Weekend Warriors Unite: Six Women’s Personal and Professional Growth in Social Justice Leadership
By Sharifa Abukar, Sheena Ghanbari (pictured above), Nahid Nariman (pictured above), Tracey Jenkins-Martin, Pamela Thompson & Karina M. Viaud (pictured above)
Six women entered the doctoral program as individuals. At the conclusion of the doctoral program, it was evident that the support we provided to each other was instrumental to finishing our dissertation research. The obvious thing to do was to write about our experience of persisting through a cohort model program focused in social justice issues and leadership. The article discusses our predisposition to social justice, our growth by discussing social justice issues in education and discovering shared themes among our individual dissertation topic which ranged widely and elicited future collaborations. Central to the article is relaying to aspiring and enrolled doctoral students, especially those of color, that adopting the qualities of a professional learning community is a form of support that combats leaving the program for reasons related to the culture of the program. This paper also invites faculty and administrators to encourage doctoral students to study in groups for the benefit of receiving support from peers. Our accounts of the doctoral experience contribute to the literature about support as an important factor on the persistence of students pursuing the terminal degree.
Nationally, the attrition rate of doctoral students is high, and it is often attributed to a lack of support. In higher education, the attrition rate of doctoral Students of Color and other underrepresented populations is even greater. This article briefly reviews the structure of one cohort model doctoral program and its impact on the overall experiences of six members. The six women, referred to as Weekend Warriors, retrospectively share personal and professional experiences and common themes that amalgamated through their dissertation research explained through applied critical leadership. This article also conveys how the Weekend Warriors organized into a writing group, which ultimately supported the completion of the doctoral program and fostered continued growth in social justice leadership.