Grad Student Awarded for Work on Social Justice and Equality

Kevin Lewis received two awards, both for his work to give underrepresented students a better chance in higher education

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Graduate student Kevin Lewis has been honored with two awards recognizing his work on social justice: the Exemplary Social Justice Contribution by a Graduate Student Award from the ACPA’s Commission for Social Justice Educators and the Outstanding Masters Student award from ACPA’s Coalition for Graduate Students and New Professionals. Both awards salute Lewis’s work to give underrepresented students a better chance in higher education. But he is quick to point out when it comes to improving diversity and equality, personal acclaim isn’t important.

“I don’t think that the work of social justice and the work of diversity and inclusion is something I need to get recognized for. I understand it’s not just about me. It’s centered on a collective,” Lewis noted.

Lewis is pursuing his Masters degree within the Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) department. For his practicum, a requirement for his Masters degree, Lewis found a perfect fit with the Balfour Scholars Program. When the required work with Balfour ended, Lewis stayed with the program because he saw the value it brought to the students he worked with.

“For many of these students, it may be their first time on a college campus,” he said. “I think that’s what’s beautiful about the Balfour program, it is targeting these populations.”

This semester, Lewis hopes to be involved in more direct impact of perspective students, including going into their communities. He’s appreciative of the projects he’s been involved in, like workshops and a Civil Rights Immersion trip for students to Montgomery and Selma, Alabama.

“That was very challenging but very rewarding because the projects were all student centered, and it was all about creating transformative experiences for students. That needs to happen more in terms of education and diversity in education,” Lewis noted.”

Lewis will finish his Masters degree in May. After that, he hopes to continue to work in social justice in education.

“I really want to find a role that allows me to contribute to fostering inclusive environments for students. Being able to contribute to the success of students who aren’t represented in higher education, contribute to those environments,” he said.

“I think there is a lot of work to do, especially thinking about the climate of the country right now. This time more than ever people need to invest all of themselves into each other and into communities and into students. There’s a lot more room for education and empathy and critique of what’s not working.”