Archive for the 'Faculty spotlight' Category

Getting to Know Our Faculty: Meet Dr. Julissa Ventura

We’re excited to introduce you to Dr. Julissa Ventura who joined the Educational Policy and Leadership department this fall as an assistant professor. Read on to learn more about her, and don’t forget to check out our other posts featuring faculty and students!

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I grew up in West New York, New Jersey, which is as its name says is west of New York City. Although I was born and raised in Jersey, I am Salvadoran as both my parents are Salvadoran and immigrated to the United States in 1980’s. I have only lived in Milwaukee for about a month, since August 2019, but am familiar with Wisconsin because I spent seven years in Madison studying for my Master’s and PhD in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Like I mentioned, both my parents are from El Salvador, and they still live in New Jersey with my two younger siblings – my brother who is 26 and my sister who is 17. I like to think that having a sister whois in her teens keeps me cool since she keeps me up to date on all the trends.

My favorite educational experience is a research internship I did my senior year at Swarthmore College where I received my undergraduate degree. I was working through the University of Pennsylvania on a project with Latinx parents and their experiences in schools in Philadelphia suburb. Part of my internship was to facilitate an afterschool homework club with teachers and Latina mothers. I did a lot of translating between the teachers and the mothers, but also saw how a research partnership between a university and a school could make a difference in the lives of marginalized parents and students. I saw how the mothers learned much more about the different activities and services at the school, and the teachers learned about the mothers’ lives, cultures, and hopes for their children’s education. This experience inspired me to go onto graduate school and also engage in community-based research.

An exciting opportunity for this upcoming academic year for me will be to get to know more students, faculty, and staff across campus. I want to connect to some of Marquette’s community and diversity initiatives and also get to know what students are passionate about on campus.

I was drawn to Marquette because of our social justice-oriented mission and the current efforts that the university is making to increase community partnerships as well as the diversity of its students and faculty.

Outside the classroom, I like to go to concerts – my partner and I really love going to see Latin American bands/artists. We just attended the Los Dells Latinx music festival over Labor Day weekend. This past summer I have also reconnected with my hobby of reading novels and find that it’s a really nice way to decompress and relax after work.

Both my parents are my inspiration for the work I do to create and foster educational opportunities for marginalized communities. My parents are the most courageous people I know as they both immigrated at a very young age, leaving behind all of their family to build a home in a country they didn’t know. They always pushed me to take every educational opportunity that came my way because they never had those opportunities, and it is their encouragement and support that has gotten me this far. So, to honor all immigrant parents do for their children, I am inspired to persevere in the struggle to create spaces of equitable educational opportunities for marginalized students in both K-12 schools and in higher education.

MUSCLES Impressions: How Interdisciplinary Summer Camp Benefits Students of All Ages

RCP_4677By Dr. Bill Henk, Dean of the College of Education

My visit to the MUSCLES camp this summer left me thoroughly impressed. There was obviously effective collaboration between the Speech and Language Therapy students and our Elementary Education majors, in terms of assessment, planning, and instruction for the children with Autism Spectrum Disorder being served. And the collaboration extended to their faculty mentors in planning and supervision.

In particular, it was gratifying to witness our Education majors implement best pedagogical and management practices with such fidelity and impact. Their ability to continually monitor and adapt to the individual social and academic needs and strengths of the kids was striking.

Likewise, it was commendable that all Marquette students, including the psychology and biomedical science majors who participated, clearly recognized the gifts of inclusion of a diverse group of children drawn from varying socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. A major takeaway for me, given the increasing number of school-age kids on the Spectrum, is that there would be value in all Education majors learning more about teaching them, and for that matter, how to engage the full range of parents of kids with special needs.

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. Contact MUSCLES at mary.carlson@marquette.edu, or doris.walker-dalhouse@marquette.edu for information about the camp.

Getting to Know Our Faculty: Meet Dr. Alie Kriofske Mainella

The College of Education is excited to continue allowing our readers to better know its faculty, staff and studentsDr. Alie Kriofske Maniella joins our faculty in the department of Counselor Education Counseling Psychology this fall. Read on to get to know her better!

alie-k-m-2019I was born in Milwaukee and lived in the lower level of a duplex on 68th and Center. When I was a little girl, I made five goals for myself that have stuck with me all my life: to join the peace corps, fall in love, make a record of music, write a book, and interact with a monkey. I have the last two left. When I got a little older, I decided I’d love to be a university professor and am so glad to get to realize that dream at Marquette University.

I have been working with people with disabilities since I finished my undergraduate degree and continued that work when I joined the peace corps after college. I have a partner named Tad (there’s the falling in love goal checked) who is a writer and two kids. My son Coen is 15 years old and my daughter Lucy is 11. We love travelling and music (Coen is named for Leonard Cohen and Lucy for Lucinda Williams). We just got a dog. His name is Petey, and he’s a beagle mix and a very tenderhearted dog.

I have always loved school, particularly when writing was involved. I was involved in the creative writing program at UW Milwaukee in my undergrad and love to write short stories in my free time. I was a Trinity Fellow here at Marquette University while I got my Master’s Degree and fell in love with the culture here. I am so happy to be back.

Aside from creative writing, I also am a musician; I write songs (there’s the make a record of my music task on my list, though it was a CD that I made in 2002). I also play the guitar and the ukulele; you can find me playing and singing on my front porch and various farmers markets, street festivals and open mic nights.

I am passionate about disability rights, sexual health education and the mixing of these two topics. I love talking to parents about how to talk to their kids about sexual health and willingly dole out advice to anyone who has questions, so feel free to stop by my office in the Schroeder Complex if you have been asked a hard question by a young person in your life and aren’t sure how to phrase the answer! I’m inspired by so many who have worked in the various intersecting fields that I work in:

  • Beatrice Wright for her pioneering work in framing disability as a positive challenge,
  • Ed Roberts for his advocacy for himself and others in the creation of Independent Living Centers in the US,
  • Sonya Renee Taylor for her poetry, art and activism in self love, and
  • of course Dr. Ruth.

I feel tremendously grateful for being invited to work, teach and research at Marquette University in the Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology department in the College of Education.

Getting to Know Our Faculty: Meet Dr. Gabriel Velez

This fall, we’re excited to welcome four new faculty members to the College of Education! Please take a moment to meet Dr. Gabriel Velez, an assistant professor in the department of Educational Policy and Leadership. You can also catch up on our entire series getting to know faculty and students!

IMG_0728 (1)I grew up in New York City, right in the heart of Manhattan. I still love going back there to visit my family because it is such a diverse place displaying all of humanity’s challenges, accomplishments, and energy condensed into a dynamic, never-dull city. I have also spent time living in South America, where I taught middle and high school for five years. I was in Peru as a Jesuit Volunteer, and during those two years I met my wife, Catherine Curley, who is a Milwaukee native and Marquette alum. Ever since I first came to Milwaukee over a decade ago—a trip that included a tour of campus—I have loved the city and felt like it was a second home. I look forward to my wife and my raising our first son Ian, who was born this past February, as a Brewers fan and Milwaukeean.

I am excited by all the important work being done with local partners and communities in Milwaukee, such as President Mike Lovell’s focus on combating trauma and the Center for Peacemaking’s various projects. There are a lot of great opportunities to be involved in promoting resilience and working closely with community partners. I am particularly looking forward to supporting the Peace Works program and learning more about different communities by linking with the Office of Community Engagement.

Marquette has always drawn my interest as a Jesuit institution committed to social justice. For me, the College of Education embodies how these ideals have shaped my own life. I have a lot of experience with Jesuit formation between my high school education at Regis in New York City and my two years with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Peru. Being a person for others has played out in my own life through my role as an educator and in working on promoting education to address violence and its legacies.  Here in the College, the faculty, students, and culture is imbued with this sense of mission: transforming education to serve humanity with attentiveness to the dignity and well-being of all. More broadly, Marquette is deeply engaged in the Milwaukee community, and I look forward to being a part of this work as an active citizen-scientist in the city.

As a half-Colombian, I joke that coffee is in my blood. It is truly one of my passions and is connected to so many great experiences and moments in my life—from silent retreats in Peru, to incredible morning sunrises in the Amazon, to my favorite bagel shop in New York, and all the many people and places over the years where I have enjoyed a warm cup. Milwaukee is such a great city for coffee, and I look forward to creating many more of these memories hear at the Colectivos, Valentines, Stone Creeks, Brews on campus, and smaller local roasters and shops. Aside from good coffee, I love to be active and particularly to run, but with my recently broken foot, it may be awhile away before I am back out doing a 5K.

 

 

The New Normal

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Street art in Miraflores, Lima.

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Melissa Gibson

Temblor: A new word in my repertoire to describe my experiences in Peru. Temblor: tremor, or what you feel during an earthquake. In the wee hours of Saturday-into-Sunday, Peru’s Amazon jungle was struck by an 8.0 earthquake, and here in Lima we woke up to a minute of door-rattling, bed-shaking temblores. To me, it was terrifying. My Peruvian friends have told me too many times about how Lima is overdue for a major earthquake and how damaging it will be to the poorer parts of the city, so when the temblores started, my heart raced to keep pace with the shaking—even though, by earthquake standards, the shaking was pretty mellow. When it stopped and Google’s disaster alerts told me everything I needed to know to be reassured, I still couldn’t sleep. Every rattle of a door, every creak in the mattress jolted my heart back to racing.

The next night, as I turned off the lights for bed, I felt a wave of anxiety wash over me, and I had to talk myself down: There was nothing to be nervous about. Go to sleep. Deep breaths to calm my racing heart. It’s not earthquake season. The epicenter was hundreds of miles away. Probability is in our favor. Eventually, I gave in to an uneventful night of rest.

So imagine my surprise when, Monday night, I am sitting in my bed finishing up my preparation for the next day’s seminar and: temblor. No more than ten seconds, but the shaking was now unmistakable. A 4.6 on the outskirts of Lima, barely perceptible to Limeños because, as my friend Marisol says, they happen all the time with the change of season. (In fact, I am reminded of my first time in Lima when the toilet started shaking, and I only realized it was an earthquake the next day when people were talking about it at school.) Yes, more precarious neighborhoods evacuated their houses Saturday night just to be safe, but on my street? The neighbors partied through the whole thing, cumbia band and all. And on Monday night, I gave myself a little pat on the back that my heart stayed at a normal pace and I was able to fall asleep, earthquake anxiety at bay.

This is what it is to spend time in a foreign country not as a tourist. So many things are anxiety-producing when you first encounter them: The traffic. The piles of ceviche. The fresh fruits and salads. The toilet paper situation. The jumble of Lima’s streets. The conversations in Spanish. The walks through crowded market streets with a group of 30. The visit to a pharmacy. The mysteriously uncooperative ATM. The temblores. But then a day passes, a week passes, and without realizing it, you’ve slipped from anxious unknowing to a new rhythm of daily life. New words, new ideas, new experiences.

This first collection of blog posts from our 2019 Marquette University study abroad experience, “Education in the Americas,” lets readers in on what this process of learning a new normal feels like. You’ll hear about the students’ host families, their first impressions of Lima, their muddled conversations in Spanish. You’ll also hear them trying to make sense of it all—because, after all, this is a study abroad experience. And that’s where I come in. Our month is designed so that students acquire the philosophical and pedagogical tools to make sense of what they’re experiencing and then to transfer those understandings back to their home contexts. I don’t just want them to know the word temblor, and I don’t just want them to roll with the experience Limeño style; I also what them to be able to articulate why that experience matters.

In this first week, our conversations in seminar have focused on naming the power dynamics and structures of inequality that we encountered, and trying to locate ourselves in those systems through Ignatian-inspired reflection. While I have assigned the readings and designed the experiences, the students have to bring all the pieces together for themselves, for their own sense-making. This can be challenging for me as the teacher. There’s so much I want them to know! But I remind myself that the purpose of our month abroad is not to make them experts in philosophy or sociology of education but to help them learn how to think critically about unequal social contexts of schools. Our purpose is, yes, to experience a new normal, but in doing so, I hope we will begin to see our own normal through new eyes.

The Jesuits here talk a lot about acompañamiento, the process of accompanying or being with someone as they experience and wrestle with life. Accompaniment is an act of solidarity, of partnership, of being in life together. When done well, from a spirit of humanizing and constructivist pedagogies, accompaniment is also what we do when we teach. In this month, I am accompanying my students on their journey into a new normal, and I am accompanying them as they then navigate back to our home contexts of schooling.

These blogs are an invitation to you, dear readers, to accompany us on our journey, as well. We invite you to read in solidarity with our experiences, however imperfect or partial our sense-making may be after only one week into the trip. Let us know through comments what you’re thinking as you read, what questions you have for us or want us to answer, or what perspectives you might bring to our experiences. Accompany us as we consider justice, education and Peru.

 

A Few Words from Dr. Ellen Eckman

This May, Dr. Ellen Eckman is retiring from the College of Education where she celebrated over 20 years of service, including serving as chair of the Educational Policy and Leadership department. At a joint retirement party with Dr. Bob Lowe on Tuesday, March 14, Dr. Eckman shared the following sentiments and memories of her time at Marquette University.

ellen-eckman-2019As I thought about what to say this afternoon, it became clear to me that my research on women in leadership actually provides a framework that describes my experiences. I have lived the very research that I do.

My career followed the trajectory that many women in education experience and in fact women still face today in many fields.  I began as a teacher, stopped out and went part-time when my children were young, then returned to teaching and began thinking about and preparing for an administrative position as a principal. I should add here that I had wanted to go to Law school, but my father — a lawyer — discouraged me because as he explained, he had never seen female lawyers only female legal secretaries. This was before Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Such discouragement is something many women experience as they explore career opportunities. And though the situation seems better today for women – women are still underrepresented in leadership positions in many fields. We still talk about whether or not women are “likeable” enough to be president and, in our state, governor.

After 15 years of teaching, I became an assistant principal and then as is the customary career trajectory, began seeking a principal position. Lots of applications to school districts in metro Milwaukee and even in New England, lots of final interviews but it was always the other candidate who was hired: the man. It was never clear to me what experiences or credentials these men had that were significantly different than mine. I began to see that it was because I was a woman – I was the one that was different.

Researchers have noted that what helps women in moving into leadership positions is a “tap on the shoulder” or encouragement to try a new role. I did receive encouragement at just the right time and it helped me come to Marquette. I was working as an Assistant Principal, working on my PhD at UW-Milwaukee and in my fourth or fifth year of applying for principal positions. I actually thought if I had the PhD credential I could get a job as principal – a little naïve, I know. In my search for positions I was reading the classified ads in the Milwaukee Journal – that’s how we did job searches 20 years ago!   There was an ad for a visiting assistant professor in Educational Administration at Marquette. I thought what an interesting opportunity – I could teach, apply my experience and research on administration, and finish my dissertation – I could move into higher education. But I didn’t know if my credentials would be acceptable, and I didn’t really want to face another rejection.

Then I remembered someone I could call for advice – this is, of course, the important concept of networking that women are beginning to use successfully. The person I knew had taught with me at Shorewood High School, we knew each other through our families and children ran into each other in Shorewood. I knew she had finished her PhD and was now at Marquette. So, I called Joan Whipp. And she encouraged me – she told me that I should apply, that I should send her my CV, and that they would be interested in me. Without her supportive answer and encouragement, I don’t know if I would have applied. I have a special memory of Joan.

Researchers of women in leadership positions have reported on the need for strong reliable mentors that women can trust to provide clear advice and support.  I have had that! As a new assistant professor, I had role models like Christine Weisman and Nancy Snow, whose gender and diversity committees I served on. I served on committees with Cheryl Maranto and could call her with questions and concerns. When I became department chair, I had the expert advice and mentorship of my good friend Bob Lowe. I also have women leaders like Anne Pasero, Professor and Chair of World Languages and Literatures, and Barbara Silver-Thorn, Emeritus Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering. Anne has helped me problem-solve and has provided expert advice and information on how to handle things as a chair and also shared many lunch conversations. Barb Silver-Thorn, who couldn’t be here today, taught me how to organize and write and direct a grant and along the way gave me advice, perspectives, and guidance on leadership issues. I thank them for the significant role they have played in my career at Marquette.

As a department, we also owe a special thank-you to an outside mentor who had deep experience in serving as a chair, though he was often stymied in offering advice by the differences between private and public universities. That is my husband Fred – who willingly shared his wisdom and perspective on all things concerning being a department chair. He often joked that he could become an outside consultant for department chairs – which is not a bad idea, Leigh, if you need a consultant.

Researchers on women leaders offer various definitions of women’s leadership styles or what has been called a feminist leadership style. They most often describe women as collaborators who bring groups together as teams to share leadership or women as servant leaders, who quietly work to support those around them.

As chair of the department for the last 10 years, I have sought to lead as both – a collaborative and a servant leader – one who works to bring faculty and staff together in decision-making, all the while serving them, getting them recognition, balancing their course assignments, preparing their dossiers for promotion and tenure, respecting their needs, and bringing together an exciting eclectic group of individuals that has kept our department moving forward for the most part with great success and, of course, laughter and joy.

I couldn’t end this talk without a special recognition to someone who has taught me about hard work, loyalty, kindness, calmness in a storm — and even some environmental stuff – Melissa Econom. She quietly keeps me on task – all those due dates for scheduling and bulletins and graduate forms and hiring and dossiers and meetings and, of course, getting names and lists and photos and music for this wonderful event. I have relied on her immensely, as I know many others do. I couldn’t have done my work without Melissa. Thank you for your leadership. Your career parallels that of many women leaders, and you too have places you can go and the skills to take you there.

Finally, my career is not over. I have too much energy to just go quietly into the night! My next stage is to return to teaching courses that I love and to taking courses that I never got to take earlier – like law courses. So be prepared to see me on campus going to classes – either to teach or learn. And know that I will be more than willing to provide mentorship and networking and a good laugh over lunch or coffee to you.

We’ve done a lot together. Thanks so much for being with me.

Be Present to Receive the Gift

By Karisse Callender

downloadA lot happens during the holiday season. There’s a lot of food, celebrations, family visits, travels, and time with loved ones. No matter the situation or our experiences, there is a gift we can all give to ourselves – the gift of mindful living so we can be present, in the moment, to fully experience life.

 

Here are some mindful tips and suggestions for the holiday season to help you remain present:

  • Practice gratitude: I use the word practice because being grateful takes intentional effort and it is a habit that needs to be cultivated. During this season, take a moment to think about at least three things you can be grateful for. It can be as simple as “I’m grateful for having a meal today,” “I’m grateful for a safe place to sleep,” “I express gratitude today for waking up.” A gratitude list can help to remind us of the simple things in life that make the biggest difference. On the days when it seems hard to find something/someone to be grateful for, think about what you would express gratitude for if you were having a good day.
  • Set intentions: Think about what you want this holiday season to represent for you. Is this a time for you to bond with distant family? Create new rituals with loved ones or for yourself? Is this a time to be contemplative and introspective? Whatever your intention, write it down and work towards it.
  • Journal: This is a great way to keep track of your thoughts and feelings over the holiday. It’s also a way to sit with what you are experiencing, in the moment. What did you learn about yourself? How did your intention(s) manifest? What were you able to do for others? How have you grown in the year? What lessons from the holiday can you take into the new year? How have you shown yourself loving-kindness over the holiday?
  • Radical acceptance: It would be ideal if things happen the way we want, all the time. However, that’s not the reality of our lives. When we feel confused and have no control over how things happen, you can remind yourself that “it is what it is, it is as it should be.” In other words, you are recognizing what is happening, as it’s happening, and acknowledging that it is out of your control.

Mindfulness is less about sitting still and more about being present in our lives – each moment, each experience, each day. When we take the time to be attuned to what is happening within and around us, we learn more about ourselves and our needs, and what we are capable of giving to others. As we think about what we can give to others, another mindful practice this holiday season is to remember and reach out to those who may also be in distress. Some may experience grief, a sense of loss, poverty, homelessness, and discord in relationships. As we think of the ways we are blessed and the simple privileges we have, let us also think about how we can be the difference for others.

May you all be happy, healthy, and at peace during this season and the new year. Be well.


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