First Gen | Student Parent | Digital Humanities & Pedagogy Graduate Student | Higher Education Professional
Talks about #graphicdesign, #peermentorship, #studentsuccess, #digitallearning, and #professionaldevelopment
Estefany Marlen Gonzaga is the Program Coordinator for LaGuardia’s Student Success Mentor (SSM) Program. In this role, she recruits, trains, and guides student leaders who mentor and support new-to-college students in the discipline-specific First-Year Seminar Studio Hour Lab. Having been a mentee and mentor herself, Estefany understands the value and impact of peer mentorship and leverages these experiences in her work with SSMs. Throughout her ten years in CUNY, she has listened to the reasons New Majority students go to college and captured their stories in the video “I am going to college because…” referenced in Cathy N. Davidson’s book The New Education. Estefany holds an Associate of Science in Business Administration from LaGuardia Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Communication (specialization in Graphic Communication) from Baruch College. In the Fall of 2022, she will continue her studies at the CUNY Graduate Center to pursue a Master of Arts in Digital Humanities, Digital Pedagogy.
First-generation college students are the first in their families to go to college. Since they are the first in their families, they are often left to figure out the complicated higher education system in the United States of America on their own. Without proper guidance, students can feel overwhelmed by filling out complex applications such as the FASFA and scholarship application and, among other unfamiliar tasks, to enroll and stay in college. They need help understanding college 101 terminology such as prerequisites, capstone, or hybrid. A lack of understanding of Student Success strategies such as time management, Habits of Mind, or navigating several digital tools can be detrimental to their college success. Because of such complicated and unfamiliar higher education territory, students can feel alone and as if they don’t belong in an institution of higher learning. They may also be unfamiliar with the college resources available, such as the Wellness Center, Tutoring Services, Offices of Accessibility, or the Ombudsman Office. This can cause students to get stressed, have anxiety, and, unfortunately, drop out of college.
Peer Mentorship via Social Media digital project aims to provide peer mentorship through platforms where students would most effectively receive information, such as social media platforms like Instagram or Tic Tok. This content would be created and curated by a team of mentorship experts, mentors, and mentees. The goal is for First Generation students to learn and be prepared to succeed in college regardless of the hurdles they may face.
The readings related to pedagogy allowed me to reflect and think about the work I do with students at LaGuardia Community College.
First-Year Seminar and Student Success Mentors
At LaGuardia Community College, I oversee the Student Success Mentor (SSM) Program. We hire 15 -20 students each semester. The SSMs in the program facilitate the studio hour lab session that is part of a discipline-specific First Year Seminar Course taught by faculty in the discipline and mentored by one of our SSMs. For example, if a first-year student is majoring in business, they will take the Business and Technology First Year Seminar Course. Currently, we have 16 discipline-specific courses. Our program serves approximately 2000 students who are enrolled in the First Year Seminar.
Learning Digital Communication Ability
Before students graduate and or transfer from our institution, they should learn Digital communication, Written Communication, and Oral communication as part of the Core Compemntices and Abilities. Students begin their development in Digital Communication Ability by creating their first Core ePortfolio on Digication. This ePortfolio goes on a journey with the student from the first semester at LaGuardia until their capstone course.
The Student Success Mentors play an instrumental role in helping students develop their first ePortfolio. Therefore, new SSMs undergo 30 hours of training (5 weeks) before facilitating their First Studio Hour. We touch on several topics ranging from the following:
College Resouce and etc.
New and Returning SSMs also participate in Professional Development every semester to go over any updates related to technology or topics that need to be addressed.
Community Building Through Collaborative Digital Blog Projects
For the last eight years, the Student Success Mentor Community is very strong. They support each other. Therefore, it’s important for us to create opportunities for SSMs to work together on different projects beginning with the Blog they create with New SSMs and Returning SSMs.
At the culmination of their New SSM Training, the program takes the New SSMs and returning SSMs on a trip to a cultural site. The aim of this trip is to help the New SSMs and Returning SSMs to connect with each other, but also connect the training topics to the artifacts they observe and analyzed at a cultural site. We have visited the MET, Ellis Island, Museum of the City of New York. We provide SSMs with prompts to help them think about what they learned during training and how it’s connected to the artifact. As a team, they come together to answer these questions. They are instructed to take videos, and pictures and take notes. One example is, at the MET, we asked teams to select one artifact they saw at an assigned exhibition and explain how this artifact represents one of the SSM Core Values and how it relates back to the work they will be doing with students once the semester begins.
What to do with media? Computer Literacy Skills
As a former student of graphic design and new media arts I know firsthand how important it is to organize, name, categorize, and backup media. One of the techniques I emphasize before we begin our exploration at the exhibit is to make sure that we have the media in one platform such as google drive to upload and share the media with team members along with any notes they are making as they are documenting their experience.
Putting it together!
In the following session, after they have gone to the cultural site, they meet in the lab. During this session, SSMs begin their work by creating a blog on ePortfolio with the information, videos, and photos they have gathered. As they are creating this blog in the lab, they are running from one computer to another. They are talking, laughing, and overall, helping each other build one blog. Once they have created their blog, they present the section of their blog. During the presentation, you can see the work that went behind creating this blog and how they all supported the work. They practice the digital communication skills they learned during training and also the different topics while creating a lasting community of mentors.
I made several annotations on the reading, as listed below. However, I would like to focus on three quotes. For each quote, I have provided a reason for annotation this quote. I aim to help students relate concepts or themes to their lives. Generally, when students relate the content to their experiences, I think they can better grasp and understand the concept.
Quote: ” Queen Victoria transformed into King Edward, ‘the fourth dimension’ became an everyday concept.”
Annotation: I am not familiar with this concept of ‘the fourth dimension that occurred a century ago. I need to research since I don’t know what transformation happened during this time.
Quote: “The modem’s faithful churn made it seem as if it were tunneling through to somewhere else, opening up a space for us to inhabit.”
Annotation: What does “tunneling through to somewhere else” look like in the digital world? Does that tunnel still exist?
Quote: “With the prospect of this fourth digital dimension, a moment can feel strangely flat if it exists solely in itself.”
Annotation: If you post an accomplishment on social media, does it feel “more real” than if you didn’t post it? Why?
Access to knowledge and technology was a common theme in the readings. It sparked a curiosity about Open Access and Open Educational Resources. Currently, at LaGuardia Community College, my colleagues are working on an OER project (Open Educational Resource). In a short interaction while at work, I briefly mentioned that I was learning about Open Access in my weekly readings. My colleague invited me to see a current OER project they are working on. Without really getting into details about my readings, the first thing they said was that they needed to figure out what platform they were going to use. Some factors to consider were cost, accessibility, and user experience. I immediately thought about the four heuristic questions in Introduction: The Questions of Minimal Computing. I especially thought about this question. “What do we have?”
“what do we have.” – CUNY Pressbooks.
Based on my conversation with my colleague, they used Pressbooks as the OER platform to create this project. Based on my understanding, I learned that CUNY has a subscription to this platform. I also learned that a team is behind this project, from professors to students. A grant is funding this work. Therefore, they can compensate students for their time creating content for this OER project.
I decided to create an account on Pressbooks and play around with the platform. I decided to “create” my first book titled hiking. It’s similar to word press. It has some book themes to choose from. I needed more time to learn about the features and tools on this platform, but it seemed straightforward and user-friendly. For practice, I decided to create a book called “Hiking.” I love hiking and spending my weekends year-round (weather and time permitting) in the mountains of the Hudson Valley and surrounding areas. I created a chapter called Hiking Breakneck Ridge, one of NYS’s most challenging hikes.
Who can afford $100+ Textbooks?
While playing around with the platform, I was thinking about textbooks in the sciences that are constantly being updated. Therefore, the content in the textbook in one year can be different the following year due to new scientific discoveries.
I think it’s ridiculous that students have to pay $100+ for a textbook, especially if they are going only to use it one time. However, I think we now have a solution for that. These platforms and OER projects allow for sharing knowledge with students and the public interested in a subject/topic.
How can OER textbooks and learning material support student success?
I think that OER textbooks and learning materials can support student success by alleviating this cost burden to students. Students shouldn’t be stressed by deciding to buy a textbook or paying for rent or their living expenses. They can instead use the money for their living expenses. It’s already expensive to live in the states. If OER can alleviate that stress, I think we need to move towards an educational system that will support all students to succeed by providing the materials necessary to achieve their goals and success.
This map represents the nine state and federally recognized Native American Nations in New York State. On this map, I also include the language they speak and the total enrollment number for each tribe. The Tribal Enrollment Number was based on the tribe’s websites.
In recent years, I’ve been interested in learning about my roots and ancestor. When I received my DNA results from Ancestry DNA, I was excited to learn where my bloodline came from. I always knew I had indigenous DNA since I was born in Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico. However, when I read that I had 68% Native American DNA from Central Mexico and 1% Indigenous Americas—Panama & Costa Rica, I felt a new sense of pride and identity. In my family, we never spoke about being indigenous or Native American. However, we embraced our culture and heritage. In the same sense, I felt I had the duty and curiosity to learn more about the Native Americans living in New York State and the Americas.
I could not get the total enrollment for Onondaga Nation and Tuscarora Nations since it was not on their website.
I did not know how to read the My Tribal Area website (United States Census Bureau), since the population included people not enrolled in the tribe. Based on the articles above, I don’t know if I can trust this website to represent tribal information.
Lack of time to learn Tableau
Who decides that a Native American Nation is recognized (state and federally)?
Why is there limited information on Tribal Enrollment?
Why are some Nations hesitant to partake in the Census?
What other Nations are in NYS that are not state or federally recognized?
Based on what I have seen on social media, people seem to be on journeys of healing trauma. I think we are in a beautiful moment in history, where people are starting to acknowledge their traumas (childhood, ancestral, relationships, etc.) and take steps to heal and recover. They are taking steps to reclaim their story. People are more open to expressing their mental health. Before social media, people would use a physical journal and pen to write about their daily struggles and keep these journals private. I am sure people still do this (I do); however, that journal (in a sense) has become digital through social media, and it is live and interactive since other people can read, comment, and react to it through an emoji. These journal entries have become social media posts.
In the same way, people are using these platforms to bring about healing to our society, community, and environment through technology by using social media, digital archives, podcasts, blogs, online courses, events, etc. Crimes, Injustices, and issues that were once “hidden under the rug” or ignored are coming to light. Through their healing journeys, people make an impact and create change in our communities and legal systems by being brave and sharing their stories about sexual harassment or discrimination committed against them. The camera on the phone has become a weapon to combat police brutality and call out the “Karens” in our communities.
Young people were often ignored before social media was a “thing.” However, I believe Millennials, especially Gen X, have used social media to advocate and bring awareness to human rights, animal rights, and environmental rights and promote education for all.
I think we have much more to improve technology to support humanity and teach consumers about technology to use it effectively in their daily lives. However, I believe technology should not control us but support our efforts to improve our society, world, and universe.
As I was reading the different readings assigned to us this week, my brain was trying to make sense of the different meanings, ideas, and perspectives of Digital Humanities. I was thinking about it must be exciting that this field is new and how everyone is trying to come up with a definition. It seems like collectively, scholars are trying to put it in a box with instructions on how to handle it (not exciting).
From the first reading, The Digital Humanities Moment (2012 – until A DH that Matter (2019) – there seems to be a massive change in definition and approach. However, we all know that as of today, September 2022 – that definition is only more complex as we just underwent a substantial transformative change in our society due to the pandemic, especially in related to technology and humankind.
As I looked through the different websites, my mind shut off its analytical functions, and then I started to get emotional looking through visual projects of DH. The Early Caribbean Digital Archive & Colored Conventions Project DH projects serve to preserve history (good and bad) and educate students. The Torn Apart / Separados informs the public of our inhumane and corrupt politics that hurt our vulnerable friends, family, classmates, students, and friends. However, it can also be a tool for advocacy and promoting changes for people who want to support immigrant rights.
Based on the readings and sites, it seems there would never be a defined definition or approach to Digital Humanities since humanity and technology are ever-changing. Instead, I think Digital Humanities can support the relationship between technology and human being. DH should not be in a box but flow like moving water.