Jenny McFadden - Success Story

Jenny McFadden HeadshotAs a member of Salisbury’s inaugural Ed.D. cohort, my dissertation represents my professional and personal interests, exploring how writing is used to express identities, particularly racial identities, in and out of formal educational contexts. I am a writer who has always been interested in how people present themselves through texts, and I first began conceiving of this research after reading a Facebook post written by a former student.

She used her biracial identity to position herself as sympathetic to two very divisive and vocal groups commenting on the Baltimore riots following Freddie Gray’s death. Posting about being both Black and White allowed her a unique perspective to make a plea for her Facebook friends to listen to those they saw as different from themselves. I thought it was such a powerful way to use writing, and as an educator, I wondered if we provide similar opportunities to write about racial identities in the classroom.

Inspired to design a qualitative study, I decided to focus on college students, as I had recently accepted a position with

Wor-Wic Community College as a developmental English instructor. I developed a multiple case study design and recruited nine multiracial students from three college campuses; I am currently interviewing each participant twice and collecting multiple writing samples from them.

I believe this work is especially important considering ongoing national racial controversy. I care deeply about racial issues, as I teach a racially diverse population of students and, furthermore, I am White and have two children with my husband, Rashieme, who is Black.

I present my initial dissertation findings at the NCTEAR (National Council of Teachers of English Assembly of Research) Conference this March. I am thankful for the guidance of my advisor Dr. Judith Franzak and fellow committee members Dr. Laurie Andes and Dr. Erin Stutelberg.

When I graduate with my doctorate in literacy this spring, I will then be eligible for promotion to assistant professor at Wor-Wic. As a two-time RAP Grant recipient and a Doctoral Travel Grant Award winner, I have presented alongside Dr. Nancy Michelson at NCTE, Dr. Judith Franzak at IFTE/CEE, Dr. Sandy Pope at Middle States Council for Social Studies, and Dr. Laurie Andes at the International Conference of Books, Publishing and Libraries. Dr. Andes and I published an article in The International Journal of the Book, and I have several additional publications under consideration.