A multi-talented triple alumna of the University of Southern California, Dr. Deara Okonkwo-Espinoza is renowned for her academic achievements. At the prime age of 14, she graduated from high school with an AA degree; at 17, she received her bachelor’s in English; at 18, she obtained her master’s and teaching credential and at 23, she earned her doctorate in education. Deara’s philosophy is to share and recycle the knowledge that she obtained as an educational leader.
An innovative and effective classroom teacher at Wisdom Academy for Young Scientists, her students’ test scores exceeded the district’s norms, ranking top 28 of 1,000 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. As Vice Principal, Deara led WAYS to a full 6-year accreditation granted by the Western Association for Schools and Colleges. In addition to her leadership at WAYS, Deara designed Innovative Ways Academy, a model program that engages students through hands-on and experiential learning, including the Student Travel And Research program. Ten years ago, Deara visualized and founded DeDe Dance Studio, a non-profit organization that works to empower youth through multicultural performing arts, brotherhood and sisterhood clubs and educational enrichment.
Exemplifying profound leadership, Deara has received international accolades including International Women’s Day honoree, Global Arts Education award, USC Outstanding Young Alumna and “Youth Leader of the Year” award from the Congressional Black Caucus and National Black Caucus of Women. Dr. Deara Okonkwo-Espinoza is a true change agent and youth leader in her community.