Colin Powell School
You Belong, Your Story Matters, and the World Needs You: Danielle Evans on Her Journey to Eradicate Educational Inequality
Danielle Evans, a native of the South Bronx, will graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology. Evans first visited the CCNY campus when her son performed in the Langston Hughes Choral Speaking Festival at Aaron Davis Hall in 2018. She was inspired by the campus and the diverse community of City College and knew it was the place to expand how she thought about the world. Evans is committed to combating educational inequality that results from the systemic inequities in our city. As a mother of two and a former public school student herself, she is motivated by her direct experiences with the longstanding disparities in NYC’s public school system. As a sociology major, Evans explored the many interacting and mutually reinforcing aspects of education inequality. With support from the CCNY Scholarships Office and the Colin Powell School, she became a Truman Scholar finalist and continues to pursue her career aspirations while working as a policy support specialist with the NYC Department of Education. After graduating, Evans will attend Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education to pursue a master’s degree in education leadership in the fall.
Please tell us a little about your background.
I am an African American woman born and raised in the South Bronx with my grandmother and siblings. Before attending CCNY, I worked in early childhood education at a Head Start program in the Bronx. This is where my interest in education began. Through my union at the job, I was able to obtain my Associate's Degree. My two children inspire me to improve myself and my community. As my children entered public school, I began to volunteer with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and the School Leadership Team (SLT) to contribute to the school community. This engagement motivated me to contribute more, on a larger scale.
What brought you to City College?
I first visited CCNY when my son performed in the Langston Hughes Choral Speaking Festival at Aaron Davis Hall in 2018. I fell in love with the campus and had never experienced such diversity in any school building before. I was attracted to the Colin Powell School’s MPA program with a social justice lens because it is imperative that I examine the issues around education inequality from a sociological perspective. I remember how diverse the student population was when I visited and I knew this was exactly where I wanted to continue my education.
What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
I have seen every public school I attend close due to poor performance. This coupled with the ongoing dissatisfaction with my children’s former school opportunities encouraged me to examine the longstanding inequities in a public school system that has historically and continuously underserved students of color. After attending Community Education Council meetings, I met parents across NYC with nearly identical problems at schools in Black neighborhoods. I learned that the problems that manifest in our schools reflect the systemic inequalities of our city. I returned to school, determined to prevent educational inequalities from becoming an inter-generational problem. It was imperative that I examine the issues around education inequality from a sociological perspective.
How has your career unfolded, and how has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?
The Colin Powell School helped me align my passion and career goals with my current life. I am now a policy support specialist with the Division of Early Childhood at the NYC DOE doing exactly what I am passionate about, education policy. I would have never applied to a position like this without the mentorship of people like Ms. Lutton, Dean Rich, Professor Dordick, and Professor Tucker.
Please share a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.
Becoming a Truman finalist here is definitely one of the highlights of my experience. The application required enough work to be almost the equivalent of a course in itself, but the process of introspection was transformational for me. The support from the department, professors, and alumni helped translate my aspirations into reality and make me believe in myself enough to put my best foot forward.
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
There is no linear path or age limit to success, to finding your purpose, or to discovering the things that excite you in life. Also, never forget that you belong in every classroom and every door you walk into because your story matters and the world needs you.
What does it mean to have been selected as a CPS salutatorian?
To be selected as a CPS salutatorian is truly a top honor. I am a reflection of the dedication and influence of the CPS community. I now leave well equipped to transcend in my career and inspire others along the way.