Friday, May 15, 2015

How a White Historian Nurtures Diverse Ph.D.’s

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 15th, 2015

Virginia S. Yans is well known for advising what she calls her "rainbow children" — more than a dozen diverse, first-generation Ph.D. students who have gone through Rutgers University’s history department. As a historian who specializes in gender and immigration, she has trained many such students over the past few decades.
I am one of those rainbow children. We came from working-class or immigrant families: African-American like me, white, Italian-American, Argentinian, Hungarian-Filipino, Lebanese-Cuban, and students who make their homes in Japan and Korea. Many of us entered graduate school feeling uncertain of our place in the academy and afraid that professors would not understand how important our identities were to our research agendas.
The first and most obvious place I looked for a dissertation adviser was among black women, but surprisingly, I found the climate and sensitivity I needed for personal and intellectual growth in this tiny woman who did not share my skin color.

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