Archive for the 'Alumni Voices' Category

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!

Where Are Our Alumni? Catching Up With TJ Bongiorno

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, TJ Bongiorno.

tjI currently work in Illinois High School District 201 (J. Sterling Morton West High School) teaching sophomore and junior level integrated mathematics courses. I grew up in Brookfield, IL, which is about 20 minutes west of Chicago. I have been married for a little over a year to my high school sweetheart and currently do not have any children. My parents still live in the area and my only sibling – a brother – lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

My favorite educational experience has to be the consistency in which my job is different! I know that sounds like an oxymoron but it’s true! Teaching, unlike other professions, gives you a different experience every single day. The changing classes, age groups, etc. gives you an opportunity to impact many different lives in many ways. The Noyce Program allowed me more in classroom experience that definitely helped prepare me for what to expect in my own classroom. Also, the individualized courses that were offered through the Noyce Program were excellent since I was able to spend more time with a professor who was also currently a high school teacher.

In my free time, I love watching and playing baseball and hockey. I have coached baseball at the junior varsity high school level and intend on continuing to do so for as long as I can. If you do work in a school, get involved somehow. Start a club or become sponsor to a club, get students excited about being in school!

I would say my inspiration for my work is my high school math teacher, Mr. Steve Yurek. He was someone who always made (sometimes a boring subject) interesting and fun. He is someone I have kept in contact with in order to grow in my profession.

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!

 

Where Are Our Alumni? Catching Up With Thess Dobbs

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, Thess Dobbs. Currently teaching at Milwaukee School of Languages, Thess was recently awarded the Edyth Sliffe Award for Distinguished Teaching in Middle School and High School. Read on to hear more about what she’s been doing since graduating!

thessI teach high school math at Milwaukee School of Languages (MSL). At MSL I also lead the math club, which I started in 2014. In this club, we work on more challenging math that goes above and beyond the standard curriculum. Our students have the opportunity to wrestle with challenging competition-level problems and receive guidance to help them build their skills. Through fundraising we make all activities free or low-cost for our students, and we are proud to make these opportunities, often reserved for privileged students at elite schools, accessible to our students. The racial disparities in the STEM fields begin with the inequities in our school systems, and the process to end those disparities must also start with our schools.

Originally, I am from Milwaukee and grew up with a lot of brothers and sisters. My dad is a professor, and both my parents placed a strong emphasis on learning. Being a big sister made me a natural teacher. The Noyce Program gave me more hands-on experience than the typical pre-service teacher has. It wasn’t until student teaching that I really had to learn how to manage a classroom, but the relationships built during my field placements helped me maintain my confidence during the hard times later on. Thanks to the amount of time spent in field placements, I also got a good sense of the school culture of a few different schools.

Even though we aren’t in touch as much as we used to be, I feel the bond still exists between the Noyce Scholars in my cohort. All the formative experiences we shared as undergraduates are not easily forgotten. One person who inspires me is my grandma, Leona Sherrod, who passed away three years ago. She taught in public school for eighteen years, and taught for eighteen more years in prisons’ adult education programs. Though she is gone now, I’m glad she got to see me become a teacher too.

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!

Changing Climate: Counselors Getting Crafty!

By Sabrina Bartels

At the start of this school year, the Student Services department decided to help “beautify” our building. Here are some fun things we did to help our school climate!

  1. “Be the nice kid” quote. This was one of the most difficult things we did, but it was definitely worth it. We started by purchasing white paint and painting over a small section of the brick wall. We then projected a picture of the quote on the wall and traced the lettering, before finishing off the words with a couple coats of paint. It was finicky and stressful, but we’ve gotten tons of compliments on it. If you’re thinking of adding this quote to your school, we recommend picking up a variety of brushes to accommodate the different fonts. Also, this is a team activity – all the painting can get very tedious for just one person! Be the nice kid
  2. Drake bulletin board. Our students love this one (and also use it as an excuse to sing the song “Hey Keke.”) We saw a bulletin board on Facebook that used the quote, so we adjusted it a little to fit our school and added our own picture of Drake. We hope that it encourages our students to start thinking about their post-secondary education paths. It’s also a fun way to incorporate a little pop culture into school! Bulletin Board
  3. And speaking of education paths … we added a bulletin board outside of Student Services so we could post our own educational paths. Our students love seeing where all of us went to school! We’ve also used our new bulletin board to post inspirational quotes for our students to read. Educational PathwaysEducational PathStudent Services board
  4. Inside Out bulletin board. We also created a bulletin board that offers students a gentle reminder about what we do in Student Services. So often, we have students who don’t know what our roles are, or what they can talk to us about. Inside Out
  5. Pennants. In September, we sent out emails to (almost) all of the colleges and universities in Wisconsin, asking for pennants and any “swag” the colleges had to promote their school. The responses we got were overwhelming! Around 15 schools (Marquette included!) not only sent us pennants, but were super generous in sending us t-shirts, temporary tattoos, stickers/decals, water bottles, and more! Thanks to their kindness, we are able to start discussing post-secondary education right now with our students. We wanted to hang them over the bulletin board outside our office, but are trying to find something better than duct tape to hold them up.

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