Cal State San Bernardino assistant professor of communication studies Gretchen Bergquist and her co-authors received the Aubrey Fisher Outstanding Journal Award by the Western State Communication Association (WSCA) for their article “Investigating layers of identity and identity gaps in refugee resettlement experiences in the Midwestern United States.”

The Aubrey Fisher Award is the most prestigious award given each year by the WSCA for a journal article appearing in the Western Journal of Communication, which has only a 12 percent acceptance rate.

“I am both excited and humbled to receive such a prestigious award. Conducting community-based participatory research is an arduous, yet important process and my co-authors and I were thankful to work with fantastic community partners on this project,” Bergquist said. “As a researcher, it is a privilege to collaborate with community stakeholders to conduct work that is theoretically meaningful and encouraging to see the results of that work disseminated and implemented back into the community. Having this research recognized in such a meaningful way is extremely gratifying.”

From left, Fisher Award Committee Chair Robin Rowland with Gretchen Bergquist CSUSB
From left, Fisher Award Committee Chair Robin Rowland with Gretchen Bergquist.

According to Bergquist, during resettlement, refugees experience changes in personal and community relations that can have dramatic effects on their sense of self and, in turn, their health and well-being. As such, many refugees are forced to reconceptualize their identity as they encounter and integrate into a new host country and culture. The purpose of the study was to understand how identity functions during resettlement and to develop model of refugee well-being that serves as a guide for interventions aimed at improving the experiences of refugees during the resettlement process.

Along with Bergquist, the article was co-written by Jordan Soliz and Dawn O. Braithwaite, both from the University of Nebraska, Lee Kreimer from Lutheran Family Services, and Kristin Everhart from Miramar College.

“Although I co-wrote and published this research, this project was much bigger than any one person,” Bergquist said. “Community-based participatory research requires the time and expertise of various individuals within the larger community – not just the researcher. Although I’m thankful to receive such a prestigious award, I share this honor with the community stakeholders who dedicated their time, effort, and energy to see this project come to fruition.” 

The criteria for the Aubrey Fisher Award are:

  • Significance of the article’s contribution to the literature of the discipline;
  • Level of response the article has elicited from other scholars and teachers;
  • Substantive importance and methodological rigor – significance of the topic and elegance and thoroughness of the study's method;
  • Substantive and/or methodological innovativeness – the degree to which the article breaks new ground; and
  • Style, clarity, grace, parsimony, evocativeness of expression.

Bergquist and her co-authors were awarded at the Western States Communication Association convention in Denver, Colorado in late February.

To learn more about the WSCA Awards, visit the WSCA website.