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Educational opportunity examined

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

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Media Contact: Bridget Lewis

ARLINGTON – Ryan Gildersleeve, director of the UT Arlington Center for K-16 Education Policy and Research and an associate professor in the College of Education and Health Professions, has been recognized by the National Association for College Admission Counseling with the John B. Muir Editor Award for his research into the college access and immigration issue.

Ryan Gildersleeve

“Educational opportunity is a fundamental concern of contemporary society,” Gildersleeve said. “It has implications for who gets to participate in democracy, how, and under what conditions.”

Gildersleeve, who joined the University this year, is one of two educators honored during the 67th annual NACAC conference in New Orleans last month.

Each year, the Muir Award recognizes an author who has made the most significant contribution to NACAC’s Journal of College Admission during the past year.

Gildersleeve’s article, “Access Between and Beyond Borders: A Life History of an Undocumented College Applicant,” published in the winter 2010 journal, uses a life history method to illustrate the college admission process for undocumented students. His research focuses on the social contexts of educational opportunity for historically marginalized groups.

“Focusing on immigrant communities’ struggles in education contributes to a long-standing tradition of exploring how education can produce while simultaneously reflect opportunities and inequities in the American democratic project,” Gildersleeve said.

The article demonstrates how students’ social contexts – for example, schooling, family, migration, and labor – influence their college choice processes and participation in the broader project of college-going.

Gildersleeve claims that if admission officers and college counselors want to increase college opportunities for undocumented students, they must increase their understanding of the pre-college contexts from which undocumented students struggle to persist. The life history narratives presented begin that training process, noting key moments in the college-going process.

Adrienne Hyle, chairwoman of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, commended Gildersleeve’s research.

“He is working to increase understandings about the continuum of education and ways in which those understandings influence student and institutional success,” Hyle said. “This research is directly linked with the Center for K-16 Education Policy and Research agenda and other initiatives of Center Faculty Associates.”

The National Association for College Admission Counseling advocates and supports ethical and professional practice in helping students transition to postsecondary education. NACAC promotes high professional standards and social responsibility through collaboration, knowledge and education.

Visit for more information about the organization and the award winners.

Gildersleeve’s work is representative of the research under way at The University of Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of 33,449 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit to learn more.


The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.