Ta'lia Gordon

Ta'lia Gordon headshot

”To shift your dreams to reality”

College: Education, Health, and Human Sciences
Degree Program: Higher Education
Degree: Master's

Why FSU?

I decided to come to FSU because I wanted to be somewhere that was a large R1 institution, and FSU provided me an opportunity without worrying about paying out of pocket. The Higher Education program and its faculty exceeded my expectations during the grad school search, and the FSU Higher Education Student Organization (HESA) has continued to uphold the same standards throughout my program. FSU was somewhere that was close enough to home for comfort but far enough away to have a different experience.

Motivation to pursue a graduate degree

I didn't know what the field of higher education was, truthfully, until my last semester of undergrad; I did lots of research and networking to see what would be the best next step for me to learn more. I chose to pursue my graduate degree because I wanted to take advantage of as many opportunities to continue my education and further my professional growth as the opportunities presented themselves. Choosing higher education as a focus was easy because I knew I wanted to support students who looked like me, and I wanted to learn ways to bridge the gap so more students could receive the holistic development I saw for my peers, but I often felt undervalued while in these same spaces.

Importance and/or impact of research and work

Researching the experiences of Black students and the leadership process is important because one of the most concerning gaps I discovered in this research is how leaders are developed. Black students face different realities than their peers, from having to be more mindful of the way they show up in spaces, to code-switching, and even to not fully understanding their own identity at times to be their true authentic selves. We often ask students to come to colleges/universities to find "home," and we encourage them to have a sense of belonging, but who are we asking them to belong to if they have to shift who they are to feel included? This research is important because Black students deserve to be valued more and appreciated for more than their resilience in the face of adversity. I want to emphasize the importance of understanding that the Black experience is not monolithic, and that one must provide space for students not only to discover and explore their leadership identity but also empower them to view themselves as leaders and not problem solvers of everyone else's burdens.

Career aspirations

In the short term, I plan on pursuing my Ph.D. in Higher Education. I hope to gain more research experience and dive deeper into the Black student experience, specifically as it relates to leadership identity development. I am choosing to focus on one thing at a time to allow myself to be present for opportunities I used to dream about that are now becoming my reality.

Advice for anyone considering graduate school

Don't be afraid to start over. Fear of the unknown dismisses any opportunity we have awaited before we even dare to try. Whatever is for you will never overlook or miss you. The journey into graduate school has to be individualistic, and you will find your village as you move onward.

Accomplishments during graduate career

I am proud to be a 2023 PURPOSE Fellow and the HESA Social Justice and Inclusion Coordinator. I am also a finalist for the 2024 Master's in Four Competition.