Imani Gunnison was born in Georgia and still resides there as the second oldest of 8 siblings and with her two parents. At an early age, her parents instilled in her the importance of education and Imani has adopted that as her own personal value. Knowing that she had to work hard to create a better life for her and her family, Imani devoted herself to studying and constant personal enrichment.
From an early age, Imani has had a hunger for knowledge. She read any book she could and asked any question that came to mind. Imani has also had a passion for helping others. She saw the way her parents gave selflessly to others whether that be by letting a homeless woman live with the family or run fall festivals for the local elementary school to raise money. From that point on, Imani knew that regardless of what she would do in her life, it would have to be helping others. She started by volunteering in her Kindergarten class to teach the other students sight words and from then on, she knew that education was her calling.
Imani has pursued her passion by volunteering in elementary school classes and working as a teaching assistant at a tutoring center. She was also chosen to be a member of the Georgia Department of Education Student Advisory Council. Through these activities, she gained a greater understanding of the differences and disparity in the education system which increased her drive to promote change. Realizing that one must understand the students to be an effective educator, Imani talked to as many students as possible. She learned about their life, their stories, and why they thought they could or could not excel. She learned that many children don’t have confidence in themselves and coupled with a lack of resources, they often don’t succeed.
One reason for the low self esteem was a lack of representation. Seeing the lack of ethnic minorities in school curriculum, Imani found her own resources. Fluency exercises and word problems now reflected stories and heroes the students never would have thought existed. She showed her students prominent people in history who looked like them to show them that there was no reason they couldn’t do the same thing. She attended a Comfortable in Your Own Skin (C.I.Y.O.S) conference to better educate herself on how to help herself and others. She hopes to pursue more of these endeavors in the future.
In her undergraduate education, Imani plans to study Psychology and Spanish and go on to graduate school to study Education and Psychology. She will get a teacher’s certification to work in public schools but go on to run her own school with a more diverse approach to history and language acquisition. Imani hopes to be a change agent to help her community and to show every person she encounters that regardless of any circumstance you can live out your dreams and fulfill your destiny.