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Shaping Social Change: Kassie Infante, SSP'21

The Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Specialized Studies reflects on her time at HGSE and looks toward the future.
Kassie Ifante

Kassie Infante: "This was the moment where my research team presented for my critical participatory action research project course with Dr. Brion-Meisels. It was a great source of pride and joy for me to present in the community with my research team of educators, high school students, and community organizers."

Photo courtesy of Kassie Infante

The Intellectual Contribution Award recognizes 12 Ed.M. students (one from each Ed.M. program) whose dedication to scholarship enhanced HGSE’s academic community and positively affected fellow students. Kassie Infante will be honored with the Intellectual Contribution Award for the Specialized Studies Program (SSP) at HGSE's Virtual Commencement on May 27.

Lecturer Eileen McGowan, faculty director of SSP, comments on Infante's selection: “Kassie Infante came to the Specialized Studies Program (SSP) to pursue a career at the intersection of ed policy, social justice, and civic engagement. But Kassie didn't wait for graduation to have an impact; her passions changed us. Her colleagues write: 'Our classroom and discussion sections were richer, more dynamic spaces because Kassie was part of them.' 'Kassie brought incredible warmth, energy, enthusiasm and thoughtfulness into each and every class.' And finally, as a Lawrence School Committee member, Kassie conveyed valuable perspectives and deepened our 'thinking around complex policy issues.' We thank you, Kassie, for sharing your authenticity, intellect, and commitment with us.”

We spoke to Infante about her time at HGSE, her future plans, and how the pandemic has changed the education landscape:

What does this photo mean to you?  

Of course my photo had to depict where most of my life has taken place this school year ... Zoom! This was the moment where my research team presented for my critical participatory action research project course with Dr. Brion-Meisels. It was a great source of pride and joy for me to present in the community with my research team of educators, high school students, and community organizers.

What were the challenges and/or silver linings of online learning? What are some creative or special ways you are able to connect with your peers?

I’ve very much enjoyed my online learning experience because it allowed me to cultivate deep relationships with classmates from all over the world while each of us navigated both challenges and triumphs in our own communities. Navigating similar challenges brought us closer and presented the opportunity for collective healing spaces within classes — I think that was both a silver lining and a challenge.

"Shaping social change is hard, uncomfortable, but necessary work because it requires that we re-imagine the world to serve more of us instead of perpetuating injustice. Leading this work can sometimes mean being unpopular or labeled as a troublemaker, but I’ve learned that I’d rather be a troublemaker fighting for justice than a conformer who prefers the status quo."

Is there any professor or class that significantly shaped your experience at the Ed School?

Two: Gretchen Brion-Meisels and Aaliyah El-Amin. I felt so well cared for in the learning environments and community they both cultivated. My learnings around equity and anti-racism work deeply transformed me and will always inform my future work. I’m forever grateful to their guidance and love.

What are your post-HGSE plans?

I’ll be working for the Black Economic Council of MA (BECMA), a political advocacy organization that works toward the economic empowerment of BIPOC communities and running for re-election on the Lawrence (Massachusetts) Public Schools committee.

What is something that you learned this year that you will take with you throughout your career in education?

I’ve learned that shaping social change is hard, uncomfortable, but necessary work because it requires that we re-imagine the world to serve more of us instead of perpetuating injustice. Leading this work can sometimes mean being unpopular or labeled as a troublemaker, but I’ve learned that I’d rather be a troublemaker fighting for justice than a conformer who prefers the status quo.

How has the pandemic shifted your views of education? 

The pandemic has made more visible and exacerbated deep inequities that have existed within our educational system since its inception. My views have only shifted in the sense of the level of urgency and responsibility I feel to addressing these inequities and transforming the way we serve BIPOC communities especially.