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Three members of the COE community honored at Black Women Empowerment celebration

L-r: Kayla Griffin, Chelda Smith, Ph.D., Talmeshia Parker, Laquandra Bundrage, Tobe Frierson

On Feb. 27, five women were honored at Georgia Southern University’s 3rd Annual “Shine, Black Girl, Shine” Black Women Empowerment Awards. Three of the awardees are representative of the College of Education (COE).

Laquandra Bundrage, current education major; Talmeshia Parker, education alumna; and Chelda Smith, Ph.D., a COE faculty member, were honored at the event alongside Kayla Griffin and Tobe Frierson.

Bundrage is a graduating senior elementary education major on the Armstrong Campus at Georgia Southern. Originally from Warrenton, Ga., Bundrage wanted to go to a “small college to feel right at home.” She is an active student on the Armstrong Campus, serving as the chapter president for the Iota Tau Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and the president of the Multicultural Greek Council. Bundrage also serves as the vice president of a new organization on campus, Sisters with Purpose and is employed with the Academic Success Center as a peer mentor. After graduating in May, she plans to stay in Savannah and work in the public school system. 

“I’ve wanted to be a teacher ever since I was in elementary school,” said Bundrage. “I love seeing children grow academically and socially. I also want to be a voice for students who may not have an advocate of their own.”

Bundrage plans to return to Georgia Southern and pursue a graduate degree in school psychology. 

Parker is a 9th grade literature and composition teacher at her high school alma mater–Statesboro High. She completed a bachelor’s in English from Valdosta State University and traveled to Ulsan, South Korea where she worked as a native English teacher for two years under the Ulsan Ministry of Education. When she returned to Statesboro, she began working at Langston Chapel Middle School (LCMS) as an 8th grade English teacher. At LCMS, Parker served as the English Department Chair, cheerleading coach, leadership team member and honors committee member. In 2016, Parker graduated from the Georgia Southern with a master’s in secondary education (concentration English) and was named LCMS’ Teacher of Year. In 2017, Georgia Southern in conjunction with Synovus Bank awarded Parker the “Teacher of the Game” as a part of the #HeresToTeachers campaign during the Georgia Southern Eagles football game on Nov. 4.

Smith is an associate professor of elementary education at Georgia Southern where she has been a part of the College of Education since 2014. Smith was instrumental in co-designing the Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary Education degree to provide a fully online delivery format with a consistent theme of cultures and communities, and she serves as the director of the degree program. Smith’s research interests and scholarship center culturally relevant pedagogy including the intersections of race, culture and gender as well as preparation of teacher candidates for diverse student populations. Smith was also recently named the first-ever recipient of the COE’s Commitment to Diversity Award.

Hosted by the University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Black Women Empowerment Awards program highlights the positive contributions of black women at Georgia Southern. Honorees include students, alumni, faculty and staff. Criteria for selection include philanthropy and community service mentoring, academic excellence, and diversity, inclusion and fairness efforts at the University. Each year, the awards ceremony includes performance and art in celebration of the black culture and community at Georgia Southern.

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Posted in Alumni Highlights, Faculty Highlights, Student Highlights

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