Engaged Learning

Meet 2016-17 Gerardo Marin Dissertation Fellow Kim Reyes

by School of Education

“Grateful, warm and open-minded.”

These three words best describe 2016-17 Gerardo Marín Dissertation Fellow, Kimberly Reyes. Reyes’ interest in education was piqued early, the LA-native describes herself as “part of a generation that was bussed into the affluent San Fernando valley as an integration initiative.” She learned early on the importance of code-switching and how to navigate the distance between her loving home life and the education she was getting on the other side of town.

Eventually Kim enrolled at Duke University where she completed her undergraduate degree. For several years Reyes worked in university admissions in Florida and at her alma mater where she nurtured her passion for student access and consistently challenged notions of who deserved educational opportunity. This led Kim to return to academia as a student at the University of Michigan in their Higher Education graduate program. There she continued to build upon her foundations of understanding higher education as a social institution and worked toward getting the institution to be better organized and “intentional about equity.” As a doctoral student, her dissertation work is focused on histories that are silenced in academia, particularly the work of African American intellectuals of the early 20th century.

When asked what drew her to USF, she cited two main reasons: The University’s and Jesuit commitment to social justice, where it did not feel like “a buzzword or window dressing” and to the critical orientation of the Student Affairs (HESA) program, which felt “intentional and substantive and not additive.” In recent weeks, she has been deeply impressed with HESA students and their courage in holding the University accountable to its social justice commitments. The appeal of the University and the Student Affairs program was matched by a desire to be close to home and family, which Reyes had limited access to during her time on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

During her fellowship year at USF, Reyes aims to complete her dissertation and hone her teaching skills. To meet her latter goal, Kim is co-teaching a course with Dept. of Leadership Studies Assistant Professor, Dr. Desirée Zerquera with whom she says it is a “privilege to teach.” Beyond this year, Ms. Reyes aspires to become faculty in a Higher Education program where she hopes “to help institutions grapple with the realities of oppression” through her research, deep commitment to pedagogy and a critical eye.