Tuesday, February 12, 2019

CPEP student Seanna Leath’s reflections on being a parent and a student published in Inside Higher Education


Photo of Seanna Leath

Doctoral candidate Seanna Leath’s essay on the intersection of poverty and privilege appeared in Inside Higher Ed’s Conditionally Accepted column. In her essay, she describes her awareness of the dissonance between her public identity as a poor, single, Black mother and her academic identity as a privileged graduate student at an institution that is striving to improve available supports for student parents.

“In many ways, I am privileged as a student parent. My institution provides resources that other universities don’t offer,” she explains. “My department is accommodating, and my adviser has always supported my efforts to set up healthy boundaries for myself and my children. I am not asked to work beyond childcare hours. And I have not been excluded from professional development opportunities because of negative assumptions about my commitment to scholarship and research. All three of my children have attended lab meetings and department talks, and I was able to take time off after the birth of my younger two.”

In the article, she also reflects on being treated with bias outside of campus. “I was judged. I was criminalized. I was belittled,” she says, calling her position a “double-edged reality” that made her think about the overall complicated situation of all student parents who may be finding themselves supported within the academy yet lacking social capital or cultural privilege outside of the university.

Leath also shares insights about additional supports that could help parents like her deal with marginalization as a result of socioeconomic status. 

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