Co-Founder of Re-Emerging Scholars
Tell us a little about yourself:
I'm originally from Blackfoot, ID, but I've lived in south Sacramento and Fair Oaks for the past 18 years. My partner is involved in the arts and community development, and we have two children in their tweens and many pets, including cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, and even a parrot. I've been teaching sociology at Sacramento City College since 2004, and currently I'm the department chair of sociology and community studies.
How are you making a difference in your community?
I coordinate the Community Studies program at Sacramento City College that supports students toward careers in social work, community development, and community health. I strive to connect students with meaningful education and internship placements in organizations throughout our community. In addition, my colleague, Shane Logan, and I have worked with students to develop a program called Re-Emerging Scholars that provides wrap-around support and a learning community for formerly incarcerated students.
What issues are you most passionate about?
I'm very concerned about community health and structural inequalities. I believe we must address the inequities in our region by acknowledging and overcoming our harmful biases and looking at our community as a complex system of opportunity.
What inspires your community efforts? Why is the work important to you?
My students are a continuous source of daily inspiration - in fact, my students tend to inform every decision I make in my work. It was through conversations with students in my classes and in our club that led to the development of our Re-Emerging Scholars, Community Studies, and Community Health programs.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I'm very honored to support my students as they strive to improve their lives and our community. Each week, I have the privilege to sit down with students that have been pushed aside in our community and bear witness to and continue to support their inspiring journeys of self and community improvement.
What have you struggled most with in your life?
I often struggle with maintaining balance between work, family, and larger passions. However, I feel extremely lucky to have found a way to fold my passions into my work and even bring my family into the fold. I couldn't do it without them and the kids are always up for engaging in a meeting or a rally.
What kind of lessons do you think are important to instill in future generations?
As a parent and a teacher, I try to instill the importance of understanding personal agency. We all have power and we must come to understand it and we must use it.
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
With regard to all of the inequity we see in our community, I believe one important first step in addressing these issues is creating more empathy, so we can better see ourselves in each other as we strive for change. People need more opportunities to come together and relate to one another. We are doing this.
How do you decompress?
I love moving my body, so I spend most of my time working around the yard, running the trails, or lifting heavy things at the gym - also, a supportive partner and a good friend are key to making life great.