Who We Are: Jennifer Rhee

Jenn RheeMy journey as a graduate student is divided into two parts.  During the first part, I taught English at Wilmette Junior High and decided to explore the MALS program.  Unlike several of my colleagues, I did not want to pursue a master’s in education; instead I wanted to garner more knowledge in my content area.

I had always liked writing and had been fairly successful at it, however, I did not view writing as my strength.  I took a language and style class with a linguistics focus and then found the WRD (Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse) department and became hooked, finishing my MALS program with four WRD courses.  The WRD courses were challenging, learning and approximating a new discourse, and I believed understanding language and being able to communicate effectively was a necessary skill for students to enter into academic discourse with confidence.

Teaching Writing with Jennifer O’Brien was the last class I took before my Capstone course, Digital Storytelling.  Jennifer O’Brien designed the course through various teaching pedagogies like genre, multimodal, critical, ethnography, translingual, and transfer. O’Brien’s class did two specific things for me as a student and professional educator.  First O’Brien made me think like a teacher once again with coherence in my pedagogy. Secondly, Jennifer O’Brien became a mentor to me even though I probably surpassed her in age by over ten years.  She dismantled the power structure that often exists between a student and teacher and allowed me to think like an educator once again.  This class, more than any other graduate class I have taken, gave me the academic freedom and grace to make it my own and define myself through a pedagogical lens that was both theory-based and practical, embodying transfer theory through praxis.

My undergraduate journey was a straight path leading to a career in teaching, whereas my graduate journey was a country mile with curves, pauses, new paths each leading back to where I started.  I am an educator, a teacher, … and I am moved by my education and am ready to empower others to be and do the same.

Who We Are: Kelly Ferrell

Kelly FerrellKelly Ferrell, MALS 2016

I have gone through many personal transitions throughout my MALS program.  I will be retiring from federal government service after more than 13 years, and seeking job opportunities in the private sector.  My MALS degree, which started out as a quest for personal fulfillment and development, has now become an integral part in securing future employment.  I will be much more competitive in the private sector with a DePaul MALS degree.

I can honestly say I am a different person than I was almost a decade ago when I entered the MALS program, idealistic and young.  I am very appreciative of the opportunity to grow as a person through the MALS program.  I enjoy learning about a variety of topics and this program has allowed me to do just that.  My transcript demonstrates a variety of interdisciplinary courses and an understanding of historic and social contexts that have shaped and changed our modern world.  My business and leadership courses have taught me the values and leadership and management styles necessary to create and sustain ethical organizations.  I have faced personal and professional challenges over the years, and the MALS program has been a creative and challenging outlet of expression.

My grandma got her pilot’s license and attended law school while raising six children.  She became an attorney, a judge, and retired as a Commissioner.  She is 93 years old; she tap dances and exercises regularly.  Her secret to a long life is to always keep moving and never stop learning.  I will undoubtedly miss the academic stimulation of the MALS program, but I am prepared to confidently enter a new career path as DePaul MALS graduate.

Start your self-constructed educational journey today by contacting the DePaul MALS/IDS program.

Who We Are: Alia Ibrahim

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Alia Ibrahim, IDS, 2016

My IDS program helped me to discover my passion and place in the world, enabled me to develop sharp critical thinking skills, and contributed to my ability to succeed professionally. Currently, I work at as an International Patient Services Coordinator at a prestigious Midwest medical facility in the International Programs department. Many of the skills I have acquired enable me to provide a bridge for international patients to obtain the medical care they need in a culturally and racially sensitive manner. Current policies and research support the notion that healthcare is best delivered in a culturally sensitive manner, which can sometimes be difficult in a racially and culturally diverse setting. My expertise from my personal and educational background has enabled me to work with various organizations that serve Arab and Muslim populations.

Being raised in an ethnocentric Arab Muslim community in Chicago created a murky set of Arab values to negotiate in an American context. One side of my family was governed by “proper” and “respectable” conservative Arab and Muslim values; the other side of my family is from a German working class background in Pennsylvania. My reality was shaped by these seemingly diametrical opposites – a culmination of Orientalism and its antithesis. My undergraduate background is in Political Science, and I became interested in Middle Eastern Politics because of my bicultural upbringing as an Arab American and experience of being racialized after 9/11.

As I come to the end of my graduate career, I reflect back and see how each and every course impacted my ability to know myself and critically think about the factors that shaped my reality and how I interact with the world. I can trace the trajectory of my education as beginning without much grounding in the variables that shaped my existence. International Studies courses helped me connect historical events and systemic powers to my own experiences and positioning in the world. This was further explored in Women’s and Gender’s Studies courses, where I studied feminism and post-colonialism to reflect on how gender roles shape our experience in society. Finally, I moved into the Modern Languages program to focus on Arabic language and culture to gain more language and cultural competency skills. All of these disciplines have shaped my life today and empowered me to move on from being a shy girl who did not understand herself to a professional striving to bring cultures and nations together.

Start your self-constructed educational journey today by contacting the DePaul MALS/IDS program.

Who We Are: Kevin Moffat

Kevin Moffat, IDS, 2016

Kevin Moffat came to DePaul as an in-service educator wanting to expand his skills with a self-customized program that drew from a variety of fields including leadership and business.  In his original learning goal, Kevin wrote “The main focus of this goal was to think critically about my profession, and how I could incorporate my roots in education to sales and business management.”

DePaul’s MALS and IDS helped Kevin achieve this unique blend of fields to study.  Per Kevin, “I had a wonderful experience at DePaul, and have been fortunate enough to learn from great Professors. The insight I obtained through my courses has created a foundation for what I want my career to be in the future.”

As for those avenues of study applying to the real world, Kevin writes, “I can definitively say that working in an interdisciplinary program has given me a direction. Business, leadership, and education skills will always have relevance in the workplace at any level. Not every career path needs to be ‘black and white.’ This graduate program allowed me to see that, and truly become an engineer of innovation.”

Start your self-constructed educational journey today by contacting the DePaul MALS/IDS program.

Moffat Digication

Kevin Moffat’s portfolio homepage demonstrates how easy it is to make a bold statement in Digication. DePaul MALS / IDS requires a portfolio to be maintained for graduation; in addition, it is a great piece to add to a career portfolio.

Who We Are: Rachel Conrad

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Rachel Conrad, IDS, Current

Rachel Conrad comes to DePaul with a decade’s worth of teaching experience. She will use her self-constructed IDS program to carve out a fascinating niche of working with “third culture kids,” in order to “help them through their identity negotiation processes.” Her focus includes minority studies, non-fiction writing and story-telling,  along with educational theory.

While some would find returning to school daunting, Rachel sees it another way.  “After teaching and writing curriculum and obeying the ever-changing demands of state education for the past decade, I’m finding the freedom and singular concentration of the academic life highly liberating.”

DePaul’s LAS graduate programs offer students many conference opportunities.  Students are encouraged to participate in academic conferences as presenters and observers to the most current research and practice.  Rachel explains, “Because my topic is such a compilation, there’s no cohort or even one professor (that I’ve discovered yet) who is an expert in my field of study. But hey, that also means I’ve got center stage on any presenting/ publication opportunities.” As Rachel’s unique studies evolve, she has taken advantage of  DePaul conference events as a panel participant and presenter.

Start your self-constructed educational journey today by contacting the DePaul MALS/IDS program.

Who We Are: Megan Metzger

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Megan, left, and Sharon Needles at the 2012 Drag Stars at Sea cruise where fans and drag queens interact.

Megan Metzger, IDS, 2016

Megan Metzger’s field of study embodies what is amazing about DePaul’s self-constructed MALS and IDS programs.  Completing her IDS degree in 2016, her superfandom of RuPaul’s Drag Race led to work in several fields like Gender Studies and Media. Megan explains why such a range of classes was beneficial: “At DePaul not only did I become intimately familiar with the work of theorists like Michel Foucault and Audre Lorde, I also acquired skills that transcended the classroom. Skills like how to be more critical as a media consumer, or how to be a better feminist.

This work culminated in a thesis about RuPaul’s smash television show and led Megan to find her life meaning in a new field: TV Scholarship.  “My goal as a television scholar is to avoid giving into the trap of designating only certain kinds of TV as ‘worthy’ of academic pursuit. I like to analyze all media, especially the ‘trash.'”

Megan’s uniquely self-tailored program allowed her to find her calling but also put her on track to pursue a doctorate in the near future. “I am forever indebted to the IDS program at DePaul for allowing me to harness my pop culture predilections into a viable academic profession.

Start your self-constructed educational journey today by contacting the DePaul MALS/IDS program.

Who We Are: Hakki Gurkan

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Hakki Gurkan, MALS, 2016

Hakki Gurkan is a modern renaissance man with a background that varies from sound design to the military to the Chicago Police Department and more.  As a part of his academic journey, he took great pleasure in the self-tailored nature  MALS and IDS  has to offer at DePaul.  “I have an insatiable desire to learn and MALS pushed me towards exploration.  Not just exploration in an abstract sense, but to explore in a concrete manner, to develop so that I can deftly handle any challenges and obstacles.”  The exploration Hakki describes led to a tremendous result. “I’ve become a better leader and have been able to excel in my field while continually looking to better myself as a person.”

As a graduating student this year Hakki reflects on his time spent at DePaul.  “The interdisciplinary MALS program taught me to see every issue from multiple perspectives.  This sets me apart from some of my technically trained peers and colleagues.”  In addition to enhancing his leadership skills and creating a truly unique resume, Hakki  found immense satisfaction in DePaul’s customizable programs.  As he put it, “The MALS Program allowed me to task my intellect, to nourish and feed it!

For more on Hakki and other MALS/IDS students,  check out the DePaul MALS and IDS newsletter Convergence, coming in April.