Breakthrough Strategies

Breakthrough Strategies Classroom-Based Practices to Support New Majority College Students

Kathleen A. Ross, Foreword by Michelle Asha Cooper
paper, 240 Pages
Pub. Date: December 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-997-6
Price: $34.00

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Breakthrough Strategies identifies effective strategies that faculty have used to help New Majority students—those from minority, immigrant, or disadvantaged backgrounds—build the necessary skills to succeed in college. As the proportion of New Majority students rises, there is increased attention to helping them gain access to college. Once enrolled, however, these students often face significant challenges of adjustment, with few resources for support. Specifically, there is little attention to students’ experiences within their college classrooms and their relationships with professors. At the same time, faculty who work with these students have little guidance on how to help them adjust to new expectations and identities as they engage with college-level work.


Kathleen Ross offers practical advice on how to create truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive experiences for all students. This book is a valuable primer for busy faculty and staff who care deeply about their students. There are lessons here for all of us. — Judith A. Ramaley, president emerita and distinguished professor of public service, Portland State University

Sister Kathleen Ross provides a clear and relatable guide for teaching New Majority students whose backgrounds and perspectives are often different from those shared by classroom leaders and institutional decision makers. Informed by firsthand experience and research, the strategies provided in this book will enable others to become more empathetic and culturally competent educators who can unlock the unique strengths of today's students. — Scott Dalessandro, associate program officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Through her pioneering experience at Heritage College, Sister Kathleen teaches us how to harness the core power of diversity through the inclusion and engagement of students from the New Majority.  I recommend this book to anyone interested in leveraging the power of diversity to redefine college campuses around the world. — Scott L. Thomas, dean and professor, College of Education and Social Services, University of Vermont

Beyond benefiting faculty and institutions, this book also motivates new research questions....Ross’s work is a substantial first step in moving strategies for engaging students directly into classrooms. — Jane Lincove & Ann Kellogg, Teachers College Record

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About the Author

Kathleen A. Ross is President Emerita and Professor of Cross-Cultural Communication at Heritage University, a four-year institution that she founded with two Yakama Indian women in 1982 and led for twenty-eight years. Located in Toppenish on the Yakama Nation Reservation in central Washington State, Heritage University started with 75 students and has grown into a fully accredited, independent university with 1,200 students and more than 8,000 four-year and master degree graduates. Today its undergraduates are approximately 10 percent Native American, 55–60 percent Latino/a, 85 percent first-generation, and more than 80 percent low-income. Dr. Ross has served on many boards including the Congressional Advisory Committee on Student Financial Aid, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (the regional accreditation body). Currently she serves as director of Heritage University’s Institute for Student Identity and Success, focused on increasing retention and graduation for first-generation students. She holds a masters degree from Georgetown University (history), and a doctorate from Claremont Graduate University (higher education and cross-cultural communication). Her work has received recognition in the form of numerous awards, including the Harold W. McGraw Education Prize (1989), a MacArthur Fellowship (1997), and fourteen honorary doctorates. In 2012 she celebrated her Golden Jubilee (fifty years) as a Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM). She currently lives in Toppenish, Washington, with two other Holy Names Sisters.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Michelle Asha Cooper

Author Interview: EdCast

Blog Post: "First-Generation College Students and Communication Mismatches"

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