Student Spotlight: Dakeyan "Dré" Graham

Josh Duke

1. What made you choose the Learning Design and Performance Technology Ed.D. program?

As an educator, I have always sought to be a lifelong learner; looking for opportunities to learn as much as I possibly can. As a classroom teacher, knowledgeable about my specific domain, I knew that if I were to ever move away from music, I would need to have an additional emphasis in order to demonstrate my well-roundedness with regard to my education. I began looking for programs that could not only fit my schedule, but also that were spearheading a movement of innovation and application in education. After searching for a number of programs, the LDPT program at FSU was brought to my attention. It was exactly what I was looking for at an institution that I respected and was interested in. I was blessed to make the acquaintance of a number of the faculty within the FSU College of Education and I couldn't wait for the possibility of learning from them. I completed the application and the rest is history! Here I am, enjoying the opportunities afforded me to learn more and have some amazing experiences.

2. What has been your most memorable moment at FSU so far?

As a music educator, I have actually been to FSU every year for the past 11 years in association with the annual Tri-State Music Festival. With starting the EdD program during a pandemic, I haven't been to very many on-campus events since becoming a student. However, there are two moments that have been memorable for me thus far. The first was prior to me becoming a student last fall, when I had the opportunity to meet President Thrasher, spend a game watching from the President's Box, and be acknowledged on the field as the Florida Teacher of the Year. That was the first time I had been on Bobby Bowden field since I was an undergrad. Although that memory will forever stay with me, I have to say my MOST memorable moment (so far) was my senior year of high school attending the Tri-State Music Festival. This was a special moment not only because I had been selected to participate, but it was also Dr. Croft's final Prism. Getting a chance to witness the reverence and respect his had garnered from so many was incredibly touching and inspiring. I will never forget his final conducting of the Hymn to the Garnet and Gold.

3. What advice do you have for future students?

The best advice I could give future students is to make the absolute most of your time in college - whether it be as an undergrad or graduate student. Glean as much as possible from your professors and peers, make memories that will last a lifetime, and learn not only about others, but most importantly, yourself, so you can continue to develop the best version of yourself. Work hard, stay focused, but above all, learn to laugh and celebrate the successes and failures, because without BOTH of them, you wouldn't be where you are. Don't regret - learn.

4. What are your plans for after graduation?

The sky is the limit! My desire is to continue to impact education in a way that brings about equitable educational opportunities to ALL students. I look forward to disrupting education in such a way that provides all learners with an opportunity to pursue the best version of themselves and eliminate (or at least STRONGLY IMPACT) the achievement and opportunity gap that exists between students. What that looks like post-graduation, I have no clue! If it is meant for me to continue that work from my current position, I will do so proudly and with the confidence that things will change!

5. What did it mean to you to win Florida Teacher of the Year?

I would like to start by saying I do not believe that I have "won" anything. I was blessed that my perspective was provided a platform, to which I pray that I was able to honor. I did not work any harder or do anything any more spectacular than any of the other world changers that leave an impact each and every day. That said, being selected as the 2020 Florida Teacher of the Year was one of the most humbling experiences in my life. To be chosen to represent the most noble profession on the face of the Earth was an absolutely breathtaking moment and an unbelievable experience. It reaffirmed to me that the priorities I heralded in my classroom were significant not only to my students and me, but also many others in the profession - priorities of relationships and rapport over reprimand, grace over grades, and equity above all. If I was able to impact one teacher in one classroom or leave an impression on one future educator, then I consider it a blessing.

6. Anything else you would like to add?

I am thankful for the opportunity to learn more here at Florida State University!