This year, we introduced our first inaugural PeopleGrove Scholarship, an essay competition open to full-time college or university students. We received many fantastic essays in response, and are excited to announce the winner, Tyler Frazier of DePaul University!
Frazier is in DePaul’s College of Education, working toward a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education and Social Sciences. He expects to graduate in June 2021. Frazier is an Instructional Equity Strategist for Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Equity, a Residential Advisor at DePaul, and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
His essay shared personal experiences growing up on the far southside of Chicago, Illinois, which inspired him to become an educator. He wrote in his scholarship application essay, “As an educator, being one of the few black male teachers around, it is my task to provide youth with the tools, knowledge, and language to be successful. I have to empower others to stay true to their character and not settle for less. I believe that youth cannot achieve goals that they have not been exposed to.”
Frazier plans to pursue a master’s of educational leadership and eventually a doctorate, so he can work toward his goal of becoming a principal or a superintendent. Education runs in the family for Frazier, whose mother worked as a public school teacher in Chicago.
“She has such a profound way of seeing the potential in students, no matter their situation outside of the classroom,” he said. “There were students who didn’t have the necessary clothing, or they were hungry; they didn’t have the necessary support at home, and she was always willing to reach into her own pocket and be that support for them.”
Frazier said that seeing this approach as a child had a direct effect on his own career aspirations, and he wants to have that same impact for students of color and those from marginalized communities in Chicago.
Although his mother taught elementary school students, Frazier is interested in teaching at a high school.
“High school is a very crucial time for youth,” he said. “They are learning socially, not just academically. This is the time when they begin to explore their identities, they start to explore their interests, and what they want to be in life. They really do need guidance, and they need someone to stick with them and show them how to succeed.”
Today, youth often feel pressure to live up to a certain social status or make perfect grades or achieve the best ACT or SAT score to be accepted, Frazier said. He credits mentors with the capability of providing guidance and structure that students may not have, which will help them move past challenges and barriers.
“Especially for black and brown youth who come from broken households — they may not have a father figure around, they may not have mom around all the time,” he said. “As a teacher, I can supplement that guidance they may be missing.”
At DePaul, Frazier said he is learning how to administer a classroom, what to do, and what not to do, but the real learning comes from being in the situation firsthand.
“You learn to manage personalities when you have 35 to 40 students in front of you,” he said. “That is when you succeed or fail, but those are learning moments. If I can impact one person, that’s what matters to me.”
All of us at PeopleGrove admire Tyler’s commitment to education and mentorship. We hope our 2019 PeopleGrove Scholar continues to go after his dreams and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for him!