I write this essay for my family, who taught me how to thrive under difficult conditions, and for my mentors, who supported me throughout my many years as a student. Most importantly, I write this in solidarity with those who are working toward their graduate degrees. After spending nearly all of my adult life working on my BA, MA, and PhD, I am finally on the other side as a professor with a tenure-track position. Although I have “made it,” I realize—as a first-generation college student, as a woman of color from the working class, and as a scholar who specializes in the artwork of US Latinxs and African Americans—that the...

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