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UC Berkeley


Melissa Barker - Higher Education and Access

Melissa provides this abstract of her 2011 thesis: Attending UC Berkeley is Not Part of Your Welfare to Work Plan: The Social Impact of Welfare Reform on Low- Income Single-Mothers Pursuing Postsecondary Education:
Single-mother-students on welfare are a small and unique demographic in the institutions of Higher Education. While conducting research on Maui County , Hawai ‘ i and in Alameda County, California I qualitatively examined the trajectory of single mothers on welfare pursuing higher education at the University of Hawai’i, Maui and University of California, Berkeley . Assessing the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 as the legal framing of the contemporary welfare to workfare ideology, I critically examined how the nuance implementations of this statutory law in practice created bureaucratic controlling processes and moralist state gatekeepers that more often use the discretion of law to impede rather then support single-mother-students.
Melissa M. Baker identifies herself a scholar activist and conscious-minded researcher, social justice advocate and teacher. Her areas of interest include: cultural competency in the workplace, organizational change, leadership, social justice, ally building, creating access to higher education for the marginalized, and sustainable social change. She is also the creator of The Transformative Leadership Institute : Engaging the Minds of Tomorrow with the Practices of 21st Century Leadership which will launch in Summer 2014.
As an undergraduate ISF student, Melissa conducted research on access to higher education and food security for TANF recipients in post-secondary education. She has gone to create an Action Research Project with the California Community Colleges (CCC) Chancellor’s Office and to participate in CCC CalWORKs State Advisory Committee which is carrying out a a statewide survey of the CCC CalWORKs population assessing access to food security and post-secondary education. This survey closed in December of 2013 and findings are now being presented .
Melissa published in The Berkeley Undergraduate Journal and the California Research Bureau (CRB). Her other publications can be found here:

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