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.




Pastor Isaac Scott is a formerly incarcerated artist and activist. As the Program Director for The Confined Arts, he is a leader in promoting justice reform and prison abolition through the transformative power of the arts. Since returning to society, he’s combined fine art and graphic design with his passion for the arts to accomplish goals that could not have been achieved without such a socially valued means of expression. Isaac’s passion for equal human rights runs deep as a result of being directly affected by the criminal justice system and its disenfranchising nature.

Today, Isaac is a 2018 Change Agent Award recipient from the School of General Studies at Columbia University, where he currently studies film and media as a Justice in Education Scholar. Pastor Scott is also the Arts and Communications Coordinator at the Center for Justice at Columbia University. His work includes research, public speaking, and managing the center’s public outreach. Isaac is studying filmmaking to pursue his ambitions for producing content that honestly represents the true lived narratives of stigmatized people. He believes that art, in every form, is effective in changing perceptions and conquering stigma. Through lived experience, Isaac personally understands the need for realistic representations of individuals like himself, who’ve been convicted of a crime in the past. Isaac also understands the healing power of the arts; it’s influential enough to transform both the artist and the audience. He is now in a position to assist those artists following behind him and to use his creativity in many ways to continue educating and promoting change.