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Marginalization Fuels Motivation to Succeed with Dr. Karen Robinson
Episode 1611th April 2022 • Our Roots Say That We're Sisters • Marquette University
00:00:00 00:27:00

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In this episode, host Sheena Carey talks to Dr. Karen Robinson, interim Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs and Associate Professor for the College of Nursing at Marquette University. She is the first African-American woman to earn tenure in the College of Nursing.

Episode Highlights:

03:00 I literally have grown up at Marquette. I went on to earn my Master’s degree in Nurse Midwifery at Marquette, and in 2010 earned my Ph.D. in Nursing also at Marquette.

04:42 Having one African-American professor throughout my entire education at Marquette was always upfront - front and center - that there were no role models for me.

07:08 Healthcare has been shown to be better when folks receive care from people that look like them.

13:05 Those women of color that I’ve had the experience of being with really influenced me and really was part of the reason I wanted to come back and give back. To continue to make change and to continue to make progress. 

21:39 I hope to be a role model or inspiration, that it can happen. That if this is your purpose, if this is your path, that there will be obstacles but you can overcome them.


What's the story you want to share with us today?

01:42 Born and raised in Gary, Indiana and growing up in a predominantly urban, African-American environment, I never thought I’d end up here at Marquette at a predominantly white institution. 

02:25 I felt it was unattainable being from a low income family, would be first generation.  I didn’t believe that having a Marquette education was for me.

How has your identity informed the choices you’ve made and the paths that you’ve taken?

03:56 Our identity was always at the forefront with us when our parents were teaching us about who we are, where we come from, the struggles that our people have gone through and how they want us to be better. Folks wanted us to do better and education was one of those ways we could do better.

How has the College of Nursing changed to be more inclusive?

06:56 There is so much change and so much acknowledgement that we haven’t done enough for our students of color, that we don’t have enough students of color.

07:23 The College of Nursing has really recognized the need for recruitment, retention, and matriculation and what that entails and that students of color have other supports that they need outside of academics. 

In what ways does the theme of the mural project resonate for you?

11:36 It shows solidarity and I think that has always been important, that we support each other, uplift each other and now it’s front and center. 

How has Marquette impacted women of color on this campus and what are the ways in which Marquette has impacted you?

11:57 Marquette has been a part of my life since age 17. 

Who are the women of color who’ve inspired you?

14:36 I would always start with my mother and grandmother who were always hard working, God fearing women who instilled in us to strive and use the talents and gifts that God had blessed you with.

16:52 My students inspire me to continue to do what I’m doing. That is my purpose, to be there to show them that there are people who look like them who can stand in front of the class and to educate the next wave of nurses. 

What role has vulnerability played in your own story?

17:59 I would use more “marginalization”. Being on the outskirts as an undergrad student who was one of two Black folks who graduated. It was stressful. 

What impact do you hope to have on women of color?

20:54 I hope to be an example of perseverance. 

What are your hopes for the future?

23:18 I hope that we truly continue to move in a more swift fashion towards our mission of social justice.

Contact information:

Jacki Black

pronouns: she/her/hers

Associate Director for Hispanic Initiatives

Marquette University

454 Zilber Hall | PO Box 1881 | Milwaukee, WI 53201



The Our Roots Say That We're Sisters Podcast series was recorded and produced by Podcast Town (




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