Mia Ocean, MSW, PhD

Mia Ocean


  • AA, Psychology: Palm Beach Community College
  • BA, Psychology: University of West Florida
  • MSW: University of Michigan
  • PhD, Social Work and Sociology: Boston University

Main areas of interest

  • Access and equity in higher education
  • Anti-oppressive, participatory qualitative research
  • Applied research to enact structural and systemic change


After working as a social worker for over 15 years, I decided to pursue my doctorate. I was accepted with a full scholarship to Boston University. At the time, I worked at a community college in south Florida. My colleagues, the students, and I celebrated my full scholarship as if we were all accepted. A colleague said to me, "This is not about you anymore. This is bigger than you." They were right.

I was entering a new space in academia on behalf of a community. This perspective continues to inform my work. Beyond the long game of equitable policy change, I seek a more immediate practical change and to create opportunities for others, who might not consider themselves scholars, to engage in research.

Select Publications

  • Ocean, M. (2021). Telework during COVID-19: Exposing ableism in U.S. higher education. Disability & Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2021.1919505
  • Corle, T., Ocean, M., Spencer, E., Saboe, M., Condliffe, S., & Hazen, K. (2021). Beyond hierarchies: An anti-oppressive community college and university research collaboration. Journal of Community College Research and Practice. https://doi.org/10.1080/10668926.2021.1920069
  • Ocean, M. & Hicks, K. (2021). A qualitative description investigation of quantitative datasets in U.S. higher education. The Qualitative Report, 26(3), 696-713. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2021.4397
  • Ocean, M. (2021). Academically eligible and ineligible Pell Grant community college students: A qualitative investigation. Community College Review. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0091552120982010
  • Ocean, M., McLaughlin, J. A., & Hodes, J. (2020). "We take EVERYONE": Perceptions of external assessment and accountability at the community college. Community College Journal of Research and Practice. https://doi.org/10.1080/10668926.2020.1841041
  • Ocean, M., Mohr, J., Parker, A., Barbatis, P. R., Woods, K., Tigertail, K., & Keller, J. (2020). An inclusive research method for the open door college: Valuing the perceptions of the college community. Community College Journal of Research and Practice. doi: 10.1080/10668926.2020.1731630

Select Presentations

  • Vazquez, E. & Ocean, M. (2021, June). Qualitative description research in a post-truth era: Community engagement, empowerment, and healing. Ethnographic & Qualitative Research Conference, Virtual.
  • Ocean, M., Montgomery, R., Borelli, J., Hicks, K., & Jamison, Z. (2021, May). "Should I tell them…": Exploring levels of trust and loyalty in interracial and inter-constituency groups in Participatory Action Research. International Conference on Practice Research, Melbourne, Australia, Virtual.
  • Ocean, M., Spencer, E., M., Saboe, M., Condliffe, S., & Hazen, K. (2021, January). Fostering equity through educational, financial, and geographic access: A rural community college typology. The Qualitative Report Annual Conference, Virtual.

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