Abbot looks at place/identity in Appalachia; receives two research awards

Brenda Hardin Abbott, a doctoral candidate in teacher education and curriculum studies, and assistant professor, Bay Path University, was awarded a dissertation research grant from the UMass Amherst Graduate School. This competitive grants program recognizes the research and accomplishments of outstanding graduate students and provides funds to assist recipients in completion of their dissertation.

Abbott also received The Richard J. Briotta Outstanding Faculty Research, Scholarly Activity, and Creative Works Grant at Bay Path University, for her ongoing dissertation research, Dropping the Invisibility Cloak: Rural, First Generation College Students from Appalachian Kentucky. This award recognizes the work of a faculty member who has published, presented, performed or patented and serves to elevate the profile of Bay Path University.

Abbott’s research focuses on how rural Appalachian place-identity is shaped through insider/outsider lenses. The effects of poverty and trauma mingle with resilience and determination in the lives of the students as both marginalization and pride inform their understandings.  Her dissertation work celebrates the complexity of place-identity, of places replete with strife and hardship yet simultaneously held tightly as home; of places rejected as backward and devalued in contrast to urban centers of activity, culture and diversity; of places students want to leave and yet don’t ever want to leave. Through interviews and a photo/voice project, Abbott’s research examines narratives of rural, low income students from Appalachian Kentucky.

Her dissertation work will include an art exhibit of the students’ photographs and stories. A works in progress art exhibit will take place at Bay Path University’s Academic Achievement Day, on March 28, 2018

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