Passport to EducationNelson Mandela once remarked, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  On Tuesday, March 10, Skyline College hosted its first Educational Panel featuring a dynamically diverse group of doctoral degree holders and candidates who are doing amazing work in the field of education throughout the Bay Area communities at large. The presentation was moderated by Skyline College students Conor O’Brien, Jazmena Bannag, and ASTEP faculty Professor Powell and Professor Jones. This year’s theme was a subtle tribute to the late Malcolm X, as homage and tribute were paid to his genius, legacy and hallmark of wisdom and knowledge, regarding education being “…the passport to the future…”

The purpose of this group discussion was to demonstrate to Skyline College students that education can truly open doors, unlock the path to success, and provide endless career opportunities once a degree is obtained and utilized. The ASTEP Learning Community and the Center for Student Life and Development thought it was crucial and urgent that students of color should see themselves represented in academia as well as being privy to the excellent minds making change and critiquing the institutions of higher learning, while contributing to the edifice of excellence at Skyline College.

The panelists featured were Dr. Jamal Cook of San Francisco State University, Associate Professor in the Department of Secondary Education; Dr. Nolan Jones, Director of the Upward Bound Program, Hip Hop Constructive, and Instructor at Mills College; Dr. Greg Tanaka, Principal and Senior Researcher at Center for the Study of Democracy and Social Change; Clyde Lewis, Adjunct Professor at Skyline College and Doctoral Candidate at San Francisco State University; and Irene St. Roseman and Paul St. Roseman, Doctoral candidates at Mills College.

Each of the speakers brought a unique brand of insight and voice to the conversation, which focused on unlocking the keys to academic success by using education as a means to navigate the world, and to promote social justice and change. During the panel discussion Dr. Jones, the Hip Hop Constructivist, made a very important assessment regarding the passport metaphor addressing education. He stated, “It is the application of the passport that opens the access. The passport is no good if you do not get it stamped; once it is stamped you can travel.”  This is when the odyssey of experience thoroughly impacts one’s life.

The most intriguing element of the panel was that each participant either hailed from Oakland, California or has become a residence there, which ultimately suggests that there is a great vibrant bandwidth of highly informed educators coexisting and comingling to conspire to shift the paradigm of collective consciousness around the value of education, and how it will impact the future of our youth.

This was significant because this group of educated intellectuals exhibited a different image than that which is so often associated with persons living in Oakland. Their presence alone defied the stereotypes and presented an academic module shift that is uncommonly companioned with people of color living and working in the East Bay. Dr. Martin Luther King framed it best, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.”

Article by Nathan Jones | Photos by Joseph Adams