Year in program: Second year Ph.D. student in the Educational Leadership, Organizations, and Policy Program
Favorite place on campus: The Ring of Life, and Lagomarcino Hall’s Courtyard
Career aspirations: To become a university professor and researcher of educational leadership
Most influential professor(s): Dr. Daniel Spikes, Dr. Doug Wieczorek, Dr. Joanne Marshall
Proudest moment: When I received my B.S. I became the first person in my entire family to receive a degree from an institution of higher education and was able to share that achievement with my mom who has been the most supportive and inspirational person in my life.
Hometown: Spokane, Washington
Research interests: My research interests include educational leadership for social justice, educational leadership and intersectionality, cross-contextual school leadership, and critical quantitative educational research.
Second-year Ph.D. student Brandon Clark stresses the importance of mentors during a graduate education.
“Seek out mentors who positively influence your development as a researcher, educator and individual. I have had the best mentors who support my future goals, inspire me through their leadership and character, challenge me to push myself, and believe in me even when I may not. You don’t have to take this journey alone.”
Clark would know about the significance of mentors. At the end of August, Clark was named a 2017-2019 University Council for Education Administration (UCEA) Jackson Scholar. According to the UCEA website, this award is a “two-year program, focused on networking, mentoring, and development for graduate students of color who intend to become professors of educational leadership.” A student must be nominated by faculty or administration in order to be named a Jackson Scholar.
Clark acknowledged the significance of the nomination.
“Knowing that I was nominated by my institution as a Barbara Jackson Scholar demonstrated the confidence and support that I have received within the School of Education, and reaffirmed my progress as a student in the program. Being recognized as a Jackson Scholar is a tremendous privilege and honor which will give me the opportunity to further develop as a researcher, and help me in achieving my goal of becoming a university professor in the future.”
One of Clark’s mentors, Assistant Professor Daniel Spikes, echoes the strength and significance of the nomination both on a student and program level.
“This award validates my departmental colleagues’ and my feelings about Brandon’s potential and will ensure that he has the support needed to take those last steps to enter the professoriate,” Spikes said. “I appreciate the committee for recognizing Brandon’s body of work and his capacity. I appreciate Brandon for putting forth such great effort, and I appreciate Dr. Marlene Strathe and the leadership team within the School of Education and some of Brandon’s mentors, namely Dr. Douglas Wieczorek and Dr. Joanne Marshall, for supporting him thus far in his journey.”\
While the receipt of the Jackson Scholar award is coming from one of the top professional educational administration organization, this is not the first time Clark has been recognized nationally. Assistant Professor Douglas Wieczorek speaks to the recognition that Clark’s work receives.
“Brandon has been recognized by national level scholars in [American Educational Research Association] Division A and UCEA due to his emerging work on K-12 instructional leadership, international K-12 leadership, social justice, and intersectionality,” Wieczorek said. “Brandon has developed research knowledge in qualitative and quantitative methods, and will certainly have several lead and co-authored peer reviewed publications by the time he completes his doctorate.”
When Clark completes his doctorate, he rounds out his academic career at Iowa State with a total of three ISU degrees.
“I call myself an “Iowa State Lifer” because I have received my B.S., M.S. and will be receiving my Ph.D. from Iowa State,” Clark said. “I came to Iowa State in the fall of 2009 after being recruited to play hockey for the University’s Division I ACHA hockey team. In 2013, I received my B.S. in business with majors in marketing and management from the College of Business...In 2015, I received my M.S. in Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies with a specialization in the Social Sciences. My decision to pursue a doctoral degree was greatly influenced by Dr. Daniel Spikes, who served as a member of my thesis committee. Dr. Spikes’ mentorship and confidence in me solidified my passion for research and dedication towards becoming a university professor.”
Spikes remembers encouraging Clark to pursue the doctoral program.
“I was fortunate to have Brandon in one of my classes and to serve on his POS committee while he was pursuing his Master’s degree here at Iowa State,” Spikes said. “At that time, I saw great potential in him and encouraged him to apply for our doctoral program. Since entering our doctoral program, he has taken major steps toward realizing that potential, and I couldn’t be more proud of him and all of his many accomplishments. He is going to make a great faculty member one day, will make great contributions to the field of educational research, and will continue to impact the lives of those with whom he comes into contact.”
For all future students, whether you come in contact with Clark or not, he has some advice in addition to mentorship.
“Always remember that there was a time in your life that you didn’t know what you know now. – Be humble, reflect on your assumptions, and question everything critically,” Clark said. “[Also], challenge yourself to be a better person than you were yesterday, and believe in your abilities.