March 18, 2022
In American Indian Studies, Native graduates of the University of Arizona’s American Indian studies (AIS) doctoral program, the first of its kind, share their personal stories about their educational experiences and how doctoral education has shaped their identities, lives, relationships, and careers. Essayists share the benefits of having an AIS program at a mainstream academic institution—not just for the students enrolled, but also for their communities. American Indian Studies also offers Native students aspiring to a PhD a realistic picture of what it takes. While each student has their own path to walk, these stories provide the gift of encouragement and serve to empower Native students to reach their educational goals, whether it be in an AIS program or other fields of study. Read the excerpt below for a glimpse into the experiences of the essayists.
The editors asked Native UArizona AIS PhD graduates to write about their educational experiences earning their doctorates using storytelling, a traditional means of passing knowledge and information for Native Peoples. In the resulting chapters, nine Native graduates who hold the highest scholarly degree in the academy from the first AIS program highlight their personal voices and stories, sharing their messages, lessons, and advice as gifts to future American Indian graduate students.
Personal stories of mentorship, networking, relationships, reciprocity, sacrifices, commitment, challenges, and triumphs shape this book. These stories are unique to the individuals, their families, and their communities. Their narratives provide insight into the journeys of American Indian graduate students pursuing advanced degrees and their experiences after earning the degree. We (co-editors) hope that giving voice to the AIS Native doctoral graduates in these stories will inspire future generations of American Indian students to follow in their footsteps—stories that are realistic so Native students are better prepared to succeed.
The personal narratives of struggle and success shared throughout this book help to reduce the invisibility of Native doctoral students and graduates in the larger mainstream dialogue that result from such statistics (Blair 2015; Brayboy et al. 2012; Shotton et al. 2013). While each student has their own path to walk, these stories can also serve to empower others to reach their own educational goals, whether it be in an AIS program or other field of study.
American Indian Studies: Native PhD Graduates Gift Their Stories is a collection of personal narratives from nine Native graduates of the UArizona AIS doctoral program. Here, these alumni tell their own stories of endurance and resiliency, hardship and struggles, and accomplishment and success in their own words. Not only do their perspectives provide insight into the diverse and dynamic experiences of Native doctoral students but they also serve as role models of encouragement for those following in their footsteps. In all ways, they illustrate the extensive benefits of having an AIS program at a mainstream academic institution, not just for the students enrolled but for Native communities as well.