The Secret Curriculum Project

Sherry Liang

Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Secret Curriculum Project

Addressing Inequities among UGA’s Student Body One Scholarship at a Time

When Oisakhose “Ose” Aghomo came to the University of Georgia as an out-of-state student, finding scholarships was difficult for her. The scholarship websites she found were often incomplete and difficult to navigate — an added barrier to receiving a full college education.

“Your college education and the things you get at your university are supposed to propel you into your career. For a lot of Black, POC students and other underrepresented groups like students with disabilities, that’s not necessarily the case,” Ose said. 

With the help of peers and a faculty sponsor, Ose made her own database of scholarships. What started as a Google Doc shared between friends has evolved into the Secret Curriculum Project — an initiative that is expanding to become a formal database of scholarship and career opportunities for marginalized students.

Ose received a Campus Sustainability Grant to develop her project during the spring 2021 semester. As part of the grant, the database will also amplify sustainability-related opportunities to encourage underrepresented students to enter the sustainability field, as environmental issues disproportionately affect BIPOC and low-income communities.

Through the Secret Curriculum Project, Ose and her team are working to lessen centuries-old inequities. As UGA commemorates its 60th anniversary of desegregation, the issues Ose is tackling serve as a reminder of the progress still needed to provide an equitable experience for students of all backgrounds. This critical and strategic thinking is being applied at all levels of the University, including the UGA Presidential Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community, which recently announced nine initiatives underway to improve the campus culture and strengthen the learning environment at UGA.

“It’s a heavy job — it’s not like I can’t understand why the progress is not necessarily as substantial as it could be,” Ose said. “The project is a huge step for me personally feeling cared for by the school, but I hope it also translates to other people.”

By emphasizing inclusion in her project and maximizing its reach, Ose hopes to use the project’s platform to hear students’ feedback and apply it to the issues affecting the UGA community.

“It’s a way to get voices heard, and I think that’s been missing before at the school ecosystem,” Ose said.

Collectivism and stakeholders

The Secret Curriculum Project consists of two main aspects — the database itself and the confidential panels for community feedback. 

The team behind the project is working on releasing the online database some time this semester. One of her student collaborators and best friends, Naa Dedei Martins, built the first prototype. The database will include features Ose thought other sites lacked — a rating and review system for applying to the scholarship, tips about dealing with financial aid, a mechanism to filter out-of-state or non-GPA scholarships, and more.

Ose wants this project to be as inclusive as possible, beginning with including the community in its development. She plans on hosting monthly panels with students of all marginalized identities — race, disability, socioeconomic status — to gauge feedback for the database and UGA as a whole. These panels will be confidential, and at the end of the project, Ose plans on relaying this feedback to student affairs.

“A lot of this is trying to create an atmosphere first where people feel comfortable speaking their opinion,” Ose said. “Second of all, they're going to be framed in a way that makes it more accessible for people to talk.”

Through these panels and inclusion efforts, Ose also hopes to address barriers to accessibility. She plans on including students with disabilities in testing the database to ensure the website is easy to navigate for everyone.

As Ose said several times throughout the interview, “This project is extraordinarily — and I want to really emphasize — not about me. It is an attempt at collectivism.”

In addition to community feedback, Ose also has close collaborators to guide and help her through the process. Her friends and confidantes Jacinda O’Connor and Naa Dedei Martins were there from the start as her “advisory team,” advertising the project and giving advice.

Dr. Leah Carmichael, a professor and Undergraduate Coordinator in the Department of International Affairs, is Ose’s faculty sponsor for the project. She was initially thinking about producing a similar database for students in the School of Public and International Affairs, so when another faculty member informed her of Ose’s project, she signed on.

Through diversifying the curriculum and encouraging people to express their voices and perspectives, Dr. Carmichael said addressing inequities is an ongoing effort from the department, school, and university. 

“More fundamentally, I wanted to ensure that all students gain equal access to the same information to be able to succeed,” Dr. Carmichael said. “Though originally I focused my attention on SPIA-specific opportunities, Ose encouraged me to ‘scale’ up to a more University-wide database.”

Sustainability and equity

While the project addresses sustainability by featuring sustainability-related job opportunities, the project’s mission is fundamentally connected to the environment.

“Sustainability is entwined with humanity,” Ose said. “At the end of the day, yes it is about how we can help the earth, but I also think it is about how we can help people.”

Environmental issues impact marginalized groups at disproportionately higher rates, a point underscored by Dr. Carmichael, and having more diverse voices in the field could better address these specific challenges.

“Environmental protections and efforts to promote sustainability are key facets in addressing income and racial disparities in the United States and vice versa,” Dr. Carmichael said. “We reasoned that if this database focused on sustainability opportunities, some of our most active, engaged, and brilliant students could be a part of solutions to these environmental problems wreaking havoc on our communities.”

For Ose, the sustainability aspect comes full circle with the inequities she is addressing at UGA. Sustainability involves the just and ethical integration of social, environmental, and economic solutions to ensure that all people can thrive, both now and in the future. These issues run hand-in-hand with lowering barriers to entry, beginning at the university level.

“When you create a more stable institution, an institution that’s more inclusive and equitable, it inherently affects everything else,” Ose said.


If you are interested in getting involved with the Secret Curriculum Project, contact Oisakhose “Ose” Aghomo at or Dr. Leah Carmichael at 

To learn more about the initiatives currently underway through the UGA Presidential Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community, visit:

For more information about the Campus Sustainability Grants program, visit