Education Coffee Chat

Yesterday I had a great chat with fellow educator, Sherita Love. I met Sherita at Venture Cafe a couple of weeks ago where she put together a panel of other talented educators. This panel spoke about the education inequalities and in the area and what they were doing to examine and affect the problem.

The panel only was able to chat shortly because the audience felt they needed a forum to speak. We need to have roundtables here in St. Louis to talk about education and the awesome programs working to impact education. Sherita is making sure more forums for conversations are open, but people interested in chatting about education need to attend. The best collaborations and ideas can come out of the most unexpected places.

At our coffee chat, Sherita and I talked about some of the needs in the St. Louis area. We talked about assumptions, college readiness (& awareness), education diversity, parent advocacy, transition planning, volunteering, etc. We also talked about cool stuff happening around the St. Louis area to affect education. One such cool thing is the organization Sherita co-founded with another great educator: GLAMM. This is just one of the many cool projects and programs happening around the area. See how you can get involved!

There will be plenty of upcoming conversations about education happening in St. Louis. I’ll post about them here, but would love to see you there! Education is everyone’s right and everyone’s responsibility. Think about how you can make a change in someone’s education. It may be small to you, but huge to them.

My dissertation defense: Experiences of College Students with Disabilities

My dissertation is titled An Exploration of the Lived Experiences of College Students with Disabilities. Some of my friends and colleagues attended to hear the great research. Now you get to watch it and share it with your friends and colleagues! The SlideShare is below as well.

Cookies, Candy, and Qualitative Research

Thursday, July 21 at 1 pm CT have my public defense of my dissertation: An exploration of the lived experiences of college students with disabilities (my dissertation abstract).

All are welcome to attend, or email me if you’d like the link to the live cast. If you come in person, you’ll be able to enjoy homemade cookies. Otherwise, you’ll have to BYOC.

Victim blaming has got to STOP!

We have all heard it. Some may even slip into it accidentally. We may not recognize it.

Victim blaming.

Victim blaming can happen with any sort of crime.

“Oh, they shouldn’t leave their curtains open because people can see right in!”

They shouldn’t have been out so late at night.”

Sexual harassment
“Well, she shouldn’t wear such revealing clothing.”

“What did they expect driving through a predominately white neighborhood!?”

Sexual assault
She was asking for it.”
She made me want her.”
She said ‘yes’ once before.”
She sent me the wrong message.”
She shouldn’t have gotten drunk.”
“I couldn’t help it. She has a hot body.”
She’s the one who decided to break up with me.”
“If she didn’t want to be raped, she shouldn’t have worn that.”

The list for sexual assault victim blaming, just like in the crimes above, goes on and on. The difference with racism and sexual assault are those are crimes against a person. A violation of their human rights. Racism and sexual assault are NEVER the victim’s fault. For this piece, I’m going to focus on sexual assault considering the recent events in the Stanford rapist case.

Sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault.

Maybe someone can tell this to the Stanford rapist and his father. Brock Turner was sentenced to merely 6 months in county jail for violently raping a woman while unconscious (please read her powerful letter addressing the court and Brock) after dragging her behind a dumpster and manipulating her clothes so he could access her breasts and genitals. The maximum was 14 years and prosecution only asked for 6 years.

Dan Turner, father of convicted rapist Brock Turner, wrote some interesting pieces in his letter to the court of Brock’s sentencing: “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action…” He’s 20 years-old and you have failed to teach your son how to respect other humans. I don’t care about how much weight he’s lost. I could give a crap less about his Olympic potential. He. Raped. Another. Person. He made his choice that night in January and now he has to suffer the consequences, which are all too light. But by far, my favorite quote is: “Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.”

Yes. Alcohol and sexual promiscuity made him do it.

First, alcohol. So there were how many other drunk people at that frat party and how many of them raped other people? How many people get sloshed at bars across every American city each day of the week and how many rapes are caused by that daily consumption of alcohol?

Now, sexual promiscuity. We talked about this above. Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Not ever. But damn that woman for wearing a beige cardigan and a dress! How sexually promiscuous! BEIGE! I have never seen anything hotter than a beige cardigan. Even had she been naked, she should not have been raped or even touched.

He chose her because she was drunk. He sought her out because she was the wounded giselle separated from the herd. And this predator only gets 6 months in jail so he can go tell women at colleges across America how to not turn on men so they don’t get raped.

Read more…


Oklahoma police officer explains how to avoid sexual assault 

The police brutality chiefs ignore

Have Courage and Be Kind

Hello! If you all are visiting my site from Craig and Katy’s project, the Art of Survival, thank you for taking an interest in ending sexual assault. If you have not already, do check out their project about sexual assault during the month of April. We all want the same thing: to bring awareness to sexual assault.

Did you know April is Sexual Assault Awareness month? I didn’t either until Craig reached out to me about sharing my story on the Art of Survival project. In conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness month, I have committed to 30 days of writing about sexual assault. I know this is going to be particularly emotional for me at times, but if I’m quiet, he wins, and the cycle continues with new victims like me.

Sorry for the hiatus April 3 and 4. I had to take a break from writing about sexual assault. I was beginning to have nightmares again and relive it during my waking hours. I honestly thought about scrapping the commitment. This, I hope, shows you how sexual assault can affect the person for their whole life, and, how we must always have courage.

One of my favorite quotes comes from a 2015 Cinderella remake, “Have courage and be kind.”

When dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault or working with a victim, remember to have courage and be kind. It’s not their fault. There are many stakeholders to deal with in situations like this, but only one enemy: sexual assault.

Remember who the real enemy is, have courage and be kind.

Who are you?

Currently I am listening to the audiobook of Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (she’s the writer behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, awesome TV, etc.).

Yesterday Shonda read a chapter and basically posed the question for readers to ask themselves “Who am I?”

This is the second time I have heard that phrase this week, in suggestion for the listener to ask themselves. The first time, I sat and thought, “Wow. I don’t know. I’m nobody.”

Today I am writing my methodology chapter for my research proposal for my dissertation. I read my “Personal Truths” section I wrote some months ago. I got teary eyed.

While I won’t bore you with the whole bit, here is a section of my “Personal Truths.”

This is who I am:

The researcher recognizes several personal truths as they pertain to this research study. The researcher has a great desire for all individuals to obtain at least a four-year degree from a higher education institution. The researcher feels the knowledge a student may draw from their time at a higher education institution is expansive and can be transformative. She recognizes how higher education affects many aspects of one’s life, including emotional, financial, intellectual through to their individual world view.

Education should be a right and not a privilege is also a personal truth of the researcher. While not everyone desires a higher education, higher education should be an available opportunity for those who desire it. The researcher firmly subscribes to the theories of Howard Gardner, which indicates intelligence may manifest in various forms and not only in the traditional sense. She feels strongly that individuals in society should not be discounted for their difference from the traditional. Society comprises individuals, yet society ostracizes anyone different from the herd.

This is my passion.

It makes me smile. It makes me giddy. It makes me cry. It makes me talk so inspiringly to other people about education that they themselves are motivated to do something.

A few weeks ago I wrote about why many of us will likely fail in our careers, and why we should all follow our passion. Do something you feel this passionate about, and we might just save the world.

The Grey

Monday night I was assisting in the intervention skills class. This course is aimed at preparing student affairs professionals to support students should they have certain concerns or needs. Our topics this semester range from depression to Autism to identity.

This week’s topic was sexual assault. This is never an easy subject for anyone. With 1 in 4 college women being sexually assaulted, we need to break the silence.

Claudia Charles, Director of Counseling and Wellness at Fontbonne University, spoke to the class about sexual assault and supporting students who may have experienced such an event. She spoke about counseling students who were assaulters and how being present with the student is helpful in keeping biases in check. She also went over general information, including statistics, sexual assault facts, and emotions victims may be experiencing.

There is so much grey in the experience of sexual assault. No, not every victim will say rape even though it was rape. No, not every victim will fight their assaulter. No, not every victim will want to speak out. No, not every victim will come to the acceptance of their sexual assault.

This brings the conversation back to the thought that we need to support those who do come forward about sexual assault. We need to encourage them to seek counseling and hopefully they will report the crime to the police. We need to strongly encourage victims to seek medical attention for their assault.  This is integral in ensuring they are physically ok and collecting any possible evidence should the victim wish to prosecute in the future.

One question I had, as I have never had the experience of accompanying anyone to the emergency room for sexual assault, is what does this experience look like for a person?

Would in the case of people on their parents’ insurance plan result in an explanation of benefits (EOB) mailed home? This could be an issue in instances where the person does not wish to have parents notified. Victims can process the emergency room visit without using insurance, and the visit might be able to be covered by a victim’s grant.

I marvel at how some find the courage to relive their assault in order to seek medical attention, counseling, or to prosecute the assaulter. They are strong and I am proud of those people. Be proud of those people too. Show your support by speaking up about sexual assault. You could be the push someone needs to break the silence.

Read on:

Crime Victim Compensation information

Video about emergency room experience

ER Care for Sexual Assault Victims


Let’s Talk about Sexual Assault

Lady Gaga reacts to sexual assault on college campuses. It’s an epidemic that we’re ignoring. It’s savage. Diminishing. Accepted. Haunting. Common. Isolating.

One in 5 female and 1 in sixteen male college students will be sexually assaulted this year. Think about this: smaller colleges have class sizes of about 15 students. So that means in each classroom you walk past on campus, at least 3 students in that room will be sexually assaulted this year.

Eight out of 10 people know their assaulter. I did.

Sexual assault is something that will stay with you always. Over a decade later, I can still close my eyes and remember every detail.

Sixty-three percent of sexual assault crimes are not reported to the police.

No one asks to be sexually assaulted. Ever.

Help someone you know break the silence. Make sure you listen.

For more information and resources:

RAINN Rape, Abuse & Insest National Network

Sept 21 Washington Post article, “What a massive sexual assault survey found at 27 top U.S. universities”

What Senator McCaskill and others are doing with the Campus Accountability and Safety Act


I have worked in higher education now for 10 years. I have been a student in higher education for fifteen years. While the boomerang “phenomenon” seems to be a new thing, I really don’t think it is. There were loads of Generation Xers who crashed in their old room or took over their parents’ basements after college. What is new though is the consistent message of “failure to launch” that accompanies boomerang situations.

A couple days ago Chris sent me this article. I’ll wait while you open it (at least look at the pictures, as this is important).

Both Chris and I immediately went on a texting tirade about the pictures. These pictures failed to portray people worthwhile of a job interview, a good incidental conversation, or even a second look on the street, but degraded them. This degradation of the people in the pictures further harms their perceived worth in society.

Another important note…
The education and career aspirations fail to match. Perhaps instead of a photoessay about how these people reside in their lair of depression and desperation, give them some career counseling or suggest graduate programs. Unfortunately, many careers now require graduate degrees (i.e., the librarian, the professor) and then some people received degrees not matching their career aspirations (i.e., the social worker, the veterinarian). In order to work in certain jobs, people need to appreciate the required preparation.

ACPA Experience

Whew! I’m home now from the 2014 ACPA Convention in Indianapolis and I’m exhausted. The past 4 days were packed with learning, making new connections, and catching up with old friends. What a great time we all had collaborating and sharing our progress and research on topics. I was fortunate enough to share my dissertation research with the ACPA community. I was overwhelmed by the attendance in my session and very appreciative of those choosing to spend time in my session. Overall we had a positive conversation about making students with disabilities feel more welcome on our campuses.

Inside Higher Ed ran an article on the session, and while I don’t agree with the hook they used:


it is good to get the information out and more people in on the conversation.

In the session I asked fellow student affairs folks to consider some action items to tackle when they got to their home campus. I am invigorated by what the people plan to do!

Also, at the closing session today, I received some very poignant words from Brené Brown:

If you are not in the arena and also getting your ass kicked, I am not open to your feedback.

If someone else is in the game with you, listen and appreciate what they have to say, good and bad. If they’re not contributing to the knowledge at large, challenge them to step up to contribute, but ultimately appreciate the risk you took in sharing knowledge and dismiss their feedback.

I encourage you all to get out there, research, tackle those complex situations and always keep Brené’s wise words in minds.

View my presentation from the ACPA Convention below or download ACPA 2014 Presentation Jackie Koerner in pdf.