Archive for the 'Faculty spotlight' Category

Welcome, Dr. Lee Za Ong

leeza-ong-2018Dr. Lee Za Ong has joined the Counselor Education Counseling Psychology this fall and will be working extensively with our new Rehabilitation Counseling Masters Degree. We had a chance to speak with Dr. Ong to get to know her better!

Where did you grow up? How long have you lived in Milwaukee?

I was born and grew up in Malaysia. I went to Japan for my undergraduate and came to the US for my graduate degrees. I have lived in the US longer than I lived in Malaysia and have been in Milwaukee for 10 years. Before coming to Milwaukee, my family has lived in New York and California and driven across the country twice due to several job relocations.

What is your favorite educational experience?

When students actively engage in class discussion and add on to my ideas.

What do you see as an exciting opportunity for this upcoming academic year?

I am doing a research project with Dr. Enaya Othman and other colleagues here at  Marquette University. This project focuses on investigating the stigma of disabilities among Muslim women in Milwaukee. I would also like to expand my research project regarding individuals’ attitude toward disability among other ethnicity in Wisconsin or in the nation.

What drew you to Marquette and the College of Education?

The faculty members in the Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology department are diverse, selfless, and engaging with the community. They are collective and are very skilled in lifting up people’s spirits. They are also a group of caring professors who are responsive to students’ needs.

What do you enjoy doing when you are outside of the classroom? 

I have been a board member of IndependenceFirst since 2014, and it has been an honor to be able to promote inclusion and the independent living of individual with disabilities. I have two children in high school and enjoy watching their musicals, band and swim events.  I admire young people’s talents and how they give everything into doing what they love. I hope that the world will be a better place with these passionate students. I also like to build relationship with people who are from different backgrounds. Their life experience and wisdom enhance my personal and professional development. An example could be the stories I listen to on The Moth podcast. The true stories that were told by people in the live show make me cry, laugh and feel in awe during my commute.

Any advice for readers who are interested in learning more?

The quality of the high school’s performing arts and music program are just as good as professional ones. You only spend a fraction of the cost, but you get to enjoy a world class performance by those of ages 14 and up. The children are the hidden treasure of the city. When building relationships with people who are different from you, even the simplest topic (such as food) can help seal a gap. As for The Moth, make sure you have a tissue box nearby. The stories presented in this inspiring podcast can move even the toughest to tears.

Who is your inspiration for your work or your passion?

Individual with disabilities, refugees and immigrants in the community are those who are my inspiration for my work. They have tirelessly demonstrated grit, resilience, endurance, and tolerance so they can build a bright future for next generations.

Starting the Semester with Intention and Positivity

This post originally appeared on Dr. Lisa Edward’s blog Hopeful Mama on July 9, 2018.

colorful-autumn-leaves-871286965014L8g8By Lisa Edwards

Yes, the Fall semester is upon us. Summer is over and despite all my best intentions to come up with a summer plan to be super productive, I don’t feel like I got enough work done. Now I need to quickly finalize my syllabus, attend college and department back-to-school meetings, and start responding to the emails about reference letters that have already begun to fill my inbox.

It would be easy at a time like this to become sour and start to dread the semester, especially because we know it can be intense. In some ways, semesters are like marathons, where you give more for 15 weeks than you probably ever would during a normal “run.”

If the semester is like a 15-week marathon, it seems like we should be psyching ourselves up with positive thoughts, rather than pessimism and negativity. No-one starts a marathon thinking “this is going to be so awful,” right? They probably think it will be hard, they’re up for the challenge, and they’re going to do their best.

​As I look ahead to my marathon of the Fall semester, I’m going to do all I can to start the race with a positive attitude. I’m not expecting that every day will be positive, or that I’ll be able to maintain my positivity through all of the challenges, but I want to at least have that as my starting point.


Below are some strategies for starting the semester off on the right foot:

Intentionality – Rather than watching the semester fly by like a kite being dragged by the wind, I’m going to be a little more intentional about my planning. First, I’m going to try and stop my work early (in other words, not when I’m already 10 minutes late for the daycare pickup), and “take stock” for a second. What priority tasks have to be accomplished the next day, and in what order should I tackle them when I arrive to the office? I’m also going to schedule a coffee or lunch meeting with a colleague every few weeks because I know that type of break will help me stay energized. And if I don’t put something on the calendar in advance, it will be November before I remember to even think about doing it!

Focus on Positive Colleagues and Conversation – I love venting as much as the next person, but I realize that after a while it can bring me down. Not to mention that I can also start to spread my own negativity and bring others down. My goal for this semester is to complain a little less, and to try and get extra time with those colleagues who lift me up (see Intentionality above).  I’m also going to adopt one of Dr. Christine Carter’s 19 ways to reduce workplace stressStop talking about how busy and stressed I am. Dr. Carter reminds us that the more we talk about being busy (even if it’s just in our head), the more we’re actually training our brains to believe we should be freaking out.

Mix Things Up – There are positive things I sometimes want to try but hold back from doing because they sound like they will be too complicated, take up too much time, or adjust the family routine in some challenging way. Ironically, it may be just those things that I need in my month or semester to stay positive. Exercising early one morning while my husband gets the kids ready, scheduling a monthly get-together for drinks with a friend, using that gift card I got three years ago for a massage, or trying a new craft or cooking class. Why not treat one of these like an experiment in my life, and see how it works? Will it be disruptive or time-consuming? Maybe. Will it help with my self-care? Maybe. I’m guessing I’ll really enjoy it and it will give me that burst of positivity I might need, but I won’t know until I try…

What will be your strategies for starting Fall with positivity? 


This article originally appeared on on 8/28/16.

The Practice of Mindfulness and Self-Care

This post originally appeared on Dr. Karisse Callender’s blog Islander Journey on July 9, 2018.


Karisse Callender

We hear the words mindfulness and self-care often – at least it seems so. But what does it really mean for you? Let’s take a moment to answer a few questions:




  • How do you practice being mindful in your daily living?
  • What do you do to take care of yourself?
  • How do you cope with stressful situations?
  • What are the signs that you are becoming either overwhelmed or experiencing burnout?
  • When you get up on mornings, what motivates you to begin your day?
  • What do you think about just before bed?

Living a mindful life is so much more than sitting down to meditate or going to a yoga class. It’s about active awareness of what’s happening at the moment, and being able to fully experience what is happening. For example, if someone is talking to you and you are on your phone or laptop at the same time but say you are listening – you’re not being mindful. In this case, being mindful would mean that you put your phone down or turn away from the computer to give that person your undivided attention. While listening to the person, you are aware of what they are saying, how they are feeling, and how you respond to what you hear.

Self-care somewhat speaks for itself – it’s about taking care of your needs in several areas. Here are some examples:

  • physical body: eg., getting your yearly check-up, exercise, nutrition, sleep, medication as prescribed.
  • emotional and mental: eg., taking medication as prescribed, meditation
  • financial: eg., managing debt, keeping a budget, having some savings.
  • spiritual: eg., prayer, meditation, support groups, place of worship.
  • environment/social: eg., safe housing/community, job, community groups, clean environment, social connections/friends.

There are several ways to practice self-care (some are even free!) and the most important thing is to do what works for you. We all have different needs, therefore, our self-care activities may vary. Here are some examples:

  • getting enough sleep
  • journaling
  • going to the beach/lake
  • hanging out with friends/loved ones
  • get yourself a treat
  • have someone you can trust to share when you feel stressed or overwhelmed
  • get some exercise (outdoor walking, gym membership, etc.)
  • listen to your favorite music and you can even make fun playlists!
  • social support
2018-03-11 10.59.43

One of the ways I practice self-care and mindfulness at the same time is when I read. I like being fully absorbed in the book and diving into the words. I like the imagery that my brain creates as I read the stories! Another way I practice mindfulness is when I drink tea. I sip slowly and try to savor the taste of the tea. I try to drink the tea in silence and sometimes I read or watch tv while doing it (oops! ha!).

Mindfulness and self-care are connected as they both represent a way of life. I refer to both as a practice because they require intention, consistency, determination, and the belief that you deserve all good things.

How can you practice mindfulness? What are some things you can do for your self-care?

“Be you, love you. All ways, always.” 
― Alexandra Elle

Up In the Andes: Dr. Melissa Gibson

This summer, seven of our undergraduate teacher education students and one intrepid faculty member are spending a month in Peru studying the educational system and discussing their own philosophies of education. They are writing and reflecting on their journey, and we are following along! Read on for excerpts and blurbs from Dr. Gibson and the students’ blogs. You can read more on Marquette Meets Peru and check back for updates here.  

Dr. Melissa Gibson

What does a just education look like here, this world so different from Lima…and yet so much more similar to what foreign tourists imagine when they think about Peru?

The parish retreat in Andahuaylillas, where we stay.

Up in the mountains of the Cusco region is a small town called Andahuaylillas. It is framed by the hills of the Andes, a greenish yellow ground cover reflecting the high altitude rays of the sun. A tiny plaza sits outside a masterpiece of a church, and by day, the plaza is rimmed by a dozen vendors of woolens and jewelry and llama-themed tchatchkes. After three weeks in the traffic and smog and fog and noise of Lima, Andahuaylillas is a still oasis.

If you’re lucky, you might catch a traditional celebration on the steps of the church, percussion leading the dancers who wear the furs of baby llamas on their backs. If you’re even luckier, you’ll get to know the people who live in this town. As part of our program, we spend a few days here, hosted by the local parish in their retreat center, and welcomed by community members: The directress and students of the local Fé y Alegría school, which consciously offers up a Quechua/castellano education for highland children to try in its own small way to counteract the anti-indigenous forces that demean and degrade the communities of the Andes. The youth workers and participants in the Wayra Ludoteca, a rowdy after-school program where kids from all over Andahuaylillas come to get their wiggles out and their artistry on. The residents of the even-higher village of Cuyuni, who welcome us at 14,000 feet to their community dining room, to their homes powered by recycled biofuel, and to their ceremonies of offerings to pachamama. And members of the Jesuit social projects that have renewed local churches on the Baroque Route, including Andahuaylillas’s own “Sistine Chapel of the Andes.”

A mural in Andahuaylillas depicting indigenous communities and celebrations.

Andahuaylillas is a quiet, reflective time in our trip—partly because of altitude, which forces us all to slow down and adjust, but also because it is so different from the world of Lima we just spent three weeks in. And, the educational context is different. The languages are different (Quechua). The constraints are different (three-hour walks through the high Andes to get to school). The resources are different (isolated, small town lacking teachers). What does a just education look like here, this world so different from Lima…and yet so much more similar to what foreign tourists imagine when they think about Peru?

In this round of blog posts, the students consider these questions as well as similarities they see between race in the US and ethnic and indigenous groups in Peru. And while I’m not there with them (I made it safely home to where my family has now taken over my nursing), I am delighted to read that they are still learning and thinking together in Andahuaylillas.

A celebration in anticipation of Corpus Cristi, outside the church of Andahuaylillas.

Who Is the Teacher?: Dr. Melissa Gibson

This summer, seven of our undergraduate teacher education students and one intrepid faculty member are spending a month in Peru studying the educational system and discussing their own philosophies of education. They are writing and reflecting on their journey, and we are following along! Read on for excerpts and blurbs from Dr. Gibson and the students’ blogs. You can read more on Marquette Meets Peru and check back for updates here.  

Dr. Melissa Gibson

Mural at El Lugar de la Memoria, la Tolerancia, y la Inclusión Sociale.

Unless you’re in my line of work, studying teaching and education, you probably don’t spend a lot of time wondering, “Who is the teacher?” That may in fact seem like an absurd question to you. I could ask the question differently to try to get at some of what I’m questioning: Who was your favorite teacher? What made them so? Who have been your most impactful teachers outside of the classroom, and why? What is good teaching, and how do you know?

In the context of this study abroad course, we’re asking these questions not as a matter of policy or to dictate instruction, but as a philosophical question. Because we’ve also been philosophizing about learning—not the neuroscience of cognition but the human experience of learning.

Félix, a community educator in El Agostino and one of the many fantastic teachers we’ve met on this journey.

There are plenty of reformers, educators, and individuals who are rolling their eyes at me now. Who would tell me about job preparation and test scores and knowledge and cultural literacy and on and on. And here is what I would respond, just as I tell my teacher education students:

Learning is a relational and emotional process. The emotional parts of our brain are involved deeply in learning. Thus, the teacher and the student are in a relationship, and the quality of that relationship directly connects to the students’ learning. But they’re not alone in that relationship; they are in a community of learners, the classroom and the school. So what is the nature of a teacher/student relationship and a learning community that actually cultivates learning and deep understand? Questioning and critical thinking? If a teacher is always the omniscient, all-knowing sage leading the classroom, what does that mean for these relationships? And if students can repeat all sorts of information, is that the same thing as learning?

Neuroscience can help us answer these questions, as can instructional design and educational research. But for me, these are at their core philosophical questions. So in this round of blog posts, the students are starting to grapple with these questions to answer, Who is the teacher?

Perhaps a recipe at the heart of good teaching?

Let’s Talk About Sleep

This post originally appeared on Dr. Karisse Callender’s blog Islander Journey on June 25, 2018.

By Karisse Callender

I recently attended a presentation on sleep and what lack of sleep does to your body. We got a magazine with information on sleep, a bath bomb, and a lavender roll-on! (jackpot!)

2018-05-22 09.44.09It wasn’t the first time I heard this information, and yet I found myself feeling surprised while the presenter shared the information from the National Sleep Foundation. How come? There’s so much information about the importance of sleep, how much we should get, and developing good sleep hygiene. So why was this information so surprising to me? I think it’s because I take this for granted and just go about my day without thinking about the quality of my sleep unless I feel tired during the day.

Since I attended that presentation, I’ve been thinking about my sleep habits and how I prepare for bedtime. So, random but not random, when I got home from the presentation I cleaned up my night table and put up tips for preparing for bed in a nice frame. I diffused oils, changed the sheets and was excited to get into bed. I could not sleep! I did everything we talked about and just couldn’t sleep! Ha! How ironic, right? Anyways…let’s get back to this sleep talk.

I also experience sleep difficulties on and off. So I decided to pay closer attention to my sleep habits and decided to track my sleep. I also kept a log/journal to track what happened in my day/my mood/food/activities (I know…i’m a little extra). Here’s a look at my sleep chart for one week. I think I may continue keeping a sleep log.

fullsizeoutput_a29It is quite helpful to observe and notice how much I sleep as I can also make connections between the number of hours of sleep and other things that happen in my day.

So, although you may know this information already, I want to share some tips I learned to help with getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Keep your bedroom as comfortably cool as possible (it’s also a good excuse to have lots of cozy blankets and pillows on the bed!)
  • Try to sleep in a dark room (even the light from clocks can disturb your sleep. You can always try using an eye mask or cover the clock, or get room darkening drapes)
  • Avoid eating and exercise at least 2 hours before bed
  • Limit your use of technology (yes, put your phone down and get off social media!) at least 1 hour before bed.
  • Limit liquid intake before bedtime (mostly to avoid getting up several times per night to go to the bathroom).

It’s also a good idea to develop a routine for bedtime – that way you create a habit with activities that pretty much sets you up for classical conditioning. In other words, when you have a consistent routine, once you begin that process your body gets the hint that you are winding down to sleep. Depending on your job or family life, it may be difficult to have an exact bedtime; however, your routine to prepare for bed should be as consistent as possible. When I was completing my master’s degree I had a lot going on especially in the last year of the program. It was difficult for me to have a consistent bedtime (and awake time), mostly because I did overnight shifts. I struggled to get to sleep on the nights I did not work and my body was constantly confused. What I realized was that it was more important for me to have consistency with the routine, and not so much the time. Actually, on those mornings when I came off my shift, if I started the routine I did at night, my body began to relax and I could get to sleep (most times).

My sleep routine has been consistent (mostly), although there are nights when I just cannot sleep and I’ve learned to accept that. Here are some of the things I do to prepare for bed (in no specific order):

  • I meditate. I usually begin and end my day with some kind of meditation, whether it’s a guided meditation with a theme or practicing vipassana (insight meditation). I aim to do this daily but there are days when it doesn’t happen.
  • drink a cup of tea (no caffeine). Ideally, I would drink this tea while doing nothing else. Other times, I drink the tea while watching the news or reading.
  • take a shower. This helps me to relax, especially because I use lavender or mint shower gel. Those scents help me to unwind.
  • diffuse essential oils. My bedtime blend is usually a combination of lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and a protective blend to keep things healthy 🙂
  • I cream my hands when I get into bed with anything that has eucalyptus and or lavender in it (sounds weird….I know ha!)
  • Once I’m settled in bed, I put on an eye mask (most times)

The great thing is that you can make your bedtime routine whatever you would like it to be. The important thing is that it creates a relaxing environment and allows you to unwind.

Do you have a bedtime routine? If not, think about some simple ways that you can begin to create one that is unique to your needs.

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die.
And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

This Is Not a Service Trip: Dr. Melissa Gibson

This summer, seven of our undergraduate teacher education students and one intrepid faculty member are spending a month in Peru studying the educational system and discussing their own philosophies of education. They are writing and reflecting on their journey, and we are following along! Read on for excerpts and blurbs from Dr. Gibson and the students’ blogs. You can read more on Marquette Meets Peru and check back for updates here.  

Dr. Melissa Gibson

As students of education, we are trying to understand the relationship between pedagogy and the social contexts of schooling.

In Pamplona Alta with Luís & Yisella.

People keep asking us, What are you doing here in Perú? We are not volunteering. We are not missionaries. We are not voluntourists. What are we then? There doesn’t seem to be a familiar paradigm for answering that question, and we always get a bit of a cock-eyed look when we explain, We are here studying education in Peru. Researching, do we mean? Teaching about education, do we mean? Practice teaching, do we mean? Nope. We are studying education in Peru.

Why, then, the trip to Pamplona Alta, where families opened up their bathrooms to us to show us the engineering marvel of a dry/compost toilet? Or why keep going back to El Agostino to play soccer and jump rope? What is this, if not slum tourism or voluntourism?

Pamplona Alta, a pueblo jóven, or informal settlement. Lima is over-populated and unplanned, and there is a shortage of livable space. Pueblos jóvenes were settled by folks living in other parts of Lima or in the highlands who wanted homes of their own. From nothing but a dusty and rocky mountainside they’ve constructed, from scratch, a community. This one, Nueva Rinconada, is especially tightly knit and committed to the gradual improvement of living conditions. With only one public school serving all of Pamplona Alta—much of which is inaccessible by car and without running water—the question of context in education is especially pressing.

As students of education, we are trying to understand the relationship between pedagogy and the social contexts of schooling. I guess you can do that theoretically, but those relationships become clearest when we are actually immersed in differing contexts and when we can actually begin to experience different philosophies of education put into practice. Because we are working with a Jesuit university partner while we are here, we are lucky to get to visit and learn about various Jesuit social projects. So in Pamplona Alta, Luís, a biologist working with PEBAL, walked us around to show us his work—which included installing fog catchers and dry toilets. In El Agostino, Patí and all of her Encuentros programs welcome us visitors to get to know their work with children in the neighborhood. Through partnerships and relationships, we learn about not only the different neighborhood contexts of Lima but also about how different people are approaching their work in these contexts.

Legos, ping pong, foosball, soccer, and scooter riding. Every kid’s dream of how to while away an afternoon.

The Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm calls us to cyclically move through an investigation of context, experience, and rigorous reflection. We are, therefore, here to experience a context both similar and different from our own; our seminar readings provide some structure and prompts for our reflection. We continually cycle through these three phases of Ignatian pedagogy, knowing that the final two components—action and evaluation—will come later, in our own context, where we are actors and agents and not visitors.

So no, we are not volunteers or missionaries or teachers or researchers. We are not here to fix anything, to engage in charity, or to feign to have the answers. We are also not here to ogle. No, we are here to learn, and we are lucky to do so in partnership with communities and individuals who are so deeply involved in positive social and educational change.

We are students, and we are here to learn.

Looking down on El Agostino from the losa, or slab, in the mountains where we played soccer and practiced our Spanish with neighborhood kids.

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