Students focus on social justice at the Graduate Research Symposium

November 21, 2019
Posted by the Dreeben School of Education | Nov. 21, 2019

Doctoral student Kimberly S. Cox displays her poster at the Graduate Research Symposium.

Graduate students in the Dreeben School of Education showcased their research at the annual Graduate Research Symposium, held on Nov. 6-9. The symposium at the University of the Incarnate Word joins students, faculty and guest speakers, in a three-day event to spotlight scholarly research and student projects.

Students who participate in the symposium are pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree in the Graduate Studies Program. This program allows students to earn a Master of Education, Master of Arts in Education, or Doctor of Philosophy in a variety of specialized concentrations.

“Through the symposium, we hope to develop a learning community that emphasizes the importance, promise, power and potential that research has on impacting our communities,” said Dr. Norman St. Clair, professor and director of the Graduate Studies Program. This year’s theme “Educating to Empower: Research and Education for Social Change" was inspired by the legacy of Sr. Dorothy (“Dot”) Ettling, CCVI, Women’s Global Connection co-founder and former professor in the Dreeben School of Education. The Women’s Global Connection is a nonprofit organization that promotes the learning and leadership capacity of girls and women locally and globally.

This symposium serves as a platform to highlight the challenges and responsibilities of social justice issues as an educational and research community. Examples of research topics include intercultural communication practices, mentorship, social change, higher education attainment and career readiness.

“The Graduate Research Symposium was a great experience because scholars could engage in important conversations over a three-day, intentionally planned time. The students' and other speakers' presentations were so insightful,” said Dr. Alison Buck, visiting professor of Graduate Studies. “Everything fit in well with the theme, and I'm excited about new opportunities."

Terry Burden is a doctoral student whose work focuses on barriers to women rising in leadership positions.

The symposium began on Nov. 7 with welcoming remarks by Dr. Denise Staudt, dean of the Dreeben School of Education, and greetings from Marc Gilbert, doctoral student and president of the Doctoral Student Association.

Afterwards, students presented poster sessions and roundtable discussions. "You get very valuable feedback for your future research," said Terry Burden, a doctoral student who participated in the event.

Graduate students participate in roundtable discussions at World Café.

On the second day, participants attended a World Café event in the Mabee Library Special Collections Room. Guest speaker Dr. Neeta Singh, associate professor of Nutrition, presented opening comments followed by Dr. Alfredo Ortiz Aragón, association professor of Graduate Studies, as the event facilitator.

The purpose of World Café is to highlight how participants are using methodology, research and education to engage social justice issues. Students discuss real-life social justice needs outside the University by using Sr. Dot Ettling’s framework to connect the classroom and community in collaborative efforts. Some examples include advocating for social change in the healthcare industry, developing project plans for immersion trips with international communities, and the challenges female employees face in the workplace.

"The best thing about the symposium was networking and reconnecting with people," said Elizabeth Payne-Wueste, a doctoral student pursing a concentration in organizational leadership.

"It was very open, even though everyone is at different levels. It made the learning real,” said Helena Sedeghi, a doctoral student pursing a concentration in higher education.

Doctoral student Monica Hernandez presents “Using the Process Empowerment Model of Sister Dot: A Photo Voice Project in Peru” on the last day of the symposium.

The symposium concluded on Nov. 9 in the Student Engagement Center. Keynote speaker Dr. Buck, visiting professor of Graduate Studies, presented “Sister Dot’s Legacy in our Hands: Being Empowered and Empowering Others” for the keynote address. Featured guest speaker Dr. Darlene Carbajal, assistant professor of Communications, followed with her journey as a recent Ph.D. graduate. The symposium concluded with student podium presentations and a panel discussion.

“The key to this growing symposium for graduate students is the exposure to the ideas and research being accomplished by their peers,” explained Gilbert. “It helps spur further individual thought as well as possibilities for collaboration. Bottom line, the symposium helps in developing the students' research opportunities and abilities.”

“Student engagement was the highlight. Any time students and faculty come together to share perspectives on research, it demystifies the process and empowers students to push forward, learn and apply research,” said Dr. St. Clair.

Day 1: Poster Presentations and Roundtable Discussions

  • Poster Presenters:
    • Mohammed Alaklabi
    • Terry X. Burden
    • Kimberly S. Cox
    • Monica Hernandez
    • Alyssa Kennedy
    • Ann Lee and Amy Migura
    • Darin Schwartz
    • Rey Lopez (UIW), Cindy Pena and Jessica Quintero (Texas State University)
  • Roundtable Presenters:
    • Mona Alkathiri
    • Faisal Alqadiri
    • Ashley Click
    • Deborra Finlan
    • Rose Bashara Karam
    • Brittany Danielle Minor
    • Christina Perez
    • Monica E. Ruiz
    • Ziyad Sultan
    • Doleatha J. Thomas
Day 2: World Café on Research for Social Justice
  • Guest Speaker: Dr. Neeta Singh
  • Event Facilitator: Dr. Alfredo Ortiz Aragón
Day 3: Podium Presentations and Featured Guests Panel Discussions
  • Keynote Speaker: Dr. M. Alison Buck
  • Guest Speaker: Dr. Darlene Carbajal
  • Student Podium Presenters:
    • Srikanth Vemula and Chaoyi Wang
    • Monica Hernandez
    • Christina Perez
  • Panel Presenters:
    • Dr. Tere Dresner
    • Dr. Denise Krohn
    • Dr. Elaine Talarski