Pace Profile: Dr. Laurie McMillan

Profile by Jenna Scaglione

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Dr. Laurie McMillan

Education & Career Path
After graduating from Brandeis University with a major in psychology and elementary education certification, Dr. Laurie McMillan began teaching. Even though she loved teaching at the elementary level, she felt she needed a change.

Dr. McMillan is passionate about reading and writing, which encouraged her to further her education. She decided to continue her education at Duquesne University, where she earned a Ph.D. in English Literature. Dr. McMillan then started teaching at the college level because it gave her the opportunity to teach writing and literary studies while also spending time doing her own research.

Dr. McMillan joined Pace’s Department of English and Modern Language Studies in September 2016. She appreciates the strong department community and enjoys the creative writing presence found at Pace.

Teaching Goals

Dr. McMillan is very dedicated to helping students become better writers, which is currently what she is working on at Pace University. She says that her greatest accomplishment is helping her students achieve their goals and improve.

Dr. McMillan is currently exploring possibilities for adding a writing major to the offerings on Pace’s Pleasantville campus. The Department of English and Modern Language Studies already offers a creative writing minor and a writing track within the English major, so Dr. McMillan believes a full writing major seems like the next step and says it would appeal to a wide range of students.

Spare Time

Dr. McMillan loves reading and writing. One of the books she recommends is Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Dr. McMillan enjoys many forms of writing. She is especially enthusiastic about multimedia writing digitally online such as blogging and creating Youtube videos.

Dr. McMillan also enjoys activities around the house such as fixing up old furniture,  painting, and gardening.

Advice

Dr. McMillan believes college students should follow their passion in life and not be afraid to pursue their dreams. She also stresses the significance in having a backup plan. Life is full of surprises, so it’s helpful if you’re ready to adapt.

Faculty Profile: Professor Musti

by Steven DeMartis (’19)

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Professor Shobana Musti

Coming to America

Professor Shobana Musti began her education in India, where she grew up. She finished her undergrad with a major in Zoology and went on to receive a Master’s degree in Special Education.

She is a Professor of Education here at Pace University, specializing in teaching those in the graduate program pursuing a Master’s degree in Special Education. When she is not educating the future educators of America, she loves being outside with her dogs and playing tennis.

Early Educations’ Influence on Future Career

During her high school career, Professor Musti took English language classes, which were composed of analyzing literature, grammar, vocabulary and spelling. Professor Musti shared that “English was the mode of instruction in schools in India.” It is important to note that every student entered school speaking a variety of different languages. Although she does not have a degree in English, taking these classes provided a better understanding of the foundation for the English language. Despite not truly utilizing these skills until her doctoral program, Musti added

“The dissemination of research requires me to use academic vocabulary that is different from the conversation and casual writing skills that I may have acquired previously in my K-12 schooling experience.”

Finding her Passion

As previously mentioned, Professor Musti started her education pursuing a career in Zoology. In India, there was no option to take a “gap year” after Hhgh school therefore she had to make a quick decision about which subject area she would study. It was not until she volunteered at a center for children with disabilities that she discovered her passion for teaching, specifically Special Education. Her father was not fully supportive of her decision to change career paths to Education because it was not seen as a practical career for her culture. Professor Musti explained, “Since I am Indian, it was expected that I become a doctor.” Despite her not being supported in her career choice by her father, she deiced to stand her ground and pursue her passion to educate those with disabilities.

Why Pace

Professor Musti highlighted various aspects of Pace that sets it apart from other universities in this country. She spoke specifically about our small class sizes, which provide a more intimate class experience, as well as Pace’s ample amount of resources. She said students get extra attention here, which was not something that was available to her during her school career.

 

Advice for an Education/English Major

“Find volunteer opportunities to work in you perspective field now. Get as much exposure as possible! Affirm this is what you want to do before you waste too much time.”

Faculty Profile: Dr.Rebecca Martin

Profile by Grace Kadisha

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Dr. Rebecca Martin

Finding value in learning

Dr. Rebecca Martin has been an English major from start to finish. Growing up, she loved to read in school and on her spare time. Her family has lived in many parts of the world including Italy, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Louisiana. Her parents were devoted readers and, although they didn’t graduate from college, they instilled the importance of education to Rebecca. The values her parents taught have stuck with her. 

In high school Dr. Martin discovered that she was interested in archaeology, history, and environmental studies. When she started college in the 70’s, archaeology wasn’t a popular major. For her love of reading, she went into college as an English major. Surprisingly, she said she didn’t encounter people telling her studying English wasn’t a real major or there isn’t enough jobs to get with an English degree except for teaching.

Discovering her passion

While studying English, Dr. Martin imagined she would eventually be a teacher. She still continued to take courses she thought would spark her interest in other parts of studying literature. That’s where she found her love in 18th century gothic novel; it was literature she had never read before, and her professor made the class more intriguing. She got her undergraduate degree at the University of Oklahoma.

From there she knew her passion was to learn more. She went on to get her Master’s at the University of Idaho and her Ph.D. in English at the University of Iowa. Dr. Rebecca Martin came to Pace as an adjunct professor where she taught for twenty years. She became assistant dean for fifthteen years in Dyson College.

Her advice for students with English majors is to remember that college is a time to try out new ideas: “There’s not a high price to pay from taking a course you didn’t like instead of having a job you discover you didn’t like.” She also says that that “studying english is to get personal gain, substance, and increasing knowledge.” 

Teaching students

As Dr. Rebecca Martin continues to teach film and literature courses here at Pace University, she believes it’s important to teach students more than just the content in the class. Students should think critically, think analytically, and think more because it helps all of us. That way students can apply those skills outside of class, going beyond the most obvious meanings of what you see and asking “why are these images being used, why was this language chosen and why is it being told this way?”.

Dr. Martin wants to teach students to be more engaged in life and the questions we should be asking so that we can live to our fullest potentials.

 

Alumna Profile: Justine Porcelli (’09)

Profile by Jessika Charvis

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Justine Porcelli, ’09

Who is Justine Porcelli?

Justine Porcelli is a Pace University alumna. She enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, restaurant exploring, being with loved ones, and jet skiing!

She majored in English and Spanish but then changed to Childhood Education and specialized in Literacy. She has always loved school as a child. Her little sister, who is twelve years younger than Justine, would always struggle with school. Justine loved being around her when she was a little girl, and that’s one of the many reasons why she went into the education field.

When asked about her experiences in the English field she had said that she traveled to Cambridge, England over the summer and she was able to study Shakespeare. She shared with me that English is everywhere (for example, movies, books, people, etc.). She also said that education has helped her see what people need instead of just judging them first hand. And another benefit of going into the education field is enjoying a snow day or two!

Her Career

Justine praised Pace University because the school set her up with her student teaching position. The school that she taught in while she was at Pace University ended up hiring her.

Today, Justine is a  literacy specialist specifically for the dual language & bilingual classrooms in her school. She has taught a total of seven years in her district. She teaches children the skills they need to succeed.  She also teaches them about themselves—their strengths and weaknesses. She believes that  knowing about yourself is important in life. That is the most important thing that she teaches her students. She shared with me that she loves all her students and whenever they smile they make her feel good about her work.

Her Advice To Future Teachers

Justine shared with me one of her experiences as a student. She said that she had a Professor that made her feel great about her work. He cared about all students as people and he really impacted her life. He was dedicated and passionate.  She said that she is sure that he taught his students when he was a public school teacher with the same care and love that she received in her higher education. Justine is inspired by him daily and has benefited from his presence in her  life at Pace University tremendously.

Justine’s advice to students in the education field is simple: get a lot of experience working with students. She said to pace yourself and give yourself a break sometimes because it is better for the students if you are less stressed, well rested, and prepared!

 

Pace Profile: Dr. Beth Gordon

Profile by Paige Touse (’20)

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Dr. Beth Gordon

“English Majors can do anything”

Pursuing a Passion

Beth Gordon always knew what her passion was and what she wanted to do with her life. Even in her younger years, Beth enjoyed reading and writing. She liked making connections with themes and books and to the current events in her world. Despite the fact that it was popular to be an undecided major at the time Beth entered college, she already knew she wanted to be an English Major.

Beth attended Binghamton University for her undergraduate degree. She took any and all classes pertaining to literature while in college whether it be the “Psychology of Literature” or the “Literature of World War Two.” Beth then moved on to University of Albany for her Masters in an English-focused Education degree. After graduation, she made her way to Mahopac to teach.

Trials of Teaching

At Mahopac High School, Beth taught an array of English classes from normal Regents levels to the more rigorous Honors courses. Oddly enough, Beth found that teaching wasn’t always about the material. She stated that it was “much less about the literature and writing and a lot more about the social issues they are facing today.”

Beth easily saw a connection to the skills she learned from her English major to how she should teach her students:

“Learning how to teach is basically learning how to negotiate and motivate and communicate.”

These are skills that she sees as being integral to the English degree and very transferable to other fields.

From Teaching to Tech

While teaching her students, Beth noticed that there wasn’t always a strong connection between the material she taught and the interest of her pupils. There was only one instance when she felt they were invested in their work:

“I found that when I was able to get the kids most engaged in their writing was when I brought them to a computer lab.”

This became the turning point in her career as she “saw the power of what a computer could do for teaching.” It was then that Beth decided to return to school in the hopes of receiving a Ph.D. in Academic Technology.

With this new degree, she wanted to work in a college environment. Pace would soon be her home for her Academic Technology career. While attending Walden, an online university, Beth worked many jobs throughout Pace. She started as an adjunct and then moved on to teach writing courses and work in Admissions. Eventually, Beth settled herself in Dyson College at Pace as an Academic Advisor while finishing her Ph.D.

After receiving her Ph.D., Beth become incorporated in the Dean’s department as director of Academic Technology.

Benefits from Books

Despite the jump from an English and Teaching degree to Technology degree, Beth still uses more aspects of an English Major than one might guess. As the director of Academic Technology, Beth is constantly researching in order to find new teaching techniques with technology and persuade faculty to use such technology or even try to get funding for certain projects. In order to achieve theses requirements of her job she must use her “ability to read critically and write thoughtfully and extract themes and create proposals,” all of which comes from her English background.

Beth described the benefits have having an English degree not only in her current job but in her everyday life. The skills both taught and learned from an English Major opens the door to many fields. It’s a versatile major:

 “I feel like my English Major has been a real asset to me in lots of different fields…What I learned as an English Major about how to communicate, analyze, problem solve, has been completely transferable to my work in IT.”

Ultimately, the only advice Beth had for those of us who are currently working on our English degrees is something that isn’t specific to us but is to be said to everyone. Her advice is that it is, “Important to follow your passions and study what motivates you but continue to stay open minded about your career and opportunities ahead. I think that English majors can do anything.”

It is because of her passion for English that Beth finds herself in a career she thoroughly enjoys and would never had expected to be in.

Cell phones in the classroom!

Dr. Jane Collins led a workshop for writing teachers suggesting that instead of framing cell phones as devices that interrupt learning, we instead find ways for cell phones to enhance learning.

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Dr. Jane Collins leads a workshop for writing teachers

Here are notes I took during the discussion portion of the workshop—lots of good ideas for how faculty might use cell phones in their writing classes.

  • Use phone for audio recording of an interview or video; used to collect data and then analyze it; reflect on this process and what it means to review the data*
  • Poll Everywhere used to get everyone involved, often with T/F or Y/N responses and a follow-up—did you enjoy the reading? why?
  • Poll Everywhere also used for reflection
  • Use Poll Everywhere for students to survey the class and use that research as data to analyze
  • Students who don’t have laptops use cellphones
  • Use phones for quick searches when class wants to know info
  • Taking photos of peer review feedback that was provided so the writer and the peer reviewer both had the peer review work
  • Use camera to frame a situation (to get ENG 120 students to think about essay on framing race and class in the news, how framing is achieved visually vs. in written text)
  • Create audio recording of peer review to discuss, create some distance from the peer review
  • Use Pace’s access to New York Times to help students follow news stories based on their interests, generate topics for scholarly research
  • Breaks down idea that what we do in our daily lives is separate from our scholarly interests and research—can recognize that we use phones to engage in discourse communities, to construct versions of ourselves to present to others
  • In minutes, it’s possible to find a scholarly article on Pace’s library site and create an MLA or APA citation using an EasyBib app

*Forgive my lack of parallelism in the bulleted list. These are my actual notes with minimal editing.

Hope you like some of the ideas. If you implement any, give feedback on what worked and what didn’t in the comments below. Also consider adding your own ways of using cell phones in the classroom. We love crowd-sourcing ideas!

 

 

 

 

 

Alum Profile: Ashley Linda

Profile by Jackie Coughlin

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A Courageous Move

Ashley Linda originally graduated with a BA in Communications with an Advertising concentration and an English Writing minor from Marist College in 2009. She began her education at Pace University when she ended her career at NBC in the Integrated Marketing Company. She became inspired, excited, and eager to seek out different ways to use her brain. She made phone calls to explore different graduate programs, later connecting with the superintendent of her high school. After convincing her to choose Pace, Ashley quit her job in the city and enrolled in the program in Pleasantville. Today, Ashley is a Pace School of Education alumna and current English teacher.

New Directions

Pace’s program helped shape Ashley’s teaching philosophy. Dr. Joan Walker, Beth Kava, Mary Horgan, and Dr. Christine Clayton were women who helped to shape how she thought about the profession as a whole. Having a strong teaching philosophy and a deep rooted passion for the aspects of her job that she loved allowed her to stand up for what she believes in. Ashley became confident and passionate about working towards a common goal with colleagues, especially against tough obstacles.

An Influential Career

At the end of Ashley’s first year teaching at her current school, she was approached by two students who asked if she’d help them start a Women Empowered club at the high school: “Just the fact that they thought of me was an honor, but since then we have worked for three years and have turned the club into the most attended club at the high school.” They discuss issues of equality, welcome guest speakers, and write letters to representatives in government. Ashley has witnessed these young men and women grow and become leaders in the school. She has seen them face the backlash and bullying that comes with this responsibility and supported their efforts. She conveys that it’s been a fulfilling challenge.

“I truly believe that empathy and social justice are two things that we need in society. And nothing teaches you to be empathetic more than reading; you are literally walking in someone else’s shoes. And learning to communicate your thoughts and ideas is a power that no one can take away from you. And you can stand up for others using your voice.”

Inspiring Faces

Other than her professors, Ashley is inspired by her boyfriend: a Pace graduate and teacher for AP and Regents US History. He supports her drive in being the best educator she can be. She additionally admires the work of her Department Chair, a teacher involved at all levels of the school, and a natural leader.

Learning Inside and Outside of the Field

Ashley’s work in literacy, research, and writing changes every year based on personal learning goals and initiatives within her school. This year, she worked with her Department Chair to incorporate an Independent Reading program into curricula based on research conducted last year, mainly by Penny Kittle (Readicide) and Chris Tovani (Do I Really Have to Teach Reading?).

At the end of every year, she finds herself reflecting on ways she can improve the program for the following year. Sometimes it’s a conversation for the department; other times it’s more personal.

Ashley emphasizes her first job as a lesson for the importance of life balance. She loves getting outside, exploring, and taking her dog Penny for hikes and long walks. She advocates for exercise and visiting the gym as ways to clear the mind.

Ashley loves to read, particularly about strong women and what it means to be a woman today. She claims to be a sucker for anything 1920’s and highly recommends Live By Night by Dennis Lehane. Ashley is also currently involved volunteering with the Peekskill Democrats.

Advice for English Majors:
“An audience is always warming but it must never be necessary to your work.” —Gertrude Stein

Alum Profile: Rebecca Italiano (’16)

Profile by Maria Snelling (’20)

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Becoming an Education Major at Pace

Rebecca Italiano (’16), former member of the Pace University Women’s Volleyball team, was not always encouraged to choose an Education major. Her aunts and family members who were already teachers discouraged her dream to teach because of the heavy workload and low salary. Her number one supporters were her parents who saw Rebecca as a good fit for teaching young children. Rebecca believed, “If Education really wasn’t right for me, there are still many opportunities that I could work with kids.”

Because Pace University offers many opportunities to work with children, one of the main reasons she chose Education at Pace was to be able to “impact kids directly.” In addition, Rebecca’s main reason why she chose Pace to pursue her degree in Education was the five-year combined program. Within the four years of Undergrad, Rebecca received her Bachelor’s degree and is currently completing her fifth year to receive her Master’s degree in Special Education.

Time in an ICT Classroom

 Now, Rebecca is a teacher in an Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) fifth grade classroom teaching both general education and special education children.

Teaching fifth graders with disabilities and speech and language impairment, Rebecca sees the benefits to her English courses at Pace. Although Rebecca does not have a concentration in English, she says that reading and writing are very important in the daily classroom.

Rebecca find her work inspiring: “Teaching in an underprivileged school, I can see immediately how I’m really changing these kids’ lives.” By noticing the way the children are speaking, Rebecca encourages them to speak with confidence: “I teach my kids everyday to believe in themselves. If they say ‘I can’t,’ then I make them resay everything they just said with no negativity.”

As one who balanced academics and collegiate athletics, Rebecca’s advice for Education majors is “stay ahead, always stay ahead.”