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Achieving equity for our most vulnerable students

  • Sarah Manchanda

Sarah Manchanda knew early in her educational journey the importance of representation. As a student with a visual impairment, an educator of students with disabilities, and a woman of color, she believes deeply in creating equitable access to education for our most vulnerable students. And while she knew she wanted to be a changemaker, she wasn’t sure exactly what impact she wanted to have. Then, she joined the Emerging Equity Leaders Fellowship (EELF).

“I decided to participate in the Emerging Equity Leaders Fellowship because I wanted to surround myself with a passionate and driven cohort of fellows who were all making change in their communities through policy-related efforts. I also sought to clarify my vision of change through targeted skills development and coaching.”

During her time as a fellow, Sarah engaged in critical conversations around race, taking a deep dive into how her identity impacts her career trajectory. She also completed an equity issue project (EIP), an opportunity to propose policy solutions for students in her community.

“Working on the EIP project was one of the most meaningful experiences in the fellowship. It was a great opportunity to get hands-on experience working to solve a policy issue that I care deeply about: the school-to-prison pipeline. I learned a tremendous amount, including that it is important to listen to the needs of the stakeholder and formulate a plan of action in cooperation with, not separate from, the group that we aim to serve.”

Through her research as a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley, Sarah continues to find solutions that bring all voices to the table.

“After participating in this fellowship, I am truly invigorated in this work and am determined to move forward in pursuing a role in policy that will impact students with disabilities. I want to combine my background as a special education teacher and, now, a researcher in order to inform the policy implementation process. This shift in my vision came from my experience in the fellowship.”

If you are interested in clarifying your vision for change, working with a coach, and building the skills to get to the next level in your career, apply for the Emerging Equity Leaders Fellowship by July 10.