Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

As an undergraduate, I majored in economics at UC Berkeley in pursuit of a career in finance. I hoped that this field would enable me to utilize my decision making skills to rationally allocate resources. However, after participating in a bank internship, I realized that the field of finance did not allow me to use my full skill set, in particular those involving motivating others and advocating for the collective good. Once I graduated, I reflected on a part time role I had as a college advisor for the Early Academic Outreach Program, or EAOP. I was tasked with mentoring Oakland high school youth from under-resourced backgrounds. I had the privilege of experiencing the rewarding, although tireless, work of preparing and motivating our youth to matriculate to college.
My role required me to focus on the systematic obstacles that many students from low income, culturally underrepresented, and first-generation college student backgrounds face on the path to post-secondary success. It became glaringly obvious that extra support may be needed for students who carry the burden of worrying about more than just grades, as concerns of financial wellbeing and physical safety can sometimes supersede a pursuit of education. In the South LA community I grew up in, I witnessed the life altering consequences that occur when students don’t receive the necessary guidance and structures to adequately prepare them for academic advancement. Thus, I recognized the significant role our school system plays in guiding life outcomes.
I’ve since been motivated to discover the necessary policies, structures and systems needed to support students from diverse backgrounds to not only be prepared to enter college, but also be equipped to persist and complete an undergraduate degree. By obtaining a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, I hope to advance my knowledge of the methodologies that are required to increase universal access and equity in our education system.

Ifeanyi from California