LaShawn Washington, Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis

To celebrate Black History Month, we asked some of our students in the School of Education to share about their UW–Madison experiences, their Black role models, and what Black History Month means to them. 

Photo of LaShawn Washington
LaShawn Washington

Where are you from and what brought you to UW–Madison?

I am originally from Dallas, Texas — I am a proud Southerner. I came to UW–Madison because of its prestigious reputation and my phenomenal advisor, Dr. Rachelle Winkle-Wagner. When I first came to visit here, I instantly felt at peace and knew that this is where I was supposed to be.

Why did you decide to pursue graduate study? What are your research interests?

I am a non-traditional, first-generation college student who attended and graduated from a community college. My time in community college really sparked a desire to want to serve and teach students (especially those from marginalized backgrounds), because I was transformed through intentional, caring educators. I knew I wanted to give that experience back to other students one day. So I decided I wanted to teach college and support students of color and (those with) differences in collegiate settings. My current research interest investigates the experiences, theories, and practices Black women employ within predominately and historically white institutions as a result of their intersectional identities.

What has been your favorite class or professor?

This is such a hard question! As an advanced doctoral student I no longer take classes, but I absolutely loved taking classes here. My favorite two classes have to be Black Feminism in Education, by Dr. Erika Bullock, and Critical Theory and Qualitative Data Analysis, with Dr. Rachelle Winkle-Wagner.

"Black History Month, in particular, means so much to me because it represents a time to reflect and celebrate my ancestors and those who inspire me through their courageous acts of social and racial justice both past and present."

What does Black History Month mean to you?

To me, Black History Month is both a local, personal, and board endeavor. As an educational scholar with a doctoral minor in Afro-American Studies, I believe that history is tethered to the present — especially Black history. Unfortunately, I did not learn a lot about Black history and its iconic figures until graduate school. Therefore, Black History Month, in particular, means so much to me because it represents a time to reflect and celebrate my ancestors and those who inspire me through their courageous acts of social and racial justice both past and present.

Tell us about a Black role model you look up to and admire. Why?

Photo of bell hooks
bell hooks (UW Archives)

One of my most influential role models is the late UW–Madison Alumna bell hooks. She was not only a phenomenal Black woman writer, but she presented feminist ideas in a way that felt warm and convincing simultaneously. While I do not aspire to be her, I do desire to inspire others the way she inspired me and to be a carrier of her legacy in my own way through my teaching, praxis, scholarship, and everyday life.

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