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Student Spotlight: Quiana Joseph-Muhammad, EdD in Teaching & Curriculum

Quiana Joseph-Muhammad, EdD in Teaching & Curriculum

Born and raised in Rochester, N.Y., Quiana Joseph-Muhammad chose to keep her academic journey locally. After receiving her associate’s degree from Monroe Community College and both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SUNY Brockport, she worked in the education field for 16 years, where she taught at all levels, from preschool to high school, and most recently at The Hub585Her next stop in her local academic journey was the Warner School, where she enrolled in the traditional EdD program in teaching and curriculum.
What led you to pursue a doctorate?
I thoroughly enjoyed teaching high school, but I didn’t necessarily like the system. I love what I’m doing with the kids, and I love watching them grow and develop, but the system is a sincere barrier for Black youth in urban communities. I’ve always stayed in touch with one of my Brockport professors, who graduated from the University of Rochester, and she encouraged me to pursue my doctorate because she saw that what I could do and provide was bigger than what a classroom would allow me to do. I played with the thought for a while. I also worked at East’s Big Picture alternative school program, where I was encouraged by conversations I had with Dr. Shaun Nelms to pursue this trajectory. It was during those two conversations that I realized that this was something I could do.
Why Warner?
As a child, my grandmother lived on the other side of the bridge off Genesee Street. During the summers, we would ride our bikes over to River Campus and spend time in the library. I was very familiar with the campus before I became a student here, and I’ve always gone to schools that are close to home. I enjoyed the fact that Warner has a reputation for being rigorous. I thoroughly enjoy a challenge, and once I discovered that about this program, I decided it was for me.
What have you enjoyed most at Warner?
With the small class sizes and a small cohort, I have thoroughly enjoyed making connections with other educators throughout Monroe County, formulating friendly relationships with them, and listening to their stories from different educational spaces. Often, my classmates attend my work events through The Hub585, and likewise, I attend and support them at their professional events. So, the biggest thing for me was finding that community through the peers whom I’ve met in my Warner classes.
What volunteer work have you been involved in?
I am a committee member of the Monroe County Legislative District 26 and the secretary of the Black History and Culture Advisory Board for the Monroe County Library System. Most recently, I’ve been voted in as a board member of Writers & Books.
What does your work entail at The Hub585, Inc.? 
I am the Associate Director of Programs at The Hub585, where I develop, implement, oversee, and evaluate all the youth-facing programs that we run. Thankfully, all these programs are out-of-school time programs. One thing that I’m especially passionate about is shining a light on the literacy practices that Black youth display on a regular basis when they are given the opportunity to do so in a space where they feel safe and supported and feel as if their voices matter.
What will be the focus of your dissertation?
I hope to focus my dissertation on the literacy practices of the out-of-school programs that we offer through The Hub585 to support and influence the engagement and academic practices of Black youth.  I’d like to analyze our summer programming to see how we are serving youth. A lot of the youth that we serve are in foster care, are Black and Brown, and come to us from isolated communities or spaces where their families don’t have the supports in place that we typically see in traditional families. During the programming, we give them time to relax and enjoy being a child, but we also give them opportunities to collaborate with each other, think critically about the world around them, and reflect on their views of the world. We introduce them to new things and places that they may have never encountered in the community, and we have conversations about that.
What does the future look like for you?
Ideally, I’d like to be able to help novice teachers in their practice with Black and Brown youth in urban communities. One of the things that I’ve stumbled across in some of my classes was the importance of cultivating culturally responsive classroom management. As a teacher, people would always ask me how I was able to get some of the most difficult students to work and come to class. It’s a matter of building relationships and creating routines for them. I’d like to be able to share some of these things with people who are passionate about getting into the field but may not have the tools to be successful in the spaces they decide to teach.