I apologize for my tardiness. My name is Kayla Crawley, and I am a first year in the sociology PhD program at Rutgers. I wish I could say it is not symbolic of the sheer chaos that was my first year of graduate school, but unfortunately I cannot. However, I can say that the fire in my gut that drove me to draft what would be my personal statement on a Philadelphia trolley to and from work (and my beautiful 4 month old son) is ever present. The few bumps I have endured along the way this academic year have sharpened my research focus, and have helped to develop the confidence I needed to align academic inquiry with my journey in self-discovery. I will share a little about me and my research interests.
I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007 with a BA in Political Science, Philosophy and Economics (minor in Spanish). Following Penn I began working in education in Philadelphia, mostly within the nonprofit and global education sectors. After organizing education and cultural immersion programs for middle school and high school students in the greater Philadephia area for 4.5 years, I decided to enter into higher education administration with the ultimate goal of pursuing a graduate degree. With nearly 6 years of education administrative and managerial experience, I observed a great deal about how education is governed (publicly and privately) and experienced by young people.
Having experienced my own challenges, it has become acutely apparent that the education process should be one that includes an authentic discovery of self, through which actualization can occur. The reality for racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. is that state-sanctioned and higher education will not foster an authentic process of well-informed discovery of self from a perspective of racial and ethnic identity. This, to me, is the axis of numerous challenges that racial minorities experience in education, including mental health, academic achievement, educational attainment, discrimination, etc. My research focus centers around questions of identity, mental health, education and law; they are broad areas for which I am developing smaller projects that get at some of these hazier questions. I am looking forward to discovering how my research can benefit from a comparative analysis of the relationship between identity, health and the state in different contexts, specifically within the African diaspora. If there are indeed different iterations across contexts, it will be interesting to discover the relative political, racial and cultural economies that exist within different social/historical frames of reference. This is where I feel sociology as a discipline has a lot to contribute.
I am participating in GradFund because I am in need of a helping hand along the way in discovering myself as an academic, which this kind of self-promotion naturally fosters. I am hoping GradFund will assist me with deciding which grants/fellowships would best support my academic career, as well as developing the skill to make a compelling case in an application. I look forward to interacting with all of you and reading more about your journeys.
Thank you, GradFund, for an amazing and really well-organized mentoring program.