5 Reasons to Know... Raygine DiAquoi, Doctoral student
She was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and attended public schools until the sixth grade when her parents, wanting her to have every opportunity, sent her to the Hewitt School, a private school for girls on the Upper East Side. Her experience there highlighted the inequities she knew existed in public education. "I was being groomed to be a leader through the styles, tastes, and predispositions that my teachers and mentors were actively cultivating in me," she says. "This contrasted greatly with the experiences of my family members who were being groomed for a life of disadvantage. They were not being asked to think critically, to be creative, or to lead projects. I now know that their schools, like my school, were simply reproducing and maintaining the status quo." This Big Sister to a local second-grader is now at the Ed School to figure out why this happens -- and what she can do about it.
1. With a handful of other doctoral students, she started the Graduate Student Research Collaborative, the student arm of the school's Achievement Gap Initiative. Their main goal: find a direct link between culture and academic achievement.
2. Ultimately she says she's interested in better understanding schools that are successfully educating minority students. She also wants to paint a different image of African American families than the prevailing one that implies they are not interested in education.
3. Since coming to the Ed School in 2007 following teaching stints at schools in Harlem and at the academic achievement program she attended before starting private school, she has been active in the annual Alumni of Color Conference. "It's a space where I feel nourished and reminded of why I'm here."
4. This past summer, she worked in Haiti on a Save the Children project designed to help a community track their own school success using surveys and interviews. She created a task force of teachers, students, community leaders, and parents that are doing the tracking and then will share the findings with the rest of the community.
5. She can walk on stilts and ride a unicycle. She learned both skills while a counselor at a performing arts camp. "I unicycle now to relieve stress. It's hard, it's counterintuitive, but that's part of the fun."
photo by Martha Stewart