Michael Scott Jr., ’10, has long known the power good schools, motivational teachers and quality education can have on a child’s life, so when the calling to be a teacher came knocking, it led him to Indiana State.
Scott will return to his alma mater to deliver the alumni address at Indiana State’s winter commencement, which will begin at noon Dec. 16 in Hulman Center.
A social studies education and political science major who graduated cum laude, Scott served as president of the Student Government Association and started two organizations focused on mentorship and leadership development while a student at Indiana State. He also was the recipient of the President’s Medal for Leadership, Scholarship and Service and the Alan C. Rankin Distinguished Senior Award.
Upon graduation, Scott served as an intern with the Indiana Legislature for five months before accepting a position as a social studies teacher at KIPP TRUTH Academy in Dallas as part of Teach For America. He also taught seventh grade social studies for two years at Democracy Prep Public Schools in New York.
“I hope that I inspire the graduates to make changes in communities that have been forgotten and give a voice to the voiceless, because they have secured an important place of privilege with their degrees,” Scott said. “It is my hope they use it to do well by others and give back.”
Scott, who hails from Gary, Ind., decided to continue his education at the end of the 2014-2015 school year when he was accepted into the master’s program in school leadership at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
In August 2015, he began a 10-month position as a principal intern with Boston Public Schools, followed by three months as a LEE Summer Policy Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education. In 2016, he enrolled in the National Principal Academy Fellowship at the Relay Graduate School of Education.
Next year, Scott hopes to be placed either in Newark, N.J., or Brooklyn, N.Y., as a principal within Uncommon Schools — a nonprofit network of public charter schools closing the opportunity gap primarily for students of color from low-income communities in New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
But he is already looking to the future when he plans to expand his impact as a systems level leader and policymaker.
“My parents were both in the field of education growing up. My mother is an instructor at Ivy Tech Community College, and my dad was on the Gary school board for 16 years. Their experiences put me on the inside track as to what was going on in schools,” Scott said. “In high school, I also had the opportunity to participate in an exchange program with schools in Valparaiso and Crown Point, and I saw that my peers and I could not compete with them upon graduation. I needed to do something about it.”
That “something” for Scott meant giving back to communities of color and places where he could be a voice for the voiceless. It’s his mission as part of a cohort of fellows training to become principals within Uncommon Schools, where he currently serves as an instructional fellow in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I decided that if not me, then who? If not now, then when?” Scott said. “My whole journey has been about building a toolbox to go back to Gary, Ind., the place that built me, so I can be among the change-makers in the community — and others like it.”
The commencement ceremony will be live-streamed at https://www.indstate.edu/academic-affairs/commencement/live, beginning at 11:45 a.m.