Archive for the 'Alumni Voices' Category

Behind Every Military Weapon System Should be Someone Advocating for Her/Him

This post originally appeared on Dr. Darnell Durrah’s blog. About the author: Dr. Darnell A. Durrah Jr, is a licensed counseling psychologist current serving the men and women of the US Army. At the end of the day, he is most proud of just being a kid from Compton!

US_Navy_030513-N-5576W-002_Antwone_Fisher_speaks_to_Sailors_gathered_in_Naval_Station_Great_Lakes'_Ross_AuditoriumBehind every weapon used to protect the innocent is a woman/man that took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic….

We might not agree with every political decision, but they (we) took an oath!

One of my favorite Denzel Washington movies is Antwone Fisher.

Prior to becoming a licensed counseling psychologist, I was a master level therapist. I’ve always used the phrase “whowillcryforthelittleboy

Now, I’ve always taken that as who will advocate for those that can’t or don’t know how to advocate for themselves

As an Army psychologist I will be here to ensure Soldiers are advocated for.

I’ll advocate for evidenced based treatment. I’ll advocate for transparency in treatment as it applies to military regulation. I will advocate to ensure ready resilient resources are provided in a timely manner. I’ll advocate for the privacy of your protected health information

I’ll also inform you that psychological treatment is a sign of strength, courage, and hope! I’ll let you know that if your symptoms (not you as a person) meet criteria for a diagnosis, I’ll explain that with compassion, care, and concern. I will also let you know that treatment works. I’ll let you know the new normal is possible

Lastly, those that are concerned about PTSD, I’ll discuss with you all about PTSG #PostTraumaticGrowth.

Dr. Darnell Durrah graduated in 2014 with a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the College of Education

Reflections on the 2019 MUSCLES Camp

Marquette offers a summer camp addressing literacy and social communication skills for children on the spectrum, aged 6-11. The MUSCLES (Marquette University Summer Communication, Literacy, and Enhanced Socialization) camp occurs during three weeks in summer. An interdisciplinary initiative of the Colleges of Education, Health Sciences, and Arts and Sciences, the camp not only serves local children but also employs students. We caught up with Megan Smith, Class of 2019, to find out more about her experience.

MUSCLES 2019 meganBy Megan Smith

As a student, I connected with Dr. Walker-Dalhouse in class through her course and my work experiences in the College of Education. She invited me to participate in the camp two years ago, but it didn’t work out given my work schedule. What overall drew me in was through working with students on the autism spectrum, I had observed the fact that there are so many misconceptions about what student on the spectrum can and cannot do. Through my own curiosity, I discovered that there is not a lot of research out there, just speculation and was concerning to me as an educator. Thus, when I was told about the research, I was eager to participate.

My favorite part was watching the kids make friends and accept on another and not see differences. They look at the world through their eyes and see only similarities (an aspect that we as humans forget to see). The most challenging was learning each of their personalities in such a short period of time. I felt like I just ‘really’ got to know them, and camp was over.

I feel this will help me teach ALL young scholars. Through understanding how a variety of learners see the world and how they learn, I can better meet all students where they are and help guide them to success. This practice helps me see there are multiple ways to succeed at one task.

Prior to the program, I had always taught social skill and academic skills such as reading in isolated time periods I knew that cross-curricular teaching was possible, but I had never felt confident but now I truly see the benefits and that children grow and prosper when taught via a cross-curricular curriculum.

 

 

 

 

 

Cell Phone Chaos: How Social Media Has Changed Middle School

iphone-410311_960_720By Sabrina Bartels

When I was a sophomore in high school, I was becoming a pro at participating in both Debate and Forensics meets. Our team would meet at our high school early in the morning, get on a school bus, and then head out to a different school to compete. During this time, many of my fellow speakers acquired cell phones, since our meets rarely ended on time, and gathering all of us on the bus was quite an adventure. I, however, did not get a cell phone. When asked by my Debate coach why I didn’t have a phone, I cheekily responded, “it’s because I’m Amish.”

Fast forward a few weeks to parent-teacher conferences. My Debate coach – who was also my Politics teacher – sat down and met with my mom. As they were talking, my Debate coach commented, “You don’t look like what I expected.”

My mom was used to this. She laughed and said, “Because I’m Caucasian and my daughter is Asian? It’s because she’s adopted.”

My Debate coach laughed too and said, “No, because Sabrina told me she was Amish! I was expecting you to come in a bonnet and a buggy.”

My mom was mortified. And I’m sure it comes as no surprise that it took a LONG time before I got a cell phone after that stunt.

It’s funny to think back to that instant and to a time that I did not have a cell phone constantly on me. It’s even scarier to think of how cell phones, and other methods of communication, have evolved over my lifetime. When I was six, I remember my dad had a pager so that we could reach him at work in case of an emergency. That was pretty high-tech! It wasn’t until I was in high school that more people started carrying pagers and cell phones. And by the time I started college, almost everyone had a flip phone. By the time I graduated four years later, iPhones were the new trend. It was startling to see that people could check their emails or Facebook from their phones, or take amazing pictures without the aid of a digital camera.

When I think back to those times, I become more and more appreciative of the fact that my parents held off on getting me a cell phone as long as they did. Working in a middle school, I see how easily it is for people to get consumed by their phones and social media. A lot of my students are constantly on their social media, whether that’s texting, tweeting, Snapchatting, or taking pictures for Instagram. And to be fair, it’s not just teenagers (I must admit that I’m scrolling through Facebook while I write this post.)

There was this fascinating article written by a teacher named Benjamin Conlon called “Middle School Misfortunes Then and Now, One Teacher’s Take.” In it, Conlon details how social media and cell phones have completely revolutionized the whole middle school experience. It’s fascinating to read his example of what an embarrassing middle school incident was like in 2008, versus 2018. What was once a one-time incident that could easily be forgotten can now be turned into a meme or another viral video.

We often say that teens have it much easier than we did back in the day, and in some respects, it’s true. Technology has made information more accessible. But in the same respect, it’s a double-edged sword. Technology has made it harder for students to leave the stress of school at school. When I had a fight with friends at school, it started and ended at school. The only way we could contact each other was calling each other on a landline phone. Now, students can text or Snapchat each other, post rude messages on Facebook, or spread hateful comments on Instagram. They feel invincible, hidden behind their computer or cell phone screens.

How can you help your middle schooler through their social media struggles? Here are my suggestions:

  1. It’s really okay to wait for a phone. To be fair, I am not a parent. I know a lot of parents have told me that they gave their middle schooler a cell phone because they walk home. That makes sense. However, that doesn’t mean they “need” a smartphone. A flip phone or a prepaid phone that allows your student to call or text someone in an emergency is just fine, gets the job done, and causes a lot less drama in the process.
  2. Talk about password privacy. The amount of middle school drama caused by students sharing each other’s passwords and then posting things “for” their friends is ridiculous. Teach your student that passwords are absolutely private. Only family members should be able to go on your social media.
  3. Check your student’s social media. I had a parent this past year who religiously checked their child’s Facebook and had his email linked to her phone so that she could track what her son was writing to others. Some people thought that was a complete invasion of privacy. This mom saw it as her son thought twice before he sent or posted anything he didn’t want her to see. This also allowed her to see what others posted, and who his friends were on Facebook.
  4. Set specific rules up. Some parents have rules that their student only gets their phone from 4-7 pm at night, and it must charge downstairs overnight. I really do think this is helpful. The number of students who have confessed to me that they stay up all night watching YouTube videos or texting is pretty high.
  5. Practice what you preach. I am just as guilty of this, but I usually do try to make a conscious effort to put my phone away when I’m with my family and friends. This is especially true when my nieces and nephew come over. I don’t want them to think that they can get away with sitting on their phones the whole time because “Aunt Sabrina gets to.” This also promotes time for kids to get to know their parents and family members more. That interaction is super important!

Also, remind your students that you have been there, you’ve lived it, and – better yet – you survived! That in itself can be more reassuring than anything.

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Hannah Lubar

This summer, we are continuing our series getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Hannah Lubar, one of our Student Affairs in Higher Education graduate students!

IMG_2913Hi and thanks for your interest in getting to know me! I’m going into my second and final year as a graduate student in the Student Affairs in Higher Education (SAHE!) program, working as a Graduate Assistant in the Business Career Center. I’m also a proud alumna of the College of Ed.

I grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, but including my undergraduate years at Marquette, I’ve lived in Milwaukee for around nine years now. After getting my Bachelor’s Degree, I knew I wanted to stick around Milwaukee, and I taught high school English in the city for four years.

I come from a family of educators: my dad is a middle school music teacher, and my mom and sister both teach special education in the Chicago area. I’ve also got two very cool brothers and an incredibly loveable nephew and niece. I met my kind and hilarious husband, Eric, at MU.  He and his sister both just graduated with their master’s degrees from MU, so you can say the three of us are big fans of our school and of Milwaukee (and very blessed).

Major highlights of my educational experience include being part of the Dorothy Day Social Justice Living Learning Community and then my time teaching, which gave me invaluable memories, experience, and relationships. Both my extracurricular time at Marquette in undergrad and my time teaching high school sparked my interest in higher education support services as well as community engagement.

This upcoming academic year, I’m excited to explore new areas of higher education at UW-Milwaukee through my summer and fall practica.  I really appreciate how the SAHE program helps us foster connections with other institutions and gain new perspectives.  It’s something that drew me to the program. Additionally, I chose Marquette – the second time – because of its Jesuit values and commitment to others, and because I felt that my undergraduate teacher training from the College was truly quality.

Outside of education, I enjoy biking, rock climbing, trying new restaurants, watching Parks and Rec reruns, going to concerts/shows around Milwaukee, being in community with my church, gardening, and yoga. I think it’s important to make time for rest and personal interests so that we can be our best selves in our work – so I’m always trying to work on all of the above!

The Importance of Counselors

counselor-1294858_960_720By Sabrina Bartels

Last week, I had the honor of participating in a panel discussion focused on youth mental health. The event was a collaboration between several organizations, including Marquette Law School, Marquette’s College of Education, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Individuals from across the country and from many different walks of life joined together to talk about the mental health crisis and what we can do to help support children and teens as they navigate these difficult struggles.

Of all the panels, I really liked the one where teens talked about overcoming and living with mental health concerns. One of the girls was a middle school student. When describing her middle school experience, she mentioned that she sometimes goes to her school counselor, but that it’s hard to see her because she’s so busy. The student said that her counselor’s door is closed a lot because she’s with other students, or “in a six-hour meeting.” It made me crack up (because it’s true, we have a lot of meetings!) but it also made me a little sad. Here was a student who really needed to see someone, but her counselor wasn’t available.

Which made me think of my own students. I’ve been lucky this year to have a slightly smaller 8th grade class, but I’m still as busy as ever. I thought about all the sign-up sheets on my desk, and how sometimes, it takes me one or two days to follow up with these students. Not because I don’t want to talk to them, but because every day can be filled with chaos and crises, and I am never guaranteed enough time. I think about students who like to check in with me, but whom I can’t always consistently meet with on the same day, or even the same time. As one of my kiddos put it, “You just never know what’s going to come through your door next, do you, Ms. B?” And for the record, he’s absolutely right.

I am so incredibly blessed to work in a district that recognizes the importance of counselors, psychologists, and social workers, and why we are so necessary. I’m also really fortunate that my administration recognizes the work we do. They’ve excused us from lunch duty and hallways sweeps. They limit the number of students who test with us. I’m lucky; I can’t say that enough. But I recognize that not every counselor is in my situation. At my school, the student to counselor ratio (on average) is about 310 to 1. In the state of Wisconsin, it’s around 454 to 1. And the ideal ratio? 250 to 1.

Why is this important? Because the more “stretched” we become, the less effective we are, and most importantly, the less time we have for kids. That means students who are struggling with bullying, mental health issues, academics, or trauma may not see us when their need is highest. This also means that we lose a window of opportunity to get to know the student on a deeper level. For some, it’s okay; the student will keep reaching out to us and we will have that chance. But for some who may already be nervous or scared to reach out, if they can’t have us at that precise moment the window closes and may not open up again.

Are we bound to miss students sometimes? Yes, of course. Sometimes, we have another student in our offices, and we have to tell the other one we will talk to them later. That’s part of our job. But the more counselors, psychologists, social workers, and outside agencies that are available, the less time they have to wait, the quicker we can address the problem, and the sooner students can return to class with a less-burdened mind. With their mind at ease, students have more brain power for school, which can help them achieve their full academic potential.

We’ve heard that these things we teach and model – emotional regulation, conflict resolution, and organization – are “soft skills.” These so-called “soft skills” are not that soft. These are skills that are so important to a student’s every day functioning as an adult. Their social/emotional success is just as critical to their learning as reading and math. That is what we are trained in. That is why we’re needed.

The event really sparked my enthusiasm, and continued to stress the importance of mental health professionals. But it was the youth panel that reminded me of why I do what I do, why I advocate for counselors, and why it’s an important job. The most inspiring thing is that these students haven’t given up. Neither should we.

The Importance of Mental health: A Letter From One Marquette Student to Another

counselorBy Sabrina Bartels

Earlier this month, the Journal Sentinel published this article on Markus Howard. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.  After reading it, I felt compelled to write a little note to him.

Dear Markus,

To start with a cliché: you don’t know me, but I know a little bit about you. I am an avid Marquette fan, having graduated from Marquette with my undergrad degree in 2011 and my Master’s in School Counseling in 2013. I have watched games where all the odds have been stacked against us, and seen you help lead the team to victory. Earlier this month, you helped elevate the team over Creighton, scoring a historic 53 points and whipping Marquette nation into an absolute frenzy.

And because of your skill, my 8th graders have started taking notice. They talk about how great you are and how much they want to be like you. They talk about going to Marquette someday and playing in the Fiserv Forum. I’ve had kids try to imitate your three-point shot so they can use it during their own games. They talk about someday beating your free throw point average.

You are an absolute hero to them because of what you do on the court. For me, you are a hero for what happens after the game has ended.

You may not know it, but I’m hoping my students are watching you because of the way you portray yourself. You make sure to stay humble. (I just saw an interview you gave after the Creighton game, and when asked about how you are so effective at what you do, your response was “I play on a great team.” Nothing about how you scored about half the points Marquette made that night.) You give back to the fans. You volunteer and work hard. You are a great leader on the NCAA Division I Men’s basketball Oversight Committee. But most importantly, you’ve gone public on the importance of mental health in athletes.

As a counselor, mental health is my daily job, but it’s often hard to put it into perspective with my 13- and 14-year-old students. My kiddos come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and all of them come in with a different perspective on counseling. Some students love having me at school, so they can talk about their problems. Some just think I’m a friendly person to have around. But then there are some who view counseling as weak. They don’t want to ask for help, for fear of how that makes them look. And these are the kids that I struggle connecting with the most. It’s almost like we have little boundaries up that are hard to overcome.

The fact that you talked about seeing a psychologist as “just another practice” has really opened up the door to a lot of my students. Suddenly, talking to a mental health professional is not taboo. It’s not weird; it’s not only for people they think are “crazy.” It’s for everyone who needs someone to talk to. And my hope is that my students start to embody that mentality, that counseling is something that can help everyone, regardless of age, race, orientation, socioeconomic status, etc.

You’ve also opened the door to talking about mental health openly. A lot of my students think that mental health – good or bad – is a very private thing, or something that could never happen to them (“I’m a good student, so I can’t have anxiety”). And while it is in some respects private, talking about how mental health has affected you or someone you know can open doorways to others sharing their own personal experience, which all helps reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

It was also important for my students to hear why spending time with people you love is important. Some of my students are going through a phase where it isn’t cool to spend time with family, or people in general who love them. In an age where isolation is all too common, having someone whom they look up to emphasize the importance of connection is all the more special.

So thank you. Thank you for speaking out and using your voice to inspire others. Best of luck the rest of this season.

We are Marquette!
Sincerely,

A grateful school counselor

Where Are Our Alumni? Catching Up With Katie Syc

In this #ThrowbackThursday post, we catch up with one of our alumni who participated in an undergraduate version of our Masters in STEM Teaching program, Katie Syc. Read on to hear more about what she’s been doing since graduation!

My name is Katie Syc, and I grew up in Lake Forest, Illinois; and my parents still live there. My sister and her family live in Rochester, New York. My mom often jokes that my dad and she never really had an interest in math and medicine for their own career, which of course are the two fields that interest me and my sister! Currently, I’m teaching at DePaul College Prep where I teach Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and a Math Intervention Course. In addition to being a teacher at school, I am a monitor of the Young Women’s Leadership Club and coach of the DePaul Prep Track Team.

My favorite educational experience in the College of Education was the NOYCE CO-OP experiences at various schools throughout the Milwaukee area. It was a great experience because the other Noyce Scholars and I had an opportunity to engage and participate in the various practices we learned about in our classes. Instead of just reading about the different theories, we practiced them while discussing our strengths and weaknesses. Starting this process before student teaching gave me more confidence. It also allowed us to engage with administration, social workers, department chairs, and the parent associations which broadened our skills sets to apply later in student teaching and in our careers. This unique opportunity gave us the time to practice our skills and learn from our mistakes right then and there. My participation in the program also allowed for networking and attending various NSF Noyce Programs which allowed us to share and learn different teaching strategies. In addition, by teaching at such various schools, we were also able to get a better sense of the types of schools we would like to teach in after graduating. Looking back at my studies at Marquette in the College of Education, I am so happy I participated in the Noyce Program!

One of my own high school math teachers was my inspiration to become a teacher myself. He was someone who didn’t just teach math, but rather mentored us. He didn’t teach us what to think, but rather how to think. I want to do the same with my own students!

Interested in learning more about how you can pursue your Masters Degree and Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in just fourteen months? Our Noyce Scholars graduate program is accepting applications through February of 2019!


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