Monthly Archives: February 2016

2016 Visiting African Artist is Poet Niyi Osundare


Dr. Niyi Osundare – 2016 Visiting African Series Artist

The Visiting African/African Diaspora Artist Series is a partnership between the University of Michigan-Flint and the Flint Public Library, funded in part by the Ruth Mott Foundation. The Series brings authors, poets, playwrights, and journalists of African descent to Flint, Michigan. One purpose is to expose our university and communities to the complexity and richness of modern African culture, as well as the heritage of Africans and people of African descent, and so to embrace diversity. Another purpose is to engage people with the many interesting and challenging issues created by the historical and modern African Diaspora.

On March 16, 2016, the award-winning poet, author, and educator Dr. Niyi Osundare will be visiting the UM-Flint campus for a poetry reading and public discussion. This is the first of his Visiting Artist events. The event is free and open to the public and takes place from 10am-12pm in the UCEN Kiva. Dr. Osundare’s book, City Without People: The Katrina Poems, recounts his personal experience with Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. During the discussion we will explore the connections between those affected by Katrina and those dealing with the Flint Water Crisis.

Other events for the visit include a forum for area school students and an evening reception – both at at the Flint Public Library on March 17, and an Educator’s Workshop on the UM-Flint campus on March 18. Each of the events will connect Dr. Osundare with a different audience, allowing him to connect on different levels with readers and audience members.

For more information on Dr. Osundare or the week’s events, visit

UM-Flint’s First Full-Scale Opera, Hansel & Gretel, on Stage February 19 & 21, 2016


Hansel and Gretel spy a gingerbread house in the woods.

Dr. Joshua May of the UM-Flint Department of Music had a vision of bringing opera to his students and the Flint community. He began with small, portable productions of The Three Little Pigs and Jack and the Beanstalk, performing at area schools and the Flint Farmers’ Market. Now he has moved on to a full-scale production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s nineteenth century opera Hansel and Gretel. Held on the UM-Flint Theatre stage for public audiences on February 19th and 21st, the performance will bring to life the classic fairy tale of two children lost in the woods who are confronted by an evil witch with a love of gingerbread.

The major roles in the cast feature UM-Flint undergrads, graduate students, and alumni:

  • Gretel: Marada Dahl (Voice Performance, Music Major, Sophomore)
  • Hansel: Miranda Mooney (2015 Alumni, Music Voice Performance)
  • Mother: Amanda Rodman (Music Education/Voice Performance, Junior)
  • Father: Kevin Starnes (2002 Alumni, Current Grad Student – M.A. in Arts Administration)
  • Sandman: Jhane Perdue (Music Major, Voice Performance Major, Freshman)
  • Dew Fairy: Erica Kennedy (Theater Music Minor, Voice, Freshman)
  • Witch: Hannah Wikaryasz (Voice Performance, Music Major, Senior)

Dr. May notes that this performance opportunity is quite unique for his students, as most music programs do not offer operatic roles to undergraduates. To prepare, he’s been working with them to increase the range and strength of their voices. This is especially important as operas are most often performed without microphones on the singers. The students are embracing this opportunity for artistic and technical growth, and are appreciative of the noteworthy addition an opera makes on their future resumes.

Hannah Wikaryasz of Highland, MI, who plays the Witch says, “This role has helped me to work on expanding my vocal range, has introduced me to working with collaborative artists in a way that I am not used to (orchestra vs. just piano accompaniment), and has given me more experience in this style of music, expanding my abilities as a performer.”

Kevin Starnes of Flint, MI, will be playing the Father. (He grew a beard just for the role!) He has been singing in operas and musical theatre for years, but still found growth under Dr. May’s tutelage. He laughed as he recounted how once daunting notes are now easily within his range.

Opera’s dramatic elements provide additional challenges to the singers. Notes Starnes, “The biggest challenge for me in acting and singing simultaneously is always body mechanics. Sometimes the best way to emote what’s happening on stage might not be the best way to produce the sound that you need. A lot of my time was spent figuring out how I could best communicate the director’s vision while still maintaining the integrity of the sound.”

Wikaryasz is less experienced on the stage, but has come to embrace her role: “At first, I had a hard time stepping out of the box and actually becoming the Witch, instead of being myself as the Witch. Once I was able to let go of any uncertainty, it became much easier for me to get into character. I think the music and lyrics make it easy to get into the acting aspect.”

As Wikaryasz said, this production of Hansel and Gretel has been one of collaboration. Dr. May has received costume assistance from the Kearsley Park Players and the Flint School of Performing Arts; make-up assistance is coming from the Detroit Opera House. The UM-Flint Theatre Department helped with set construction and design. Young performers from the Flint Youth Ballet and the Flint Youth Chorus will join the cast on stage. UM-Flint Music students of the Collegiate Chapter of the National Association for Music Education are acting as teaching artists, visiting area schools and teaching children about the elements of opera. Carol Chaney, UM-Flint Lecturer and Music Department Technology Specialist, has designed an animated element that will wow the audience.

The Music Education students have an especially important role during dress rehearsal on Thursday, February 18th. They will serve as guides to 350 elementary school students who are visiting campus to interact with the vocalists and musicians before the show and then watch the full production. Says Karen Salvador, Assistant Professor of Music Education, “This opera outreach provides amazing opportunities for UM-Flint students and children all over Flint. Music education students are gaining real-world teaching experience in Flint classrooms, Flint children are interacting with college students, seeing live opera performed right in their school, and learning more about music in a hands-on, immersive way. Josh’s vision for this outreach is exactly in line with our university’s mission to partner with communities in ways that are meaningful to all parties. I know that this is an experience that will help shape our Collegiate-NAfME students as teachers, and it could also be an inspiration for a child who loves music.”

The cast is excited for this chance to share the show with a young audience. Says Starnes, “This is by far my favorite part of this production. I’ve loved opera since I was a kid (thank you Bugs Bunny), but I never got the chance to actually learn what opera was until far later. This brings the kids up close and personal so that they can develop an appreciation for the art form early.”

Adds Wikaryasz, “I am ecstatic that children are being involved. I think it is really important for them to be exposed to this kind of music. There are a lot of kids who have never heard or seen an opera before, so giving them a chance to see the opera and learn about it is really special.”

Music lovers of all ages are invited to come see Hansel and Gretel. Shows are Friday, February 19th, at 7:30pm, and Sunday, February 21, at 2pm, in the UM-Flint Theatre (303 E. Kearsley Street, Flint, MI 48502). General admission is only $5; students with a valid ID are free.

For more information please contact the UM-Flint Department of Music at 810.762.3377,, or visit

Funding and grants for the project were provided by the Nartel Family Foundation, the James A. Welch Foundation, UM-Flint’s University Outreach, and the Department of Music.

Meet Amanda Taylor of UM-Flint Psychology

Amanda Taylor, M.S.
Title: Lecturer III
Department: Psychology

Classes I teach:
PSY 100 – Principles of Psychology
PSY 309 – Abnormal Psychology
PSY 323 – Advanced Research and Writing in Psychology
PSY 336 – Psychology of Personality
PSY 351 – Techniques of Behavioral Change
PSY 352 – Introduction to Clinical Psychology

Professional Interests, Activities, or Publications:
I am a clinician working in private practice in Ann Arbor MI. I work with adolescents and adults with various disorders, and specialize in anxiety and personality disorders. As evidence based practice is my priority, I use Acceptance and Commitment therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and other empirically supported treatments to help foster fulfillment in the lives of the people I work with.

In addition to my clinical work, teaching psychology is an infinitely rewarding challenge that I am incredibly grateful to have in my life. I enjoy, more than anything, fostering students’ ability to critically think about important matters in our field, and in our world.

Research or Specific Areas of Interest:
My research interests surround deception. More specifically, the emotion regulation properties of deception, and the development and maintenance of deception as verbal behavior.

B.A. Political Science and Psychology, Eastern Michigan University, 2010
M.S. Clinical Behavioral Psychology, Eastern Michigan University, 2013

Association for Contextual and Behavioral Science
Association for Psychological Science
Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan

How I fell in love with my field:
As an undergrad, I was somewhat lackadaisically making my way through a political science course trajectory, with the aim of becoming a lawyer. I took a forensic psychology class, in hopes for an easy “A.” But instead, what I got was an amazing research opportunity with a psychology faculty member to look at the emotion regulation properties of illegal behaviors – and I realized that behavior (no matter how deviant) is always conditioned from some sort of antecedent or context, and that compassion as a response was more appealing to me than litigation. I have since become a behavior analyst who uses compassion and mindfulness in everyday practice to foster meaningful relationships with people whose behavior has at times felt out of control for them. And, I really love it.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint:
I hope to continue down the road of intellectual engagement in areas that matter to me, and I hope to foster relationships and connections with people who love learning about the world as much as I do.

What I hope for students in my field:
I hope to inspire students to live authentic, meaningful lives by way of critical thinking and intellectual engagement with important, real life issues – much in the same way I was inspired as a undergraduate student, years ago.

Something you should know about me:
I live in Ann Arbor, and love the commute! There are few other times in my life where I can be with thoughts for an hour and listen to music as loud as I choose!

To learn more about the Psychology Department at UM-Flint, visit their website

CAS Staff Spotlight: Gale Glover


Gale Glover – UM-Flint employee, alumna, student, author, and volunteer!

Name: Gale Glover
Title: Administrative Assistant
Department(s): Communication and Visual Arts

Degree(s), Education, or Certification(s):
• Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice, Sociology, and Africana Studies
• Masters in Public Administration
• Current student in the Post-Masters Education Specialist Program

Professional or Personal Volunteer Activities:
• Metro Community Development – Project Homeless
• Art 4 Haiti (Haiti Relief Fund)
• Food Drive
• Big Sisters Club, mentored to young girls
• Girl Scout of America, mentored to young girls
• Food Bank of Eastern Michigan
• Girls court project – mentored to young girls in the juvenile detention center

Professional or Community Memberships:
National Multicultural Diversity Institute

Awards or Recognitions Received (UM-Flint or Community):
• Odell Broadway Scholarship
• Edgar B. Holt Scholarship
• Freeman Sociology, Anthropology, & Criminal Justice Scholarship
• Lillian B. & Bruce E. Wright Memorial Scholarship
• 2 Sterling Staff Awards

Ways in which I support or interact with UM-Flint students:
I have volunteered with them and collaborated with them on projects. Sarah Clark, who is a current UM-Flint student, [worked on my] second book which is a activity and coloring book. Jason Jerke, who is an alum, is working on my third book.

Gale is passionate about higher ed and its benefits for students. She’s written two books for children that center on learning about college.

I have [written] two Reach Higher Ed books which are very similar. Both books were designed to try and help the literacy rate in Michigan and both books are meant to be interactive so that young children retain what they have learned.

Reach Higher Ed Thumbnail Coloring Activity book

  • Reach Higher EdStory book, full color, has a glossary, and 10 tips for a successful college experience
    Reach Higher Ed encourages young children to reach for their goals and open their minds to higher education. Reach Higher Ed! Reach Higher Ed! Reach Higher Ed! Parents can share the story-line with their small children and the glossary and 10 tips for a successful college experience with their high school children. This book is for the whole family.
  • Reach Higher Ed Activity and Coloring Book – a 3 in 1, story book, coloring, and activity book, has key terms relating to higher education which can be colored or written. Words that kids would not typically hear such as “scholarship” and “deferment.”
    This book encourages young children to reach for their goals and open their minds to higher education. It gives kids the opportunity to showcase what they have learned from either book. Such as writing the terms, or their numbers.

Gale is also the marketing editor for Qua, the UM-Flint student-run literary publication. 

This is my first semester as the marketing editor for Qua and I absolutely love it. I use a lot of marketing strategies that I have learned from marketing my book and from previous positions that I have held. My goal is to recruit people both inside and outside the university in order to get them to submit their work for review. I also do routine classroom visits, use social media and use word of mouth as a way to get the word out. I think this year they may have received more artwork than in previous years and I already have students inquiring about the fall submission. I think Qua is an amazing magazine and my hope is to try and grow the magazine and make sure that everyone knows our name and that it is the university student run magazine. Being a writer myself, it is the perfect job for me to make my mark as a student while helping others to release their artistic expressions.

Ways in which I support or interact with UM-Flint faculty:
I have participated in events with them. I co-facilitated a writing workshop with Dr. Traci Currie. I’ve spoken to promise scholar students about my experience as a graduate and undergraduate student. I’ve observed faculty classes and gave them feedback about their teaching styles. I’m assisting in the strategic planning process for the new Communication Studies Department. And I’ve volunteered and mentored to young girls in the girls court project with Shelly Spievak.

Ways in which I support or interact with UM-Flint staff:
Collaborate on projects, volunteered with them and Rebecca Zeiss who is an Art instructor, created the illustrations for my 1st book.

Ways in which I am involved with my department or program’s community engagement:
I’ve co-facilitated workshops and assisted with community events.

What I feel my department or program does best for students:
The Communication side does excellent at getting their students involved in community outreach and they also have an open door policy where students can stop in any time to see them and they are constantly advising them to make sure they stay on track. The Visual Arts side promotes creativity and artistic expressions and encourages their students to think outside the box.

What I hope for my time at UM-Flint:
To assist in promoting student success, to encourage students to pursue higher education in a more cost-effective way with as little obstacles as possible.
To receive my doctorate in education.

What I hope for students from my department or program:
That they will reach their academic goals with as [little] stress and financial strain as possible and that they will all complete their degrees.

Three things you should know about me:
• Local Author of two books
• Marketing Editor for Qua
• Everything I do is to promote student success including my books, my educational background, and my profession