Final Research Blog: Affinity Groups & African American Women Graduate Students

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I can’t thank the Charles Center enough for this research opportunity.

Affinity groups at The College of William & Mary

Even though my research primarily focused on the experience of African American women at the graduate level, I know a lot of individuals personally (myself included) who felt the same loneliness and sense of incapability at The College of William and Mary. It wasn’t until most of us joined WMsure, BSO, and many other organizations on campus which gave us the opportunity to branch out and meet more people who could understand our experience and help us emotionally and socially get through the college, that our experience at William & Mary changed for the better.

Trust me, we are very capable of succeeding at the college. It’s an academically rigorous college, but it isn’t impossible to thrive and succeed at this college. The problem is, when a college is so academically rigorous and socially isolating, it can take a toll on the students emotional health which is necessary for students to succeed. Many people ask what I would identify as an affinity group at the college and it’s very simple. Affinity groups are for everyone! There are asian, hispanic, African American, Indian, African, and Caucasian organizations all throughout campus. LGBTQ organizations count as affinity groups as well. Any group of people who share similar experiences can be identified as an affinity group.

I personally feel like if it was not for affinity groups on our campus, I would have transferred within my first semester. Like participants in the study, I felt a sense of loneliness and helplessness on the campus. Even though I’ve thrived academically both semesters at the college, my social life has been an uphill battle. From personal experience, I know the dangers of a seemingly unwelcoming environment. It takes a toll on you in more ways than one.

Summary

It was so interesting to hear African American women Doctoral students and women who have earned their PhD say that it would have never been possible or they wouldn’t have been as successful had it not been for the affinity group. That is so powerful. When some of the most brilliant minds in the US are telling you that affinity groups are not only a good idea but they are necessary for the success of students. The students have spoken! Will college administrations across the country begin to listen?

 

Comments

  1. Samantha Mehring says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your findings! That’s so great that affinity groups are able to be such a strong support for so many people. I agree that I would love to see more at William and Mary, and I think your research is fascinating!