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Countless barriers confront women, minorities and first-generation college students. External barriers are most visible but some of the biggest are internal. How do academics on the margins get past self-doubt to self-acceptance and hope?
Dr. LaVona Reeves, professor of English at Eastern Washington University, knows the self-doubt of an outsider on campus. The former Nebraska farm girl spoke at the University of Nebraska's Women in Educational Leadership conference in Lincoln in October. A few blocks from the conference site, boutiques gentrify the former candy factory where her mother worked for 25 years.
"We should never deny our roots. We should always be reminded where we came from, especially blue-collar men and women. It will provide a foundation," she told WIHE in an interview after the conference.
Mentors, books and sharing stories can help us value ourselves and move forward. We feel less isolated as we read about others' inner journeys. We learn to recognize and quit blaming ourselves for what is beyond our control.
Her role models and mentors include First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and the African-American teacher and writer bell hooks, a distinguished professor of English at CUNY's City College. Both faced inner as well …