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ePortfolio Narrative
Alyssa D. Humbles
Loyola University Chicago

Patience and determination took on different meanings for me as I sought to pursue,

begin and near the end of my Masters degree program. At the tail end of 2010 I had a desire to

venture into the field of higher education. The specifics were a bit distant but I knew that I

valued interpersonal relationship building and supporting post-secondary attainment for

underrepresented students, like myself. I always remained cognizant of the support that so many

professionals provided me throughout my undergraduate years and found great satisfaction in

giving back in a way that was so crucial to my success. Knowing that I wanted to stay within the

Chicagoland area and learning that the key influencer in my life was a proud alumnus of Loyola

University Chicago (LUC), I set my sights on being a part of that community. To my

disappointment I was not admitted to the program. Not only was I denied direct admissions to

the higher education program, but for a second time I was denied the opportunity to becoming a

graduate member at large. Left feeling downhearted, I continued to work within the field and

over the years grew a greater understanding of the profession itself. Nearly four years later I

began my second post-baccalaureate career working at Moraine Valley Community College. It

was here where a fire was ignited for me to continue my academic pursuits in hopes to better

equip myself with the knowledge and critical reflection needed to influence others.

When the time came to consider programs of study, for the third time, my determination

and new found perspective on the profession still directed me back to LUC. Without hesitation I

applied to only one program and rested in Gods Will to see this process to fruition. I still

remember the day that I received an electronic acceptance letter animated with confetti

congratulating me on my admittance to the program. Preparing for what the years ahead had in

store, I decided I would continue my employment while attending school part-time. I anticipated

finishing the program within two and a half years, including summer coursework. Unbeknownst

to me at the beginning this journey, this program would provide more than a rubric of what this

field has evolved to over time and how to mobilize the profession further. This beautifully

constructed program turned me on my head first term as I was asked to engage in a course

centered around my identities. Looking back, the greatest hurdles I had to overcome was myself.

I had never taken the time prior to reflect on who I was, what experiences shaped my outlook on

life, or what systemic notions influence how I had been raised to maneuver within society. The

challenge of mentally rendering the oppressive nature of my experiences and transcending

beyond the fallibility in the process, and not people, was a harsh reality I took my time facing.

Honestly speaking, I did not surrender to the internal tug-of-war until well into my third

semester, the summer following my acceptance. I rationalized the barricades I had built

preventing my vulnerability by focusing on my full-time employment, commitment to service

within my church and community, and familial responsibilities. That summer all things that felt

secure were now left in the balance as I enrolled in the summer cross-cultural emersion course

taught in Rome, Italy. Acknowledging that the content for the course would be illuminating, I

was eager to continue to grapple with concepts as it pertained to my professional desires. While

being a continuous learner thrilled me, there were other aspects to the experience that gave me

pause. For the first time I was venturing into an experience beyond my familiarity. I began to

trade the security I had been encapsulated within my entire life to take on an experience that

proved to be life changing. The course was entitled The Psychology of Power and Authority in

Cross-Cultural Leadership: Lessons from Rome. We were charged with examining how the

course concepts manifest in social spheres using the Italian history, culture and community as

our classroom. While the curriculum did not disappoint, I gained just as much knowledge from

the formal content as the informal context. Being immersed in a culture and community to

which I was not native illustrated for me the experience many underrepresented students face

when seeking to obtain a post-secondary credential. The reliance they have on area experts, the

concerns about cultural navigation and underdeveloped sense of belonging were all evoked for

me throughout my time abroad. In tandem, recognizing what privilege identities I hold in

western cultural and higher education were just the beginning of my learning. This realization

was not to negate my target identities but provide depth to my lived and learned experiences to

then leverage what power and cultural wealth I have in ways that support systemic change.

Social justice education calls attention to systems of inequality. As a practitioner in the

field, there is a dual responsibility to educate others on the presence of and the opportunities to

disrupt these systems. Similar to the structure of the program, there is a benefit from

understanding the person, their identities and their understanding of those identities as it relates

to the spheres to which they are a member. Taking into consideration the significance of

external factors, equality and equity historically have held validity towards creating socially just

spaces. However, this program has shaped my practice to extend my thoughtfulness towards

seeking liberation in ways to not only be attainable but sustainable. For too long I have fell fault

to learning how to operate within systems of oppression rather than challenge their existence in

the first place. Furthermore, I am mindful that the needs of the population is ever evolving.

Current culture, political climate, national concerns for security all seep into the foundational

crevasses of social constructs to which underrepresented students are socialized to maneuver

through. My charge to the field is to remain current on the needs and competing demands on the

population I aim to serve while developing sufficient programming, serving as the voice to the

often muted and challenging policies that are not inclusive of all. The determination that rose

within me throughout this program will extend well into the longevity of my career. It has even

acclimated to the early completion of my program. With gratitude and humility I am honored to

have been a member of this community that has left me changed and refined for the betterment

of not only the field of higher education but beyond, to wherever my spheres of influence may