SRD: 2020-2021 Awards

Skip to content Skip to main navigation

The Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs

The Vice President’s Student Research in Diversity Grant Awards 2020-2021

The Vice President’s Student Research in Diversity Grant Awards



Preservice Teacher Education

By: LaKisha Howell

Department/Program: Curriculum and Teaching 

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Maria Paula Ghiso



The purpose of this study is to explore new possibilities of preservice teacher education, by including a traditionally excluded voice--that of social movement organizations. From the earliest beginnings of Black teacher education programs, educational programs formed by social movement organizations like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) have served as beacons of Black resistance and liberation. However, the widespread influence of social movements in education has been subverted due to the permanence of racism in education. Several scholars identify the current state of Black education as being one in desperate need of change (King, 2005; Ladson-Billings, 2000; Love, 2019), especially as the majority of the teaching force is White women, who despite having undergone teacher education programs that profess to be social justice oriented or culturally relevant, are ill-equipped to teach racially diverse classrooms (Sleeter, 2017). It is also imperative to recognize that the education of Black children comes with unique specificities that are not acknowledged in mainstream teacher education (Ladson-Billings, 2000). If teacher education is meant to directly address the needs of children of color, specifically Black children, then it has to imagine teacher education in radical ways. This historical case study seeks to move beyond the current state of teacher education. Through a cycle of digital archival data and virtual ethnographic interviews my research study seeks to unearth the teacher education practices that existed in the Mississippi Freedom Schools of 1964, an alternative education space for Black children designed and executed by SNCC.


National Languages, Education, and Senegal’s “Militants” for Change

By: Erina Iwasaki

Department/Program: International and Transcultural Studies

Faculty Advisor:  Dr. Carol Benson



In Senegal, national languages refer to African languages, which are not officially enacted as languages of instruction in formal schooling in comparison to French, the former colonial and current official language. However, the Ministry of Education is currently considering the adoption of a national bilingual education policy due to the advocacy work of Senegalese national languages militants (strong advocates in French, drawing on a political connotation). The study looks at these self-proclaimed militants’ lived experiences with national languages and education, the extent of their multi-generational work and network, and their influence in shaping the language-in-education policy landscape at this moment of “critical juncture.” A qualitative case study, it draws on in-depth interviews with these militants, historical and policy document analysis, and participant-observations to answer the following question: “How and why have self-proclaimed militants advocated for the use of national languages in the Senegalese educational system since the 1950s, and what are their current contributions at this critical moment in possible language-in-education policy change?” Situated in a sociocultural framework, the study draws on Mignolo’s (1991) decolonial theory of “border thinking” and Senegalese decolonial authors to amplify the voices, innovations and contributions of Senegalese bi-/multilingual education researchers, practitioners, and advocates


The Cultural Transition into and Navigation of Higher Education for Rural Students from Low-Socioeconomic Status Backgrounds

By: Ty McNamee 

Department/Program: Organization & Leadership, Higher and Postsecondary Education Program

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Noah Drezner 



Attaining a college degree generally leads to economic, social, and health benefits, yet this attainment is inequitable for rural, urban, poor and working-class students. Students from suburban areas and students from higher social classes hold key cultural understandings of college that aid their higher education success and attainment. This is to the detriment of rural, urban, and poor and working-class students, who attain postsecondary degrees at extremely low rates. Instead of broadly tackling cultural issues related to geographic location and higher education success and attainment, education research has tended to focus on issues for urban, not rural, students. Furthermore, although rural areas are deeply connected to poverty and blue-collar job markets, scant research examines how rural identity intersects with social class identity to affect students’ higher education journeys. Therefore, little is known about how, if at all, rural students from poor and working-class backgrounds culturally transition into and come to navigate college. Through a qualitative narrative inquiry design, this study will utilize individual and group interviews, as well as participant journaling, to explore the experiences of six rural, poor and working-class students as they transition from their home communities into higher education institutional cultures, and attempt to navigate such new cultural settings. In doing so, the study will provide K-12 and higher education practitioners and policymakers with knowledge to support this population’s cultural transition and navigation experiences in college, in the hopes of catalyzing their higher education success and attainment.


Why do they ask us whether we support Korea or China at the World Cup?”: Migrant Joseonjok Children’s Critical Inquiries on the Politics of Belonging in South Korea

By: Yeonghwi Ryu

Department/Program: Curriculum and Teaching 

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Maria Paula Ghiso


In postcolonial Korean society, where othering of the disenfranchised has been prevalent (Lee, 2006; Sohn, 2015), migrants have been subject to harsh exclusion. Forming the largest migrant population in South Korea, the Joseonjok are no exception. A Korean diasporic group that settled in China, the more Joseonjok have resettled in Korea, the more they have been positioned as “poor and dangerous” through xenophobic discourses (Kim, 2016; Lee, 2014; Song, 2017). In such an exclusionary society, a large number of studies have reproduced the problem-based narrative of migrant children, not recognizing that the problems themselves may be created through this culturally constructed frame (McDermott & Varenne, 1995). To counter this dominant narrative, and by drawing on transnational feminist theories (Campano, 2007; Mohanty, 1984, 2003) and critical literacy (Jones, 2006; Vasquez, 2014), this study focuses on how children collectively inquire about discrimination, inequity, and social injustice, and what we can learn from migrant children about migrants’ belonging. Methodologically, this study is anchored on a blend of practitioner research and participatory research where a collaborating teacher and I invite migrant Joseonjok sixth graders to after-school inquiry sessions and facilitate their critical inquiries regarding migrant belonging in Korea. I believe that this study is significant for disrupting the dominant deficit perspective on migrant children in Korea as well as teaching us what a more equitable society looks like from a migrant child’s view.