What Education Reform Means to This Student


By Jenna Brashear, WISE Learners’ Voice

I am excited to attend the upcoming international conference at Wheelock College, Global Challenges and Opportunities Facing Children, Youth, and Families.  Recently I graduated from Vanderbilt University with my Master of Public Policy in Education Policy and previously received my Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and German from the University of Kentucky.  Though I grew up in a rural community, my educational experiences cultivated in me a love for other languages and cultures.  I am interested in how international perspectives and practices can be shared to improve education worldwide, most specifically for underserved populations, including economically disadvantaged, rural, and minority students in the United States.  Of particular interest to me are educational technology, alignment of education from early childhood to university experiences, and higher education access and success.  As a result of these interests, I eagerly look forward to attending the conference at Wheelock to learn how international innovations and solutions can improve education worldwide. Jenna Brashear

I come to Wheelock as a part of the WISE Learners’ Voice Program, a group of 30 young people from 24 countries who first met last fall at the World Innovation Summit for Education.  We attended WISE to provide the perspective of current students with the potential to be change agents in the future, whether that is in education or related fields of health, the environment and sustainability, human rights, or technology.  Increasingly, leaders in education are recognizing the importance of the learner perspective, and Learners’ Voice addresses this by providing a platform and training for young leaders from around the world.

At Wheelock, I am excited to participate in two panels: “Nothing About Us Without Us: Fostering Early Youth Engagement in Three Strands of Importance to the Global Community–Education, Health and Human Rights,” as well as “Calling the Shots: Who Controls School Reform & Why Does It Matter?”  My experience as a WISE Learner explains much of my interest in the former panel, so I will speak a bit more to school reform, which is at the heart of my experience in education policy.  Previously I served as Programs Intern at the Institute for Higher Education Policy in Washington, D.C., which strove to improve access to and success in postsecondary education.  While completing my studies at Vanderbilt University, I worked as a Research Assistant with the Peabody College Department of Special Education and was also a Graduate Fellow at an education advocacy organization, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).  SCORE supported education reform efforts at the K-12 level in Tennessee.  At all of these organizations, what drove the work was the desire to create school experiences for students that will better prepare them for success in their careers and lives.  I am pleased to witness a rise in collaborative efforts to improve education, but on both of these panels I look forward to discussing ways in which students can be more involved in their education both to enrich their experiences and to increase their engagement, which should improve their outcomes as well.

Jenna Brashear recently graduated from Vanderbilt University, where she completed my Master of Public Policy in Education Policy.  While there, Jenna worked as a Graduate Research Assistant for a special education grant as well as a Graduate Fellow at the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).  She also worked as Programs Intern at the Institute for Higher Education Policy in Washington, D.C.