Leigh Patel and Andrea Zito named Extra Mile Award Winners

School News

The Council of Graduate Students in Education (CGSE) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education named Leigh Patel and Andrea Zito the winners of the 2021 Extra Mile Award.

Based on student nominations, the annual CGSE Extra Mile Awards honor a faculty member and a staff member who exemplify the organization’s mission by going above and beyond the call of duty in their support of the school.

Professor Leigh Patel is the faculty winner of the Extra Mile Award. Patel’s scholarly work focuses on education as a tool for liberation and how education reproduces society. Patel’s latest book,  “There is No Study without Struggle: Confronting Settler Colonialism in Higher Education,” will be published in July 2021. Patel previously served for two years as the school’s inaugural Associate Dean of Equity and Justice.

In addition to her extensive scholarly work, Patel is committed to engaging with students to support their academic experience at Pitt Education.

“Professor Patel truly cares about students and sees us and our needs in a humanizing, holistic way,” says Sarah Kurz, a PhD student specializing in higher education and president of CGSE. “Her work on decolonizing the academy can be felt throughout the school, and she practices what she preaches by organizing events, connecting students with scholars and activities in the field, and carrying out her unwavering commitment to equity and justice.”

Patel says receiving the CGSE award means a lot to her.

“It’s both my honor and my pleasure to work with and support students in their studies and in their lives as they navigate the possibilities and complexities of graduate school,” says Patel. “I cherish the created collective spaces of community, study, and writing that I am part of with graduate students.”

The staff award was presented to Andrea Zito, director of student and career services. Zito joined Pitt Education in 2012 and earned her EdD with a specialization in higher education from the school in 2018. She has two decades of higher education experience in academic and career advising, admissions, and other fields.

“Zito always speaks up and advocates for students,” says Iman Sandifer, a PhD student specializing in urban education and the vice president of CGSE. “She is keenly aware of the many pressures students face, and she always shows up in a way that provides a critical understanding of student life.”

Zito and Patel were honored at a virtual ceremony during the Council of Graduate Students in Education Spring Conference.

Learn More

Browse the CGSE website and get involved here.