207: Equity and Justice in Hispanic Serving Institutions with Dr Gina Anne Garcia

207: Equity and Justice in Hispanic Serving Institutions with Dr Gina Anne Garcia

This week, I am thrilled to have Dr. Gina Ann Garcia with us who talks to us about equity and justice in Hispanic Serving Institutions.

Dr. Garcia is a professor in the Berkeley School of Education. Dra. Gina’s research centers on issues of equity and diversity in higher education with an emphasis on understanding how Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) embrace and enact an organizational identity for serving minoritized populations. She is the author of Becoming Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Opportunities for Colleges & Universities as well as Transforming Hispanic Serving Institutions for Equity and Justice. She is also the host of the podcast ¿Qué pasa, HSIs?

In this conversation, we explore the following topics: The importance of HSIs and their role in promoting equity and justice in higher education. The challenges of implementing servingness and the time and effort it takes for institutions to transform. She introduces her podcast, ¿Qué pasa, HSIs?, and how she’s using it as a tool for professional development, sharing best practices, and uplifting voices in the field. She also offers advice for first-gen BIPOC students considering graduate education at HSIs.


You can connect with Dr. Gina with the following links and handles:
@ginaanngarcia on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter


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Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Welcome back, everyone to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. This is your host, Doctora Yvette, and today we are going to be talking about the pursuit of equity and justice in Hispanic Serving Institutions. And I'm excited because I've got la mera mera, Dr. Gina Ann Garcia here. She is a professor in the Berkeley School of Education full professor, right. Nice.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

Dr. Gina's research centers on issues of equity and diversity in higher education with an emphasis on understanding how Hispanic Serving Institutions HSIs, embrace and enact an organizational identity for serving minoritized populations. She is the author of Becoming Hispanic Serving Institutions, Opportunities for Colleges and Universities, as well as Transforming Hispanic Serving Institutions for Equity and Justice. She is also the host of the podcast Que Pasa HSIs? Welcome to the podcast, Dra. Gina.

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Thank you. Thank you for that. And thank you for having me. I'm excited to talk to you today.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

Yeah, me too. So I would love for folks to hear a little bit more about you about your background, your backstory, how did you become who you are? Just let us know the details. I know it's a big a big question. But I would love to hear a little bit more.

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Oh, how did I become who I am that right there. We'll be here a while. But I mean, I'll just go ahead and, you know, talk a little bit about my journey into higher education and how I got to where I am today. I am born and raised Cali girl, Cali all the way through and through. And yes, I am returning actually to California to for the professorship at Berkeley, UC Berkeley, starting fall 2023. So really excited to go home. Been away from home for 10 years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, doing important work doing research at the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pittsburgh provide has provided me with this opportunity in this space to do research. But their location has not been the best.

I'm excited to go back to California, because I work with Hispanic Serving Institutions. And a majority of Hispanic Serving Institutions[[[[[

are in the West, and particularly the southwest and a lot in California. So it's just for my research. Professionally, it's a good move to go back home. But it's also good for my family because we will get to go back return to where we're from. I actually was born and raised in Ventura, California, actually, Ventura County, California, actually Simi Valley, California. And I went to Cal State University Northridge for undergrad. From there, I went to the University of Maryland for my master's degree. That was the first time I left California. And then I did my PhD at UCLA. The final the final stop before the terminal degree, which of course is a PhD, and then I've been in Pittsburgh ever since doing research with HSIs.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

Wow, that's a lot of hopping from, from CSUN to University of Maryland to UCLA. And Penn, you said are quite a bit. Yeah. Pittsburgh and now Berkeley.

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Now Berkeley, it's so much happened around. Yeah, that's, that's the academic life. You know, like if you choose this life, that that it sort of comes with that if you are willing to do that. And not everybody is it is a big sacrifice. It's it's hard on the person, the individual, and it's hard on the family. So it's not for everybody. I don't recommend it for everybody. It's, it's a lot it is it really is you have to personally be ready for all that jumping around. So I'm ready to settle in California and be there for a while and see my kids off to college from there and you know, just do good work.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

That's great. That's great. What a beautiful homecoming to especially at such a stage you know, and milestone in your career too. Yeah. So your career. You've been studying this for a while setting HSIs for a while. My audience is primarily undergraduates and graduate students who are first and bipartisan for folks who are less familiar with the term HSI, can you explain how you define it and how HSI is differ from other institutions?

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Yes, okay. So Hispanic Serving Institutions. They are one of several types of minority serving institutions. So the Higher Education Act of 1965 set up the Uh, the legislation behind HSI and other minority serving institutions, I think the most common well known MSI is historically black colleges and universities. Think that's pretty common knowledge, right? We pretty much know that we have a Vice President, Kamala Harris, who is a graduate of an HBCU. Like, it's common knowledge, right? Like we know HBCUs historically black colleges and universities, the history is the important part of that, that they have been founded.

Founded in the 1800s, late 1800s. A couple were founded actually, even before the Civil War, but most came in after Civil War, and particularly the 1890s is sort of lays really important solid foundation, because 1890s, that's the place where the federal government basically put funding into HBCUs. But only if it was well, it was actually land grants, the land grant or the land grab as we refer to them, because it was a land grab at the time, right, a lot of stealing of land, as we this country was established. But the land grant institutions in the south, the policy was that you could establish a land grant institution if you establish a separate but equal one. And that's where the land grants in the south come from, because white people didn't want Black people in colleges and universities with them. So really important history because it was set at a time of segregation, right like that.

But Historically Black Colleges were necessary. Because Black people could not, African, people of African descent, really formerly enslaved people, really, I mean, these are the immediate descendants of enslaved people and or formerly enslaved people themselves that were entering HBCUs. So such an important history. It's not the history that HSIs have not even close. So we can't say the same exact sort of important historical foundational moment. HSI is have a different history they come about through legislation that calls for a certain percentage of students enrolling. So it's 25% Hispanic, enrolling, so anybody who identifies checks the box, Hispanic, then goes into the counting of the 25%.

So you have to check the box. That's the other complicated thing. Because we all know where we can't decide how we want to define these days. If you fall into h, you're like all over the place, right? We're all like, trying to figure out what's the best box for us, right. And I think the reality is, there's not one box for us. But you got to check that box, and then you then fall into the 25%.

Now that the HSI designation did come about through advocacy, so folks that were working at institutions that have large enrollment of Hispanic population in the late 1970s, like early 1980s, which isn't a lot of colleges and universities, primarily in Texas community colleges in Texas. That's where a lot of the advocacy was coming from actually, where these college presidents and these advocates for education could see that there was this population that was really being underserved, right that Hispanic, Latino, Latino people and Latine people at the time, were not being adequately served by colleges or universities, and not even enrolling really, at that time.

So the legislation comes out through advocacy, and that way that there are colleges and universities that are enrolling this greater percentage, and some of them at a high percent, almost like an HBCU, where it's a majority, Latino population. And there are HSI is like that, like University of Texas, El Paso, almost all Hispanic, Latino, Latine identified. And so that's where the legislation comes from, establishes this body of legislation where funding becomes available for these institutions. And so the funding is competitive. So HSIs are enrollment driven, you got to hit the 25%. Once you get to 25%, you then can apply for the competitive grants.

So you don't automatically get funding, which is also different from HBCUs. The HBCUs do have a designated line of funding, as they should, and HSIs do not they have a designated amount of funding, but you have to competitively apply for it. So that's a whole debate to be had on its own because there's a growing number of HSIs that are coming in. We're now at 571 as a fall 2022, 571 eligible HSIs and the data are showing that maybe half actually get the grants on any one year or might have an actual HSI grant on any one year, leaving a whole lot of institutions that are not actually getting any funding to do this additional work, yet they're still enrolling the 25% Hispanic.

The other piece of the designation is that the there's a high enrollment of low income or Pell Grant eligible or federal grant eligible they there's four different grants that you can fall under. And so then you have a high enrollment of Latine and low income. So there's an intersection there, which we know creates bigger barriers for people not only to be a person of color, but also low income in this country creates a number of educational challenges. So institutions that are rolling students who are underserved historically, yet not necessarily getting the funding to do the survey. So that's the technical federal designation.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

Right. So okay, you, you told us the technical and then also the distinctions between the different institutions and how some of them may or may not have access to this same kind of resources, the same kind of funding, some of them might not have funding at all. I know, you've delved into these topics more deeply in your books. And so I want to kind of go back in time to how did you even arrived at like developing this interest, and HSIs and then hopefully, we can talk a little bit more about your recent book and how you know how your work has transformed since then.

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Yes, for sure. So I actually am a graduate of an HSI. Now when I went to Cal State Northridge it was an emerging HSI. That was a while back at Cal State Northridge has already been an HSI for probably 20 years. So we were right at the cusp, like borderline when I was there. I didn't know that I didn't know what an HSI was, I didn't know what an emerging HSI was, I had no idea because this isn't something most institutions use. They don't use it for recruitment, they don't talk about it, you don't learn about it in orientation. They don't blast it on the walls. It's not on the website, especially not 20 years ago, when I was in college.

More institutions are starting to actually embrace it in that sort of way. So we're seeing a progression of that, but definitely not when the designation first came out, which was, you know, back in 1990s, mid middle 1990s. But I still think a lot about my own undergraduate experience. And the significance is so powerful that like I do write about it, always referring back to my own my own experience.

And just even to white rewind a little bit more, I did mention I was from Simi Valley, California, which for those folks that aren't from California, know. That's a pretty like a predominantly white city. So I grew up in a predominately white space as a Latina, very strong, like Mexican American roots. I knew who I was my whole life. I never questioned anything about my own identity. Me and my mom, were just talking about this a couple of days ago, actually, how it was, you know, it was like, it was just it's it was it was in us, right? It was it was my my embodiment. My identity was a part of who I was. And so I knew I very was very aware of being in a very white space. And when you're in a white space, and you're either Black or Brown, right, because the Black and Latinos we all hung together. And also Filipinos. Also Brown, right. Also, Brown Asians.

Black and Brown, folks, we know when we're in white spaces, because everybody tells us, right, police tell you, teachers tell you, your peers tell you, random people shouting at you at the gas station tell you right? Like it's just weird. Because like, why am I such a threat? Right? So when you grew up in a predominately white space, you know that you're not white if you're not white? And so I did I always knew I was very it was very aware. And as Gloria, I was gonna say the wrong person. The book, Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together, Beverly Tatum. All Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together at the Cafeteria that made sense to me because we did all sit together. Me and all the you know, all my my Black and Brown friends, we all sat together we all knew we sort of took care of each other, right? We protected ourselves in those predominately white spaces.

And as as did me and my family. I grew up with a lot of cousins. A lot of my family grew up in the same city with me. So we knew. So when I got to Cal State Northridge it was very different, like I wasn't in a predominately white space anymore. And that's not always the case. I think my experience is is kind of backwards from a lot of folks because of racial segregation. And housing segregation in particular. Most people grew up in predominantly, you know, if they're a person of color, they grew up with a lot of people of color segregated in those spaces. That's you.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

I'm from the valley. I know CSUN. I grew up in a predominantly Brown community.

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Exactly. So most of us grew up in a predominantly like Brown community or put on a Black community or mixing right in particularly in California. We see a lot of Black and Brown right together. And then you go to college and college is predominately white because most colleges and universities are still predominately white. So I had this really different experience and I entered college. And it was different, right? Like I knew, like it felt like people of color and like I immerse myself, myself and like all the things, Latino, all the things Chicano, really Chicano Studies, Chicano student organizations, Chicano student programming when they get anything, right like I just was ready to just eat it up. I was I wanted to absorb it all. Because I it was new to me right to have so many people that were more like me that were my peers, because high school wasn't like that.

And so it was it was important for me. So I think of HSI as that, right that like HSIs should be spaces where people of color feel like they belong, feel like they can find who they are, they can explore their identity, they can take ethnic studies, they can take Chicano studies, they can do the Chicano, Latino graduation, right, raza, grad, whatever you call it. All of those things matter a lot. And they matter to me a lot. And the reality is, like you said, like he grew up in a probably people of color space, when you enter colleges and universities, even HSI is they still feel, you know, white to people. And so that's where the research is add that people are still like, nah, they still feel white.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

Especially if you just barely made it.

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Yes, exactly. And so and so there. That's how I think about HSI is right as the spaces that like what if they become like, the I call them spaces of liberation, right? Educational liberation, where you can be like, feel like you belong, feel like you can, you can accelerate where you can be liberated and your own your own identities, all that kind of stuff happens at each size. And so that's where, where my research really draws from that belief, I call it freedom dreaming in my new book, that freedom dream that colleges and universities can become that. And I mean, HBCUs in many ways are that right? And so if there's something we could strive to, it's that, but HSI 's are not that at this time. Not yet.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

Can you say a little bit more about your recent book about you call it Yeah, transforming. So transforming HSIs for equity and justice? What are some of the, you know, noted findings or recommendations or just things that you want folks to be aware of take aways from the book? And we'll put a link to the book in the show notes too. So folks can can read it, for sure. Yeah.

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Yeah, for sure. Um, so I mean, up. Let me back up a little bit. So the original question I think you asked me was about HSI is how are they defined? Right? And I think you wanted me to define also how I define them. Right. So let me define them first. Because that was a very technical that was the that technical definition right that I gave the federal definition. Now I have given my vision of HSI is, that's where all my research comes in.

So my research defines HSI is outside of, beyond the federal designation, the federal designation is those things right? You, in high enrolling of low income students high enrolling of Hispanic students check the box, boom, you become become an HSI. That's it. There's no meaning attached to it. The federal government doesn't attach meaning to it. The people don't attach meaning to it if they don't. And I say that because people are starting to make meaning of HSI in really powerful ways within HSI is, but not at all 571 not by any means. And so the research really is the meaning making.

I've spent a lot of time meaning making dreaming, researching, collecting data, and writing and developing frameworks for how we can think about HSI beyond the federal designation. And so once you get the federal designation, what do you do with it, that's where all my research comes in. And so people draw on on the books, right? The books, the articles, the pod, my own podcast, que pasa HSIs, because they're trying to make meaning of HSI beyond the federal designation. And so there's people that are on the ground.

I was a Title Five implementer, which is they just like grants at Cal State Fullerton actually. And I remember trying to do this work and not having frameworks. And so when you don't have frameworks, you're just trying to make meaning of on your own. What I've done with my own research, and my scholarship is make meaning for people and give people a way to make meaning of it. And now what's happening is every you know, people are making meaning of it in their own way. Like I've given people a framework, and now they're like, Okay, now what if it was also this? And what if it was also that and what if we did this and we're also doing this? And is that servingness? Right? Like because I talk about servingness and I'm like yeah.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

Can you say more about that. What is servingness and then maybe some examples of what you don't have to name the entities but like what it can look like like you said when you did and beyond the designation, what are some examples of what HSIs can look like?

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Yea for sure the serving this is a framework. So that was one of their I'm a frameworks kind of scholar. I've got all kinds of frameworks, but that one has become pretty important for people. It's basically elevating the S in HSIs. So the Hispanic is you got that if you're a 25%, that you got that right. The S is like, how do you elevate the serving? Right? How do you actually serve Hispanic Latinx, Latine population when you weren't historically found it that way? So the serverless framework is people to think about beyond the federal designation, how do you make sense of it?

There's two parts of the serving framework. One is like structurally, what do you have to do? So I'm an organizational theorist. So I talk about structurally, like your mission, your vision, your strategic plan, your diversity plan, your the compositional diversity of your, your president, your vice presidents, your Dean's, your faculty, your staff, all of that is structures, the curriculum, what kind of curriculum, can you take the support programs, student services, co curriculum, high impact practices, cultural centers, all of that structure, breathing, basically,

Everything, yes. When you step on the campus, all of that all of that. I even in my new book, I talk about physical infrastructure. And so it literally is I talk about, like, the murals on the wall matter, you know, and people are like, let's paint a mural. And I'm like, yes. Because my research actually my dissertation, people said that they said that the place on campus where there were murals, it felt like an HSI. So I'm like, listen, it does matter to people like what it feels like matters to people. So physically, what does it look like? What does it feel like? And so yeah, to your question about those spaces that are doing that, I don't like to give names because I don't want people to think there's a model there's not a model.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

You make of it what you will right, based on your resources, your population, your infrastructure. Sorry, go ahead.

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

No, you got it. That's exactly what it is. I say that all the time. I'm like every HSI can be the best HSI because in higher ed, everybody wants to be the best something right? We want to be the best. We want to be the first. We want to be the who knows what. You can all be the best HSI because you could be the best HSI in California, small, private, rural HSI, right. That's different than the large public research HSI, right? Like it's different than New York. It's different than Puerto Rico. It's different than Florida. It's different to Texas, right?

Like, all of that comes into play when it comes to being the best. HSI is like, where are you located? Where are you situated? What kind of, what's your mission in general as as an institution? So I very much defined it in that way. Exactly. How you said is like, yeah, you you make you make meaning of it. But the folks that are doing the most progressive work, I will say they are embracing this organizational approach to servingness.

So hiring more people of color, that's huge, particularly faculty, you need more faculty. That one is the biggest barrier right now is it's hard to hire faculty of color, apparently, it's like, I don't know why I say apparently, because there's a lot of people that you could hire, you're just not. There's a lot of people of color with PhDs who could be faculty, researchers, right, like, teaching faculty, like, depending on the kind of faculty you want, because every institution has different kinds of faculty. They're out there, but you got to you got to make that intentional effort to hire folks of color. So the hiring of folks of color, the, the rethinking of the curriculum.

I visited one campus, and they had me meet with their, their gen ed. committee, and I was like, oh, this is gonna be about? And they were like, well, you know, our provost wants us to enact liberatory education the way you talk about it. And I was like, Ah, dope, so y'all read my book. Because yeah, I talk about liberatory education in there, what is and liberatory from like a paulo freirian and sort of liberatory that education can be liberating. And so they're like, we're, here's the different ways we're thinking about what do you think, right? I was like, I love it.

The fact that you're trying to enact a laboratory education in general ed, that right there, like I'm already on board. Let's go. Right. When is it going to be across the curriculum, and the gen ed is the place where it's going to hit the whole curriculum, because everybody has to take gen ed. So yeah, rethinking curricula, structures, rethinking support services, right. How are we serving the students?

My podcast in season three, we're talking about linguistic servingness. We just had I recorded an episode with folks talking about serving multilingual people, you know, and that was such a part of HSI because, I mean, you have a good number who are heritage Spanish speakers, but you got a lot of languages, not just Spanish, in colleges or universities, right. Like, there are many languages, how do you serve multilingual people? Rather than do what we do in the US, which is tell people that to speak English? When are we going to stop doing that?

Because they do that to us K through 12. And then we get to college. And we think that that's the only way because we've done it all our whole lives, colleges and universities actually could be better, right about, like embracing a more multilingual approach. And so HSI 's are thinking about that, how do we serve multilingual people, heritage speakers, who want to get stronger in their heritage language, for their careers, right, like for their for their advancement, right their on social mobility, which is an important outcome for colleges and universities.

We want people to get jobs and become economically mobile. What if they could do it linguistically and multilingual ways, which would advance them even more. So embracing all the ways that that Latine people show up and thinking about rethinking how we can address educational needs? Through this, like much more multi dimensional lens?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

Great, great, I can't help but think about I have someone that I work with who just filed her dissertation. And one of the one of the chapters, he was looking at the use of languages among what hacking folks are hacking Americans here who are who speak separate, thick and are trying to access that language in house. For some folks, it was so empowering, that they actually access careers in like, translation and interpreting things that they never would have thought about if they hadn't had access to support services for the language part, having access to learn and keep developing that skill.

Anyway, I think I'm so glad that you mentioned these examples, because they're all so different. And like you said, I imagine each institution is different to that is enacting these different types of servingness. Yeah. So um, okay. I was gonna ask, okay, yeah, I want to talk about your podcast, but first, I want to talk about, okay. You make it seem like just do this, just do that, like, just figure it out? And I know, higher ed, things are not always that easy. So what are some of the challenges? And what are some of the opportunities that you notice HSIs are facing right now in promoting equity and justice, you know, in their own way, for minoritized historically, excluded populations like and what's what are you noticing in terms of trends of how they're evolving?

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Mm hmm. Yeah, for sure. You're right. I tried it. When I say it, it sounds really easy. Like, here, I mean, I give you a framework even, read my book. It's like, right there. Like, come on, what else you want me to do? You know, do it. I could come do it. But you got to pay me, you know. But that's the reality is the doing is hard. You know, and I and I joke about that. But I also acknowledge it all the time, particularly when I give public lectures. I'm like, this is hard work, y'all. I've done it. Right. It's not that I haven't done I have implemented Title Five grants, I have thought about organizational change is really, really hard. And you have to slow down and take it one day at a time, one year at a time this HSI becoming HSI, like the way I do about it's gonna take years right for institutions to undo what they've done and do it differently.

Because that's really what I'm calling for is like, do it differently, right. Like, let's rethink higher ed. And so there's that right, that organizational change takes time. And that's how I how I write about this work, because it's organizational change. Now, are we changing to your second point to your question? Yes. And I'm an eternal optimist. So I'm like, we can do this, right, like, I am seeing it happen. And I and I, admittedly, I see it happen. And then I see I see like, three steps forward. And then like, two steps back. Like, that's the reality too, is like, this is such hard work that that happens, particularly when you have like a champion or a few champions, and those champions leave, they take their champion and their knowledge and their and their will and their everything, their resources with them, and then they go change somewhere else. But you're back trying to keep going.

Which is why I talked about the organizational approach that like, you can't rely only on one person because like, that happens, right? Like the organizational change cannot be one individuals person's you know, like dream only, like, everybody's got to be on board with it. But yeah, so what are some of the ways that I see? Well, for one, I think just the reality that we're enrolling more people of color is a change where we have to acknowledge that. So the fact that in the 1980s, there were very few Hispanic Latinx, Latine people entering colleges, universities, like it just wasn't where we were at.

And so come the 2000s or so we start to see a lot more higher increase, right. So in the last 20 years, we've seen that that increase, so does do we change as institutions? Well, yeah, that was a change. Right? That took time. Now we have to also acknowledge that people have demanded their way in, right. We have had people who fought so that we could be in colleges and universities, and I had all that all the time, right. Like, I know, people who fought for me so that I could be where I'm at, right, even at the level to be a full professor with tenure at UC Berkeley. Like, that was like there were people that fought that far off so that I could get that.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

And fought specifically at Berkeley too.

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Yes, exactly. Exactly. Yeah, to make it full circle, right. Like, yeah, because I mean, you know, 30 years ago, that wasn't the case, right? You weren't seeing Latinas getting full professorships, right, though Latinas fought their way, right, like our elders, I mean, I talked about my scholar elders, I'm like, I know, my scholar elders have fought for me, right. I know, I can name right, like women who have fought so that I can be and so that my path was easier. Actually. It was right it was but but that's because those fights have have already taken place, right. And so we're still fighting, we're still fighting our way. And we're still fighting different battles. But things do change. Right.

And so we have to stay hopeful, we have to know that they'll get better, we have to know that I'm speaking up matters that we do need to speak up, and we need to do need to fight those battles. Even if we never see the fruits of our own labor. And, and I think about that, right, you mentioned Yeah, people fighting at Berkeley, right? Like 1960s, right, like was a, you know, all the movements that were going on, some of those folks never saw, they don't see what it looks like now. And how their, their what they did matters to those of us now and what we're doing now is gonna matter in 40 years in a different way that we might not see. But you fight the fight anyways. Right? That that's, that's justice, that that's the kind of social justice work, that those of us that actually care and want to make a difference that we do it for that reason that we're like, we might not ever see it. But we're gonna we're gonna fight the good fight anyways. And we know what matters for the future, right for the future generation.

So yes, colleges and universities are changing these things that I'm talking about. I mean, I document a lot of things that are going on that that are are changing that. And then I also write about things that are still happening that are not good for us. Like, you know, one of my most recent articles is about co authored with one of my doc students about racialized and gendered experiences of Latina faculty at HSI is that like, Latinas are experiencing racism, they're experiencing the patriarchy, right that they're there have very different experiences not only from white folks, but from men and men, identified people, male identified people. So women and femmes trans women, I mean, are having different experiences, like in colleges, universities, and still having to fight a fight.

And so we're documenting that as well, that like, yes, change is coming. Yes, change is happening. But also bad things are happening too. So let's not pretend just because there's a lot of people of color at HSI is particularly at the undergraduate level, that now racism doesn't live here. racism still lives here. Yeah. It still lives here amongst the students, even the most diverse population at the student level. There's still racism, there's still anti blackness, there's still anti indigeneity you mentioned indigenous Latine people.

There's folks doing that research, Gabriella Cova, Sanchez was on my podcast, season one, she talks about that, right? Latine indigenous people don't fit into the same construct as domestic boring us, you know, Latinos. But without any connection to our indigenous roots, right? Yeah, we can say like, I have indigenous roots, we were colonized. But you don't We don't know. If you don't know those indigenous roots. You've never been brought up with those. You don't know what that means. That's a different experience. And so that's happening, the anti indigeneity, even within the Latino community is happening.

So yeah, so it's like, it has to be both like, here's some progress, but also we're not making enough progress when Afro Latinos and indigenous Latinos are not having good experiences at the hands of our own people. That's that's a problem. We need to have those conversations we need to come into some racial reckoning and some racial healing. And we need to do it fast because it's the reality right now.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

I'm so glad that you mentioned that, because that's something that comes up a lot when folks think about even the term Hispanic and how problematic it is. But also talking about having conversations and having the necessary conversations, you know, brings me to asking you about the podcast and kind of why you decided to start a podcast. I imagine it's another way to keep uplifting the voices of you know, the the people who are doing this kind of work in the ground work and research work. So can you tell us a little bit more about the podcast about Que Pasa HSIs? And what you envision for the future? You gave us a sneak peek of season three, but what else is to come?

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Yeah, for sure. So the podcast, I really created the podcasts. So as a researcher, one of my biggest, like, issues I have with research is that we do all this research scholars spend all this time we get grants, we spend money, we collect data, we fund graduate students we write, we go through the review process, over and over, revise, and resubmit and resubmit again, and resubmit again. And then our article that's published, you know, four years later, after it started, like, literally from the start of the article, you know, from the start of a research project till it gets published.

And like 100 people access it, you know, it's like, nobody's even accessing that level of research, not because they don't want to, but because it's inaccessible, you have to pay to access journals, right, like peer reviewed journals, there are very few that are open access. This article I just mentioned, about the racialized gendered experiences, we I, I paid as a researcher, because I had the grant money, extra money to make it open access, so other people wouldn't have to pay. You know, like, every person should have to pay $25 to access an article. Like, that doesn't make any sense, right?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

And not every scholar can afford to pay to make it open access, either.

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Yeah, I was just trying to get rid of my grant money. So I acknowledged that privilege to write because I was trying to, like, run out this grant. So I was like, well, shoot, let's just use it for open and let's use it for good. You know, like, I'm all about that, like, let's use the, let's use funds for good and it's, it's an excessive, acceptable use of grant funding to do that. I highly recommend anybody that can do it to do it. But yeah, that's a privilege also, to be able to even make it it's not cheap to make your article open access. I'll say that. So my, my doc student was like, what? And I was like, okay, it's okay. It's all it's all good, baby. We'll get it, we got it. But so we made it open access. And, and still, it might not be accessed by by the masses, right.

And so for me, Que Pasa HSIs was like, let's make it for the masses, right? I want to make research available for people. The other thing was, I was seeing in various ways in my own, you know, as a scholar, doing different work with different communities, that the practitioners who are doing the HSI work are also not accessing the research. So I'm like, so I'm writing all this articles, books, frameworks, I'm giving you the framework, and you're not even reading it. And I'm not blaming you for that. I wrote an article about that too, I don't blame you. I did write an article about it. I do. Like that's where I take like, I am a writer, right. So I take= it to the to the I would say the pen and the paper. But you know, we all know it's not pen assist laptop, right? So I take it to the keyboard and I write about it, right? I'm like, Okay, listen, I know, you're busy. I got it. I'm busy too. So how can I make the research more accessible to you? Right?

And so the people that I want to access my research because I do research, so that it actually makes a difference, right? That's where the scholar activism comes in that like, I'm not doing research so that I get money or like it pays, I get book deals. That's not why I do research, I do research so that it actually makes a difference. actually create a read write and like, not everybody has that in mind. They just want to get promoted. They just want to get the grants, whatever. I'm like, No, I want to make a difference. Believe me in comparison to a lot of scholars that have full professorship right now I don't have that big grant money, I use pennies, right to get to get the research, right. I'm like, I'll do the research on pennies and get it out there. Right. Like, I'll do what I gotta do.

I fund my own podcast, because I want to make the research accessible to people. So Que Pasa HSI is the space where people can as you know what the podcasts, listen for free, and learn about what's going on. So that was the biggest thing is like, making research accessible. The other thing was, like you said, lifting voices, right? Like there's lots of voices. For me, it's providing space write for folks who are doing really awesome work at HSIs, but they aren't writing about it, because that's not their job. They're doing other things, right, like writing about it and writing an article about it or writing a book about it is not what they're doing right now.

And so it's like, okay, spend an hour with me, and tell me what you're doing and tell of all of our listeners and let them learn with you. So it was a way to provide that space and that platform for folks who are doing really awesome work. That them share it with folks and really sharing best practices like, I just want us all to learn from each other. And people have a lot of great ideas, and a lot of them are not mine, right? Like I've written about a lot of HSI stuff. And there's a lot of people that have done not only ran but done really cool HSI stuff that I've never even thought of. I'm like, I love that. Let's share it with others, you know, and so the podcast Que Pasa HSIs is really is that like, making knowledge accessible to the people who need it.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

Right. And, I mean, yeah, what what do you envision doing with the podcast? So you're already doing a lot? I mean, it's a whole project of, you know, sharing the work to the masses. It's a lot of work I know I'm doing. But future future Que Pasa HSIs? Like, what is the vision of the podcast? Is it is it so that more folks can take these best practices, put them into practice, and continue doing the work of the becoming process of the servingness of the implementing all that? But yeah, what else do you imagine doing with podcasts? In the future? I don't even know. I'm like, is this going to be a continuous thing? Or?

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Yeah, no, that's a great question. For sure gonna continue to do it gonna continue to offer it. It's interesting, this season was a little different. Because the first two seasons like I had all like my HSI scholar friends are like the top people in my mind. And so season three, I was like, okay, I kind of, you know, I've already provided that platform for all the people, all the awesome people I wanted to share the space with. And so I started asking people, right, and even, you know, when when folks that come on the show, they recommend people. And so there's a good number of folks that I had never even met, but people recommended them. And they're like, oh, this would be a great person. They're doing good work. And I'm like, awesome.

So I am now extending my network meeting really cool people doing really awesome things. But yes, continuing to share the space and continuing to share the knowledge is definitely in the foreseeable future. I think some other things like people are trying to give me feedback on how they're using it. So like one person, like, emailed me, and they were like, yeah, we are using your podcast as part of our professional development offerings. And I was like, oh, right, like, so they're, they're using it as part of their professional development that like, folks have to like, listen to the podcast as part of their professional route. And I was like, okay, and the only reason they emailed me is because one of the episodes was not, they couldn't access that on my website, because it's available in other places, but they were accessing it from my own website.

And so I was like, oh, okay, that must have been, you know, we didn't link it right, the right way, as you know, you know, gotta do a lot of linking and different, you know, in order to make sure it goes live right there. Every platform has its different ways that you got to link it and whatnot. And so even hearing that, like, then I start thinking, Okay, well, how does it become a part of a professional development series? Right, like, do I make it that right? How do I make it marketable, marketing it in that way, right? That it actually is that that level of learning?

I mean, I have a vision of going through it and just listening to all the episodes again, and writing out all the themes, right? There's so many themes that come out. And so it's like, wow, you know, and people tell him, I mean, he will tell me, I like I listened to like the same episode, like four or five times, right? Like, I listen one time, the next time I take notes, and next time I listen, again, just to hear it again, and make sure I heard it correctly. Right. Like, they're there, they really are accessing it for the knowledge, right, it is a knowledge space. So yeah, I think that's a good question. And I think I am still thinking about that.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

I can already envision it and not just for professional development and but in a bunch of different spaces, whether it's, you know, Chicanx Latinx departments, higher ed departments, you name it. And also like, I can envision your book 3, 4, 5 I don't know how many books you have, but like, whatever the next number of books be kind of inspired by some of these conversations that you're having. So it's very, very exciting, just like how much you can do with this and also the increased accessibility too, like you said, for folks who aren't like, able to access the paywall stuff or who aren't always on their computer reactively reading academic articles, they can pop some headphones on and listen to the one thing so that's really, really great.

Yeah. All right. We're getting close to to wrapping up. So I have a couple more questions. I wanted to ask you for advice for first gen BIPOC students in particular for those that are either enrolled in HSIs or are considering attending HSI as for grad school, so maybe they're at an HSI now. Maybe they're not and they're thinking okay, that that's gonna be the next place I go to what are what are some things you want them to keep in mind?

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Yeah. Oh, that's a good question. Um, I mean, so I'll start because my research brain is always in the research. So I'm going to start by saying that the graduate population at HSI does not mirror the undergraduate population. So and then article yeah, so let's start with that. So me and my grad student wrote that article. So I know the data, we have the clear data, the data show that so first of all, HSI is an undergraduate construct. So we have to acknowledge that that you become an HSI because your undergraduate population is has 25% or more Hispanic Latinos, Latinas, your graduate population doesn't have to, neither does your faculty neither does your mission.

There's no other requirement for, that's the lack of accountability at the federal government level, right, the federal government doesn't hold each side's accountable for anything besides those two percentages, right? The low income and the and the and the Hispanic. And then also, if you get the grants and you know, you have to report that you what you're doing with the grant money, right, that's the level of accountability. And so a majority of HSIs are not actually graduate HSIs first of all, so only I think the number is like maybe 40% of all HSIs are even graduate, right. So that knocks out good at least 60% or so. And that's an estimate, it's something something around there at least 40%, but not much more than that. And so a lot of HSIs are not even going to be where you could go to get a graduate degree, either master's or doctoral level.

So but then those, let's say it's 40% or so the majority of them are not HSIs at the graduate level. So you're entering an institution that even when you get to your program, it's still predominately white. So the undergraduate population might be all thriving and diverse and all that. And then you went to your, you know, your graduate degree, and let's say history, and it's probably pretty white, right? Like the faculty and other grad students are also white, and maybe the curriculum, probably the curriculum. I mean, I named history and one of the white, whitest colonial spaces on any college campus, right, unless you're taking it through, you know, ethnic studies lens, you're getting the colonial problematic history of higher ed, I mean, of the US and beyond, right, depending on what history you're setting. And so it becomes very white again, really quickly.

So I think that's important to acknowledge that HSI is are still not HSI is at the graduate level, necessarily. Some are a little bit better. And then it's program based, right? So depending on your program, like some programs are a lot more diverse, right? But that's like one by one. It's like a graduate program by graduate program. So I would say doing that research, if you are interested in entering a graduate program that is more diverse understanding that like you still have to do that sort of level of diversity of research into the diversity of the student population. Ask that question.

I'm a graduate as a graduate advisor, right? Like somebody who comes to me to get advice on in on the process, right for and working with me or entering our graduate program. Ask right as faculty ask the person or the person who oversees the program, what the diversity is, and they will tell you and asked to suck talk to people in color, because they will tell you students will tell you that it's a terrible place, right? They're like no, don't come here. Oh, yeah, that one Latina you wanted to work with? Oh, yeah, she's leaving to Berkeley this year, don't come right. Like that. That happens, right? That happens all the time. Right? Like people applying to go work with one person and then they're like that I'm out. Right?

And then they should tell you that. I told my person who was coming to work with me or very early on right the docs student was coming to work with me. I am leaving probably like 90% chance of leaving I need to tell you that because I don't want you to enter this space without knowing the truth right? Not everybody tells the truth. So ask right ask those kinds of questions ask what kind of climate it is asked what kind of what the experiences are people of color because otherwise you're entering a space thinking it's gonna be all great yeah I'm at an HSI. It's gonna be amazing. And then it's not the graduate population and the graduate curriculum, I'll say, pretty much across the board has not changed. So don't go in expecting expecting that. So I'll stop there.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

I mean, once again, you're reminding us that it's, it's all about the individual programs, not just individual institutions, but even more so the individual departments and programs within them, that I make all the difference, especially for graduate students. So thank you for that. Um, do you have any other closing words and if not, how can others reach you? You How can others follow you, your work, support your work? Yes.

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Yeah. Um, I mean, I guess and also the spirit of like femtoring. Right? Like I said, I mean, I am on the receiving end now, right? That that, that process of going through graduate school and going into either masters or doctoral programs, there is a lot of work to do, we're not creating a college going, are not a cultural and a graduate going culture, right. So I think that would be my big word first is like, there is a program for you, right? Like, get into those programs, if you are trying to apply and get paid. Don't go anywhere. In particular, if you're a person of color, that that doesn't fund you. Higher Ed needs to be funding, if we want more diversity, we need to pay people, we need to pay them what they're worth. And that's everyone that's graduate students, that's faculty that staff all of us, because they should be paying for the fact that we're bringing our cultural knowledge, our community, cultural wealth comes into the institution with us, we are our single handedly changing institutions, just by entering the spaces.

So yeah, so go get go get those programs, go get that, get those funds, go work with those folks you want to work with, like, do that, right. Get the advice, follow podcasts like this follow, you know, insert, I know there's Instagram accounts influencers, people who are helping, particularly grad students of color, figure out or demystify the process, right? Because it is it's a process, and there is an unwritten curriculum, right, there is totally an unwritten curriculum to how to get into and through graduate school. So making sure you're accessing whatever, whether it be through a podcast or through a book, those books are written to write like, get the book, get the podcast, follow the influencers.

I follow the influencers on Instagram, just because I like to learn too right and I've been, you know, I don't I don't need, like, how to write a, you know, the personal statement for the grad school, but I just like, you know, I just like supporting and learning to have like, yeah, what is, you know, how are people perceiving this process that I'm on the receiving end now. And also doing the work to break down a lot of things like, we don't need, we don't need GRE scores, right? Like, we've fought that fight, that fight has been won in a lot of places. Good, we got rid of GRE scores, that doesn't mean that people now all of a sudden, are totally opening up the doors to all people of color, because they still aren't using other metrics to allow people into the institution, right or into their graduate programs.

So I sit on committees with those folks who want to know about their, the GPAs and the and the and the what schools did they go to and the training and the pedigree and I'm like, What's this person want to do? They want to work? They want to, you know, do equity and justice work? Cool. I'm with it. Right? They struggled in undergrad cool. Many of us did, right? That's, I'm good with that. Let's keep talking through Right. Like, that's not the end all be all, like those those normative metrics. Right. So, so just wanted to add that right, from a sort of editorial perspective.

But other than that, you said, how do people reach me? Yes, I'm on social media. So you can call me follow me on social media, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, those are the spaces I spent most of my men @ginaanngarcia, and also my website, ginaanngarcia.com. So yeah, I'm accessible find me I'm happy to interact with folks DM me, it goes down in the DMs for reals like DM me, I always respond to DMs faster than emails even. I should have been DMing. You. Right, if you email me, I'm like, maybe wait.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

I'm gonna send her a formal memo.

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

I'm telling you, it goes down in the DM. Yes. People see me all the time. And that's how I'd be like, and then those are getting technical. And I'm like, Can you email me, but like, you're already on my mind. Now. Right now. You're on my radar. So I'm like, okay, yeah, remind me that you were in my DM so I can remember. But yeah, no, definitely DM scholars, DM folks that love

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

I love that!

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

We respond.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu

All right, well, we're gonna link all of that in the show notes for sure. So folks can can reach you. I just want to thank you. Once again. Thank you so much for coming on the show Doctora Gina for sharing all of your wealth of knowledge and experience and wisdom. y todo, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Dr. Gina Ann Garcia

Thank you for having me.

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