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Seeing Universities as ‘Radical Agents in Very Hard Times’: Katherine Entigar, Class of 2021, Lands a Tenure-Track Faculty Role at the University of Toronto

By Bonnie Eissner

This fall, Katherine Entigar (Ph.D. ’21, Urban Education) starts a new tenure-track position as an assistant professor of critical adult education at the University of Toronto. The move north gives Entigar a chance to continue researching issues such as immigrant justice and multilingualism and multiculturalism in adult education, but from a new vantage point. “I’ll be asking a lot of questions!” Entigar said. 

Through interactions with supportive Graduate Center faculty and especially with other students, Entigar developed a clear picture of “who I was and wanted to be in my scholarly community,” they said. 

Entigar spoke to The Graduate Center about their research, priorities for the coming year, and tips for landing a faculty role. 

The Graduate Center: Your dissertation, Coalition and creativity on the bridges and the fringes with adult immigrant student co-researchers, sounds fascinating. What are the top takeaways from it, for people who are less familiar with your field? 

Entigar: My research focused on adult immigrant students as active contributors, researchers, and educators. Many people tend to have a knee-jerk, “Oh, we need to save those poor immigrants,” reaction to thinking about migrant people because of the way the news depicts them. Instead, I wanted to find ways to uplift and center the perspectives of immigrant students, who already know plenty and have plans for themselves in education and beyond. I also argued that there are forms of oppression wrapped up in liberal white views of education related to inclusion, contribution, and silence, which I tease out in my work. 

GC: What are your hopes for your new faculty role?

Entigar: I think new faculty members, particularly people from privileged groups, are in a unique position now to think about institutions of higher education and the folks that work within them as radical agents in very hard times. This means a lot of discomfort, destabilization, and dialogue. It also means asking how to put front and center the silences, the non-contributions of people in the communities where we work as signs that more must be done. Beyond that, I hope to be of service to my colleagues and students at the University of Toronto as a scholar and a community member. There's a powerful movement now in the university to establish a Centre for Black Studies in Education, which I'm looking forward to supporting.

GC: What do you think made you stand out in a competitive field? 

Entigar: I think I got extremely lucky. This has been a painful year for many people, and there is so much suffering that hasn’t even been accounted for yet. I was blessed with my amazing adviser, [Professor] Anna Stetsenko, my community of colleagues in Urban Ed, LAILAC [Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures], and Psychology at the GC, and the people I already knew in adult education in Canada. I took every research assistant job I could get, nurtured my professional, scholarly, and community relationships, and worked in immigrant rights and anti-racist projects. Publishing as much as possible before I graduated also ended up being hard but good. 

GC: What tips do you have for students and graduates who are looking for tenure-track faculty positions? 

Entigar: Finding a mentor who is your champion is key. Learning your limits and responding with daily practice is powerful. I tend to put off hard work, and something that helped was a daily practice of writing and creating an accountability group with colleagues. Reaching out to scholars you admire for dialogue or even coffee can have surprising benefits. Finally, for students who enter the university knowing that this is a place that privileges some over others, make this a part of your scholarship. Resistance, critical thinking, dialogue, uncertainty, curiosity, radical hope. These make us human as well as powerful thinkers. 

I’d be happy to talk about my experience with anyone who is interested!

Published by the Office of Communications and Marketing.

Submitted on: JUN 1, 2021

Category: Alumni News | GCstories | General GC News | Immigration | Student News | Urban Education | Voices of the GC