyny and risk-taking over three years predicted increased endorsement of hazing.

    What do you hope practitioners can learn from this work?

    Because fraternities may recruit men who share similar attitudes toward hazing and adhere to similar gender performances, practitioners may want to focus their interventions on membership recruitment efforts. In addition, interventions designed to address misogyny and risk-taking among fraternity men may also mitigate hazing attitudes.