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  1. Many historically minoritized graduate students, here defined as Women, Latinx and Black/African American students, in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) experience unwelcome or even hostile ecosystems or environments. Many of the social expectations are that historically minoritized graduate students in STEM should assimilate or acclimate to the cultural, where assimilation/acclimation are defined as cultural conformation vs. social acceptance of a student authentic self/identity. They may also experience forms of continuous microaggressions and isolation. The effects of chronic external stressors, such as experiencing discrimination and social isolation, on increased mental health disorders and decreased physiological health is well known [1-3]. Yet, evidence-based practices of support systems specifically for graduate students from historically marginalized communities to reduce the effects of climates of intimidation are not common. Indeed, researchers have found that such students “would benefit if colleges and universities attempted to deconstruct climates of intimidation [4]” and it has also been shown that teaching underrepresented minority students empowerment skills can improve academic success [5]. Self-advocacy originates from the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the Learning Disabilities (LD) communities for effective counseling that promotes academic success and is based on a social justice framework [6]. The underlying principle of self-advocacy is that supporting skills and knowledge development in the three areas of self-advocacy leads to a student’s long term participation and ultimately academic success in areas such as post-secondary education and STEM. The pillars of the self-advocacy program are centered on (i) Empowerment, (ii) Promoting self-awareness and (iii) Social Justice and programming in the GRaduate Education for Academically Talented Students (GREATS) is aligned and repeated along these three pillars. The current professional development program is in its third year of implementation and to date twenty-seven students have participated in the program. This work in progress paper outlines the evaluation of a self-advocacy program for historically marginalized graduate students in STEM at the University of Illinois Chicago is a minority serving institution as both an Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI). [1] S. Stansfeld and B. Candy, "Psychosocial work environment and mental health--a meta-analytic review," ed, 2006. [2] E. M. Smith, "Ethnic minorities: Life stress, social support, and mental health issues," The Counseling Psychologist, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 537-579, 1985. [3] D. M. Frost, K. Lehavot, and I. H. Meyer, "Minority stress and physical health among sexual minority individuals," Journal of behavioral medicine, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 1-8, 2015. [4] R. T. Palmer, D. C. Maramba, and T. E. Dancy, "A Qualitative Investigation of Factors Promoting the Retention and Persistence of Students of Color in STEM," The Journal of Negro Education, vol. 80, no. 4, pp. 491-504, 2011. [Online]. Available: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41341155. [5] A. R. Dowden, "Implementing Self-Advocacy Training Within a Brief Psychoeducational Group to Improve the Academic Motivation of Black Adolescents," The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 118-136, 2009/04/28 2009, doi: 10.1080/01933920902791937. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 25, 2024
  2. This work in progress paper outlines the initial evaluation results for a professional development program that is focused on strengthening self-advocacy among historically minoritized graduate students in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM). The program’s framework for self-advocacy is adapted from existing frameworks developed by the American Counseling Association and the Learning Disabilities communities to educate students on skills that support academic success. The American Counseling Association (ACA) published the Advocacy Competencies between the three areas of client/student, school/community, and public arena advocacy as part of their guidelines for effective counseling of minoritized students (Lewis, Arnold et al. 2002, Toporek and Daniels 2018) and is based on a social justice framework (Ratts and Hutchins 2009). The three skills with self-advocacy are: empowerment or a sense of agency (having control over decisions and life events), strong self-awareness (knowing what is right for oneself and setting goals based on this criteria), and social justice (knowing how to identify and challenge negative social climates and systems of oppression) (Test, Fowler et al. 2010). Within the different forms of practicing and teaching advocacy, working with students by teaching them the skills within a counselor and student or mentor and student group structure was found to help minoritized students reach academic success (Dowden 2009, Ratts and Hutchins 2009, Roberts, Ju et al. 2016). 
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