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Bruin Voices

We’ve compiled a series of video speeches with follow-up dialogue among attendees to engage the College on an array of topics and assist in raising awareness and building the social and intellectual capacity of the Salt Lake Community College community.

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Past Events

Thornton is a co-founder of Unshackled, a Utah-based nonprofit that is creating a religious third space for individuals who find themselves marginalized in society, because of either addiction and/or incarceration. As someone that has experienced homelessness and incarceration, Thornton is intimately aware of the many difficulties that people face when seeking basic needs like housing, employment and community.
Thornton is a civically engaged alumnus of SLCC, where he received an AAS in Culinary Arts in 2011. He participated with the Student Leaders for Civic Engagement at the Thayne Center for Service & Learning, where he co-organized a community garden at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus. While a student, Thornton was an active member of the Sustainability Committee. In 2013, Thornton was awarded the Utah Campus Compact Presidential Award for Engaged Alumni.

Thornton and his wife, Andrea, have two young daughters and are pregnant with one son. As a family, they have regularly engaged in social justice actions that support marriage equality, women's rights, criminal-justice reform and environmental causes.

Shannon Cox currently serves as the founder and executive director of Journey of Hope, a Utah-based nonprofit organization. Journey of Hope provides support to women whose status puts them at-risk for criminal charges by providing them loving support and friendship through mentoring and case management. Ms. Cox has been successful at building bridges and partnerships through one common goal -- harmed girls do not have to grow into or remain harmed women. Ms. Cox has an extensive background in the criminal justice system, and her work spans across the nation. She understands that proactively engaging with the systems that work with these harmed girls long before they begin to self-medicate, self-sabotage, and find themselves caught in criminal justice system, could allow hundreds of girls in Utah to find healing and self-love long before their lives spiral away from them. Ms. Cox has helped change institutional systems by proving that intervention in early stages is much more successful than treatment at the backend of the criminal justice system. Her groundbreaking work has given her a voice in advocating on behalf of social, racial and female justice reform while asking leaders to see these issues differently.

Enrolling in post-secondary education can be difficult for anyone and presents significant challenges in processes and culture for refugee and immigrant students. For example, in most Middle Eastern countries, higher education is free. It is considered a privilege, not a right. Many educators in the United States are unaware that such a system exists in the Middle East.

People often see individuals from the Middle East or Muslim world as homogenous but there is significant variation in culture, religion and nationalities. To effectively serve these populations, we need an increased understanding of backgrounds and needs.

Dr. Bewar's talk will shed light on challenges faced by the interacting with individuals from the Middle East or Muslim world, with an emphasis on cultural sensitivity and inclusivity.

Dr. Bewar was born in Kurdistan of Iraq. He migrated to the United States as a refugee when he was 23. He learned first-hand the challenges faced by refugee and immigrant students in navigating post-secondary education. Understanding how to support others who faced similar difficulties became his passion. He earned an Ed.D. from Argosy University in Higher Educational Leadership and wrote his dissertation on Support and Obstacles Perceived by Kurdish Immigrant Students in Reaching Higher Educational Goals.

Dr. Bewar taught Kurdish and Arabic, along with Middle Eastern culture, to the U.S. Department of Defense for over 10 years before accepting a position as a financial aid advisor at Salt Lake Community College. He also has experience in teaching Muslim culture and learning styles. He is founder and president of the Kurdish Community of Utah. Dr. Bewar is married and has a young son.

Whatever your vocation or aspiration, you can increase your impact on others by becoming a person of influence. Learn simple, insightful ways to interact more positively with others, and watch your personal and organizational success go off the charts. Managers will see their employees respond with new enthusiasm, parents will connect with their children on a deeper level and salespeople will break records.

James Jackson III is the Assistant Vice President of Community Development at Zions Bank. He founded the Utah African-American Chamber of Commerce in 2009 and is the Executive Director. He is in the process of launching the chamber's charitable foundation to serve the progressive development of African refugees. Jackson is a board member or committee member of several non-profits and is an adjunct personal finance professor at Salt Lake Community College. Jackson recently started his own company, J3 Motivation, where he is a professional coach, trainer and speaker with the John Maxwell team. His areas of expertise include, but are not limited to leadership, sales and organizational development. Jackson received his undergraduate degree in marketing and finance from the University of Utah in 2002 and his MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2010.

Alaa Al-Barkawi is an English and sociology major at Westminster College, where she is serving her senior year as a McNair Scholar. Al-Barkawi has focused her research as a McNair Scholar on the depiction of the hijab in popular culture, media and literature. As the editor in chief of Ellipsis, a nationally recognized literary journal, as well as a fiction writer and poet, Al-Barkawi believes some of the most effective activism is through art. Al-Barkawi strives to create stories that will reshape the views and depictions of the hijab within the Islamophobic and xenophobic views of people from the Middle East and beyond.

Ms. Nubia Peña received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law in May 2016. She was recently selected as one of 25 law students in the nation to be recognized and highlighted for her social justice activism in the National Jurist, a leading news source in legal education. Ms. Peña has actively sought to bring awareness to issues of violence and systemic oppression through her personal and professional endeavors. She has close to a decade of experience assisting survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and victims of violent crimes as a Law Enforcement Victim Advocate. Since 2007, Ms. Peña has been the Training and Prevention Education Specialist at the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA) where she developed trainings on Teen Dating Violence, Latino Youth Empowerment, Assisting and Empowering Immigrant Survivors, and Understanding Rape and Sexual Assault. Her most recent endeavors include bringing awareness to the intersections of violence prevention and the School-to-Prison Pipeline, a national epidemic that targets our most vulnerable youth with disproportionate school discipline practices that streamline them into juvenile detention centers. In addition, Ms. Peña is the Program Coordinator for the Racially Just Utah Coalition where their mission is to positively and proactively ensure racial equality in Utah through policy reform, accountability, and education. Ms. Peña received a Bachelor's in Sociology with a Criminology emphasis and graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors from the University of Utah in 2006.

LaShawn Williams-Schultz has been a social worker since 2001 where she worked in the school system on behalf of children and youth who needed therapeutic support in the classroom. She also coordinated treatment statewide for youth in residential care. LaShawn is a Masters Level social worker who has since worked with youth in state custody as a mental health therapist and currently works with individuals, families, and couples at Wasatch Family Therapy. LaShawn is also an assistant professor of Social Work at Utah Valley University where she trains helping professionals in the practice of connection using Relational Cultural Theory. She is completing her Doctorate in Education this year by studying the experiences of faculty who teach diversity in the classroom setting, in particular, how they resolve the conflicts that inevitably arise. It is her belief that the ability to connect across difference and reconnect after disconnection matters most in times of ongoing social change. It is this passion that drives her work to educate those who have an investment in changing the world. LaShawn is a passionate Multicultural Educator, Practitioner, and Parent who believes that using inevitable conflict as a tool for growth helps create the lasting changes necessary to move society forward - one relationship at a time.

Nicole Tyler is a sophomore majoring in English with a psychology minor at Westminster College. Since finding the slam community in September of 2014, Nicole has been part of the Westminster College 2015 Collegiate Union Poetry Slam Invitational team, was a finalist for both Salt City Slam and Sugar Slam's 2014-2015 season, took fourth in the 2015 Utah Arts Festival Team Slam with Westminster College, represented Salt Lake City at the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam, is the current Slam Master of Westminster Slam, and will be representing Salt Lake City in the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Outside of school or slam, Nicole can be found volunteering at Best Friends Animal Shelter and looking for ways to give back to her community.

Join President Huftalin as she leads a discussion on the dynamics of change and how it impacts us as SLCC community members. The discussion will focus on what drives change, what are the implications of change and how we can individually embrace change rather than run from it.

Lisa Bickmore's poems and video work have appeared in a number of publications, including Quarterly West, Tar River Poetry, Caketrain, Sugarhouse Review, The Moth, Terrain, Mapping Salt Lake City and Southword. Among her honors is the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize for 2015. Her book flicker was published by Elixir Press in 2016. It won the 2014 Antivenom Prize. Bickmore is an associate professor of English at Salt Lake Community College and one of the founders of its Publication Center.

Dr. William A. Smith is an associate professor in the Department of Education, Culture & Society and the Ethnic Studies Program at the University of Utah, where he has served as the associate dean for diversity, access & equity in the College of Education, as well as the special assistant to the president & NCAA Faculty Athletics representative.

Dr. Smith is the co-editor with Philip Altbach & Kofi Lomotey of The Racial Crisis in American Higher Education: The Continuing Challenges for the 21st Century (2002). His work primarily focuses on his theoretical contribution of racial battle fatigue which is the cumulative emotional, psychological, physiological and behavioral effects that racial microaggressions have on people of color.

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