How Do We Center Students in Their Own Education?

Meet chemistry major Kodinna Anachebe.

October 11, 2023

Hometown: I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, but my family is from eastern Nigeria!

Thesis adviser: Prof. Nicole James [chemistry]

Thesis: “‘A Teachable Moment’: Examining Student Attitudes Towards Chemistry”

What it’s about: My thesis looks at student experiences in different sections of one introductory chemistry class. I analyze the differences in experiences of these students based on the educator’s teaching practices as well as institutional factors to see what helps students learn and feel more confident in their chemistry knowledge. Ultimately, I look at ways that educators and institutions can center students in their own education and help them gain more confidence in their ability to learn.

What it’s really about: Making sure students know they’re not the problem—oftentimes the system is.

In high school: I was a band kid who only owned slip-on shoes (I thought I was too good for shoelaces at the time).

Influential class: I really enjoyed Introduction to Haitian Literature with Prof. Corine Labridy [French 2019–22]. I’ve been studying French for a really long time, and it was the first time that Black French-speaking countries were centered, which was what related most to my experience growing up in West Africa.

Influential book: I always felt like I didn’t have the time to read during the semester, so I really liked to read short stories. I recently read Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, who also wrote BoJack Horseman. Like the show, the book experiments with a lot of the stylistic elements of its medium to explore the theme of love, and love was something that I was thinking a lot about right before graduation.

Cool stuff: I’ve worked at the Multicultural Resource Center all the years I’ve been at Reed, and I’m very grateful for the community I’ve found there as well as for the people who have put in the work to make student experiences at Reed a lot better. I was also on the Student Treasury for three semesters and admire the love that my fellow senators/treasurers had for different issues on campus and the work they were willing to do for the people they represented.

Honors, grants, fellowships: Each summer I’ve been at Reed, I’ve been awarded a Chemistry Summer Research Fellowship. These fellowships were really beneficial in allowing me to have different experiences doing research across multiple chemistry disciplines, starting with biochemistry research and somehow ending with chemistry education research.

What’s next: Hopefully learning about education policy or working in education in some way.