Meet our Summer 2015 Interns

Bakar Ali, NYU

Bakar Ali, NYU

             Bakar Ali is a Masters of Public Administration student at Robert F.Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. He did his undergraduate studies at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, where he double majored in Urban and Community Studies and International Studies. He also minored in Political Science. Bakar is a recognized student leader. He currently serves as the President of Wagner Student Association at NYU. He is a member of Global Partnership on Children with Disability Youth Council advocating for the right of children with disabilities. In addition, he is a fellow of NYU Social Sector Leadership Diversity. He believes “you must be the change you wish to see in the world”. Bakar served in AmeriCorps working with homeless youth and refugees. His public service and outstanding leadership has been recognized with various awards including the Distinguished Public Service Award, the Newman Civic Fellow, and a New York State Senate Resolution. Bakar has a strong interest in community advocacy and access to opportunities for minority students and students with disabilities. While interning with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, he will be focusing on increasing engagement in global education and international experiences for African American students.

Travis Davis, UMASS

Travis Davis, UMASS

               Travis Davis, a native of Mobile, Alabama, is an alumnus of Saint Paul’s Episcopal School. In his collegiate career, he studied at Morehouse College, Bishop State Community College, and the University of South Alabama. Travis is currently a Master’s of Education candidate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His concentration is in Social Justice Education, focusing on African American history, the intersections of color, gender, and class within that history, and how these marginalized identities continue to impact access to equitable educational experiences today. Some past research projects he has been a part of include examining the dynamics between Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray written about in Trading Twelves, a Voting Rights Act documentary aimed at Black high school youth in the Mobile County Public School System, and a study concentrating on the significance of Black student achievement in Mobile County across class, gender, and generational identities. Travis is also currently an Assistant Resident Director at UMass-Amherst, where he resides with his family. He is an avid reader and credits Toni Morrison as his favorite writer. Travis is a committed fan of the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide football team, and his personal hero is Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior.

Annice Fisher, Harvard

Annice Fisher, Harvard

                Annice Fisher is a doctoral student in the Doctor of Educational Leadership program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She received her Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and her Master of Education degree from Iowa State University. At Harvard, Annice focuses her work on building a stronger secondary to postsecondary pipeline and whole school differentiated approaches to high school success and college readiness. Annice is working with the Public Education Leadership Project (PELP) and with a K-12 and K-8 school on designing curriculum around high school success and college readiness. She has consulted with the Boston Public School District and the New York City Department of Education. For ten years as a university administrator, she created innovative academic interventions, campus-wide retention approaches, and multicultural competence initiatives for students, faculty, and staff. From 2013-2015, Annice served as the NASPA national co-chair for the African American Knowledge Community. She has also led community-based educational programs for African American youth. Annice’s simultaneous engagement in higher education and the community sparked her passion to build a stronger P-20 educational pipeline—where regardless of demography, students are academically and socially prepared to reach their highest potential.

Courtney Gilmore, Columbia

Courtney Gilmore, Columbia

                Courtney S. Gilmore is a native of Gainesville, Florida. Courtney received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Florida with a double major in Criminology & Law and Sociology. After interning with the National Crime Prevention Council in Crystal City, Washington, D.C. and the Public Defender’s Office of the 8th Judicial Circuit, she has made a concerted effort to engage in the field of education with the intent to dismantle the school to prison pipeline that further perpetuates the mass incarceration issue within the United States prison system. Courtney is currently a Master’s candidate in Education Policy at Teacher’s College, Columbia University, specializing in K-12 education policy with a concentration on the disproportionate effect of school discipline policies on students of color. Through her studies, she elects to further analyze the impact of school discipline policies on the educational trajectories of Black girls, and to provide concrete policy recommendations for federal, state and local policies, to ensure that every Black girl will have an opportunity to a quality and equitable education. All in all, her topical interests include the following: educational policy, school to prison pipeline, equity, school discipline and mass incarceration.

Alaena Hicks, Grand Valley University

Alaena Hicks, Grand Valley University

               Alaena J. Hicks was born in San Antonio, Texas, and raised in Detroit, Michigan, where she graduated from University Prep Science and Math High School in June 2014. A first generation college student, Alaena is now a rising sophomore at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. Throughout her teenage years, Alaena served as a youth role model at the Leland Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit where her active leadership sparked her interest to learn more about how faith can influence both the community and public policy. Over the past two years, Alaena fulfilled two internships—the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where she shadowed the careers of the employees; and Project Healthy Schools, where she served as a student teacher to promote healthy habits and to reduce obesity of American youth. Her future goals are to educate, counsel, and mentor children on life skills that can impact their lives for the better. Alaena Hicks is the proud daughter of a mother who has worked for the federal government for more than 25 years and a father who is a retired Iraq War veteran, serving more than 25 years in the United States Air Force.

 

Lauren Mims, UVA

Lauren Mims, UVA

                Lauren Mims is a second year Institute of Education Sciences pre-doctoral fellow in the Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Sciences program at the University of Virginia. Lauren obtained a B.A. in English and Psychology from the University of Virginia in 2012 and a M.A. in Child Development from Tufts University in 2014. As a Masters student, Lauren developed, implemented, and evaluated an eight-week intervention, Girls Rising Above Circumstances to Excel (GRACE), that improved psychological and educational outcomes for black girls in the 10th and 11th grades with a 2.0 grade point average or below. Lauren is passionate about researching and implementing successful education reform strategies that promote positive youth development and enhance educational opportunities for African American youth from preschool through higher education.

#AfAmEdChat Discusses President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative

This Thursday, from March 20, 2014 from 12-1pm EST the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans will host its next installment of #AfAmEdChat.  This edition will focus on President Obama’s new #MyBrothersKeeper initiative. “By increasing awareness of the President’s initiative My Brother’s Keeper we can each take concrete steps to reduce the barriers that race and poverty play in denying equality of opportunity” shares Deputy Secretary of Education, Jim Shelton.My Brothers Keeper

The March 20th #AfAmEdChat is one of a series of strategies the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans is using to bring people together around issues and ideas supporting the achievement of boys and men of color. Deputy Secretary Shelton notes “Social media is the fastest and easiest way to spark discussion and exchange ideas.  Conversations about race and poverty are often difficult to have face to face and are often therefore avoided.” President Obama reminded us during the launch of My Brother’s Keeper, and Shelton adds “the unique challenges facing boys and men of color should never be swept under the rug.”

According to Deputy Secretary Shelton,  “folks should tune into the My Brother’s Keeper #AfAmEdChat to stay in touch with the latest details and help move the conversation forward. We will be sharing information regarding our process and next steps as well as ways for you to be involved and updated in this critical work.”  In addition to White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans Executive Director David J. Johns and Policy Advisor Christopher Scott confirmed guests include:

Mike Blake – Green For All – Director of Public Policy & External Affairs & Operation Hope – Senior Advisor- @MrMikeBlake
Mary Brown – Executive Director, Life Pieces to Masterpieces– @LP2MP
Christopher Chatmon – Executive Director, African American Male Achievement, Oakland Unified School District- @AAMAOUSD
Shawn Dove – Manager of Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement – @DoveSoars
Angela Glover-Blackwell – Founder and Chief Executive Officers, PolicyLink – @policylink
Shaun Harper – Executive Director, Center for the Study of Race & Equity in Education at University of Pennsylvania- @DrShaunHarper

Additionally, to support the work of My Brothers Keeper, the Initiative is hosting a series of Summits on Educational Excellence for African Americans in cities across the Nation to directly engage young people, schools, communities, philanthropy and businesses interested in implementing successful strategies.   To learn more and to register for a Summit near you visit www.ed.gov/AfAmEducation

Khalilah Harris is a fellow with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans. She is an education program and policy advisor, attorney and a doctoral student at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.

#AfAmEdChat Twitter Virtual Roundtables Commemorate American Education Week 2013

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans hosted a weeklong series of virtual roundtables November 18th – 22nd, using the Twitter platform to commemorate American Education Week.  Executive Director David J. Johns engaged national experts in discussions of key educational issues.  The series was designed to increase awareness about the efforts of the President, the US Department of Education, and the Initiative to advance educational excellence for African Americans.  It also provided a platform for guests and participants to discuss issues and share or propose solutions.  Finally, the series served as an opportunity to test the Initiative’s plans to use social media to increase community engagement in 2014. 

Chat Summaries

Monday
http://storify.com/AfAmEducation/afamedchat-kicks-off-american-education-week 
Tuesday
http://storify.com/AfAmEducation/tuesday-nov-19th-afamedchat-picks-up-steam
Wednesday
http://storify.com/AfAmEducation/wed-nov-20-afamedchat-on-black-male-achievement
Thursday
http://storify.com/AfAmEducation/afamedchat-thur-nov-21-2013-those-who-can-teach
Friday
http://storify.com/AfAmEducation/opportunity-gaps-facts-myths-and-possibilities

The Initiative hosted a special recap to bring together major themes from the previous week and call attention to strategies for moving forward with suggestions from guests and the community.
RECAP (Tuesday, Nov. 26th) – http://storify.com/AfAmEducation/afamedchat-recap-guests-reflect-on-moving-forward

Khalilah Harris is a Fellow with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans. She is an education program and policy consultant, attorney and a doctoral student at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education in Educational Leadership & Organizational Development.