Poised for change
The college forges bold new paths for children, students, community
Fifty-five years ago, Sam Cooke penned a song of enduring hope. A Change is Gonna Come was his magnificent response to the discrimination his band faced in the 1960s.
In the years since, change has come, if in fits and starts.
We at the college have spent decades pushing for equity, perfecting pedagogy, tackling societal issues such as malnutrition, mental health, financial well-being and the need for early childhood education. But our journey continues.
When bestselling author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates spoke at the college’s inaugural Olivia J. Hooker Distinguished Diversity Lecture in February, he talked about how he balanced the culture of West Baltimore’s streets with the realities of getting an education. To cope, he learned to code-switch, or speak different “languages” in different settings.
“Before I could discover, before I could escape, I had to survive,” he wrote.
Navigating two worlds, often harsh ones, is reality for many. Coming from a family of 12 children — with eight sisters and three brothers — I can relate to this experience.
Too many children do not have the hope of bettering their circumstances by going to college. Too many families find themselves on the outside of privilege, without nearby grocery stores or transportation or mental health resources. Too many people, desperate for employment or validation, look for refuge in opioid drugs as a coping strategy.
I believe that the most important dependent variable to success is education. We need teachers, mentors and professionals who can insert themselves into the psyche of our youth, understand them and get them to see their unlimited worth. Only then can we teach them to tap into their most creative selves, enhance their personal and professional experiences and work together to transform our communities. The college is pressing forward, working to create impactful change. We are increasing the diversity of our staff and professorate to more accurately reflect students in schools and in our communities. We are not only doubling down on solutions for urban students, but also for those in rural schools, who face similar socio-economic barriers.
We are building relationships with districts, educators and leaders across the state, and working to provide early childhood education we know is so critical to success. And because too many Ohioans need first to survive, we are researching and partnering with the community to help families find economic stability, health and well-being.
In every child we seek to plant new seeds of hope. Our mission is to nourish them and wait for new possibilities to emerge as we cultivate and support our students.
Change is gonna come.