As part of ART 379: Community Design Studio, UM-Flint Art & Design students created a pop-up t-shirt printing storefront on Flint’s MLK Avenue. Named “The Change Machine,” the pop-up shop is just one example of the real-world experiences students in the College of Arts & Sciences can have thanks to donor support.
“The Community Design Studio is a place where students can work on real-life projects with clients,” explains Associate Professor Benjamin Gaydos. Gaydos. “This isn’t a simulation; this is a working design studio.”
To help bring their talents to the community, Community Design Studio students were awarded a CAS Opportunity Fund grant for this event, which provided funds for supplies like blank t-shirts, silk screens for printing, and vinyl for signage.
The opportunity to apply her learning is one that junior Art & Design major Stephanie Streeter appreciates.
“It is easy in design classes to make things that don’t actually impact anyone and just get a grade. This class is great because you get to see the results of your work in the community,” Streeter says.
To help students like Stephanie take their learning outside of the classroom, consider giving to the CAS Opportunity Fund during Giving Blueday on Dec. 3.
The University of Michigan-Flint wasn’t the first school that author Kelly Coon (BA English ’00) considered. Kelly was expelled from her first college, a very conservative religious institution in South Carolina. She looks back on that expulsion with pride. High tuition costs at another private college prompted the Flint-area native to enroll closer to home at UM-Flint. Third time’s a charm and Kelly graduated with her bachelor’s in English (Specialization in Writing) in 2000.
“My professors at UM-Flint really believed in me. Dr. Jacob Blumner took me aside and said, ‘I bet you’ll be published before you’re 30,’” Kelly remembers. “I held him in high esteem and kept that memory when I was getting nowhere with my first novels, not being able to get a literary agent.”
The words of her professor proved to be an important motivation for Kelly, as she experienced 106 rejections over ten years while working to get a novel published. She accomplished her goal in October 2019, as Gravemaidens was published by Delacorte Press/Penguin Random House. A sequel is forthcoming.
Gravemaidens is a young adult fantasy novel set in the city-state of Alu, where beautiful young girls are chosen to go with the dying ruler into the afterlife. The story focuses on sisters Kammani and Nanaea; younger sister Nanaea is chosen to die with the ruler, while Kammani will do everything she can to save her sister by healing the ruler. It’s a tale that draws heavily on themes of sisterhood and feminism—an intentional choice by Kelly, who was raised in a heavily patriarchal environment.
“The church I was raised in was almost cultish. Whatever the
pastor said was law and women were meant to stay home and raise children,”
Kelly explains. “For me, feminism just means a woman being free to pursue
whatever she feels inclined to pursue, whether that is staying home with her
children or going out to find a career. It’s important that I reflect that in
my stories—girls pursuing their dreams and attaining them.”
On Dec. 4, Kelly will return to UM-Flint for a talk and Q & A from 2:30-3:45 in 301 French Hall. Though the talk takes place during an Intro to Creative Writing class session, all students are welcome. Later that day, Kelly will conduct a reading and signing at Totem Books (620 W Court St.) from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Kelly, who now lives near Tampa with her husband and three sons, has not been to campus since graduating in 2000.
“I grew up absolutely dirt poor in Burton, Michigan. My mom didn’t graduate from high school. I was the first person in my family to go to college. I’m excited to look at these students and say, ‘If I can do it, you can do it.’ This is thrilling for me.”
Tutor. Translator. Advocate. Those are a lot of hats for anyone to wear, particularly when it’s all part of your job description. Such is this case for Bianca Ramirez, an English Language Learner (ELL) Facilitator for Genesee Intermediate School District and student in the M.A. in English program at UM-Flint.
In her role as an ELL Facilitator, Bianca attends classes with students whose English skills range from none at all to being nearly fluent. She translates what the teacher is saying, helps them with assignments, and ensures they have access to the resources they need to succeed. In the course of her work, Bianca noticed that some teachers were uncomfortable when interacting with students who had differing English abilities – if they interacted with them at all.
“With one of my mentors, Melojeane Zawilinski, we came up with the term ‘ghost racism,'” Bianca explains. “You can’t understand, you can’t hear, you can’t teach. Some teachers don’t want these kids in the classroom, and they try to push them out. It happens – it happened to me as a kid – so that’s what led me to my research.”
Bianca’s research took the form of interviewing teachers. Some had English language learner students in their classrooms, some never had. When synthesizing her interview results with existing literature, Bianca was able to make several recommendations:
Pre-service (student) teachers need to learn from a more culturally responsive curriculum.
Current teachers need more direct exposure to the ELL community.
ELL professional development should be mandatory.
Bianca presented her year-long study at the Michigan TESOL Conference, held Nov. 1-2 at Grand Valley State University. She explains that presenting her research to educators was important for her.
“I want to put theory into practice. Let’s just start something, I want something to be done. And everyone there felt the same way, they wanted to learn from me and what I found so they can act on it because they have been through similar situations,” Bianca says.
In addition to her position as an ELL facilitator, Bianca also teaches at Delta College and Saginaw Valley while completing her master’s coursework. It’s a lot to take on, and Bianca credits her UM-Flint professors with helping her make it possible.
“I don’t think I could have done it anywhere else, to be honest. I’ve gotten a lot of attention here from my mentors and I think you wouldn’t be able to get that in a lot of places.”
What’s Giving Blueday? It’s the University of Michigan’s special day of giving: a one-time-a-year opportunity for you to team-up with the global U-M family and share your love for all things maize and blue. Giving Blueday takes place on Dec. 3, 2019.
Generous donations to the CAS Opportunity Fund allows UM-Flint students like Genevieve Rainey to have impactful experiences that will resonate for years after graduation.
An Anthropology major, Genevieve received assistance from the CAS Opportunity Fund to attend archaeological field school in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Genevieve worked to excavate the Doane Family Homestead, a family of original settlers who separated from Plymouth Colony in 1644.
“Taking part in an archaeological field school was a great experience; it helped me to decide the particular field of archaeology I want to pursue, gave me hands-on training, and allowed me to meet some amazing new friends,” Genevieve says.
To help students like Genevieve take their learning outside of the classroom, consider giving to the CAS Opportunity Fund on December 3.
Isn’t it easier to learn something when you can relate that subject to your own life? Placing learning in the context of a student’s experience not only makes the content more accessible; it also creates the opportunity for partnerships that prove transformational for both students and their community. This is the foundation of place-based education, an educational philosophy that acknowledges a student’s community as a central resource for learning.
On November 7-9, 340 educators from 77 organizations, 15 states, and 4 countries explored this powerful philosophy at the University of Michigan-Flint during the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative’sPlace-Based Education Conference. GLSI promotes place-based education across the Great Lakes region through a network of hubs—UM-Flint’s Discovering PLACE is the Flint-area partner.
UM-Flint has embraced place-based education both in its teacher preparation programs (which range from early childhood to secondary offerings) and as a tool in teaching students of all majors. This cross-disciplinary commitment was on display during a presentation by community member Pastor Robert Sherman McCathern of Joy Tabernacle Church and faculty from the UM-Flint English, Nursing, and Social Work programs.
The partnership centers around the Urban Renaissance Center (URC), based in Flint’s Civic Park neighborhood. As the social service component of Joy Tabernacle, the URC works with Civic Park residents to address their needs. In a 15-block radius around Joy Tabernacle Church exists The Ubuntu Village, which includes buildings that provide Civic Park residents the resources they need to be happy and healthy. “Ubuntu” is a Zulu philosophy meaning “I am because we are.”
It is in the context of this Ubuntu Village that UM-Flint faculty and students work alongside Civic Park residents. Three faculty members presented on the partnership.
Social Work professor Todd Womack teaches his class SWR 304: Urban Context, on-site in the URC, helping his social work students to create a foundational understanding of issues within the practice of social work in urban environments requiring intervention.
Nursing faculty member Jori Reigle, her students, and Civic Park residents focus on wellness together; they organize family-friendly events like a Costume Walk for Halloween. They also focus on mental health through mindfulness and yoga sessions.
English professorKazuko Hiramatsu and her students engage with URC through a First-Year Experience course titled “I am UM-Flint.” Students support URC programming and reflect on how their experiences have impacted their lives and informed their understanding of community.
“We asked, ‘What if a university worked alongside one of the most abandoned, underserved areas?’ What if all the resources, skills, and mindsets at that university walked with the community? Today that reality is here,” Pastor McCathern says.
Before he took to stages across the country, Mon’Quez honed his craft in the UM-Flint Theatre. He remembers his professors fondly for pushing him to constantly improve.
“Professors like Carolyn Gillespie and Janet Haley, all the professors, they pushed us to use our chops. They didn’t want us to sit comfortably. They wanted us to work hard to make these characters come through,” Mon’Quez says.
He is not sitting comfortably with The Color Purple. Mon’Quez is playing both The Preacher and Old Mister in the production–highly contrasting characters. Where The Preacher is happy and uplifting, Old Mister is a dark role, an abusive father. “I love this kind of challenge, U of M got me doing this,” Mon’Quez says.
Preparing for any Broadway production is an intense experience, but it is particularly true for a nationwide tour. There was a three-and-a-half week rehearsal period. Some people would be tempted to “phone it in” during some of the preparations. Not Mon’Quez.
“To me, it’s always a performance, even in rehearsal. I’m in it 100 percent, that’s how you win,” Mon’Quez explains. “The stage is my safe space, that’s where I leave everything.”
What to expect from the show?
At its core, The Color Purple is a woman’s journey, from being oppressed to being self-actualized, and embracing her faith.
“It’s a breath of fresh air. The show helps you connect with yourself and it helps you to love yourself,” Mon’Quez says. “It’s so close to home that I feel like I’m just reliving a story I’ve already lived. This show is going to change hearts.”
Interesting in learning more about the Fine & Performing Arts at UM-Flint?
Current & prospective students interested in disciplines like Theatre, Dance, Music or Visual Art are invited to join us for our Fine & Performing Arts Showcase on Wednesday, Oct. 30! Join us in the first-floor University Center lobby (campus map).
If you’re a current UM-Flint student: Meet in first-floor UCEN at 6 p.m. Please RSVP here.
If you’re a prospective student considering UM-Flint. Meet in the first-floor UCEN at 5 p.m. Please RSVP here.
Ever wanted to look through a telescope guided by a trained astrophysicist? How about conducting experiments with an infrared camera? Or seeing if you can beat your friends and family in paper airplane competitions?
You can do all of that and more during AstroNite, a free event open to students and the community, hosted by UM-Flint Physics faculty and students.
When: Friday, Oct. 25, from 7-10 p.m. Where: UM-Flint Murchie Science Building. A campus map is available online. Who: Anyone! UM-Flint students, community members, kids and their families. Cost: Free! No RSVP required.
Want to see what you can expect at AstroNite? We made some videos!
Find the perfect design for your Mars Lander and make sure your cargo (an egg) survives the fall to the Martian surface! Watch the video.
See the world in a whole new way by conducting experiments with an infrared camera. Watch the video.
“We are strong believers that science is for everyone, not just those studying or teaching it at universities,” says Associate Chair for Physics Programs Rajib Ganguly, Ph.D. “It is fascinating that we are able to understand much of why the universe behaves as it does, and we want to share that wonder with people of all ages in the community.”
Questions? Contact Communications Specialist Logan McGrady at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you soon!
Genesee Valley Regional Center is a juvenile detention facility on Flint’s Pasadena Avenue. The kids housed there, aged 10-18, have a structured routine, like attending school every weekday and attending group meetings in the evening.
Three UM-Flint students pay weekly visits to GVRC, facilitating classes like dance improv theatre, art and poetry, and more. Read more about their work as Youth Arts: Unlocked interns below.
David, a sophomore Theatre Performance major, helps to lead boy’s theatre sessions like “Shakesprov,” where the kids perform guided improv scenes of Shakespeare plays.
“When kids hear that they are learning Shakespeare, they tend to get nervous, and we want this to be positive, not stressful,” David explains. “So we guide them through an improv scene of Shakespeare. We’re not focused on giving them lines to memorize for next week, because the hope is that you get out of the facility and we won’t see you here again.”
David appreciates the opportunity to be a positive male role model during a difficult time in the boys’ lives.
“This program gives at-risk boys the opportunity to experience new things, to be comfortable in their voice and bodies, and play in a stressful environment. It makes me feel good to be helping them.”
Meredith uses her skills as a junior Dance & Social Work double major to connect with the girls at GVRC through dance and the visual arts.
Each week, the group learns about a positive, empowered woman, and then the girls translate that new knowledge to art. Sometimes there is a choreographed dance to learn, other weeks they focus on expressive movements where the girls create their own moves representative of who they are.
“The more I get to know them, the more I realized that the girls are so under-credited for what they are capable of,” Meredith, whose internship is funded through the UM-Flint Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, says. “Their work should be shared a lot more.”
Unlike David and Meredith, Hannah isn’t a performing arts student. A junior Criminal Justice & Sociology double major, Hannah’s role is to document the activities and interactions that take place during the creative sessions. Are the kids engaged? What kinds of questions are the kids asking the instructors? Were there any behavioral issues?
Hannah’s work is important in helping Youth Arts: Unlocked analyze and improve their programming, as well as in communicating the work of the organization to donors and other institutions who provide support. Her position is funded through the Flint Truth and Action Partnership Project.
Hannah’s career goal is to become a police officer, specifically a detective working cold cases. She values the opportunity to gain experience in the criminal justice system, and working for a worthy cause was enough for her to sign up after she learned of the opportunity while taking one of Shelley’s classes.
“This experience has definitely made me more comfortable in interactions with different kinds of people; the children and teens in the facility, administrators in the GVRC and teachers in the program,” Hannah says.
“They become more engaged as time goes on. There’s a lot of laughter and there’s a lot of just kind of being a kid, which is nice to see,” Hannah says.
Samantha Lang is interested in human factors engineering—making sure that products and digital services work optimally for their target market. Imagine an ATM—they are simple and user-friendly so that nearly anyone can use them—which is ideal considering the product’s mass appeal.
Samantha graduated with a UM-Flint bachelor’s in psychology in 2015, but she knew additional expertise was needed to work in such a specialized field. Luckily, the M.S. in Computer Science & Information Systems at UM-Flint was there to help Samantha meet her goals. The program offered her the flexibility to take courses online, and a fast-track gave her the foundational knowledge to succeed despite not having a computer science background.
Now in her final semester, Samantha’s expertise has grown to the point where she is presenting research at international conferences. Along with professor Mike Farmer, Samantha attended the Intellisys Intelligent Systems Conference from Sept. 3-4, 2019, in London, England.
Their research paper is titled, “Can Human Evidence Accumulation be Modeled using the Set-Theoretic Nature of Dempster-Shafer Theory?” It sounds complicated, but Samantha explains it as a game of Clue. Each subject was given a set of information about a fictional crime, and then Samantha observed how the subjects categorized and subcategorized the data to solve the case.
“The more we know about how people’s patterns in decision making, the better we’ll be able to design artificial intelligences,” Samantha says. “The goal is to create products that can address a variety of situations before they happen.”
Samantha began working on this research with Dr. Farmer in September 2016. As a graduate student research assistant (GSRA), Samantha earned a stipend for her contributions; as she puts it, “I was getting paid for something I already wanted to do anyway!”
Samantha’s dream job is designing training modules with NASA, and she looks forward to finding a full-time position once she earns her master’s in December. Samantha believes the expertise and experiences she gained through the M.S. in Computer Science will make her stand out in the search process.
“I think it has definitely put me outside of the box. Having research published, going and presenting it, I think it makes me stand out against people who have not had experiences like these,” Samantha says.
The M.S. in Computer Science & Information Systems offers both in-person and online coursework, as well as a fast-track program for students who do not have a computer science background. For more information, contact program manager Susie Churchill at email@example.com. The application is also available online.
It’s time to get back into the routine of attending classes, writing papers, running your student organization, and countless other tasks that come with the fall semester. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. As a student in the College of Arts & Sciences, you have plenty of resources to help you have a great fall semester.
Keep reading to see some of the best ways you can stay on track in the 2019-20 academic year.
You Have a Support Hub.
No matter your major, there is a dedicated team of administrative professionals available to support you. They are available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.
If your major is…Economics; History; Music; Political Science; Theatre/Dance… Your support team is located in 220 French Hall. Click for more information.
If your major is…Africana Studies; English; Foreign Language; Philosophy, Psychology; Sociology/Anthropology/Criminal Justice... Your support team is located in 326 French Hall. Click for more information.
If your major is…Computer Science/Information Systems; Engineering; Physics; Math… Your support team is located in 212 Murchie Science Building. Click for more information.
If your major is…Art; Biology; Chemistry; Communication; Geography, Planning & Environment; Bachelor of Applied Science… Your support team is located in 264 MSB. Click for more information.
Also, if you’re just not sure where a question should be directed, the CAS Dean’s Office is open to you Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stop by or call 810.762.3234.
With professional Academic Advisors and faculty who are invested in your success, CAS has an extensive advising network to help ensure you are on the right track. Contact your support hub to identify the best option to meet your particular advising needs.
The Student Success Center has a variety of individual tutoring and group Supplemental Instruction courses to help you during a challenging course. Contact them at 810.762.3085 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Stay Connected with CAS.
See what CAS professors, graduates, and fellow students are up to on social media. Follow the College of Arts & Sciences on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.