Urban Initiative Update

Diversity Council Addresses Obstacles for Women in the Workplace And Undocumented Students In Education

William Perez

The GSEP Diversity Council presented “Inspirational Journeys: Preparing Women for Lives of Purpose, Service, and Leadership,” on June 9 at the West Los Angeles Graduate Campus.

The program focused on how the “glass ceiling” is no longer an accurate metaphor for the limits women face. A better descriptor is a labyrinth—several paths leading to varied destinations. Women continue to find obstacles within the labyrinth and often do not reach their end goals at all. Three female panelists, all of whom have obtained a high position in the education sector, discussed their perspective on the labyrinth journey, as well as anecdotes from their own personal journey.

Panelists included Dr. Margaret Weber, dean of GSEP; Tabatha Jones Jolivet, associate dean of student affairs at Pepperdine University Seaver College; and Monica Garcia, president of the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the nation. Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, associate professor of psychology, moderated.

The speaker series was developed by the GSEP Diversity Council to provide a forum for representatives of varied backgrounds and views to speak on subjects affecting the fields of education and mental health. The discussions are ultimately meant to provide a means for GSEP to build partnerships with the surrounding community and help students cultivate their multicultural knowledge.

The next event, to be held in honor of Latino Heritage Month, will take place on September 29 and feature Dr. William Perez, author of We ARE Americans: Undocumented Students Pursuing the American Dream. The Urban Institute estimates that there are approximately 3.4 million children and young adults under the age of 24 living in the United States who are undocumented. The academic and emotional fate of undocumented youth has recently gained much attention in the media. The debate in California’s gubernatorial race includes some candidates favoring an end to a 2001 state law that allows undocumented California high school graduates to attend public universities. Currently, they must pay the in-state tuition and do not qualify for financial aid. With this in mind, Perez will discuss “Exceptional Students, Marginal Lives: Achievement and Civic Engagement Among Undocumented Latino Youths.”

In his book, We ARE Americans, Perez comments that, “despite public investment in their education, high levels of achievement, community service, leadership experience, and a deep sense of commitment to American society, undocumented students remain without legal status, are not considered American and thus are not eligible for any type of assistance to attend college, even though over 90 percent of the students surveyed aspire to obtain a master’s degree or higher.” Many undocumented students overcome academic and socio-emotional barriers through social and moral support from family, peers, school agents, and academic programs. This program will inform members of the GSEP community how they can respond to or support undocumented individuals in an educational or mental health capacity.

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