Office Hours: Ana Rosado
History Ph.D. Student at Northwestern University
B.A. in History, with minors in African American Studies and Latin American Studies from Swarthmore College
What inspired you to attend grad school?
I have always been passionate about history and working with young people. After college, I spent a few years working with students of color in higher ed administration, which I enjoyed, but I felt like there was a missing piece. So I applied to graduate school because I thought working as a professor would join my two passions. When I applied I didn’t think I would get in, but here I am.
Tell me about your proudest grad school moment. Why was it special for you?
Thriving in my classes during my first year. Coming in, I definitely doubted my abilities and didn’t think I was cut out for grad school. When I did well and finished strong it built my confidence, and I started to own my presence in the space. I felt like I didn’t have anything to prove to myself anymore.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten while in grad school?
To remember that I have a life beyond grad school, and that my worth is not defined by my productivity.
If you had to describe your Black graduate experience with one song, which one would it be, and why?
“I Gotta Find Peace of Mind” by Lauryn Hill. Just the lines “I gotta find peace of mind. He says it’s impossible, but I know it’s possible” sum up a lot of my experience in grad school. My goal is to make it through this journey with some peace of mind and a whole spirit. I know it’s possible.
What has been your biggest obstacle in grad school? What strategies have you used to try to overcome it?
My parents are working-class immigrants and I will be the first PhD in my family. Most of my struggles have to do with just not knowing how graduate school works and what I’m supposed to do/when. I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of assumed knowledge in academia. I’ve tried to be open about this so that people don’t assume I know how everything works. Early on, for instance, I asked my advisor to explain what a dissertation is because I had no clue how many chapters it was supposed to be etc.
What has this experience (pursuing a graduate degree) taught you about yourself?
I am resilient, I am strong.
If you could go back to the first day of grad school, what advice would you give to yourself? Why?
You have to nourish to flourish. Take care of yourself. None of this matters if you’re not good physically, mentally, and spiritually. I threw myself into my work and prioritized it over all else. At the end, I was burnt out. I should have prioritized self over studies more often.
How do you think your identities have informed your graduate experience?
My identities (black, latina, woman, first-gen) have profoundly shaped my experience and struggles in graduate school. I think some people think of graduate school as a great equalizer—we all got through undergraduate to get here, we’re all on a stipend, so we must all be on the same page. I have experienced an odd blindness to the idea that there are unique struggles that someone like me would face. I have often felt like the institution, my department, and individuals I’ve encountered are not genuinely invested or interested in educational equity—not the sort that would ensure the success of people like me.
How do you intend to use your degree in the future?
Ideally, I would like to be a professor. But I’m open to any opportunities that would allow me to continue to work with young people and talk about history.
What’s something that you would tell someone who is interested in pursuing a similar path?
Talk to as many people as you can who are currently in graduate school, who have graduated, or who started and decided not to finish. Get a substantive and holistic sense of what this experience is like before making the decision to commit to it yourself.
Feel free to reach out to Ana: firstname.lastname@example.org