Commencement 20 Profile: Ana Guerrero advocates for Latinx students in higher education

Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Ana Guerrero

Ana Guerrero will be graduating with a Ph.D. from the Department of Education at the Gevirtz School. She hopes to work in student or academic affairs in a two or four-year Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).

GGSE: Tell us about your research projects. What are your research interests, and why are they important to you?
My research interests include Latinx students’ academic and career identity development, Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), multicultural education, and general Latinx and first-generation college student concerns in higher education. It’s important to examine these areas because a lot of student potential and dreams are left unfulfilled due to the systematic practice and policies in place. From a social justice perspective, every student deserves options and resources for an equal opportunity to achieve their aspirations. Also, the future of the country depends on the success of Latinx students as by 2025, the labor market will be composed of predominantly people of color, therefore, colleges and universities have an important task at hand.

GGSE: If you could give us one piece of information that you wished every person knew and remembered about your research, what would it be?
Although there are considerable advances in the literature on Latinx student success in higher education, there is still much to be learned. The literature has traditionally framed their experiences using a deficit-based perspective, however, first-generation Latinx college students possess many strengths and expertise that should be recognized, valued, and celebrated in the learning environment, especially in HSIs. In order to be an effective, well-informed Hispanic Serving Institution, student narratives and voices should be at the forefront, especially when making institutional decisions.

GGSE: What’s next? What do you hope to do after earning your Ph.D.?
I hope to work in student or academic affairs in a two or four-year HSI. Working closely with students inspired and kept me motivated during graduate school, and I hope to continue that through my professional career. I also hope to help inform and implement HSI initiatives that later become institutionalized. Overall, I hope to continue to advocate for minoritized students in higher education and serve as a cultural broker.

GGSE: What piece of advice would you pass on to future students in the Gevirtz School?
For first-generation college students: share who you truly are with the world. Don’t be afraid to bring your whole self to graduate school because you bring tremendous strengths and value to the institution. Also, reach out to people, you don’t have to go through the graduate school process alone. Your tribe (network) can extend beyond GGSE, such as professors, staff, and graduate students in different departments, institutions, and states. Conferences are a great place to meet these people!

GGSE: Is there anyone in the Gevirtz School that you would like to thank?
My advisor, Dr. Richard Duran, for guiding me and believing in me before I believed in myself, and for the many letters of recommendation he wrote to support my funding. Also, as a local, I was part of a UCSB pre-college program he helped advise, so his long-term work and dedication to students is very much appreciated! The rest of my dissertation committee, Dr. Melissa Morgan-Consoli and Dr. Rebeca Mireles-Rios, for helping guide my research with their expertise. Thank you!

GGSE: What is one of your favorite memories of your graduate school experience?
Definitely working with students in different capacities, but also the opportunities (courses, programs, conferences, events, etc.) to engage in work/discussions I am passionate about, and connect with others who are dedicated to supporting minoritized students succeed in college and beyond. I’ve met wonderful people along the way!

GGSE: In lieu of an in-person ceremony, how will you be celebrating your graduation?
Possibly, have a picnic with my family and later, when it’s safe to do so, I’ll have another celebration with friends and key people who influenced and supported my journey.