A Look Into The Life Of Monica – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

A Look Into The Life Of Monica

One of my projects in DPSCD is called the Ambassador Program. The program is basically a large group of outreach volunteers made up of staff members, parents, alumni, and students. Through the program, these ambassadors go out into the community and talk to families about the school district and everything it has to offer. My responsibilities include finding events, reading training information, and training these soon-to-be ambassadors. Through my involvement, I work side-by side with the head of the program, Monica DeGarmo. While this may seem like extraneous information, it relates to my blog post because I wanted to focus on an informational interview I had with Monica. I wanted to learn more about her journey to DPSCD and what she inspired to do in the future. 

Monica grew up in Portland, Oregon with four other siblings. Growing up, she always had an interest in the educational system, especially the public-school system. Her mom was a 4th grade teacher in what was known as a “rough” neighborhood school. While Monica, herself, never went to the school, she would often help her mother set-up. Her instances of seeing people bash neighborhood schools and even going as far as to move once students reached high school to get into a ‘better’ district were the first harsh realities that would influence Monica’s journey into education.

After finishing college with a double major in Community Development and English, she taught a few classes at a private high school in Chicago. While never personally seeing herself as a teacher, this was one of her first efforts to break into education. She mostly taught courses with a service-learning component that allowed her to lead service trips; this was her favorite part of the job. After a while, she wanted to make the shift into public education. She spent the next year in a service program in Detroit Public Schools working on nutrition in the school system.  Once she finished the yearly program, she returned to Chicago, where she completed graduate school in Community Development. She focused her studies on the health effects of people in the surrounding area. Finally, she returned back to good ole Detroit. At first continuing her work in school nutrition that she had previously started with in her service program and then shifting into the enrollment office where she currently holds her position. 

What I loved hearing about her journey was how many aspects of her current position was introduced to her at such a young age. In the enrollment office, perceptions of neighborhood schools are a common discussion point. In her role, she draws from her experiences as both an interest point and as a way to relate to families. We ended the interview with a discussion about her future. She is currently completing an EDD (Doctorate in Education Leadership) through Michigan State University about the impact of district public schools in the community. Funny enough, this is one of the main research questions that have I have pondered during my time at my site. I honestly hope to see the research one day. For her dream profession, she spoke of one day being a Director of a high school Technical Center. She would lead the school in teaching students that college is not the only road map to success as society may have us falsely believe and that there are options through these technical programs.  

It seems as though her continued path to her future as well as her current accomplishments only seem to fuel her profound impact on the community. I have loved working with Monica this summer and truly believe she will succeed in each and every one of her goals. 

1 thought on “A Look Into The Life Of Monica”

  1. This was really interesting to read. I love to hear adults speak about their journeys. It reminds me that life isn’t a straight trajectory, and it’s okay to not know what exactly you want to do. We all find our way there eventually, in a beautiful journey.

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