An internship through the Brooklyn College Career Center helped Louis-Mansano more easily achieve his goal of becoming an educator. Today he believes that leadership can be fostered in students by full access to public education and curricula that match their interests and lived experiences.

Jan-Kristòf Louis-Mansano ’13, ’16 M.S. was enrolled in The Cooper Union in Manhattan studying engineering and architecture when he decided to shift his path and pursue his true passion for education. His departure from Cooper Union came as a surprise to those close to him, but Louis-Mansano knew that Brooklyn College was the right place for him, from the diversity of the student body, the location (“I was literally in the hub of the Caribbean diaspora”), to the faculty and programs at the School of Education.

After completing his graduate studies in school counseling in 2016, Louis-Mansano went on to work for the New York City Department of Education, serving as a certified school counselor at the Academy of Arts and Letters, a progressive K–8 school in Fort Greene, and as an adviser for the National Society of Black Engineers at Brooklyn Technical High School. Louis-Mansano credits the Brooklyn College Magner Career Center for helping him succeed in his chosen profession. “The center offered a great opportunity for me at a time where I was financially unstable,” he says. “But it was more than just the aid that was provided. The center held career workshops, helped me with my résumé, looked closely at my courses to help find an appropriate internship. I did an internship with the Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program [a summer camp administered by the Brooklyn Public Library], and now I am the assistant director of the program.”

Born in Brooklyn but raised in Haiti until he was 13, Louis-Mansano aims to help remove the disparity in education that he has seen and experienced, emphasizing the importance of an intersectional narrative throughout academics and childhood education. Transferring from an exclusive private institution to public education gave him an opportunity to explore the gaps that exist in social understanding, equity, and access to education many students face. As an educator, he is constantly thinking about how to fill them.

Says Louis-Mansano, “What’s amazing about having access to public education is that when everyone realizes their potential, you’re able to create a lot of leaders. You’re able to create so many people who can leave where they’re coming from and start planting those seeds of leadership everywhere they go.”

He emphasizes that in order for students and communities to feel empowered, the curriculum has to match the interests and the lived experiences of students. It must take into account the intersectional experiences of the student body, educators, and community. “It has to adapt to the community that it is a part of. It has to adapt to the direction that people are going. Let’s analyze what we can take and what we can leave so that we can show students the different versions of who they can be.”

And he believes that students must feel that they belong. He recalls organizing a field trip to the Brooklyn College campus to show his students that higher education is within reach. “We walked from their school to the college,” says Louis-Mansano, “and their eyes widened when they saw what was there and how beautiful it looked. It was special because it’s right in their neighborhood and it feels like theirs. It’s home.”

On Tuesday, November 30, Brooklyn College will participate in its sixth annual Giving Tuesday campaign, a global day of giving during which the college hopes to raise more money for Annual Fund, a vital Brooklyn College Foundation program that is sustained by thousands of donations averaging about $50. Support from the Annual Fund helps the college respond to the urgent and evolving needs of the students, faculty, and campus, including support for the the Brooklyn College Magner Career Center.