Michelle Burris: M.A., Politics & Education

– I was the first African
American volunteer in my Peace Corps service in Rwanda. Many people in my community had never seen an African American before, nor did they know that Black
Americans existed in America. So, I developed a curriculum to teach about racial diversity and social justice, but also so my other
Peace Corps colleagues can use it as a resource
when teaching their students. For my last year at TC I
did a Zankel Fellowship at Truman High School; it
was called the Sankofa Club, also known as the African Club. I used this curriculum to
really have uncomfortable and just really to spark
conversations about racial diversity and social justice, empower students to get involved, and to care about different issues. Being a research assistant in the Government Relations Office with the Director Matthew Camp really inspired me to advocate. So here at TC for two years, I
did voter registration drive, went to Washington DC, to Albany, to advocate for student aid. We also put on social justice events about food justice, racial
justice, economic justice. So, I would describe my TC experience as transformative and fulfilling. I learned how to connect, and how to transform
the lives of students. At other graduate schools sometimes, you may only get the policy aspect of it, or the theoretical standpoint of it. I was able to get the
policy and the practice. So, I didn’t just learn in the classroom, but I was able implement and execute everything that I learned
at TC into a classroom at Truman High School, and also during my
Congressional Fellowship. And so, Teachers College
has transformed my thinking. It’s been a great fulfilling experience, and I hope to carry it
with me wherever I go. Ideally, I want to carry
it to congress, and maybe the White House one day. (upbeat music)

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