Dr. Courtney L. Luedke

Scholar’s Corner: I am Only as Successful as mi Comunidad is Supportive

LKC sol

Dr. Courtney L. Luedke

March 18, 2019

The NASPA Latinx/a/o Knowledge Community (LKC) strives to support the research and share stories of colleagues who are engaged in scholastic work, especially those who focus on Latinx/a/o educational issues. This year, the LKC co-chairs are highlighting the strength, resiliency, and tenacious nature of mujeres in the field who deliberately and wholeheartedly embrace both motherhood and their professional roles as scholars (#LatinaMamiScholar). We would love to feature your story on the NASPA LKC Scholars Corner!   


If you would like to share with our communidad, please contact LKC Research and Scholarship co-chairs Claudia García-Louis ([email protected]) and/or Tracy Arámbula Ballysingh ([email protected]).


Courtney L. Luedke, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor and the Coordinator of Higher Education Leadership program at the College of Educational & Professional Studies at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater.Her research interests focus on college access, persistence, and success for underserved populations including first generation and students of color in higher education. Learn more about Dr. Luedke at https://courtneylluedke.com/. 


I am Only as Successful as mi Comunidad is Supportive

My daughter is five. As a #LatinaMamíScholar, a single Latina Mamí Scholar, I rely on my village, mi comunidad, mi familia for support. I realize more and more just how much my success is contingent upon the support of mi familia. Recently, I was asked by my campus Chief Diversity Equity and Inclusion Officer (CDEIO), on behalf of our Provost, if I was able to attend a professional development institute on supporting Latinx students with a couple other select campus members. I was initially intrigued and excited about the opportunity but then it set in— this meant I needed to travel. Not only travel, but I only had a couple weeks prior to the travel dates.

Travel is particularly difficult for me because it means arranging who will care for my daughter, who will get her on the bus in the morning, who will pick her up from school, and who will care for her overnight for each day that I am away. It is always a puzzle, finding and putting together each of the pieces takes time and care. I responded to the email letting our CDEIO know that I was excited to have been invited, but would have to get back with him shortly, as I would first need to see if I could arrange care for my daughter. In fact, I actually noted this in my email. In the past, I would not have asserted this. I did not want to be perceived as a burden because of my #LatinaMamiScholar identity and did not want others to view my role of being a #LatinaMamiScholar as an obstacle or challenge that made planning anything more difficult.  But I have grown into my identity, I have consciously, intentionally, and unapologetically embraced the ways in which I #resist in the academy. I can no longer internally critique the ways in which the academy is not structured to support parenting, and mothering in particular. So, in various ways, I have progressively asserted my #LatinaMamiScholar identity and experiences in academic spaces. As for the situation with my CDEIO, I chose to declare in writing, that while I had hoped to take advantage of this opportunity, I would first have to prioritize my role as a mother. In the past, I would have been vague and only noted that I would get back to someone after checking my schedule. But, as I seek to see change in the institution, I must be the change that I wish to see in the academy. Normalizing parenting and motherhood is an important step in this process. As a #LatinaMamiScholar I must arrange care for my daughter as I prepare to travel.

Travel is inevitably a part of the job, in fact, presenting our work at conferences is required for tenure and promotion. Conferences are also integral networking opportunities. Yet, while I enjoy attending conferences and meeting up with my academic familia—individuals who support and motivate me to continue this work—preparing to travel is extremely stressful due to the childcare arrangements that need to be made. I was able to successfully arrange to attend this particular professional development opportunity, although that has not always been the case. I have had to turn down opportunities for professional development in the past, particularly because I was not able to find care or I did not want to spend more time away from my daughter. After returning from this event, my graduate student casually asked me, “so who takes care of your daughter while you are away?” I responded, “a village…literally.” My village. Three different family members stepped in to support drop offs and pick-ups from school and overnights while I travelled for just two nights.

Travelling is just one of the ways in which my #LatinaMamiScholar identity rises to the surface. As a Multiracial Latina faculty member, I am regularly asked to take on service responsibilities. I am stretched thin. I have come to understand that as I say yes to another, “opportunity,” I am simultaneously asked to say “no” to my daughter. Saying yes to a new commitment means more hours of work on top of an already extended workload, which means more work will pour over into the evenings and the weekends. In these requests I experience anxiety. Who will do it if I don’t? How will this impact my students? I say this because I have come to realize that not many others have the same commitment to our students. My commitment to my community and to my students often pushes me to say YES, because I want to be there for them.  But WHO will be there for me? Who will say YES to me? Who will support my development as a tenure track #LatinaMamíScholar? Unfortunately, the system is not designed to recognize the work that I do for my comunidad, and for my Students of Color, because mentoring is seldom recognized or appreciated in the academy. But mentoring IS what I do. I am here because of the mentoring and support I received and I am committed to being there for my students. I will continue to demand that this system changes so that future #LatinaMamiScholars who enter the institution are protected. So that the academy become more welcoming spaces for #MamiScholars. 

Despite pressures to have faculty member as our primary identity, to weaken our personal values, and to renegotiate our home commitments, I will do what I can to encourage the institution to renegotiate ITS values (as it seemingly expects me to renegotiate mine). While patriarchy is deeply imbedded and engrained in the ways our institutions function, we must call out and question the norms that we take for granted and ways of being and performing. While the institutional culture suggests that Faculty should be my first identity (and Latina Faculty when it suits their diversity needs), Mamí will continue to be my first identity. I will embrace who I am and resist the system’s idea of who they think I should be. I will do better at saying YES to myself and my daughter and NO the patriarchy that is the academy. I will continue to #resist. I will be a Latina Mamí AND a Faculty member. I will continue to bring my daughter to campus, she will continue to develop relationships with my students and peers, where they will begin to create new perceptions of who we are as faculty and who we can be as #LatinaMamiScholars.

I would like to acknowledge my mother Nieves Galvan and sister Vanessa who are integral supporters of my daughter and subsequently my success as a Scholar. I would also like to appreciate my academic familias, my #ChingonaScholars, #LatinaMamiScholars, and #AuspiciousFellows for supporting, listening, and encouraging always. They inspire me to #persist and #resist in the academy. Gracias to my campus co-conspirators for listening, affirming, and supporting me.

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