Mulubrhan (Mulu) Evangline Negash, M.S.Ed.
How I became interested in my area of study:
As a first generation college student from a low-income background, I know firsthand the barriers of navigating higher education. As a second year college student, I took the initiative to assist people in my community, many of whom come from low-income and first-generation backgrounds, with the college application process. However, I saw that the retention of those students was significantly low. I was curious in learning what made these groups of students drop out of college.
My first research project looked at “The correlates of Positive Educational Behaviors and High Stakes Testing in Urban schools.” As part of the research project, I interviewed a few high school students regarding their perception of educational testing and their performance in classrooms. The research project marked my interest in educational disparities across America. During my last year in college I worked for the National TRiO Upward Bound program that works to help low-income/first-generation college students go to college. I worked as Residence Staff during their summer program and learned about the barriers students from urban schools face in obtaining a college degree. Since then, I have paved my academic and career paths to espouse an unwavering support to underrepresented groups in higher education. My current work with low-income and first-generation and underrepresented minority groups on campus continues to show me the importance of educational opportunity programs to ensure that everyone realizes equal access to higher education.
An honor, achievement or accomplishment that is most meaningful to me and why:
Getting my Master’s degree and having my son in the same year is one of my most prized accomplishments. This is most meaningful for me as it relates to my core belief that education is for everyone regardless of social status, gender, race and ethnicity. As a first-generation college student from a background that values women’s role in the home far more than in an academic setting, it was most honorable for me to accomplish both having a family and acquiring an education. My achievement is a model to women that it is possible to balance family and education/career.
Someone who has been a role model for me and why:
I have several people that are role models in my life that I hope to emulate what they have done in their life time. From faculty advisers here at KU: Dr. Paul Atchely that provided my first exposure to research methods and validated my contribution to the field, Dr. Shane Lopez, my supervisor over my first research project, Dr. Glenn Adams, my supervisor who advised me to conduct my research and present it at regional and national conferences. My committee members for my Master’s thesis Dr. David Hansen, Dr. Kristen Bast Hensley, and Dr. Tamara Mikinski- who allowed me to frame a creative research project. Dr. Ngondi Kamatuka who is the ideal role model of educational advocacy and fervent efforts towards ensuring that all Americans receive equal access to quality education. Rebecca Dukstein my first supervisor in the education field that works tirelessly and sacrificially to expose low-income, first-generation and underrepresented minority groups to post-secondary education. My father Lemma Misgana and mother Genet Misgana, both have been role models for their hard work and sacrifice to ensure that I along with my siblings receive a quality education. These role models have exuded a commitment to improving the lives of individuals they worked with through educational empowerment. I truly hope that I follow in their steps to make an impact in the lives of students that I work with daily.
My favorite KU memory:
Every commencement is my most favorite KU memory –It is the day I get to witness a transformative experience particularly, for the students that are the first in their family to earn a bachelor’s degree. I recall my first commencement when I witnessed thousands of KU family, staff, faculty and students walk down the hill to commence their journey in making a meaningful impact in the world. At the annual commencement there is a collective Jayhawk recognition of all who worked hard to accomplish their educational goals.
When times get tough, something that helps me get through it:
During tough times, prayer and meditation helps me get through the day. Particularly when I am working with students that experience challenges beyond their control, I have made a daily habit to pray and find ways to assist them. Another aspect of dealing with tough times for me is to focus on “counting my blessings” or put whatever stressful situation into perspective of what positive things have happened.
An important life lesson I have learned:
Two important lessons in life: People are our most precious gifts and we must value everyone we meet and cultivate both personal and professional relationships.
Don’t forget where you come from. Who I am is intricately woven by where I come from and I have learned that it keeps me grounded to always recognize my cultural heritage.
If I had a sister just entering college, I would want her to know….
To be proactive in building her network of people she meets and to value her contribution in her discipline that as a college student she is not just there to learn but to also impact how her teacher teaches her and future students. College is a place where you learn to learn and think.
A favorite quote or saying and why it is meaningful to me:
“Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”– Martin Luther King, Jr.
This quote is meaningful to me both professionally and personally. There are many times when our continued efforts of advocacy at the regional and national level seem unyielding of any change. Often, I remind my students to focus on putting one foot in front of the other to move forward even if their path is seemingly unclear. Taking the first step of faith often leads to an awareness of one’s true potential and the promising steps ahead.