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What’s Culture Got to Do With It? Taking a Student Perspective

As students, we are in a fortunate space where our primary role is to learn. That is not to say that all of us, no matter where we are in life, are not learners. It means that we are blessed with the opportunity to focus more directly on topics that we are passionate about and that feed our minds and souls. Being a student is truly a special time, no matter the education level we seek or our age. Whether it be a ‘typical’ child in elementary school or a non-traditional elder pursuing a lifelong dream of earning a doctorate, One wrinkle in this experience, however, is often the unattended contributions that culture has in the experience. There is a lack of awareness of culture and its vital influence on education and how we engage with learning. It left me frustrated and determined to find a different way of being and interacting with my education. One that challenged my current understanding.



Introductions


Let me introduce myself. My name is Kimberlee (she/her), and I am a doctoral student,

licensed professional Counselor, mother, and lifelong learner. I decided to return to school and work towards my doctorate shortly after the pandemic began. Being a new business owner and mom, I found an online school that provided the flexibility necessary to attend to the other aspects of my life. I was hopeful that I would have an enlightening experience and be encouraged to learn to think for myself and be challenged to explore diverse experiences and perspectives. It did not take me long to discover that my hopes would not be realized. The first class I took was focused on leadership from a Eurocentric perspective. There needed to be consideration for other cultures, their understandings of leadership, and the space to push outside the curriculum. 


My mind was also thrown back into the past in my master’s counseling program. While I loved and appreciated my education and experience in that program, the program still had gaps. Of course, we had the required multicultural counseling class and were encouraged to work on cultural competency. However, we did not learn about Afrocentric counseling theories. We focused on and studied Eurocentric counseling theories. Looking back on the experience, I wish that I had the awareness that I do now so that I could have either advocated for the inclusion of other theories and/or done my own work and found other theories to enhance my understanding. CRESTSprogram’s training on three Afrocentric theories would have been a fantastic resource to enhance my educational experience. 


Despite the lack of space to discuss other theories and perspectives in the classroom, that did not stop me from still finding other experiences and learnings. One of the resources I turned to was CRESTSprogram, where my story will continue with the next blog post. 


What’s Next?


In between posts, however, I invite you to consider something. What does it mean to craft your education from a cultured-centered, trauma-informed framework or approach? Consider making some notes for yourself after engaging in reflection. You may be surprised at what you learn.


Until next time!


Practical Tips and Suggestions


Take your education into your own hands! No rule says you cannot do your research to learn more about topics that challenge or interest you.


Find other students who are also interested in expanding their education. Not only will you have company in your journey, but you will also have others to engage in conversations with to help integrate what you are learning.



Additional Resources


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