IHE M.A. student CKrystal Stokes, who lives in Tallahassee, Florida, is “a self-proclaimed birth junkie and avid reader.”

CKrystal says, “I enjoy poetry, writing, listening to jazz music, and having a good conversation over a cup of kombucha. I spend a great deal of my time outside with my kids and watching birth videos or reading maternal health literature.”

CKrystal currently works as a Doula CD (DONA) and childbirth advocate, and is passionate about bringing the humane education lens to maternal and family health.

We asked her to share a bit about her humane education work.

IHE: What led you to the path of humane education?

CS: I think I was living my own humane education without knowing such a field of study and name existed. Most memorable would be my childhood days of rescuing and caring for puppies; my long afternoons in the woods with my brother; and my deep affinity for retreating to nature for renewal and peace. As a young kid, I developed a reverence for nature that sustained me through the tumultuous and challenging times of adolescence and into adulthood. As I began my search for where to pursue graduate school, my love of dogs and my interest in alternative educational models led me to the Institute for Humane Education. I read the entire web page with great enthusiasm and a realization that this was the place for me; I couldn’t wait to apply! I was very excited about the opportunity to be a part of the first Solutionary School and to pursue an education that went beyond traditional academic borders and into the very heart of what it means to be a member of this Earth.

IHE: Share an example of how you’re currently manifesting changemaking.

CS: As a mother, I know that I am doing my most meaningful changemaking in raising my children. I take great care to give them the educational tools and empowerment that they will need to become responsible and caring members of this world. It is in my role as their mother that I feel I am most powerful in my ability to meaningfully contribute to the solutions of our times, by encouraging my children to be bold and honest in their solutionary lenses; by being an example of what humane parenting can look like; and by offering that knowledge to other families. Another way that I am currently manifesting humane education is in my work with women and children. With each family, I strive to empower them through humane education, so that they, too, can take those tools and awareness and make profound changes in how they eat, consume, live, and contribute to the world.

IHE: What are your future plans for your humane education/changemaking work?

CS: So many plans that I am excited about are in the works and gradually coming to fruition. As I continue my work as a Doula and Childbirth Advocate, I anticipate creating forums, workshops, a website, and an array of platforms and spaces where the dynamics of current childbirth practices can be challenged and changed. I will continue to work on behalf of human rights issues as it pertains to reproductive rights and have plans to travel and study with other doulas, global communities, midwives, and other childbirth workers to bring about a shift in our global paradigm about all things birth. On a personal note, I am striving to live trash free and blog about all the wonderful things I am experiencing and learning as I pursue my M.A. degree with IHE.

IHE: What gives you hope for a better world for all?

CS: The children give me hope — my children and all of the children around the globe give me hope for a better world for all. Their immense faith in the good things coming inspires and sustains me. From the stories about children I have read, to the heartbreaking films and documentaries I have seen, and even to the children in my home and in my neighborhood, I am constantly amazed by their determination to live in a better world. I have learned how to treat others and care for animals by remembering the days of my youth and from watching young children feed a stray cat. The more children we can reach, and the more educational models we can infuse with humane education, the greater our ability will be to bring about a better world for all, sooner rather than later.

IHE: What would you say to others interested in IHE’s graduate programs?

CS: There is a space for you here — for your dreams, and for your concerns, questions, and passions. There is education here, meaningful and progressive education. There are people here, professors and students alike, who are eager and determined to bring about positive and lasting changes. If you are interested in exploring what it truly means to be an inhabitant of this earth in our day and time and to discover new ways of existing peacefully and responsibly with others, then I would say to you please come and join us. You will be forever changed and embraced by a supportive and dynamic group of educators who believe in the peaceful progression of sustainable and life-affirming solutions.