TC’s mission of creating bold solutions that can serve to create change for the common good is embedded into the fabric of Impact Day. As we reflect on the impact that TC’s annual day of philanthropy and service had on our community, we take a closer look at the work and service of the 2024’s TC Impact Spotlight honorees: student Joel Lopez and alum Jada K. John (Ed.D. '23).

Joel Lopez Spotlight Finalist 2024

Meet Joel Lopez (M.A. '24, Clinical Psychology) a student in TC’s Clinical Psychology program and founder of the Teachers College Interdisciplinary Psychedelic Society, (TCIPS).

How Joel makes an impact:

  • Establishing TCIPS and continuing to destigmatize the topic of the therapeutic application of psychedelic substances among scholars at TC and CU, drawing on previous professional experiences with psychedelic research, non-profit development, and clinical practice.
  • Collaborating with a team of volunteer student leaders to produce events including documentary screenings, discussions on psychedelic training and harm reduction at Columbia, as well as their blog, ‘The Blotter.’
  • Engaging the broader community as the Diversity Fund Scholarship Manager and Psychedelic Therapist Training Support Staff at Fluence, an organization that educates licensed clinicians globally to become psychedelic therapists.
  • Supporting research projects like the NIH-funded “Integrative Data Analysis of Clinical Trials Network Studies to Examine the Impact of Psychosocial Treatments for Black People Who Use Cocaine”
  • Serving in the U.S. Army Reserves as a Behavioral Health Specialist.

What drives Joel: Engaging with a community that has varied professional interests to consider new ways that psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies can be more accessible and effective for the benefit of all people and society.

How TC helps: Learning at TC enabled Joel to learn through the perspective of his personal interests. He utilized nearly all his courses’ writing assignments to explore how the topics of the class related back to the framework of psychedelics. This led to the writing of Joel’s master’s thesis, which is based on the topic of interdisciplinarity of psychedelics and is a culmination of his academic pursuits on the nuanced intersectionality that the topic entails.

Along with providing Joel the freedom to learn through a personalized lens, TC also was home base for the founding of TCIPS. “TCIPS was founded by students who recognized the need for discourse on the emerging field of psychedelic science,” Joel says. “I have a great appreciation to our Faculty Advisor Dr. Mark Kuras, who has supported TCIPS best by encouraging us to create what the collective called out for. Additionally, I would be remiss if I didn't show appreciation for Dr. Randall Richardson for his shining example of inspired professionalism throughout my first year at TC.”

What gives Joel hope: “The celebration of courageous leaders and creatives who remind us of our humanity, whether at the global or local level, gives me hope,” Joel says. “[Also], my active participation in the proliferation of a potentially paradigm-shifting approach to mental health treatment gives me enormous hope. The curiosity and eagerness of my peers across Columbia to learn about this modality gives me great hope for the future as well. I fully believe that society is approaching a drastic and positive change as we continue to develop an understanding of and integrate the immaterial as a factor of life that has a significant impact to us all.”

Jada John Spotlight Finalist 2024

Meet Jada K. John (Ed.D. '23, Mathematics Education) a community leader and educator creating accessible academic opportunities for youth in underserved communities.

How Jada makes an impact: 

  • Leading Big Apple Leadership Academy for the Arts (BALAA), which provides free after school programming and music education to youth in historically underrepresented communities.
  • Teaching math for more than 20 years at the high school level in New York City with an emphasis on highly engaging lessons and a “progressive pedagogical philosophy.”
  • Empowering youth to share and build upon their talents to become leaders in their communities through enrichment activities, character development, skill building and performance opportunities.
  • Facilitated New York City’s first HBCU Audition Fair with in-person scholarship auditions, allowing for students that attended to receive $282,000 in scholarship offers to date.

What drives Jada: Empowering young people by creating safe and functional spaces for them to thrive, and serving her community through the Kings County Democratic County Committee; the Vanguard Independent Democratic Association; and the Mid Bedford Heights chapter of Lions Club International.

How TC helps: Jada launched BALAA while still attending Teachers College. She credits her time at TC with the opportunity to connect with people who are still a part of her network.

“I took education and public policy my first semester at TC and I have not looked back. The things that I learned in that class motivated me to want to make real change,” Jada says.

“Then there were professors who were super inspirational and their influence doesn't necessarily have a direct impact on the work, but it had an impact on me as an individual. And that would be Dr. Flint, Dr. Wasserman, Nicholas Wasserman and Phil Smith who happened to be my advisor.”

What gives Jada hope: “I think a lot of my hope rests in knowing that if I am able to speak directly with who I refer to as naysayers and sort of change their mind, that it’ll have what I would hope to be a domino effect.  I say that because I am from the community that I serve,” Jada explains.

“There's a lot that happens. And when I talk to people in the community as a local, grassroots level elected official, they have no trust in our government. They have no trust in systems, and they're very uneducated in terms of how we get things to change. So, what gives me hope is the fact that I have been able to, in the last couple years, take the folks that I work with and turn them from skeptics to active voters. And being able to spread that message and actually see in real time how it impacts people makes me quite hopeful.”


Support from alumni, faculty, students and staff from Teachers College made this year’s impact day a success once again. If you missed the celebrations but would still like to make a gift to the College, it’s not too late.