Student Debt & Faculty Diversity
SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program Webinar Series

View the webinar recording

As tuition costs have risen over the past decade, student debt accumulation has reached critical levels. Beyond the eye-boggling dollar numbers in the headlines, however, it is important to dive deeper and understand how student debt has impacted certain student groups. In particular, students of color tend to carry a heavier student debt burden than their peers. When considering faculty diversity, this disproportionate student debt is concerning, given that students who have already accumulated high levels of debt from their undergraduate education may be less likely to pursue graduate school.

In this webinar, SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program alumni discussed why addressing the student debt crisis is a key component of diversifying the graduate school pipeline and ultimately diversifying the professoriate, as well as thoughts on how systemic policy change can help address this issue.

The webinar also referenced the SREB-DSP brief, Student Debt Stifles Faculty Diversity >


Dr. Sybrina AtwatersSybrina Y. Atwaters, Ph.D., is an interdisciplinary sociologist with research interests in sociology of technology and social inequality. Her broad experience includes collaborative research with the National Academies, Georgia Institute of Technology, Iowa State University, the Fund for Theological Education, and the Association of Theological Schools. She has presented her work at both national and international professional conferences. Her research has been published by Spring International and John Hopkins University Press.

Dr. Atwaters currently serves as director, OMED: Educational Services, for Institute Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Georgia Institute of Technology. She supervises several programs and grant initiatives under her purview, including the nine-time award winning African American Male Initiative (AAMI); Challenge, OMED’s signature five-week summer academic intensive residential program; and Focus, an annual institute-wide diversity graduate recruitment program; and the Women of Color Initiative (WOCI), a city-wide collaborative with Georgia Tech, Spelman College, Emory University, and STEM Atlanta Women non-profit. Most recently she became affiliated faculty with the School of History and Sociology.

Dr. Atwaters is a three-time graduate from Georgia Institute of Technology, receiving her B.S. in electrical engineering and master’s and Ph.D. in sociology of technology and science. She also earned her master’s degrees from Emory University in Theological Studies and Georgia State University in Instructional Technology. Dr. Atwaters has over nine years of experience as a senior wireless design engineer, eight years in STEM diversity research and programming, and 15 years in higher education instruction. More about Dr. Atwaters >


Dr. Elsa CamargoElsa Camargo, Ph.D., will begin her appointment as assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington in the fall. Between 2018 and 2021, she was an assistant professor of Higher Education at the University of Arkansas and while there also served as Junior Research Fellow at the Office for Diversity and Inclusion. She holds degrees from Virginia Tech (Ph.D. in Higher Education) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (B.A. in English and Spanish and M.A. in Hispanic Studies). Her research interests are in the areas of college access and success for minority students and career advancement of underrepresented faculty in higher education. Dr. Camargo’s research areas of expertise are in diversity and inclusion, organizational culture, and faculty. Currently, Dr. Camargo is researching the experiences of Latino/a/x college students  in the Nuevo South. Her research has appeared in academic journals including the Journal of Diversity in Higher EducationJournal of Education and Training Studies and Gender Transformation in the Academy. She has also been invited to publish in the Magazine of the Society of Women. More about Dr. Camargo >


Dr. Armon PerryArmon Perry, Ph.D., is a professor and BSW Program Director at the University of Louisville. Dr. Perry’s research efforts center on the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and external factors that influence men’s involvement in the lives of their children and families, as well as the impact of that involvement on the well-being of the family. The findings of his research have pointed to the tools, resources, and experiences that shape men’s ability to be involved fathers, the  role that mothers play in facilitating or truncating fathers’ involvement, and social service providers’ attitudes toward engaging fathers. The findings of Dr. Perry’s research have also highlighted the relationship between fathers’ provision of instrumental and effective support and positive outcomes for families, such as fewer behavioral problems in children and lower levels of reported maternal stress.

With regard to the potential impact of his work, Dr. Perry is interested in not only understanding the factors that encourage or discourage fathers’ involvement in the family, but ultimately, participating in projects to enhance the quantity and quality of their involvement. Consistent with his interest, Dr. Perry’s most recent project involves him serving as the PI on 4 Your Child, a federally funded project that provides responsible fatherhood, healthy relationship, and economic self-sufficiency services to non-resident fathers across several counties in Kentucky. To date, over 1000 fathers have been recruited into the program and preliminary data analysis indicate that fathers increase their parenting knowledge and report more empathy for their co-parents over time. More about Dr. Perry >