Tibetan Woman Makes History as One of First in West to Earn Doctorate

Losang Rabgey made history on March 1, 2006 as one of the first Tibetan women in the West to earn a doctorate. Rabgey was awarded her doctorate in Feminist Anthropology from the University of London, England. A participant in EduSeed’s SisterMentors nonprofit program based in Washington, D.C., Rabgey recently helped the program reach a milestone as its twenty-fifth woman of color Ph.D. Part of the SisterMentors program involves supporting women of color doctoral students during the completion of their dissertation.

Born in a refugee camp in India after her parents fled Tibet in 1959, Rabgey and her family emigrated to Canada where she received most of her education. She is part of the first generation in her family to go to college. She and her family work to improve the lives of Tibetans in Tibet primarily through education, with an emphasis on women’s and girls’ education. They have established the first school in her father’s village in Kham where fifty percent of the students must be girls. Rabgey’s dissertation is the first doctoral study of secular Tibetan women and her fieldwork has focused on oral histories of Tibetan women in India and the West. She is the Executive Director of Machik, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. which she co-founded with her sister, Tashi.

Rabgey credits SisterMentors for playing a significant role in obtaining her doctorate. “The excellent program Dr. Lewis and SisterMentors provide played a key role in my Ph.D. completion because of the great cohort of women engaged in the same process of dissertation writing. When I was a young girl, exposure to groups like SisterMentors would have made a world of difference,” Rabgey added.

“We are very excited about Losang Rabgey’s accomplishment,” said Montina Cole, Chair of EduSeed’s Board of Directors. “Not only has she made history but she is also an excellent example of an educated woman of color who is giving back to her community. We are so very proud of her,” Cole said.

SisterMentors is a program of EduSeed, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. EduSeed’s mission is to promote education among traditionally disadvantaged and underserved communities such as women and people of color. SisterMentors helps women ofcolor doctoral students complete their dissertations to earn doctorates. While they are in the program, the women give back to the community by mentoring girls of color in middle and high schools in the Washington, D.C. area, encouraging them to go to college. The women and girls come from a variety of backgrounds, including African American, Latina and Asian American. Some are immigrants, or children of immigrants to the United States. Many of the program participants are the first generation in their families to attend college, let alone attend graduate school and achieve their doctorate. SisterMentors has helped 34 women of color earn doctorates since its inception in 1997 and has mentored over 55 girls since 2001.