Stephanie Gasca is starting her final year at Metropolitan State University and is a committed activist and educator, dedicated to racial and economic justice in Minnesota. As a post-traditional student, Stephanie’s life outside of the classroom has informed her approach to engagement as much as her formal education. She worked on successful campaigns to raise the minimum wage to $15 in Minneapolis and paid sick leave in Minneapolis and St. Paul with the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (Center for Workers United in Struggle). In 2017, Stephanie led a grassroots campaign rooted in racial and economic justice as a candidate for Minneapolis City Council. Currently, she is organizing fellow parents in the Minneapolis School District to demand more equitable outcomes for their children and through her Political Science major, is mobilizing the campus and broader community towards a complete count in the 2020 Census. Stephanie’s leadership is intricately bound to others and she is skilled at building collective power and centering the voices most impacted by injustice. After graduation, Stephanie intends to pursue a JD where she can further develop the skills and knowledge to impact educational and economic reform.
I first became involved in advocating for a better public education system when my son was physically assaulted by his middle school teacher. Identifying the role race played, I quickly learned that sending my children to school and showing up to conferences was not enough to ensure they were receiving a quality education in a safe and healthy learning environment. I began to connect with other families, teachers, administrators, and community groups to work collaboratively in addressing the issues that students of color were facing more broadly. We worked together to address structural inequities by ensuring that district policies were enforced and that the adults tasked with educating our children were being held accountable. I have learned that building relationships with various stakeholders, particularly from communities of color, is paramount in working to push for policy changes, enforcement of current policies, and accountability of educators and administrators in the district to underserved students. Most importantly through my advocacy, I have been able to help develop the leadership of other parents facing similar challenges. By continuing this work, our district will have a diverse group of families working together to ensure a quality education for all students.