Name: Aaliyah Hodge
Early educational experiences: Hodge started out attending her neighborhood school in Brooklyn, New York. “When I was 5 years old, my mom started making me do placement tests to get into another district,” she says. “As a result, I changed schools five times by third grade.” That was the year her family moved to Minnesota. (She's pictured above at age 6.)
Top of her class: Hodge became an academic star in St. Louis Park, earning two years’ worth of University of Minnesota credits by the time she graduated. She went on to the U’s Humphrey School to earn a master’s in public policy, where she became one of the first three students to do a fellowship in the new field of charter school oversight.
Scholarship support: Thanks to the College of Liberal Arts Luckie B. Waller Scholarship and other support, Hodge finished her undergraduate degree in political science at age 19 debt-free.
Her view on charter schools: “Charter schools offer opportunities to families they otherwise wouldn’t have—and they’re more community-based. We have charters that have a Hmong language focus, a Latino culture focus, an African culture focus, an arts focus, an environmental education focus, and a STEM focus, to name a few. I see them as hubs of innovation.”
What she’s doing now: Hodge currently works with sixth graders at Best Academy in Minneapolis.
- The U of M's James H. Binger Center for New Americans brings new hope to immigrants and refugees.
- At a U of M camp for kids who stutter, children learn to be confident in their communication skills.
- An M.B.A. student helps launch a line of culturally appropriate athletic wear.
- UMM's Nicole Palmer wants to work on behalf of people with disabilities.