Kaitlyn Laibe is a recipient of a Fellowship from the Marcy Migdal Fund for Educational Equality. The award supports exceptional students engaged in activities aimed at enhancing access to education for vulnerable students, either locally or throughout the world, and helping them succeed in their education. Click here to learn more about the Marcy Migdal Fund. From a young age, Kaitlyn has been intent on expanding access to education. Early on, this manifested as providing free tutoring to classmates and those in the community – anywhere from 1st to 12th grade. Her long-term involvement meant she was later assigned to tutor those the school district had designated “crisis” students – the students who were on the verge (one grade away) of not graduating. This taught her the importance of compassion in academic spaces, as well as understanding how students’ identities and lived experiences impacted their comfortability in and access to education. As Kaitlyn continued to tutor, as well as work as the Director of Representation in the UW dorms, she continued to watch students be excluded from, or at the very least, be made uncomfortable in academic spaces.
When a UW Professor attempted to fail her for her disability the winter quarter of her freshman year, something settled deep into her consciousness: she may never be able to remove every accessibility barrier, but she was committed to creating and providing educational spaces – both in traditional and nontraditional learning environments – for any and all students.
Since then, Kaitlyn’s commitment to providing safe educational spaces has led her to instruct a class in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program, direct the Womxn’s Action Commission, provide educational resources on campus related to queer safe sex, breast health, and reproductive justice, and hosted one of the largest collaborative events on campus that challenged traditional (privileged) conceptions of leadership and education.
In addition to providing students with safe educational spaces on campus, Kaitlyn is committed to doing the same for the incarcerated and formerly-incarcerated population. Through her work with the Juvenile Parole Program and the Seattle Clemency Project, Kaitlyn actively fights for the early release of individuals who committed their crime as a juvenile and have served more than 20 years in Washington prisons. In addition to fighting for their early release, she works closely with incarcerated petitioners to prepare them for their potential release back into the community. Education is a large part of re-entry work; to provide incarcerated individuals with access to educational spaces that they wish to be a part of, Kaitlyn works with legal teams to ensure that the Washington Department of Corrections is appropriately following programming guidelines, as well as connects incarcerated folks with educational pathways during and after their incarceration. Her time spent in this work has led her to author a final project that details the importance of increased access to higher education in prison, as well as recommendations for DOC policies that currently impede access.
The fiscal support from the Marcy Migdal Fund will go towards Kaitlyn’s work with incarcerated individuals, especially as she continues her work in the UW’s Juvenile Parole Project and The Seattle Clemency Project. She will continue to provide support to those incarcerated, especially as they look to secure employment and educational opportunities prior to and upon release. She is incredibly grateful for the support the Marcy Migdal Fund for Educational Equity has provided and the incredible things it will allow her to continue to do.