Dr. Tina M. Harris, Professor of Communication Studies and a recipient of UGA's esteemed Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship, was recently invited to give a lecture at Texas A&M University on her recent work concerning student racial microgressions. The talk, entitled “‘I Wish I Had Said Something’!: A Qualitative Approach to Student Experiences with and Responses to Racial Microagressions in a College and Local Community,” was held on Thursday, October 19 on Texas A&M’s campus. The following is a brief summary of the study Dr. Harris presented:
To better understand the role of communication in experiences with microaggressions for students of color at a predominantly White institution (PWI), this study involves in-depth interviews with 27 college students of color (SOC) enrolled at a southern flagship university. Initial findings offer insight into how SOC can best manage their negative encounters with racism as they matriculate through the university. More importantly, we offer concrete approaches that universities and their community members should use to address racial social injustices that move beyond the symbolic and towards the practical.
Dr. Harris was also recently invited to compose an article for the quarterly e-newsletter sent out by UGA’s Office of Institutional Diversity as a part of the office’s “Connections” program, which provides resources and assistance to historically underrepresented minority students throughout their first year of study at UGA. We have reproduced the entirety of Dr. Harris’ remarks below.
Tips for Academic Success - from the October 2017 issue of UGA’s “Connections” newsletter
I am a professor with a 27-year connection to UGA. Although there was a 6-year gap where I earned my doctorate and was a faculty member at another university, it seems that it was always in me destiny (or genetics?) to return to the place where my passion for learning was nurtured. I am an educator because I love this beautiful journey of learning with, through, and from my students. I love challenging them to reach their full potential, and I am here to help them on this part of their journey whether they realize it or not. As an educator, I am genuinely concerned about my students’ present and future. Granted, their time at UGA is “brief,” but their experiences have a profound impact on who they are and who they will become, and my classroom is in of many “incubators,” per se, that challenge and encourage students to flourish during their time here.
Students often struggle in college for various reasons, plagued with feelings of self-doubt, missing home, and feeling stress for not knowing their major or their plans post- graduation. They just got here! What did we expect? As a faculty member concerned about the overall well-being of all my students, I see it as my responsibility to assure them that “it’s okay” and that they are okay as they continue their journey at UGA. I will always share my “testimony” because — let my students tell it —it inspires and encourages them to know that if I can do “it,” then they can, too. It allows us to connect in a way that is becoming all too rare.
Throughout my near 20 years at UGA, students have thanked me for the care I show for them and the excitement I have for my profession. This continues to affirm that I have been on my journey all along. And truly started here at UGA. I am where I am supposed to be, and so are they. Just as I found my path, I am confident that these students will, too. I am excited and hopeful that they will find their passion, a burning desire to do “something” that would leave them unfulfilled, lost, and empty if the could not do it, for whatever reason. You will learn, just as I have, that “your passion propels you towards your destiny” (<—I think I made that up ;-). You will realize that UGA and Bulldawg Nation are critical to being launched into your purpose and destiny. It is our purpose to prepare the launching pad that provides the tools, knowledge, and skills necessary for achieving your life’s goals and dreams. I challenge you to find your “tribes,” your communities that will affirm, celebrate, and support you as you find your footing on the pad. Be bold and establish relationships with your professors; they can become some of your greatest mentors and friends. Be the BullDawg you are destined to be! Go Dawgs. Sic’ em. #UGAismylaunchpad