Education is no equalizer —
Rather, it is the sleep that precedes the American Dream.
So wake up — wake up! Lift your voices
Until you’ve patched every hole in a child’s broken sky.
…No, sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning.
Lift off.

Donovan Livingston captured the attention of millions of Americans earlier this summer when his Harvard convocation address went viral. This fall, he’s bringing his passion for education equality to UNCG.

A native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Livingston is pursuing his doctoral degree in educational studies with a concentration in cultural studies in UNCG’s School of Education.

He wants to become a professor and help shape the next generation of teachers and counselors.

“I always saw myself in education, but I didn’t know in what capacity,” he said.

Enrolling at UNCG is a homecoming of sorts for Livingston. Both his mother and his wife are UNCG alumnae, and after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill in 2009, he moved to Greensboro to begin his career in education.

Through his work with Carolina College Advising Corps, Livingston guided hundreds of underrepresented students in higher education at Dudley and Smith high schools through the college application process.

After earning his master’s degree in higher and post-secondary education from Columbia University in 2011, Livingston stayed in New York for a year after graduation, continuing his work with College Advising Corps at an all-boys school in the Bronx. In a school with high teacher turnover and high-need students, Livingston taught a spoken word poetry elective class and coached the basketball team in addition to his advising duties.

The following year, he returned to Greensboro as a field advisor for Organizing for America, where he focused on voter education and registration in the Triad. After the 2012 election, he took a position at his alma mater advising low-income students in UNC-CH’s Upward Bound program.

As Livingston began considering doctoral programs, he decided to defer for a year to participate in Harvard University’s one-year master’s in learning and teaching program. Not only did it give him a chance to further explore potential dissertation topics, but it also allowed him to expand his network and prove to himself that he was ready to go back to school.

“It was a blessing,” he said. “I’m really excited to come back.”

When it came pursuing his doctoral degree, however, there’s no doubt in Livingston’s mind that UNCG was the right place. The educational leadership and cultural foundations program is designed to push student ideas to the forefront, and doctoral candidates are given freedom to pursue their interests with their dissertation topics. He’ll also be working full-time as the assistant director for tutoring services with UNCG’s Student Support Services.

“I feel connected with the university,” he said. “I fit in at UNCG.”

 

Story by Jeanie McDowell, University Communications
Photo and video courtesy of Harvard Graduate School of Education