Chandra Jenkins, Former Assistant Director of Higher Ed Services, Begins Engaging College Students
NAC Class of 2013 alum Jackie Martinez remembers the goals she had before meeting Chandra Jenkins in 2010. She wanted to be famous and rich and she didn’t know why. Now, Jackie notes, “I strive to be a strong, intelligent, independent woman who values knowledge and fights for equality. I strive to be like Chandra.” Chandra, who started working as an English tutor at the NAC in February 2010, was excited to share her love of reading and writing with high school students. It was not long before Chandra developed and led several clubs, including a reading-through-comics book club in which students analyzed the form and content of multiple genres of comic books.
Having earned her Masters Degree in English from California State University, Fullerton in 2009, Chandra was well qualified to help NAC students learn to better express themselves through written communication. “I loved working with students on their essays and getting to have discussions with them about literature,” Chandra remembers, “and I loved seeing them get excited about discussing whatever they were reading because they finally had a space where their voice mattered and had authority.”
One of the crucial areas in which Chandra assisted students involved writing personal statements. NAC Class of 2013 alum, Hector Valencia, who now attends Hope College in Holland, Michigan, is grateful for Chandra’s help. “Chandra helped me so much when it came to writing my personal statement. We went through it several times and it was very eye opening because I looked at my first draft and then my final one and really saw the improvement.”
In March 2012, Chandra accepted the position of the NAC’s first Assistant Director of Higher Education Services. Remembering her transition to the new position, Chandra notes, “I was very excited to help broaden students’ perspectives regarding their college options in a more specific way than being an English tutor allowed.” As a member of the Higher Education Services team, Chandra helped create Financial Aid workshops and develop College Knowledge curriculum for all levels of NAC students. Chandra also developed curriculum on how to talk to people in various formal settings, including college and job interviews.
Working in Higher Education Services also broadened Chandra’s understanding of various systematic intricacies in relation to U.S. Immigration, college applications, financial aid, and tax law. In particular, Chandra took note of the structural system that labels students in their mandated education as English Language Learners, or “Disabled,” or having a learning disability. In relation to the latter, the impact of these labels on a student’s prospect for attaining a college education is restrictive. Chandra states, “Frequently, students with all of those labels are not put in college prep classes, and so are unable to apply to college because they are lacking the basic requirements.”
In the fall of 2013, Chandra began pursuing her PhD in Education, with an emphasis in Curriculum and Cultural Studies at Chapman University. It is in pursuit of this degree and related research opportunities that led Chandra to resign from the NAC as of mid-August. Beginning this fall, Chandra will work with Dr. Lilia Monzo in the College of Education Studies at Chapman, and she will also serve as the Graduate Assistant for Civic Engagement in the Department of Student Engagement. As a Graduate Assistant, Chandra will be “part of the larger Student Engagement team, which works with students in numerous ways, including the Student Center, Greek Life, Cross-Cultural events, the fitness center, the University Program Board, and student government,” as well as in other capacities. Chandra expects to complete her PhD in 2017.
Before leaving the NAC, Chandra addressed the students with a general statement via Facebook: “I will miss getting to work with you all, but I will still be relatively close. It has been great getting to know you and seeing where you have gone and watching how you’ve grown. Thank you for letting me share in part of your journey! I am so glad I’ve had this time at the NAC. I wish you all nothing but the best, and I hope you continue to do amazing things in the world and for your community!”