Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sign in | Create Account

Ensuring Educational Access: Our Challenge, Our Opportunity

02/21/2008 7:30 AM Walker Morss Hall
Jamira Cotton, '08, Undergraduate, Chemical Engineering; Kenneth Kweku Bota, Second"year graduate student, Dept of Chemistry and Whitehead Institute

Description: Two MIT students honor their experience at MIT, but ask that the Institute acknowledge an unequal world and embrace a larger mission.

Jamira Cotton has long understood the privilege, and burden, of representing an entire community. She attended a middle school for gifted and talented children as only one of five black female students. Her parents early on instilled in her the "charge to be a leader." In public high school she realized "not only did I need to be the smart enough black girl for my white peers, but I had to be the black enough smart girl for my black peers." Cotton feels deeply W.E.B. DuBois' call 'to elevate the race and carry the community forward.' At MIT, Cotton is engaged in research to figure out whether MIT is creating an environment that successfully nurtures leaders, that graduates students with a sense of responsibility. "Our challenge as a higher institution is to ensure that every student is receiving the best education they need for what they must do," says Cotton.

Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities frames Kenneth Kweku Bota's talk. Cambridge and its two preeminent universities -- places of enlightenment and discovery -- represent the best of times. But just across the Charles, for Boston's neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, it is the worst of times. Bota notes that "few students who attend MIT and Harvardwill ever leave their comfortable nests and meet a child who attends schools that have become dilapidated and lack adequate books, computers and other critical learning materials."

Bota has made this effort, as a Big Brother to a 12"year"old Dorchester boy. Last summer they toured MIT together, and the child noted with envy, and some displeasure, his lack of access to computers and books. While MIT provides abundant resources, says Bota, "no matter how smart and innovative we are in using them, we will not achieve and witness the full spirit of Dr. King unless we begin to commit ourselves to helping those who are less fortunate than we are." As a great citadel of scientific achievement, MIT become even greater if it reaches out to the surrounding communities "in an effort to close the gap in educational attainment and access between black and white, women and men, and yes, Cambridge and Roxbury."

About the Speaker(s): Jamira Cotton is an undergraduate in Chemical Engineering ('08) and Kenneth Kweku Bota is a second"year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and the Whitehead Biomedical Institute.

Host(s): Office of the President, MIT Annual Breakfast Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Comments (0)

It looks like no one has posted a comment yet. You can be the first!

You need to log in, in order to post comments. If you don’t have an account yet, sign up now!

MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated almost 3 years ago

Created
December 14, 2011 16:05
Category
Tags
License
All Rights Reserved (What is this?)
Additional Files


Viewed
3084 times

More from MIT World — special events and lectures

The Medium Religion

The Medium Religion

Added almost 3 years ago | 00:48:03 | 4174 views

Housing the Lowest Income Americans: The Past, Present and Future of Public Housing

Housing the Lowest Income Americans...

Added almost 3 years ago | 00:43:58 | 1579 views

The Innovation Economy: How Technology Is Transforming Existing Industries and Creating New Ones

The Innovation Economy: How Technol...

Added almost 3 years ago | 00:36:53 | 1618 views

Personal Robots

Personal Robots

Added almost 3 years ago | 00:47:28 | 2871 views

An Electrical Engineering View of a Mechanical Watch

An Electrical Engineering View of a...

Added almost 3 years ago | 00:53:01 | 2282 views

Creatively Destroying New York: Fantasies, Premonitions, and Realities in the Provisional City

Creatively Destroying New York: Fan...

Added almost 3 years ago | 01:32:00 | 1797 views