#goals

My educational goal is to conduct innovative research that will provide the necessary evidence needed to inform policy changes benefiting underserved communities similar to my own.

My personal life goal is to remain vigilant in advancing equity and minimizing the barriers that continue to compromise the health of children in low income neighborhoods, especially those communities of color. I also hope to one day be a role model to young girls of color.

My career aspiration is to become a faculty member, help diversify the American professoriate, and conduct inclusive research.

Through my PhD program, I hope to gain the leadership skills needed to inform policy and institutions that will effect positive paradigm shifts and overcome systemic barriers.

Community = Strength

Si, se puede! Growing up I saw photos of my grandparents marching with César Chávez in support of United Farm Workers. We have buttons, flags, and paraphernalia from their days of marching in the 1960s for the health and well-being of farm workers. Because of this grassroots activism, farm workers had access to clean water and toilets in the fields, lunch breaks, and other legal protections. My family instilled in me the drive to fight for equity and stand up for issues that affect the most vulnerable.

The fight for health equity is not over, and I aim to follow in the steps of my grandparents. As a Mexican-American first-generation college student, my own lived experience provides a unique perspective I will bring into my work as an OSU PhD student. I grew up in a bilingual household in a low-income neighborhood. I understand the struggles in similar communities. Nevertheless, I also understand the sources of strength in my community, such as the resilience of our immigrant family members, our bilingual churches, and our vibrant community centers.

My family taught me that strength comes from the community.

They showed me how to connect with others and work toward a common good. I have learned from them the value of listening to others, working together, and mobilizing resources. These major personal strengths will help me overcome barriers and successfully complete my PhD program. I ultimately hope to continue to build up and work for my community. It is the least I can do for the community that built me.

My personal background motivates me

Pic of Corvallis, OR

So, I recently lost my grandmother to breast cancer. She is my inspiration. She overcame systemic barriers and became our family’s steadfast matriarch. She emigrated from Guadalajara, Mexico with a 7th grade education. Upon first moving to the USA, she saw storefront signs that read “No Dogs, No Negros, No Mexicans.” She worked hard to put her family first. When my mother became pregnant with me at age 20, she stepped up and helped raise me. My grandmother’s home had 3 generations under one roof.

With such tight living quarters, I used the backyard as my escape.

Free play was my outlet. I had the space and time to be my energetic self.

This was also apparent during school recess. My confidence on the playground translated into confidence in the classroom.

My closest friendships, love for the outdoors, and current research interests stem from these early experiences.

To this day, physical activity grounds me and helps me think more clearly. The physical, social, and cognitive benefits from physical activity cannot be understated.

All children have a right to play and reap these developmental benefits.

Yet, the reality is that children of color and children from low income neighborhoods do not always have access to this fundamental right.

My background has helped me see the need for equity in schools and society. I see the potential physical activity can have on children’s and adolescents’ development. It has helped me see work is needed to make accessible recess, outdoor play, and youth sports for all young people a reality.

I will continue on my academic and career path to produce innovative research, inform equitable policy, and work for my community.

Fwd: Leaning into Pressure

To: anxiety@me.com; pressure@me.com; guilt@me.com

From: phd_student@oregonstate.edu

Subject: Thinking about you all

Hey all!

You have been on my mind a lot! In fact — you are taking up mucho mental space. I have a lot of things to get done. I get that you want the best for me, and I get where you all are coming from. But I wonder if you are being kinda needy — you know, like a helicopter parent. Remember: we are on the same team. Therefore, I will notice when you all are trying to get my attention, give you a minute or two of my time, and then continue on my day. I am trying to move forward and progress. I know you understand where I am coming from. It’s been real.

It’s not me, it’s you.

– PhD Student

BLM x PhD

I recently read this Inside Higher Ed article by Clifton Boyd, a black PhD candidate. He describes his experience as a black scholar amidst the Black Lives Matter movement.

Academia is competitive – like cut-throat competitive. Every year, there are more PhD graduates than there are academic jobs. As soon as you enter the PhD program, the focus lies not on the here and now, but on the future. The question you (and every other student) asks is as follows: What can I do in this limited time, with limited funding and resources, to make my potential and productivity seem limitless?

Boyd is a black scholar in a mostly white field at an Ivy League School. He supports the BLM movement. He is working to excel in his field. He is working to land a tenure track academic job. And, he has avoided attending protests: “This involved, time-intensive approach to emotional processing conflicts with the productivity required of me by academe.”

I know that when the time comes to go on the job market or apply for a fellowship, I will still be expected to have research publications and a polished dissertation. “Paralyzing grief due to the continuous, systemic murders of my community’ will not be an acceptable excuse for why my application is less competitive than that of my peers.

Academia is not diverse. People of color are not well-represented. Like Boyd, I aim to help diversify the American professoriate. Hopefully, in the future, the ivy tower of academia will have more shades of black and brown.

As a PhD student of color, I feel overextended. First, I want to be active and support my black brothers and sisters in their fight for equality. I want to be out on the street and making our collective voices heard. Second, I also think about the future of our higher education system. It is currently broken and only helps certain privileged students. It leaves students of color behind. It leaves undocumented students behind. It leaves students from low-income backgrounds behind. The higher education system fails to serve everyone equally. Third, I think about my responsibility as one of the few woman of color in my program. The sum of my interests leaves my attention and efforts divided. The burden is heavy. The expectations I have for myself are high. I am not the only person of color who feels this way.

Academe puts black scholars between a rock and a hard place, forcing us to decide between fully processing our emotions during these moments of racial injustice and producing enough research to survive in a system that already has fewer and fewer opportunities for a growing pool of Ph.D.s.

“The irony lies in the fact that while black academics and other scholars of color are the most distressed by cultural moments like these, academe at large relies upon our success to ‘fix’ the problem of racial and ethnic diversity in our respective fields.”

“This argument extends to the current movement for social justice and an end to police brutality: many members of the black community are out on the streets fighting for their literal survival in a country that can’t agree on whether or not black lives matter.