By Cindy Lamothe

BELatina, May 3, 2019.

Finding your place in academic settings can be daunting, and if you are Latinx trying to earn a doctoral degree, integrating can feel like a monumental undertaking. You want to fit in on your own terms while also feeling comfortable within the rest of the university community.

Photo Credit: Jessica Gomez Photography

According to the Pew Research Center, more and more Hispanics are getting a postsecondary education than ever before, but they still lag behind other groups in receiving their bachelor’s degree. This means that pursuing higher education is even more imperative for Latinos. We’ve compiled 5 game-changing tips to help you rise to the task of earning your doctoral degree.

  1. Own Your Identity
Photo Credit: IG @iamginatorres

It’s easy to feel out of place when you’re part of a minority group, but it’s important not to internalize others’ racist or sexist views. Seek the support of your inner circle, find clubs that match your interests, and make allies who believe in you and your goals. Remember, you belong just as much as anyone else in your program.

2. Make Connections

Getting to know as many people as possible is a great exercise in learning to communicate effectively and form valuable relationships. Spend time speaking with professors after class and learning more about your classmates. Making new connections will also benefit you long after you leave the university setting.

3. Learn Time Management but Don’t Skimp on Self-Care

Planning ahead and learning to prioritize will be your greatest asset, but don’t forget to take care of yourself in the process. Pay attention to what you need in a given moment and schedule in time to get enough rest and relaxation. Go out with friends, watch Netflix, and do things you enjoy.

4. Discover What You Love

You’re here to learn more about yourself and be open to new experiences. This means putting aside any preconceived notions of past interests, and exploring who you are becoming. Allow yourself to discover things that bring you joy; you might just surprise yourself.

5. Pave Your Own Path

Photo Credit IG @silviamzzulaphd

You’ll be facing the same challenges other doctoral students face but with added barriers. Many may try to place you in a box or category, but don’t let stereotypes define who you are. Avoid joining groups or activities that don’t interest you just because you are Latinx. You aren’t here to prove yourself to anyone, so pave your own path and make your own rules.


Cindy Lamothe

Cindy Lamothe is a biracial freelance writer who writes often about science, health, lifestyle, and social justice. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, New York Magazine, The Guardian, Teen Vogue, Shondaland, among many others.