Since its inception, the HGSE Alumni of Color Conference has brought together educators, scholars, and activists — both from the HGSE community and beyond — to discuss issues of race, class, and education. In honor of HGSE’s 100th anniversary, the AOCC will convene for the 18th time to explore “HGSE 100 Years in the Making: Past, Present, and Future of Education for Communities of Color,” a theme that includes discussions of art and activism, storytelling, education justice, and ethnic studies, as well as the inaugural event in HGSE’s Future of Education series: A New Vision for Higher Education in Indigenous Communities.
Speaking in advance of the conference, master’s candidates and conference co-chairs Molin Chen and Zoë Mayfield discussed this year’s theme, what attendees can look forward to, and the impact that storytelling can have in educational settings, particularly in communities of color.
Tell me about this year’s theme, “HGSE 100 Years in the Making: Past, Present, and Future of Education for Communities of Color.”
Mayfield: For this year’s theme, we aimed to incorporate HGSE’s Centennial celebration into a narrative of how we can look to the past to understand the present and ultimately impact the future for communities of color in the field of education. When thinking about the past 100 years, the field of education has had a profound impact on communities of color. However, there is a significant amount of work that needs to be done, and we hope AOCC can bring together faculty, students, scholars, and practitioners to think critically about what the future could and should look like for students and communities of color.
Chen: If we think about the history for the past 100 years, so many great changes have happened, and communities of color played such an important role in making these things happen. This history is too rich to be overlooked or forgotten. So, at HGSE’s centennial year, we feel AOCC can be a great chance for members of our communities to look back into our own history and learn from the predecessors and activists.
Who are some speakers we can look forward to? Sessions you’re particularly excited about?
Chen: I’m really looking forward to hearing more about Mariah and Jordin Chavez's story at the “Education Justice: An Interrogation of America’s School to Prison Pipeline” panel. Their experience [with education in the juvenile justice system] could be so powerful for other young people or for those who are going through similar challenges. With Dr. [Kaia] Stern and Dr. [Lynette] Tannis also on the panel, I believe there will be some in-depth discussions about how the justice system and the education system can better support our youth.
Mayfield: This year, we have so many incredible speakers on our keynote panels. I am honestly looking forward to all of them. I would say I am looking especially forward to the “In Unity + Struggle: The Heartbeat of Ethnic Studies” keynote panel with Dr. Laureen Chew, Mr. Roger Alvarado, Mr. Nesbit Crutchfield, and Dr. Connell Persico. Any time that I have an opportunity to share space and learn from such incredibly impactful and formative individuals whose activism and courage informs so much of the work we — as educators and activists — are doing today, is an incredible honor.
Chen: I’m also excited about the “Diversity and Inclusion in Educational Innovation” panel, because it aligns quite well with my personal interests and career goals. Technology is a general trend, and we have already seen so many successful cases of incorporating technology into educational events and practices. The panelists we invited are doing great innovative work in different areas, including VR, anti-bullying apps, etc. I hope our audience and community members can be inspired by their discussions and generate more golden ideas that can make education better for everybody.
What do you hope people take away from this year’s conference?
Mayfield: The AOCC’s ability to harness the power of storytelling and connection to inspire educators to cultivate thriving communities creates lasting impact on the field of education. Through keynote speakers, presentations, workshops, and networking, I hope attendees are able to take new ideas, techniques, and practices back to their communities and into their work. We know how impactful storytelling is, and the AOCC has created the space for educators to leverage these stories to reflect and connect with other educators on how to improve the field of education, especially for communities of color.
Chen: We hope that by inviting all these activists and practitioners, we can inspire more educators and students in all communities to take action and start making differences. With this year’s theme focusing on past, present, and future, we hope that our audience will leave the conference with more self-efficacy and agency in changing the future of education for communities of color, so that we can actually “learn to change the world.”
The 2020 Alumni of Color Conference will be held at HGSE from Thursday, February 27 to Saturday, February 29. Learn more.