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ACA 2018 Conference & Expo Sessions


552 - Examining African American Women Graduate Students’ Affinity Group Experiences


Apr 27, 2018 3:00pm ‐ Apr 27, 2018 3:30pm

Description

This poster session will examine two cases using affinity groups designed to support African American women in counselor education programs at predominantly White institutions. The presenters will focus on answering the following research question: What are the lived experiences of Counselor education African American women graduate students participating in campus-based Affinity groups at predominantly White institutions? The presenters will illuminate the five themes gleaned from the study, the methodological processes, and future implications.

From their historical beginnings affinity groups (or sister circles) have been utilized among African-American woman across various settings and for various reasons. These sister circle groups have been integrated within organizations (i.e., church, workplace settings, schools) brought together by a shared purpose or theme. Sister circles have also been utilized as a psychoeducational or therapeutic tool to address common concerns, conditions and support (Neal-Barnett, Stadulis, Murray, Payne, Thomas & Salley 2011). Within academia, Black women experience marginalization, silence, lack of support by peers and faculty, as well as aversive racism while navigating through graduate education. (Haskins, Whitfield-Williams, Shillingord, Singh, Moxley & Ofauni, 2013; Shillingford, Trice-Black & Butler, 2013). Stressors related to the learning environment that values the dominant ideology, training, and students include depressive symptoms (Priest, Perry, Ferdinand, Paradies & Kelaher, 2014) anxiety (Barnett et al., 2011), inferiority (Jones & Shorter-Gooden, 2003), microaggressions (Kohli & Solorzano, 2012) and attrition (Johnson-Bailey, 2004). Watts-Jones (2002) describe how affinity groups or sanctuary spaces offer, safety for Black graduate students attending predominately White institutions (PWI), a sense of belonging, healing and restoration. These spaces allow for the development of a professional network, mentorship, engage in critical conversation within a support space, as well as gain information on how to navigate graduate school. (Daniel, 2009). This cultural space serves as a respite from the challenges of graduate school while addressing the unique needs for Black graduate students. According to Tauriac, Kim, Sarin˜ana, Tawa & Kahn (2013), affinity groups provide a space for participants to engage in critical and in-depth conversation around their identities as well as prepare for conversations with groups from different identities. These groups can be utilized to promote conversations and build relationships and cohesion among students with different identities. Thus, this presentation will focus on the qualitative phenomenological study of Affinity group members who were engaged in a group designed to support African American women in counselor education programs in a predominantly white institution. The presenters will specifically focus on answering the following research question: What are the lived experiences of Counselor Education African American women graduate students participating in a campus-based Relational-Cultural Affinity Group at a Research Intensive PWI? In addition, this presentation will illuminate the five themes gleaned from the study, the methodological processes, and implications for practice and research. The presenters will also all time for attendees to take part in an experiential aspect of an affinity group and discuss their own experiences and needs within these types of support structures.

Learning Objectives:

  • Gain insight into African American graduate women experiences of marginalization, silence, lack of support, and encountering of aversive racism while navigating through a counseling program.
  • Hear participants’ reflections from creating a safe space for marginalized African American women graduate students at predominantly white institutions
  • Will learn how to implement campus-based Affinity Groups for African American women counseling graduate students at a PWI to promote equitable student development and support

Speaker(s):

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