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Driving Conversation: Megan Red Shirt-Shaw, HEP'17

Megan Red Shirt-ShawHer year at the Ed School has been particularly enlightening for Megan Red Shirt-Shaw. Although she enrolled in the Higher Education Program (HEP) to explore more fully the undergraduate admissions field in which she worked, she is finishing her year with a deep understanding of where she can truly make an impact: working with Native American students and communities.

Red Shirt-Shaw, who is Oglala Lakota, realized through her coursework and, she says, “a lot of reflection” that this was the area in which she would best be able to apply what she learned at HGSE.

“I hope to develop a better understanding of the education pipeline for Native American students, and how we as educators can better support them on their journeys,” Red Shirt-Shaw says. “They deserve to be a consistent and present part of the conversation about education in America.”

Red Shirt-Shaw kept this conversation going over the course of the year, with the other Native students in FIERCE (Future Indigenous Educators Resisting Colonial Education) and at the Harvard University Native American Program, and with classmates across all cohorts at HGSE.

“The only way we push forward in a complicated world is by supporting and listening to one another, and I learned from the best here at HGSE,” she says.

“Megan is a fantastic student who is esteemed by faculty and her many peers. She has a clear vision and purpose-driven approach to all she does which, coupled with her talents as a thinker, will allow her to fundamentally improve the lives of young people,” says Senior Lecturer James Antony, program director of HEP. “Megan's future is very bright, and I look forward to seeing all she achieves.”

Red Shirt-Shaw will be honored with the Intellectual Contribution Award for the Higher Education Program at Convocation on May 24. Here, she talks about what her year at the Ed School has meant to her and what her goals are for the future.

What are your post-HGSE plans? I’ll be teaching with a summer program called CU Upward Bound in Boulder this summer working with Native youth, and then I am planning on applying to Ph.D. programs this fall — but I’m also always willing to keep an open heart and mind to whatever opportunities present themselves.

What advice do you have for next year’s students going through your program? Never say no to an opportunity to get to know your classmates better. Schedule coffee, make time to eat lunch together, or even block out a 15-minute walk around campus. Take the time to get to know the people who will be working in your field alongside you, as colleagues and bosses and mentors and friends. I know that I’ll carry those memories with me the farthest.

If you could transport one thing from HGSE to your next destination, what would it be? Apart from the incredible people? I would take a never-ending supply of the gluten-free brownies from Gutman. I ate one for breakfast every Wednesday, and I’m not sure how I’ll ever survive moving forward from that tradition.

What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education? That there will always be work to done, and there will always be room to be better educators. We will continue to learn the best lessons of our careers from our students.

The number one, biggest surprise of the last year was … How much everything changed for the better. Thank you, HGSE.

Read about the other recipients of this year's Intellectual Contribution Award.