A legacy of student leadership
In her time at William & Mary, Elizabeth Auguste’s impact has been felt in nearly every corner of the School of Education. And while she emphasizes the wealth of experiences she’s had as a doctoral student, from classwork to research, conferences, trips abroad and publications, others within the school remark on the great impact she’s had on the community.
At the school’s Diploma Ceremony this past weekend, Auguste was honored with the Margaret, the Lady Thatcher Award for Scholarship, Character and Service. The medallion is awarded each year by the dean to one outstanding student who epitomizes Lady Thatcher’s lifelong advocacy of the paramount importance of education in society.
Three years ago, Auguste chose the doctoral program in Curriculum Leadership at W&M for its reputation of teaching educational leaders how to develop literacy curriculum for student success in reading and writing.
“My daily interaction with elementary students who struggled with literacy fueled my passion for finding ways to better serve them,” she said.
Her experience within the program has allowed her to do just that. “My growth in knowledge and skills has allowed me to see the utility of research and scholarship as excellent tools for understanding and addressing educational issues surrounding emergent literacy in ways that are practical and implementable,” she said.
Auguste was taken with more than just the program — she was also impressed with the caliber of the professors and her peers. But it was the unique, diverse and inclusive culture of the university that truly captivated her interest. Over the course of her time at W&M, she became both a Holmes Scholar and a WMSURE mentor, creating lasting connections and mentoring relationships with students from underrepresented groups pursuing high-level academic study.
She also sought to take advantage of experiences at William & Mary that would offer opportunities for professional development as well as a chance to give back to the school that has given her so much. She served as a copy editor for the William & Mary Educational Review and as the student representative for the School of Education Development Board. Chosen for her many contributions and commitment to her field of study, she brought a fresh perspective to the board, on current issues at both the university level and in the broader field of education.
When not at the School of Education, Auguste spends time with her family, is an active community volunteer at her local church, and serves as a reading tutor in Chesterfield County Public Schools. A leader in the field of literacy, she was asked to serve on the county’s literacy committee helping to design school curriculum.
A trailblazer at the School of Education, Auguste was not satisfied with merely attending classes. An assignment in a policy class inspired her to go beyond the assigned paper to successfully design and advocate for the newly established Doctoral Internship in University Teaching. In addition, she worked with faculty to develop a course in Grant Writing.
As a mother of two daughters, the biggest challenge for Auguste has been finding balance in her life, juggling family, classes and multiple school and community commitments. However, she points out that it has also been her biggest reward — to be a role-model for her daughters and others demonstrating the benefits of pursuing a life-long dream.
“Elizabeth is one of the most ethical, responsible, competent, positive, giving and grateful people I have ever met,” said Lori Korinek, professor of special education and Auguste’s graduate assistantship supervisor. “We could not ask for a better representative of our graduate student body, the School of Education, or William & Mary.”