Portraits of young refugee women’s identities, experiences, and beliefs in relation to college-going

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<jats:sec> <jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Purpose</jats:title> <jats:p>This study aims to explore the stories of two young refugee women, Sue Mar and Amora, and how their adolescent identities, experiences, and beliefs, partially shaped by their English teacher, helped pave their paths to higher education.</jats:p> </jats:sec> <jats:sec> <jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Design/methodology/approach</jats:title> <jats:p>This study is guided by the lens of critical literacy as “a way of being and doing” (Vasquez <jats:italic>et al.</jats:italic>, 2019). The authors chose portraiture, a participant-centered methodology, as a response to the historical marginalization of refugees, to bring their voices to the forefront (Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis, 1997). They draw from interviews conducted with Sue Mar and Amora, document analysis, and an interview with the English teacher.</jats:p> </jats:sec> <jats:sec> <jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Findings</jats:title> <jats:p>In Sue Mar and Amora’s portraits, aspiration and determination are seen as primary factors in their college-going. In addition, Sue Mar and Amora were propelled by their English teacher’s support through the cultivation of a loving relationship, high expectations, and critical pedagogical practices. Their family and community fostered beliefs about the power and potential of education, and other refugees served as important role models.</jats:p> </jats:sec> <jats:sec> <jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Research limitations/implications</jats:title> <jats:p>Researchers should explore refugee students’ experiences accessing higher education.</jats:p> </jats:sec> <jats:sec> <jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Practical implications</jats:title> <jats:p>English educators should connect literature to the lived experiences of their students to show that they value their students’ knowledge and past experiences.</jats:p> </jats:sec> <jats:sec> <jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Social implications</jats:title> <jats:p>Policymakers should consider the role that community colleges play in the lives of refugee students and should support programs including tuition reduction for refugee students.</jats:p> </jats:sec> <jats:sec> <jats:title content-type="abstract-subheading">Originality/value</jats:title> <jats:p>As only 6% of refugees currently attend college (UNHCR, 2023), it is essential to understand factors that contributed to students’ college-going.</jats:p> </jats:sec>






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Mann, Jennifer C, and Alison McGlinn Turner (2023). Portraits of young refugee women’s identities, experiences, and beliefs in relation to college-going. English Teaching: Practice & Critique, 22(3). pp. 368–380. 10.1108/etpc-07-2022-0085 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/28790.

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Jennifer Mann

Research Scientist

Jennifer C. Mann, Ph.D. is a Research Scientist for the BELLA (Bridging English Language Learning and Academics) projects, which are focused on designing and testing a professional learning program for teachers which utilizes culturally relevant pedagogies and integrates community cultural wealth into the use of high-impact instructional strategies with multilingual learners. Additionally, Dr. Mann is an Adjunct for Duke's Program in Education, where she teaches Instructional Methods for Teaching Multilingual Learners for Master of Arts in Teaching candidates.

Dr. Mann has been an educator/teacher educator for 17 years, having taught high school English, elementary and adult English as a Second Language (ESL), and undergraduate & graduate pre-service teachers. In 2023, she received her Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences from North Carolina State University, where she specialized in Literacy and English Language Arts.

Dr. Mann’s research interests include multilingual learners, culturally sustaining critical pedagogies, and equity centered, participatory qualitative methodologies.

Areas of Expertise

  • K-12 Education
  • ESL Education
  • Critical Literacy
  • Equity
  • Refugee & Immigrant Students
  • Teacher Education
  • Design-based Research

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