Vanessa Sansone

faculty bio photo
Student Success in Rural Communities

Vanessa A. Sansone is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). She is an expert on racial, spatial and class disparities related to higher education student retention, access, success, and how institutional, state, and national policies impact these issues. 

In her scholarship, she uses critical lenses that are drawn from the fields of demography, sociology and geography to explore how (in)equity structures the experiences and outcomes for diverse student populations and institutions. Her areas of research interest focus on understanding college affordability, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, governance structures and the geography of postsecondary opportunity, especially for students from Latinx, military-affiliated and rural backgrounds. Dr. Sansone’s empirical work has been presented at several national conferences and been published in such outlets as the Review of Higher Education, Review of Educational Research and New Directions for Student Development Services.

In addition, she has contributed policy briefs, book chapters, book reviews and web-based writings. She was named as one of the 35 most outstanding women in higher education in 2020 by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. And recognized by the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) and the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE) as a top Latina graduate scholar for her service and scholarly contributions to the Latinx community. She has been nationally selected as a faculty fellow with the Rutgers Graduate School of Education’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

She hails from a historically underserved area of San Antonio and is a first-generation college student, who grew up in a low-income household. To give back to her South Texas community, she has served as the co-founder of Colegio en Nuestra Comunidad, which is an annual citywide college fair that promotes college access to low-income neighborhoods within San Antonio, Texas. She holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Higher Education from UTSA, a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with an emphasis in Higher Education Administration from UTSA, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio.