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My Student Experience: Mission Makers Explore Equity-related Issues in Education

A group of Mission Makers students who attended a trip to Washington D.C. posing for a photo.
Mission Makers students on their trip to Washington D.C.

A group of first-year NC State College of Education students had the opportunity to travel to Savannah and Washington D.C. last semester through Mission Makers, a program designed to better prepare them to be educators who address the needs of all learners. 

In Washington, D.C., students met with educational leaders who are part of an equity partnership between the Howard University School of Education and Sidwell Friends School, toured the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was designed by NC State alumnus Phil Freelon, and shared educational ideas with Ally Tannenbaum, a legislative aide in Congresswoman Deborah Ross’ office. 

Charles Kellon, a first-year elementary education major, said he especially appreciated the opportunity to learn about internships and the future of the U.S. Department of Education from two of the department’s deputy directors, Kevin Lima and Larry Bowden Jr. 

“[Mission Makers] allows you to get out of the Raleigh area and learn more about education in different atmospheres and on different levels,” Kellon said. 

In Savannah, students attended the National Youth Advocacy and Resilience Conference, where they engaged in workshops and seminars focused on public K-12 education, underserved youth and COVID-related learning loss.

A group of Mission Makers students who attended a trip to Savannah posing for a photo.
Mission Makers students at the National Youth Advocacy and Resilience Conference in Savannah, Georgia.

Mariah Simmons, a first-year middle grades English language arts and social studies major said she enjoyed getting to hear from a variety of speakers, make connections and explore the city of Savannah.

“That was my first educational trip to go on in college,” Simmons said. “I loved it.”

Rylee Sherwood, a first-year elementary education major, also enjoyed the conference, and specifically remembered a session that explored the damaging effects of the word “at-risk.”

“The speaker was passionate because he had been told as a student that he wouldn’t amount to anything, and he didn’t want that to happen to other students,” Sherwood said.

In addition to Washington D.C. and Savannah, students who took part in Mission Makers also went on trips closer to home. They traveled to Wilmington to learn about the 1898 coup visited the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.

Gracie Gibbs, a first-year elementary education major, said taking part in Mission Makers broadened her conception of how equity relates to education. 

“We learned a lot, and you don’t realize how much you’re going to get out of it after you’ve done it,” Gibbs said. 

Mission Makers was led by Amanda Beller, the College of Education’s director of advising, and Robin McWilliams, director of the college’s SAY (Students Advocating for Youth) Village, and funded by a grant from the NC State University Foundation