Grad Student Finds New Learning Environment at UK

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Sheryl Means has discovered the benefits of living in a college-centered town.

She is originally from Newark, New Jersey and (after moving several times) a graduate of West Orange High School in West Orange, New Jersey.

“I’m enjoying Lexington because it is a completely different community,” Means says. “Spelman, my undergraduate institution, is small and settled in Atlanta. New Jersey is an ‘annex’ to New York – namely Manhattan. However, the culture of Lexington, apart from horses and basketball, is centered on UK and that is something new to me as a graduate of a historically black college from the Northeast.”

She is working toward a Ph.D. in the UK College of Education’s Department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation, concentrating on international and comparative education for P-12 schools. UK was introduced to her by a friend of her mother’s who earned her Ph.D. here. She encouraged Means to move away from her comfort zone geographically and experience a new learning environment.

Means anticipates doing research for her degree and dissertation in Brazil. She is fluent in Spanish and is learning Portuguese as a means for personal and professional development and to expand her access to research from institutions in the Latin American world.

“Often times, an incredible study will be conducted and published in Portuguese and there are no English translations available.” Means says. “So, having multiple languages opens the door to read and conduct even more research.”

After obtaining her Ph.D., Means would like to work for an organization like the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“I plan to conduct research on the inequalities in education and access in Afro descendant communities in Latin America and teach on the collegiate level,” she says.

Currently, Means works as a graduate assistant in the UK College of Education’s Office of Student Engagement, Equity and Diversity and as an ambassador with the Office of International Scholar and Student Services.

“Professors and students here have been wonderful to work with, speak to and learn from,” Means says. “There are so many diverse educational backgrounds in the College of Education and a number of professors and students to learn from. I feel that I’m constantly absorbing new information and learning from my peers as often as I learn from professors.”