Higher education has the power to set students on paths toward upward mobility, but not all students are equally prepared to succeed. In volunteering with various community organizations, I provide social support to students from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds as they navigate institutions of higher learning.
At Tennessee Tech, I volunteer with the International Friends Host Family Program to make our campus more welcoming for students from all around the world. By mentoring individual students one-on-one and participating in cross-cultural events for the entire community, I help to foster inclusivity and global citizenship both on campus and beyond.
As a tnAchieves mentor, I work with local high school seniors who are applying for TN Promise Scholarships and enrolling in college. Many of my mentees are first-generation college students from low-income households. By assisting them with important tasks like completing financial aid forms and communicating with academic advisers, I aim to remove hurdles that might prevent them from achieving success.
Ongoing professional development in the scholarship of teaching and learning is an important way for faculty to improve their pedagogy. Faculty at Tennessee Tech take advantage of such opportunities through the university’s Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, which supports academic learning communities on a range of important topics each year.
For the 2019-2020 academic year, I’m co-facilitating an academic learning community on the topic of trauma-responsive teaching. Recently, scholars working at the intersection of trauma and education have made significant progress toward understanding how trauma affects learning, and educators have a moral obligation to serve the unique needs of students who have histories of trauma. Using Patricia Jenning’s book The Trauma-Sensitive Classroom, our community is working to implement evidence-based teaching practices that reduce the risk of re-traumatizing vulnerable populations.
University committees are uniquely positioned to solved complex problems because they bring together perspectives from multiple academic units across campus. As a member of the Women and Gender Studies Curriculum Coordinating Committee, I’m collaborating with an interdisciplinary group of faculty to revive a dormant minor in Women and Gender Studies.
Years of institutional neglect have resulted in low student enrollment, ineffective faculty governance, and unorganized curriculum, but our committee is implementing a range of creative solutions that will bring the program back to life.
Our work prioritizes the development of student-centered educational programming while also negotiating constraints imposed my multiple stakeholders, including administrative budgets and curricular requirements. For example, we are currently restructuring the curriculum to include a new course substitution policy and improving the program web page to include more student-focused content.