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Recent Graduates


Juan de Dios Pineda is a Ph.D. graduate of LLSS. He is currently at the University of New Mexico as the Director of the Special Office for Latin American Initiatives. According to Dr. Pineda, the extensive literature about social awareness and critical theory he studied in the Ph.D. program at the University of New Mexico has allowed him to understand students, professors, and public administrators from Latin American universities and be a part of America higher education institutions such as the University of New Mexico. Dr. Pineda is currently conference chair of a 2008 Inaugural Conference titled "Latin American Network and Public Policy."


Mary E. Earick received her Ph.D. in LLSS in 2006. She is currently at the University of South Carolina as an assistant professor in Instruction and Teacher Education. Her upcoming book is Racially Equitable Teaching: Beyond the Whiteness of Professional Development for Early Childhood Educators with Peter Lang's Rethinking Childhood Series (Peter Lang, in press). Teachers in South Carolina are using critical theory of the kind she discusses in the book and co-conducting transformative action research focused on the impact text, linguistic, and image artifacts have on forming academic identities of elementary age children.

She is also involved in a nature-based inquiry project with the Georgetown County School District in South Carolina, which focuses on the role of geographic and cultural relevancy in early childhood literacy.

According to Dr. Earick, her LLSS program "stressed depth of knowledge and focused research through mentorship from culturally and politically diverse faculty...In addition, LLSS encouraged cross-discipline study that added multiple and diverse lenses to our theoretical frameworks, preparing us to clearly and transparently communicate our research to colleagues and students."


Robert F. George received his Ph.D. in LLSS in May 2007. He is currently working at Wheeling Jesuit University as Program Director for Nuclear Medicine Technology. He says his involvement in the LLSS program prepared him for his current position: "LLSS gave me the added preparation to incorporate an examination of how sociocultural differences impact healthcare quality and access for many groups of people. As each semester passes, we have added more activities that involve students with community action groups. Students do community service that involves everything from presenting health information to community groups to participation in peace activities designed to confront the larger aspect of social injustice."

Dr. George and the academic clinical coordinator at his institution recently conducted an all-day workshop at the Appalachian College Association. In their presentation, "Making Education Real for Students: The Role of Distance Learning," they emphasized the need for a holistic education that included both technical and sociocultural aspects as well as the development of critical thinking skills.


Julie Horwitz is an associate professor and director of field experience at Western New Mexico University. She received her Ph.D. in LLSS in December 2007. About the LLSS program, Dr. Horwitz says, "I was not forced into a program that others wanted me to study, instead I was guided to find answers to my questions and curiosities. I worked with wonderful professors who helped me learn not only the theoretical importance of teacher education but also the practical application."

Dr. Horwitz is currently working on a book chapter in an edited volume out of South Africa about self-study in the human service fields.


sj Miller is an assistant professor of secondary English education in the Department of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She was recently appointed as co-chair of the Master of Arts in the Teaching of English Program at IUP. sj received her Ph.D. from LLSS in 2005.

Dr. Miller says that the critical pedagogical framework she studied in LLSS "has impacted my teaching environment as we have revised all of our English education courses to include aspects of sociocultural issues with an emphasis on social justice."

sj is co-author of Unpacking the Loaded Teacher Matrix (Peter Lang, 2007), which won the Richard A. Meade award for excellence in research and writing in English education and teacher preparation from the National Council of Teachers of English. She has also recently been appointed as national co-chair of the Conference on English Education Commission for Social Justice.


Jessica Estrella Torrez is an assistant professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University; she also is a member of the core faculty in MSU's Chicano/Latino Studies Program. She graduated from LLSS with a Ph.D. in December 2008. LLSS prepared her to be a critical scholar and to work in her current program, which "stresses that students and faculty members work with the community in a multitude of ways while striving to maintain a social justice component."

Dr. Torrez has been asked to lead a first-year study abroad trip to Oaxaca for summer of 2009, as well as a study abroad trip for CAMP students (College Assistance Migrant Program) to Merida, Mexico. She has also been asked to be core faculty in the Center for Gender in Global Context at Michigan State.