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Jawan Burwell’s Journey: From Camp Counselor to Youth Advocate

Spending several summers working as a summer camp counselor, Jawan Burwell started his venture into supporting youth and families. Though he had found his passion, it wasn’t a direct path to that field. Burwell began his educational journey at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) in the summer of 2011, initially pursuing a major in Business Finance. Following reflection, he decided to follow his true calling and changed his major to Child Development and Family Studies, graduating as a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE). Following graduation, he secured his first career position working as a program director. 

In 2014, he began his master’s program at NC State in Youth, Family, and Community Sciences (YFCS), focusing on Administration and Leadership of Youth and Families. Reflecting on the program, he acknowledges its robust foundation in understanding youth and community systems. Burwell highlights its coverage of vital aspects such as family relationships, human development, community development, and the social issues affecting these systems. He states “Overall, my time at NC State and engagement with this program has been instrumental in both my personal and professional development.” Burwell’s success in the YFCS program allowed him to continue his education and earn a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) from Walden University.

Acknowledging those who aided him, Burwell notes the limitations of online interaction during the program but highlights the impactful role of his peer, Lauren Meluzio. We consistently supported and assisted each other, maintaining regular communication. Their first in-person meeting at graduation is now memorialized on a banner promoting the program. Burwell acknowledges that “All the professors in the program played a pivotal role in shaping my career trajectory as a program director in a childcare program. They provided me with the essential qualifications and knowledge required for entry into this profession.”

Jawan Burwell

Another driving force in his career has been Valerie Jarvis McMillan. Burwell considers her one of his inspirations and an impactful individual in his personal and professional journey. He goes on to reflect, “In essence, Dr. McMillan serves as a role model of integrity, resilience, and compassion, and her mentorship has not only shaped my professional trajectory but has also instilled in me values that I carry in both my personal and professional life”.

Currently serving as the program director of the NC A&T Child Development Laboratory which is part of the child development and family relations program in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, Burwell also works as an adjunct instructor. He teaches courses in Child Care Administration and Supervision and Administration Policy and Resource Management. He sees these roles as contributing significantly to advancing practice and education in childcare administration.

Discussing his research interests, Burwell focuses on parent engagement, with an emphasis on father engagement, child and family nutrition, family life education, diversity, inclusion, and social justice of children and families, and child and family mental health. Reflecting on his path, Burwell emphasizes his motivation to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. He sees the field as providing a platform to explore theoretical frameworks and apply practical solutions, enhancing the quality of life for individuals across diverse communities.
Looking ahead, Burwell aims to create a positive and enriching environment for the preschool community. He envisions introducing new educational programs and fostering collaborative efforts between parents and the broader community while advancing his own leadership and professional development. Actively participating in the larger educational community, he hopes to contribute to the advancement of best practices and standards in early childhood education.