Dear Director of Admissions, A Grad School Production

Dear Director of Admissions, A Grad School Production:

A Follow Up Letter For Future Grad School Enrollment

The following is a letter I sent to a graduate school advisor shortly after attending the Idealist Graduate School College Fair in the city. This letter has been sitting in draft for about 1.5 years now. I want to say I sent this to the advisor I met from an ivy institution. Its been so long that I can’t clearly remember. I was exploring my negotiation skills. Hoping that if I reached out with my needs he would try to meet me halfway.

blackintellectual

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Dear Director of Graduate Admissions,

It was an honor to meet you at the Idealist Grad School Fair. I really appreciated your time, and thoughtful responses to my questions. I wanted to reach out to follow up with some more thoughtful inquiries I had about the program there at your [Graduate School of Education] (GSE). I apologize for the length here, but I wanted to convey a clearer picture of who I am as a potential GSE student.

Personal Vision:

I’m currently working in NYC Department of Education as a High School Special Education Teacher. I’m in my third year in the classroom, and have recently finished my Masters of Urban Education (Special Education Instruction) coursework at Long Island University, Brooklyn. I’m also the elected Union Chapter Leader (United Federation of Teachers) for my school building and team. Currently my biggest challenge is building a cohesive and trusting team of teachers, and driving effective and collaborative communications between my school’s administration and its teaching staff, through the education and implementation of our collectively bargained contract agreement.

Prior to this, I worked in the non-profit sector doing leadership development work and postsecondary education technical assistance for YouthBuild USA. I entered YouthBuild as an Americorps Vista as a midwestern transplant eager to relocate to the east coast and enter the professional world. Youthbuild is an international network of community programs working to provide academic, vocational, and service learning experience to young marginalized students in economically unstable communities around the globe. There, I traveled around the country and for three years worked to organize the program’s alumni, student-leadership representatives, and program staff via postsecondary access and best practice conferences.

In the distant future, I see myself working with philanthropic foundations and citizens to help craft targeted and developmental community programs and initiatives within marginalized communities. I also would like to open a leadership academy of my own, to help develop budding community and social development educators, organizer, and activists.

In the near future, I see myself running effective and innovative community and academic development programs for municipal governments targeted to their marginalized citizens. I would spend my time writing, and running workshops at various professional development conferences, and engaging in research and application development through on -the-ground community and mentoring programs.

I’ve included some questions I have about your graduate school experience. Maybe we can set up a phone conference to discuss some of the topics?

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Quality:

  1. How can I get the most out of your GSE program?

Personal Experience:

  1. What would you have done differently during your time as a GSE student?
  2. What made you a strong student for GSE and through GSE?

Cultural Diversity:

  1. As an educator, historical perspective in connection with culturally dominant educational theory is an area of macro-level focus via my pedagogy. To your knowledge, have people of color expressed any doubt or second thoughts about attending a graduate school there? How does the university address the importance of incorporating a diverse, culturally well-rounded and respectful perspective into its curriculum and assessment practices?
  2. What makes your GSE the strongest place to get this education for me as a Black and Male scholar? Why your school over Harvard? Howard? NYU? Brown?

Cohorts:

  1. Growing up, my most meaningful and immersive experiences have come when I’m engaged in a cohort learning model. What would the African American Male population look like in my cohort if I were to take classes at your GSE? How does the GSE work to create a strong cohort experience for its students at-large?

Alumni Organization(s) and Engagement:

  1. What student organizations/alumni associations would I have access to, or be able to engage with for mentorship purposes? In addition, what orgs and associations would I be able to volunteer my time and skills to?

Library: 

  1. What are some of the strengths of the school’s library/knowledge banks?

Career/Internship Experiences:

  1. What type of career and internship options have been made available to students upon completion of the program?

Respectfully,

P

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Yes, the search has begun again for another… new training program. 

I’m focused man.

Teacher, Tell Me about Life and Niggers

Teacher, Tell Me about Life and Niggers:

A classroom and email conversation with two Black-Male students

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I recently received an email from a Black male student asking me to explain life to him. He’s an older student and this is the first time I’ve taught him at the school. This was a first time I’ve had a student reach out for such poignant information. The following day, before I could respond, he told me that he and a friend, also in my class, were riding the train the night before talking to each other, and they kept saying the word Nigga.

Somewhere through the journey they confessed having made an older woman cry due to their reckless public vulgarity. It was then that I found out why my student had reached out to me about life the evening before.

Both students told me inconsistent stories about the events as they happened in real time, jokingly placing blame on each other, in a denial-deflection-comedic-confession with each other.

In the moment, there was work to be done, so, I expressed sincere dissappointment in their actions and inability to manage their behavior in context, and specifically with regard to the elder, then redirected them to their work with intentions to reply in detail via email.

The following was my email response:

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What’s up y’all.

Ok, my bad that it’s taken me so long to respond. I wanted to make sure I sent something thoughtful back. Here’s some feedback.

Nigga Response –

It’s a dreadful word. It’s used to describe a group of people stolen from their land, and bred to be enslaved-captured people here in the American continents. The African people when I visited don’t call themselves nigga. The enslaved Africans were renamed Negroes by the European and other geographic people. It has been so ingrained that those African people have now taken to calling themselves Negroes instead of what they truly were and are. That’s why it’s a bad thing to hear so many Black/African people say Negroes/Nigga/Niqqa/Nicca. It’s a word of negativity and weakenss. The moment you stop calling yourself and your loved ones that word you start to get a stronger grip on the world, your history, and your role now in it. I hope that made sense. Here is a link to some phrases/meanings of negro throughout our recent history. I found this really useful for my own knowledge about 4 years ago.

I view y’all as so much more than niggers, niggas, you know all the spellings. In real life, I view myself as a young King. Everyday Paladin, the young King walks into the classroom. Everyday I’m greeted by young Warriors [Student 1] and [Student 2]. But as long as you’re calling yourself a nigger you’re never going to realize that. Nigger and King are opposites. Nigger and Warrior are opposites. Nigger and whatever you want to be known as are probably opposites.

The lady was probably mortified that y’all couldn’t edit the word out even if you tried. I get really sad too when I see kids out and they just can’t control it. We’ve been taught to say it. It has power over you. And that’s not good bro. But the good thing is it’s easy to stop. You just have to choose a different word to say. In college my frat brother started saying ninja, then we all started saying ninja. Then somewhere along the line I started saying homie. Now I even say bro. I say fam. I even say King. Choose something and roll with it. I try my absolute best not to call people that I love nigga.

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Fashion –

Y’all ask me and I never really remember in the moment. I get a lot of stuff from thrift stores. My regular stuff is from Levis, American Apparel, Uniqlo, Urban Outfitters, stuff I see on Instagram, and sometimes the vendors on the streets. I normally check the sales. But will spend real money every once and a while for stuff that will last like jackets, bookbags, and boots. I rarely pay over 50 for a shirt or pants. Normally never more than 70 for shoes. Anything more prolly just isn’t worth it. Watch your money and save your money. A lot of my stuff is like 5 to 10 years old. When you buy stuff that fits well it lasts longer in my opinion.

Tutoring Time –

I’m available everyday during lunch:

  • Monday/Wednesday/Friday – [Location] – Lunch
  • Tuesday/Thursday – [Location] –  Lunch

I also try to stay after school for at least 20 to 30 minutes trying to cool down and wrap up loose ends of the day. If no one comes I bounce. I hustle outside of work and get tired if I’m not on the move. Trust y’all are always welcome to tutoring and after school-time. Just come, and we’ll find something to do.

Hustle –

Y’all are smart. Y’all run the yard and I love it. But I need you both to step it up. You both set the tone for everyone else. I need you guys to work with me & [Co-teacher] in the classroom. Drive the attention to the learning. You aren’t horrible, but you aren’t hustling either. I need you both grabbing these knowledge points. Right now and even if you don’t have me anymore. You both have talent and like a team I need you to push your squad, and me and [Co-teacher], the coaches. Push your talents on the basketball court and in my classroom please. I definitely am trying to bring you my A+ work and I need y’all to help me be great by doing the same please.
Football-Training 

I’m long winded. Enjoy your weekends. Be safe.

P