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Fall 2010

5 Reasons to Know... Uche Amaechi

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Doctoral Student
Culture, Communities, and Education Concentration


He initially intended to become a medical doctor. He even started down the pre-med path at Harvard College, graduating with a degree in biology. But after a couple of summers teaching in Cambridge, Mass., Uche Amaechi was hooked. Following graduation, he went back to the classroom to help run several afterschool programs, including one at the Fletcher Maynard Academy, a public school in Cambridge where he now serves as the extended day director. Today, this Nigerian-born doctoral student is combining his work with children with his initial love of science as part of Associate Professor Mica Pollock's OneVille research project based in neighboring Somerville.

1. His interest in working with children, especially the underserved, started early. Growing up with a single mother who is a nurse, he helped take care of his younger siblings. "This is part of the reason I now want to give back," he says.

2. Although much of his school-based work has focused on afterschool programs, along with a group of other afterschool program providers, he is working on ways to connect extended day with the regular day. "There doesn't need to be a divide."

3. Working with Pollock, he is exploring how to use social technology, such as wikis, to allow everyone involved in a young person's life -- teachers, parents, coaches, and mentors -- to communicate regularly about the student.

4. Volunteering is important to him. For the past six years, he's been a board member of the Science Club for Girls, a nonprofit that motivates girls to become interested in science. He's also cochair of CityStep, a partnership between Harvard and the city of Cambridge that offers performing arts year-round to students.

5. When he's not in a classroom, he's on the dance floor. A few years ago, after a friend brought him to a salsa club in Boston for the first time, he started teaching the rhythmic dance at a nightclub, the Ed School, and Harvard's Currier House, where he serves as a nonresident tutor. Tango has become his latest passion.

Photo: Martha Stewart