April Warren-Grice can’t possibly point to one professor who gets credit for steering her career in the right direction.
But one department? Now that’s a different story.
“When I first arrived on campus in the Education Policy Studies department, I looked around and said, ‘Wow. This is what diversity is supposed to look and feel like in faculty and students,” says the St. Louis-based educator, scholar, speaker, life coach and founder of Liberated Genius, LLC.
“The love and support from the department was like nothing I had ever experienced in my entire academic career — as a student or teacher. I could literally go into anyone’s office and receive the help to get me through an issue, find a resource or connection, or obtain feedback or suggestions.
“It was like a family — so much so that when I go to the annual Educational Research Association conference, I am always looking forward to the reunion,” says Williams-Grice, who earned her Ph.D. from Illinois in 2014 after receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Truman State.
“In addition, they literally prepared me for the real world. Recently, I was sitting across the table with potential funders for a program that I am working on through St. Louis University called Shut it Down, aimed to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline in St. Louis, and as the funders were asking questions, I was reminded of my dissertation defense.
“After the meeting, I actually told them my dissertation committee prepared me for that moment. I absolutely love EPS. I will sing its praises from every mountaintop, because it truly is a special place. My academic lineage starts in EPS, and I am forever grateful of the shoulders I stand on.
“Thank you, EPS, for loving on me every step of the way. Special shoutout to Drs. (James) Anderson, (Ruth Nicole) Brown, (Adrienne) Dixson, (Yoon) Pak, (William) Trent, (Christopher) Span, (Laurence) Parker, (Wanda) Pillow, (Antonia) Darder and so many students that walked with me to the promised land of graduation and continue to walk with me post-graduation.
“I love my village. We did it together, and for me that is everything.”