PHutures – 100 Alumni Voices »

Nichelle Bowes

“Working hard is the thing that’s going to get you noticed in year one of your role. Making connections with people and learning more about how you can advance is what’s going to get your named called in rooms that you have not yet entered.”

School of Education

Education, EdD 2018

Vice Provost of Student Affairs at the Relay Graduate School of Education

Nichelle‘s Podcast Episode

In this episode, we discuss what inspired Nichelle’s doctoral research assessing the higher education systems, policies, and practices needed to support diverse student populations, her successful implementation of this work in her roles at the Relay Graduate School of Education, and her advice for being intentional about your career exploration and building authentic professional connections.

Learn More About Nichelle‘s Story

This picture captures a moment in my first classroom as a 7th grade teacher. I was so young and full of exuberance and ideals. I was a new teacher and experiencing all of the challenges that are a part of a novice teacher’s first year. Additionally, I was commuting 1.5 hours each way to work every day. But I loved my work, and I loved my students. They were both smart and funny. They all were so full of energy and excitement for learning, and they did not live in the most affluent zip codes. I wanted so badly to show them what was possible with education. This photo was taken at our Christmas party and the item was a present they had given me. They had pooled their money together to buy me something because they valued me. However, the best gift they gave me was the pleasure of teaching them. They showed me how a group of students from traditionally marginalized communities can achieve their goals. They taught me how to advocate, encourage, and coach. The lessons I learned from them enabled an inexperienced, idealistic young teacher to embark on a career in education.

This photo was taken two decades later at my current institution’s commencement exercises. In the photo are three of my former students, two in person and one on the cell phone (on FaceTime) in my hand. I love this picture because the three former students have now become colleagues and are supporting new teachers who teach students from traditionally marginalized and under-served communities, much like the one in Paterson, where I embarked on my career. It is even more rewarding because they now support their students using the advisement and management framework that I developed while at JHU. That experience, buoyed by the special gift I received from those young students in Paterson has now been refined, codified, and replicated to the benefit of thousands of students in cities across the U.S. A full circle moment.