Monday, November 18, 2019

Celebrating the 50th: Professor shares how higher ed can impede vulnerable students

Celebrating the 50th: Professor shares how higher ed can impede vulnerable students

UTSA assistant professor Vanessa Sansone is a native San Antonian whose research aims for equity and success for diverse student populations.

(Sept. 11, 2019)—Vanessa Sansone, an assistant professor of higher education in the College of Education and Human Development at The University of Texas at San Antonio, will lead a critical discussion for San Antonio and South Texas residents about how higher education is a place of opportunity, possibility and social mobility for vulnerable and diverse students but can also function as a space that suppresses and reproduces inequity.

Her Sept. 17 lecture will consider and interrogate how power relationships influence the process and outcomes for such students within higher education. It will also address how higher education can best serve underrepresented populations and improve the opportunities available to them. 

Sansone has developed her lecture, The Invisible Wall: Overcoming Social Obstructions in Higher Education, from her research, which focuses on advancement of educational equity and success for diverse student populations. Her presentation is the ninth installment of the UTSA 50th Anniversary Scholars Speakers Series

Sansone cites San Antonio, with a 60% racial/ethnic minority population, as a mirror for the way the country is changing demographically. She’s calling for a new way of thinking about higher education opportunity based on an appreciation for diversity. 

“I specifically selected UTSA for my work. It’s my birthplace, a place I love so much,” she said.  “I was able to navigate the educational inequity that I faced as a first-generation, low-income Latina from the East Side of San Antonio, but I am an exception and not a rule. This is the reason I will focus this talk on San Antonio and South Texas.” 

Sansone will encourage an open floor discussion since she holds a deep appreciation of the San Antonio community. She hopes the discussion will help attendees learn what underrepresented students have to navigate and the decisions they have to consider to gain access to postsecondary educational opportunities and how higher education structures make their persistence toward degree attainment that much more difficult to achieve. 

During her lecture she will explore how higher education policy systems favor meritocracy and nondominant markers of prestige. Drawing on her research, she will demonstrate the types of institutions that are key sites for overcoming hindrances to student success for all as well as the best practices that advance their success and social mobility. 

Sansone’s lecture is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Sept. 17 at Say Si, 1518 S. Alamo St. in San Antonio. Doors to the venue, which includes a cash bar, will open at 6 p.m. Sansone will begin speaking at 6:30 p.m. and will be available to meet with attendees and answer questions at 7:15 p.m., after completion of the event. 

To celebrate 50 years as San Antonio’s urban serving university and to thank San Antonio for its support and commitment to higher education, UTSA is presenting its 50th Anniversary Scholars Speaker Series throughout 2019, featuring experts on a broad range of contemporary issues that impact society today. Each event is free and open to the public.

Pamela Lutrell


Learn more about the College of Education and Human Development.

Celebrate UTSA’s 50th Anniversary and share social media posts about the 50th using the hashtag #UTSA50.

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