Category Archives: Academics

Nicholas Hartlep named editor of the Journal of Educational Foundations

Dr. Nicholas Hartlep, assistant professor of urban education, has been named the new editor of the Journal of Educational Foundations (JEF). The journal’s new home is the School of Urban Education (UED) at Metropolitan State University.

In addition to the role that Hartlep played in bringing this top education journal to Metropolitan State University, then-Interim Provost Carol Bormann Young  supported UED’s request to publish the journal from Metropolitan State’s UED.

Brief history of The Journal of Educational Foundations:

The journal was initially published by Prakken Publications from 1986 to 1989 and then by Caddo Gap Press from 1989 onward.

1986-1987 – JEF started under sponsorship of the American Educational Studies Association and the University of Calgary with co-editors Alan H. Jones of Prakken Publications and Roger Woock of University of Calgary.
1988 to Spring 1992 – sponsored by the University of Cincinnati with co-editors Kathryn Borman and Patricia Reilly.
Summer 1992 to Winter 1995 – sponsored by Youngstown State University and National Lewis University with editors Jane Van Galen and James Pusch of Youngstown and William Pink and Robert Lowe of National Lewis.
Spring 1995 to Spring 1997 – sponsored by National Lewis University with William Pink and Robert Lowe as editors.
Summer 1997 to 2004 – sponsored by Marquette University with William Pink as editor.
2005-2006 – sponsored by Jersey City State University with Darrell Cleveland as editor.
2007 to Winter/Spring 2012 – sponsored by Stockton College of New Jersey with Darrell Cleveland as editor.
Summer/Fall 2012 to current – sponsored by the University of Texas at San Antonio with Michael Jennings as editor.

Hartlep spoke about his responsibilities as the incoming editor,

“I have many responsibilities. Appoint other members of editorial team and editorial board (either keeping or altering the current editorial board); recruit peer reviewers (keeping any current reviewers as desired); solicit and receive submissions (including any carry over submissions from current editor); coordinate review of submissions; select manuscripts for publication; copy edit manuscripts; determine which articles will appear in each issue; write introductions for issues if desired; send manuscripts for each issue to the publisher; receive and review final proofs for each issue from the publisher; approve final version of each issue prior to publication.”

Metropolitan State University has a three-year commitment to  host JEF, and Metropolitan State can renew the contract indefinitely. Hartlep intends to keep the journal at Metropolitan State “for many years, so we will become the longest-standing institution.”

Hartlep thinks that Winona State University is the only other university in the Minnesota State System that hosts a journal. He feels that “it is very significant for Metropolitan State University to host JEF because JEF is a reputable journal that is in print and that is indexed [in Education Index].”

JEF is an independent quarterly journal in the social foundations of education sponsored by Metropolitan State University.
Subscriptions: $50 (individual)/$100 (institutional) per year ISSN 1047-8248.
JEF features research and analysis in the social foundations of education, with a focus on interdisciplinary scholarship among the foundations fields.

Colleagues, direct inquiries regarding the Journal of Educational Foundations to Hartlep at

July 19: Hear from Professor Nicholas Hartlep on his book, ‘The Neoliberal Agenda and the Student Debt Crisis in U.S. Higher Education’

To say Professor Nicholas D. Hartlep is moving at the speed of light is not hyperbole. He was born in Seoul, South Korea and is a transracial adoptee. His family moved from to Green Bay, Wis., where he grew up supporting the Green Bay Packers football team.

The pace of his life changed drastically after he enrolled as an undergraduate student at Winona State University (WSU). As Hartlep studied at WSU to become a teacher, he enlisted in its study abroad program and went to Granada, Spain; and then student-taught in Quito, Ecuador.

After graduating in December 2006 from WSU, Hartlep took a short break and worked as a substitute teacher until he finally landed a full-time position in the Rochester Public Schools (RPS). Hartlep says he was fortunate to find that RPS’ yearlong Graduate Induction Program (GIP) for “inexperienced” teachers would allow him to earn a Master of Science Degree (M.S.Ed.) from Winona State University’s (WSU) Rochester campus. After the GIP he and his wife moved to Milwaukee, Wis., where he was admitted to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s (UWM) Urban Education Doctoral Program (UEDP).

Enrolling in the doctoral program meant that Hartlep could teach at Harford University Elementary School during the day and attend graduate school at night. During that time, Hartlep was busy between doctoral coursework, his full-time job as a second-grade teacher, and raising his daughter with his wife.

Three college degrees and numerous scholarships later, Hartlep, then 28, found himself with student debt, something he and Lucille Eckrich write about in their co-authored article, Ivory Tower Graduates in the Red: The Role of Debt in Higher Education.

It was this personal experience as a college student that prompted Hartlep to co-edit the book, The Neoliberal Agenda and the Student Debt Crisis in U.S. Higher Education with Eckrich and a former doctoral student of his, Brandon Hensley.


Hear Nicholas Hartlep, assistant professor in the School of  Urban Education at Metropolitan State University, present his new book, The Neoliberal Agenda and the Student Debt Crisis in U.S. Higher Education.

• 7 p.m., July 19 at East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street, St. Paul.

More information at this website.


Hartlep spoke recently from his office at Metropolitan State’s Midway Campus:

How long have you been teaching here at Metropolitan State University?

I started last fall (2016). This is my third semester teaching here at Metropolitan State.

Where did you previously teach?

I was at Illinois State University for four years in their Department of Educational Administration and Foundations. I taught Foundations of Education there. Here at Metropolitan State I am in the School of Urban Education.

Did you grow up in Minnesota?

My background is transracial adoptee. I was born in Korea and was adopted here in the Twin Cities, but I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Currently, I live in Hudson, Wisconsin.

What is it about Metropolitan State University that attracted you?

It’s a small world, if you ask me. The Dean of the School of Urban Education [Rene Antrop-Gonzalez] here at Metropolitan State hooded me when I received my Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He was a faculty member there and I knew him from back then. I knew he would be an excellent dean to work under. I was right! That was one reason why I chose to come to Metropolitan State.

But another reason is, Metropolitan State focuses on urban education and the fact that it’s located in the Twin Cities area, means that it is well situated to serve the community.

On top of that, I also came to do policy work and the State Capitol is located here in Saint Paul.

Is there something about the Metropolitan State community that stands out in comparison to traditional universities and colleges?

I think our words and our deeds align here at Metropolitan State. We are really walking the talk. Our mission and vision is urban focused, so I do think we are highly unique in that way.

But the prime example of why I believe Metropolitan State is different than other “neoliberal institutions” is the population we serve. We serve many students who are first in their family to go to college; including refugee students and other marginalized populations. That is why it is important for me to do a very good job of equipping these students with all the skills they need in order to be successful in their lives. We are the most affordable urban four-year institution in the state. And the students and faculty in the School of Urban Education is made up of a diverse population.

Certainly, there are areas where we can improve. I know that Metropolitan State is a teaching-focused university. Nevertheless, I still think research is important to do. It is very important for educators in higher education to do scholarly work; it keeps them sharp in the classroom.

One other important thing to consider about Metropolitan State is that it has a strong focus on professors to become stellar teachers. At research-focused institutions the pressure to write is the greatest force at play. That means sometimes the teaching duties get reassigned to graduate assistants and adjunct faculty members. Here at Metropolitan State, the teaching assignments take precedence over everything else we do. That keeps you on your toes.

You are passionate about race relations. What is it about that topic that interests you?

Race and socioeconomic critique are part and parcel to who I am. Race in general has been important to me, most likely because I am an adoptee and have always been aware of how race operates in society. Our new book centers race, centers economics, and critiques capitalism within higher education.

Was there a turning point in your career or life that changed you?

The turning point was college itself. The positive experience of feeling included, valued, loved and cared for that I experienced in college was a major turning point.

I had a miserable time sitting passively in class in high school. I had a critical mentality and I found the traditional teaching method—a “banking method”—very unengaging and dry. All that changed for me in college. For the first time in my life I really enjoyed school—in the sense of formal higher education. And I think the key difference is that in college you have more autonomy and are inspired by professors to read and write.

From kindergarten through 12th grade, I was a reluctant reader. I disliked reading. Towards the tail end of my bachelor’s degree, I fell in love with reading. I became an avid reader. Most of my high school friends and teachers would never envision that I am doing what I am doing right now.

The experience of going to college changed you?

Yes! I saw the lifestyle of these professors and thought to myself, ‘I see what you are doing. I want to do what you are doing. You get to think deeply. You get to write. And you get to teach.’ That combination of reading, teaching, research and service was really something that I saw and fell in love with. I consider myself very fortunate because to become a professor is very challenging.

What motivated you to write The Neoliberal Agenda and the Student Debt Crisis in U.S. Higher Education.

The current practice of higher education, based on the neoliberal agenda, is a pay-to-play sort of model. In my own case, I could not become a professor without acquiring a terminal degree. And I could not get a terminal degree without having the capital to invest in my future.

Now that I am a professor, the dilemma I feel is this dichotomy between a debtor, one who is trying to pay off his debt by working, and the establishment that I work for. My employer is an institution of higher education. Which means that some students are acquiring debt to pay for my salary. Although, I do understand that Metropolitan State has one of the lowest tuition rates within the state of Minnesota. Nevertheless, the thought that many students are becoming indebted to pay for their education remains unsettling within me in many ways because higher education should be accessible and not require debt in the first place.

I am fully aware that the profession I have chosen is not going to make me financially wealthy. If you have amassed a large amount of debt and you are not going to pay it back within your lifetime, then from an economic standpoint, that was a bad decision. Still, I consider myself lucky because I am only 33 years old. I have my whole life ahead of me. Even with all the difficulties I have faced in order to get here, I still consider myself an anomaly. There are millions of students out there that are not as lucky as I was.

Especially when you have these students that are sold this bill of goods whereby they are told that, after 10 years of making on-time payments on their student loan debts, it will be discharged. Then you have these politicians in the state and federal legislatures talking about eliminating the loan forgiveness program altogether. When that happens, it really shows the main ideology behind the whole system. And even these loan forgiveness programs have their own shortcomings. The student debt that is written off through the loan forgiveness program is considered personal income for federal tax purposes.

Traditionally education is viewed as a human capital from a neoliberal viewpoint. The regime claims that you have to make an investment on your future, and the return on your investment will balance itself out once you are done paying off your student debt. That is a typical neoliberal economic point of view.

With this book, I want to discuss the main cause for the student debt crisis. Ultimately, I want to be able to steer the discussion of the value of education in society towards a more equitable system. A vision that considers it a human right for everyone who chooses to pursue higher education.

Do you think government should fund higher education?

My personal view is that some level of higher education should be public and paid for. But we don’t have that system here in the United States. We have a system where we can go to K–12 grades supposedly free, minus the hidden fees. That is it.

And my main concern is, we have these legislators, both in the state and federal legislatures, being lobbied by the financial sector into having these conversations about who should pay for higher education. How are we going to fund it, etc.? And that is a big problem.

Instead of these bureaucrats and lobbying groups, I feel that the best discussions happen at a grassroots level. It is crucial for the demos to be involved in these deep and holistic conversations about the value of education in society and make decisions based on that. And, to tell you the truth, that discussion is taking place in certain pockets of the society.

But we live in a capitalist society. Much of our freedom is afforded to us by the success of the economy.

The student debt crisis in higher education is a problem caused by capitalism, in my opinion. Embedded within capitalism is this imperative for constant growth that is untenable. That is unsustainable from a global point of view. Human beings on this planet have limited means and resources. Incessant growth is the reason behind much of the problem—regardless of whether its climate change or economic misfortune—we humans are facing right now.

We talk about this in our book in more detail. Just to give you an excerpt, in chapter 10 of the book, there is an article by Kay Ann Taylor titled “Golden Years” in the Red: Student Loan Debt as Economic Slavery, where she talks about “the neoliberal capitalist agenda, which has been escalating for decades, college is viewed not as a venue to pursue intellectual curiosity or learning, but instead as economic human capital to determine which cog we fill in the oppressive, undemocratic neoliberal privatization scheme (Giroux, 2014).”

Taylor goes on to explain her theory of accumulation and disaccumulation even further. As a young man—I am 33—I have my life ahead of me. I have the time to repay my debt and then start accumulating assets. Taylor describes disaccumulation with her personal example as an older woman where, even though she has the college degrees she does not have the time to pay back the student debt she accrued as a student and start accumulating assets. Her life circumstances and her personal journey have led her to this point where, even with a Ph.D. degree, she feels helpless.

There is a whole industry in the financial sector that benefits from student debt. In fact, the federal government pays $38 to private debt collectors to retrieve $1 of student debt. Which means, taxpayers are paying $38 to retrieve $1 of student loan debt. That is absurd. That is illogical. It doesn’t make any economic sense. And why is that? Why do we have this problem?

The twisted irony is that the student loan debt crisis is becoming a problem in terms of debt peonage enslavement. The masters are corporations in the financial sector, and to some extent, the federal government. That is a direct result of the neoliberal agenda.

The other paradox of this student debt crisis is that, students are now becoming aware of the fact that they are going to go into debt, and as a result they start questioning their educational choices—like the majors and minors they choose to study. What happens when students start making these decisions based solely on economic sensibilities? It causes the shrinking and narrowing of the occupations that are lower paying. In fact, millennials are making these calculations in their minds as we speak. They are asking themselves, “Why become a social worker that helps society as opposed to a career that just secures money?” When it becomes transactional like that, it defeats the purpose of a liberal arts education. The holistic understanding of what an education is supposed to mean fails as a result.

Did you find any solution to this problem in your research?

The only way out of this mess is a system that is non-capitalistic or non-neoliberal. After poring through all the research on this topic, we found very few non-neoliberal or non-capitalist programs that would be practical here in the United States.

For example, we looked at work colleges that are small sets of colleges where students, in most cases, graduate debt-free. They fund their college education by working within the college—they build things while they are learning. Those tend to be rural and smaller institutions. Would it work at an institution like Metropolitan State? Maybe. Maybe not. Would it work at an institution like University of Minnesota? No, it most definitely would not work.

To exacerbate the matter, researchers in academia produce research findings that can be used for policy, and during that research they like to re-label things. Consequently, major publications will promote the story about the next silver bullet, like “income share agreements,” for example. They present it like it’s this novel approach that is going to save higher education, as we know it. But then when you dig deeper into it, you realize that these are not new concepts. There are authors and contributors in the book that talk about this phenomenon.

All this diversion takes our eyes off of the real root of the problem that we should be focusing on, like: neoliberal capitalism and debtfarism. Until we devote more time to the monetary system that we have here in the United States—and interest is a key component of that—we will not be having the crucial conversation that is required of us to resolve this problem.

Even the language of policy we use to define the student debt crisis in higher education is littered with neoliberal terms like generalizability, scalability, efficiency, and effectiveness. And they are just economic buzzwords. That is why we talk about the need for a new lexicon in our book. We need a whole new lingua franca to dismantle the neoliberal agenda in higher education.

What that means is, ultimately we need to think about and create the policy for higher education from bottom up, as opposed to the current format, which is top down. Perhaps, it’s a policy from the community, the demos, like the People’s Budget.

One last thing I want to mention is, many of the authors and contributors in our book have high amount of student debt. Nevertheless, some critics would argue that they are not representative of the student debt crisis, because the actual crises are folks with smaller amounts of debt; folks who went to for-profit predatory colleges; folks who didn’t get their degree, etc. Yes, this is true. And their voice matters a lot. But, so do the voices of those who became indebted to become academics, people who have accrued six-figure student loan debt in their pursuit for higher education.

Dean’s List to be implemented

At the request of the Student Senate, the Interim Provost has announced that the “Dean’s List” will be implemented as an academic recognition for students at Metropolitan State University beginning spring 2017 semester.

Students may earn Dean’s List recognition in any semester when they have successfully completed at least six credit hours earning letter grades (A to C-) and have a minimum term grade point average of 3.50. A student who receives an “I” or “W” in courses beyond the required six credits are also eligible for Dean’s List. Additionally, credits from a successfully repeated course earning a letter grade are counted toward the minimum six-credit requirement.

Upon request by Metropolitan State’s Registrar’s Office, the System Office ran a script and posted the verbiage “Dean’s List” to the transcript for all students who had grades posted for spring as of May 19.

The next step will be to determine a location to post the Dean’s List to the website.  More information on the “Dean’s List” will be posted on News@Metro once it is obtained.

Metropolitan State confers the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters upon Josephine Shang-Kuan Su

Metropolitan State University is pleased to announce the conferring of the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters upon our esteemed university partner, Ms. Josephine Shang-Kuan Su in recognition of her eminent contributions to Metropolitan State University and to the field of International Education, which enhances the missions of both China University of Technology and Metropolitan State University.

Su is chairperson of the Board of China University of Technology (Taiwan) and majored in Economics at National Taiwan University. She received her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Briar Cliff College and her MBA from the City University of New York, where she also attended the PhD program in Economics.

Her outstanding career experiences in the United States included serving as a manager in the Economic Forecasting Division at Wharton Economic Forecasting Associates of the University of Pennsylvania, as chief of the Research Processing Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and as a vice president of Citibank.

Since becoming chairperson of the China University of Technology Board in 1992, Su has adopted a pragmatic approach in her dedication to education, creating an excellent environment in which faculty welfare is highly respected and high-quality student learning is facilitated.

China University of Technology has cooperating partnerships with 21 international universities, one of which is Metropolitan State University. Metropolitan State’s partnership with China University of Technology was formed in 2000, and includes an MBA degree program with 178 graduates and a dual-degree bachelor’s program established in 2014.

Metropolitan State to welcome first students in Nagasaki University exchange

Metropolitan State University will welcome two students from Japan who will attend the Saint Paul university as a cultural exchange, in a celebration that also commemorates the Nagasaki-Saint Paul Sister City Committee’s fifth anniversary of the Gift of Cherry Trees.

President Virginia “Ginny” Arthur will greet students Ayano Tsuchihashi and Yoshiki Ohgi coming from Nagasaki University to attend Metropolitan State in an inaugural exchange between the universities. A representative from the Japanese Consulate in Chicago will attend, as well as city officials. Special guests include Takayuki Miyanishi, president of the Nagasaki-Saint Paul Sister City Committee.

In February 2017, the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Metropolitan State and Nagasaki University opened opportunities for a cultural exchange of students. The memorandum allows students from Metropolitan State to study in Japan for long and short term sessions. As part of the exchange, Metropolitan State will host an equal number of Nagasaki University students. Metropolitan State students will leave in August 2017 to attend Nagasaki University.

In 2012, the government of Japan donated 20 cherry trees to the City of Saint Paul as part of its Centennial Celebration of the Gift of Trees to Washington, DC. Saint Paul was one of 36 cities in the U.S. chosen to receive them in large part due to its having the oldest Sister City relationship with any city in Japan. The cherry trees line the steps up to the Mannheimer Memorial and form a semi-circle at the top of the hill. Additional trees are planted each year and the grove now numbers 30-plus trees.

The celebration is free and open to the public, and will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 3, at Como Park by the Mannheimer Memorial. It is sponsored by the Saint Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee, with assistance from the Japan America Society of Minnesota, AnimeTwinCities, and many volunteers. The event will end by noon. Free parking is available. Entertainment will include performances of Harisen Daiko drumming, shakuhachi flute by Leo Hansen and Sansei Yonsei Kai dancers.

Saint Paul and Nagasaki became Sister Cities in December 1955. It is the oldest Sister City relationship between a U.S. and an Asian city. In 2015, the relationship celebrated 60 years with a gala year of exchanges and exhibitions. In 2015, Devinder Malhotra, then-interim president of Metropolitan State University, accompanied Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s official delegation to Nagasaki, which led to the exchange agreement between Metropolitan State and Nagasaki University. Tokens of esteem to Japan include two sculptures in the Nagasaki Peace Park, these cherry trees and the Japanese Garden at Como Park are living tributes from Japan to Saint Paul.

Photos: Student Research Conference awards

President’s Poster Award: Alex Hepp, Chidiebere Khannaroth, Brian Thill; The Making of a Death Star
President’s Paper Award: Kenneth Abbott; A Multi-Specialty Medical Mission for Syrian Refugees in Jordan
Best Project Award: Eric Fulwiler; Hosting Websites with a Raspberry Pi
Conference Organizer Award: Liz Tetu; Technopaganisms + Videogames
Runner Up: Ian Hamilton; Rimworld: Community Driven Game Development
Student Scholars Committee Award: Jill Fallon; Theories & Civic Engagement in Later Life
Runner Up: Shaun Hurley; Volunteering Hours and Tenure and it’s Relationship to Mood
Student Scholars Committee Award: Nikitha Kommera; Smart Augmented Reality in CyberSecurity and Forensic Education
Library Award: Rebecca Knuckles; Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Mortality Among America’s Elderly Population
Library Award: Donald Jones; Gesture and Memory
Runner Up: Brian Trac; Metroid’s Other M
Most Promising Research Award: Chris Kempe, Andrew VanDenBrocke, and Kate Ries; The Synthesis of 1,8-napthalamides in the Fluorescence Detection of Metal Ions through Chelation
Runner Up: Rhea Fofana; The Implementation of a Human Immunodeficiency (HIV) Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Program in an Urban Public Health Clinic: A Quality Improvement Project
Best Visuals Award: Kyle Jenness; History and Impact of Super Mario Brothers
Most Inspiring Research Award: Denny Yang, Students Salon: Sharing the Culmination of Student Artistry
People’s Choice Favorite Poster: *Names Not Available; The Network Thief
Runner Up: Randy Conaway: Effects that Social Media Has on Self-Esteem

School of Urban Education students featured in Linking Educators, Youth, and Learners in Computational Thinking Video

School of Urban Education students Vanessa Arboleda and Gretchen Henke are featured in this video that features the LinCT project (Linking Educators, Youth, and Learners in Computational Thinking) of which Urban Education is a partner with the Science Museum of Minnesota and St. Catherine’s University.

You can watch the video here:  LinCT Video

LinCT: Linking Educators, Youth, and Learners in Computational Thinking is a three-year ITEST Strategies project to build and grow a professional learning and teaching community to focus on engaging women educators with technology, building upon educational practice and preparing students for future STEM involvement.  It was first established in February 2016.


Nine named as Outstanding Students spring 2017

Nine students were named as Outstanding Students  for spring 2017 semester.  The students were recognized at Metropolitan State University’s 100th commencement exercise,  May 1, at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in Saint Paul. Approximately 1,100 students received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees with 761 students participating in the spring ceremony.

Dietrich Anderson, College of Community Studies and Public Affairs

Dietrich Anderson
Dietrich Anderson

Seven years ago, Dietrich Anderson, Roseville, was facing a judge in drug court. Today, Dietrich stands tall as a summa cum laude graduate with a degree in alcohol and drug counseling.

Working jobs in the food industry through most of his 20s and 30s, Anderson felt the wear of the grind. He was also in the throes of addiction, which made his life unmanageable. His self-worth at an all-time low, Anderson found himself in drug court.

“My journey to recovery started with my participation in the Dakota County Drug Court program. I would learn to love myself again and rediscover that I could make something of my life,” he said.

With this help and the support of his family, Anderson began his way to brighter future. He is graduating as the College of Community Studies and Public Affairs’ Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. He graduated with a degree in drug and alcohol counseling.

In 2014, Anderson transferred to Metropolitan State University from Saint Paul College. He immediately found support and direction in his advisor, Karin Jax. “Since day one she has been a true supporter, advisor, and cheerleader for my success while at Metro,” Anderson said. Anderson also credits several other faculty members who regularly went above and beyond to enrich his experience at Metropolitan State.

Anderson worked two jobs through most of his college experience. He eventually left one of those jobs in favor of a full-time internship. He credits maintaining his sobriety and practicing self-care for keeping him successful in his studies and work life.

“Being in recovery is like having diabetes; one has to continually do maintenance,” he says.

Anderson maintains his healthy lifestyle by staying busy, and it means a lot to him to remain accountable to family and friends. Currently, Anderson is interning with NuWay House, Inc., a private, nonprofit organization that serves people recovering from substance use and mental health disorders. After graduation, Anderson hopes to become a licensed drug and alcohol counselor with NuWay House, Inc. He recently applied and interviewed for a master’s program at Metropolitan State University, and his ambitions don’t stop there.

“I may even go on to get my PhD in mental health someday, but one step at a time.”

Erin Crosby, College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Erin Crosby

Years ago, Erin Crosby, Minneapolis, was living a self-described carefree life.

“I spent most of my free time playing tennis, and working four-hour shifts in a toy store,” she said.

Crosby wished she could have warned herself for the future.

“Now that I’m in grad school full time and working 12-hour shifts in a hospital, I can’t believe I could ever find anything to complain about,” she says. “If I had a time machine, I would certainly have some sage advice for 15-year-old Erin.

A lot of hard work later, Crosby is graduating as the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. She graduated with a Doctorate of Nursing Practice.

She describes her time at Metropolitan State University as “glorious; busy.” Sacrificing time with family, and maintaining her own sanity proved be challenging during Crosby’s four years at Metropolitan State.

“The biggest challenge being an adult student is to find a balance between school, my family, friends, work, and my sanity,” she said.

For Crosby, graduation means her husband never having to hear about advanced care planning, or any number of the projects that took over her life for two years. Graduation also marks the end of an era.

“I’ve overcome many challenges, and made a lot of sacrifices. I’d like to say that I should get all the credit, but truthfully, the people who should be getting recognized are those who provided unwavering, endless encouragement for someone in full-time school. The support from them means everything to me,” Crosby said.

Outside of school and work, Crosby likes to wake up early, drink “loads of coffee,” and enjoys some time to herself. She also exercises and takes various fitness classes, including an aerial fitness class.

With more free time, Crosby looks forward to enjoying her family and friends, including the friends she made at Metropolitan State University.

“We were all strangers in the beginning of this journey, which feels like a lifetime ago. I have made many lifelong friends, and cannot wait to see what we all do in the future. I have learned so much from the other students and professors, and am grateful for all of them.”

Katrinna Dexter, School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

Katrinna Dexter, Rochester, had already double-majored in criminal justice and psychology before deciding to return to school to obtain her master’s degree. Dexter found the master’s program in criminal justice offered by Metropolitan State University, was a perfect fit and she never looked back.

“I have been enrolled at Metro for the past two years in the masters of science in criminal justice program where I have maintained a 4.0 GPA… it is extremely important to both me and my family and I cherish the accomplishment,” Dexter said about her most recent scholarly endeavor.

Dexter is graduating as the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. She will graduate with her master’s of science in criminal justice degree .

Having her master’s degree isn’t enough for Dexter. She plans to continue her education; setting her sights on juris doctor, as well as doctor of philosophy degrees. “I look forward to advancing my education, while simultaneously building a national platform to impact the way our juvenile justice system works for and treats youth,” Dexter says.

Already having worked in nearly every aspect of the criminal justice field, Dexter will continue on her path to educational greatness, with her focus on the equitable treatment of youth within our justice system.

Kay Erwin, College of Management

Kay Erwin

Raising children, volunteering, and taking classes at her local community college, Kay Erwin, Rochester, found herself at a crossroads: “I was worried that my job might be eliminated and I wouldn’t be able to acquire an equal job without a bachelor’s degree, so I made the decision to enroll at Metropolitan State University.”

Balancing work, family and school, Erwin was rarely seen without her homework nearby.

“I would do homework after work, before work, on vacation, in the car (as a passenger); I spent almost all my lunch hours shut away in a conference room doing homework,” she says.

Through to her diligence, and the help around the house from her husband, Erwin is now graduating as the College of Management’s Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration.

Erwin was proud to have the opportunity to set an example for her children, “they have watched me successfully balance family, work, school, and volunteer service,” she says. “They were able to see, from my example, that great effort yields great results.” Her family plans a celebratory trip to Florida later this year.

Although content with her current employer, Erwin hopes to use her new degree to leverage herself into a new position, “where I am making a difference in the lives of those in our community. My goal is not to make large sums of money but rather to bring others up by helping them to meet basic needs and ultimately realize their potential – just as I have through completing my degree.”

With her newfound free time, Erwin will continue to find fulfillment and happiness through volunteering. She can also be found in her garden, paddling her canoe, and traveling.

Tom Krueger, School of Urban Education

Tom Krueger
Tom Krueger

Tom Krueger, Minneapolis, is a familiar face in the Minnesota theater scene. As a board member and coordinator of student leadership of the Minnesota Thespians, he has organized year-round youth leadership development for 18 students from around Minnesota.

Krueger has also coordinated with high school educators and the Guthrie Theater Education Department to strengthen educational theater across the state. In this role, he collaborated with students and production staff, producing all-state shows, empowering students to use theater as a vehicle for social change. He has also been involved with the Rosetown Playhouse where he has been both the project manager as well as stage manager. Here, Krueger helped coordinate the Karen Summer Play for middle and high school students who are refugees. Krueger also worked to support multigenerational cast, volunteers, and staff for productions involving more than 100 participants.

Krueger is graduating as the Metropolitan State University’s School of Urban Education Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

Krueger works in human resources for the Roseville Area Schools district. He negotiates contracts on behalf of the district as well as supporting the district through hiring and onboarding new employees. He is the recipient of the City of Roseville Human Rights Commission Award for his work with the Roseville Area Middle School Theatre Program. He works to set a tone for cultural competence and equity for applicants and current employees.

Krueger also serves his community through volunteering with a number of organizations, including Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Minneapolis NAACP, The Friendly Streets Initiative, Nice Ride Minnesota, and Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition. He is also a frequent observer at Minneapolis Public Schools board meetings.

Bukola Oriola, College of Individualized Studies

Bukola Oriola
Bukola Oriola

The College of Individualized Studies Outstanding Student for spring 2016 semester and student speaker at Metropolitan State University’s 100th commencement exercise is Bukola Oriola, Anoka.

She was presented with a bachelor’s degree in individualized studies with focus on community leadership and diversity.

Oriola is a Twin Cities activist and internationally-known figure for her advocacy work in the fight against human trafficking. In 2005, Oriola left her life and her publishing job in Nigeria in favor of a new life in the United States. Not long after arriving, she found herself in an abusive relationship and spent two years living the horror that is human trafficking. Oriola was able to remove herself from that situation and was determined to help others. Already holding a degree in mass communications, Oriola decided to return to school, and in 2014 she enrolled in the individualized studies program at Metropolitan State University.

“College is where you learn to project yourself in ways that people can understand and you can positively impact the community,” she says.

Through her advocacy and degree program work, in 2016, Oriola was appointed to a two-year term on the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. In that year, she traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend an inaugural meeting of the council with then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Before her return to university, Oriola braided hair to make ends meet. She was nervous about returning to school, but in her upbringing education was a priority. Her parents made sure that all of their children graduated from college.

“I watched my parents sell our most prized belongings to put us through school,” she said of her parents’ dedication.

As part of Oriola’s individualized studies program, she and another Metropolitan State student researched and designed a trip to Nigeria to visit colleges and polytechnic schools to spread a message of hope and speak about her experiences in human trafficking. The trip proved to be a massive success; their message reached an estimated 20 million students in just ten days.

Oriola is now graduating with honors and was even asked to speak at her commencement ceremony. Graduating is bittersweet for Oriola, because her parents have died, and most of her family will not be able to travel to the U.S. to celebrate with her. She looks forward to having more time to dedicate to “being the voice for victims and survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.”

Betsy Salvatore, College of Liberal Arts

Betsy Salvatore
Betsy Salvatore

For years, Betsy Salvatore, Shoreview, was a busy stay-at-home mom. She volunteered in the classroom, designed the newsletter for her kids’ elementary school, created websites for two of her children’s sports teams, and co-directed a district-wide race. Salvatore put aside her lifelong dream of attending college to see her kids through their own college experiences.

“My top priority was raising our four children,” she said.

In January 2014, with three daughters holding doctoral degrees and a son well on his way to graduating, Salvatore enrolled at Metropolitan State University. She set her sights on a technical communication and professional writing major and never looked back. She wasted no time getting involved at Metropolitan State.

“For two years, I was the layout/designer for Haute Dish: The Arts and Literature Magazine of Metropolitan State University,” she said.

 Representing Haute Dish, Salvatore was a student panelist for the “Publishing Student Work: How University Literary Magazines Foster Access, Equity, Growth and Self-Confidence in Writing Studies” presentations at the Minnesota Writing and English Conference in April 2016. She also interned at Thompson Reuters as a learning and development designer.

Salvatore is graduating as the College of Liberal Arts’ Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. She will graduate summa cum laude with a technical communication and professional writing degree.

Graduating with her bachelor’s degree means the world to Salvatore.

“Although it took me a long time to get here—37 years on and off—it was a dream I never gave up on,” she said. “I instilled the importance of education in our children… my family knows how I longed to earn my degree, and they’re thrilled for me and my accomplishments.”

After graduation, Salvatore will consider pursuing a master’s degree in technical communication. She also looks forward to having more time for reading and spending time with family and friends.

Judy Worrell, School of Nursing

Judy Worrell
Judy Worrell

After a successful career in business, including a 23-year run as chief financial officer at a product design firm which she co-founded, Judy Worrell, Minneapolis, was ready for a change.

As a high schooler, Worrell was one of two students selected for a nursing pilot program, which emphasized the nursing specialty of respiratory medicine. Worrell found her passion in nursing and graduated an “A” student. From college, Worrell was hired as a supervisor to open the new Respiratory Medicine Department at Purdue University (in Lafayette, Ind.). She later left the nursing field in favor of a career in business.

“I always had the plan to retire early from my career in business to return to my first career and love of nursing,” she said. “After my return to college, I graduated with a 4.0 GPA and returned to my love of nursing as registered nurse.”

At a time when many of her peers are either about to or have retired, Worrell decided to step her game up—again—and enrolled in the bachelor of science in nursing program at Metropolitan State University. In the program, Worrell achieved a 4.0 GPA and is working as a registered nurse. She will graduate as the College of Nursing and Health Sciences’ Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. She will graduate with a bachelor’s of science in nursing degree.

Worrell plans to begin a nursing educator master’s degree program in June.

“I have no intention of retiring and hope to be teaching and working with the next generation of nursing students very soon,” she said.

Beyond the hospital and the classroom, Worrell and her family serve the community in several ways. Over 15 years, Worrell was a foster mother and took in 60 newborn babies into her family’s home. Since 2001, Worrell has been an advocate for Vietnamese immigrants in accessing medical and legal care and resources. She also served on the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and was asked to testify twice in front of the Minnesota Legislature regarding the need for housing for people with disabilities.

Worrell and her husband Bob have five children and ten grandchildren. She enjoys having a house full of family and spending time at their lake house in the summer.

Jabir Yusuf, College of Management

Jabir Yusuf
Jabir Yusuf

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering from the University of Mumbai, Jabir Yusuf, Maple Grove, moved to the United States. He initially worked in IT, and soon found himself in leadership and management positions with several Fortune 500 companies.

Jabir was the director of project management at Optum, and oversaw a team of project managers, as well other projects in the health care domain. Even with these responsibilities and a family, Jabir always dreamed of obtaining a graduate degree and he returned to school by enrolling into the master of business administration program at Metropolitan State University.

In the program, Jabir maintained a 3.93 GPA, while enrolled in the MBA program with double concentrations in management information systems and Project Management. Jabir found his mid-career return to school to be intellectually stimulating, and he appreciates meeting a community of students with diverse backgrounds.

Jabir is graduating as the College of Management’s Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. He will graduate with his MBA from the College of Management.

“The MBA program at Metropolitan State University has provided me with an in-depth, thorough understanding of how successful businesses are managed and will enable me to contribute more effectively as a leader in complex and changing organizations within a highly global economy,” Jabir says.

When not working or furthering his education, Jabir is active in his community, and volunteers at his local community center and on several committees. He also participates in interfaith events that promote better understanding between different faiths. Jabir is also the volunteer coordinator at Optum, organizing group events at Feed My Starving Children, and leads Peer Leadership and Community of Excellence forums. Jabir and his family have traveled to several European countries and they return to India for biennial visits to extended family and friends.

Armed with his fresh MBA, Jabir says his “aim is to attain a senior leadership position in my organization by taking up more responsibilities in the Project Management Organization (PMO).” He looks forward to climbing the ranks within the organization.

Heidi Zimmerman, College of Sciences

Heidi Zimmermann
Heidi Zimmermann

Returning to school after not stepping foot into a classroom for 16 years can be intimidating. After more than a decade as a veterinary nurse and seven years giving private piano lessons, Heidi Zimmermann, New Ulm, was ready for a change and set her sights on a bachelor of arts in biology degree.

“I was always a little anxious before starting every new class as I was pretty sure I would be one of the oldest students in the class,” she says. Her anxiety proved to be not enough to prevent her from her goals.

Zimmermann enrolled at Metropolitan State University in fall 2012. In 2014, Zimmermann learned she was pregnant and decided to take a short break from her studies, as she knew she wouldn’t be able to immerse herself in school the way she had the two years prior. It wasn’t long before she was back in the classroom, however.

“I knew if I did not go back right away, I may never have. The most challenging part became dividing up time between my daughter and husband, work, and doing well in school,” Zimmerman said. “I realized I couldn’t give the kind of time to studies that I had before, so I really tried for quality in small bits, instead of quantity.”

Zimmerman graduated as the Metropolitan State University College of Sciences’ Outstanding Student for spring 2017 semester. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology.

For Zimmermann and her family, graduation means the “steady marathon” is over, along with the sickness that comes prior to an exam.

“My husband won’t miss pretending to care about exothermic and endothermic reactions or the importance of Paneth cells in our intestines,” she says. Zimmermann plans to continue with education and work toward a career in health care or laboratory science.

As she prepares for a move this summer, Zimmermann enjoys time with her daughter and husband, and bakes along to “The Great British Baking Show,” perhaps too ambitiously. When she’s not actually baking, Zimmermann dreams of owning her own food truck, slinging savory-baked delights throughout her neighborhood.

Partnership of School of Urban Education and Hopkins Public Schools will ease barriers and increase teacher diversity

An ongoing effort by Metropolitan State University and other groups to increase teacher diversity in Minnesota will see fruition with the signing of an agreement that will ease barriers of entry for prospective teachers of color and place them at work in Hopkins Public Schools.

Currently, nearly 30 percent of students in Minnesota schools are students of color and American Indian students, yet 4 percent of their teachers are of color or American Indian. The gap is even wider in many Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota schools with a majority of students of color and American Indian students. Metropolitan State’s School of Urban Education prepares more teachers of color than any other program in the state; currently there are 320 teacher candidates in six licensure programs, and 50 percent are candidates of color.

Representatives from Hopkins School Board and Metropolitan State University’s School of Urban Education (UED) signed the partnership agreement at a School Board Meeting, May 2, at the Eisenhower Community Center (room 233), 1001 MN-7, Hopkins, Minn.

Joe Nathan: All students benefit from diversity among teachers

Hopkins Public Schools is taking an innovative approach made possible during the 2016 legislative session with flexibility to the use of K-12 Achievement and Integration funding to increase K-12 student’s “equitable access to effective and diverse teachers.” The district will hire three UED student teachers as paid “interns” to complete their student teaching experience which is traditionally unpaid.  Increasingly, student teaching is a financial barrier to the profession during the intensive and culminating 12-week, full-time experience during which it is extremely difficult to work any other job to pay for tuition and living expenses. Hopkins will also give priority consideration to UED graduates for licensed teaching positions. Metropolitan State signed an innovative agreement with ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools in January 2017 that provides district paraprofessionals paid leave to student teach within Osseo.

Hopkins Public Schools is an award-winning kindergarten through 12th grade school district serving the city of Hopkins, most of Minnetonka, about half of Golden Valley, and portions of Eden Prairie, Edina, Plymouth, and St. Louis Park. In the 2015-2016 academic year, the district enrolled a richly-diverse K-12 population of about 6,860 students represented by nearly 43 percent students of color and 9 percent English language learners.

The partnership is a result of ongoing legislative advocacy by the Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota to increase teacher diversity across the state. Metropolitan State and Hopkins Public Schools are joined with other concerned universities, districts and organizations in this new coalition formed around the common goal to double, by 2020, the current number of teachers of color in the state and ensure that 20 percent of candidates in the teacher preparation pipeline are persons of color or American Indian.

Last August, Metropolitan State University hosted a unique conference organized by the Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota designed explicitly for current and aspiring teachers of color. The event was attended by 250 people from more than 100 organizations, school districts, institutions and various racial/ethnic communities throughout the state. The 2017 conference will also be held August 9-11 at Metropolitan State.

The coalition advocates at the state and local levels for the following policies and investments for systemic change needed to address major barriers to the profession and diversify the teacher workforce in the state:

  • Increasing pathways for diverse youth, paraprofessionals and career changers to enter the teaching profession
  • Eliminating discriminatory teacher testing requirements
  • Providing scholarship incentives, student teaching stipends, and loan forgiveness for teaching service
  • Providing induction and retention support
  • Making changes to ensure climate and curriculum are inclusive and culturally relevant in K-12 schools and teacher preparation programs

Outstanding Student Bukola Oriola selected commencement speaker

Metropolitan State University celebrated its 100th commencement exercise, May 1. The student speaker, Bukola Oriola, College of Individualized Studies Outstanding Student, graduated with her bachelor’s degree in individualized studies with focus on community leadership and diversity.

Approximately 1,100 students  received  their bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, and  761 students participate in the commencement exercise hosted at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium at Saint Paul RiverCentre.

Bukola Oriola will be the student speaker at the Spring 2017 commencement exercise.

Oriola is a Twin Cities activist and internationally-known figure for her advocacy work in the fight against human trafficking. In 2005, Oriola left her life and her publishing job in Nigeria in favor of a new life in the United States. Not long after arriving, she found herself in an abusive relationship and spent two years living the horror that is human trafficking. Oriola was able to remove herself from that situation and was determined to help others. Already holding a degree in mass communications in Nigeria, Oriola decided to return to school, and in 2014 she enrolled in the individualized studies program at Metropolitan State University.

“College is where you learn to project yourself in ways that people can understand and you can positively impact the community,” she says.

Through her advocacy and degree program work, in 2016, Oriola was appointed to a two-year term on the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. In that year, she traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend an inaugural meeting of the council with then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Before her return to university, Oriola braided hair to make ends meet. She was nervous about returning to school, but in her upbringing education was a priority. Her parents made sure that all of their children graduated from college.

“I watched my parents sell our most prized belongings to put us through school,” she said of her parents’ dedication.

As part of Oriola’s individualized studies program, she and another Metropolitan State student researched and designed a trip to Nigeria to visit colleges and polytechnic schools to spread a message of hope and speak about her experiences in human trafficking. The trip proved to be a massive success; their message reached an estimated 20 million students in just ten days.

Oriola graduated with honors and was the student speaker at her commencement ceremony. Graduating is bittersweet for Oriola, because her parents are deceased and most of her family are unable to travel to the U.S. to celebrate with her. She looks forward to having more time to dedicate to “being the voice for victims and survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.”