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Student Spotlight: Onesmo Mushi, PhD in Teaching & Curriculum

Onesmo Mushi, PhD in Teaching & Curriculum

Onesmo Mushi came to the Warner School from Tanzania, East Africa, where he previously taught English for five years before receiving his master’s degree in TESOL from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. At Warner, he’s working toward his PhD in teaching and curriculum, where he focuses his research on academic/scholarly publishing among multilingual scholars in Africa.

What led you to pursue this field of study?
Having taught middle school and high school English in Tanzania and being involved in several community intervention literacy programs, I realized that the change I aspired to make was both complex, sophisticated, and difficult to attain with my prior knowledge gap. I also needed the knowledge and authority necessary to gain trust and influence education transformation in my country, especially around knowledge production. These reasons influenced me to study in the teaching and curriculum program at Warner.

Why Warner?
When I started my master's degree program at Indiana under a Fulbright scholarship, I told my advisor about my goal of achieving a PhD. She then assured me that if I worked hard on some of the areas she highlighted, she would recommend some of the best Universities that would fit my aspirations. When I accumulated good grades and demonstrated my desire to learn more, she recommended that I apply to Warner. Of course, I didn't just follow her advice blindly. Instead, I did my own research on the programs and faculty work of the Warner School. I also tried to learn what former students were saying about the school. I was inspired by what I found and decided to apply. That's how I ended up here, and I have enjoyed my journey since the first day.

What have you enjoyed most at Warner?
I like the learning atmosphere at Warner. The feeling of being supported and the accessibility to a myriad of supportive resources rank at the top for me. First, it was Dean Sarah Peyre, who helped me secure a scholarship. Without the scholarship, I would have been forced to return to my home country in the middle of a global pandemic. I’ve also enjoyed my relationship with my advisor, Dr. Mary Jane Curry, who has been a great mentor, professor, and model scholar. She guided me when I did not know what to do, supported me outside the classroom, co-authored and co-presented with me at international conferences, connected me with scholars in the field, and pushed me to be better. I am also grateful to the entire teaching and curriculum department for trusting me and allowing me to teach a course this semester and gain experience for my own academic growth and development. I also appreciate that Warner faculty have opened their doors and allowed me to seek help whenever I needed it. And, of course, without forgetting my academic friends Fatima, Amy, Todd, Anjoli, and many others who have formed my go-to community of learners. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed pretty much everything here, and I love Warner.

What volunteer work have you been involved in?
My friends and I formed a writing group that has offered a writing space for many graduate students at Warner. I also volunteer as a graduate student editorial board member of the Journal of English for Specific Purposes and an office assistant for the NYS TESOL Journal. I look forward to seeking an opportunity to volunteer with literacy programs in prisons and similar places. This has been a dream of mine for a long time.

What will be the focus of your dissertation?
My dissertation topic is still tentative, but I hope to have it focus on the relationship between the United States and Africa in Scientific Knowledge Production.

How have you been involved in experiential learning?  
I am grateful that Warner paired me up with a wonderful advisor, Dr. Mary Jane Curry. Under her mentorship, I have been able to engage in research, publish a journal article, and volunteer on different journal editorial boards. I also have had the privilege of working with different Warner professors at different stages of their research. These exposures have allowed me to hone my skills through learning by doing.

What does the future hold for you?
Once I complete my doctoral program, I aspire to work with United States-based institutions in dealing with research and knowledge production in Africa. This could entail working in universities and research funding agencies in the U.S. Eventually, I hope to return to my home country and work to influence change. Before I reach that stage, though, I need to learn more by working in the U.S. so that I can eventually transfer the knowledge that I gain here to my country.