National group honors UNO graduate student for dissertation

Jennifer Grace hopes that her investigation will help future studies determine how to improve the academic achievements of young African-American male students.
Jennifer Grace hopes that her investigation will help future studies determine how to improve the academic achievements of young African-American male students. | File photo

The American Association of Blacks in Higher Education recent awarded Jennifer Grace, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of New Orleans, with one of its dissertation of the year awards.

Grace’s dissertation is about rerouting the pipeline running from schools to prisons. She specifically focused on investigating African-American males who were expelled from K-12 schools.

As part of her investigation, Grace asked them specific questions about their experiences, encouraging them to discuss the most important parts that had a significant role in the outcomes. The study participants discussed themes like self-perception, race, racism, support, family expectations, school discipline, school environment, male mentors and male role models.

Grace hopes that her investigation will help future studies determine how to improve the academic achievements of young African-American male students.

“I was awestruck when I learned that I was named as one of the dissertation of the year winners for AABHE,” Grace said. “What a truly amazing, surreal and humbling experience. This work has been especially meaningful to me as the students I have worked with during my career have grown to become a part of who I am. It is a personal mission to continue produce research informed best practices that negate systemic barriers to quality education for young men and women of color.”

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