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third biannual research journal

Westminster McNair Journal 2008 & 2009

2008 Research Scholars

Yvette Sonia González, University of Utah
Mentor: David Quijada, Ph.D., Education, Culture, and Society, University of Utah

The Pedagogy of Sistahood: Living in this Skin in the Classroom

Historical and contemporary social dynamics have constructed a ‘commonsense’ of Latina youth as submissive characters to el macho (the male), in addition to portrayals as sexually promiscuous, destined for marriage and pregnancy, quiet, resistant learners, and as lacking in ambition (Bender, 2003; Hyams, 2000; Bejarano, 2005). These deficit mediated images have done very little to challenge the ‘commonsense’ about Latina youth and even less to involve said youth in the process of speaking for/representing the self (Grossberg, 2005). Following the models set forth by youth cultural studies scholars (Quijada, 2007; 2008, Inpress) and participatory action researchers (Cahill, 2007) Living In this Skin brings together seven high school-aged Latina students (identified as “at-risk” by their school), to individually produce testimonios/testimonies that recount their lived experiences with oppression. These youth generated testimonies developed as participants owned classroom space, shared items from home, decided topics of discussion, agreed upon field trips and collectively determined what audience their testimonios will be presented to. It is through an analysis of their testimonios, in class and informal conversations, and my personal observations that I examine the ways in which Latina youth demonstrate personal investment in creating and telling stories that afford a viable critique of deficit mediated portrayals of Latina youth as quiet, submissive, and passive learners. Using a layered narrative, I illustrate tensions underlying youths participation, my researcher role, critical youth studies literature and ethnographic examples operating In the Skin to describe a distinct kind of education I call the Pedagogy Of Sistahood (POS). The Pedagogy of Sistahood demonstrates how youth create educative spaces by employing everyday language and embodied knowledge (‘the flesh’) to (re)conceptualize stereotypes and to offer critique of the institutions that maintain their positions of marginalization. Through this process the study (re)conceptualizes “education” through the relational teaching and learning practices that participants developed in the telling of their stories and through their active involvement with topics that intersected across race, class, gender and sexuality.

Emma Joseph, Westminster College
Mentor: Susan Gunter, Ph.D., Westminster College, English

“Queer” Behavior: Examining the Nature of Sex, Sexual Orientation, and Gender in Trash, Fun Home, and Stone Butch Blues

While Queer theory is not a single, unified practice, most theorists would agree that it means questioning what it means to be normal and asking whether normal is even desirable. In the late 1980’s queer theory developed out of gay and lesbian studies to move away from dualistic concepts such as heterosexual/homosexual, male/female, and natural/ unnatural binaries (where the first term of each pair is privileged). This enabled people to consider identity, sexuality, and gender as fluid rather than as fixed. In part, this is why queer theorists refuse to define queer theory, but rather use it to deconstruct and challenge the power of heteronormative social constructs. Rather than embracing the Marxist concept that power is filtered down from top to bottom, theorist Michel Foucault argues that power is everywhere and that even in the smallest of exchanges there is always the possibility of resistance to and reversal of power structures. This concept is important, since resistance to power structures enables us to make changes within the system. In the realm of queer literary studies, queering a novel means undertaking a close critique of how the text represents gender and sexual norms and then how it questions and subverts those norms. Doing this exposes how the author polices, punishes, or rewards the characters. This critical process also demonstrates how moving away from concepts of normative sexual behavior allows for a humanity that possesses a more fluid and richer state of being. Therefore, it allows for questioning and troubling cultural norms in order to deconstruct gender, sex, identity, sexuality, race, and class binaries to confront the violence and shame that stem from what have been socially constructed as “good” and “bad” behaviors. First, I will briefly summarize theorists who have contributed significantly to the evolution of queer theory. Then I will critique Dorothy Allison’s compilation of short stories Trash, Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home, and Leslie Feinberg’s novel Stone Butch Blues to illustrate that by subverting and troubling social constructs, each character demonstrates acts of courage, growth, and change.

 Sheryl Saxton, Westminster College
Mentor: Jennifer Simonds, Ph.D., Psychology, Westminster College


Dyslexia Definitions among Psychology and Education Professionals

The purpose of this study is to examine dyslexia definitions from research articles, television and radio transcripts, and articles or websites from educational organizations for similarities and differences. A categorization scheme was developed for describing characteristics (components) in each article, transcript, and website. Discrepancies and similarities within research studies, television and radio, and education organizations as well as cross comparisons were analyzed. Popular components of definitions as a whole were: any reference to genetics and biology or a difficulty with phonological processes, dyslexia being a general reading and/or language difficulty, and dyslexia being unexpected in relation to IQ, motivation, and/or effective teaching. Results indicate significant difference in patterns of definition components by type of source. Conclusions drawn indicate that, although there are strong similarities in components used across source type, infrequently used definitional components may confuse dialogue among professionals in different disciplines. It is suggested that there is a need for a unified definition across disciplines.

 Marvin Whitaker, University of Utah
Mentor: Hakan M. Yavuz, Ph.D., Politcal Science, University of Utah

A Despotically 'Benevolent' Policy: The Cherokee Indian Genocide

The deportation and relocation of the Cherokee Indians from the southeastern United States to Indian Territory in Oklahoma during the 1830s is examined as both cultural and physical genocide. Research methods included historical analysis and a careful reading of the Indian
Removal Act of 1830, the statements of President Andrew Jackson and the implementation of these acts under President Martin Van Buren. The article argues that a genocidal policy against the Cherokee Indians was implemented by the United States during The Trail of
Tears period (1838-1839), in which a little over half of the Cherokee population was reduced in number, through the means of concentration camps and a 1,200 mile death march. A new perspective on what constitutes genocide is examined in the recommendation and provision
made by the United Nations Whitaker Report on Genocide (1985), a provision which includes ‘advertent omission’ as an act of genocide. The article argues that the U.S. government’s ‘advertent omission’ to preserve Cherokee lives during The Trail of Tears period (1838-1839), can be considered an act of genocide.


2009 Research Scholars

Nichole M. Garcia, University of Utah
Mentor: Dolores Delgado, Bernal, Ph.D., Education, Culture, and Society, University of Utah

Negotiating Spaces: Non-Bilingual Chicanas/Latinas in Higher Education

While many researchers have identified the Spanish language as a source of Chicana/Latina identity (Bejarano, 2005; Gonzalez, 2001; Galindo & Gonzales, 1999, Hurtado & Gurin, 2004) few studies have investigated how Chicana/Latina women who are not proficient in Spanish negotiate their ethnic/cultural identities. In this research, I investigate: how U.S. born Chicanas/Latinas who are not proficient in Spanish negotiate spaces that include and exclude them while still holding on to their cultural ethnic identities as Chicanas/Latinas in institutions of higher education. My research demonstrates that Chicanas/Latinas that do not speak Spanish fluently also negotiate their culturalethnic identities and often embrace and perform a Chicana/Latina identity. I draw from my own “cultural intuition” based upon my personal experience, the existing literature, my professional experience, and the analytical research process itself (Delgado Bernal, 1998). My theory is grounded within a Chicana feminist epistemology and draws upon the responses of non-bilingual Chicana/Latinas in higher education who are negotiating their spaces of belonging. Transcripts of individual interviews with six individual women and a focus group serve as the primary source of data, the data was analyzed to identify categories, concepts, and relationships that address the overlying research question. This study allows for a discourse that is seldom visible in current bodies of scholarship. Through understanding the elements of the process that non-bilingual Chicanas/Latinas used to successfully- negotiate various spaces, the Chicana epistemology that emerged will inform other Chicanas/Latinas who will have similar experiences as they continue their education.

Jayci Robb, Westminster College
Mentor: Cathleen Power, Ph.D., Psychology, Westminster College

Attitudes of Ambivalent Ableism: Measuring Attitudes of Ambivalent Ableism toward Women with Disabilities

In this study, Jayci Robb and Dr. Cathleen Power investigated stereotypical attitudes about people with disabilities, focusing on ambivalent prejudice. Such attitudes of ambivalent prejudice toward people with disabilities are demonstrated in the “incompetent-but-warm stereotype” (McGroathy & Fliske, 1997, as cited in Fliske, Cuddy & Glick, 2002). This stereotype may be exemplified with an emotion of pity toward someone with a disability who is unable to control the limitations posed by his/her disability. Ambivalent prejudice may also include admiration for someone attempting to overcome his/her disability or anger for someone challenging the treatment of people with disabilities. To test ambivalent prejudice toward women with disabilities among college students, we surveyed undergraduate students at Westminster College. Participants were given a survey with three photos of a young woman posing as either a person using a wheelchair or as a person not using a wheelchair. Participants were then asked to describe what was happening in the photo, how the woman in the photo was feeling, and how the participants felt in response to the photo. When presented the photos of the woman using a wheelchair, participants reported emotions of pity toward the woman when she was unable to go down a flight of stairs, admiration when she won a race, and anger when she participated in a protest for disability rights. As such, these results support the claims of ambivalent prejudice toward the disabled.

Vanessa Seals, University of Utah
Mentor: Wilfred Samuels, Ph.D., English, University of Utah

Selling My Birthright: Novels of Passing from Larsen and Fauset to Senna

Passing as white is, of course, how modernists would have understood the term. But even in this, its first cultural sense, passing is far more complicated than the notion of wearing a mask or of assuming a fraudulent identity would suggest…Passing—actual and imaginary, conscious and unconscious—at once produced profound shifts in thinking about the boundaries of identity and aroused ambivalence about those shifting, unstable borders (Caughie 387).

Zain Siddiqui, University of Utah
Mentor: Thomas Maloney, Ph.D., Economics, University of Utah

Occupational Assimilation of Foreign-born Workforce: Evidence from Six OECD Countries

Foreign-born labor inflows have been marketed both as course to native-born displacement in the labor markets and as the most proficient anti-poverty program available for the migrants themselves. Previous literature has provided comprehensive insights into immigrants’ occupational activities in American labor market, but few have managed to perform a rigorous estimate of occupational and employment distributions between foreign-born and native-born workforce across sin high-income economies. Drawing on the most recent individual datasets from the Integrated Public Use Micro-data Series International (IPUMSI), we examine labor market outcomes for foreign-born and native-born males and females conditioned on their human capital. The Statistical Analysis Software (SAS) was used to disaggregate the individual datasets to construct the findings and results. The study provides groundwork to extend the investigation to unobserved characteristics, such as, self-selection policies, immigrant performance differentials conditioned on source-countries, social capital of immigrant groups in host-countries, integration laws in host-countries, etc. We hope that the study would allow a discourse about how different immigration and integration policies could manipulate the labor market outcomes for immigrants and natives alike.

Angela Swensen, Westminster College
Mentor: Lesa Ellis, Ph.D., Psychology and Neuroscience, Westminster College

Serious and Persistent Mental Illness (SPMI): The Impact of Clubhouse Participation on the Utilization of Mental Health Services

Persons with serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI) are frequent users of mental health services. Such services may be delivered by mental health and/or other medical professionals in a hospital, emergency room or outpatient clinic setting. In addition, individuals with SPMI may participate in community-based mental health care programs known as Clubhouses. Here they are considered members, and participate in the day-to-day business of running the Clubhouse. This business includes placement of members in supported employment opportunities, housing, educational assistance, and a variety of other activities that promote recovery and integration into the community. However, there is no direct delivery of mental health services, such as counseling or medication management. The current study seeks to measure the impact of Clubhouse participation on the use of other mental health services. Billing records for 37 individuals with SPMIs were analyzed to determine use of inpatient, outpatient, and emergency services for a three-year period before joining a local Clubhouse, as well as the three-year period following initial contact with the Clubhouse. It was hypothesized that usage of other mental health services would decrease after participation in Clubhouse. Statistical analysis indicated no significant difference in utilization of outpatient and emergency or crisis care before, as compared to after, Clubhouse participation. However, there was a trend towards significance particular to the decrease in hospital readmission after Clubhouse participation.