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Week 2: Equity-Minded Advising for Pre-Health Advisors - Revisiting Our History (Part 1)

Dr. Melissa Yeung presents a model for equity-minded advising that can be applied to an advisor’s toolkit. This explores topics from an academic perspective to help provide a framework to understand how students of color navigate their education experiences and allows advisors to improve professional practice to provide a more positive experience for students.

When we center student voices and take their stories seriously, we empower ourselves to examine how our own practices may have contributed those experiences.  When we recognize that racism and racial microaggression is a norm for many students, it provides context for which students interact with campus resources such as advisors. We also begin to recognize that not all student experiences are equal, and that race and ethnicity have an influence over how students experience campus life.


Before we consider how to be equity-minded advisors for our students, we need to understand how we have gotten to this point as a society. Having this knowledge is not a requirement for you to be a good pre-health advisor, but it allows you to have an understanding behind why equity-minded advising is important today.

To fully understand education inequities in the US, we need to first begin with federal housing policies.

While there is a lot to unpack with federal housing policy (and not possible to do so here), here’s what you need to know. In the post-war era, as many soldiers were returning from the frontlines, many large cities in the country were quickly populated with workers seeking new opportunities. Housing, both in these cities and in the growing suburbs surrounding them, grew in response.

Federal policy response to this was to create segregated housing, and approved bank loans to finance construction for White neighborhoods only. Housing for Black families remained in short supply during this time. The long-term impact of such policies led to redlining. While the Fair Housing Act prohibits racial discrimination in current times, the federal policies before passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 had long-lasting effects social and economic impact on the disparities between White and families of color. Since public K-12 education is funded by local taxes, schools situated in lower-income neighborhoods tend to be less well-resourced.

K-12 education is very much dependent on financial resources of each school and locality, college education is not. While we would like to think that all students who have earned their way to college start from the same point, they do not.

How does this influence what we know of our students? K-12 education is very much dependent on financial resources of each school and locality, college education is not. While we would like to think that all students who have earned their way to college start from the same point, they do not. Students who have the benefit of having a K-12 education from a well-resourced school have had the benefit of more teacher attention, more academic resources, and even more career guidance. In addition, they may also have the privilege of knowledge – having an understanding of how college “works”.

What does this have to do with equity-mindedness? Being an equity-minded advisor means that you have the knowledge to understand what influences your student’s experiences before meeting with you. If you can understand where a student comes from and the resources they have access to prior to college, you are more likely to develop a professional practice that is able to appreciate your student’s prior experiences and how it impacts their interaction with you.


Dr. Melissa Yeung

About the author: Dr. Melissa Yeung, is currently the Clinical Education and Admissions Coordinator in the School of Physical Therapy at Bowling Green State University. Previously, she served as Pre-Health advisor at the University of Houston and Student Services Coordinator for the Department of Physical Therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Yeung’s research centers on racial equity within the graduate and professional school admissions process. Her work focuses on the experiences of students of color as they aspire to graduate study, and how they navigate the graduate and professional school application process. Additionally, she explores how academic resources provided to students at the undergraduate level has an impact on their success in the graduate and professional school admissions process. Building on existing framework for equity-minded institutions, Dr. Yeung is also committed to the provision of a specific framework to help undergraduate advisors develop into equity-minded advising professionals. Dr. Yeung has professional experiences working with graduate students from STEM and health professions backgrounds, international students and student athletes. As Student Services Coordinator at Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Yeung was also heavily involved in various pipeline programs that encourage early interest in the field of physical therapy.

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