On role models, activism, and being an academic mama

Some days the parts of one’s world seem to converge, bringing together moments and thoughts that were meant to be unrelated to show you how they really are related.

Recently I had one of those moments.

I was attending a dissertation defense, playing the role of outside member. It was an all-woman committee. I was on time that morning, but worried I would be late. My day had taken a slight detour at motherhood. My child had needed, and so I was there for her, but that meant entering the shower about 10 minutes later than I would have liked. It ended up fine. I was on time. Another academic mama on the committee was a few minutes late. No big deal, but also a kid issue. Sometimes mornings are difficult. And to be honest, I had difficult mornings before I became a mother.

The dissertation was about scholar-activism among Chicana doctoral students. The dissertation was memorable. The student (now graduate) wrote some powerful words as she synthesized and commented upon the words and experiences of other women. The presentation was also memorable. The student purposefully broke with convention in ways that made the audience feel the power of others. It was a provocative document and defense. We – the reader, and the audience in the packed room – were asked to consider what we do with our power, and what our acts of activism are. Continue reading