Staying and Thriving: Cultivating Community with and for Black Women Undergraduate Students in the College of Education and Human Ecology
As a translational research center, The Center on Education and Training for Employment leverages translational research (evidence-based interventions) to increase the well-being of communities. The community of Black women students in the College of Education and Human Ecology (EHE) has recently provided explicit feedback regarding their perceptions of a reduced sense of belonging at the university.
Consistent with research on the interests of Black women in EHE, sense of belonging is described as having a safe space; access to attentive and responsive academic advisors or mentors; and both awareness and understanding of how to access enrichment opportunities. Scholarship highlights the fact that Black women’s sense of belonging influences their abilities to successfully complete a college degree at a Predominately White Institution (PWI).
While there are many actions that can be taken to address the disparate retention and experiences of Black women students, this project focuses on providing these students with the supports they deserve and desire. To address issues related to building safe spaces and community, poor advisement or low mentorship, and lack of enrichment opportunities, participants engage in sister circles, mentorship by a near-peer Black woman graduate student, and explicit exposure to enrichment opportunities and funding. Sister circles, specifically, create a safe space for Black women students to commune and interact, facilitate connection with Black women staff and faculty, and overall increase participants’ sense of belonging within the College.