The meaning of the concept “Girl on Fire” is when a woman goes above and beyond a formal education to promote societal change.
Sydni Collier ‘19 is the definition of a Girl on Fire.
A recent Thomas College graduate, Sydni conducted research for her undergraduate thesis this past year – through a social lens. She then presented this thesis to a national conference, the National Council of Teachers of English, to hundreds of professionals. It’s something a graduate-level student would do. In the fall, Sydni will begin work towards her masters and doctorate in the sociology-related field.
Sydni has a natural tenacity and intelligence. She had the determination to accomplish these feats, but thankfully she also met Dr. Katie Rybakova, Assistant Professor of Education at Thomas College, who helped her gain access to important opportunities.
Another opportunity was having Sydni contribute as second author on a book chapter about mentorship.
In the fall of 2019, Sydni and Katie’s work together will be highlighted in the form of a chapter called The Importance of Mentorship: An Exemplary Girl on Fire and her Undergraduate Thesis on Racial Social Justice.
The chapter will be included in the book called Teaching Girls on Fire: Creating Consciousness Informing Action, edited by Sarah Hentges of University of Maine and Sean Connors of University of Arkansas.
The chapter chronicles “sparking” the Girl on Fire (Sydni) and highlights her thesis as well as the mentorship process.
“In my eyes, mentorship means that you share opportunity with students and push them gently to go past the boundaries of the classroom,” said Katie. “Collaborating on this chapter made sense since Sydni has taken the opportunity for mentorship and ‘ran with it.’ Working with a student who wants to get a graduate degree means my job as a professor is to set her up for success. The process of ‘talking through’ a chapter like this, or any publication, I think helps with the learning process. It is authentic.”
As Sydni’s mentor, she is proud of the work Sydni has done as an undergraduate student. Katie herself has published numerous works, mostly on teaching methods and styles, and loves being a part of the process.
“I’m excited about this chapter in particular because we can highlight Sydni in it,” said Katie. “It is always inspiring to write about what works as an instructor, but even more so to highlight a student’s success – especially a student who has worked as hard as Sydni.”
Sydni is proud to have graduated from Thomas College and the opportunities to present at conferences and to conduct research through her time here. She is also excited about having her work published.
“I’m incredibly proud and humbled to have this opportunity to work along someone who I hold so high in academic regard,” said Sydni of her professor. “The prospective publication of our work is exciting, but so is the opportunity to continue to work with and learn from Dr. Rybakova.”