Dear Students

10 Letters to Empower and Transform Your Higher Education Journey

by Meredith Madden (Author)
©2023 Monographs XIV, 74 Pages


Dear Students: 10 Letters to Empower and Transform Your Higher Education Journey is a higher education guide that prepares students to authentically and intentionally "do school." This is not your typical "how-to" guide. Dear Students uses narratives to illuminate critical topics that will foster the reader’s understanding of valuable matters such as getting noticed and having your experiences centered; building a circle of support; the significance of faculty relationships including building those relationships in spaces like office hours; addressing fears of speaking, disrupting silence, and engaging voice in the classroom; developing deep listening; cultivating community; nurturing belonging; preparing to participate; and keeping hope alive. Readers will engage moments of critical reflection and leave with many diverse "know-how" strategies that will position them to "do-school" from a place of empowerment and for the purpose of transformation. This book will support the journey of all students, and the people who support them, but is an especially important resource for students holding marginalized identities such as first-generation college students.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1 My Solidarity Letters to You: An Introduction and an Invitation
  • Chapter 2 Get Noticed and Come Center
  • Chapter 3 Build Your Circle of Support
  • Chapter 4 The Significance of Faculty Relationships: From Office Hours to Recommendations
  • Chapter 5 Your Voice Matters: Addressing Fears of Speaking in Class, Disrupting Your Silence, and Engaging Your Voice
  • Chapter 6 Ready Yourself for Your Best Path: Prepare to Participate
  • Chapter 7 On Listening
  • Chapter 8 Yes, You Belong There: A Letter on Belonging and Community
  • Chapter 9 Learning as a Way Toward Living
  • Chapter 10 On Hope

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For me writing has always been an expression of love. This book is anchored in a history of love and connection to so many people who have walked alongside me over the many moments of my life’s journey. The idea for this book came as I finished a three-year teaching contract in the Education Studies program at Hamilton College. While I had been an adjunct professor for six years during graduate school, the position at Hamilton was my first full-time college teaching position. I entered my first class filled with enthusiasm and a healthy dose of nerves! I believe that the universe was working from a place of loving intention that fall because in that first class I was met by a beloved group of students, many sophomores, with whom I spent the next three years teaching across different classes and through independent studies and research projects. I often think of the ways we learned and grew alongside one another in that time. When that chapter of my journey came to a close, I realized how symbiotic the professor-student relationship was: we all taught one another because we were all open to learning and growth in community. During those years other students crossed my path who fell into this community as well. I am grateful and extend thanks to every student who showed up in those learning communities through the Hamilton College Education Studies program. I am also so grateful and extend thanks to the many students ←ix | x→who were part of my learning communities at Mohawk Valley Community College, Syracuse University, and Utica University. There are students whom I must acknowledge personally, and whom I have had the immense privilege to work closely with across multiple years in Education Studies through things like my teaching, research, and community work. My gratitude is extended to Andres Fluffy Aguilar, Sean Allen, Allison Yoo-Babbitt, Zac Ball, Maddie Beitler, Tyler Bordeau, Julia Booth, Sabrina Boutselis, Estella Brenneman, Jackie Bussgang, Yuri Choi, Ben Cornaglia, Sacharja Cunningham, Pascal Dafanis, Abby Dayton, Gianna Dischiavo, Amari Dumas, Stephanie Fabri, Kathryn Hacker, Grace Heller, Maggie Horne, Diamond Jackson, Olivia Jacobs, Shavell Jones, Donna Le, Emily Liu, Sindy Liu, Fox Maxwell, Rich Marooney, Kelli Mackey, Anna MacDonald, Heidi Mendez, Riley Nichols, Edgar Otero, all of the students from Education, Teaching, and Social Change, Shaina Coronel Pazmino, Kate Piacenza, Syon Powell, Joe Pucci, Angélica Ramos, Delta Reyes, Anna Scutt, Missy Segall, Patricia Sheibler, Katherine Spano, Helen Stutsman, Adrian Summers, Aoífe Thomas, Anaidys Uribe, Ellie Williams, Hannah Young, and Norman Zupcich. During my time at Hamilton there were several colleagues who fully supported my pedagogical philosophy and inspired me with their own modeling of compassionate ways to work in higher education and across many communities, and I offer my special thanks to Dan Chambliss, Chaise LaDousa, Russell Marcus, Susan Mason, Margo Okazawa-Rey, Chris Willemsen, and Robin Vanderwall.

I have been guided in my own education by faculty, staff, and mentors who were empowering educators for me, and I am so grateful to each of them. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my New Hartford Central School educators: Carolyn Buckley, Bob Evans, Bob Jones, Michael Klar, Maryann Pomroy Kowalsky, Jerry Pitarresi, Olga Mazzei, and Helen Spector. Thank you to constant supporter, Richard Hunt. Thank you to an early work mentor, Jim Carroll. Thank you to the faculty at Hobart and William Smith Colleges including Jack Harris, Richard Mason, Renee Monson, Dunbar Moody, and former William Smith Dean Betsy Mitchell. Thank you to faculty and staff at Syracuse University including Mary Ann Barker and the whole Cultural Foundations of Education department with special gratitude to Gretchen E. Lopez, Emily Robertson, Dalia Rodriguez, and Ansley T. Erickson. Many thanks also to meaningful faculty mentors Chandra Talpade Mohanty and Marjorie DeVault. Thank you also to the editorial team for education at Peter Lang Publishing, with special gratitude to editor Dani Green for their feedback, support, and guidance.

←x |

A tremendous amount of what I wrote in this book stems from my growth as a person and student at Syracuse University. Going back to graduate school in my mid-30s meant there were different conversations happening in academia and new ways of knowing. I experienced the most powerful shifts in my academic life but also my personal life as a result of the loving guidance and intentional mentorship of three women at Syracuse: Gretchen E. Lopez, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, and Marj DeVault. Thank you alone does not capture the impact you have had on my life. It is the greatest privilege to be able to bring your teachings into the communities I am a part of now in higher education classrooms, but also the classrooms of many public communities, as well as the classroom that is my home and my life.


XIV, 74
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2023 (May)
Higher Education College Guide College Success First-Year Experience Student Preparation Student Engagement Student Transformation First-Year College Students Inclusion and Belonging Educational Equity Social Justice Education Dear Students 10 Letters to Empower and Transform Your Higher Education Journey Meredith Madden
New York, Berlin, Bruxelles, Lausanne, Oxford, 2023. XIV, 74 pp.

Biographical notes

Meredith Madden (Author)

Meredith Madden is Assistant Professor of Education at Utica University. She holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University. A publicly engaged scholar activist, her recent work has been published in the Teaching for Social Justice Series and in Equity and Excellence in Education. Information on Meredith's consulting services through her program The Equity Prof can be found by visiting www.equityprof.com.


Title: Dear Students