My twenty-two years of teaching experience in various disciplines, sixteen years of student affairs experience, and my doctoral program and dissertation converge to make me a unique educator and faculty member.
My dissertation: Contesting and Negotiating Social Space in the Classroom: A Case Study that Examines and Explores Power in Two Communication Classrooms at one University focused on critical pedagogy and the negotiation of social space in the communication classroom as it relates to Communication and Standpoint theories.
In 2012, I created a course NCLC 395: Leading Diversity – an intensive 2-credit weeklong seminar that meets during the January interim session at George Mason. Students also have the option to register for an additional credit (NCLC 397) in which they are supervised via independent study to lead diversity workshops. The goals of leading diversity are to:
- Deepen awareness and strengthen understanding of identity and identity development.
- Gain experience in examining identity and how it is situational, constructed, and dialectic.
- Explore systemic influences of power, inequity and injustice.
- Identify leadership strategies for engaging in social change.
- Facilitate a section of Creating Community or Beyond Diversity the last day of class.
The learning in this intensive community is profound and life-changing for me and for the students. I include a few outstanding highlights given the nature and potential resistance of the course, including challenges to privilege and status quo:
- “This class has contributed one of the most valuable lessons that I have ever received: sincere awareness. I have learned about myself through things that I have never been prodded to think about. I have learned about the devastating reality of the world around me that I was too careless to see.”
- “I loved this course so much and I am sad to see it end. The only thing I would change about the course would be to make it never end. But there is a way that I can make it never end. I can create communities with others who are outraged by the way our society currently operates.”
- “I feel really lucky that I was able to build a community with the people in this class and that we were all able to grow together. I know that I will take everything I learned in this class with me and use it whenever possible.”
Beginning in 2002, I made a personal and conscious commitment to mentor a new teaching assistant for every course I teach and initiated an informal teaching apprentice model with various graduate students. I mentored seven apprentices of various backgrounds and identities. My teaching apprentice, Aman Agah, received graduate credit in Communication, completing an independent study with Dr. Mark Hopson. Agah recently graduated from The New School with an M.A. in Film Studies in 2013 and is now pursuing teaching her own courses in Communication and Women’s Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. My last teaching apprentice, an undergraduate, worked with me in Communication 101: Interpersonal Communication and Public Speaking.
In the 2013-2014 academic year, I participated in the Social Justice Faculty Educators Learning Community. One of the important elements of my participation in this community was to identify a specific classroom-based teaching challenge I faced. One of the primary purposes of the learning community was to support each other as we improved our teaching by working through these specific challenges.
In the eleven years as one of the associate directors of Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education at George Mason, I continually developed my own cultural competencies as well as support faculty, staff and students to cultivate their skills. I designed and provided classroom presentations, pedagogical and curriculum support to faculty, students, orientation leaders, resident directors and resident advisors, student umbrella group peer leaders, and high school students. I successfully integrated Creating Community, a pedagogical diversity model I created, into COMM 101: Interpersonal Communication one of our general education requirements. I joined the Associate Provost in the Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence in creating trainings for teaching faculty related to taking on controversial issues in the classroom, given the current racial climate in the United States. I do not shy away from such topics and welcome the opportunity to work with faculty in the area of multicultural education and inclusive excellence.
Awards that I am most proud of are the New Faculty Advisor of the Year Award (for two different student organizations for which I served as faculty advisor), Spirit of King, and the Dennis-Weathers Award. I received these awards for building coalitions on campus, effectively mentoring students, developing their leadership skills, and maintaining their sense of belonging at Mason.