By Lindsey Smith, College of Education communications intern

aftoc-leadersPULLMAN, Wash. – A new school year is bringing bright ideas to the Alhadeff Future Teachers of Color (AFTOC) at Washington State University, courtesy of the two ambassadors recently selected to lead the multicultural student group.

Seniors Jasmine Blackwell and Marcus Garza each will receive a $2,000 scholarship as they work to recruit and retain AFTOC members and provide networking opportunities for them. Planned activities include mock interviews, workshops, guest speakers and resume building. WSU will host the annual AFTOC Conference in the spring.

The AFTOC program was established in the College of Education in response to underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in education. The program is supported in part by the James Taylor Future Teachers of Color Endowment, which helps pay the ambassadors’ scholarships.

“Jasmine and Marcus truly understand the mission to improve and understand diversity in our schools, in our teacher preparation program and in our college,” said AFTOC faculty advisor Brenda Barrio. “They are bringing incredible passion to this initiative.”

“I wanted to be an AFTOC ambassador because I saw a great potential to help create a diverse and enriching environment for students of the College of Education,” Blackwell said.

Garza is from Othello, Wash., and plans to return there after college. He said he knows the importance diversity plays in some communities, especially in education-related fields.

“I am excited to work with other future educators who have diverse backgrounds because diversity brings about unique perspectives and even more creative ideas,” he said.

“We hope to make AFTOC visible within the WSU Pullman and urban campuses in order to better assist our current and future pre-service teachers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds,” Barrio said. “We also hope to increase student membership for our AFTOC student organization through monthly meetings and to continue to secure funding for scholarships for AFTOC student members.”

For more information, see http://education.wsu.edu/aftoc and follow @WSU_FTOC on Twitter.