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CSULA 2011-2014 General Scholarship Application

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CSULA 2011-2014 General Scholarship Application

  1. 1. Dean Ramser CSULA 2011 General Scholarship Application<br />My life’s journey changed in 2001 when I met Cindy. We were married on April 28, 2001, and our blended family of three daughters began. That same year I set three new goals for myself: run a marathon, write a book, and earn a PhD. I ran the Los Angeles Marathon in 2001 and The San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon in 2002. The 2nd goal of writing a book took a bit more. I wrote and wrote and finally complete a 175 page (52,000 words) book in the National Novel Writing Month contest in 2004 (www.nanowrimo.org). I continued my writing with classes at Cal State Northridge, and UCLA Writing Program. Eventually I had my poetry published, my play “They Came” was performed at New Works at Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center.<br />That same year 2001 hardships came our way. Obviously 9/11 was difficult; I had Cindy’s oldest daughter arrested for Meth use and possession on September 18th, and my mother died on September 23rd. But as a college student after a 25-year absence from education, I learned that I had much to learn when I began classes in 2001 at College of the Canyons: I learned academic perseverance despite hardship. I continued my studies, even after my wife became bedridden with multiple sclerosis. Through diet, exercise, and time she is able to manage the symptoms and lead a meaningful and productive life: we are much closer as a couple because of these challenges.<br />My occupation after high school was in the film industry, first as an actor-waiter, then sci-fi horror film producer, and then as a post-production sales executive. So to change to academic study was a radical departure for our family and our marriage. It was also a daunting task given that my k-12 foundation years were fragmented by 17 physical moves, divorce, sibling mental illness, 9th grade arrest (it was expunged); three times I dropped out; and I moved out at 17, attending Hollywood High School and working full time at Hollywood Sports Plaza to support myself. Our past creates our present, and my present has shaped my future motivations. <br />My professional goal is to address the issues of social justice and equity I have witnessed as an educator in different academic settings, and to apply best practices at my campus implementing those new and improved findings. In The Disability Reader, edited by Lennard J. Davis, there are many key paradigm shift points essential to further develop our P-12 Education system. Davis acknowledges that Disability Studies “is a relatively new field of study,” but in my personal experience I agree with Chris Bell’s assertion that the “intersection of race, ethnicity and disability” must not be ignored. I have worked closely with Special Education Educators to create meaningful approaches to highly effective learning. In the same tenacious dedication I will attempt to bridge the divisions in educational leadership to create a more cohesive and inclusive plan of “socially responsible, dynamic, and transformative educators, who engage others, value diversity, operate with academic integrity, and believe in people and their educational futures.” <br />The greatest challenge facing our public schools is the ‘silence’ Audre Lorde warned us about, because indifference will not protect us. We must become active participants in the education process. In my attempt to paraphrase Cornel West’s paraphrasing of John Dewey’s The Public and Its Problems, “A true democracy values the public, values the non-market realities that transcend; values public education, public health, public transportation…” As noted by researchers Pedro A. Noguera and Jean Yonemura Wing’s in Unfinished Business, which examines the conundrum that education finds itself in: “This generation of educators has been called on to reduce racial disparities in achievement – to move beyond equity in opportunities and focus attention on the need for equity in results.” As a teacher I am very interested in learning more about the social and multicultural intersections of urban education; as a future education leader I feel it is my privilege serve this community; and as a compassionate student I believe it is my responsibility to learn as much as I possibly can about my fellow students. <br />Anti-racist scholar Tim Wise puts forth an academic question that strikes at the core of what defines the public school curriculum paradigm in his recent book, Color-Blind: “Is colorblind universalism sufficient to ameliorate persistent racial inequalities in income, wealth, housing, education and health care?...What would be the impact of colorblindness as a paradigm for thought and action among employers, teachers and others who interact with a racially diverse public? Would such an approach lessen racial discrimination or potentially make it worse.” I believe that improvement of our public school system hinges on addressing those divergent perceptions. <br />The specific focus of my tenacious academic agenda is a serious exploration of the perceived cultural relationship between cognitive learning and the underrepresented student. While this foci has been researched before, my approach will include other disciplines, such as Disabilities Study. The veil of poverty, as a functioning metaphor, operates in many area studies – interwoven in postmodern theory; its complexities and assumptions – and it is the perceived shared space of the underrepresented educational experience of the disabled and economically marginalized youth. This has been the driving force of my curiosity since I began community college. Each course I took, each professor I visited during office hours, each public lecture I attended, added to my inspiration to contribute my own unique brand of leadership and scholarship to the field. <br />I have learned along the way that the “American Education Experience” belongs to a global experience and I have learned that the African American Diaspora and Disability Studies are spatially connected, not necessarily geographically located. It is this arena of “genius” of understanding (as Harold Bloom writes), that I seek to obtain; it is the voice (Chinua Achebe) I want to hear; it is the endless impact of a beloved experience (Cathy Caruth) that I am engaged with. I also believe that as educators we must always begin anew, to make, to reconstruct, and to live life as a process – live to become (Paulo Freire). <br />My story requires knowing that my tale unraveled from a convoluted knot of existential ennui, or as is common among teenagers, unanswerable angst on the purpose of life itself. My life has been the pursuit of untwisting the Gordian path created by what plagues most Californian school students: numerous residences, poverty trailing the American Dream, blended families, undiagnosed disability in family members, the alienating impact of tracking, and the unique celebrity culture of the sun drenched state. And so, my approach to learning and teaching mirrors that of our displaced. It is visual and appears like a kaleidoscope, yet my methodologies are thematically structured and pedagogically sound. <br />I recently utilized my knowledge of visual marketing to create a compelling PowerPoint presentation on how I see and hear the literal and emotional exploration of several African and African-American texts. I titled the 45 minute, 195 slide, visual-audio show "A Kaleidoscope Journey Thru African Diasporic Poetics of Space" (http://www.slideshare.net/DeanRamser/csula-510-final-pp-a-kaleidoscope-journey-thru-african-diasporic-poetics-of-space): a CDR copy is included for your viewing. It is my privilege to support the tremendous opportunity of intercultural dialogue projects in our public schools by lending my practical team-player experience from feature film and television production, and my tenacious enthusiasm as an educator to the development of dynamic social justice reformers. <br />I believe I possess the outstanding qualities as an activist for education reform, plus I bring a fierce dedication to social justice by enhancing our appreciation of our multicultural global village through multimedia communication.<br />

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