A newsletter of the Office for Diversity in Graduate Education

The Kaleidescope

(Newsletter with COSP Spring Schedule - pdf format click here)                                                     Spring 2015

¡Felicidades Predoctoral Fellows!  U of MN Predoctoral Diversity Teaching Fellowship

Student at deskSince fall 2014, Ana Cecilia Iraheta, Roxanne Renedo, and Antoinette Abeyta had the opportunity to enhance their academic careers through the University of Minnesota Predoctoral Diversity Teaching Fellowship. In its fourth year and administeredthrough the Office for Diversity in Graduate Education (ODGE), this highly competitive fellowship offers doctoral candidates teaching opportunities at the Morris and Duluth campuses while writing their dissertation and being mentored by senior faculty. Fellows teach a lower division course for fall semester and an upper division course for spring semester. Each of the fellows confirmed their interest in the Fellowship stemmed from the experience they would receive teaching at a different type of institution while having time to write. Their experiences have expanded opportunities to network and connect to professionals both on and off the host campuses.

Ana Cecilia Iraheta is a fellow at the University of Minnesota–Morris campus, having taught Intermediate Spanish in fall 2014 and teaching Spanish Grammar in Practice for spring 2015. Her research interests include the internal and external mechanisms underlying the pronunciation of the ‘s’ as ‘th’ in Salvadoran Spanish and its meaning. Her research also extends to the intonational patterns in Central American Spanish and the variation in regions of speakers who migrate to the United States. The fellowship has allowed Ana Cecilia to focus on developing and implementing course materials, while establishing professional connections at conferences. “I have learned to be independent in terms of teaching. I have had the opportunity to create my own syllabi and implement all aspects of a course development and instruction on my own.”           

Also teaching at University of Minnesota—Morris is Roxanne Renedo, a doctoral student in the Department of Earth Sciences. Roxanne taught Mineralogy and Crystallography in fall 2014 and is teaching Field and Research Methods for spring 2015. Roxanne studies the processes active in sites of continental collisions, either modern or ancient. She credits the fellowship with expanding her skills as an academic.

“The direct teaching experience of this fellowship has helped prepare me for teaching undergraduate students. Additionally, my conversations with experienced faculty members have given me insight into the life of a professor; these connections are invaluable.”           

Another doctoral student in the Department of Earth Sciences is Antoinette Abeyta.  She, however, is a fellow at the University of Minnesota—Duluth where she taught Introduction to Stream Restoration in fall 2014, and is teaching Creative Problem Solving for spring 2015. Her research focuses on cohesive sediment and how it alters geological processes. Antoinette has gained from the fellowship experience in multiple ways. “I have learned so much through this fellowship program. I have been given the opportunity to develop new courses that I find interesting, to interact with students on their research and, in general, understand the challenges of being in an academic environment. I think these experiences will make me more competitive as a candidate and better prepare me for my future endeavors as a research scientist. I feel that knowing what is ahead of me, I can better prepare for the future.”


Among the Community of Scholars Program participants who received external doctoral fellowships for the 2014-15 academic year are Jameson Sweet, Tammy Owens, and Jamal Adams. Jameson Sweet is pursuing his degree in the Department of History and was awarded the Ford Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship which seeks to increase faculty diversity among the nation’s colleges and universities.  Jameson’s research combines critical indigenous studies, legal history, ethnohistory, family history and linguistic analysis for his dissertation: “The Mixed-Blood Moment: Race, Law and Mixed-Blood Dakota Indians in Nineteenth-Century Minnesota.” The Ford fellowship gave Jameson time to write the dissertation, helped reduce stress, added economic stability, and contributed to his professional development.

Tammy Owens, in the Department of American Studies, received the Carter G. Woodson Pre-Doctoral Fellowship which is awarded to scholars in the humanities and social sciences who focus on an array of of topics in African-American and African studies and related fields. Tammy’s work explores historical performances of queer black girlhood in the U.S. from 1861-1963 that includes centering black girls as historical actors and their girlhoods as sites of knowledge. Through the Carter G. Woodson fellowship, Tammy has gained a supportive community, time to focus and give appropriate attention to research, and write her dissertation. Fellows are in residence at the University of Virginia.

Lastly, Jamal Adams is a doctoral student in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development.  He received the Bush Fellowship which prepares fellows to develop networks to effectively lead change. Jamal’s research interest includes the application of behavioral economics in the promotion of research integrity and prevention of academic misconduct.  Jamal credits the fellowship with allowing him to focus on his dissertation while giving him the opportunity to travel and attend academic conferences, thus helping him establish credentials as a scholar.


Students at writing tableThe COSP Writing Initiative is in its second year and continues to develop multiple methods to support COSP students with their writing projects.

Individual writing consultations (in-person and online).

Students receive feedback on organization, clarity, structure, argument, and other higher-order concerns. Each session is one hour.

Writing workshops are held each semester. “Writing from Our Strengths” (fall 2014) featured a critical discussion on balancing disciplinary writing expectations with our voices and the contexts of the communities we serve and come from. We also have faculty of color panels, “How Do Professors Write (or Even Start Writing)?”  in fall 2014 and “What I Wish I’d Known as a Grad Student who Wanted to Get Published” held spring 2015.

In-person and online writing groups. Writers come together to hold each other accountable by exchanging drafts, setting writing goals, and, on occasion, writing together.  Fifteen groups have been formed.

Shut Up and Write!  Twice a month, space is designated for COSP students to write in community with others.  Participants commit to three full hours, with the option to stay the entire day to continue writing. Guided writing activities, consultations, and free coffee and snacks characterize this retreat.

What is good practice without research? In  fall 2014, we conducted focus groups in the humanities, social sciences, health sciences, and science and engineering, asking doctoral students about their experiences as writers in our effort to assess the needs and assets of graduate students of color and to further develop the Writing Initiative.


Over the last year, ODGE staff traveled to recruitment events and conferences in California, Georgia, Illinois, Puerto Rico, Tennessee and Texas.  In fall 2014 we attended recruitment events at Florida A & M University, Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University and both the Georgia and California National McNair Scholars Conferences.  We also participated in the International Colloquium on Black Males in Education held at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Our leadership with the Campus Wide Recruitment Council Team gave us exposure at national conferences that target underrepresented populations such as the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans, and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.  For spring 2015, we will participate in the Northern California Diversity Forum, the Florida Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the Texas National McNair Conference.    

In addition to the recruitment initiatives, to enhance the retention and degree completion of graduate students of color, ODGE hosted two social events that brought together students from across campus.  Our 25th Annual Student of Color Welcome Luncheon, held each fall, was attended by over 120 graduate students.  The Diversity of Views and Experiences (DOVE) Fellowship reception recognized fellows from 2011 to 2015.  Faculty mentors, the Vice President for Equity and Diversity, and the Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School were also in attendance. In fall 2014, ODGE and the North Star STEM Alliance co-hosted the Bridge to the Doctorate Workshop which is specifically targeted to undergraduates in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines.  University faculty and staff provided information related to the graduate admissions process, funding for graduate education, and preparing as undergraduates for graduate study.  The workshop is just one of the activities undertaken by the University to increase the number of students from underrepresented communities going on to graduate study.
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