Student Spotlight: Averill Kelley

Holmes Scholar Averill Kelley
Sep. 29, 2021

After more than ten years in the classroom, Averill Kelley knew it was time to take on his next big challenge. "I loved teaching social studies, but I wanted to think larger about the discipline and consider how we can teach civics and government from a multicultural lens." Now, in the thick of his Ph.D. journey in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in cultural studies, international and multicultural education (CSIME), Averill is on track to living his passion. With Nevada as home, holding a school district full of potential and rich with opportunity, UNLV was the clear choice for taking this next step.

Averill is the youngest of six brothers and spent his early childhood in an underprivileged neighborhood in Connecticut. He overcame the odds thanks to his mother who raised her boys on the pillars of faith and family, along with a high prioritization of quality education. He credits these guiding principles as keys to his and his brothers' successes. All six boys pursued post-secondary education. However, Averill's unique love of learning, school, and later teaching were identified by family members and friends early on. "I began to reflect on my experiences in school. I had so many positive memories, thinking about field trips and projects. I remember as a young kid playing school and pretending to make permission slips." An excitement, passion and love for education had always been present in his life so, it just made sense that he would become an educator. No moment made this more evident than his experience teaching a Kids Congress course during the Kids University Summer Program hosted on UNR's campus.

Averill is now a Holmes Scholar and a Graduate Assistant teaching EDU 280: Valuing Cultural Diversity. His goals for this academic year include finishing and defending his dissertation proposal and working on a publication. Throughout the process, he enjoys working alongside his chair, Dr. Norma Marrun, who has become his mentor, among other COE faculty. Outside of UNLV, he has served in a variety of leadership positions at the local, state, and national levels, which have added tremendous value in his academic, professional and personal life. When asked what advice he has for fellow COE students, Averill was quick to offer these words "Trust the process. Lean into your own intuition. Get involved."

Long term, Averill looks towards being in the higher education environment as a curriculum specialist and researcher teaching fellow educators how to bridge the gap between civics and multicultural education. He is committed to serving students of color at HSIs, HBCUs, and other minority-serving institutions in the future. He has considered developing his own civic education-based non-profit organizations as a career path. More than anything, Averill wants to reach those who share his life experiences and support them in the way his success was fostered by both his family and his academic mentors.