Gabi Quinn

Working Towards Educational Justice With Open Heart and Mind

Santa Barbara is beautiful, comfortable, tranquil—and it’s where Gabi Quinn, a recent Antioch Santa Barbara grad, finds her strength. Quinn plans to advocate for students and fight for educational equality right in the place that she calls her hometown. “This is where I’m most comfortable and where I can dive into my research into creating a safe and inspiring learning space for college-age students,” she explains.

Quinn is currently pursuing her dream of becoming a psychologist—but her bigger goal is to help lead innovation on college campuses to make them more effective and just. She hopes to apply psychological research methodology with educators to create an environment where students want to come—as opposed to feeling like they are just checking off a box on a symbolic whiteboard.

“I want to eventually work with educators and researchers and build a school that’s all-encompassing of what the student wants,” she explains. It’s a big dream but also one that she’s already working towards achieving. Ultimately, Quinn understands that her goals might require years of work, but as she says, “If my heart and my mind are open, I have a chance to create a learning environment for the next generation.”

Finding a Healthy, Challenging Environment at Antioch

Gabi Quinn’s dream of spending her future advocating for the next generation was inspired by many things- one being a time in her life that was affected by a relationship with alcohol that drove her to question whether she was in a positive environment. Quinn began studying as an undergraduate at UCSD, where she developed a serious alcohol dependency, delirium tremens.

Delirium tremens is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal. The person suffering can experience confusion and autonomic hyperactivity. At first, Quinn felt that it was okay—and even that her best-written schoolwork was done when suffering from the condition.

Her mother, a practicing psychologist, eventually explained to Quinn that delirium tremens can lead to cardiovascular collapse. Her family encouraged her to listen to her heart and move to a supportive and nurturing educational environment. Quinn chose Antioch Santa Barbara.

She wanted to study in a place that offered her more academic challenges and open, passionate debate. She found all of these things in the BA in Liberal Studies, Arts and Literature program at Antioch Santa Barbara.

Quinn thrived in her new school. Quinn found the vibrant and stimulating community that she had felt missing before. While she had started off studying art and literature, Quinn ended up graduating with a BA in Liberal Studies, Communications and Marketing degree in December 2020.

Finding a Path to Help Others While Enjoying Life

At Antioch Santa Barbara, Quinn was a student worker for Anna Kwong, the chair of Undergraduate Studies at Antioch Santa Barbara, who also serves as faculty in Antioch Online’s MBA program. Quinn was drawn to work with Kwong in part because of Kwong’s philosophy that, as a teacher and program chair, “she was there to serve the student body.” Quinn particularly loved how Kwong encouraged students to “learn so that the future is limitless.”

Her mentor inspired Quinn to take note of the different motivations her peers had for the future. She learned that “80% of them had no idea what they actually wanted from their degree and their future.”

This experience and a strong vision for her own future have led Quinn into a deeper understanding of what education can become. On her own, Quinn has begun writing a curriculum that focuses on what the student really wants to learn. Her end goal is to conduct theoretical and applied research that advances our knowledge around what factors best lead to health and well-being within the classroom. Quinn believes that kind of student focus would give students a well-rounded education.

In many ways, Antioch is a representation of that beautiful ideal she hopes to create. “I want to come in as a psychologist and understand what’s working and what’s not working in classrooms and talk to educators and researchers about the evolution of higher education.”

Quinn is working to complete her new research and career goals by applying to Antioch Santa Barbara’s MA in Clinical Psychology. Quinn has recently been accepted into the program and will be able to leverage the strength she draws from being in her hometown together with the support and challenge of a learning community she loves.

Cari Jo is a student in Antioch University Los Angeles's MFA program.

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