"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

a short and recent biography

i learned last night, right after we put a wrap on the class i've been teaching for the past semester, that i've been awarded the Miller Award for the Western College Program.

as the email notice describes it:

"You have been selected by your peers as the winner of the Miller Award.
Stephanie, your award is given to the student who most embodies the spirit of Western College. Congrats to you! As part of the WCP tradition that goes along with the Miller Award you will have your name embroidered onto the graduation gown worn by Ms. Miller. The Western College Alumnae Association expects that you wear "the regalia" to both the main campus commencement, as well as to the Western commencement. As such, please plan to attend the campus-wide graduation on Saturday, as well as joining us in Kumler Chapel. It will make for a long day, but you are now firmly enshrined as part of Western's rich history."

what an absolute honor! i was so breathlessly thrilled when i first read the email, i had to re-read it twice, just to make sure it was intended for me and not some other stephanie. but, the sender made sure to send it to all three of my email addresses, so i guess he knew what he was doing, too.

as part of the award, i had to submit a story about "me and my long, long life" (the dean's words). here's what i ended up writing:

In her time here at Western, Stephanie has immersed herself in community life, tutoring in both the Windate Writing Center and the Tappan Computer Lab, serving on Community Life Council (CLC) for her first and second years, and serving on the Traditions and Transitions committee for the preservation of Western College traditions. Stephanie has also extended her community involvement beyond Miami. She has volunteered at the Community Arts Center and with the Earned Income Tax Credit program in Butler County. As a Campus Progress Advisory Board member, Stephanie has helped to organize campaigns and training workshops for student activists all around the nation.

Among Western's many traditions, Stephanie holds the tradition of social justice most dear. As one of the organizers of the group Students for Staff, Stephanie has been continuing the work of Western alums who started the Fair Labor Coalition in 2003. She has spent the majority of her undergraduate years working alongside fellow students to campaign for a living wage at Miami University. And, when word about Western's possible termination leaked to the Western community, Stephanie was at the forefront of the movement to "Keep Western Whole." She demanded a meeting with the administration, and, along with a group of Western students, cancelled their Spring Break plans to stay in Oxford and meet with Provost Herbst and defend the Western Program. They would also raise opposition to the administration in University Senate, where they demanded greater transparency and student involvement.

Her experiences in both Students for Staff and the Keep Western Whole campaigns greatly influenced her to write her senior project on the importance of democracy and community in fostering empowering education. As part of her project, she designed and taught a Western seminar called "Education for Social Change," in which students developed community-based projects that would hopefully transform their educational experiences, as well as those of the people around them. She also built a book press so the class could hand-bind copies of a book they wrote together.

After Miami, Stephanie will be moving to Los Angeles, CA to teach special education as a Teach for America corps member. She hopes to get involved with more labor organizing or community-building projects in LA (she hopes to unionize the teachers in her school system - after her time in TFA) and plans on going to graduate school for cultural studies or public policy. She plans on devoting the rest of her life to educating revolutionary leaders and teachers who will transform the world of education, and dreams of eventually taking office as Secretary of Education and making democratic education the norm in schools all over the nation, and then coming back to Oxford to reinstate the Western College Program as she knew and loved it.

Of all the time she's spent at Miami, and of all the people she's met and things she's done, she's going to miss the moments spent with Western the most. This has really been her second family and second home for the last four years, and she wonders how she ever got by without this beautiful community. Thank you so much for giving her the opportunity to be so incredibly happy.

-- that last part made me tear up a little bit.

bidding you a fond adieu,


Anonymous said...

Congrats Steph on a well deserved award. The first of many I am sure.


Rae Jin Devine said...


I'm so sad I won't be there.


stephan!e lee said...

you're there in spirit, don't worry. :-)


The ZenFo Pro said...

Hey! Congrats!

And, hey, we FINALLY got that drink after all!!!


stephan!e lee said...

hey J -

yeah, good seeing you finally at the bar! too bad it was so late in my time here, but better late than never!

if i'm ever in town again, i'll be sure to call you. more shots of purple rain will be on the to-do!

best wishes and see you soon.

remaerdyaD said...

Simply rad.