How Can a Documentary Presentation of HMC (Historically Marginalized Community) Post-Graduate Stories Inspire Other HMCs to Consider Applying to Graduate School?

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The purpose of this action research study was to investigate the actual motivation for application to graduate school for first-generation and international students from historically marginalized communities (HMCS). The specific goal was to augment data on college advisory work, recruiting, and marketing, and look at the wants and needs of students. The study included college graduates who might not make these decisions for weeks, months, years, or decades after college graduation. The key element in the study was the creation of a first-generation narrative video of six HMC graduates who achieved local or national recognition for their success. Knowledge generated was expected to inform future researchers, mentors, and especially graduate school administrators in learning more about the motivation creating that decision to file a postgraduate application. Cycle 1 data consisted of interviewing colleagues, and stakeholders involved in the transition from undergraduate to graduate decision-making. This data and fieldwork with alumni and professional "Centers of Influence" directed in-person and online survey design, and preparation for multi-media data. Action steps involved open and free public library workshops and clinics for subjects, screenings of raw video data, focus groups and public forums of the finished video product, and personal observation of body language, and receipt of open-ended written responses from viewers. The preliminary work was studied, expanded, evaluated, and analyzed in Cycle 2. The results and findings included confirmation of the use of video narratives as an enabler of graduate school motivation and decisions, and the key motivations for college graduates making immediate or delayed postgraduate career goals part of their lives. These motivations in Cycle 2 supported the earliest anecdotal reports of the critical importance of (1) peers and social media, (2) immediate family experience with college or graduate school, and (3) consideration and resolution of financial burdens facing the student. Further findings involved a broad intersectional inclusive approach to defining the special needs of all members of HMCs. Results also reinforced academic concerns for the barriers and enablers of postgrad studies for Latinx women. Implications for institutions, public and private organizations, NGOs, and charitable groups included the increased use of personal interviews or video narratives of graduate school applicants explaining what has motivated them from their unique lived experiences to apply for an advanced degree, a job, or other opportunities. For teachers and students, the implications are that in HMC considerations, "one size" does not "fit all" student circumstances.


Northeastern University


Boston, MA


College of Arts and Sciences

Streaming Media