School of Education promotes Inclusive Excellence with Students of Color Reception
by Emma McKay
For the Morgridge College of Education, diversity means more than just a number of minority students – it means a higher quality education. That’s why the school held its third annual Students of Color reception last Friday evening in an effort to promote inclusive excellence in all of its higher education and teacher training programs.
The reception, which was held in Ruffato Hall and gathered approximately 40 professors, current and prospective students, was meant to inform prospective students of why inclusive excellence is important to Morgridge, and also to give them a taste of what the Morgridge experience is like, according to Ryan Barone, second year PhD student in the Higher Education program who coordinated the event.
The evening began with an hour or mingling over hor’d’oeuvres and drinks including chocolate covered strawberries, roasted vegetables, cheese, coffee and various alcoholic beverages, so that attendees could get a chance to meet each other and informally network.
“In the past students who have attended felt like it was a really unique opportunity to meet other students of color at [Morgridge] to talk in an authentic way about some of the challenges and opportunities that are unique here at the college,” said Barone.
After short speeches by Gregory Anderson, dean of the school, and Frank Tuitt, associate provost of multicultural excellence, a panel of six current masters and doctoral students answered questions about their time at Morgridge
The students didn’t only discuss their experiences with diversity at the school. Many questions were focused on things like the school’s unique class schedule, which allows students to take classes at night or on the weekends, internships or time management. Two students spoke about what it is like to raise children while still attending school.
“As a parent, I really appreciate the fact that there is a family bathroom here,” said panelist David Kennedy, laughing. “My daughter is here so much some people say she’s going to earn her honorary degree.”
Another panelist, Sujie Kim, spoke about how the program helped her decide what she wants to do after school.
“If I had guessed a couple years ago, I never would have thought I’d be working with veterans,” said Kim.
All panelists agreed that the school’s commitment to inclusive excellence has added to their education.
“We have a wide variety of life experiences and we each bring those different perspectives to the things we’re working on,” said panelist Myntha Cuffy.
“In my cohort, there’s probably about 14 of us, and eight out of the 14 are students of color,” said Jesús Rodríguez, first PhD candidate in education leadership and policy studies. “That’s a really different experience for me.”
According to Barone, the school does take into account diversity when admitting students.
“I think the more diverse our classrooms are with all identities, better training they’ll get in their programs and they’ll be better professionals down the road,” said Barone.
Morgidge is trying to diversify its pool of students as much as possible in order to create a more rounded learning experience.
“We are always trying to diversify in terms of race but also in terms of other identities,” said Barone. “Folks from out of state, folks from all over the world, different religions, gender, sexual orientation, that’s all part of our strategy.”
Originally posted through the Clarion Newspaper at the University of Denver
25 Nov 2013
This September, DU’s Library and Information Science (LIS) program at Morgridge College of Education had their annual Showcase of Opportunities event, highlighting InContext learning opportunities at community organizations across the Denver Metro. Throughout their coursework, all LIS students are encouraged to get hands-on experience by obtaining internships and volunteering at libraries, museums and other information settings, but second year students are required to complete a 4-credit practicum (including 100 hours of field work, class meetings and paperwork) before graduating. Dr. Clara Sitter, Clinical Associate Professor and LIS Program Coordinator, has been instrumental in helping students find their practicum experience by establishing connections with community organizations and field mentors, bringing them all together for one event. At this year’s Showcase of Opportunities, Librarians and representatives from over 30 organizations gathered in Ruffatto Hall to promote InContext learning opportunities, ranging from practicum work, internships (paid and unpaid), for-credit service learning, special projects and independent study. “We do brief introductions of the organizations at the beginning, then, students walk around and visit the tables they are interested in to find out more information,” Sitter explains.
Having been in the library profession for over 30 years, and having coordinated LIS student practicums at DU for 14 years, Sitter has designed the Showcase around the networked career: “The Showcase offers an advantage for students to network and make connections with professionals and organizations in the area. Libraries love our students, and occasionally, students get hired by their practicum site.”
Although the Showcase of Opportunities includes mainly Denver Metro organizations, students aren’t limited in their choice of practicum: “We have great sites in the Denver metro area, but sometimes students want experience in another city or even abroad, so we’ve had students do their practicum work in Australia, England, Poland, Amsterdam, China, Chicago, and San Francisco, among others.”
At each practicum site, there is an MCE approved field mentor to provide the students with one-on-one guidance and support. Sitter elaborates: “We look for field mentors who have significant experience and who demonstrate expertise that pairs up with the interests of our students. Every practicum is different, but the student should be in learning mode (learning systems and instruction)10% of the time, and should be able to work 90% of the time.”
A practicum differs from an internship because it is student-oriented; students identify their own goals and objectives. Dr. Sitter works with each student to identify his or her goals and objectives in order to better suggest places that would promote his or her desired field learning environment. From there, the student sets up information interviews with several practicum sites and decides which one is the best fit. “In many cases, that initial connection with the organization was made at the Showcase of Opportunities,” she adds.
During their field experience, students keep a journal, posting weekly to reflect on their experience. “It is wonderful to see them at the beginning of their practicum experience, intimidated by users and unsure of a lot of things. In just 100 hours, the practicum experience usually confirms this choice of career and identifies where students want to work once they graduate,” Sitter remarks.
Morgridge College of Education’s Library & Information Science program is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) and was the first program in the country to offer a focus in Early Childhood Librarianship. To learn more information about the LIS program, contact the Morgridge Office of Admissions.