Live from Mesa College
S1: And then what happened was I kept thinking about my great aunt because she was my best friend and she was born in 1880 and she lived to be 100. So I thought then that's what inspired that multi-generational conversation , because we don't talk to our elders enough and vice versa , you see. And so I thought , okay , and Kate's words of wisdom were when she when I was desegregating schools in Missouri , right after Brown versus Board of Education , she said to me , Charlie , you got to be your own self validation. Because she knew we weren't going to be recognized for our brilliance and our genius in the way the other children would be recognized. And so that's one of my models. You got to be your own self validation.
S2: You're listening to the Parker Edison Project and project. Good morning and welcome to season two of the Parker Edison Project. This time around , we're showing you culture as a lifestyle. This is how the tenets come into play in your day to day life. It's Cultural Unity Week at Mesa College and I'm today's lead speaker. Super geeked about it. I like to bring you into my world as much as possible. So the second half of my lecture , I'll be interviewing two guests live in front of a Zoom audience. It will broadcast it for you. You'll get to hear from Dr. Ashanti , Hans and Mr. La Lewis on the topic of education. I think our moderator , Veronica Gerace , is getting things started right now. So let's go to it.
S1: Good morning , everyone. We're really excited to have you all. Welcome to San Diego , Mesa College. And this is a communications studies event. So we're really fortunate today to have our special guests , KPBS host the Parker Edison Project podcast. Parker Edison. So if you could give them a big , big round of applause. Thank you , everyone. Yes. Yeah. We're just really I'm just thrilled to have a parker here as a former roommates with students. And Parker hosts a wonderful podcast. And I first learned of the podcast by listening to KPBS. I first heard the commercial and just became so interested in it. And I want to learn more. And podcast after podcast , I learn something new and I am just I'm hooked on the podcast. And so , again , I just thank you so much , Parker , for joining us. I will turn things over to you.
S2: Thank you. Thank you. And I got to say good morning to my father , who's in Texas. Hey , Puff , thank you so much , Veronica Gerace , for your invitation. It's an honor to be speaking this morning and to be all together here in part of each other's day. I want to give a quick shout out to my cats from the platform collection. Big shout out Kelsey Ray , O.G. Hip Hop , Eddie Jean Flo , seven October's Meli and to quote poet laureate Mark Twain. We started from the bottom. Now we hear. I do interviews for my podcast and I've never done one in front of an audience. But like you right now , this will be my first time meeting. My first guest. She's VP of Student Services. She's done a ton to make it possible for students to be successful. Her contributions are including , but not limited to student scholarships. COVID funding during the pandemic. And actually , I'm going to jump right into it because you can learn a little bit more right from her. Can I do Sue ? Dr. Shorthand.
S3: Thank you so much. And so excited to be one of the first to be interviewed live on your show. The space you just created was amazing , so I'm ready to jump in. Awesome.
S2: That's awesome.
S3: My father fortunately passed when I was six years old , but at five I was able to attend his graduation ceremony. So he was a musician. He graduated from Cal State University , Dominguez Hills. So I just remember being a child , and he played at his graduation ceremony , kind of running around campus and just knowing that it was a big deal that we were there to celebrate him. My mother attended some college but did not finish , so college was not necessarily spoken about as something that you had to do. But it was clear that it was a possibility and a path and something that I could do if I wanted to. And so what I think my mother supported most in us and I have two , two older sisters , is she really supported our passion and our purpose and then made it very clear that if you are walking in that , then the path will be clear in terms of how you get there. And so college was definitely supported , but I don't think I ever recalled hearing This is something you must do. It was something that you can't do. And that was very important to me. And you mentioned fourth grade. Fourth grade was an important year for me and that I was blessed as a fourth grader. We were taken out of our predominantly black middle school and our entire fourth grade class was sent into a predominantly white upper class area for the year. And we didn't really understand what was going on. But I recall one day they had us in a room and they were asking us about our experience. And then at the end of it I said , Well , tell us about the students that attended my school. Like , where did they learn ? What do they what do they love ? And they told me , like , we didn't send anybody to your school. And as a fourth grader , that did not sit well with me because I thought , well , what is that about this place that you thought you needed to pluck me out of my environment and see , but that you didn't think we were experienced , was worthy of seeing ? So that sat with me. I didn't quite know how and what to articulate that. But then in the sixth grade there was an opportunity to go. We didn't have to enter that same neighborhood into a different school. And so I don't know how I convinced my mom this time I want to go , not because they're making me go , but because I can go. And I want to see , in essence , how I can fit in that space , how I can impact that space , not because people have to kind of experience me , but because actually I chose to be very interesting experience. All I'll say is that I came up with a plan by got to get in leadership , even though I don't know what sixth grade leadership actually does , but I figured that's a way to do it. So my friends , I convinced my best friends to join us there. And then we signed up and got on campus leadership. And I'll just say the way that story ended is that I gave that sixth grade graduation speech that year. The first black student who gave that speech and fast forward ended up going to Inglewood High School. That was not necessarily the high school of choice. I was going to go where my sisters went , Westminster High School School by the beach. And I don't know what you know about Inglewood up in California was very interesting. What seemed like a setback was really the foundation for my purpose , my work in wanting to work in education. It was my understanding of equity and social justice before I even knew those words existed. So education , the experiences that I had were probably more prevalent and what my mother paid attention to and let me grow and evolve in those phases.
S2: Oh , gosh. And it goes full circle because you already admit me.
S3: I'm like probably about 75% of my calendar for the week is meetings like my purpose. My reason for being is to create the conditions that matter for our students to succeed. That happens by sitting at tables , that happens by having conversations , that happens by impacting policies and procedures. That happens by interacting with people , hearing their voices , hearing their stories so that when I'm at the table for them , I understand what those can. Christians are having that voice at the table that has roots in all that I just shared about my educational and academic experience that that matters.
S2: I can still appreciate that. I imagine that your your position requires you to be at the pulse of student needs.
S3: Honestly is an intentional choice. I hear a lot of people say , well , I don't want to move up in the system because the higher up you go , the further away you are from students. It is not how I perceive the work that I do because I don't think I can be effective if I'm not interacting with students , if I can't keep my finger on the pulse. I work very closely with our associated student government. So I come into retreats , I'll sit down , I'll share my stories. I do that with all of our student leaders in our building. So if you are an orientation , an ambassador , if you're a peer navigator , we're going to sit down and I'm going to share my story with you and then I'm going to ask you questions. We're going to interact. We're going to connect. But I do want you to know that it is intentional because your days can get taken up by doing so many other things. But for me , if I don't know what it is the students need , I can't create those conditions. So I have to stick it out. And I do it in a lot of ways.
S2: You're really your boots on the ground. I was looking through your resume and some of the things that you've done in your your six years as VP.
S3: And we started to learn a lot more that , you know , one in five of our students are experiencing homelessness. So housing insecurity that , you know , over 50% of our students are experiencing food insecurity , aren't sure where their next meal is going to come from. The conditions that we needed to create , we're going to need to shift and be different. And so our president , myself , we had a dean of students success and Equity and our associated student government at the time. They were collecting food and storing it in this state student government office for students to come in. We were learning that there were a lot of staff that were in faculty that were keeping kind of food in their office. And and so the notion of doing we call them mobile or farmer's markets. And so where you can come get free healthy food and a big smile and love and support , you know , when you come into these spaces. And so in our heads , we couldn't quite imagine , what does this actually look like ? Like , how would we do it right ? And we heard this thing about from the standing of food bank , they said that San Diego doesn't have a a food problem. We have a food distribution problem because we have more than enough food to feed our community. It just clicked. We knew exactly how we could Mason ize it , which is what we do at Mesa. We take great ideas and then we turn it into something that works for our campus culture. And it was amazing as students responded , people , our faculty , our community staff appreciate it being a part of that opportunity to serve. We know that a hungry student shows up different in a classroom , setting an environment than a student who is fed. And so we need to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to sit in those spaces and learn at a place where their mind , body and souls have been fed and they are prepared.
S3: And so my advice to them is to show up worthy. Show up knowing that you are deserving of this space that is created and that not only are you going to come into this space and be blessed by all that we have to offer , that we expect for you to come into this space and impact what we are doing so that we can become better. Bring all of you , all of who you are. Those tests that we have had in life become our testimony. And so I need you to show up fully. I need you to let us see who you are so that we can create the conditions that matter. And that is the advice that I would give them. Show up and walk in your worthiness.
S2: We need you to talk that talk. Doctor hands you out here. Drop it. That's. That's insane. Amount of jewels and gems right there.
S3: And also knowing that there are spaces for people to show up and to receive those services to help volunteer to make sure that they're out like it's all of it. If you're a student and you get a survey , like fill it out because we really are sitting around the table looking at this information and trying to understand what we want to hear from those students who are most often disproportionately impacted by the way that we serve them , not because of who we are , who they are , but because of who we are. Because I want you to hold me accountable to who we say we are. And so if you're going into a space and it is not it does not feel like equity and it does not feel like excellence. I need to hear that.
S2: I appreciate you giving us your time this morning. Thank you so much , Dr. Hands.
S3: Thank you. I thoroughly enjoy this space. Wolf.
S2: That's that. Good , good. Right there. We'll be right back with the rest of episode six after a short word from some local businesses. You stick around.
S1: Stay tuned for more of the peppy. Yep.
S3: The Parker Edison podcast is probably sponsored by black women owned lunar clothes , offering their signature facial to renew your spirit and help your skin with all organic skincare. But your self-care session today at Lunar dot com.
S4: Hey , folks , my name is Bob Serrat. I'm a librarian and host of Listeners Advisory , the San Diego Public Library Podcast Listeners Advisory is the audio access point that connects users with Staples services , facilities and staff. Tune in twice monthly for a mixture of narrative driven segments , in-depth interviews and roundtable discussions about everything from professional recommendations to community centric matters. Find us wherever you get your podcasts or at my P.O. dot org forward slash listeners advisory.
S2: And now back to the PPE. PPE. Welcome back. This is episode six of the Parker Edison Project podcast. Our theme is education. We're broadcasting live segments from Cultural Unity Week on Mesa College campus. We're getting ready to hear our second interview of the day. Then we'll close out the show with a music selection from a local artist. I really think you're going to like what you're about to hear. Check it out. Put your hands together. Give her all your best energy for the marvelous Mr. La Lewis.
S1: Is a privilege to be here talking to students , farmers , students , faculty and community , because that's what I'm about.
S2: It's a blessing to have you here. Good morning. You have such an illustrious career.
S1: She said You can go to college and go to work. Your choice. I pick college and I say it like that because I feel very humbled by being educated by so many non educated people. And by that I mean formally educated people. But I was surrounded by wisdom all my life and my best friend was born in 1880. She had knowledge plus experience. And my mother birthed me one day after 18th birthday. So I never had the belief that age determined knowledge. I never had the belief that degrees determine knowledge. I believe that education was everywhere. I literally talked to people , walked with people , read books , watched television. And I never just watched it for The Entertainment Factor. I watched it from more knowledge and information. When I started teaching , I actually believed in entertainment. I wanted my classroom to be alive. I wanted it to be fun. I wanted students to absorb the information in a way where it wasn't just to pass the test , but it was to pass the tests of life and living. I realized when I decided I was going to teach black studies that black studies had the same status as black people , which was very little status at all , and that in order to teach it , you had to love it and you had to love your students. My first job was teaching black studies in a place where they were hardly no black people. In fact , they walked into a full classroom and there was not one black student in the class. What I learned from that is that Black said this wasn't just for black people. And so my journey has been very rich because my classrooms have been predominately black , and then they've also been predominantly others. And it didn't matter because I could teach the same way and the same subject matter to anyone.
S2: One of the things that I was getting in my DMS , where people were talking about the space that you say pioneered , that there wasn't black studies and there wasn't one that was resonating with the community the way that yours has. At this point , you've taught through three decades of students.
S1: And the reason I say that is because when students come to me , they know very little about black people , even when they're black students. And so for me , my my purpose is to help people learn who they are , help them see themselves , help them love themselves , and help them use love to address all the issues in their life.
S2: Tell me about the dynamics of the black community , of course , that you're doing.
S1: So the dynamics of the black community is , of course , that is more of a field trip course. And what we actually do is we take students out of the classroom , into the community , and they have the opportunity to visit different organizations. They have the opportunity to listen to different leaders. One of the missions of the college is service learning. What are you going to do with all this information gathering dynamics of the black community as a service learning opportunity to show students how you can participate in what you want to do before you graduate ? You can go and actually volunteer and turn that into a job or occupation. You can meet people. Who are you ? They were you. There were community members who came from all the different backgrounds , you know , and they meet the successful people who've been to prison. They meet the successful ex-gang bangers , they meet the successful upper middle class. They meet all these people. And at the end of the day , they understand there are three people. So we don't have to put anybody on a pedestal. Then ourselves. You see , we just have to be able to see ourselves in them.
S2: As someone who's achieved so much.
S1: And we can humble ourselves to know that we don't know everything and we're open to learning. We become independent learners , independent researchers , analytical thinkers that connect to your head and your heart so that your decisions are good decisions , but they're rooted in the love of what you're doing , who you're doing it for , and the love of yourself or being able to fulfill you. And I think that maybe that same answer just exists when you're living a life is fulfilling because you're doing what you love.
S2: Let me let me close right there on that , because that's the gem. I hope people among all the gyms and jewelers that you just given us , that's the one that I hope leads them back to dig deeper into everything that you just said. Ms.. Lewis , thank you so much. Thank you so , so much. Not just for doing this interview , not just for giving us your time today , but giving us your time. For the last few decades. Thank you so much.
S1: With that , everyone. I want to thank Parker for being here. It's been really an honor to have you with us. Just so insightful and just wonder. Wonderful and wonderfully insightful speaker and facilitator and I really am looking forward to listening to more of your podcast. I can't wait for the upcoming episode , so thank you so much for joining us. We're really privileged to have had you as a student at Mesa , and we hope you'll join us for future events and future opportunities that mace us. And thank you.
S2: Great stuff. Thank you. Veronica Gerace and Mesa College. It was an absolute honor to be a part of today's events. We're going to close this episode with some new music by a local duo they call themselves. Good question. Comprised of rapper Skinny Vinnie and beatmaker Edu. The track is called Fricassee. Seriously ? I've been waiting all week for you to hear this. This is that new and exclusive. Be here in two weeks. We got a brand new episode coming up. See you in jail. Stay safe out there.
S4: They'll fry you right in the Afro. Descendants follow that money. So interest in their interest. They divulge in-depth , look how they invest , what our systems now hope for. Since this broke out , my mama locked him up and told , like , how to chase her. He's got to back me and my life. Just take it from me. This in my inbox I because I've never seen it. Dirt in him sucks. It's more conviction addiction. This is a condition the bottom of the barrel fishing they're really none Neptune group are more they completed their now reflects our future we're scarce find not let you lose it you can do it so we can lose a habit that has made a fool of you Let's keep it from fools like cooler days Go. Wait. So we've never had a trophy on my show for things but kept a bag of treat notebooks for that little slave. Now I won't let them loose.
S2: Thanks for stopping in. Parker Edison Project is produced hosted by yours truly , Parker Edison in the Good People's Platform Collection. Be sure to subscribe and catch the next episode on Apple , Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have any comments or questions , visit the Parker Edison Project com or hit us on Instagram at the P.E. Project. My guy Kurt CONAN is audio production manager. Lisa Jay Morrissette is operations manager and John Decker is Associate General Manager for content. This programming is made possible in part by the KPBS Explore Content Fund. Hello. Saying that because it reminds me of Sesame Street. You all stay safe out there.
• Good Question (rapper Skinny Veny & beatmaker .EDU) - Fricassee
• Veronica Gerace
• Dr. Ashanti Hands
• Professor Starla Lewis
Credits: Parker Edison (host), Kurt Kohnen (co-creator), Chris Reyes (head editor) and Gene Flo (score producer)