Growing up in a small town in the Mid-Hudson Valley as a biracial (non-passing), invisibly disabled individual was less than glamorous. I attended a school district where my identity was never part of classroom conversations. There were no conversations that centered on intersecting identities and their weight in our lives. In fact, it was the opposite, in that members of my school community repeatedly invalidated my identity. Despite the trauma inflicted, I chose to become an educator to counter these toxic narratives within the secondary curriculum through an education sector that encouraged innovation and change. I was fortunate enough to have had a professor, Dr. Annie Swafford, that resisted the expectations of the English department at my university and taught her students about Digital Humanities practices. Thanks to her doing something deemed controversial, I applied to the City University of New York (CUNY) and eventually joined The Graduate Center within their recently founded M.A. Program in Digital Humanities.
Since joining CUNY, I’ve joined both the Communications Studies program at LaGuardia Community College and the English Department at the New York City College of Technology as a part-time faculty member. Having worked closely with Dr. Matthew K. Gold, the Director of the M.A. Program in Digital Humanities & M.S. Program in Data Analysis and Visualization, he asked me to come on as a Community Facilitator for the CUNY Academic Commons, an Open Educational Resource (OER) that serves the entire 25-campus CUNY system. My professional work with CUNY helped me to flourish into someone I feel as though was suppressed by my early education. In many ways, the CUNY community inspired the pedagogical style I’ve adopted that drives my own work. I’ve dubbed it “identity pedagogy,” which is the practice of building a curriculum around highlighting and legitimizing the experiences of people within the classroom. In terms of my research experience, I’ve combined my knowledge of open pedagogy, digital technology, intersectionality, and educational policies in order to foster digital projects for both people inside and outside of academia.
All of my digital projects have been created with a foundation rooted in social justice and equity. Not only that, but I make sure that my research is malleable so that it can be implemented within not only higher education but within K-12 education as well. These works include Rethinking Gaming & Representation Within Digital Pedagogy, which is where I co-developed a game and self-developed a curriculum in which my students and I studied the various intersecting cultures and experiences of each other. It culminated in a digital game-creation project where we used interactive fiction to gamify our own lived experiences, resulting in increased writing skills and community within our classroom. I was also part of a team that created Freedom Dreaming: A Call to Imagine, which was a social media campaign as well as an online website/digital archive containing resources for educators to aid in diversifying their syllabus/curriculum in terms of marginalized voices. I explored data visualization through a project called Mapping Public Immigrant & Refugee Resources in NYC. For this, I led a small team in creating an interactive digital map in order to support immigrants, students, and community organizations in light of the political happenings surrounding immigration since the 2016 election. The map is filterable by services needed (for example; Legal services) and language, making it easier for the user to locate aid. And now, I am working as a Web Specialist helping develop an online hub of open access resources for CUNY Teacher Education programs.
Now that I’ve been granted the privilege of joining the Urban Education Ph.D. Program at The Graduate Center as a Doctoral Fellow of Urban Education, I want to continue my journey towards becoming a respected, ethical educational technologist. Too many ed-tech companies operate on the basis of exploiting students, their work, and their data. As a doctoral student, my goal is to continue developing culturally sustainable digital pedagogies while also resisting unethical technologies attempting to invade public education spaces.