Graduate students win national journal award


Courtesy of Iowa State University

Graduate students in the School of Education who founded the Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis include (front, from left) Cameron Beatty, Lisette Torres, (back, from left) Aja Holmes, Jessica Soulis, Kathleen Gillon, Susana Hernandez, and Joyce Lui. They recently won a national award courtesy of the American College Personnel Association for the online journal they created.

Carlea Schuler

A group of ISU graduate students in the School of Education have been recognized with a national award for creating an online journal that focuses on issues of social justice.

The “Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis” was created by seven current graduate students, all of which have their social justice certificate.

The group includes Cameron Beatty, Lisette Torres, Aja Holmes and Kathleen Gillon, all graduates in education. Jessica Soulis, graduate in sustainable agriculture, and Joyce Lui and Susana Hernandez, doctoral students in higher education, were included, too.

The students will receive the Exemplary Social Justice Contribution by a Graduate Student Award from the Commission for Social Justice Educators on March 30, 2014, in Indianapolis, Ind. Beatty, Holmes and Gillon will accept the award.

In Fall 2011, the group came together with an interest in the social justice certificate, which was housed in the School of Education. They wanted to have a place to contribute their critical work in the form of journals.

“We came together to create a space for this critical progressive scholarship where activists could contribute, scholars could contribute and practitioners could contribute,” Beatty said.

A little over a year later, the first issue of the journal was published in October 2012. All of the collaborate effort to create the journal was done by a student-run, student-driven and student editorial board.

Holmes said the journal was a collaborative effort with all of the group seeking help to make sure everything was double checked. The graduate students wanted the journal to be nearly perfect. Holmes described the process as a “labor of love.”

When asked what the journal meant to her, Gillon, said that the process of earning a doctorate can be difficult because it is usually something one person is responsible for, but the group effort of the journal was an opportunity to work together to produce something.

“I had the opportunity to work collaborate on a process that is usually isolating,” Gillon said.

The “Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis” is an interdisciplinary editorial board with disciplines in areas like history, sociology, English and sustainable agriculture.

“I think the journal is sending a message that we have a very strong graduate department within the School of Education and throughout the campus across disciplines,” Holmes said. “Social justice is between every area of the university.”

The graduate students anticipate the spirit of collaboration will continue to grow across the different disciplines at Iowa State.

“These were not just words we threw together,” Beatty said. “We collaboratively started to build on what we wanted it to be. All of those ideas didn’t come from one of us, they came from all of us building on each other.”

According to Beatty, the graduate students’ journal is the first student peer-reviewed journal in the ISU digital repository, which is housed in the library. The digital repository is a collection of scholarly faculty works, which is just starting to be built as a resource for students.

The graduate students hope that the journal will live on as a legacy.