Illustration of Professor Angela Locks.

Creator of Opportunity

This professor believes involving students in research helps keep them in school.

In order for us to understand her research, Professor Angela Locks said we should start with the why behind her work. Her personal experiences in college and higher education, she said, would paint us a better picture.

Locks is associate professor of Educational Leadership and spends much of her time exploring access, retention, and experiences of students of color in colleges and universities. Basically, she wants to know how students (particularly underrepresented minorities) get to college and what happens to them when they get there.

Since getting to hear Locks’ story, we now have a clearer picture of how she came to dedicate her career to studying student access, and why administrators have agreed she’s the best person to head up the university’s inaugural Center for Undergraduate Research which launched this fall.

“I love engaging with students both in and out of the classroom and supporting their success.”

On What Drives Her “Growing up, my parents consistently told me that people would have a problem with me as a black woman, and I needed to learn how to manage those perceptions. In high school, I joined our Black Student Union and learned more about how to advocate for myself and others in my school and community. Since then, I’ve been interested in racial and gender dynamics in education systems.”

On ‘Me-Search’ “Me-Search is a term I have heard my Department Chair Dr. Anna Ortiz use to describe a process in which researchers and scholars, like myself, use their own experiences as jumping off points for their research, scholarly and creative activity. My experiences navigating the school environment and recognizing the support systems I needed to achieve academically, helped me to start asking questions about how other students of color can excel in school.”

On Giving Back “When I was in college, I participated in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program at the University of Michigan, and it had a profound impact on my college years and my entire career to date. Literature has shown that historically underrepresented students are often left out of academic activities, but incorporating students into the intellectual mission of universities plays a role in student retention. UROP opened doors for me, and I want to make sure access is available to other people behind me in the pipeline. I’m thrilled I was able to bring the program to CSULB and serve as the faculty director of UROP these past three years.”

On Opening Doors “I’m honored to be the inaugural director for the new Center for Undergraduate Research. As faculty director of UROP, we’ve created more than 160 student/faculty research partnerships. With this new center, I’m looking forward to expanding opportunities across all of the colleges. This is an exciting time for students and faculty at CSULB.”

On Staying Connected “I spent half of my years here on campus as a Faculty in Residence living with students in the residence halls and I routinely include students on all my research teams.”

On Going Forward “Our campus has a real opportunity to assume individual and collective responsibility for supporting the learning and growth of all of our wonderfully diverse students. We have such talented students who are earnest about their studies with deep commitments to giving back to their communities and beyond. I look forward to engaging in this important work with others on campus.”

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