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Remember the "Why": Anyeli Matos, EPM'22

The Intellectual Contribution Award recipient for Education Policy and Management reflects on her time at HGSE and looks toward the future.
Anyeli Matos

Anyeli Matos

Photo: Courtesy of Anyeli Matos

The Intellectual Contribution Award recognizes graduating Ed.M. students (one from each Ed.M. program) whose dedication to scholarship enhanced HGSE’s academic community and positively affected fellow students. Anyeli Matos will be honored with the Intellectual Contribution Award for Education Policy and Management (EPM) Program during HGSE's Convocation exercises on May 25.

Senior Lecturer Karen Mapp, faculty director of EPM, comments on Matos' selection:“Anyeli has been a steadfast contributor to the HGSE community. She was a key member of the Student Council Programming and Events Committee and was a strong leader and advocate for the part-time student cohort as she entered her second year of the EPM Program. In their nomination of Anyeli for this award, her fellow students stated: 

  • ‘Anyeli speaks her truth, asks interesting questions, and is warm, friendly, and welcoming. She led our program through tough times as our representative and she is a powerhouse in class.’ 
  • ‘As a friend and fellow student colleague, it’s been incredible to see the ways she has worked with Tycie and Nicole to advocate for the needs of part-time students over the past years. And she does it with such earnestness, deference, and consideration for others. Anyeli is gold, and so many others already know!’

 “Congratulations, Anyeli, for this well-deserved honor!”

We spoke to Matos — who will be entering HGSE’s Ed.L.D. Program this fall — about her time in the master’s program and how the pandemic has changed the education landscape:

What brought you to the Ed School and what was your goal in coming here? 

The desire to continue learning/unlearning and growing so that I can in turn have a greater impact in the lives of students.  

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

I had amazing professors! I loved my learning experience at HGSE, I learned valuable lessons from all and felt so supported in my learning.  

Ebony Bridwell-Mitchell was my professor for A607 (Organizational Leadership and Management in K-12 Schools and Systems) and she was also my adviser. I have such deep admiration and love for her — how she teaches, how she engaged me, how she navigated difficult conversations and how she designed a rigorous learning space to feel safe and open. A607 continues to inform how I approach challenges in my day-to-day work. But most importantly to me, I loved learning from a Black woman — she gave me hope, she gave me wings to continue, she encouraged me & believed in me. It was such an honor to learn from and with her.  

"This work is rooted in community. We must center students and families. When things get hard — and they will — remember your why and your truth."

Christina Villarreal (Dr. V) is a master of love and learning. I took Ethnic Studies and Healing Centered Engagement with her. This experience was critical not only in my learning journey but in my ongoing healing journey — the classes that I didn’t know that I needed. Dr. V curated every single detail to feel like home, navigating difficult topics that sometimes gutted us — she created a space that was centered in care/love while guiding our learning. To say that this experience changed me is an understatement. I have such admiration and love for her, not only for my growth but for helping me to navigate space that wasn’t built for people like us.  

Jennifer Cheatham was my professor for Equity in Action In School Systems. What a breath of fresh air to learn with and from her! I had the advantage of being in her small group, too, so I had more time with her, we grappled with pressing issues around equity and schools from A to Z in a supportive community. She pushed my thinking, ultimately changing how I approach my day-to-day work and how I view myself within my school district. Despite all of the challenges that sometimes feel insurmountable, I left this class feeling hopeful and empowered. She was intentional with this approach and pushed to explore beyond my limits. I have such admiration and love for her for the care with which she lead this class and for investing in me beyond the classroom.   

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

This is not a new lesson — but it was perhaps the most important lesson that was further ingrained in me at HGSE — this work is rooted in community. We must center students and families. When things get hard — and they will — remember your why and your truth.  

How has the pandemic shifted your views of education? 

I saw what was possible — that some of the barriers that appear to exist in the district are (in some instances) orchestrated to benefit adults and not students. The pandemic truly shed light on all that is possible for our kiddos when we think outside of the box. There is a lot of work to do — a lot more — Black and Brown kiddos were already suffering and the pandemic exacerbated this. This continues to fuel my fire to do my part and to stay motivated to do so in the face of what we know is a very broken education system.  

Despite your busy schedule, you always make time for … 

My family and fam-friends! They keep me going.