The Cato College of Education has joined the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) Holmes Scholars Program and selected two doctoral students, Stephanie Jones-Fosu and Deondra Gladney, as UNC Charlotte’s first recipients.
The Holmes Scholars Program promotes diversity within the academic community by supporting historically underrepresented students pursuing careers in education. As scholars, Jones-Fosu and Gladney are provided funding for school, mentored by esteemed faculty, and receive professional networking opportunities on a national level.
“Being a Holmes Scholar means creating pathways that have been traditionally closed to many underrepresented groups at this educational level through training, building professional networks, and placing students in positions that will support their futures,” said Gladney.
As a first generation college student and a third year member of the doctoral program, Gladney specializes in Special Education and Early Childhood Development. With a professional goal of a tenure-track faculty at a university, she focuses her research around culturally responsive social skills instruction. She hopes to establish a teaching framework that can benefit instructors and African American students.
Jones-Fosu shares a concern for preparing teachers to serve marginalized students. As a second year member of the doctoral program, she researches how to better equip pre-service teachers entering urban school districts and how to promote cultural sustainability. Jones-Fosu also plans to pursue a tenure track position at a university.
The Holmes Scholars Program recognizes the professional underrepresentation within academia of those with culturally diverse backgrounds, especially racial, ethnic and linguistic minorities. As such, it is devoted to diversifying the teaching workforce by equipping students like Jones-Fosu and Gladney with the skills and experience needed to thrive in higher education. The program offers workshops such as dissertation boot camp and interview training during conferences organized exclusively for Holmes scholars.
As representatives of UNC Charlotte, both students attend national conferences like the AACTE conference which allow them to network with faculty in higher education from across the country. Through these engagements, Gladney and Jones-Fosu developed bonds that support their doctoral journeys.
“These interpersonal relationships truly help me envision myself within higher education when I begin to doubt my journey,” said Gladney. “They have humanized this process in a way that gives me confidence in my ability to thrive someday in this educational environment.”
With this support, both students have had exceptional opportunities to pursue their research interests alongside other Holmes scholars, as Jones-Fosu joined in collaboration with other members of the program from the University of Central Florida.
“The Holmes' Scholar program affords me the opportunity to be a voice for underrepresented graduate students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds,” said Gladney.
by: Anna Henderson