Outstanding graduate student aims to transform higher education for underrepresented populations

Completing his doctorate in education amid the COVID-19 pandemic proved a Herculean effort for Cal State Fullerton student Brandon D. Harris, who feared unemployment as a part-time community college instructor . The bills piled up for his young family and he questioned his career path.

But staying true to his passion for higher education and his dream of becoming president of a community college, Harris redoubled his efforts by completing additional online training and volunteering for various programs on campus in order to strengthen their curriculum vitae.

Harris joins the class of 2021 this spring, earning a doctorate in educational leadership and a community college concentration. For his achievements in research and community service, Harris was named Outstanding Alumni Association Graduate Student with a prize of $ 1,000.

“It took a village of support to pull me out of despair and remind me of my resilience in difficult times,” he explained. “I would like to thank this village and remind others to never give up.”

Harris’s thesis focused on underrepresented populations – to inform leaders in education and programs such as the university’s Male Success Initiative-Fullerton, which empowers students of color to reach their full potential. potential. To deepen his understanding of these groups, Harris became involved with the African American Resource Center and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. Off campus, he served as a volunteer advisor for the Gay-Straight Alliance at the College of the Canyons.

“Whether it’s my role to help students in the Male Success Initiative, to work with esteemed CSUF faculty on publications highlighting supporting programs, or to complete my thesis on portraying, directing. common was to be a leader in serving a generally underserved population, ”explained Harris who also received a graduate scholarship from the Pi Lambda Theta National Honorary Education Society.

“Brandon makes a significant contribution and pays for it by caring for and modeling for other black students in our program and in his own classrooms,” said Ding-Jo Currie, lecturer in educational leadership. “We need more Brandon Harrises in the world.”

Putting research into practice, Harris has taught sociology, criminology, women’s studies, research methods, and racial and ethnic studies at institutions such as Cal State Northridge, Los Angeles Mission College, and Los Angeles Valley College. He has also lectured at Santa Monica College, Pasadena City College, Cal State Dominguez Hills, and Los Angeles Trade Technical College.

Harris’ advice to future Titans is: “Let your efforts be guided by a fair, equitable and inclusive value base. It is not about you or me, but the collective “we”. Finally, don’t forget to make the decisions today for which your future self will thank you. “

As he celebrates his graduation, Harris will think of two family members who died during his college career: his aunt Venus and his uncle Lloyd. The two served as parental figures for him and his siblings when they lost their mother to breast cancer at an early age.

“Rather than lose sight of and let my grades suffer, I remained determined to defend my thesis like my aunt and uncle wished I had,” Harris said, adding that his uncle had planned to be in. graduating and the couple had I can’t wait to spend a summer watching the Las Vegas Raiders and relaxing by the pool.

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