GradImpact: An Advocate for Higher Education Equity

    As a Latina first generation college student from a disadvantaged socioeconomic background, Theresa E. Hernandez’s research is inspired by her own experiences. As a doctoral student in urban education policy at the University of Southern California, she is interested in how policies and interventions either support or hinder access and academic success of first-generation students of color from low socioeconomic backgrounds.


    Hernandez experienced first-hand how policies that did not account for the unique challenges faced by underrepresented persons could hinder one’s education. “[My undergrad] was very difficult transition and acculturation that kind of had me hit pause on my education for a while” she noted. “But it ultimately inspired me to come back to get my master’s and now my PhD and inspires me to do the work I’m doing to make higher ed a more equitable space to people who come from my background.”


    Her experience and research have compelled Hernandez to take an active role advocating for graduate students, particularly those from underrepresented groups. In April 2019, Hernandez was one of two graduate students from USC to attend CGS Advocacy Day to meet with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and advocate for graduate education. “Just seeing the process of policymaking…was interesting to me,” Hernandez said. “Also, participating helped me see the ways in which grad students and others who are really fighting for educational support from the government are a part of the process, and got me thinking about the roles we have, and the voices we have.”


    In addition to Advocacy Day, Hernandez has amplified her voice in other ways, including a published op-ed in The Huffington Post urging colleges and universities to abolish standardized testing requirements for admissions. To learn more about Theresa’s work, visit the University of Southern California website.


    Visit the GradImpact Feature Gallery to learn more about the amazing, innovative research being done by graduate students and alumni across the world.



    The CGS GRADIMPACT project draws from member examples to tell the larger story of graduate education. Our goal is to demonstrate the importance of graduate education not only to degree holders, but also to the communities where we live and work. Do you have a great story to share about the impact of master’s or doctoral education? Visit our WEBSITE for more information.


    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.