CPEP student Bernardette Pinetta to study ethnic-racial identities with Ford Predoctoral Fellowship

May 10, 2019

A doctoral student in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology, Bernardette Pinetta has received a Ford Predoctoral Fellowship. This fellowship provides three years of support for Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Science (ScD) students. Pinetta is advised by Professor Deborah Rivas-Drake, and she will be researching the ways in which teaching practices inform the development of youths' ethnic-racial identities and their motivations to address injustices within their community.

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Pinetta explains that Latino adolescents may get a sense of the broader societal devaluation of their ethnic-racial identity in school settings, where they are exposed to messages that either reinforce or challenge dominant narratives. Therefore, it is important to understand how these messages are conveyed within the classroom, where discussions of broader social issues are most often facilitated or hindered by an educator. How teachers approach these conversations and advise youth to address the marginalization of their group has potential implications for how youth construct their ethnic-racial identities as well as their capacity to change society at large.

With first-hand experience as a Latina who moved from a well-resourced school to an under-resourced one, she aims to advance current knowledge, theories, and methodologies surrounding the relation between youths’ classroom experiences and sociopolitical development. Her work serves as a foundation for her future endeavors to understand the possible psychosocial and academic outcomes for youth of color who feel positively about themselves and are civically engaged.

“During my Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship,” she says, “I will develop the relevant skills to conduct mixed-methods research, continue cultivating a research agenda focused on Latino youth, and translate my findings into practical implementations for teachers and schools serving such youth.”

The Ford Predoctoral Fellowship is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students. Through its fellowship, the Ford Foundation seeks to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, maximize the educational benefits of diversity, and increase the number of professors who use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

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