Doctoral Candidate Selected For Flood Fellowship

Doctoral candidate Kesha Branch Hood was selected for the Flood Center Educational Equity Fellowship. This fellowship is specifically geared to recruit graduate students who are members of traditionally underrepresented groups in careers related to education and policy.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to be involved in equity research and work that will not only bring awareness to change that is needed to address the systematic injustices that underrepresented groups face but to be a part of purposeful plans and policy influence that is critical to our growth in the educational system,” said Hood. “I am also excited to be a voice for Native Americans and to engage in meaningful efforts to uncover historical inequities that lie within the roots of our current institutions.”

Hood recounted how school saved her as a young child. “It was my safe haven and the place where I felt special and I felt valued.” 

Initially, Hood wanted to pursue a degree in law; however, after receiving a Teaching Fellows Scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, she decided to study education. 

“I loved school and I always wanted to give back to my community in some way,” she continued. “After one class, I knew it was the journey for me.”

Hood received her Bachelor of Arts in history with an elementary education certification and Master of School Administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She is currently completing her Ed.D. at Appalachian State University. She serves as the principal at Laurel Hill Elementary School in Scotland County, for a total of 24 years in education.

In addition to Hood, last year Dr. Dramaine Freeman was selected as a fellow. Freeman serves as the doctoral advisor for the college’s doctoral program.

“The fellowship strengthened my knowledge of the inequality issues within North Carolina's school districts, specifically focusing on disparities in funding and the limited resources accessible to certain schools,” said Freeman. “Moreover, this opportunity improved my ability to gather and communicate data to various audiences, for example, my research on the North Carolina Rural Teacher Network during the fellowship. Through a cohort-based model, this network offers professional development to teachers in rural counties.” 

“Furthermore, the fellowship served as a platform for me to cultivate valuable collaboration prospects and connect with individuals from various corners of the state who are dedicated advocates for promoting equitable opportunities throughout our region,” he added. 

Freeman’s advice to those seeking to apply for the fellowship: “I recommend being open to embracing new concepts and ideas.” 

“The Dudley Flood Center is a highly interconnected institution, having achieved remarkable accomplishments throughout our state,” he continued. “Their wealth of knowledge offers avenues to explore fresh ideas and discover other organizations that often are not shared in school leadership's circles. By communicating your areas of desired improvement, the organization can create growth opportunities to enhance research skills further.”

Freeman earned a Bachelor of Science in electronics and computer technology from North Carolina A&T, and his school administration license, Ed.S., and Ed.D. from Appalachian State University.

About the Fellowship

In 2021, the Flood Center developed the Flood Center Educational Equity Fellowship Program to develop a more representative legislative and policy-making workforce. 

The Flood Center supports each Fellow in their work by providing professional experience through Flood Center policy and programmatic efforts, a monthly stipend, and learning opportunities through the Dudley Flood Center’s Equity Core Network and Equity Education programming. Each Fellow ends the fellowship having developed key professional skills as well as an understanding of the following topics:

  • History of educational inequities in North Carolina
  • Current education inequalities facing North Carolina schools and districts
  • Roles and responsibilities of the North Carolina General Assembly, State Board of Education, and Local School Boards in Education

Since developing the Flood Educational Equity Fellowship program in 2021, the Flood Center has supported four Equity Fellows who have substantially contributed to the Flood Center’s programmatic and research efforts.