Steven Waddell

Steven Waddell uses personal experience to fight disparities in education

Growing up on the West Side of Chicago, Steven Waddell had no idea that his elementary classrooms and experiences would have such a lasting impact on his future. Now a graduate student at Iowa State in higher education with an emphasis in student affairs, Steven can trace his path directly back to his public school days in Chicago.

Around the age of seven Steven moved from a neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago to a nearby suburb. Even as a young kid, Steven noticed the disparities between the opportunities and resources available in each of these schools and wondered how a short ten minute drive resulted in such vastly different educational experiences.

Steven went to a community college on a basketball scholarship where he confronted similar issues. Many of his fellow teammates were academically ineligible despite putting forth their best efforts in their academic pursuits. It was here he realized the disparity between the preparation that he received in the suburbs and the preparation that students from lower class socio-economic backgrounds were receiving. He started a tutoring program to bridge this gap and help his fellow teammates stay eligible academically.

Now at Iowa State, Steven works with the BOLD Learning Community and helps students from multicultural backgrounds transition to college life.  He continues to see the impact and importance of this kind of work.

“I have a student who is in the BOLD learning community and asked me to write her a letter of recommendation, and that really meant a lot to me,” Steven said. “I’m just a graduate student; she could have asked anyone else. It really made me feel like my work was being appreciated and seen.”

Steven hopes to one day run his own college and help other students achieve their goals, but in the meantime he is excited to be studying here at Iowa State.

“Iowa State students and faculty are really intentional about creating community,” he said. “I feel like I have a wealth of support around me.”