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D.I.V.A. Diaries

The Road to the Ph.D. and Stories of Black Women Who Have Endured


Cherrel Miller Dyce and Toni Milton Williams

The Distinguished, Intellectual, Virtuous, Academic Sistas (D.I.V.A.S.) is a group of Black women who formed a bond with one another as doctoral students as a means of support on their journey through the academy. The acronym defines the women individually and as an entire group. This anthology can be used as a practical, student-centered sourcebook for Black female doctoral candidates. By providing narratives about the importance of race, class, culture, religion, socioeconomics, and nationality, this book aims to encourage more Black women to pursue a terminal degree and to continue professional development throughout their careers. It provides readers with strategies to sustain themselves while in a graduate program, on the job market, and during the tenure-earning process. Contributors are full of passion as they encourage one another while bringing the reader into their realm of the academic battlefield.
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1. Standing in the Gap as the Academic Intercessor

Exodus: Jamaica to the PhD


1. Standing in the Gap as the Academic Intercessor


Without a doubt, my journey to the doctorate has been influenced by the nature and structure of my community and family. My perspective on education has been forged and influenced by immigration, communal reciprocity, cultural flexibility, family involvement and dedication, a robust work ethic, Jamaican national pride, and my faith. Quintessentially, my educational odyssey is a classic example of Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological systems theory where constructs such as interdependency, collectivity, reciprocity, and mutuality are correlated with intrapsychic well-being and self-worth.

From an early age, I witnessed the power of the collective in promoting the physical, socio-emotional, cultural, and economical survival of not only micro-level constituencies but members in the meso and macro systems as well. My grandmother, a valorous advocate in our community, was years ahead of her time in situating issues of social justice outside of individual-level characteristics. Ostensibly, my grandmother, a farmer in rural Jamaica, lived and embodied central components of Africentrism, a worldview that is centered in the experiences of individuals of African descent in the Diaspora, valuing concepts such as harmony, balance, oneness, and interconnectedness (Hunn, 2004). Concomitantly, I saw others in my family and community—mother, aunts, grandfather, and teachers—use the very complex biological tools of the mind, eyes, ears, mouth, heart, hands, and feet to assist, restore, bear, and renew others in the community. In other words, they stood in the gap practicing...

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