Ciera Octavia Sparkman named School of Urban Education Outstanding Student

By Robert Boos
Posted August 13, 2020

A resident of Saint Paul has been selected a Spring 2020 semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Ciera Octavia Sparkman graduates with a bachelor’s degree in Urban Elementary Education and is selected the Outstanding Student representing the university’s School of Urban Education. Metropolitan State’s 106th Commencement will take place as a virtual graduation exercise on Aug. 15. With spring and summer 2020 semesters together, Metropolitan State is conferring 791 bachelors, 80 masters, and 17 doctoral degrees. Since 1971, Metropolitan State University has conferred 46,003 bachelor’s degrees, 4,158 master’s degrees and 105 doctoral degrees.

Sparkman earned her associate degree at Saint Paul College. She chose the Urban Teacher Program at Metropolitan State, which is partnered with the Saint Paul College Early Childhood Development Program. Although Sparkman was initially intimidated by the transfer to a university, she quickly built relationships with her classmates, instructors, and advisors. Flexibility in the courses helped her keep balanced in her life schedule.

“I truly appreciate the community that Metropolitan State University provides for all students and staff,” Sparkman says. “I appreciate the dedication that all of the staff provided for me and my fellow classmates to ensure that we were successful in our journey. 

Sparkman now plans to obtain a Minnesota Teaching License and pursue a career as an urban elementary educator. She also intends to pursue a master’s degree. She is currently working as a paraprofessional for Saint Paul Public Schools.

Sparkman credits her 11-year-old daughter Cherish, as the drving force behind all her success. been successful in. She enjoys reading, journaling, running, walking , listening to music, time with her family and friends, teaching, dancing and exploring outdoors. She is a 2010 graduate of Humboldt Senior High School in Saint Paul.

Metropolitan State University's School of Urban Education is designed to meet the need of urban schools for diverse teachers who can improve students' educational achievement. The School of Urban Education prepares prospective teachers who can build on the talents and resiliency of diverse urban learners for success in school and life.  The School of Urban Education also provides graduate education to educators of diverse youth seeking additional licensure or professional development.

Our approach to teacher education focuses on preparing reflective and resilient teachers who are outstanding in their commitment to teaching urban youth and providing equal educational opportunity.  Our mission is focused explicitly on increasing the racial diversity of preK-12 teachers, and School of Urban Education students, faculty and staff are the most diverse of any teacher education unit in Minnesota.  By attracting teachers of color and low-income or 'first generation' college students into teaching careers, the School of Urban Education provides urban schools with competent educators who can relate to the experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse youth and their communities.

The School of Urban Education works in collaboration with Metro area community colleges and school districts to provide support and increased pathways for becoming an effective urban teacher.

Each fall and spring semester, colleges at Metropolitan State nominate students for the Outstanding Student and Outstanding Graduate Student awards. Nominees are evaluated on the basis of their academic performance in their degree program, as well as achievements in their community and professional contributions. All finalists are recognized in the commencement program, outstanding students receive special recognition during commencement, and are eligible to speak at commencement.

Metropolitan State University, a member of Minnesota State, is the Twin Cities’ public, urban, comprehensive state university providing lifelong learning and competitive academic and professional degree programs at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels.