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Creating Safe Spaces for Black Students – Dr. Lauren Mims

Creating Safe Spaces for Black Students - Dr. Lauren Mims

For Dr. Lauren Christine Mims, few challenges are more important in public education than creating spaces for Black students to flourish and thrive.

“I’m less interested in preparing Black children for this world if we are not also preparing the world for the Black children,” says Mims, assistant professor of applied psychology at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University.

For Mims, that means dismantling biased systems that stereotype Black students as behavioral problems rather than recognize their resilience in the face of racism and tap into their innate brilliance.

Mims says the work is particularly crucial for Black girls, who are at the heart of her research agenda.

Colleagues and students hail Mims for shifting the focus away from viewing Black students, parents, and families through a deficit lens.

 

“Her groundbreaking work in the field of psychology is reshaping the narrative by highlighting the strengths and daily experiences of Black families and bringing a much-needed focus to the experiences of Black girls,” says Elisha Arnold, who has Mims as her graduate advisor at NYU.

Natalie H. Brito, an associate professor of applied psychology, also at NYU, shared similar observations.

“Dr. Mims is pushing the field to conceptualize Black homes as a conduit for positive growth, learning, and development by acknowledging the unique skill set and contributions Black parents provide to ensure that their children learn and thrive,” Brito says.

Much of the language that Mims uses in her research is about liberation for Black students. She espouses creative problem solving in what she refers to as “fugitive spaces,” where students discuss systems of oppression – and community strengths – as a part of the creative process.

She says the goal of her research is to help Black students to “freedom dream,” a term inspired by Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, a 2002 book by Dr. Robin D.G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History at UCLA.

 

To get a sense of what freedom dreaming looks like in action, consider a recent visit Mims made to a middle school in Richmond, Virginia, as part of “Freedom Dreaming and Dreamkeeping with Black Girls,” a course she developed for Black middle school girls with a small grant from NYU.

“I gave them a big, huge piece of white butcher paper that goes across the table, and they just wrote all of the dreams that they had,” Mims recounts. “They wanted mental health professionals and counselors that were Black and understood what it meant to be Black. They wanted teachers to talk about Black joy in the classroom and not just Black pain or slavery. They wanted spaces where they could just see themselves and just laugh and be joyful during the school day.”

The freedom dreaming that Mims does with students began in Fairfax, Virginia, where she grew up as the daughter of a librarian mother and a lawyer father. One of her fondest memories is of getting books from the library with her family and then discussing them in the living room.

“I was able to dream out loud,” Mims recalls. “And I think these spaces that allow children to dream out loud, they’re just so important.”

Mims attributes much of her career success to the late Elijah Cummings, the longtime U.S. Congressman from Maryland. Specifically, it was a 2013 keynote speech that Cummings gave for the Black Policy Conference held at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. Mims was working on her master’s degree in child development at Tufts University at the time.

“He said wherever you are, you need to be the best,” Mims recalls. That philosophy, Mims says, enabled her to go from being an intern within the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans during the Obama Administration to becoming assistant director of the initiative.

 

“I wanted to be the best intern I could be,” Mims says, explaining how, when she wrote a policy memo, she would include talking points. She would also look at the director’s calendar and assign herself work to support upcoming events.

“For me it was really trying to be the best in that role,” Mims says. She knew the work paid off, she says, when others began to say: “You are an invaluable member of the team.” 

 

#BlackEducation #InclusiveSpaces #Growth #Diverse #Learning #Education #Equity #Empowering #Communities #BlackExcellence #CreativeProblemSolving #EducationForAll #DreamBig #EducationalEquality

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Greetings, Illustrious Scholars! (And yes, that means you!)

Dear Students,

As Student Success Coaches, we would like to take this opportunity to reach out and communicate with you directly. We understand that your academic journey can be challenging, but please know that we are here to support you every step of the way.

We want to remind you that your success is our top priority. We are here to provide you with guidance, resources, and support to help you achieve your academic goals. Whether you need assistance with time management, study skills, or navigating the university, we are here to help.

It is important to remember that you are not alone in this journey. For this reason we have created this entry to provide you with a direct message and to be able to contact us more directly. We hope you enjoy.

Student Success Coaches

Greetings, Illustrious Scholars! (And yes, that means you!)

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I don’t know about you, but January seemed to Zoom by for me. Now, as we dive into February, a month celebrating both Black history and love, I’m ready to kick things off with a dual challenge for each of you.

First challenge? Strive for excellence. In our pursuit of greatness, we pay homage to the melanated scholars who paved the way for equal educational rights. We’re standing on the shoulders of trailblazers like Mary McLeod Bethune, a total powerhouse from back in the day. Born in 1875, she was all about education, civil rights, and breaking barriers. Imagine her fighting for the freedom to learn and founding the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls in 1904 – the roots of Bethune-Cookman University. Now, that’s a legacy worth honoring. Let’s channel that energy into reaching new heights in our own educational journeys.

Seek help when needed. Whether it’s tackling a tricky assignment or needing some advice, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are building your future, so every assignment is a building block, and every class is a stepping stone.

Now, onto the second challenge, and this one may be harder than the first. Strive to be kind. Extend kindness not only to those close to you but to everyone who crosses your path. It gets easier to be kind when we suspend judgment. In the wise words of Ted Lasso, “Be curious, not judgmental.” Often, we think we objectively understand others, but in reality, our knowledge is limited. This month let’s make our forefathers proud. Be curious, ask questions instead of passing judgments, and choose kindness above all. Remember, you’re not only scholars but contributors to a culture of understanding and compassion. Choose to be kind. It has the power to transform our environment and uplift those around us.

Wishing you all an inspiring and fulfilling month of growth, curiosity, and kindness. Strive for excellence, stay focused, and embrace the spirit of love and learning.

Ndala M. Booker, Ed.D.

Chief Student Success Officer

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Here’s how AI is driving equity in Higher Education

Here’s how AI is driving equity in Higher Education

In the pursuit of creating a level playing field in education, Dr. Vistasp Karbhari, a Complete College America Fellow and a member of UT Arlington’s team, alongside leaders like Audrey Ellis, the founder of T3 Advisory, have spearheaded initiatives to promote fairness. Central to their efforts is the development of an AI playbook and a comprehensive paper dedicated to fairness in education. Their collaboration with Complete College America has been instrumental in making these endeavours possible.

The Ideation of Equity in Education

In this paper on fairness, Dr. Vistasp Karbhari and Audrey Ellis introduce a groundbreaking concept: The Complete College America Council on Equitable AI in Higher Education. The council aims to amplify the voices of individuals from diverse backgrounds in education, particularly those often overlooked in discussions about policies, products, and funding for post-secondary education. Their vision includes forging partnerships with major tech companies to ensure that educational institutions, which typically miss out on opportunities when new technologies emerge, are granted equitable access.

The AI playbook translates their vision into immediate action. It offers colleges and universities invaluable insights and practical applications for harnessing the power of AI to enhance college opportunities and boost completion rates. The playbook delineates actionable steps in three critical areas: organizational effectiveness, teaching and learning, and the student experience. It also provides user-friendly prompts for leveraging dynamic AI chatbot technology.

Bridging the Access Gap

The core objective is to empower institutions to transform AI solutions into reality, both in the present and the future. Dr. Vistasp Karbhari emphasizes the critical need for all educational institutions to have access to the right technology, expertise, and financial resources required to effectively implement dynamic AI. This concerted effort is aimed at maximizing the potential of these tools and addressing disparities in access and achievement.

Audrey Ellis underscores the practicality of the playbook and equity paper, equipping higher education professionals with tangible tools to accelerate equity and graduation rates within their institutions. Through the judicious implementation of AI, colleges and faculties can revolutionize their establishments and elevate the academic journey of their students.

Complete College America, known for its forward-thinking approach, introduced the CCA Tech Approval Seal in 2016. This initiative acknowledges unique software solutions that bolster Game Changer tactics for student success and graduation.

AI’s Transformative Role in Higher Education

In an ever-evolving landscape of higher education, AI tools have emerged as indispensable assets. They enable educational institutions to leverage technology for inclusivity, equal opportunity provision, and enhanced student success. The collaborative efforts behind the playbook and equity paper signal a commitment to harness the potential of AI to drive holistic improvements in higher education.

In conclusion, Dr. Vistasp Karbhari, Audrey Ellis, and Complete College America have embarked on a journey to reshape the future of education by promoting fairness and inclusivity through AI. Their work is not only visionary but also equipped with practical tools and strategies to catalyze positive change in higher education.

 

#FocusQuest #EquitableEducation #AI #Education #HigherEdInnovation #Tech #DiverseVoices #StudentSuccess #TransformativeAI #Inclusive #Future #Equality

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