Perceptions of Students of Color Enrolled in a Pre-Service Teacher Education Program

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Colonel, Jessica A.
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This study was used to explore the college experiences of students of color in an education program at a public university in the Northeast. More than ever, there is a need for teachers of color due to the continuous increase of students of color in the country. This study followed an exploratory qualitative case study research design. Data were collected during the Spring 2023 semester. The sample included 20 full-time undergraduate education students who self-identified as Asian American, Black/African American, or Hispanic/Latino at a teacher education university in the Northeast. The instruments included a student demographics questionnaire and an open-ended interview. A thematic analysis approach was used to analyze the data. Five themes emerged from the data: Characteristics of Educators of Color, Education Career Motivators, Education Program Pros, Career Deterrent for an Education Major, and Ideas to Recruit and Retain Pre-service Teachers of Color. The results of this study provided suggestions to recruit, support, and retain students of color in teacher education.
I have been blessed to have had countless people who support and motivate me on this journey. It is true that no one is successful alone. I would like to express my profound gratitude to Dr. Jody Piro who agreed to be my dissertation chair with no hesitation and to whom I must thank for giving me the idea for this study. Your “backward mapping” strategy set the foundation for my study and was used as I progressed through the chapters. I know you could not advise me throughout my study, but I hope that you will be satisfied with the results. To Dr. Marcy Delcourt, thank you for taking me on in the middle of this project and for being there to answer my late-night texts and emails. I appreciate your time and feedback for reading the many drafts I sent you. Your expertise challenged me to be confident about my decisions and to think outside the box. To Dr. Katherine Roe and Dr. Marsha Daria, thank you for your willingness to serve as my committee members. Your insights and experiences enhance the quality of my study. To Dr. O’Callaghan, thank you for agreeing to be my reader and for motivating me to apply to this program. To my Cohort Nine, thank you for sharing with me the ups and downs of these five years. Thank you, Karen, Karamia, Pete, Brianne, and Nina for answering the countless texts, emails, and phone calls when I needed you. I will always cherish our memories together. To my Pre-Collegiate and Access Programs family for making our work environment enjoyable and being by my side even when I felt stressed. Thank you all for allowing me to be flexible with my time when I was writing late at night; I knew I could count on all of you. Our programs’ goal is to help first-generation and/or low-income students complete a post-secondary education, yet you also helped an alumna go beyond that and complete her doctoral degree. I can now say that “I did my job.” To all my professors, previous teachers, and study participants to continue sharing your passion for teaching and to help create a better world. We need more people like you to ensure that all students are represented and motivated to continue their goals. Please do not be like a previous high school teacher who ripped my college essay and sarcastically said, “You can’t even write, and you think college will accept you.” Oh, how do I wish to find him and send him a copy of this degree? Be more like my life mentor, Linda Mitten, who in Sophomore year in high school, saw the potential that I did not know I have. Para mis padres, Ana y Jaime, quienes han sido un pilar fundamental en mi vida, por su amor incondicional, y el apoyo constante en cada paso que he dado. Gracias por enseñarme que la educación brinda las herramientas y oportunidades para alcanzar nuestros sueños. Su sacrificio de migrar del Ecuador, crearon la fundación para que mi hermana, mis hijos y yo podamos seguir construyendo nuestro sueño Americano. Les amo un montón. To my sister, Jackie, for showing me that distance is no excuse for endless support. Thank you for driving over every time I needed you, for listening when I felt frustrated, and for telling me that I am superwoman for working, studying, and raising a family. I am proud to call you, my sister. To my husband, Christian, thank you for supporting me during all my educational adventures. We met during my first semester of undergraduate school. Little did you know I would still be in school 13 years later! I would still be studying. From visiting me in Spain, to waiting for me to get home at midnight from my master’s classes, to learning to cook, to carrying extra weight around the house, and to raising Christina, you have always been there. Thank you.