Within these pages I engaged in critical autoethnographic storytelling, referred to as cuentos, to highlight the reflexive processes impacting my identity negotiation while in graduate school (an “Appendix” further explicating this critical autoethnographic approach is also provided). As will be seen, the reflexivity necessary to explore the impact my past had on my interactions while a graduate student stemmed from understanding borderland theorizing (Anzaldúa, 1987). Through cuentos about my Mago, Margaret Ruth, Margo, and Margarita Refugia identity constructions, I painfully expose lived experiences representing surreal, emotional, often devastating, unshakable, and unbelievable lived realities. In contrast to the cuentos sections of this article, the scaling the walls of the Ivory Tower sections are presented in a less emotional, more intellectual state of mind reflecting borderland theorizing about (post)colonial wounds and assimilationist socialization processes that eventually lead to my emerging conciencia de la Mestizo—processes that bring to light academic and socialization challenges I faced while attending graduate school as a racial/ethnic minority woman and single mother of lower socioeconomic background.
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