It is such a pleasure to be a part of the Trellis Foundation as a Graduate Fellow, and I look forward to the many lessons that I will learn from my colleagues. My educational background and interest in academic achievement for students of color have propelled me to embark on a journey encompassed with various experiences that I will utilize to pursue my future research endeavors and educational career goals.

My mother taught me two facts in this lifetime— 1.) I am Black, 2.) I am a woman. I never realized the gravity of this identity context until I entered college; however, looking back, I see the profound impact it had on my life, as I am a first-generation doctoral student and a successful alumna of an HBCU. Growing up in a single-parent household had its challenges, but I would never change it for the world, as it has molded me into a phenomenal, courageous, and God-fearing Black woman. In my DNA, I shoot for the stars and embody my family and ancestors’ wildest dreams.

My passion for educating students of color did not develop overnight; however, I planted the seed of my love for education early in my academic career. I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, emphasizing African American Literature from Texas Southern University. I became a 9-12th Grade ELA (English Language Arts) teacher, for which I taught at Title I schools for two years until becoming a full-time lecturer in the Languages and Communications Department at Prairie View A&M University. The experience as a secondary teacher taught me that children of color need mentorship, leadership, and academic support from instructors who look like them.

While currently serving as a lecturer in higher education, my passion has evolved. Matriculating through the Educational Leadership doctoral program at Prairie View A&M University has allowed me to focus on how I can best support students of color. My goal is to see that post-secondary students of color are given every opportunity to excel in the classroom and diverse career fields.

Furthermore, I want always to be sure to reach students of color in my classroom and the area that I serve. I am a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., one of the world’s oldest African American sororities. I serve the Prairie View, Brookshire, and Hempstead areas by providing information to secondary and post-secondary students to help them enroll in college and understand their financial options while preparing to matriculate through college. It has been my mission to reach as many students as possible to ensure that they receive equitable assistance in their transition to becoming successful academic scholars.

I am truly humbled to work with the Trellis Foundation as I will see how philanthropic methods can be conducive to institutional strategic planning and the academic success of students of color.

About the Author

An image of Lakya Lewis.

Ashlee B. Daniels is a doctoral student at Prairie View A&M University studying to receive her degree in Educational Leadership. Her research focuses on how to best accommodate Black women in higher education through the lens of Edenism, a theoretical framework that she created as a solution for best critical thinking teaching practices and strategies for children of color. Her work is guided by Edenism to provide mentorship and support for Black female students matriculating through college and to prepare them for successful career positions. Ashlee’s research interests include the effects of diversity on college campuses, Black female leadership, the curricular implementation for students of color, and the articulation and manifestation of critical thinking skills by students of color at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) and HBCUs. For more about Ashlee, please click the following link to her professional portfolio: