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MALS Student Baraka Corley Presented at NCORE National Conference

By Layla Abdullah-Poulos ’10, graduate student, SUNY Empire State College

August 27, 2015

MALS Student Baraka Corley Presented at NCORE National Conference SUNY Empire State College School for Graduate Studies student Baraka Corley was one of NCORE’s presenters at their national conference. The organization’s annual conferences aim to provide spaces to address incidents of racism in the collegiate environment. According to its website, and since its inception, “the conference has evolved into a vital national resource for higher education institutions, providing an annual multicultural forum that attracts Black/African Americans, American Indians, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Latino/as, and European Americans representing campuses across the United States.“ Corley, a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) candidate presented “Resiliency, Healing and Self-Efficacy for the African-American Student: The Development of Strategies to Successfully Combat Instances of Institutionalized Racism and Internalized Oppression in Higher Education,” which is based upon his graduate studies work at the college.

During the presentation, Corley talked about external and internalized racism in higher education and their effects on student performance. It is through his work as a recruitment outreach specialist at SUNY Empire State College, as well as his endeavors in mentoring and consulting at-risk students in higher education, that Corley became passionate about discovering why the college graduation rates for students of color, particularly black males, were so low. Corley was able to utilize his 13 years of experience in admissions and enrollment management, academic advisement, educational opportunity program administration and recruitment and retention in his MALS research to ascertain the role that the country’s racial structure plays in hindering the academic success of students of color.

Corley took the advice of SUNY Empire State College fellow MALS graduate students and faculty to present his research at NCORE. He shared his experience with The Student Connection. Corley talked about the reception of his research by his contemporaries at the conference and encouraged graduate students to include conference presentations as part of the master’s degree development.

What made you decide to present at a conference?

It gives you an opportunity to test your skills and speak from a point of expertise.

When I first started working at Empire and prepared to enter the graduate program, Dr. Emad Rahim, who was in the School for Graduate Studies at the time, mentioned how he wanted to present at conferences and that they serve multiple purposes. He explained how they help you get your research out there to the world as well as offer great opportunities to network and learn from other researchers.

You presented at the SUNY Empire State College Student Academic Conference (StAC) as well. How was presenting at a national conference different from presenting at StAC?

The StAC presentation really spoke to students and what they can do to counteract instances of institutionalized racism and internalized oppression in higher education. For the NCORE conference, I knew my audience would change. I would not only be speaking to students but also influential people in my research field as well as administrators and staff in higher education. Therefore, my approach changed.

Do you think graduate students should first present at StAC before hitting the national stage?

Absolutely! My experience in doing it at the Student Academic Conference provided me confidence to offer my work, whether it is on the national stage or any other stage. The organization and professional set up of the Student Academic Conference as well as the feedback you get from your peers and other graduate students is very valuable. I am happy that it was recommended that I present at StAC. I recommend any graduate and undergraduate student to present at StAC because it will ignite a flame to continue doing it on a national level.

Who were some of the people you were able to network and share your research with at the NCORE conference?

‌I had an opportunity to network with many researchers and bright minds in various roles, including presidents, vice presidents, directors, and even students at the conference.

What was really exciting was that three of the four foremost scholars in my research area happened to be presenting at NCORE, so I had an opportunity to introduce myself to them. I let them know that I was an admirer of their work and that I was looking forward to the opportunity to add my work to the research dialogue as well.

What types of activities did you engage in that were helpful with your research and MALS program studies?

I was able to participate in a number of workshops with various topics. They definitely helped contribute to the research of my final project. Most importantly, I was able to discover a lot of common themes and threads throughout the topics discussed. I was able to analyze the different topics presented and glean how they related to my final project. I was able to see that the topics related to my master’s thesis research, but none of them directly addressed my final project topic. No master’s student wants to do research that others have already done or duplicate someone else’s work. I was satisfied that the focus of my research is still unique.

How was your presentation received?

The presentation went very well. There was a great deal of excitement about my research. Many in the audience had a visceral connection with the points I was making during my presentation.

Baraka Corley anticipates finishing his MALS studies and attaining a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies by June 2016. He also anticipates presenting at future conferences and extending his research into his work as an academic.

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MALS Student Baraka Corley Presented at NCORE National Conference, By Layla Abdullah-Poulos ’10, graduate student, SUNY Empire State College

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