Ever since Jenny Jacobs was a little girl, she knew she wanted to be a teacher. She would even take notes on what her favorite teachers did, so she could utilize those skills one day in her own classroom.
When Jacobs pursued her bachelor’s degree in theater, she never imagined that one day she would be presenting her doctoral research on the value of performing arts in higher education at Cal State Long Beach.
The eighth annual Educational Leadership Symposium took place in the University Student Union Saturday, where graduate students and faculty in the college of education displayed their research on a wide variety of topics.
“I’m really passionate about theater, so I decided to examine what the performing arts bring to higher education,” said Jacobs, a doctoral student in the college of educational leadership. “I found that almost all of the administrators that I spoke to think that the performing arts have the power to connect institutions to their community in a similar way to athletics.”
The morning kicked off with a continental breakfast and a welcome message from Anna Ortiz, department chair for the college of education. Groups then split off into different sessions, which included educational workshops for the attendees, followed by keynote speaker Stedman Graham to end the day.
“This is the first time I’ve ever presented any of my research,” Jacobs said. “So this event is a really great way to get my feet wet and share my experiences with people who come from so many different backgrounds and experiences.”
The room was buzzing as students and faculty chatted about research projects that filled the student union. According to Kimberly Word, the associate director in the educational leadership department, the event allowed graduate students and faculty members to showcase their work with posters, workshops and panels. This gave presenters and attendees the opportunity to learn about and discuss research findings.
“The Educational Leadership Symposium is an opportunity for people to see what the college of education looks like with our students and faculty,” Word said. “It’s also an opportunity for our current students to network with alumni, and other faculty across the university and throughout other educational institutions.”
Stedman Graham, chairman and CEO of his firm, S. Graham and Associates, was invited to be the keynote speaker of the event. Graham delivered his message on leadership identity, which he has learned through his experience as an educator and entrepreneur.
“I decided to come because I wanted to see the keynote speaker, and to learn from what he had to say,” said Lynda Murray-Thomas, a doctoral student in the educational leadership program. “This is my last year before I graduate from the program, and I decided to come so that I could network and get some inspiration.”
Ortiz stated that the event is a great way for the college of education to recruit prospective students and to showcase learning opportunities.
In addition, Ortiz stated that the keynote speaker was an extremely valuable source of information for students because the topic of leadership identity is crucial for them to grasp.
“We talk a lot about identity and values and social justice, so that as part of our work as leaders, we become advocates for underserved communities or disenfranchised groups of students,” Ortiz said. “I think his focus on identity really resonates on what we do in the classroom with our students on a regular basis.”