Published: April 27, 2023
Maymuna Jeylani

As a first-generation college student and Somali-American Muslim woman, Maymuna Jeylani set out to find a major and career path where she could focus on anti-racist, intersectional, impactful work. 

Now the 2023 outstanding graduate of the Secondary Humanities Teacher Licensure Program, Jeylani plans to use her experiences as a Black woman to help understand and dismantle sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia in her classroom. With a position lined up for fall as a middle school English language arts teacher in Aurora, Colorado – returning to the community where she grew up – she looks forward to supporting students of any ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, and ability so that they feel represented in their coursework 

Jeylani was in 10th grade when she encountered her first Black teacher, but she knows that’s too late. She hopes to help provide experiences and representation that her students need.

As a student and educator, Jeylani exemplifies the Secondary Humanities Teacher Licensure program commitments to teaching for equity and justice, her nominators and program faculty said. 

“In the university classroom, her diligence, attention to detail, and high standards led to work that was thoughtful, thorough, and crafted with care,” they said. “The unit plan she generated in her Methods One course was simply outstanding. Growing from her interest in learning more about African American Vernacular English and her desire to question and address linguistic inequities in classroom spaces, she designed a series of lessons guided by thoughtful essential questions and defined by learning experiences that inform, challenge, and inspire students.” 

In her student-teaching placement, Jeylani demonstrates an impressive capacity for designing and implementing high interest, culturally affirming lessons that encourage high school students to think critically and carefully. 

Highly reflective, introspective, and self-aware, Jeylani creates classroom spaces where students see themselves in their learning – whether they are sharing personal narratives or engaging in discussions about identity and intersectionality. She holds critical insights around systems of schooling, how those systems impact her students, and how to ensure that her students feel seen and heard in their day-to-day schooling experiences.