Scholarship opportunities open through raising awareness

Possibility to social recognition due to student advocacy


Ivan Zank

A student scrolls through scholarship page April 4 during park connections.

Alicia Mainjeni

The Increase Teachers of Color Act is one step closer to creating a more culturally and ethnically diverse academic space by encouraging teachers of color to join this area of work.

Civics teacher Emma Engebretson pointed out the difference between teachers voicing concerns and students addressing an issue and the different impacts they both have. Engebretson mentioned that the student voice has importance in raising awareness against these issues.

“Students have a major voice in this. It’s one thing for teachers of color to say ‘We’re doing important work or we feel isolated being the only person of color in a building,’ but it’s another thing for students to say, ‘We need this, our education would be better for X, Y and Z reasons if we had more teachers of color or more diversity within the school,’” Engebretson said.

The Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota is an organization that is taking immense steps in regards to recruiting and keeping teachers of color in schools and inspiring young people.The Coalition is currently holding a scholarship contest. The goal is to raise awareness of the lack of teachers of color in schools along with empowering student voices and the opportunity to benefit from teachers of color in schools.

Instructional assistant, Addie Welch, mentioned the importance of the Increase Teachers of Color Act and the scholarships that it is providing. Welch spoke about the positive effects that this scholarship will have on the youth in regards to the money portion of the scholarship.

“Youth need money. There’s lots of youth that are poor that need money,” Welch said. “There’s really no wrong way to give somebody money that needs it. Money clearly has an influence on our lives so if [we are] able to raise money and give it to people that need it and are advocating for more justice in the world, why not?”

Freshman Amina Omar, said valuing minorities and students who are at a disadvantage plays an immense role in getting teachers of color in the classroom contributing to the learning environment.

“They should first respect all the students that go there and make the learning environment better. I feel like if the learning environment becomes better, teachers would like this environment and try to come here more,” Omar said. 

Welch also shone a light on the importance of advocating for scholarships like this one by reminding us that it is not necessary to be heavily educated on a topic to advocate for it. 

“I truly do believe that you don’t need to be a total expert on a piece of legislation or a piece of policy to be able to support it and to look into it and trust your instincts,” Welch says.

Staff want more teachers of color and find the impacts that they leave are important. Engebretson expressed a desire for more teachers of color and mentioned the significance of teachers of color.

“I hope that we can get more teachers of color to St. Louis Park. Not only hire them here, but also make sure that they are staying here,” Engebretson said. “I think we do a good job of recruitment and we’re trying to recruit really great people and now we have to work on really making sure that they feel supported and want to stay here.”