One of the many benefits available to students at UNF is the opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty members to experience stimulating scholarship, research and intellectual engagement. Both undergraduate and graduate students work as colleagues alongside their professors to conduct original research, initiate groundbreaking projects and gain firsthand experience in their fields.
Student-faculty collaborations take place in all five colleges at UNF. This issue features four student-faculty teams from the College of Education and Human Services. Whether making children’s music, researching and presenting teaching and learning methods, finding new ways to improve literacy or developing innovative curricula, these groups illustrate the importance of one-on-one interaction in academia. Such collaborations are mutually beneficial and have a transformative effect on everyone involved.
Travis Pinckney and Dr. Chris Janson have worked together for three years, initially through UNF’s College Reach-Out Program at Paxon Middle School and later with the SOAR (Skills, Opportunities and Recognition) schoolcounseling program. Both programs provide career and academic mentoring to students in Duval County schools. The duo also worked together through a GEAR UP grant (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) to create the Grind 2 Shine Program, in which students at Paxon Middle School write, record and perform positive-themed and messaged hip-hop music anchored in college and academic aspirations. The two have presented at national conferences, recorded podcasts and are currently developing curricula that will be more culturally relevant to students in urban schools. Pinckney plans to teach while pursing a master’s in counselor education at UNF.
This experience has shaped my life. If Dr. Janson hadn’t hired me, I might still be working at a grocery store. Today I can proudly say I have a job that incorporates my passion for music and the community. Dr. Janson and I have the same passion and drive for enhancing cultural relevance in urban schools even though we come from dissimilar backgrounds. As founders of the Grind 2 Shine Program, we infused academic and social perseverance, self-esteem and motivation [through hip-hop music] and we began to see social and academic transformations through the curriculum and the positive hip-hop studio.
Dr. Chris Janson:
Travis has the most compelling story of personal resilience and persistence I’ve ever heard from someone I know personally, and he is using that story and those strengths to enhance the lives of others. I have learned much from his outstanding work with students who have similar backgrounds and have extended that learning to my graduate students. His hard work, commitment and passion are qualities I admire wherever I find them, and nowhere have I found those qualities in greater abundance than in Travis. He and his work are inspirations to me.