209: Completing the PhD with a Full-Time Job with Dr. Antoinette Newsome

209: Completing the PhD with a Full-Time Job with Dr. Antoinette Newsome


Today’s episode is packed with invaluable insights from Dr. Antoinette Newsome, who recently earned her PhD with a full-time job. Dr. Antoinette is a low-income, first-generation, Black and mixed-race woman who centers the identities of marginalized groups in her practice and research. As a scholar-practitioner, Antoinette is passionate about social justice and equity-based work along with supporting low-income first-generation college Students of Color. Her current research centers post-secondary schooling support systems for students of color, mentoring and peer-mentoring relationships for women of color in the academy, and equity-based action for inclusionary practices at the institutional level.


On the show, we explore her grad school and employment journey, learn more about her non-negotiables for wellness and success, acknowledge the power of tapping into your personal and professional networks, and Dr. Antoinette offers advice for first-gen BIPOCs who are also considering graduate school.


You can connect with Dr. Antoinette Newsome on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/antoinette-newsome-ph-d-b58273a7/


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Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 0:02

Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring podcast. This is your host, Doctora Yvette, and today we have an episode for anybody who is juggling full time work while in grad school, or considering going back to grad school while juggling full time work. Our guest, Dr. Antoinette Newsome is here to talk about her insights on completing a PhD. While working full time. Dr. Antoinette is a low income first generation black and mixed race woman who centers the identities of marginalized groups in her practice and research.

As a scholar practitioner. Antoinette is passionate about social justice and equity base work along with supporting low income, first generation college students of color. Her current research center's post secondary schooling support systems for students of color, mentoring and peer mentoring relationships for women of color in the academy, and equity based action for inclusionary practices at the institutional level. Yes, welcome to the podcast. Dr. Antoinette.

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 1:08

Thank you. Thank you so much. Happy to be here.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 1:11

I love reading people's bios, I always get like chills when I read people's bios, I'm like, I'm so lucky that I get to talk to so many cool people including. So for folks who are wanting to know a little bit more about who you are, can you share a little bit more about your background, your backstory, what you do and how you came to be where you're at now?

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 1:36

Yeah, so like I said, excited to be here. A little bit about me. I'm Dr. Antoinette Newsome. So still getting used to that. I just graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a PhD in higher education, student affairs and international education policy. So still new to the name change. All of what got me there. Just a quick kind of thing related to my background is, you know, like my bio said, I grew up as a low income, first generation student of color, right. And so, my parents, my father did not go beyond the sixth grade. My mom has high school, like a little bit of high school, she never finished high school. And she was been working on her GED like into her late 60s, right. And so overall education has just been something that was pushed in my family, as my dad had essentially seen it as a way for us to kind of make it out of our situation.

And so from there, essentially, growing up with those particular circumstances, I just felt like I wasn't in an environment that really prepared me for college. And so from New York, one of 11 children, right, a part of a big family, but we moved to rural North Carolina. So that was just a big change there. But then I got into Chapel Hill. And so growing up in rural North Carolina, it didn't prepare me for, you know, the flagship institution for the state at Chapel Hill. And so it was because of the programs, the mentors, the various initiatives specifically for minority students at UNC specifically for those with my identities that really opened my eyes to what student affairs can be, right? And so I was like, you know, I want to do this, like, I want to help students and like myself. And so that got me into the field, onto my master's from Bowling Green State University in College student personnel, and then leading me into the world of Student Affairs via housing and TRIO programs.

And most recently, McNair working with the McNair Scholars Program. I'm a McNair, McNair alumn, so shout out to any McNair Scholars out there. Our goal is to get the PhD in 10 years, and I was able to finish it as this is my 10th year from graduating undergrad. So shout out to that. I'm into the UNC McNair program. And really me being a McNair practitioner for the last few years within my program. So I literally just finished up my last week at UMBC last week. Wow. Yeah, I know. So, so wild. It's been a great three and a half years there. But I will be starting a new role come this Monday, where I'll be working at EAB, which is a higher ed tech company, um, but specifically for their moonshot for equity initiative, where I'll help to scale equity efforts across colleges across the country.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 4:36

Oh, see, I was not familiar about this recent change and transition in your employment. So maybe we can talk a little bit more about that. Also, if you're talking about full time employment, but I'll say I know a lot of people are curious about what their options are. And you have this experience of working you know, student affairs, TRIO, McNair And now, what kind of industry is that considered? Is it like this?

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 5:05

So it's, it's technically it's a for profit company that

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 5:09

like Ed, Ed Tech, or

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 5:11

it's higher ed tech. So it's like higher ed, adjacent role.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 5:14

Ah, okay. Good to know. Thank you for sharing. And you're one of 11. Did I hear that right?

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 5:22

Yeah, I'm the last one.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 5:24

Wow, I rarely hear people who have more siblings than I do. I'm one of six. Like, not even alike,

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 5:32

One of my friends. She's one of 10. My mom is one of 11. And she had 11. So just

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 5:41

Thank you for sharing. Okay, so let's hop into the topic of today, which is juggling full time work. And, and I know, it's not always a decision that people get to make intentionally sometimes it's sometimes just a matter of circumstances. But in your case, what was your experience like deciding or or having that circumstance of, of working full time while completing your graduate program? Can you tell us more about that? If it was, you know, the decision making process? Or how did you arrive at that point where you, you realize, okay, I'm working full time and I'm also completing my grad program?

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 6:20

Yeah, well, I think the first thing is making the decision to go back to school, right? It's like, how do people really get to that point. And I think that part is really important, because that is what essentially will help to drive you during those moments where it gets really hard, and you get really, really tired. And so for me, prior to being at UMBC, I was at Townsend University working in housing, right. And for many of us, we're familiar with the nature of the beast of housing, right, where it's just kind of 24 hours around the clock type work. But what I did, there was, I was the co chair of our basically like our Diversity Committee for the department. And so I did a lot of like, professional development with my team. And so we did a lot of reading and a lot of learning and a lot of processing, right, so that we can really curate and develop these initiatives to help our students related to dei work.

And with that, I had graduated from my master's in 2015. And I told myself, I said, Look, you need a break from the classroom, don't think about school, nowhere in the near future. And so I took about four and a half years off, where I just worked full time, and only did that. And that was beautiful for me, and I enjoyed just working. But as I was really involving myself more in the literature as it related to DEI efforts, specifically for my committee based work, I started to notice like, hmm, I'm interested in learning more. And so I started diving deeper, and we read a bunch of books and like, we're just doing all the things that you would do in an academic space. And so it was then that I realized, okay, maybe I am ready for school, right. And so I had a specific focus area that brought me a lot of joy, that I'm like, I want to learn more.

And what we were focused on specifically was equity based efforts within the Department of Housing and Residence Life. So I actually have a article out with some of my former colleagues, who are now my great friends. And it's focusing on our equity tank model where it helps to helps departments specifically within student affairs, but it can be utilized anywhere. But for them to really think about how do we make our policies or practices or procedures more equitable, right. And so it was really the start of this work, where I'm like, I really want to focus on changing systems. And the way to do that, right is like, I need to learn more. And so that really sparked my interest in saying, okay, hey, man, I need to go back to school to figure out some stuff. And so once I, I guess, I got the itch to like, learn more again. I was like, okay, I think I can take school back on.

And so when I made that decision, I shared with my supervisor that I was applying and, and we have a very great relationship, even to this day. And I, I communicate very often with her at the time, and I was like, you know, here's what I'm interested in doing. And because I had been in that role for four years, I knew the role really well. Right. And they knew my work, they knew my work ethic. And so for me to add this, it wasn't as much of a debate because I had already proven here's what I can give you also, now I want to take this on for myself. And so in talking with her, we then were working through okay, well what can this really really look like? And so as we got into the nitty gritty of it, I applied I got in and so to help reintroduce myself back to the classroom. I will was like, okay, let me take a summer course to get my feet wet, right. And so I took one summer course, summer courses are only I don't know what six to eight weeks or so. But it was enough for me to get adjusted back to the classroom without students because in the summer with housing, the students are gone, right. And so I took the class at a time where we were in a low season.

So again, you have to be strategic about what parts and you all know your roles. Well. Is it spring semester? Is it summer? Is it fall at what may be the best time to test it out? Right. And so for me, that was summer. And so I took a course and it was online. And I was able to make connections with people and try and I'm glad I did it in the summer because I felt like I got hit with a brick like, oh, wow, this is a lot. Right. But because my job wasn't as demanding at that time, it really allowed me to focus more on really getting back into the rhythm of what it meant to be in a classroom. And so I did that. And then in the fall is when I started a full semester, and I took two classes. And so when I think about my experiences working full time, here's a couple of things that stand out to me, right. I was in Townsend, but my school was in College Park, if you know anything about Maryland, that commute is not for the week hearted. Okay. That was about an hour commute one way. So I was driving one to two days a week, like to be there in person.

And so what I recognized very quickly, was that how things were set up for me when I first started is not going to be sustainable for four years at minimum, right? Because that's what they tell you four to five or six years. And so with that being said, I was like, okay, having a job in housing, and being in a PhD program is not going to set me up for success. And so that's when I knew, and there were a bunch of different issues. Again, when thinking about the needs of my job, being on call, right having to have late night, student staff meetings with my RAs, I'm like, I'm just way too exhausted. And I barely dipped my toe in the water here. So I need to figure out something different. And so what then happened is because of my classmate, one of my cohort mates, he was leaving his job he still at the institution, but the McNair position opened up. And I'm like, what better way to one get back to a program that has given so much to me. And to be working for a program that pushes students to get a PhD and I'm in a PhD. program, right.

And so it was very much in alignment with just where I was and what I needed at that time. And so, so yeah, so in the beginning, I had to change jobs, because the job that I had, wasn't it. And with me changing jobs, they were very important elements that allowed me to thrive, and then I'll say this, and then I can pause and see if there's anything else. But for me into the new job. As I was interviewing for UMBC, I made it very clear to the hiring manager. I don't know who I thought it was a little bold. But I was like, Look, I'm in a PhD program, I want to make it very clear that I have every intention of finishing within four years, I was like, and what that means is that I can do this job full time, but I plan to go full time student after once I get to my dissertation phase. Now I kept myself full time the whole time. Because you know, life happens, things change. And we can talk about those things.

But going into it, I wanted to work full time only for the coursework time. And then to be a full time student. Because the dissertation as I tell you, you need focus on all those things. So that was my original plan. But I went into it being very clear about what my intention was, so that as they made a decision about me as a candidate, you knew where my energies were. Right? And Michael, my supervisor there even shared with me, he was like, honestly, he said, I was concerned about that. And I thought that you would prioritize school more than you would work. And he was like, but honestly, you have challenged that very thought, right. And so I was able to balance both for many different reasons, a lot of it really having to do with his support. But it really just just did take me one advocating for myself being intentional and clear about my goals, and then communicating that to all of those involved as I went along the way. And my supervisor, Michael really be open to what it was that I needed and adjustments that I needed to make. So yes, I don't know if you have any new thoughts before I keep going. But I wanted to pause here for you.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 14:48

Yea, you shared a lot what you shared about just even the process from arriving at feeling like you've got this itch and then like following that intuition or that itch of like, I want to learn more. So I'm going to that I was curious about the testing out process, because I'm always thinking about my listeners. And if they're thinking, well, maybe I want to test it out. What did that look like? Because I, had you been admitted into a program at that point? Or did you take some sort of extension course or a different? Like, how did you when you said it, you tested it out in the summer?

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 15:22

Yeah, so I was already admitted into the program. Instead of allowing the fall semester to be my adjustment back into the classroom, I was like, I need to sort this out in the summer. To see because I had been out of the classroom for four and a half years.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 15:39

And you had the option to take a summer course for this program you got into, good to know. Okay, so just note to self and note to the listeners about that. So you tested it out, then you realize, okay, circumstances are gonna make it really hard to juggle this job with this huge commute in this other campus, your program, you apply to a new position, and you were very, very firm about these are my these are my needs. This is what I plan to do my expectations. This is what I can provide for you. And thankfully, you have you had a very supportive supervisor, Michael, who were gonna have on the show as well. So they'll get to hear more about him later. Yeah. Shout out to Michael Hunt. So okay, that's really, really helpful.

Now, once you were in your program, you said you were working for McNair? What was that process of, of strategies for juggling the two? Are there any, anything that you felt like, oh, this is what work this is? What did I know clearly, one of the things that you mentioned was being clear about your expectations, and probably boundary setting. But no you tell me like, what was that process like of juggling the two? What helped you be successful? And what were some of the challenges too?

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 16:58

Yeah. So what helped me was really figuring out what I like what it looked like to adjust my schedule. So a lot of my classes were during the day, whether that's like 11 to 245, or a 430 to six, and then somewhere at night, or whatever. But it really took me one figuring out what classes I needed to take. And when, because for my program, they only offer certain core courses, like every other year, right? And so you have to take it then or you kind of miss it, and have to wait, but really figuring out what were the courses that I needed to take and where did they fall. And so for me, most of them were either a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. And so I had shared with Michael, hey, here's the schedule. And what I tried to do was either I tried to get, like courses on the same day to where maybe it was like one day, because then I get to use paid time off. If I'm using paid time off that's time that I earned. And I think a lot of people are afraid to use the paid time. I don't know why. Right. I think it's hard for people to take off. But I very much use that to my advantage to either use paid time off, or to ask for accommodations within my hours. Right.

And so for McNair, we have a lot of weekend programming, especially at the beginning of the semester. We work Saturdays, we work Sundays. And so I was able to let's say I had a class on a Tuesday, but we work Saturday, I just swapped the days, right? And so if your job calls for weekend work, asking your supervisor like, can you just adjust that time to then swap it for the days that you have class, if that makes the most sense for you? But again, really thinking about like, what days do they fall on? Can you be strategic in terms of like, maybe having things closer to the end of the day that make it more flexible people being more open to adjusting? Or do you need to start your workday sooner, right? Like, do you need to start a little earlier? Because you're leaving later, or whatever the case may be?

And you also have to consider travel time, right? If that's necessary. And so do you have flexibility to where maybe on the days that you have class and your school is closer to your home? Can you work from home that day, right? And so it was really also thinking about the logistics of all of that too, and trying to balance? You know, that kind of stuff like working from home, which later in our program, but yeah, so thinking about it that way. So talking with my supervisor about my schedule, figuring out what that looked like. Also, an adjustment was thinking about like, what do I need as a learner, right? So what is going to allow me to be my best self as a student, and for me, I have to be in community.

So when I got into my program, I was first looking for all the Black women because I was like where ya'll at, where my people, my master's program it was me and one other Black woman, right. And so from me, I knew that I needed to see people like myself and to be in community with them, Black women and other people of color, right like that allowed me to really adjust in the ways that I needed. And so community is what I sought first, because community is also what got me through to the end. Very, very much so. And really working with them to to say, Okay, we have class at this time, do we want to do work after or on another day, right? So really working with your peers working with your cohort, or whoever is kind of in your community to say, hey, I need accountability in this way, like, can we make this happen? Right. And so what was challenging at first is that when I lived in Townsend proximity became an issue because it was just too far. And so once I moved closer, because when I got the the new job at UMBC, I moved, now that I'm in closer proximity, I have more access to people within my community, specifically in the physical.

What is unique about my experience working full time, though, was COVID. And so COVID hit, and that caused everybody to go online. And so with that being said, we had to find community in different ways, right via zoom, being more consistent in how often we met online, or whatever the case may be. But that really shifted a lot of like, how we strategize, then, you know, to kind of work through some of those challenges. And with COVID, there was grace given in different ways, right, everybody adjusting to this drastic change that no one has ever experienced in our lifetime. And so I would say, you know, kind of making that adjustment was a bit challenging, understandably, so where I like really figuring out, okay, now I need a new sort of like, consistency. And what does this look like in this virtual space? And that had happened for the latter half of my coursework?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 21:56

Wow. Yeah, that is a big a big change I some of the things that I heard you say, going back to initially advocating for yourself in the workplace, and then also figuring out what your needs are you said, as a learner and knowing that you needed community, I'm curious if there were ways that you advocated for yourself within your program and department, or if they were even aware that you were working working full time, because I know that sometimes that's discouraged. Or sometimes folks choose not to disclose about their personal life and other commitments, because they don't want to be viewed as you know, I've heard from professors, not very supportive professors who view these things as quote, unquote, distractions, even though for a lot of us, it's a way of making ends meet and a form of survival. So I'll just I'm just, you know, putting that aside, I'm just curious if you, you know, to what extent did you talk about this? Or did you advocate for yourself within your program? What did that look like?

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 23:01

Yeah, so interesting enough, my cohort were seven, and we were kinda sort of 50, 50, right? 50 full time workers, 50 full time students almost right. And so half of us work full time within the USM system, which is our state of Maryland system. And then the other half were full time graduate students. And so it wasn't odd for us to work full time. Our program does, I think, generally speaking, I think, you know, they more so have more full time graduate students. But over time, we've seen that it's almost 50, 50 with the general cohort. And so I didn't feel weird about sharing, hey, I work full time, because again, that's a part of what I am bringing into the classroom, those are the experiences that I am sharing as a part of what it is we're reading or the things that we're applying, like, in the stuff that we're learning, I'm applying to my job, right, I'm applying to what I'm putting in my writing. And so it all sort of came full circle.

And luckily for me, my research area and research interest directly aligned with my full time gig. And so I would recommend to all of those listening as much as you can connect your current role to what it is you want to focus on while being in school. That made a lot of just a lot of the coursework, a lot of the assignments, just a lot of everything a lot easier, because I'm aligning what I'm doing in my day to day, what I'm doing at night, which is reading and writing. And so I think that alignment is very critical and key to really helping to make it not feel like you're doing double duty, if that makes sense.

And so, other ways in terms of how I advocated for myself within my program, I made it very clear to my advisors, so I had one advisor and then I switched about halfway, but I made it very clear to say hey, I am coming into this program with the intention even though I'm a full time worker, I am graduating with full time students. And I said that again, very bold. But I knew one as a McNair Scholar ahead 10 years, so I had exactly four years to finish. And I let everybody else in my cohort notice that hey, girl, you can't leave me I'm leaving with you. Like, we're leaving together. Here we came, we started together, we're going to end together. And I think it became this community focused effort to say, All right, we all said we're leaving together, how do we do that? Right. And so we really all rallied around each other. And they all knew that I worked full time and half the time, they're like, I don't know how you did this. And my answer is Jesus, because your Lord is the only explanation. Because sometimes I didn't even know I would just go, go, go. But it's like, once you're in a routine, once you're in a rhythm, it just becomes natural.

And my, one of my top strengths is achiever. Right, so I'm naturally a doer, I want to get things done. And so I feel better when I can like check things off. And I think that kind of helped as well. But really, again, it's being very intentional about what you want, but how are you involving everybody who you encounter in your day to day, my advisors, my sister scholars, my supervisor, like all of these people I see all the time. So I need y'all to know what my plan is. So that one, we can all work together to figure out how to make it happen and to, I'm being held accountable outside of me relying on just my energy and my energy alone, because that's not sustainable. And so that's really what I did throughout my time, and I'm not gonna hold you. I was I was pushing my advisor a little, she knew my goals, and I'm like, hey, girl, can we still do it? She'll be like, okay, well, can you do this? And I'm like, I don't know. But I'm gonna do it.

It was just this constant battle, where sometimes things seemed impossible, but I'm like, look, I got to finish and I am tired. And finishing will allow me to be well, and so I saw it as a like, what I used to say something along the lines of temporary sacrifice long term game. And that was really the driver for me, is that what I'm experiencing now it doesn't feel good. But it's only for a finite amount of time. Whereas I get freedom forever, once this is over. And so that perspective, I think, was really helpful. But again, it it required me to advocate for myself via my program via my workspace, and just letting everyone know, hey, here's my goals. And not just that, but okay, what do we do to make that happen? Right. And so creating mile markers, with my peers to say, hey, we need to do this, this, this. And then again, we all worked on a bunch of different things together. I tell people all the time, this journey is not meant to be done alone. And for those who do it alone, I don't know how, kudos to you for that being the case, but really involving as many people as you can to help you, you know, get to the finish for sure.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 28:18

Yea, I mean, you mentioned a couple of things, you mentioned, this alignment between the work that you do and the work setting, and also the work you do, or did in the program and the research that that you're involved in. So I talked about that you talked about leaning on community and involving as many people, I'm curious, because you've already touched on that peer support. And being very clear with your supervisor, with your advisor, about your your needs, and about very, very clear goals and direction. And you're like I know, I want to finish by, by this time, I'm gonna finish when everybody else is gonna finish four years. That sounds like it was very, very helpful in terms of the light at the end of the tunnel knowing like the temporary sacrifice that you mentioned.

But what other types of support did you lean on? So a lot of community support a lot of reaching out to others. But you know, I mean, your work is about school support systems for students of color, mentoring relationships, the need for inclusive institutional spaces. All of that is like support, support support. So what else to do anything else that you haven't touched on in terms of what you relied on as a student? And also, broadly speaking, if you can share from your own findings, like what can institutions do to better support non traditional students, full time working students and students of color more broadly?

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 29:51

Yeah. Other things that come to mind. People ask me all the time, like, how did you do it? Or oh, my goodness, it seems so impossible. And I tell people one of the main pieces is, what are your non negotiables? Like, forget school forget work, like you as a whole person? What are things that keep you grounded? What are things that keep you centered? And what do you need to do to remain your most healthiest self? Right? Because life outside of that's already hard. So we don't need to make it harder for ourselves. So what is it that I can control that I have access to, that I can do on a daily basis to make sure that I'm as centered as possible, because there's so much going on on the outside.

And for me what that looked like I was, you know, I identify as a Christian, right. And so my prayer time was very important to me. And so I knew that if I did that every day consistently, it would ensure to myself that one, I'm making time for things that I prioritize, which is, you know, my spirituality and my connection and relationship with God. But to it's like, okay, even if things get wild and crazy, right, like work is stressful, or school is a lot, I know that in the morning, I'm gonna get up, and I'm gonna pray about that thing, right. And it will give me peace in ways that I just could not have imagined. But again, for me, that was one of my grounding practices.

And then two, health is a very important thing to me, right? My family has a variety of health issues. And so for me, it's like, what can I do to make sure that I'm doing the best that I can to thank my body that shows up for me every day, even though I'd be running her ragged sometimes, I just be thank you girl, thank you so much. Right? But it's like, what can I do to fuel her to give her rest? Now, rest was something that I really do struggle with. So if y'all got some tips for that, please let me know. But for me, I tried to, I used to work out what, five, six days a week, right? Being a school that wasn't happening. But I had to learn how to give myself grace to say, girl, if you make it three to four days, you're doing a really good job with all that you have. And so it became this kind of self negotiation to say, yeah, you're used to this. But what is the minimal level that will still keep you well, and for me, it was adjusting in my own mind, what I felt was a necessity for me.

And so I maintain, you know, working out whether that's yoga or going to the gym, or doing strength training, or taking a class or whatever it was, even though it wasn't as often it was still something that I'm like, well, at least I did something for myself a few times a week, and I'm good with that. Right. And so it took me adjusting even my own kind of expectations of myself. When I would say another thing, too. So again, being a part of a big family, we spend a lot of time together, we do a lot of things, there's always something going on. And for me, I knew that, you know, family is important. But I had to I did what I could, right. So I couldn't say yes to everything. And so I shared with my family, hey, all over this, in this current season, what I need is for you all to kind of help me right and even sharing with my family, we do different things over the holidays.

And so I would commit to the big things. But something like Fourth of July and fireworks, I was taking my I very vividly remember taking my comprehensive exams. And I'm like, I would love to go. But while y'all are out of this house, I can get a lot of writing done, because it's really quiet here, you know, and so really kind of, also, again, I have this expectation of myself to maintain family time. But what that looked like was very different, right? In terms of again, just reminding myself, I can do it here and there. But I can't do it as consistently and being okay with that. But again, still fueling my need, right? To stay connected with my family, how often and what we did, that stuff just looked a little different. And I will say my family, they showed up and showed out I would have them, hey, I need to take a 30 minute nap. And I gotta get back to writing. Can you call me? Or can you give me a wake up call? Right?

So again, it really is involving all areas of your life of your lives, like in this process as much as you can. And so keeping those just reminding yourself or even reflecting to yourself, like what are the things that allowed me to feel centered, and for me, it was my spirituality, my health and my family, right and making sure that if I don't do anything, if I touch on these three things throughout the week, then I will I will feel okay. Right. I might not be in my best self but I will at least be at a solid standard to where I can still take on anything else that comes.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 34:52

That's really helpful hearing you talk about what your non negotiables are and the different categories that they fall under. So you you mentioned spirituality you mentioned, family, you mentioned your physical health. What is that, mental health, goes along with that as well. That's that's, it brings to mind I, when I work with students, especially graduate students, a lot of times, the reasons they might be struggling or they might be stuck is because they're not making time for those other categories in their life. Or maybe they're unclear about what their non negotiables are, what their values are, all the things that really matter to them. Or they've lost sight of that the reason why they decided to pursue a graduate program in the first place.

So I we're getting close to wrapping up. And I want to ask you about thinking about students, current students who are listening to this, and maybe they are they too, are juggling full time work? Or they're considering it, what advice would you give to them to First Gen BIPOC students who may be struggling or who are considering going back to school, maybe working full time while in graduate program or anything of that, like anything? Or in between?

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 36:10

Yeah, specifically, for first gen students, and I see this a lot, especially with all of those who identify as BIPOC, right is that many of us are our upbringing is based in like communal practices, right? Or familial practices. And so a lot of the decisions we make for the sake of our families, right, and there is nothing wrong with that. And I think that's so beautiful. And a part of me getting my PhD, right, I'm the first person in my like, family on my mom's side, right is to get a PhD that so there was a lot that went into that, right, people are already calling me doc, before I'm even about there being this sort of pressure, right. And so what I say to first gen students and your first gen, in undergrad and your your first gen in this dac thing too, right, the first gen identity kind of sorta doesn't leave you but what I want to say to that is to remind yourself that while you may be feeling the pressure, using the pressure as motivation, and that pressure that may sort of, you know, kind of hold you back, right?

Because again, it's like, it's a lot to be the first to do the thing. And sometimes that often, it often results in imposter syndrome showing up or self doubt, or all these other things when it's like, no, no, no, you are here, you got accepted into the program. Clearly the faculty saw something in you, where they know that you are able and you are capable. And I think sometimes it becomes difficult to see that within ourselves, especially when the fight gets really, really tough. And it wasn't until my doctoral program that I heard for the very first time. Oh, Antoinette, you're a great writer. And I'm like, what? And my professor was like, yeah, like you are. And I never felt like that, like in my master's program, I had a professor, he was a white male. And he always was like, Oh, you got to get better or and he would help me learn new words and build my vocabulary. Love him, great person. But I never felt like I knew how to do that thing.

And it wasn't until my doc program where a Black woman faculty member, right, so hearing it from her specifically as another Black woman to say, hey, you do great stuff. And she very explicitly said, You've been socialized as a first generation low income Black student, to not feel like you are adequate. And so what I say, in terms of advice is that while our socialization experiences have fostered these passions and this desire, just reminding ourselves that we are not right, what we've been socialized to think, and that we are so much greater than that, and people see abilities in ourselves that we don't even see. And it's not until we put ourselves in these spaces where you're connecting with faculty, and you're in doc programs where people are like, you know, you're really good at this. And I'm like, All right, yeah. Right.

And so really taking on the goodness of that, and not allowing those identities, which oftentimes people see as kind of a negative thing to really be what empowers you and like being low income, first gen generation and a black and mixed race woman like that is my superpower. You can't tell me that I can't do this, right? Because there's a lot that I see that I can do with it to really help shape and change, you know, college campuses for the better to make it more equitable for people like me. And so I want to share that and I want to also go back to the idea of us making decisions for our families. It's like our families love, they love us and we love them, but sometimes times we have to make the hard choices about what is going to be best for us. Because while while it may be difficult to make that choice, again, it's one of those things where it's like temporary sacrifice long term gain.

I know a lot of students struggle with, where do I go too far, I don't want to go too far for my family right out. But this is a great opportunity. So there's all these internal struggles about like, personal priorities, yet professional priorities and how to you kind of get to meet them in the middle. And so what I would say, really, is to know that, again, if being closer to your family will allow you to thrive and you need that support, by all means stay close, right? But it's more so this advice of not being afraid to test the waters and going elsewhere to see what is out there. And what possibilities can come from you taking such a big leap of faith or doing something super different, that could then open up a world of opportunities. And so just knowing that, you know, I just wouldn't want people to miss out on that. So hopefully, that is helpful for both.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 41:07

Right. And before I forget, I do still want to circle back to your recent transition. You mentioned just finishing your program, and you're about to start a new position. And I hear all the time from folks who want to hear more about what are my options with a PhD? What kind of jobs can I get? So maybe touching on at words of advice for students who want to learn more about making that leap and that transition from student affairs to more higher ed adjacent type of positions? Can you speak, you know, even if it's just a little bit on on that topic and what that's been like, or what that is like for you as you're, you're in the process right now? Yeah.

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 41:49

What I would say is as much as you are able to take advantage of the opportunities that come to you as a graduate student, right. So for me, while I worked full time, I also was able to take advantage of some research assistantships and some research experiences that opened my eyes to what it was that I could do, outside of just being a faculty member, like I T aid for a course of wow, that was a great experience. I also know that teaching in a classroom is not what excites me everyday. So I knew faculty route was not for me. And oftentimes our training is to go faculty, or to go research base, right. And so for me, I recognized that I had more interest in being just more research oriented, right. So if there is a problem, I'm solution focused, and research helps us to find answers to these solutions.

And so from these experiences that I took advantage of throughout my time in the program, and the one, the one little side note I want to say to that is you don't have to do every opportunity, and opportunities come back around. So my adviser shared with me, you don't have to do everything. And even if you want to do this one thing, it'll come back around, like we have years in this program, right? So we don't have to do everything within a short period of time. It's like, No, you can wait till next year. And so really, again, thinking about like, once you're adjusted to taking classes once you have a rhythm between work and school, okay, is there another experience that I can add in for me, really being doing research based work was one of those things.

And so having those experiences, basically taught me that, you know what, my more my passion area is centered upon research and policy, right, because we do the research to find the answers. But where does the change happen? And for me, I learned that I get excited about change being made via policies, right. Again, going back from what I mentioned about our equity take kind of model that we made, it focuses on changing policies, practices and procedures. But my doc experience has taught me how research helps to inform that. Right. And so from that, I was able to say, Okay, well, here's what I have an interest in, right? I really like to learn about equity based practices that will help the outcomes for students like myself, low income, first generation, students of color.

And so for me, it's like, where in the world can I go? And what can I do, knowing that I have this very niche sort of interest? What I've learned is that there are a ton of policy agencies, advocacy agencies, nonprofit agencies, one that are in close proximity to me. So if you're in the DMV area, so DC, Maryland, Virginia, there are a lot of those spaces here that essentially are looking for PhD folks who want to do research and who want to do policy based work. That would be a direct interest. So there's a bunch of they call it the alphabet soup, but there's like the EAB's of the world or the ACE's or all of the These entities, right, that really focus on connecting research and policy. Again, this is specific to what I found to be my thing within my doc program and how I saw an a connection to them being hired adjacent.

And so for me, looking for specific research analyst type roles was what I was looking at, as well as consulting. So my role technically is a consulting based role, where I'm focusing specifically on specifically on an equity based initiative. It's called moonshot for equity through EAB. And so with that, I helped to scale 15 best practices, equity focused practices to college campuses across the country, right. So I'm working with presidents and Dean's and other senior leaders at institutions to say, hey, here's how you can make your college environment more equitable for this population to help increase their outcomes. And so it was very much in alignment one with my dissertation work. And that really showing up in this job, this new job that I will have, but it really took me exploring options outside of higher ed institutions.

And so all of my training has been at primarily four year institutions, my dissertation work was at a community college. And so that was new for me. But being able to kind of include all of those interests in this role that allows me to serve as a consultant for senior leaders at college campuses to help scale equity focused efforts. So depending on what you want to do, going higher ed, a Jason, I would say to kind of look at those policy, advocacy, nonprofit type agencies that serve higher ed institutions. And there's a bunch of different options, and just different roles that you have that still keep you connected to higher ed bass work just outside of a college campus.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 46:54

That's really, really good to know. Do you have any other closing words? And if not, I would love for folks to hear about how they can reach you connect with you, or support you in your work.

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 47:08

Yeah, so you all can connect with me on LinkedIn, I have social media, but it's not. I don't really use social media. And I should probably be better at that. Yo, you better Oh, me too. Okay. It's not really my thing. But LinkedIn, for sure, you could send a message. I'm starting to be more active up there. You can also reach me by email, you could send it to acnews. So acnews@terpmail.umd.edu email is also another quick and easy way for me to kind of reply to that seems more formal, but it works for me, as I transition into doing more via social media, but LinkedIn for sure are the two best ways to reach me at this time,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 47:56

I'll make sure to add both to the show notes so they can easily access that. Well, thank you so so much, Dr. Antoinette for sharing your wealth of wisdom, knowledge, experiences, everything that you shared today. I know folks are gonna gain a lot from what you shared. I really appreciate you coming and sharing all of this with us today.

Dr. Antoinette Newsome 48:16

Awesome. Thanks for having me. And I hope that it helps and for all of those out there who are working full time and in doc programs or thinking about it and are unsure, please, please, please help. Please, please, please just reach out to me. I would love to help as much as I can. A lot of people have helped me throughout this process and I just want to be able to pay it forward to others doing the same.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 48:39

Thank you.

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