• What is your degree program and expected graduation date? I am a Doctoral Student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Program (HESA). I expect to graduate in Spring 2020.
• Please describe your research: My research interests focus on the persistence and retention of Black men at historically and predominately white institutions in the United States. More specifically, I am interested in exploring the complex set of factors that contribute to structural barriers and achievement gaps in higher education for Black men.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2015), Black males rank last compared to other races in terms of graduation within four years of entering college. This research matters because it will help identify strategies to help ensure the success of Black males. In addition, this research will identify institutional and structural barriers that have a profound impact on the success of Black males in higher education.
• How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I was fortunate to be on a research team with Dr. Sherry Watt my first semester in the HESA program. I am still a member of her research team. I am also a member of a research team with Dr. Jodi Linley. In addition, I have been actively engaged in my own research agenda on Black male success.
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? The opportunity to be actively engaged in research at the University of Iowa has made me more successful because it has helped me to apply what I am learning in the classroom to my own research. My research experiences have been transformative and have contributed to my increased passion for research. The faculty in the HESA program have been inspirational research mentors. They have all helped me to further develop my research skills and are excellent role models for what it means to be a committed scholar for social justice.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? After graduation my plan is to be a faculty member at an institution where I can focus on the persistence and retention of Black male students at predominately white institutions. I am interested in exploring the complex set of factors that contribute to structural barriers and achievement gaps in higher education for Black men. Based on my research, I hope to identify concrete strategies and research-based interventions for addressing these problems. As a student affairs professional, I am committed to helping institutions create diverse, inclusive, and equitable environments where all students can thrive and realize their full potential.
• Faculty mentor/advisor: Dr. Sherry Watt
• Hometown: Onalaska, Wisconsin
Banner location: University Capitol Centre—