30 in 30 Presents: Nakisha Hobbs (Week 7)

Nakisha Hobbs30in30

Nakisha Hobbs

Education
BA, Sociology & African American Studies, UIC, 2001

Current job
Nakisha is the current Co-Founder and Principal of the Village Leadership Academy (VLA) which is an independent K-8 school. In addition, she is also the founder of It Takes A Village Early Learning Centers, which serves approximately five-hundred students 0-5 years of age. On top of Nakisha’s many responsibilities, she is also involved with childcare advocacy through state-wide commissions and committees that work to influence public policy.

How Nakisha realized the need for the Village Leadership Academy
Prior to establishing the Village Leadership Academy and It Takes A Village Early Learning Centers, Ms. Hobbs initiated a Saturday school tutoring program that helped students in remediation and eventually led to the opening of her preschools in order to help children earlier in their education. However, after students graduated the program, parents continued to bring their children back, because other schools were not serving their children as well. As a result, Nakisha and her co-founder, Anita Andrews-Hutchinson, founded the Village Leadership Academy to educate low-income students of color, guided by a social justice philosophy.

Bringing her sociological and African American studies knowledge to Chicago
Nakisha’s interest in inequities in education grew during college, especially while working closely with Amanda Lewis, who has an extensive background in sociology and education. Nakisha originally intended to pursue a PhD in Sociology, but found that simply theorizing was not enough to make an impact on the educational system, so she sought to use the skills that sociology taught her to solve problems. For the founding of and continued work at VLA, Nakisha found her education invaluable. Some of the skills she learned at UIC and still uses daily include critical thinking, employing perspective, and addressing root causes to systematic issues. Alongside her sociological background, her major in African American studies gave her a historical perspective on current inequities in education.

Why everyone should think like a sociologist
Ms. Hobbs encourages everyone to think like a sociologist because she says they are the best critical thinkers and problem solvers. In addition, she feels that sociology has taught her to create more meaningful relationships and perspectives.

A favorite memory of UIC
One fond memory that Nakisha has of UIC is participating in the Changing Terrain in Race and Ethnicity Conference that was spearheaded by Amanda Lewis and Maria Krysan, and which gave her exposure to cutting edge work among respected sociologists.

Fun fact!
She is an avid yelper because she thinks Chicago food is the best food. She says her love of Chicago’s food is balanced by her commitment to walking 10,000 steps (5 miles!) a day!

Interview by: Jocelyn Diaz

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