Justice in Education Scholars Receive 2018 Change Agent Award

The School of General Studies Student Leadership Awards are given to individuals that have distinguished themselves with their dedication to leadership and service to the School of General Studies and/or the Columbia University community.

2018 Change Agent Award is in its inaugural year and is given to a very select group of GS students who have made outstanding contributions through their dedication to equity, inclusion, and social justice to the School of General Studies and the Columbia University Community.

GS Student Leadership Awards Dinner on the evening of Tuesday, May 1 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Rotunda of Low Library.






Leyla Martinez is a first-generation student at Columbia’s School of General Studies, where she is a senior majoring in Human Rights. She is also the President/Founder of the Beyond the Box Initiative (BTB), which is an organization for current and prospective students who have been directly or indirectly impacted by mass incarceration. Ms. Martinez has spoken at different Law Schools around the country about the effects of incarceration on women, children and communities. She has also been invited to speak on panel discussions at The White House, Google, UCLA, YouTube, Columbia University and more. Leyla is a member of the first Justice in Education (JIE) cohort and the first JIE Scholar to be accepted into Columbia University. She is a Program for Academic Leadership and Service Scholar, Gilman Scholar, Joey O’Loughlin Scholar, Mother’s Day Scholar, Women’s Forum Education Fund Fellow, Beyond the Bars Fellow, Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability Fellow and Women’s Independence Scholar.




astor Isaac Scott defines himself as an artist and activist. As the founder and lead-artist for The Confined Arts, he spearheads the promotion of justice reform through the transformative power of the arts. His research at Columbia University investigates the use of humanizing language, representative imagery and depictions of people in prison to decrease punitive triggers in the US criminal justice system.  Pastor Scott’s passion for equal human rights runs deep, and comes as a result of being directly affected by the criminal justice system and its disenfranchising nature. Since returning to society in 2013, Pastor Scott has combined fine art and graphic design to change the existing negative narratives of people in prison and of those formerly incarcerated. Under Scott’s leadership, The Confined Arts has connected the personal experiences of, currently and formerly, incarcerated individuals to the struggles of impacted families, since 2014. Through The Confined Arts, Pastor Scott has organized art exhibitions, poetry performances, and storytelling projects to interrogate and bring about awareness around several important issues, such as juvenile justice, solitary confinement, prison conditions, the rising rate of women in prison and the media’s role in shaping public perception. As a result of the impactful work of The Confined Arts, Pastor Scott received the 2018 Change Agent Award from the School of General Studies at Columbia University, where he currently studies film and media as a Justice in Education Scholar.
Today, Pastor Scott holds the esteemed title of Associate Pastor at God’s Touch Healing Ministry, located in East Harlem, NY, where he has founded a prison ministry and is secretary of the Homeless Prevention Committee. Pastor Scott also retains the position of the Arts and Communications Coordinator at the Center for Justice, at Columbia University. His work there includes research, public speaking, and managing the center’s public outreach. As a Certified Producer at Manhattan Neighborhood Network, Pastor Scott currently studies filmmaking in order to pursue his ambitions for producing worldwide content that honestly represents the true, lived narratives of stigmatized people. He believes that art, in every form, can and does, effectively change perceptions and conquer stigma. Through his own lived experience, Pastor Scott personally understands the need for realistic representations of individuals, like himself, convicted of a crime in the past. Pastor Scott also understands, the healing power of the arts; it holds the power to transform both the artist and the audience. Pastor Scott now stands in a position to assist those artists following behind him. He has dedicated his life to using his creativity, in every way possible, to continue educating and promoting change.