As a member of the inaugural class of Wilson Scholars, I have used my college career to pursue new cultural and educational experiences. I have changed my major several times but finally decided on a major in political science with a minor in sociology. In the future, I hope to use this degree to enter the field of education policy and education reform, specifically working to ensure equitable educational experiences for students of color and low-income students in the American public education system.
At Appalachian State University, I’ve been a part of many organizations and programs which have impacted the development of my professional skills and leadership abilities, in addition to increasing my commitment to social justice and education. On campus, I’ve been involved with the Appalachian & the Community Together impACT team and Dance Marathon committee, the Alternative Service Experience program as a participant and a program leader, the Linking Education and Diversity program as a mentor and orientation guide, and Sustained Dialogue at Appalachian as a dialogue leader. Each of these experiences and organizations has enriched my experience at Appalachian State, taught me more about being a student leader, and further developed my understanding of being an engaged citizen.
Academically, my career at Appalachian State has allowed me to engage in a global education and expand my focus to new topics and ideas daily. On top of my political science and sociology courses, I’ve had the opportunity to take classes through the College of Education, the History Department, and courses in fields like Philosophy and Global Studies. I’ve also been able to take several study abroad courses, traveling to Paris, Guatemala, and Oaxaca, Mexico, to not only experience new cultures and places, but to study national identities, immigration crises, broad social justice topics, and to assist a community in providing a better education for their students.
Most importantly, the Wilson Scholarship and my time at Appalachian has given me chances to engage with projects and organizations first-hand which have further prepared me to be a change-agent in my communities. During the summers of 2015 and 2016, I worked as a Servant Leader Intern with Freedom Schools in Charlotte, North Carolina. This meant I spent six weeks as a teacher with a class of students, leading a culturally-relevant literacy curriculum in order to reduce summer learning loss and achievement gaps and build my scholars’ confidence, social skills, and sense of empowerment. I traveled to the Clinton Global Initiative University conference with fellow Wilson Scholar, Juliet Irving, to gain insight into the planning for a program we implemented together, the City to Mountains Student Exchange. During the fall of 2016, I worked two internships in Washington, D.C., one with the Sustained Dialogue Institute and the other with the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. At SDI, I worked with staff in developing and carrying out projects that assisted its Sustained Dialogue Campus Network in trainings and diversity work, as well as event planning for the National Dialogue Awards, which honored U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With the Senate HELP Committee, I attended policy briefings and wrote memos, assisted in research of education policies and worked with staff members on regulation recommendations for current education reforms.
All in all, my experience at Appalachian has contributed extensively to my personal, professional, and academic growth as a leader in my community and an advocate for many causes. The support provided to me through the Wilson Scholars Program has made so many amazing opportunities available to me that wouldn’t have been otherwise, and I can, without a doubt, say that becoming a Wilson Scholar at Appalachian State has changed my life.