Emily Curtis, Ed.D, is an outstanding alumna from the College of Education, and a strong supporter of the OSDI (formerly OMRR) mission. Emily was invited to talk about her academic and personal experience as a student at the College of Education, and as an ally of our office.
Emily, thank you for accepting the OSDI (formerly OMRR) invitation to talk with us. To get us started, can you tell us about your program, area of interest and advisor?
Wonderful Dr. Manka Varghese was my advisor in Curriculum and Instruction, area of Language, Literacy and Culture, where my interest was in linguistic diversity and language in education, especially in teacher education.
Emily, what you are doing at the moment?
I am wrapping up publications and looking forward to doing applications for teaching and research positions in higher education or similar. I am also doing some very interesting outreach on language diversity and consulting on cross-cultural discourse, and hope to do some teaching in the winter and spring!
Interesting paths you are taking now. In relation to your previous question, how did the CoE prepare you for your professional career?
My grad work in the CoE gave me such an amazing new perspective on what and how I had learned about diversity and language and about how others may think about language throughout the education system and society at large. It greatly motivated me to do my part in building a more equitable and multi-culturally and –linguistically aware education system and society. I learned so much every day on so many levels: from Educational Psychology concepts of how and what people learn, to history of education and teacher education classes’ understandings of the educational system and varied policy and political viewpoints. Educational Leadership classes provided a wider view of equity and the system. Also Inquiry series, and doctoral seminars trained us up on the many ways we can contribute, and the presence of stellar research centers was also constantly inspiring.
How was your experience being a student of a marginalized group?
Part of it may be my personality, but I simply didn’t feel marginalized in the CoE. In the CoE, you are surrounded by research and discussion of equity and a focus on how learning works and how education can work best for ALL students, so it was here that I encountered theoretical as well as interpersonal approaches to Welcome. Everyone was warm and genuinely concerned and caring. My focus was in inter-cultural relations (and learning) and linguistic diversity, so I was especially able to work with charming, bright and intentional people. I deeply hope that others from historically marginalized groups feel the same welcome and engagement.
Why is the CoE a good place for students of color, international standing, or any other marginalized group?
For the reasons mentioned before, it is a good place—because it is a community of scholars and good people dedicated to understanding and equity in education and learning, which are central to our societies. We are all striving to make a big system work for increasingly diverse communities, recognizing and deeply understanding differences and their significance for learning and for individuals’ contributions and good life. Of course there is always more to do and more to learn, but that is everyone’s shared goal in the CoE, so concerns and ideas about equity and inclusion are welcomed and explored. How amazing to have fellow students and teachers who were diverse in age, gender, sexual orientation, language and cultural background, ethnicity, ability and other perspectives.
Finally, what advice do you have for prospective and current students at the CoE?
Don’t be shy, and fight the busy-ness of grad work! Be social, make your voice heard, and delve deeply into the fabulous learning experience to be had in the CoE! We will all be richer for it.
Thank you very much for sharing your ideas, and for sending these great messages to both students, current and prospective students, and to all the College of Education and University of Washington family.