By Samuel García Jr.
Doctoral Student, School Improvement
One of the many blessings of being a doctoral student is the opportunity to travel. There are numerous educational and professional development conferences that are hosted throughout the year and we have the opportunity to attend several due the financial support of our institution. My wife and I are both doctoral students in the Ph.D. School Improvement program and have benefited from both the Education Department and the university’s commitment to providing rich learning experiences for their graduate students. Similar to the last two years, we attended the University Council for Educational Administration’s annual conference with our young daughter Sofia. It is extremely humbling to share these incredible learning experiences with your family. Being afforded the opportunity to travel to conferences has allowed us to travel as a family, immerse ourselves in great learning experiences, and meet passionate people committed to social and community change.
This year’s UCEA convention was hosted in the nation’s capital city, Washington, D.C. In light of the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the theme of the convention was, Righting Civil Wrongs: Education for Racial Justice and Human Rights. This year the experience was extra special and humbling to me. First, I was selected and nominated by the School Improvement doctoral faculty as one of two people from my program to participate in the prestigious UCEA Barbara Jackson Scholar Network. The Jackson Scholar Network is intended to provide support to graduate students of color who have the aspirations of pursuing the professoriate. Secondly, my parents flew from the Rio Grande Valley to share this experience. It was a blessing to share this tremendous honor with them.
We had the privilege of convening a paper session and presenting several films that we edited that focused on issues of equity, empowerment, and collective action. We also had the privilege of establishing relationships with people who are deeply invested in educational and community change. Although we are still processing the events, we strongly feel that our experiences have served to further inspire and sustain our sense of social and moral obligation of serving others and advocating for educational and community change.
For more information on the Jackson Scholars Program, please see: http://www.ucea.org/graduate-student-opportunities/jackson-scholars-program/2015-call-nominations-scholars/