Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Psy.D. Doctor of Clinical Psychology

Academic Discipline

Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Torrey Wilson, PhD

Second Advisor

Penelope Asay, PhD


The ethnoracial makeup of individuals entering fields of study such as psychology continues to change but the experiences of graduate level students of color in these programs is a phenomenon that has received little attention. When attempting to understand these experiences specific to racial content, the literature is almost nonexistent. This qualitative inquiry was designed in an attempt to understand, assess, and depict the experiences of students of color related to experiences of racial content in their American Psychological Association (APA) accredited graduate level diversity/multicultural psychology courses. The focus was on their reactions (e.g., emotional, physical, somatic) to class discourse, lectures, readings, projects, experiential learning, peers, professors, and videos pertaining to race. The participants included 13 individuals: seven Black, four Asian/Pacific Islander, one Latinx, and one bi/multi-racial. All participants attended an APA-accredited institution and completed a graduate level psychology diversity course within the past 4 years or were enrolled in said course at the time of the study. The results of this study revealed these individuals’ experiences were influenced by factors such as the ethnoracial identities of the participants, peers, and professors; the supportiveness of professors and peers; and the level of engagement of peers. Participants also provided suggestions for what components of their graduate level psychology diversity courses need to change in order to provide an educational experience that would address their needs and racial content.



To all who have supported me throughout this academic endeavor, you know who you are and how much you mean to me. Thank you!

In thinking about all the things one can say in an acknowledgement section, the one thing I did not want to do in this section is pretend. Pretend this process was filled with the joys and struggles most doctoral students experience as a part of their journey to the finish line. To do that would be disingenuous and if you know me you know that’s not my style. If you know me then you know that in addition to the normative doctoral experience my journey has been compounded with systemic and institutional oppression.

This is what I would like to take a moment to acknowledge. This process did not have to be like this, this process should not have been like this, and I know I will not be the last student who holds identities that get marginalized to have an experience similar to mine. This is unacceptable!

To be told by an administrator that “I am responsible for my subjective experience around race” when simply advocating for an educational experience that is inclusive of those whose ethnoracial identity is not White. To show up day in and day out in an attempt to get an education and walk away feeling like you’d been positioned at the front of the class with your arms extended and professors and your peers were allowed to come up and cut you wherever their hearts desired. This is what I would like to acknowledge. This is why I chose this topic. This is what needs to change. This process did not kill me, but I will never be the same.

Included in

Psychology Commons