Four people of different races and genders sit at a table around an open laptop in a library. They are smiling at each other and look like they’re in deep conversation.

Back to School Advice From the RDEISE Fellows

We’re hard at work preparing the Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Science Education project roll-out. In the meantime, you can get a glimpse of some behind-the-scenes action with our learning designers. You can also read our Web Accessibility Series, where we chat with developers, designers, and writers about digital accessibility at LabXchange. This month, with many students heading back to school after summer break, we’ll take a look at some of the sage advice our graduate research fellows shared in their bionarrative videos. Here are 10 pieces of advice to inspire, motivate, and encourage us - whether we’re going back to school or not!

1. Have an open mind when selecting courses.

Jamal Bankhead’s advice for students interested in public health is to keep an open mind when selecting coursework. Jamal says the field is broad, and you may need to work across several different public health crises in your career. So, choosing a mix of courses will benefit you. Jamal holds a doctorate in public health from Morgan State University.Watch Jamal's full video here.

2. Find good mentors.

Lekeah Durden’s advice to students who want to enter STEM fields is to find really good mentors who can give guidance, support, and new perspectives. Lekeah shares that one of her challenges as a student was not being aware of all the many STEM fields. A good mentor can help you discover new ways of being a scientist. Lekeah has a Ph.D. in evolution, ecology, and behavior from Indiana University. Watch Lekeah's full video here.The power of positive influence in STEM Education

3. Hone your self-discipline and self-efficacy, and be socially conscious.

Jerome Bronson, a doctoral candidate in public health policy and management at Jackson State University, encourages Black students to control the things they can while progress is made in more systemic racial issues that are out of their control. For example, you have control over your self-discipline and efficacy: hone it! In addition, Jerome states that it’s imperative that Black students be socially conscious in order to help make radical changes to systemic issues. Watch Jerome's full video here.

4. Live a healthy lifestyle.

Aundrea B. Collins, a predoctoral candidate in public health at Morgan State University, shares her own experience of having to change her lifestyle to align with her career goals. Eating healthier and exercising more need to become part of your life if you want to work in public health. Aundrea also tells Black students that the public health sector needs you and your lived experience. Watch Aundrea's full video here.

5. Do research on systems of power.

Mia Thornton tells Black students to really do their research into the risks faced by African American communities. Mia wants students to understand social, political, legal, and economic systems and how they exclude or include Black people. Mia is a doctoral candidate in social work at Howard University. Watch Mia's full video here.

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6. Trust your gut.

Udodiri Okwandu says students should trust themselves, trust their gut, and believe in themselves because they can do it. Udodiri also reminds Black students that their voices matter, and their voices are needed in academia. Udodiri is a doctoral candidate in the History of Science Department at Harvard University. Watch Udodiri's full video here.

7. Make your writing inclusive and accessible.

Jordan Honeyblue encourages Black students to write in a way that engages, educates, and excites Black people. Whether it's scientific,  academic, or creative, Jordan believes writing should be accessible to people from all walks of life. Jordan holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Kentucky. Watch Jordan's full video here.

8. Don’t allow anyone to undermine you.

Shanita Jackson, an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of Kentucky, warns Black students that people will try to question their position in academia. She reminds Black students that they belong at the front of classrooms, and their voices and perspectives on teaching are needed. Watch Shanita's full video here.

9. Practice patience and grace.

Brittney Venter, a doctoral student in social work at Howard University, advises Black students to practice delayed gratification because you will not always see the fruits of your labor immediately. Brittney wants students to understand that their work is vital, even if you can’t see that right away. Watch Brittney's full video here.

10. Don't forget to dream.

Gabrielle McFadden-Vincent wants students to dare to dream. She wants students of color not to further limit themselves by the structures that hold them back. So remember that your dreams are valid, and never give up on those dreams. Gabrielle is a doctoral student in sociology and criminology at Howard University.

Watch Gabrielle's full video here.

Watch more bio-narrative videos from our RDEISE Research Fellows.

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Written by
LabXchange RDEISE team

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