Professor Danielle Powell is the director of the Women’s Mentoring and Leadership Academy (WMLA) and is the coordinator for Umoja-based learning community at Skyline College. Her colleagues describe her as enthusiastic, passionate, dedicated, and one who consistently makes the classroom and the college a place of connection, understanding, and support that engages first-generation college students. Her work with students ensure the advancement of social justice and educational equity and exemplifies the H.E.A.R.T. philosophy – honoring students through a holistic approach; engages and empowers students; advocates and brings awareness to potential barriers for students; respect and keeps it real; and providing transformative leadership.
Within and beyond the classroom, Professor Powell empowers young students by providing them with opportunities to volunteer in the service of others, travel internationally, and broaden their horizons beyond their own expectations. She represents the colleges commitment to putting students first and helping them become global citizens. Her course and retention rates are consistently higher than the college’s overall course and retention rates, reaching past the 75% equity benchmark, with her overall retention rates going beyond 90%. In addition, Professor Powell also organizes childcare for her students during special events by collaborating with the Child Development Lab Center, participates in college shared governance, serving as her division representative on the Academic Senate, and supports her colleagues in equity discussions at the college and district level.
The local Academic Senate continues to advocate for support for faculty and staff who engage in high impact educational practices at our college. They keep issues of in/equity at the forefront of meetings and discussions with campus administrators.
Where Are They Now?
Since winning the RSS Diversity Award, I had the privilege of leading my second short-term study abroad program to South Africa in June 2018 and was able to use the RSS award to help fund scholarships for students in the Women’s Mentoring and Leadership Academy (WMLA) and the African American Success Through Excellence and Persistence (ASTEP) Learning Community who were accepted into that summer program. I am continuing my work as coordinator of both WMLA and ASTEP, teaching in the Communication Studies Department, and serving on the Stewardship for Equity, Equal Employment and Diversity Advisory Committee at Skyline College.
You Can Do It Too!
Most faculty who have a desire to create projects that support diversity are those who feel some sense of calling or responsibility to help meet the needs of those who are disadvantaged, marginalized or oppressed. The real work moves quickly beyond a mere project, and it demands much of your time, resources and energy, and much of which is unpaid. To engage in these types of projects in a meaningful way, I feel you must first be culturally competent, and have cultural awareness of the groups that the project seeks to benefit. Also, you must be willing to be fully present to and empathic towards those who are in need, so the most important piece of advice that I may give is to practice self-care so that the emotional labor of the project doesn’t lead to burn out. Don’t allow your ambition to alienate your allies! None of us are saviors, and thus cannot do this work alone. Collaborate with others whenever possible to provide opportunities for like-minded colleagues to share in this great work with you, and advocate for the resources that are needed to sustain the project and to sustain you.
WMLA Apartheid Museum
WMLA Group Photo
WMLA Nona Hendryx