College of Health Sciences and Human Services

Department of Social Work

First Generation Latina Shares her Journey to Doctoral Education and Beyond

Based on two 2017 Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) surveys conducted, 7.1% of students enrolled in PhD programs identify as Chicano/Mexican, Puerto Rican and other Latinx/Hispanic identities, as compared to only 5.2 % of full-time faculty. This is contrasted with the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau estimates regarding U.S. residents of Hispanic origin (14.8% or 44.3 million), with an additional 12 million undocumented Latinxs estimated to be residing in the U.S.

Dr. Carmen Monico, Assistant Professor at Elon University in North Carolina, is one of those under-represented faculty of Latinx origin in the field of human services. During a recent visit to CSUMB, Dr. Monico shared her journey to doctoral education and her engagement in the Latino Social Work Organization (LSWO). A group of forward thinking students, considering doctoral education themselves, attended Dr. Monico’s on-campus presentation where she discussed her challenging but enriching journey as a minority student in doctoral education.

Having grown up in El Salvador and eventually achieving higher education in the U.S., including a doctorate in social work, Dr. Monico illustrated the need to identify a clear dissertation purpose consistent with the social justice goals of the profession, to enlist the support of effective mentors, and to collaborate with peers to complete a PhD program. She spoke of the importance of developing strong writing and presentation skills in the MSW program and the persistence necessary to advance into doctoral education. Students had a unique opportunity to meet Dr. Monico privately and learn about her own dissertation research design and results. Dr. Monico also stressed how critical it is to “give back” to the community by returning to teach and develop an inclusive scholarly agenda.