All posts by Pam DeFiglio

A Veteran’s Impact Comes Full Circle Prof’s Values, Inspired By Two Generations of Veterans, Inform His Teaching to Student Veterans


Dr. Danny McGuire Jr., standing, reflects to his NLU students many of the values ingrained in him by his father, Danny McGuire Sr., a veteran. Both men served on the Chicago police force.


By Darlene Cook

For many student veterans students studying Criminal Justice, Danny L. McGuire Jr., Ed.D., has become an ally, mentor, and life coach as he applies his experience as a police officer and the lessons of his father, a Vietnam veteran, to his daily interactions with his students. Dr. Danny, as his students affectionately call him, played a key role in launching the Criminal Justice program at National Louis University in 2012, but it is his more than 20 years of service in law enforcement, following closely in his father’s footsteps, which shaped his role and commitment to his students in the classroom.

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Mexican Consul Honors NLU students, Provides Community Service Training


IMEgroup03202015By Monica Haydee Ramos

Six National Louis University students earned recognition, and scholarships, from the Consulate General of Mexico in Chicago on March 20. They also learned about the programs and projects where they will be providing community service, which is required in order to receive the scholarships, earlier in the week.

“We have worked and studied hard to complete our university studies,” said Itzel Hernandez, a Harrison Fellow student in early childhood education and one of the six 2014-15 NLU recipients of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME) scholarships.

“My classmates and I have the desire to succeed, and despite the obstacles that we have faced, we are motivated to move forward. We are aware that achieving our goals is not just for our benefit, but also for our families and our community,” she said, thanking the IME for the scholarship’s help in allowing her to graduate.

During the March 20 ceremony, Rebeca Aguilar, the consulate’s Coordinator of Education Programs, talked about IME and the projects the students will be working on during their community service. The Consul of Community Affairs, Luis Angel Castañeda, pointed out the importance of higher education and the impact these students will have in the advancement of the Mexican community in the United States.

The government of Mexico created the IME grants program in 2005 to raise educational levels of Mexican emigrants and those of Mexican descent based in United States. In 2010, the program began offering scholarships to Mexicans pursuing higher education, helping to finance academically outstanding students in universities and community colleges.

The scholarship recipients will also be giving back to others of Mexican origin through the 45 hours of community service they are required to complete. They received community service training on March 17.

Monica Ramos represented NLU in the ceremony, saying that providing resources that enable young people to pursue leadership are crucial for the advancement of the Mexican-American community.

NLU Named to Next Gen’s Breakthrough Models Incubator The award encourages NLU to move forward as a leader in tech and learning


National Louis University has received an honor that furthers its growth as a leader in using technology in innovative ways to improve teaching and foster learning.

Next Generation Learning Challenges has named NLU to its list of 10 universities which make up the Breakthrough Models Incubator 2015 Cohort.

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Join Peace Circle For Deeper Listening On Racial Understanding Tuesday event, first in a series, will focus on #BlackLivesMatter topic


By Wytress Richardson, Ed.D., and Mary Kelly, M.A., CAS

All are welcome to participate in the first in a series of PEACE CIRCLE events, which will take place at the Chicago Campus on Tuesday, March 24th from 6-8 pm.

The purpose of this series is to convene a diverse group of people (NLU students, alumni, and our community) for honest and respectful dialog about the Black Lives Matter Movement (racial understanding) . Trained circle-keepers will facilitate several intimate, interracial and inter-generational peace circle style conversations to foster deeper listening, understanding and respect, all precursors to real justice.
Peace Circles were inspired by both Native American and African Traditions of sharing dialogue in a circle to build unity.

RSVPs are requested but last-minute attendees are welcome.

These conversations empower further conversation outside of the circle, which leads to action. Everyone brings wisdom to a circle – -and to the world. These circle are happening in community organizations and in a variety of Kinship initiatives around the city and country and they are gaining life and momentum. People are engaging and this is hopeful because this is ultimately about how we connect….in spirit.

Our hope is that after this dialogue, participants (Current students, alumni, NLU staff, community members) will have gained exposure to a variety of perceptions and perspectives on societal and personal issues around race, racial equality, and cultural diversity and will feel empowered to continue the conversations in their homes, workplaces, communities.

The Applied Behavioral Sciences Program is sponsoring this event, which is open to all current NLU students as well as alumni, staff and members of the surrounding community.

We would be grateful to you for considering attending this event and, if you are faculty,  encouraging your students to participate. We are also looking for circle keepers (facilitators) and if you might be interested in acting in that role, please contact Mary at

Wytress Richardson, Ed.D., is Associate Professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at NLU and Chair of Applied Behavioral Science and College of Professional Studies and Advancement. She is also the founder and executive director of Girls of Grace Youth Center, a non-profit dedicated to mentoring and equipping girls and young women with valuable leadership skills.

Mary Kelly, MA, CAS, is Applied Behavioral Sciences faculty at NLU. She is also the founder and director of Soul~Dance, a non-profit devoted to hosting and facilitating commmunity/ organizational/group workshops, retreats, and spiritual /vocational counseling.

Students, Prof Visit D.C., Brief Congress on Children Crossing U.S. Border Alone They presented data on surprising reasons children come, comment on U.S. policy


Jasmina Nuhanovic and Sonianne Lozada recently traveled to Washington, D.C. with Lauren Heidbrink, Ph.D., to brief Congressional representatives on the issue of unaccompanied children crossing the border into the U.S.


By Jasmina Nuhanovic and Sonianne Lozada

We recently had the opportunity to take our classroom knowledge to the national stage.
We are both graduate students in the M.A. in Public Policy and Administration program, and have been working for months with our professor, Lauren Heidbrink, Ph.D., on the issue of unaccompanied minors crossing borders into the U.S.
In February, we traveled with Dr. Heidbrink to Washington, D.C. to inform members of Congress and their staffs on her research with young migrants in Central America and her assessments of U.S. foreign policies on development and migration in the region.
We had the opportunity to address some of the misconceptions about unaccompanied minors and their motivations for leaving their home nations, as well as addressing assumptions about the efficiency of current policies.
The issue has been in the news since 2014, when the numbers of unaccompanied children coming to the U.S. started to swell rapidly. (If you like, add one more brief sentence here about what the numbers were, and why they came.)
As graduate students in the MAPPA program at NLU, we’ve learned the importance of using research and data to challenge popular misconceptions and provide the basis for creating informed policy.
We have also learned the power of public discourse in shaping responses by policymakers, and how the policy they create leads to programs addressed at solving the problems.
We met with congressional staff members from both sides of the aisle, from liberal (Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois) to conservative (Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas), as well as groups that advocate for unaccompanied minors such as KIND (Kids In Need of Defense), which spearheads a pilot project working to safely repatriate children from the U.S. to Guatemala.
Some of the most common misconceptions about unaccompanied minors are what factors motivate them to make the arduous journey to the United States, and what happens to them when they arrive. It is not, for example, a part of the common perception that violence is a major motivating factor for some (but not all) young people from countries like Honduras and El Salvador. But it is a reality.
Consider, for example the fact that San Pedro Sula in (country) has been designated by the United Nations as the world’s murder capital. There is also a perception that policies like rapid repatriation are the most effective way to deal with the legal ramifications of unaccompanied minors arriving on U.S. soil. However, this is disproved by the fact that 60% of young people processed in this way will make at least one further attempt to migrate.
This experience was invaluable for us as students. We prepared for and led meetings with members of Congress. This enabled us to witness firsthand the role of advocacy and making policy recommendations.
It reinforced for us the importance of research and reliable data in policymaking. It also provided a clearer understanding of what policymaking looks like in the real world, and how we as future policy analysts will craft innovative responses.
This opportunity broadened our understanding of the issue of migration, while at the same time making it very clear that there is much work left to do.

GED to Ph.D. Alum Honored For Work with Homeless Geri Palmer, Ph.D., received African American Treasure Award


By Nicholas A. Love150226-african-american-treasures-geraldine-palmer-001-L

National Louis University alumna Geraldine Palmer ‘12, Ph.D. in Community Psychology, was recognized as an African-American Community Treasure at the 16th Annual African American History Month Celebration, presented by Dorothy A. Brown, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Palmer is the Executive Director of South Suburban PADS, an overnight, emergency shelter network in Chicago’s south suburbs. A woman who defied the odds and went from GED to Ph.D., she brings life experience to her leadership at PADS, in addition to her 21 years of professional nonprofit experience.

She leverages the same wealth of experience for Chicagoland and left her mark at a number of housing and supportive service organizations. Not only at work in the trenches, she is an adjunct faculty member at Adler University in Chicago and has authored articles on housing policy and homelessness.

Palmer works tirelessly to alleviate problems related to homelessness because she knows what it’s like to struggle. A determined worker with a mind far from accolades, she accepted her award with humble dignity.

“I just do what I do, so it’s always a surprise when I receive an award for it.”

Grad Student Argues In Huff Post Ed Blog For Assessments Micah J. Miner says they've helped his incarcerated students learn


2015-03-03-1425403893-3298990-micah_miner-thumbWhen NLU doctoral student Micah J. Miner went to talk to Congressional staff in Washington on Feb. 9, he told of his experiences teaching in a real-world Chicago Public Schools alternative classroom with incarcerated students.

Miner, a doctoral student in Curriculum, Advocacy and Policy, wrote in the Huffington Post Education Blog that because  the students stay in the program from a few days to a couple of years, a computer-adapted assessment gives him key information about them, such as academic strengths and weaknesses and reading level.

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Rashid Wins Fulbright, Will Research in Africa 2015-16 School Year Will examine society, economy, educational system of Ghana since independence



KRashidCroppedCongratulations to Kamau Rashid, Ph.D., NLU Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations and Inquiry, for being awarded a prestigious Fulbright scholarship.

Rashid plans to spend his Fulbright year, 2015-2016, in Ghana at the University of Education, Winneba. He’ll focus on studying how Ghana, in the wake of its 1957 independence from Britain, attempted, and is still attempting, to remake its economy and social and educational systems to benefit its own citizens.

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NLU Joins Pilot Program to Accept Online Credits, Create Quality Standards NationSwell reported NLU is helping students enter, and complete, bachelor's degree programs


Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.00.04 reported National Louis University is one of 25 universities participating in a pilot program to accept all or most transfer credits students earn from a select number of online educational institutions.

The 25 universities will focus on roughly 100 intro courses in up to 30 subject areas that are offered either at a low cost or for free, NationSwell reported. It’s already received the stamp of approval from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with a $1.89 million grant.

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Dear Congress: Spend Less on ‘No Child’ Tests, More On Helping All Students As lawmakers squabble over reforming 'No Child Left Behind,' don't forget underserved kids


By Sophie Degener, Ed.D., Assistant Professor of Reading and Language

The fate of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is in the hands of our congressmen. Members of the House of Representatives will have to decide whether or not to renew the legislation, and what form that legislation will take. A scheduled vote on Friday, Feb. 27 was postponed, but Congress will have to vote soon.

There are many educators, including professors and researchers at National Louis University, who are hoping to influence our lawmakers as they consider NCLB’s future. Continue reading »