The Kremen School of Education and Human Development has created a promising new initiative, The Student Equity Scholar Award program, to help support Kremen students at all levels and blend activism and robust community service into their educational journey. This initiative is intended to assist four students at the Undergraduate, Credential, Masters, and Doctoral levels, allowing the selected students to integrate issues of equity and social justice within their studies during the 2022-23 academic year. We are excited to feature one of the Kremen Student Equity Scholar Award recipients, Brandon Gridiron. He is currently enrolled in the Doctoral Program for Educational Leadership.
Brandon was inspired to pursue his field of interest based on his passion of fighting for social justice and civil unrest. As a professional, he wants to be a voice of change and use education as that vessel of change. He recognizes that the fight for injustice involves everyone and that we must be unapologetic for fair and ethical treatment of others. Brandon wants to bring a sense of urgency to this issue, noting that education has failed in its attempts to encourage social justice and civil rights awareness.
Brandon’s personal experiences deeply ingrained these feelings that have driven his educational and professional pursuits. He grew up in a single family home that was dominated by poverty, gangs, and violence. He was not supposed to have any chance at success. Fortunately, his mother and other positive role models in his life gave him the encouragement, love, and support needed to prove society wrong about his life direction. Instead of the educational system helping people like him, he felt it was blocking his road to success.
As a result of his experiences, Brandon decided to engage in social justice advocacy work. His motivation is driven by his desire to provide a better environment and learning experiences for his own children. He’s used his role to create a student inclusivity task force and youth-led equity forum that allow our youth to be at the center of social action to help drive change. This resulted in the high schools in his district to create youth-led equity forums focused on engaging in civil discourse to create inclusive environments, remove barriers, and create equitable outcomes for all students.
Brandon is devoting his final year at Fresno State to understanding how African American students in the Valley experience belonging, connection, and engagement in the high school setting and the influence culturally engaging campus environments have on their experiences. He believes that if campuses are more open and acceptable to students, then they will be more successful.
In order to address his concerns and field interests, Brandon will conduct a study that addresses how African American students deal with these challenges in the education system. His hope is that understanding the factors based off of the survey will help improve the educational experience for students of color. More specifically, he hopes to uncover a way to measure how culturally engaging K-12 campuses are for students.
Brandon expects to complete a dissertation in May, 2023. He wants to have a fully developed framework for measuring K-12 campuses for cultural engagement, and to have enough data and info available to measure the success of African American students in the Valley. Brandon’s research includes creating more culturally engaging campus environments in K-12 schools.
The fruition of the Kremen Student Equity Scholars and Kremen Equity Fellow Initiative represents an explicit way to continue meeting the aims outlined in Kremen’s mission, vision, and goals by: a) preparing students to be agile change agents who will work in racial, ethnic, and linguistically diverse communities and b) connecting community partners with student scholars who can lend support to navigating real-world complexities through the tools of research.
Each of this year’s selected Equity Scholars will be provided with tuition support (up to $7,000) for one academic year. In return, the recipients are expected to engage in community service or partnership outreach. They may also participate in research connected with their studies to address a specific issue of inequity or social justice in the local community.
(Written by Jason Smithberg, Communications Specialist, Kremen)