Research on Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice: Advancing Narratives of Achievement and Success in Higher Education Among Latinx/a/o Students  

April 15, 2020

“We need to understand the differences in the distinct groups that make up the Latinx community. Once we do, we will be better positioned to meet the diverse needs of these different groups by creating programming to ensure the success of all students and allocating funds.” 

                         

Dr. Nichole Garcia’s research agenda focuses on advancing narratives of achievement and success among Puerto Rican and Mexican American college-educated families. She is launching her second research project on the experiences of Puerto Rican college-aged students who were offered disaster relief programs in colleges across the United States after Hurricane Maria. Specifically, she is these students’ transition, college access, completion, and success. 

Dr. Garcia’s personal experience as a Mexican and Puerto Rican woman of color inspires her to understand and reframe why Latinx/a/o are the largest ethnic population, but experience some of the lowest college completion rates.  

“We don’t know what is occurring here with regard to the factors that contributes to Latinx/a/o students’ successfully completing a college degree. My research centers on the student and family experience,” stated Dr. Garcia. “We need to understand the differences in the distinct groups that make up the Latinx community. Once we do, we will be better positioned to meet the diverse needs of these different groups by creating programming to ensure the success of all students and allocating funds.” 

GSE’s strategic plan and the focus on Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice really attracted Dr. Garcia to pursue a career here. “The central New Jersey community is comprised of communities of color and GSE is in the heart of that community,” said Dr. Garcia. “I was impressed by the fact that the GSE already had partnerships with K-12 school districts and I felt that my research could bridge that work with higher education.” 

Dr. Garcia’s vision for her work is to be the bridge between Latinx communities and higher education with a focus on community partnerships. As a proud alum of the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program which aims to increase the attainment of Ph.D. degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society, she is paying it forward by devoting significant time to working with and mentoring McNair scholars to help advance their research agenda.   

Dr. Garcia is offering a new course this fall. Her new course, 'Critical Theories for Research & Praxis in Higher Education' examines inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches to recognizing, analyzing, and deconstructing critical theories and its application to higher education. This course is designed to be a survey of theoretical perspectives on inequality, oppression, power, privilege and social stratification, as well as contemporary applications of them in educational research. Students will have the opportunity to critically engage the relative strengths and limitations of theoretical perspectives provided through course readings, dialogues, and debates.

Who to contact: