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UTCSW PhD Students Attended a Race, Research, and Justice Training

Chesney Ward

UTCSW PhD students Chesney Ward and Kenyette Garrett recently attended a Race, Research, and Justice training offered by Vanderbilt as part of their Early Career Professional Learning Series. The training was held virtually on four Saturdays and covered topics such as teaching, mentoring, grant writing, philanthropy, writing and publishing across genres, and wellness and mindfulness.

Garrett, Kenyette S. headshot
Kenyette Garrett

Chesney: As a Black woman in academia, I think it is important to engage in scholarship with and for minority populations and this training was dedicated to scholars who engage in this type of research and teaching. It is a great training for early career professionals and was also an opportunity to learn about other scholars’ work and network. 

Kenyette: I was really interested in learning from scholars who are successfully navigating the academy while conducting research that benefits and uplifts people of color. It also seemed like a great opportunity to connect with scholars who are engaged in similar work. 

Chesney: In hindsight, four Saturdays for me was not a big commitment. Especially if it gave me the opportunity to grow my skills and be a successful professional in the academy. This is a professional degree and sometimes that means sacrificing a weekend day to learn more about navigating academia and engaging with other scholars who are also contributing substantial research to the field.  After the first session, it was not a problem to dedicate the next three Saturdays to this because that is how interesting and informative it was. 

Kenyette: It was four Saturdays and five hours each Saturday, but it never felt that long once the sessions were underway. I felt like I was with my people. It was very interactive and every week I would come away with nuggets of knowledge that I was excited to share with others. It was truly such an honor to share a virtual space with so many accomplished scholars dedicated to social justice work. I left each session inspired to explore ways to do my part. 

Chesney: This training reinforced a lot of material that has been taught throughout my doctoral education but from a different lens. 

Kenyette: The first thing that comes to mind is the importance of establishing safe spaces for students of color in order to facilitate their growth and development as scholars. We also learned practical tools for handling heated discussions in the classroom, which was great. I appreciated learning how to position our writing for publication and funding. I think the most important thing I am taking from the workshops is to remember the importance of self-care when one is engaged in social justice work.

Chesney: The training was interactive and there were a lot of breakout rooms and opportunities for small-group learning and interaction. That made the training worth attending. I wasn’t sitting on a Zoom screen listening to different people lecture at me from 9 am to 2 pm. 

Kenyette: The best part of the training for me was feeling affirmed in my work by hearing about the work that others were doing. I also really appreciated how transparent the presenters and facilitators were with us about the barriers they’ve encountered and how they continue to overcome them. Since we all have similar goals, it felt nice to be a part of this interconnected group of scholars across disciplines. I now better understand how the struggle is very much a part of this process but knowing that I am not alone has been empowering.  Another highlight was meeting a student who is a fan of Dr. Andrea Joseph-McCatty, with whom I have the pleasure of working with as her Graduate Research Assistant. That was really cool. 

Kenyette: I am so appreciative to Dr. Mary Gitau and the ADEI Office for sponsoring the opportunity to attend this series of workshops. This was an incredible experience that has nourished my soul as a Black woman and as a scholar.