“I Love How We Developed a Community Already”: A Graduate Student Orientation Model for Minority-Serving Programs and Institutions

  • Magdalena L. Barrera San José State University
Keywords: Latinx students, graduate education, student retention, identity development


In recent years, an increasing number of universities have qualified as Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), thanks in part to significant growth in the numbers of Latinx students who are enrolling in bachelor’s degree programs. A greater proportion of this student population is completing bachelor’s degrees and continuing into master’s and doctoral programs. Nevertheless, graduate orientation remains overlooked despite being a rich opportunity to support the identity development of Latinx students. This pedagogical reflection contributes to the discussion of Latinx student experiences by exploring an innovative approach to new graduate student orientation for a master’s program in a Chicana/o Studies department at an MSI. The orientation provides holistic support for Latinx students by building an academic community founded on mutual support and bringing greater transparency to the hidden curriculum of graduate education that often elides Latinx students. The essay explores insights from student feedback on the orientation and provides reflection questions to help departments and MSIs bring a more equity-minded, supportive approach to welcoming and retaining new Latinx graduate students.