College of Education (COE) doctoral student Cinthya Salazar is a recipient of the 2019 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship. The competitive award is given to selected doctoral students “who have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students” and distributed by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
“Being selected as one of the 2019 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship awardees is an incredible honor,” Salazar says. “As an aspiring professor of higher education and critical scholar, the fellowship will allow me to prepare for a career in academia upon my graduation.”
The award will provide support for the final year of Salazar’s doctoral dissertation research. Salazar’s dissertation, “Collective Resistance in Higher Education: A Participatory Action Study with and for Undocumented Students in Virginia,” engages undocumented college students as co-researchers to understand how undocumented students navigate higher education to achieve their educational goals.
The study uses participatory action research, which involves researchers and participants working together toward a solution, and focuses on the motivation of undocumented students to pursue higher education, as well as the challenges they face in higher education. Salazar hopes to transform what she learns into tangible actions that enhance the educational experience of undocumented college students.
“This award recognizes that the educational experiences of undocumented college students are important and necessary to investigate, and that a participatory action research methodology is a valuable tool for social justice research,” Salazar says.
Salazar thanks those who have supported her throughout her doctoral studies, especially her advisor and chair Dr. Michelle Espino Lira; the Ford recommenders: Dr. Kimberly Griffin, Dr. Sharon Fries-Britt, Dr. Julie J. Park, and Dr. Beth Douthirt Cohen; her dissertation committee and co-researchers; as well as her sister and brother scholars, amigas del alma, familia en Miami y en Perú, and partner.
“Without the encouragement and support of my community, I would not be where I am today,” Salazar says.
Salazar is a student affairs doctoral student in COE’s Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education. Recently, she also received a dissertation award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and a grant award from the Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity Qualitative Research Interest Group as well as a Mac and Lucille McEwen Research Grant from COE. Additionally, Salazar is among a selective group of doctoral candidates to attend the 2019 Intersectional Qualitative Research Methods Institute for Advanced Doctoral Students at the University of Texas at Austin in June.