Educating the future


On Feb. 25, law student Eric Hodge and UCF assistant professor Dr. Trenton Marsh were invited to share their experiences in the field of academia to students on campus.

Delaney Rosenblatt and Julia Moon

As Black History Month comes to a close, esteemed members of the education community were invited to Essence Fest to celebrate on Feb. 25, providing insight and giving helpful advice to students who take interest. Throughout the month of February, students had the opportunity to meet with professionals in the medical, broadcasting and business fields. 

One of these professionals was Eric Hodge, a current third year law student at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Hodge has had several opportunities at different Historically Black Colleges and Universities(HBCUs), and was invited to share his experiences with high school students at the festival.

“In regards to law students, I would encourage people to not compare themselves to others,” Hodge said. “A lot of times we get caught up with seeing our peers who are number one in the class, or our peers who may have always been on honor roll. I got caught up in trying to compare myself to others, [but] when I ran my own race I did a lot better.

A culturally aware education has many long term benefits. HBCUs provide high quality secondary education to first generation, low income African-American students.

“As far as HBCUs, I would definitely recommend 1000 percent,” said Hodge. “All my kids are going to HBCUs, because I grew up in a very not so diverse area, the suburbs, so it’s great to kind of find a family oriented environment that really encourages me to be myself and be the best version of myself.” 

These types of institutions help to promote black leaders and scholars to go on to make differences on all kinds of scales. Dr. Trenton Marsh, Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences and Urban Education at the University of Central Florida, has had a generous impact on a diverse range of students, helping them achieve their educational goals. Marsh provided an optimistic outlook on careers in general, being an example of an impactful career change.

“Before I transitioned to academia, I used to be in corporate America, working for a company called IBM,” said Marsh. “I was on a project in New York City speaking to superintendents and teachers and principals about a new system to improve the academic achievement of students. When I was engaging adults about students, [there weren’t] any students in the room to kind of advocate for themselves. And I thought to myself, all of these presentations not one time had I had one conversation with a student or parent or caregiver. So I transitioned, kind of pivoted from corporate space to more of an academic space.”

Current student junior Braxton Woods had the opportunity to meet with both Hodge and Marsh, learning more about their individual occupations and experiences that can be found through HBCUs and other careers into business and education.

“They told me about historically black colleges,” Woods said. “We [Woods and Hodge] talked about sports at HBCUs and how it’s rapidly growing. The fact that they’re here is amazing, helping the youth, telling them the great things about historically black colleges and what they have to offer.” 

 Not only is Marsh an educator, he is an educator of educators. By the end of his career, Marsh will have helped many current students become teachers of others, continuing the rich educational history Florida boasts.

“I think at the end of the day if you pursue passion, whether it’s monetary that folks are pursuing or whether it’s work, life, balance,” Marsh said. “Once they pursue passion all these other things will manifest themselves. It’s not about being in the fast lane, but one day at a time for progression. Celebrate the small wins.”