With guidance from Dr. Tara Gully-Hightower, Massasoit students Arielle Samantha Anicet,  Ava-Kay Judy-Gay, Travis Lawrence, Chelsea Mukuria, Samuel Odunuga, Onyinyechukwu Chinonyerem Okoroji, and Oluwaseun Oseyemi Phifer, the Massasoit Community College Participatory Action Research (PAR) Team presented their research at the American Educational Research Association in Philadelphia this April 2024. Global Students attending community colleges hold vast knowledge based upon their prior educational achievements and lived experiences. Their presence enriches college communities; yet, despite their strengths and contributions to the college community, they experience educational realities that reflect marginalizing practices and deficit frameworks. The Massasoit PAR Team’s research presentation entitled, Supporting Their Brilliance: Global Students ’ Dismantling Structures of Global Racism at a Community College, revealed intersecting, systemic barriers for international and immigrant community college students that hinder their success. This study also produced recommendations and action steps that the college could take to help mitigate these barriers.

Groups of students sitting on a staircase.
Students sit on the steps for a photo at AERA 24, shortly after receiving their conference badges. (Top row left to right): Travis Lawrence, Samuel Odunuga, Tara Gully-Hightower, Onyi Okoroji. (Bottom row left to right): Ava-Kay Judy-Gay, Oluwaseun Phifer, Arielle Anicet, Chelsea Mukuria.

Massasoit’s Commitment to Student Voice and Action for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Massasoit Community College is leading the way in equity work through its funding of the participatory action research (PAR) office. This student-led research collaborative works to reveal systemic barriers and inequities facing students. The student co-researchers’ ongoing work helps college administrators take meaningful and appropriate action toward relevant, student-centered improvements. Massasoit is one of the only colleges in the state with a permanent PAR Team director and PAR Office. Thus, Massasoit demonstrates an authentic willingness to listen to students and receive feedback on specific policies and practices in order to remove barriers for students and bring about policy change on an ongoing basis. This year’s 23-24 PAR study focused on Global Student experiences, that is Immigrant Students, Undocumented Students, and ELL students. Global Students have informally reported experiencing barriers to their success over the last 7-10 years. In response, this study set out to capture and document the lived experiences of MassasoitGlobal Students by asking the following research questions: What are the experiences of Global Students from the perspective of the students themselves? In what ways could the college better serve Global Students so that Massasoit’s policies and practices align with the college’s mission to remove barriers and support diversity, equity, and inclusion?

According to PAR co-researcher Chelsea Mukuria, “This trip to AERA was a learning experience for all the researchers because they got to see and hear some of the amazing and famous researchers like Dr. Kimberly Crenshaw and Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings present their research and viewpoints. The main takeaway from this is how these accomplished legal scholars presented their research and the legal, and historical analysis methods they used to ground all the information in their arguments for equity in education and society. Our own Massasoit research was presented in a symposium with Ph.D. students from UMass Boston’s Urban Education and Policy Studies program.  Our presentation focused on the difficulties Global Students are going through, we provided our analysis of the causes of these difficulties as well as recommendations for small changes that would help improve the often distressing experiences of Massasoit Global Students. Slight enhancements such as a dedicated Center for Global Students, would attract even more Global Students and would make Massasoit stand out as a stellar place to be if you are a Global Student looking for an American education in a supportive and welcoming environment. Once again, we would like to thank Dr. Tara Gully-Hightower, Massasoit Success, Student Support Services, Student Life, The Massasoit Foundation, Massasoit Administrative Offices, and the co-researchers themselves for taking the time to make this year’s presentation a success.”