We are thrilled to introduce for our first Alumni Spotlight, Dr. Gabriele Strohschen.
1) What year did you graduate from NIU and with what degree?
2000 Doctor of Education
College of Education – Department of Leadership and Educational Policy Studies
1986 Master of Science in Education
College of Education – Department of Education and Psychological Foundations
2) What attracted you to the program at NIU?
I was originally recruited by Professor Emerita Dr. Phyllis Cunningham, who had heard from several of her current students about the community education project I was doing.
3) What is your favorite memory of NIU?
Sitting with professors of the Philosophy Department in the Blackhawk Cafeteria discussing phenomenology. Dr. Sherman Stanage was my mentor and also my dissertation chair, who so very unfortunately passed just before I defended.
4) Where and in what type of positions did you work after graduating from NIU?
I continued working in community organizations in Chicago’s Latino/a immigrant communities. As anadjunct faculty member, I taught at the City Colleges of Chicago’ s Center for Disabled Student Services and in National-Louis University’s field-based Bachelor’s and cohort-based Master’s programs. In 1989, I became the inaugural coordinator of N-LU’s online program for its Master’s in adult education; and moved to a tenure-track position at DePaul University’s School for New Learning as graduate programs director in 2003. In 2019, I retired from DPU and was named professor emerita. Since then, I have worked with former and current students, educators, artists, and community activists in local and international action research projects, focusing on social justice and education. Through physical gatherings at a small former Pilsen Storefront, I have brought together thought leaders in critical dialogue on the need for interdependence to address local needs and issues that are informed by others in spite of geographic and ideological distance. Since the dawn of the days of corona, we have maintained connections through virtual meetings and webinars. Our projects currently include participants from Australia, India, and Kenya.
5) How did you use what you learned at NIU in your work?
My studies in both the LEPS, Philosophy, and English departments introduced to me to a vast body of knowledge in mainstream and critical theory as much as the concomitant student peers and faculty members, with whom I enjoyed long-standing relationships beyond graduation. Notable to mention are Dr. Phyllis Cunningham, Dr. Jim Thomas, Dr. John Knapp, and Dr. Tom Heaney. These connections, i.e., the intellectual insights gained as much as the personal relationships we maintained, greatly influenced praxis in the field of adult education. To this day, I work with NIU alumni and former faculty members. I remain grateful to the forward-thinking professors who understood the importance of building bonds with their students that went beyond office-hours based mentoring. The student-centered, flexible, and asset-based attitudes by the teaching and administering staffers then role-modelled my approaches to educating adults throughout my community education and academia career to this day. I will always fondly recall the “heydays of adult education” at NIU.
6) What are some exciting projects you have going on now that you’d like share with our HESA community?
One recent project is a publication with 18 authors, “Blackmaled by Academia.” It is an assemblage of the voices of Black men in academia, who offer an authentic look behind the veil of their lived experiences as students, professors, and administrators. It is slated for release by American Scholars Press in January 2021.
Another promising project via my Pilsen Storefront venue is currently underway virtually with “think tank pods” in on several continents. The vision of our Sharing & Heeding Insights for Transformation (SHIFT) project is that a shift in attitude can eliminate the harm we do to life (human, fauna, and flora) and what good we can each accomplish in our communities given such high reaching goals (we know!). On the ground, SHIFT engages people across the globe to acknowledge the common ground we share in our local challenges, problems, and solutions. The goal is to then develop mutual understanding, change paradigmatic assumptions, and evaluate our attitudes and move to interdependence. Thus far, we have concluded three months of local inquiry into community needs and solutions and begun the planning for action steps with the groups’ conveners.
We would like to thank Dr. Strohschen for sharing her experiences with us. If you’re interested in being featured in an upcoming edition of our newsletter or would like to recommend a colleague to be featured, please contact HESA Program Coordinator Dr. Gudrun Nyunt at email@example.com.