Elementary education major finds a deeper understanding of marginalized communities through RJUS minor

Michael Kroymann is a senior Elementary Education Foundations major who is earning the Racial Justice in Urban Schooling (RJUS) minor to better support marginalized students and families, and gain a deeper understanding of the conditions that affect their lives. As a queer, non-binary individual Michael has a unique understanding of the important roles that empathy, trust, and understanding play in building community with groups often ignored by mainstream education.

What drove you to enroll in the RJUS minor program?

Understanding and empathy are central to the way I walk through the world, especially in my teaching practice. I felt it was essential for me to engage in coursework that expanded my knowledge of the students and families I interact with in metro-area schools. I felt that my major program did not offer enough content in that area, and I decided to pursue the RJUS minor to further engage with diversity and justice.

Which part of the program have you found the most valuable?

I think a fundamental part of the program is inward reflection. I truly believe that I am able to learn and better myself through reflection, and my coursework definitely supported this. I also found there to be a constant free exchange of ideas and experiences through conversation, which has been invaluable in furthering my education.

How was your experience with the faculty been?

The faculty involved in the RJUS have been such an important part of my experience. Never before have I felt so understood and supported in my classes. My interactions with faculty were all built upon a foundation of trust, empathy, and genuine care, qualities which are frequently hard to find in a university setting.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

Things are a little bit up in the air right now. I realized this year that I don’t feel able to support an entire classroom of my own at this stage of my life, so my plans have been totally revamped. I would still love to work with youth, and I am also really interested in nonprofit work and community organizations.

What do you hope to get out of the minor? How will it help you in your career path?

In completing the RJUS minor, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the world and develop skills that help me to engage critically with the institutions and conditions that affect the lives of marginalized communities. This will enable me work with diverse groups of people in a manner that is sensitive and responsive to their lived experiences.

Any other thoughts you want to share about your experience?

As a queer, non-binary individual, learning and working in academia is frequently a draining experience. I have felt invisible in so many of my classes, especially in the education courses. My time in the RJUS minor has never felt this way; I have always been welcomed and made to feel safe and valued as my whole self. This has been such a positive part of my undergraduate experience, and I am forever grateful.

Learn more about the Racial Justice in Urban Schooling minor, including how to apply.