Paper Example on My Journey as a Queer Black First-Gen Student: Overcoming P-20 Challenges

Paper Type:  Personal statement
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1279 Words
Date:  2023-09-21

I am a Queer Black Person from Richmond, CA. Specifically, I am the youngest of my siblings, even though I was the first to graduate from high school. I have managed to excel in my academics despite the multiple challenges I experienced. Therefore, I can confidently ascertain that I am a first-generation student who was plagued throughout the P-20 years with self-doubt and chronic self-criticism about whether I could succeed in my educational career.

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Despite ongoing personal, professional, and academic success, I felt covertly and overtly discouraged by educators, the education system, and the multitudes of cultural hegemony. In the course of my learning, I was an unacquainted unlikely situation that I can term as "imposter syndrome." This situation results in disproportionately deleterious effects on marginalized students. Personally, I navigated education with an ever-evolving fear that I was bound to be exposed as "undeserving." However, with little support, I managed to undertake independent research through self-driven resilience, and trial-and-error to reclaim the narrative that I was never an imposter.

I had to first acknowledge my "non- traditional perspective" as an asset to acquire true self-actualization. Such a unique move is what makes me a diverse and authentic voice, researcher, and educator. Correspondingly, I have, for a long time, yearned for an individualized education pathway that challenges, fosters, and hones my unique skills as emancipatory and liberator. Each moment, I seek to be cultivated further in my vision through acknowledging my activism, systemic lens, diverse voice, intersecting identities, interdisciplinary experience profile, and innovative solutions primary motivators in my education, leadership, and professional goals.

I can comfortably see a glimpse of my long-held desire coming into reality if I get this opportunity to pursue an inter-field Urban Leadership and Cultural Studies degree. My first introduction towards becoming a social justice scholar was realized during my undergraduate career at California State University, Stanislaus. I managed to earn a double bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from the institution. In complementary to the degree, I undertook the Counseling Psychology master’s program, which included social-justice-oriented interdisciplinary perspectives in data-driven theory and application. Studying these fields helped me gain a unique and in-depth appreciation for how people learn, behave, and how socio-political systems of domination and oppression, culture, and identity influence behaviors, outcomes, and inequitable divides. I am always driven by the need to make a change. Thus I have held numerous employment and internship positions in urban education, community-based, and nonprofit sectors.

As a highly responsible and community-oriented professional, I take authentic human relationships, equity, and social justice frameworks fundamental to my perceptions, actions, and leadership foundations. The fact that I developed through a cohesive interlink between research, education, sociology, and psychology has made me constantly strive to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena to enhancing support structures available to communities. Each intervention aims to reduce systemic barriers that contribute to push-out and amplifying marginalized voices and their needs. On this basis, I was given the University of San Francisco (USF) Social Justice Scholarship Award, which recognizes the USF School of Education students seeking to be transformative change agents in their schools, professions, and communities.

Driven by personal and professional experiences, I sought to continue my calling to deepen my understanding as a scholarly leader and researcher. I began my Ph.D. in Education at Claremont Graduate University because the research institutes, faculty, program design, and Urban Leadership concentration suited me. To highlight trends and present-day experiences of Black transgender/gender non-conforming (TGNC) students, educators, and leaders in education institutions, I seek to utilize this data to advocate for and identify best practices in diversifying, hiring and retaining Black TGNC educators, leaders, and counselors.

At the intersections of gender theory, critical race studies, and black feminism in qualitative inquiry, I desired to highlight the intersections of anti-black and cissexist oppression within education. I was especially interested in overarching the impact of systems of domination (colonialism, neoliberalism, and white supremacy culture) on education leaders’ ability to universally and equitably support the marginalized population. Through the individualized mentorship offered within the Urban Leadership program, I soon realized that I was missing key components of my professional development, and my research desires were also shifting.

I attended three Cultural Studies class observations with Dr. Eve Oishi (The Time and Space of Cultural Studies and Feminist & Queer Theory: Bodies of Knowledge) and Dr. Darrell Moore (Genealogies of Freedom) and immediately knew what I had long suspected. I lacked the cultural expertise, applied critical theory, and diverse research frameworks for discussing, inquiring, and researching transformations’ cultural critique. This moment solidified that an inter-field degree would easily bridge the connections already made in my urban leadership program with decolonized, neo-abolitionist, and anti-oppressive leadership. Filled with passionate possibilities, I knew that a transdisciplinary degree with Cultural Studies would bring meaningful opportunities to developing my assets and push my professional and research interests into the advancement that I was seeking.

Therefore, I had to figure out whether or not to continue engaging in autodidacticism or take advantage of experiential learning, discussion-rich seminars, interdisciplinary educators, and intriguing course options related to my research interest. Upon reasoning and considering all the facts available, I have concluded that I cannot afford to miss this golden opportunity. My learning experience and expertise would be deeply enhanced by an inter-field Urban Leadership and Cultural Studies individualized study program. As a critically conscious educator, I seek to balance my theory, professional practice, life experience, and radical resistance to diversify the professoriate and engage in critical dissertation creation.

My dissertation interests now include: applying the liberatory design process within the framework of education leadership and exploring graduate programs' social responsibility to prepare critical social justice-oriented education professionals effectively. Research is inundated with centering deficit frameworks, domination, and oppression. I desire to deepen my research with emancipatory, liberatory, and decolonized understandings of leadership ideology, curriculum theory, and cultural criticism.

My professional goals include teaching critical Diversity & Equity in Education (DE) courses and building a standardization of critical social justice competencies in pre-service education graduate programs (, career, and college counseling, higher education, student affairs, teaching, and education leadership). The distinguished scholars like David Luis-Brown (Cultural Studies) and Dr. Linda Perkins (Education) specifically examine institutional socio-political contexts, culture, contributions to cycles of inequity, and (most importantly) offer solutions on bridging barriers for positive experiences and outcomes for Black communities. This opportunity aligns with my long-term research goals, perspective, and interest in exploring the intersectionality of identity and changing institutional dynamics to guide and inspire scholars. Furthermore, these professors’ qualitative, heavy, but mixed methods of research reflects my current quantitative research experience. It also aligns with my desire to develop qualitative research skills for mixed-methods in the dissertation.

So far, my journey towards achieving an inter-field Urban Leadership and Cultural Studies program has deeply followed the sentiments of Marianne Williamson’s famous passage, that “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure… [and] as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others” (Williamson,2014). Therefore, investing in me would show and echo your mutual pursuit in liberating forward-thinking, transformative, and innovative leaders. Contributing a multidisciplinary perspective on policy and practice that focuses directly on equity issues, I anticipate joining your assembly of students who aspire to engage in critical inquiry and liberation. I sincerely hope the faculty of the Cultural Studies Ph.D. program would consider my application for admittance. I sincerely thank you for your time.


Williamson, M. (2014). Discover Your Fearless Self. Aacn Bold Voices, 6(10).

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Paper Example on My Journey as a Queer Black First-Gen Student: Overcoming P-20 Challenges. (2023, Sep 21). Retrieved from

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