Darris Means ’05 shapes pupil success by significant connections

Means is at present an affiliate professor at College of Pittsburgh’s Faculty of Training and has a aim to construct networks that target addressing racial, class, spatial inequities and injustices in schooling.

Darris Means ’05 shapes pupil success by significant connectionsCreating initiatives to form faculty pupil success is a prime precedence for Darris Means ’05.

Means at present serves as an affiliate professor and Dean’s College Scholar in Fairness, Justice and Rural Training on the College of Pittsburgh’s Faculty of Training, and a 2021-22 Richard P. Nathan Coverage Fellow for the Rockefeller Institute of Authorities.

The South Carolina-native first realized about Elon by his highschool Spanish trainer whose daughter went to Elon. Means determined to look into the college extra and after his very first go to to campus, he was hooked. As an undergraduate Elon pupil, Means majored in sociology and political science and in addition immersed himself in analysis.

“I knew Elon could possibly be a spot the place I may thrive as a pupil,” mentioned Means.

Whereas at Elon, he turned engaged in analysis centered on campus racial local weather in larger schooling. “Dr. Tom Henricks served as my advisor and my analysis mentor, and I realized loads from him and the undergraduate analysis expertise. My undergraduate analysis expertise was my first realization that I could need to pursue a analysis profession,” mentioned Means.

An lively pupil on campus, his time at Elon didn’t simply contain his research, but in addition included Scholar Authorities Affiliation, a service-learning neighborhood expertise, serving within the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and the Interfraternity Council and in addition working as an Admissions college information. After commencement he was additionally personally chosen by President Emeritus Leo M. Lambert because the Youth Trustee for the Board of Trustees for Elon, serving a two-year time period.

Means went on to earn his grasp’s diploma in pupil affairs from Clemson College. He then returned to Elon College to serve on the founding employees for the Elon Academy, a university entry and success program for highschool college students with monetary wants or no household historical past of school.

“I’m a first-generation faculty pupil who acquired the utmost Pell Grant, a need-based federal grant, so the chance to be taught from and work with Elon Academy college students and households is without doubt one of the most impactful skilled experiences I’ve had in my life,” mentioned Means.

Throughout his greater than seven years with the Elon Academy, Means served as each assistant director and affiliate director. He credit his ardour for this work to the scholar mentors and colleagues he had from Elon, reminiscent of Deborah Lengthy, who was the director of the Elon Academy when he began with this system. Means returns to Elon each summer time, aside from the summer time of 2020 as a result of pandemic, to show within the Elon Academy summer time residential program. “The Elon Academy modified the trajectory of my profession,” mentioned Means.

Means additionally earned his Ph.D. in academic analysis and coverage evaluation with a focus in larger schooling from North Carolina State College. Throughout his Ph.D. program, he uncovered his love for educating and aimed to pursue school positions upon ending his diploma. His first school place was on the College of Georgia as an assistant professor of school pupil affairs administration, earlier than transitioning into his present position as an affiliate professor within the Faculty of Training on the College of Pittsburgh in August 2020.

“Since 2007, I’ve devoted my profession to learning and addressing inequities skilled by Black college students, Latinx college students, first-generation faculty college students, college students from low-income and working-class backgrounds, LGBTQ college students and rural college students throughout their academic trajectories,” mentioned Means.

Darris Means '05 GraduateHis undergraduate analysis that centered on campus racial local weather in schooling finally progressed into his profession. In his present position as a Dean’s College Scholar, he helps to strengthen the connection between the College of Pittsburgh’s Faculty of Training and rural communities, districts and colleges. “Our aim is to develop a strategic plan that would information our rural schooling initiatives, applications and collaborations,” mentioned Means.

Means additionally engages in public service, in addition to main and co-leading analysis research. In 2017, he collaborated with College of Georgia’s Julie Dangremond Stanton on a $300,000 Nationwide Science Basis research centered on the persistence of Black college students in science. He and his colleagues sought to stock what sources can be found to help Black college students whereas additionally investigating how racial inequities and racism hinder success.

Means additionally works together with undergraduate pupil researchers to implement real-world change. By means of this undertaking, they’ve developed on-line modules for science school and employees to higher help Black science majors. Means explains, “Our aim is to not simply look at Black college students’ experiences however to additionally develop evidence-based merchandise to handle the challenges recognized in our scholarship.”

In 2020, he served on the analysis advisory board on the Joan Ganz Cooney Heart, the analysis and innovation lab of Sesame Workshop.  He was part of the launch of By/With/For/Youth: Inspiring Subsequent Gen Public Media Audiences, a undertaking that seeks to help the general public media sector in growing progressive methods to higher have interaction tweens and teenagers.

With an curiosity in scholarship associated to academic coverage, he knew that being a Richard P. Nathan Coverage Fellow of the Rockefeller Institute of Authorities was one thing he wished to do, and this 12 months he had the chance to carry this prestigious title as a 2021-22 Fellow. On this position, he has collaborated with a crew of graduate and undergraduate college students throughout 5 states to review certainly one of his many initiatives – how state coverage and context form rural faculty pupil success. They’ve collected and analyzed state legislative data and newspaper articles to grasp how state policymakers and leaders are supporting postsecondary schooling enrollment and completion for rural college students.

“I’m proud to say that in my profession, I’ve graduated 17 doctoral advisees, together with 15 Black students, who’re advancing fairness and justice by larger schooling follow and scholarship…I’ve realized learn how to be a greater trainer, scholar, and advisor primarily based on what I’ve realized from former doctoral advisees.” -Darris Means ’05

Means says that it’s his time at Elon that ready him to guide within the face of challenges. He feels that the help and encouragement acquired from school and employees have been key to his success at Elon, and that the school and employees are the rationale why the college has such profitable alumni.

“Elon taught me the significance of inserting neighborhood care, fairness and servant-leadership on the middle of how I method all the pieces I do as a college member,” defined Means.

The long run seems vibrant for Means. He has a aim to construct networks that target addressing racial, class, spatial inequities and injustices in schooling; in addition to the initiative to turn out to be extra engaged in reciprocating scholarship findings to the general public by writing extra op-eds and research-practice briefs. Ultimately, he hopes that he can even discover avenues to share scholarship through movie and pictures, all in an effort to make his findings identified to others in hopes that it’s going to encourage and encourage change.

“I don’t need my scholarship to solely be helpful for different students; I need my scholarship to be accessible to practitioners, most people and policymakers,” mentioned Means.

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