A qualitative exploration of women-of-color professional academic advisors' perceptions and experiences
Within higher education institutions and research, Women-of-Color’s (WOC) professional experiences have become more visible. Yet, the lived experiences of WOC professional academic advisors working in colleges and universities are missing from the literature. WOC advisors are vital to student success as they are mentors, teachers, guides, cheerleaders, stand-in parental figures, role models, and advocates. As well, they are important because they contribute to serving as a mediator and bridge in higher education conversations around supporting and affirming Students of Color. Perhaps uncovering their stories and learning how they can be better supported will allow them to better thrive in their roles on campus and in higher education. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore and make visible the lives and experiences of WOC advisors, while expanding understandings of WOC experiences within the university as a whole. This phenomenological study, inspired by critical-feminist/womanist epistemologies and intersectionality, consists of semi-structured interviews with nine Women-of-Color professional academic advisors. Results contribute significantly to past research that examines the experiences of WOC in the Ivory tower. As well, the results introduce a more focused look at Advisor of Color experiences within academic advising. More specifically, this study contributes detailed information on Women-of-Color professional academic advisors and their experiences, information that can be used to make recommendations that guide advising and institutional best practices and policy.