Welcoming Messages from Chair & Chair Elect
Welcoming Messages from Chair & Chair Elect

Welcome to the GSC: A Message from the Chair!


Tessa Lee Johnson  | Chair


Yearly Theme: Connection through Action

Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to the 2020-2021 Graduate Student Council (GSC) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). The GSC is the representative body within AERA tasked with advocating for graduate students as we navigate life within graduate school and prepare for the next stages of our careers.

Today, life within and beyond graduate school looks drastically different than in the past. Graduate students face important questions about what it means to engage in education research and participate in higher education during a time of extreme crisis. However, while this scale of this global trauma is new to us, the challenges that have arisen for us and our communities are not. Unfortunately, graduate students are all too familiar with juggling financial stressors, managing extracurricular responsibilities alongside academic ones, and working to protect their mental and physical health throughout.

In his Annual Meeting theme announcement, Dr. Shaun Harper, AERA President, has asked us all to reflect on our work as education researchers and accept educational responsibility within our roles as scholars and practitioners. As graduate students, we carry the added responsibility of advocating for one another within academic structures built to take advantage of junior professionals and isolate marginalized voices.

As we collectively grapple with grief and uncertainty, I am continually reminded that our greatest strengths are our bonds with one another. From small acts of generosity when helping a labmate edit a manuscript to the larger, ongoing work of student activists fighting for fair compensation, we are always stronger when we work together.

To foster our combined strength as graduate students, this year the GSC will establish a robust interconnected network of engaged graduate students within AERA and provide accessible programming to help students develop the skills and resources to be successful in their personal, professional, and political lives. In recognition of this work we do together, our GSC programming throughout the year will focus on the theme of “Connection Through Action.”

As junior scholars, the work we do has the power to reshape educational institutions and policy. And, although we are living in extraordinary times, I am encouraged and energized to work alongside you, knowing that together, we are AERA.


Tessa L. Johnson

Chair, 2019-2020 AERA Graduate Student Council

Ph.D. Student, University of Maryland, College Park


A Message from the Chair-elect

Dre Photo

Dre Abeita | Chair-elect

Dear Graduate Student Colleagues,

Dear brothers and sisters of #myglobalAERAfamily,

My heart aches, my tears flow, and my mind churns, as I grieve with you during this unprecedented COVID-19 global pandemic. In remembering our loved ones and honoring their memories, we celebrate their lives and help them to rest in peace. May our temporary sorrow, anger, and helplessness turn into inspiration to work towards transformational and life-giving societal change.

I, Dre Abeita, stand before you, a veteran leader of my Pueblo people. I walk with Coyote and embody the hope of my ancestors. I am the granddaughter of Miguelita Histia and the great-great granddaughter of Pablo Abeita. Like Indigenous Ohkay Owingeh revolutionary Popé,

I am a general in the never-ending conflict against the tyranny of American empire, white supremacy, coloniality, and the ramifications of capitalism as modern-day slavery.

Despite our current life and death struggle with COVID-19, I call upon my global sisters and brothers, my fellow revolutionaries (in memory of Fred Hampton), to join me in using our most powerful weapon, education, to ensure that our communities continue to thrive.

President Harper called for our #globalAERAfamily “to accept greater (educational) responsibility for social problems that plague places around the world.” As chair elect of the AERA GSC, I ask even more of you. As a Native American (Isleta Pueblo), cis-gender female, bi-sexual, survivor of childhood, police and predatory academic trauma, PTSD diagnosed, medical marijuana card holder, critical race theory, whiteness, intersectional revolutionary, I ask for your help in saving the lives of my people.

Colonialism, boarding schools, capitalism and many other factors have created a devasting reality in which our inherited inequitable Society reproduces systemic oppression that results in genocide. As of May 26, 2020, the Navajo reservation has experienced seven 57-hour weekend lockdowns, 4,842 positive cases of COVID-19 and have 158 confirmed deaths, which is the highest infection and mortality rate for any racial/ethnic group in the United States.

Despite this harsh reality, I have hope. As an educator of 15 years, an auntie (around the globe), an ENFJ, and an activist, I cannot help being an eternal optimist and look forward to facing these obstacles with our #globalAERAfamily. Together we are stronger and can put the full force of our collective resources, energies, talents, and knowledge into transforming our society.

Through our powerful work as influential, educational experts and global citizens, I look forward to working tirelessly with you as we as create a post-COVID-19 existence. Envision with me a lived reality in which we are a more responsible, critical, loving and humanizing global society. Around the world, our children are counting on us to ensure that they can once again safely pursue their dreams. As always, please be safe my #globalAERAfamily.

Andrea “Dre” Abeita

Chair-Elect, 2019-2020 AERA Graduate Student Council

Ph.D. Student, University of New Mexico (UNM)



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