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Gholnecsar Muhammad, PhD Curriculum and Instruction in Literacy, Language and Culture ’13, defined her time at the College of Education by focusing on the overlooked.
Whether leading writing institutes with African American adolescent girls or channeling her research towards student and adult populations traditionally passed by in studies, her efforts to improve students’ lives and positively impact pre-service and in-service teachers earned her the Dean’s Merit Award for doctoral students of the Class of 2013.
“I did not know I was nominated for the award, and when I read the award letter I was completely humbled by it,” Muhammad said. “You move so fast in the program, so you don’t get a lot of opportunities to sit still and celebrate your hard work and accomplishments. This gave me that opportunity.”
Muhammad was nominated by Alfred Tatum, PhD, chair of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction and director of the UIC Reading Clinic. He cited Muhammad’s “steadfast commitment to advance the research on the literacy development of African American adolescent girls” and called her “the epitome of the type of doctoral student we should recruit at UIC.”
Her research focused on historical literacy development of African American males, examining how literacy was enacted in the 19th century forward and how that knowledge can be applied to understanding literacy development for African American children today. Muhammad says she sees great value in crafting literacy curriculum that reflects the identities of today’s students but is also informed by their history.
Muhammad was truly ingrained in the life of the College. She held a teaching assistantship, participated in numerous other research projects, organized writing sessions for other doctoral candidates, mentored students and has inspired faculty within the College and at other institutions with the innovation in her research.
Muhammad is moving on to Atlanta as a tenure-track assistant professor at Georgia State University. Much of her legacy at UIC will be reflected in her work at GSU: she hopes to build a new writing institute for African American adolescent girls, and her research will continue to focus on writing pedagogy. The big change for Muhammad will be the addition of a class load, as the longtime classroom teacher takes on teaching of a different kind.
At the 2013 College of Education Commencement, she addressed her classmates with a message that sums up her approach to education: “Our children must never lose their zeal to build a better world.”