Belk Center Postdoctoral Scholar Roshaunda Breeden Receives Bobby Wright Dissertation of the Year Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE)
Roshaunda Breeden, Ph.D., a postdoctoral scholar at the NC State College of Education’s Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research, has been awarded the Bobby Wright Dissertation of the Year Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE).
Breeden’s dissertation, “‘Miles Away, But in Our Own Backyard:’ A Participatory Action Study Examining Relationships Between Historically White Institutions and Black Communities,” studies the relationship between the University of Georgia– where she earned her Ph.D.– and local Black communities, exploring how the historical and current context of institutions contribute and perpetuate racial inequities and injustices.
“I’m still reflecting on being selected for the Bobby Wright Dissertation of the Year Award, particularly from my colleagues at the Association for the Study of Higher Education,” Breeden said. “Getting the dissertation award at ASHE is incredibly competitive, so I feel fantastic because the work is getting the recognition it deserves. I also am delighted that the narratives and labor of Black people in Athens, Georgia, are being seen, heard and understood.”
Breeden was inspired to research the relationship between the University of Georgia and Black communities when she attended a forum that asked attendees to reflect on what the lives of Black residents whose homes were demolished and replaced by residence halls would be like if they had been allowed to stay.
As she poured over data and quotes gathered during her research process, she ultimately made the decision to present her findings, not as a traditional paper, but as a play with three vignettes to reflect the major themes of the study.
“In the words of August Wilson, ‘Once I started to value and respect the characters, I could really hear them. I just let them start talking.’ Participants’ voices moved beyond a story. Their words formed into a theatrical performance, a play filled with rich detail and dialogue,” she said.
As a postdoctoral scholar at the Belk Center, Breeden — who earned her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Africana Studies from NC State and previously worked as the diversity and student involvement coordinator for the Poole College of Management and as part of the Talent Search program as the Assistant Director for TRIO programs– believes she can bring an intersectional lens in understanding the roles of power and inequality in shaping educational environments, experiences and outcomes for historically underrepresented college students and staff. Her current projects include an equity case study as well as an adult learner initiative to bring non-traditional aged learners back to school.
“Grounded in equity and justice, the Belk Center’s mission closely aligns with my research agenda, and I am grateful to lend my talents to support North Carolina’s 58 community colleges,” she said. “I love the work we are doing in the Belk Center and I appreciate how our work represents equity in action.”