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Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Kat McConnell

This fall, 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 Kat McConnell, one of our doctoral students in the Counselor Education Counseling Psychology department!

katmccI was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. My family (including four little sisters!) still live in St. Louis, so I like to get home to visit fairly often. After getting my BA in Psychology and Sociology at Maryville University in St. Louis, I moved to Muncie, IN in 2016 to get my MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Ball State University, and then I moved up here to Milwaukee last summer to start my PhD in Counseling Psych at Marquette!

I love the opportunity to engage in research with faculty and fellow students. I am a part of the Culture and Well-Being Lab at Marquette, and I’ve had the chance to present our research at a couple of conventions with them in the past year, which is both a lot of fun and a great learning experience. This year I will be starting a practicum at the Milwaukee VA that I’m very excited about! I’ll be doing a palliative care rotation, working with patients living with serious illness, and their families.

When I was looking for doctoral programs, my main priorities were finding a program somewhere in the Midwest, so that I can be somewhat close to home, and finding a program with a welcoming, inclusive academic culture. I found both of those in the Counseling Psychology (COPS) program at Marquette. The College of Education and the COPS program cultivate a collaborative and supportive environment that I felt at home in from my first interview.

When the weather is nice, I love to be outside. Milwaukee has so many fun outdoor festivals and beautiful parks to hang out at during the summer. When it’s colder, I love to indulge in local theater, go to the movies, or curl up on my couch with a good book or Netflix show. And any time of the year, you can find me camped out at my favorite Colectivo, which is my go-to  homework/research spot!

I’m passionate about the areas of serious illness and death/grief, with attention to diverse and underrepresented populations. I’ve had the opportunity to work in these areas as a chaplaincy intern in my masters program, and look forward to learning more this year with my VA practicum in palliative care. Although serious illness and death can be an emotionally taxing area, I also find it to be one of tremendous potential for personal growth. I find it a privilege to go on the journey of making meaning out of difficult circumstances and personal loss with clients. My hope is to continue to work in an integrated healthcare setting after graduation, as well as staying engaged in research on how we can better support diverse clients facing illness, loss, and stigma in the health care field(s).

 

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!

ventura-julissa-2019

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.

Racism On Our College Campuses: What Can We Do About It?

This post is excerpted from a post written by Dr. Ryan C. Warner (Class of 2019) that originally appeared on gradPSYCHblog.com as a part of the series, “CARED Perspectives,” developed by the APAGS Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity. Posts in this series  discuss current events and how these events relate to graduate students in psychology. If you are interested in reading more, please see Dr. Warner’s full piece and follow him on Twitter!

RCP_9005By Ryan C. Warner

Similar to the rest of society, colleges and universities are not immune to racial discrimination. With “Blackface” party incidents and “noose” hangings making news at numerous universities all over the country, racially underrepresented students face challenges beyond the academic scope of tests, papers, and projects.

As a current graduate student of color who has attended various predominantly white universities, I can attest to the fact that racial discrimination can be displayed covertly (e.g., microaggressions) or overtly. These incidences have a profound impact of an individual’s well-being, and can impact their retention and life satisfaction. But the main question is, “what can we do about it?”

At the individual level, we need to all stand up to racial injustice when it occurs. Silence is compliance and only encourages and enhances racial injustice in the world. Individuals of all backgrounds and skin colors should point out bigotry when they see it, which will ultimately create social awareness and bring light to these issues.

At the institutional level, university leaders should make systemic changes to enhance inclusivity for students of color. One example may include requiring that all students, faculty, and staff attend diversity training focusing on racial equality and inclusion. Additionally, ensuring that campuses have a bias incident report system in place can offer a resource for students to document their experiences of racial microaggressions, which may assist with providing evidence that these incidences do in fact exist. This documentation may be useful with further presenting evidence for the need of diversity resources and inclusivity programming.

For additional resources please visit:

Dr. Ryan Warner is a graduate of the College of Education’s Counselor Education Counseling Psychology doctoral program

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Mac Goertz

We are continuing getting to know our students this fall! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on our blog series. Read on to meet Mac Goertz, a counseling psychology doctoral student.

IMG_3300I’ll be entering into my third year in the Counseling Psychology doctoral program this year. While I have some remaining coursework, my main focus is now with clinical training and research.

Currently I’m training at two different practicum sites— I provide individual psychotherapy to patients in an integrated primary care setting at the Behavioral Medicine Primary Care Psychology Clinic at MCW/ Froedtert Hospital, and I conduct integrated psych testing with kids and adults at Psychological Assessment Services, LLC.

I very much enjoy working with Dr. Lisa Edwards in the Culture and Well-Being Lab. Over the past two years the lab has focused on a community-engaged research initiative called Proyecto Mamá, which seeks to assess the perinatal mental health experiences of Latina moms in the Milwaukee area using qualitative and asset-mapping research methods. The project is funded by a Marquette University Women and Girls of Color grant and is paving the way for future projects within the community, including Círculo de Mamás, a support group for Latina moms that we are developing at Sixteenth Street Clinic.

In my own research I’m curious about factors that promote critical consciousness around issues of race and racism. In particular, I want to know what helps White people become more racially aware and engaged. I want to know what moves Whites to engage in anti-racist work and how we can be better at doing this. In my own journey, I’ve had mentors that have been transformative in helping me to engage with race and consider my own racial attitudes, in particular through the IC-Race Lab (Immigration, Critical Race, and Cultural Equity Lab) in Chicago, IL. Thus, I’m interested in studying the potentially meaningful role of mentorship in promoting racial consciousness among White students.

I moved to Milwaukee in 2017 from Chicago, IL where I worked in addictions counseling in the West Loop of Chicago for a few years. In 2015 I received a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, with a specialization in Latinx Mental Health from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Before Chicago I lived in St. Augustine, FL where I attended Flagler College and earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

Both of my parents grew up in small towns in the Midwestern U.S and followed lifelong careers overseas. I was born in Maseru, Lesotho before our family moved to Swaziland, Uganda, and eventually Vanuatu in the South Pacific. In the 7th grade I attended a small Bahá’i boarding school in Vancouver Island, British Columbia where I remained through high school. I have two older brothers—and now two sister-in-laws! Family is foundational in my journey—they are the “strength to my sword arm,” as my mother would say.

The work of Dr. Lisa Edwards and the Culture and Well-Being Lab motivated me to apply to the Counseling Psychology doctoral program at Marquette. Dr. Edwards is a phenomenal force with an inspiring history of research in the areas of multicultural counseling, positive psychology, and Latinx psychology. She is also a mom—something that has been really important for me to see role modeled in academia.

I love the outdoors. Wisconsin has some incredible places to camp and hike. I’m a big fan of the Oak Leaf Trail where I enjoy walking my dog in the morning and evenings. I also love to hunt for antiques and oddities—I come from a long line of women with a talent for collecting and curating old and new. It’s important to me that my living and working space feel like me and where I come from. Mannequins, taxidermy, old farm tools, family quilts, and house plants line the walls of my home and the Airbnb apartment I manage.

Dr. Joseph L. White will forever be a guiding light in my journey. Considered the Godfather of Black Psychology, Dr. White was a change maker who revolutionized how we think about multicultural, strengths-based psychology today. His life and wisdom inspire me to keep moving forward and remind me that I have a responsibility to use my platform and privileges to work toward equity, healing and liberation.

The other force that inspires my work is my grandfather, Horace C. Walters. He was the last of his generation that I got to know and I recognize his story as so important to who I am. His life has taught me about love and family, about the importance of kindness and being true to conviction. I strive to honor him in the values I live by and the changes I fight for.

 

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.

 

 


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