After I completed my master's degree and teaching certificates at San Francisco State University, I began researching doctoral programs across the country that would prepare me for a research faculty career in education policy. Florida State University's PhD program in Higher Education and Public Policy aligned perfectly with my research and career interests. FSU's College of Education has a renowned Educational Leadership and Policy Studies department with diverse faculty, research funding opportunities, and partnerships with the State Department of Education and the Legislative analyst's office. During Visiting Days, I was assigned a student mentor, Samantha Nix, who praised the FSU faculty and staff for supporting her during her pregnancy. Ultimately, I chose FSU because I knew the fully funded program would challenge me academically, prepare me professionally, and support my decision to grow my family.
Motivation to pursue a graduate degree
I went to graduate school singularly focused on pulling my people and the oppressed out of poverty by becoming a faculty researcher and catalyzing systemic change in education. Through teaching, research, and service, I aimed to demand America’s public-school-promise-of-equal-opportunity for my people and the oppressed.
Importance and/or impact of research and work
I do not believe in single-issue oppression; instead, as a Critical Race Theorist and Critical Quantitative methodologist, my lived experience directs my research pursuits. As the start of an early career line of research on racial and social stratification in public schools in America, my Critical Quantitative dissertation prioritizes the historical and contemporary experiences of “Black” public school students in California. To a lesser extent, my dissertation investigates the experiences of schoolchildren who are socially classified as “Hispanic,” “cisgender,” and “genderfluid.” In this process, I leverage my lived experience as a Black Indigenous Puerto Rican mother of three brown boys and a former poor and policed public school student from Los Angeles to critically contextualize the quantitative data I’ve sourced on these schoolchildren against the reality of my own school childhood.
It is my greatest ambition to become a tenured faculty researcher at a leading university so that I can enact individual, institutional, structural, and systemic change in education through teaching, research, and service.
Advice for anyone considering graduate school
If you are interested in becoming a research faculty member, I’d recommend advisors who publish profusely in your areas of interest even if you have to find people outside of your department. Similarly, I’d recommend taking classes outside of your department and college in order to diversify your network and exposure to theory, methodology, and content. In addition to exhausting your prospective department and college funding opportunities, I would also recommend meeting with the Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards to secure external funding in order to make your graduate degree and its associated costs more affordable.
Accomplishments during academic career
White supremacy perpetuates the severe and long-standing underrepresentation of racially minoritized populations in the American professoriate. Both the American Educational Research Association’s Minority Dissertation Fellowship Program and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship aim to increase racially minoritized representation in academic appointments at leading research universities. These highly competitive programs understand that diversity and inclusion are resources that enrich the education of all students. Both the AERA and Ford fellowship programs provide financial support ($25,000 and $28,000, respectively) as well as professional development opportunities with previous fellows. It is my great honor to be selected for such socially just awards.
I am also a doctoral candidate with three tiny terrors under four and a first-generation college student. I've won the College of Education Peer Leadership Award and the Joan and Ted Ziel Endowed Scholarship Fund George Aker Scholarship. I'm also proud of my publications and work:
- Wright, J., Gaozhao, D., Templeton, D., & Dukes, K. (accepted). The power of protests: An experiment of Black Lives Matter protest presence and citizens’ perceptions of the police. Public Administration Review. Marks, L.R., Jenkins, L., Verma, K., Perez-Felkner, L., Templeton, D. P., & Thomas, J. (2022, August).
- Examining predictors of bystander intervention to racial microaggressions in college students. Poster accepted for the annual American Psychological Association (APA) convention, Minneapolis, MN.
- Dahlbacka, N. (Director). (2015, June 26). In This Chapel Filled with Light [Play]. D. Portis. Brown Bag Theater, San Francisco.