GSCO/BET Graduate Student Research Conference 2019


Embracing Tensions for Equity

Bridging Research, Policy, & Practice in Education

Friday, March 15, 2019, U-M School of Education

Proposal Applications Due January 22, 2019

As we engage in research, develop policy, and implement practice, we must resolve various tensions in order to create equitable solutions. Negotiating how to apply differing methodologies and navigating our positionalities and obligations to multiple stakeholders are a few of the inherent tensions in our work. Eliding these tensions is problematic—they have consequences for the lived experiences of every stakeholder in education, from students to policymakers.

The debate involving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), implemented in 2012, provides an example of the type of tensions involved in equity work. The administrative protections provided to Dreamers, children and young adults who entered the United States without documentation, are now in jeopardy under the current presidential administration. Researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners must grapple with tensions related to DACA’s position as an administrative program that can be more readily “rolled back,” as well as its prohibitions against providing undocumented students with federal and state financial aid, which potentially hinders Dreamers’ access to higher education. This is just one example of some of the overlapping tensions that inform the work of researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in that area.

Reimagine your current work: how can you leverage who you are and what you bring to your work in a way that productively and generatively confronts these tensions and promotes diversity, equity, justice and inclusion?

Click here to learn more about the GSCO Graduate Student Research Conference.

DIJE Arts Showcase 2018

Excited for the upcoming UM SOE DIJE Arts Showcase!

DIJE Arts Showcase Committee Members: Debi Khasnabis, Patricia King, Catalina Ormsby, Katie Robertson

Call for Proposals:

At the 2018 Winter Wonderland dance party, the SOE invites community members to express their dije commitments through an “Arts Showcase.” This event provides an opportunity for community members to share their artistic talents as they intersect with commitments to diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity. The Arts Showcase is a space where community members can present their creative work through artistic installations and performance art. At the event, attendees and artists will have opportunities to engage in dialogue about the creative pieces, artistic processes, and personal experiences with the pursuit of diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity. We invite Statements of Interest from students, staff, and faculty in the form of visual art exhibits, performances, simulations, documentaries, multimedia displays, and other creative forms. We invite statements of interest for both single-authored and co-created work.

Your expressive piece may speak to any one or more of the following purposes:

  • work that centers your own social identities, including but not limited to cultural, gender, sex, race, ethnicity, citizenship, socio-economic, religious, and political identities

  • work that expresses your experience as a member of our community related to issues of diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity

  • work that explores your own personal commitment to diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity

  • work that recognizes you both as an individual with distinct talents, perspectives, and insights and as a member of social groups who have benefited from or been disadvantaged by historical and contemporary power inequalities

  • work that explores diversity of identity, culture, perspective, language, and mode of expression in either concrete or abstract ways

  • work that reflects a vision for diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity in our community

Arts Showcase 2018

American Educational Research Association 2019


Excited to be attending the American Educational Research Association (AERA) 2019 Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada!

I will be presenting a workshop with Carolyn Hetrick and Naivedya Parakkal titled "Moving Theory into Practice: Methodological Considerations Regarding Positionality, Identity, and Researcher Reflexivity." We worked hard to coordinate our proposal across three different time zones this past summer.


In this session, three researchers will share their methodological considerations about positionality, identity, and reflexivity. First, the researchers will draw upon a shared framework of critical race methodological literature to establish a common frame for understanding their otherwise disparate scholarship and to orient workshop participants to how the researchers see their work relating to extant reflexivity practices and scholarship. Second, the presenters will each share the methodological processes and theoretical orientations they have used to engage in rigorous (and ongoing) reflexivity and consideration of their positionalities. Third, the presenters will engage participants in small- and whole-group discussion to shed further light on how identities, contexts, conceptual approaches, and other methodological considerations both call for and influence researcher reflexivity and identity-investigation.

Carolyn Hetrick: Through the mirror: Methodological considerations for practicing critical reflexivity as a white researcher working with youth of color

Laura-Ann Jacobs: Twice adopted: A researcher’s investigation of multi-layered identity and reflexive practice

Naivedya Parakkal: Navigating ambiguities and changes in researcher reflexivity and positionality

GSCO at the SOE Information Fair

I had so much fun today representing the Graduate Student Community Organization (GSCO) with my brilliant co-chair Ebony Perouse-Harvey.

We are looking forward to a great year of community building with everyone here at the School of Education!

Check out our flyer below!

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GSCO 18-19

Click here to learn more about the Graduate Student Community Organization (GSCO).

Women of Color & The Academy

For the 2018-2019 academic year I will be co-coordinating a Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop with my dear friend and colleague Ebony Perouse-Harvey (doctoral candidate, University of Michigan). I am excited to continue my fun and rigorous work with Ebony and our faculty sponsors Dr. Maisie Gholson (University of Michigan) and Dr. Maren Oberman (University of Michigan). Our workshop is titled "Women of Color & The Academy: Exploring Race, Research, Representation, and Positionality." 


This workshop series brings together education scholars and practitioners to examine issues related to race, research, and representation. Participants of this group work in various fields that intersect with education. Our work across these fields provides us varying insights into the representation and positioning of women of color within and outside of the university.  This workshop has two primary objectives:
- To expand what is considered to be academic by exposing the larger community to works created by or featuring women of color
- To provide spaces where women of color can engage deeply with issues that impact them personally and professionally in a way that is responsive to their identities, time, and energies

Click here to view the website for Women of Color & The Academy: Exploring Race, Research, Representation, and Positionality

Click here to learn more about Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshops

American Anthropology Association 2018

I will be presenting at the 2018 American Anthropological Association (AAA) Conference. The conference will take place in San Jose, California in November. I will be presenting my installation "Talking Lei" on Saturday, November 17 from 2:00pm-4:00pm.

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Talking Lei is a multimedia storytelling installation that explores the process of lei making as a metaphor for the embodiment of the connectedness of storytelling in physical space. This installation includes a gallery of autoethnographic written vignettes and visual arts elements. The written vignettes address issues of race, culture, and kinship. The visual arts elements include light boxes, photographs, and watercolor paintings. This installation includes a performance element in the form of interactive lei making that is ongoing throughout the installation.

Talking lei is an autoethnographic study that explores local Hawaiian identity, local Hawaiian knowledge, and the everyday practices of teaching and learning in contemporary Hawai’i. This project centers the importance of researcher identity, positionality, and reflexivity. In particular, the researcher considers how her positionality as a hānai (adopted) daughter in the context of Hawai'i intersects with her identity as a Korean Adoptee raised in the American South to create the unique experience of a twice-adopted daughter. The written vignettes of this installation examine the researcher’s identity and positionality in the context of this ethnographic study of local Hawaiian knowledge.

This installation includes an interactive lei making performance. The researcher will make hakulei, a style of lei created by bundling flowers and wrapping them together. This installation extends this metaphor of bundling and wrapping into physical space: the multimedia elements are displayed in a lei around the room, and visitors are encouraged to move freely throughout the space and interact with these pieces in whichever order they choose, creating a narrative lei of their own.

As an autoethnographic multimedia storytelling installation, Talking Lei considers emerging and unconventional understandings of methods and representation that can contribute to the ways researchers enact qualitative methodologies and envision future research. 

This installation was supported by the Rackham Graduate School and the Center for World Performance Studies at the University of Michigan. The written vignettes and photographs are produced by Laura-Ann Jacobs (University of Michigan). The watercolor art is produced by Katie Wong (University of Hawai’i, Manoa).

Click here to learn more about the American Anthropology Association

Literacy Research Association 2018

I will be presenting at the 2018 Literacy Research Association (LRA) Conference. The conference will take place in Indian Wells, California in November. I will be presenting with Dr. Annemarie Palincsar, Gabriel DellaVecchia, Kathleen Easley, and Maggie Hanna. Our paper is titled "Historical inquiry to promote community identity at LRA." We will be presenting in the session "Critical understanding of current trends and issues in literacy research."

My portion of the presentation focuses on the history of disciplinary literacy.


This historical inquiry uses the three most recent volumes of the Handbook of Reading Research and the most recent volume of the Handbook of Writing Research to examine developments in the field of disciplinary literacy over the past three decades. This inquiry focuses on the scope of the field of disciplinary literacy research, the influence of theory in the field, and the connection of theory to methodology. This inquiry has three major findings: (1) disciplinary literacy is an emerging field in literacy research that is expanding in breadth and narrowing in depth, (2) disciplinary literacy research is shifting to align with sociocultural theory, and (3) disciplinary literacy research is shifting to qualitative research using ethnographic methods. The future of disciplinary literacy research is likely to continue these trends and is also likely to explore how context mediates literacy practices and assume a social justice stance.

Click here to learn more about the Literacy Research Association

KAAN Conference 2018

I have made plans to attend the Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network (KAAN) 2018 Conference. The conference will take place in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Since 1999, KAAN has provided annual conferences in the U.S. or Korea. These conferences are unique assemblies of Korean-born adoptees of all ages as well as family through birth, adoption or marriage, other Koreans and Korean-Americans, social workers, adoptees from other backgrounds, community leaders, and more. Through gathering together, we find what we have in common and where we can help one another.

Our conferences provide 30+ sessions on race and identity, family relationships, parenting tools, search and reunion, etc. Presenters include authors, educators, activists, therapists, and grassroots leaders. Each block includes an adoptee-only session as well as many choices open to all. Cultural and social activities are offered as well as vendors, exhibits, and film screenings.

Click here to learn more about KAAN.
Click here to read the KAAN 2018 Conference Program.

National Women's Studies Association Conference 2018

I will be presenting at the 2018 National Women's Studies Association (NWSA) Conference. The conference will take place in Atlanta, Georgia in November. I will be presenting with  Carolyn Hetrick (doctoral student, University of Michigan) and Paulina Fraser (doctoral student, University of Michigan). Our panel is titled "Artistic counter-storytelling as liberatory praxis: Re-imagining and re-storying political identities to reclaim power." 



Responding to the Subtheme 6 call to investigate the question, “What is the role of art in justice and freedom making?”, this panel explores the ways in which three genres of cultural labor and artistic production—stand-up comedy, spoken word poetry, and hip hop music—can serve to advance visions of a more just and equitable world. Panelists all apply Critical Race Theory in their work, and in particular share a focus on developing understandings of artistic counter-storytelling as a political project. Other theoretical lenses applied include critical cultural studies, intersectional feminism, womanism, and performance studies. Together, the panelists hope to engage with the audience in a rich exploration about how various artistic work can function as tools for personal and collective liberatory praxis for people marginalized along multiple dimensions of identity (including race, ethnicity, religion, gender, language, and nationality) in the United States. The panelists, all scholars of education, will discuss implications these liberatory practices may have for working toward social justice in U.S. schooling. The session will be include the viewing of various artistic performances coupled with discussion of these performances as examples of the authors’ theoretical frames and analyses. The aim of the session is to explore the potential for various forms of arts-based discourses to re-imagine and re-story identities and narratives for the purpose of promoting social change.

Paulina Fraser will be presenting on the topic of hip hop.
Carolyn Hetrick will be presenting on the topic of spoken word poetry.
Laura-Ann Jacobs will be presenting on the topic of stand-up comedy.

Click here to learn more about the National Women's Studies Association.
Click here to learn more about the NWSA Annual Conference.



Tricontinental Solidarity Network: Migrant Stories

I have been invited to perform a story at Tricontinental Solidarity Network's Migrant Stories event. Tricontinental Solidarity Network is a graduate student organization at the University of Michigan. This event will feature storytelling, poetry, song, and other performances.

TriCon 2018 Poster

I am honored and excited to share my work alongside the other beautiful and accomplished women of color here at the University of Michigan.

This event will feature a keynote performance by Dr. Ather Zia, an ethnographic poet and professor of anthropology and women's studies at the University of North Colorado.

The event will be Saturday, March 31 from 5-8pm in the Institute for Humanities Lobby of the South Thayer Building.

Institute for Social Change

I have been accepted to the University of Michigan Institute for Social Change.

The Institute for Social Change (ISC) is an interactive summer experience that allows students to explore the conceptual and practical dimensions of public scholarship. Through an intensive, four-day institute, students are introduced to a wide array of publicly engaged scholarship, pedagogy, and practices. The ISC is composed of thematic panels and public engagement workshops with scholars, community members, and activists, visits to local community organizations, in addition to opportunities for structured reflection and personalized feedback.

Over the course of the weeklong ISC, students will have the opportunity to forge connections between their scholarly knowledge and pressing social issues; enhance their ability to develop and implement mutually beneficial projects in collaboration with community partners; explore opportunities for public scholarship and careers inside and outside the academy; and meet fellow graduate students who share a commitment to promoting social change.

GSCO/BET Conference 2018

I have been accepted to present my paper "Comedic Counterstories: Performing Marginality" at the GSCO/BET Conference on March 9, 2018 at the University of Michigan School of Education.

This year's theme is "Pushing Back and Lifting Up: Inspiring Change Through Educational Research, Policy, and Practice."

What does it mean to push back, lift up, and inspire change? At the School of Education, we are a community of engaged scholars who do work through research, policy, and practice that resists contemporary inequities in education; offers innovative responses to entrenched social problems; and employs methodological approaches that critically question status quo interpretations of the past, present, and future. We are dedicated to lifting one another up and providing inclusive opportunities for members of our community to advance their scholarship.

Thank you to University of Michigan doctoral students Crystal Wise and Ashley Jackson for organizing this event.

Click here to learn more about this year's conference.

Engaged Pedagogy Initiative

I have been accepted into the Engaged Pedagogy Initiative for Winter 2018. I look forward to this opportunity to work with this diverse interdisciplinary cohort. Throughout this program we will focus on engaged pedagogy, community-based learning, and public scholarship.

What is the Engaged Pedagogy Initiative?

The Engaged Pedagogy Initiative (EPI) The EPI is a semester-long community-based learning (CBL) graduate training program that promotes excellence in undergraduate teaching and graduate student professional development.

The EPI was established in 2014 through a collaboration between LSA's Community-Engaged Academic Learning (CEAL), the Residential College, and the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. Through the EPI, graduate students from across campus explore the theoretical foundations and ethical implications of CBL. In addition to creating a CBL course, participants present their key learning in a public form: the EPI Symposium.

Click here to learn more about the Engaged Pedagogy Initiative at the University of Michigan.

Click here to learn about the other EPI Fellows.


Laura-Ann Jacobs is a doctoral student in the School of Education specializing in Literacy, Language, and Culture. Prior to her doctoral program, Laura-Ann taught public high school English in South Carolina for six years. Laura-Ann’s research centers on youth identity and youth literacies and is driven by her belief that youth voices matter. Broadly, her research focuses on youth-created counter-stories. Her current work considers performance as a space of empowerment for youth of marginalized identities. In this work she explores storytelling in general and stand-up comedy in particular as productive sites of identity exploration and expression. As an EPI fellow, Laura-Ann hopes to create a curriculum that supports students in the creation of their own counterstories in the form of stand-up comedy sets.

Presentation: Talking Lei

Thank you to everyone who supported Talking Lei.

This installation was my final capstone project for the Rackham Graduate Certificate Program in World Performance Studies at the University of Michigan. This event took place at the School of Education on November 28, 2017.

Talking Lei Slide
This installation is a representation of my summer research in Hawaii in which I explored local Hawaiian identity through the teaching and learning of local knowledge. The project emerged as an autoethnography with multimedia components. 

I want to thank the women who are here to make lei: Patricia Garcia, Maggie Hanna, Ashley Jackson, Debi Khasnabis, Enid Rosario-Ramos, Jenny Sawada, and Amber Sizemore. 

This project is an exploration of storytelling. These women are a part of my story, my journey. My story is not complete without them. This project would not be possible without them. They have shown up for me tonight, a symbol for the support and love that they have given to me throughout my time here at the University of Michigan. I would not be who I am without them. And I want to take a moment to thank them for being a part of my life.

I also want to take a moment to thank my hanai sister, Katie Wong, who created the watercolor title cards for each of the pieces. While she is not present in body, it does make me smile to see her presence scattered throughout this room.

I wrote that this project explores the process of lei making as a metaphor for the embodiment of the connectedness of storytelling in physical space. I recognize that we are at the School of Education and that this type of presentation is not conventional for this space. So I am going to do a bit more of an introduction than I would if this piece existed as an installation somewhere else. 

The women today are making hakulei by bundling flowers and wrapping them together. This project extends this practice into metaphor. Today to create this project, I have gathered women who are important and beautiful to me, I have bundled them together to make lei, and I am wrapping them together through the context of this performance.

My writing is displayed in a circle, a lei, around the room. I encourage you all to move freely throughout the space and to interact with these pieces in whichever order you choose. The vignettes are not meant to be read in sequence. The individual pieces of this project are as important as the work as a whole. As you move through the space to read these stories, you add another layer of connectedness: your own. You become a part of this story as well.

CWPS Capstone Presentations

Upcoming Event:  Center for World Performance Studies Graduate Student Capstone Presentations

My presentation is part of a larger event featuring the work of this year's CWPS Graduate Fellows. Session I: Laura-Ann Jacobs (Education), Alyssa Wells (Musicology), Ellen Myers (Southeast Asian Studies), and Fabiola Torralba (Dance). Session II: Kiran Bhumber (Performing Arts Technology), AJ Covey (Percussion), Sydney Schiff (Dance), Adam Shead (Improvisation).

CWPS Capstone 2017

Session I scheduled for Tuesday, November 28th at 6:00pm in Prechter Lab at the School of Education.

Talking Lei is a performance-based storytelling installation centered around flowers. The installation features a community of women talking story while creating lei kūpeʻe (wrist lei) in the wili (wrapping) style and includes a gallery of autoethnographic work by LA Jacobs. This project explores the process of lei making as a metaphor for the embodiment of the connectedness of storytelling in physical space.

CWPS Student Spotlight

School of Education doctoral student Laura-Ann Jacobs uses the Performance Studies framework to look at youth performance of identity, in and out of the classroom.

Six years into teaching in a public school in South Carolina, second year PhD student Laura-Ann Jacobs was looking for a change, but wasn’t sure she was ready to give up teaching for graduate work. After exploring programs at the University of Michigan School of Education on the recommendation of a friend, she found an exciting fit in the Educational Studies Program in Literacy, Language and Culture, where she could continue to explore questions of youth identity in the classroom, and to build a foundation for future teaching, learning and leadership in youth development and education for high school students. As a proactive grad student, Jacobs took some time to peruse the additional Certificates offered through Rackham Graduate School, and found the Certificate in World Performance Studies to be an intriguing option. Laura-Ann participated in improvised and devised theater throughout her undergraduate and previous graduate work, and saw an opportunity to look at identity from a performative framework that could augment her research in Educational Studies.

Expecting a room full of anthropologists and social scientists, she was admittedly a little surprised to realize during the first class session that many of her colleagues in this year’s Grad Cohort are in performance programs in music and dance. Ultimately, the opportunity to explore issues in Performance Studies with a diverse mix of researchers and practitioners proved to be one of the greatest assets of the program for her; Jacobs says, “I have had to practice articulating myself across unfamiliar communities, which has helped me find the right words to be very specific about what I mean and what I’m doing.” This holds equally true for explaining Performance Studies to School of Ed peers and explaining education concepts to her cohort in World Performance Studies. She has found many strong connections between the two disciplines, noting that issues addressed in performance theory are in some ways the most relevant to her research, particularly because there is so much research about performance of identity. She has also found a strong parallel in looking at literacy in everyday life and making meaning from symbols, particularly citing the work of Dwight Conquergood. While Jacobs thought the Certificate would just be a “peripheral add on”, it has become deeply intertwined in her work, and the Performance Studies literature makes up a conceptual framework for her research within the School of Ed.

During her summer research, Laura-Ann traveled to Hawaii, where she originally planned to observe how Hawaiian identity, both local and native, is performed by youth. When the arts-based youth program she was hoping to work with did not get their grant funding, she changed course and immersed herself in researching the transmission of local knowledge, histories and traditions. This included taking native knowledge classes, where a community of local women meet weekly to make leis and tell stories. Her in-field experience also led her to work more in autoethnography, stirring comparisons between her experience being adopted by a local Hawaiian family with her experience growing up adopted into a white family.  She emphasized the importance of this experience in helping her to think about her identity in her research-- what she brings, and how we perform as researchers.

Ultimately, Laura-Ann envisions a return to working with teens, doing arts-based programming outside of school, and continuing to work with performance of identity. You can see her Capstone Presentation on Tuesday, November 28 at the School of Education (SOE), Room 2202 (Prechter Lab), at 6pm.

Click here to read the Student Spotlight.

Special thanks to Ingrid Racine for writing this spotlight!

Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant

Proposal funded! "Local Hawaiian Counterstories" has been funded by the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School.


Project Introduction

In her work Staging tourism: Bodies on display from Waikiki to Sea World, Jane Desmond (1999) explores Hawaii as a “destination image” (p. 12); a place with an exotic and iconic image perpetuated through commodification and mass media (mis)representation. She juxtaposes two seemingly similar but distinctly different terms: Native Hawaiian and Hawaiian native. The former refers to “those of indigenous ancestry” and the latter refers to “the Euro-American imagery about the indigenous islanders” (p. 5). According to Desmond, this exoticised and commodified destination image of Hawaiian native culture eclipses authentic indigenous Native Hawaiian identity in the Hawaii tourism industry. Because of this eclipsing and commodified destination image, Hawaiian culture appears to Euro-American tourists as unchanged by modernity and exists for tourists as primitive paradise and a place of escape. Despite what tourists may perceive, Hawaii has changed. And despite the power of this destination image, Hawaii will continue to change.

Desmond’s (1999) two categories of Native Hawaiian and Hawaiian native culture help to distinguish between an indigenous ethnic identity and how that ethnic identity may be essentialized and performed for outsiders. However, Desmond’s two categories do not necessarily capture the diversity of cultural experience in Hawaii today. In this project, I will consider an additional identity: local Hawaiian. By this term I mean individuals who live permanently in Hawaii but who may or may not identify as Native Hawaiian. This term reflects a cultural identity rather than a racial or ethnic identity.

Through this project I hope to better understand what it means to be local Hawaiian in 2017. I am interested in learning how local Hawaiians perform their local Hawaiian identities, and I plan to investigate how these performances of local Hawaiian identity counter, challenge, and disrupt the destination image of Hawaiian native culture.

Research Question: How is local Hawaiian identity performed through counter-stories?
What do local Hawaiians consider to be characteristics of local Hawaiian identity?
What (mis)representation of local Hawaiian identity is being countered?
How do local Hawaiians use different forms of representation to perform their counter-stories?