UW – Madison’s Wicker receives Ford Foundation Fellowship

July 29, 2022

Paris Wicker of UW-Madison has been awarded a prestigious Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, which will allow her to continue her work studying the well-being of Black and Indigenous students.

“It’s a dream project for me,” says Wicker, who is determined to explore “who is doing well in higher education and under what conditions” after working as a certified national adviser and associate dean of students at Lawrence University.


Wicker is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis in the School of Education. The thesis on which Wicker is working is entitled “Who’s OK”? An Analysis of Social Network Well-Being for Black and Indigenous College Students.

Wicker explains that this work is a mixed-methods study that first analyzes data from a national survey to determine the extent to which faculty, counselors and staff are central to student well-being before and during the pandemic. of COVID-19. The second part of the study interviews current UW-Madison students to map their personal on-campus wellness network and the restorative people and spaces that help them feel good.

“I am so excited to explore the notion of well-being from a relational perspective that centers the experiences of Indigenous and Black students navigating complex historical legacies with the institutions that now want to help them succeed,” adds Wicker. “At a time when higher education institutions are concerned about how to respond to growing mental health issues on campus, my research shifts wellness from an individualistic issue to an institutional responsibility – and elevates the well-being as a necessary component of student success, of equal importance to grades, GPAs, and graduation rates.”

The winners were publicly named on July 26. Wicker is one of 140 outstanding scholars who have been awarded scholarships through the Ford Foundation Scholars Programs 2022 competition, which is administered by the Office of Scholarships of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Science. medicine.

The programs aim to increase the diversity of college and university faculties nationwide by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, to maximize the educational benefits of diversity, and to increase the number of faculty who can and will use diversity as a resource to enrich the education. of all students. For more information on the most recent cohort of winners, see the Ford Foundation Scholars Directory.

“I am incredibly passionate about this research and grateful to the Ford Foundation for seeing the potential of this project and my potential as a future faculty member,” says Wicker. “I am still in shock because only 2% of grants go to research in education. I knew it was a long time, but this recognition gave me the added affirmation, confidence, and support to pursue my academic goals wholeheartedly. Although there is a lot of uncertainty in the thesis process and in the university job market, this scholarship is a signal to me that I am on the right path and that I will continue.

To learn more about Wicker and his work, visit pariswicker.com.

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