Kimberly A. Gordon Biddle ’87 just had a student at her house over the weekend. “We were going over her vitae and cover letter for a job she was applying for,” says Biddle. “I get very involved with my students and help them out a lot—emotional support and giving advice about decisions. A lot of them are first-generation college students or come from poverty like I did.”
Biddle is a professor of child development at Sacramento State University, and she says, “I especially help students find jobs after they graduate—sometimes, years after they graduate.” Indeed, Biddle co-wrote a book on helping students pursue fruitful careers when she published her second textbook in 2018, Careers in Child and Adolescent Development: A Student’s Guide to Working in the Field (Routledge). “We think it’s the first, if not the only, textbook about careers in child and adolescent development,” she says. “People are surprised about the number of options with
As an undergraduate at Redlands with a double major in psychology and music, Biddle was a first-generation student who herself initially struggled with her options. She grew up in a small town in Illinois and was raised by a single mom. With the help of mentors, including Psychology Professor Thomas Gross and Redlands alumnus Denny Dickenson ’53, among others, she credits the University’s tight-knit, caring culture for creating the foundation she needed for her own successful career. Her Redlands network also supported her choice to attend Stanford University, where she earned an education specialist degree and a doctorate in education.
“I’ve helped my students with a lot of things, because so many people have helped me and mentored me in my life, especially at Redlands,” says Biddle, who has also supported the University financially since her senior year. “I’m getting emotional talking about this, but my life would’ve been very different without that help. It was more than an education they gave me, and I am so thankful.”
Biddle’s academic research has explored themes from the socialization of ethnic minority children in education to the impact of educational policies on families. Currently, her research is focused on parental perceptions of after-school programs for children from impoverished backgrounds.
Reaching outside academia, Biddle also published her first children’s book, LaDonna Plays Hoops (McLaren-Cochrane Publishing), in 2017. “The book is about social and emotional learning, appropriate responses to challenging situations, and good sportsmanship,” says Biddle, who participated in U of R’s Charlotte Huck Literature Festival and was recently contracted to write a second children’s book.
Biddle’s considerable outreach, instruction, research, and mentoring—in both academia and the greater community—was recognized in 2018 by the Stanford Graduate School of Education with its prestigious Alumni Excellence in Education Award, which stated that “her research, writing, advocacy, and service on behalf of minority families has shed critical light on the role of poverty, food scarcity, home insecurity, and racism in shaping a child’s future.”
As Biddle reflects on this honor, she again feels emotional. “My main focus has always been underserved children who are coming from poverty and children who are first-generation college students,” she says. “This award to me is like a culmination of my career and personal life.”
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