Journey to the Ph.D.
How to Navigate the Process as African Americans

Foreword by Brenda Jarmon
Paper: 978 1 57922 079 2 / $23.95
Published: October 2003  

Lib E-Book: 978 1 62036 034 7 / $95.00  
About Library E-Book

Published: December 2011  

Publisher: Stylus Publishing
240 pp., 6" x 9"
As a new generation of African Americans completes college, an increasing number of students are aspiring to the Ph.D. as a stepping stone to a career in the academy and to fully participate in shaping our society. Most African Americans are conscious that they are the first in their families to embark on this journey. They are aware they will meet barriers and prejudice, are likely to face isolation and frustration, and find few sources of support along the way.

This book, by twenty-four Black scholars who “have been there,” offers a guide to aspiring doctoral students to the formal process and to the personal, emotional and intellectual challenges they are likely to face. The authors come from a wide range of disciplines – from computing, education and literature to science and sociology. Although their experiences and backgrounds are as varied as they are as individuals, their richly diverse chapters cohere into a rounded guide to the issues for those who follow in their footsteps.

From questioning the reader about his or her reasons for pursuing a doctorate, offering advice on financial issues, the choice of university and doctoral program, and relocation, through the process and timetable of application, interviews, acceptance and rejection, the authors go on to describe their own journeys and the lessons they have learned.

These men and women write candidly about their experiences, the strategies they used to maintain their motivation, make the transition from HBCUs to PWIs, balance family and work, make the right choices and keep focussed on priorities. They discuss how to work effectively with advisors and mentors, make all-important connections with teachers and build professional and personal support networks. They recount how they dealt with tokenism, established credibility, handled racism, maintained their values and culture, and persuaded supervisors to legitimize their research interests in African American issues.

This is both an inspirational and practical book for every African American considering pursuit of a doctoral degree.

Table of Contents:
Brenda Jarmon: Lift Every Voice -- African American Students Surviving in Higher Education.

PART I: ENTRANCE INTO THE ACADEMY. LeKita V. Scott: Introduction; Kamau Oginga Siwatu: The Paths and Opportunities to Gaining Admission to the Graduate School of Your Choice; Tim Wilson, Nelson Soto and Jami Joyner: Deciding If and How to Pursue Doctoral Work; KaaVonia Hinton-Johnson: "Dreams Hanging in the Air Like Smoke" -- A Personal Reflection Influencing Enrollment and Persistence in Higher Education; Randal D. Pinkett: Five Degrees to a Ph.D. -- Positive Detours Along the Path to the Doctorate.

PART II: ADAPTING TO THE ACADEMY. Stephen Hancock: Balancing Act -- A Reflective Practice; Catherine Cushinberry: Maintaining My Identity -- Enhanced by the System, but Not Lost in It; Felicia Moore: In the Midst of It All -- My Experiences in Science and Science Teaching, a Feminist Perspective; Anthony Graham: Pressing Toward the Mark -- An African American Man’s Reflection on the Doctoral Process at a Predominantly White Institution; Terrolyn Carter: Enduring the Race -- A Diary of My Graduate Years; Jonda McNair: "Walk Tall in the World" -- Reflections from a Scholar of African American Children’s Literature.

PART III: SURVIVING THE ACADEMY. Courtney Johnson: The Mask -- A Survival Tool; Lisa Watts: The Sankofa Bird of Ghana; April Peters: Making the Academy a Home for the Brave; Tamara Duckworth-Warner: Choosing a Mentor and Other Lessons of the Hidden Curriculum of Graduate School; Tarcha Rentz: The Role of Mentorship in Developing African American Students and Professionals; James Minor: For Better For Worse -- Improving Advising Relationships Between Faculty and Graduate Students; Carolyn Hopp, Vincent Mumford and Franklyn Williams: The Role of Mentoring for Future Academicians; Anna L. Green: Conclusion -- The Ph.D.: A Process, not a Product.

APPENDIX -- Preparing for the Professorate.

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Reviews & Endorsements:
"(The authors) offer students at every step of the process, advice, information and guidance for a successful stint in academia. (The book) is a helpful resource for any African-American student seriously considering the pursuit of a Ph.D., or for those currently in the midst of their doctoral program. The book also serves as a valuable asset to current faculty (of all races), as a means for continuing the critical dialogue surrounding the recruitment and retention of African American students in doctoral programs. The essays incorporate a variety of writing styles from informal and conversational to more technical and theoretical. There is also a strong premise throughout many of the composition of the importance of spirituality as a means for surviving. and thriving, on the road to the Ph.D.."
- Black Issues in Higher Education (now Diverse)
"The vast collection of personal experiences in the Journey to the Ph.D. should kindle a student's desire to continue their efforts obtain a prized terminal degree while maintaining a reality-based view of the experience. This collection of seventeen personal accounts provides a guide to the selection of an institution, instructions on how to navigate through that institution, and what to expect from the experience. Thus it affords direction to the novice as well as the experienced scholar. Students and advisors alike will connect with the clarity of the experiences shared within this text."
- NACADA Journal