Focuses on challenges, solutions for students, faculty
Alex Greene found a doorway out of his crime-ridden neighborhood in Atlanta and has an inspiring story to tell about overcoming adversity and poverty. He graduated No. 2 in his high school class, earned a Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship and graduated from Stetson in December 2016 — the first in his family — with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He hopes to attend graduate school and work for the FBI.
Greene is an anomaly. According to one study by the U.S. Department of Education, just 12.6 percent of African-Americans of low socioeconomic status earn a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Such a disparity has fueled a movement for social justice in education that Greene’s mentor, Stetson Associate Professor of Education Rajni Shankar-Brown, Ph.D., has made her life’s work. Shankar-Brown teaches Stetson students about the need for social justice in education and the vast inequities borne by students of color and in poverty. Also, she brings children from a high-poverty elementary school in DeLand to Stetson each year, encouraging them to excel in school, be positive change agents and build a better world.
Greene and Shankar-Brown are among the many Hatters with real struggles, with potential solutions and with incredible energy. During a time when diversity and inclusion are concerns at the forefront of the finest universities nationwide, each is proving to have a voice and a vision.
They and others are among the highlights of the Winter 2017 edition of Stetson University Magazine, which is dedicated to diversity, inclusion, respect and equity.
Patrick Coggins, Ph.D., chair of the university’s Faculty Senate and a professor in the Department of Education, grew up in a society where all people were valued and encouraged to be inclusive. Born in Guyana, he uses his life experiences, along with his extensive academic background, to make students more aware of their worldviews and how those views impact others around them.
Huyen Le was about to become a statistic. In Stetson’s voluminous Campus Climate Study unveiled in fall 2016, among the revelations were disproportionate struggles by students during their first year on campus. In fall 2014, Le was one of them and, in the midst of only her first semester, was almost ready to transfer.
Today, largely thanks to SU First Peer Mentor Program for first-generation college students at the Cross Cultural Center on Stetson’s DeLand campus, Le has emerged as a leader and is now president of Stetson’s Asian Pacific American Coalition.
“There must be continual advancement,” wrote Stetson University President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., in her welcome message. Paraphrasing Martin Luther King Jr., she added that the “arc bending toward justice cannot be too long, or progress will not be felt.”
Another featured article reveals that three Stetson alumni debuted in fall 2016 at top opera houses worldwide in what School of Music Dean Tom Masse, D.M.A., described as a “remarkable” first.
View the digital version of the four-color, 68-page magazine here.