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McNair Scholar 2016Danielle B. Cotton

Danielle B. Cotton is a junior at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is enrolled in the integrated degree program majoring in the areas of: family social science, business and marketing education, and social justice. Her research interests revolve around improving the cultural competency of counselors and educators. Ms. Cotton plans on getting her juris doctor degree and master's degree in public policy.

Cotton photo
My dream is to join the J.D. /M.P.P. program at a dignified law school to become a lawyer for civil and discrimination law. Once I achieve this, my dream is to practice law for some time while also doing all I can to better my community before becoming a lobbyist, which will guide my path to become a city council woman and later a congresswoman so I may break down structural barriers.

Research project

Intersections of racialized experiences and psychosocial development for black undergraduates at a predominately white institution


Abstract: This qualitative study explored psychosocial development for Black college students at a predominantly White institution. The research was conducted by analyzing notes from student discussions in the African American Student Network (AFAM) from academic years 2005-06 to 2015-16, where students explored the intersections of being Black across 5 psychosocial tasks: navigating college life, developing identity, understanding racism, standing up for justice, and dating. Throughout the research we shed light on an under-told narrative by exploring the racialized experiences of Black students in a developmental context that is broader than traditional notions of racial identity development but not predominantly focused on educational achievement or microaggressions. This study also demonstrates how Black cultural ideology may differ from White cultural ideology. In contrast to White culture which generally embraces individualism and colorblindness, for students in our study a focus on race (a collective group membership) was embedded in all psychosocial tasks. Download poster [PDF]

Faculty profile

Tabitha Grier-Reed is co-founder of the African American Student Network (AFAM) and an Associate Professor in Family Social Science in the College of Education and Human Development. A licensed counseling psychologist and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Minnesota, her research focuses on student development and educational disparities. This summer marks the 20-year milestone since Dr. Grier-Reed was herself a McNair Scholar at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.