Yet She Rose

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She believed in something greater

no concern for self or rules

nothing would abate her

as she fought for open schools.

She spoke of female rights,

opportunities, a claim

for education she would fight

but then, they learned her name.

 

On a dusty bus they found her

where she spotted weapon drawn

and everyone around her

thought the shot, her final song.

An unexpected outcome passed

forgotten sorrowed woes

as people of the world, aghast

Witnessed as she rose.

Yes, we watched her as she rose.

 

 

Photo credit of  Malala Yousafzai

 

What does it mean to educate?

It means having a sister like mine. Words cannot express how proud I am of her. Pat has forever changed the lives of so many people including the ones who struggled and fought to be the first in their families to receive a higher education. Well done, “Dr. Witherspoon.” Well done.

Love always,

Your baby sister

P.S. Thank you for reading to me when I was little.

 

reference for following article:

Liberal Arts Dean Patricia Witherspoon Retires

Last Updated on August 30, 2017 at 4:15 PM

Originally published August 30, 2017

By Laura L. Acosta

UTEP Communications

 

When Javier Aguilar-Garcia met Patricia Witherspoon, Ph.D., nearly four years ago, he was wandering the halls of the Liberal Arts Building searching for a University 1301 class.

UTEP College of Liberal Arts Dean Patricia Witherspoon, Ph.D., (right) retired in August after 17 years at UTEP. Witherspoon and UTEP President Diana Natalicio (left) hold a caricature of Witherspoon by Nacho L. Garcia. Photo by UTEP News Staff

(UTEP College of Liberal Arts Dean Patricia Witherspoon, Ph.D., right, retired in August after 17 years at UTEP. Witherspoon and UTEP President Diana Natalicio, left, hold a caricature of Witherspoon by Nacho L. Garcia. Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications.)

As a freshman at The University of Texas at El Paso, Aguilar-Garcia was still finding his way around campus. At the time, the first-generation college student had no clue that Witherspoon, the passerby he stopped to ask for help, was the dean of the UTEP College of Liberal Arts (COLA). She smiled warmly and directed him down the hall.

Their paths would cross again a couple of years later when Aguilar-Garcia served as a COLA ambassador under Witherspoon. For two years, Aguilar assisted the dean at events, such as the college’s Pre-Commencement Awards and Hooding Ceremony.

While the Juárez native no longer needed directions to class, he began looking to Witherspoon for guidance about his future.

“What I learned from Dr. Witherspoon would take hours for me to say,” said Aguilar-Garcia, a multimedia journalism major who expects to graduate in December 2017. “I learned the value of hard work, to always be true to myself, and to not be afraid to think outside the box. She knows there is something special in each of us.”

Aguilar-Garcia was among the many students Witherspoon mentored over the past 17 years at UTEP. She retired from the University in August 2017 after a 36-year career in higher education.

“I came to UTEP for the students,” said Witherspoon, who led COLA since 2011. “I was impressed by these students who will do so much to get an education, and who understand so well that an education transforms not only an individual but a family.”

Witherspoon joined UTEP in the fall of 2000 as chair of the Department of Communication.

During the Dean’s Legacy Lecture this spring, Witherspoon recalled that shortly before she started her new job, her oldest son, Terry, told her that the people at UTEP really wanted her to come to the University, and she better not let them down.

Looking back, she said, “I hope I didn’t.”

At UTEP, Witherspoon hit the ground running. In 2002, she established the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies, which provides academic enrichment for communication majors, communication programs to high school students, and continuing education and training for media and communication professionals.

The center’s inaugural event, “An Evening with Sam Donaldson,” in 2003 attracted top journalists, including Dan Rather, Helen Thomas, George Will and Ted Koppel, White House press secretaries and major news stations. The event raised more than $100,000 for the center’s endowment.

“That was a wonderful evening to remember and to honor Sam Donaldson, but it was also wonderful to see (these journalists) come out and hear about UTEP,” Witherspoon recalled.

In August 2008, Witherspoon was named dean of the University’s Graduate School. She held that position until 2010, when she became acting dean of COLA, UTEP’s largest and most varied college with nearly 7,000 students. A year later, she was appointed the college’s dean.

“There are lots of programs, lots of departments, lots of students, not enough faculty, and not enough staff,” Witherspoon said. “That is the beauty of the College of Liberal Arts; there is so much diversity here with the arts, the humanities and the social sciences.”

UTEP Senior Executive Vice President Howard Daudistel, Ph.D., was the college’s dean before Witherspoon. He said that under Witherspoon’s “extraordinary leadership,” the college strengthened its many student success initiatives and strived to continuously improve all of its academic programs.

“Dr. Witherspoon was a vigorous advocate for the many diverse departments and programs in the college and worked hard to recruit the highest quality faculty to support these programs,” Daudistel said. “Always attentive to student needs, Dr. Witherspoon was deeply committed to UTEP’s access and excellence mission while also supporting a diverse faculty of outstanding teachers, extraordinary scholars, researchers and artists.”

During her tenure, Witherspoon worked with faculty to develop forward-thinking programs that would foster student achievement. Among them was the Student Success Initiative in 2014, which provides tutoring and programs that support student academic development, and the Liberal Arts Honors Program (LAHP) in 2012, which offers academic enrichment opportunities to top undergraduate liberal arts students.

Witherspoon said the LAHP has exceeded her expectations.

“Many of our LAHP students go on to graduate school or law school and have wonderful internships in other parts of the country,” she said. “They’re just outstanding.”

Witherspoon credits much of her success to the college’s outstanding faculty and dedicated staff who she said made her look good, even on those days when she did not deserve it.

“It almost never felt like work,” she said with a laugh. Despite her many accomplishments, Witherspoon is most proud of watching students succeed. Her favorite time of year was celebrating the achievements of liberal arts students at UTEP’s spring and winter Commencement ceremonies. From the stage in the Don Haskins Center, Witherspoon would watch as wave after wave of liberal arts graduates walked into the arena, ready to make their mark on the world.

In retirement, Witherspoon plans to spend time with family and stay involved with the University. She may help raise funds for COLA’s 50th Anniversary fund or teach an online undergraduate course in communication and organizational leadership.

Other projects include writing a book on the effect of culture on leadership, focusing on Mexican-American and Latino influences.

“I feel very proud and very gratified of having been a part of this campus during the last 17 years,” Witherspoon said. “The last 17 years has been a time of tremendous change and great growth, not only in numbers but in stature.”

Daily prompt: Educate

A plea for humanity — Will you join me at the river?

It wasn’t a Sunday morning. It was a Thursday evening.

I sat on a wooden pew where, beneath my feet in the 1800’s, slaves had congregated to worship in a hole made of dirt. On April 27th, at that same location, I was inside the Simpson Methodist Church erected in the 1930’s.

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I haven’t been a church-goer in a long while. I was not there to worship. Yet, inside, a hymn came to me – “Shall we gather at the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river.

In my past, I’ve held workshops on tolerance and celebrating diversity. I taught my early childhood staff how to teach bias-free education to our young children. I paired kindergarteners from east Austin to the kindergarteners from west and gathered the 800 or so children together at Burger Center to enjoy the music of Kinderman.

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I’ve done many things to teach tolerance and acceptance of others and each one has made me proud. Yet, each time we step out of our “comfort zone,” we learn something new. This meeting was no exception.

We were not there to worship. Nor were we there to hear a lecture. We were there for the unfolding of a “warm” conversation on diversity and equality.

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Reverend Robert Waddle was strong in appearance and gentle in manner. He led the group – around 15 warm souls- in prayer. Then, our local president of the NAACP, Nelson Linder and Dr. Guner Arslan, a Muslim from Turkey and director of the Dialogue Initiative Austin, began the discussion.

Here is a bit of what I learned, re-learned and processed:

We, as human beings, have always strived for identity — both within ourselves and within a group (or tribe). Identity is core to our “humanness.”

But here’s the problem–

When we don’t attempt to understand or appreciate “different” identities, an “us vs. them” scenario is created. So imagine how having 4200 religions around the world could easily contribute to this unfortunate scenario.

As we struggle to understand ourselves, and who and what we identify with, we often reject the identities of others.

Unless we expand our awareness.

Have you been integrated as a person? Who are the folks you struggle with?

Nelson Mandela once said, “Everyone has a seat at the table.”

How round is your table?

“Love is the absence of judgment” – Dali Lama

How much do you love?

What are you fearful of?

Try being comfortable being uncomfortable.

Mr. Linder and Dr. Arslan told us, “Find excuses to bring people of ‘differences’ together to discover commonalities.”

So, the small group at Simpson Methodist Church became our small group. We had metaphorically gathered at the river, “the beautiful, the beautiful, river“.

 

Folks, this river is wide. And there is plenty of room for everyone. Yes, let’s gather at that river. Or any other place where thoughtful hearts are shared.

I was not there to worship, but I did. There are many ways to worship Great Love for Humanity.

Please join us at this round table for a warm discussion on diversity, acceptance and love. I will bring the water for your parched throats but there will be no need for food. Our hunger will be satiated by the breaking of bread in our open and honest dialogue.

I hope you choose to be part of the discussion.  Because, if you do, and as the song says, “Soon our happy hearts will quiver with the melody of peace.

I would be most grateful if you would leave a response, a personal experience, even a link to similar posts or articles related to this topic.

See you at the table.

The One Hundred Languages of Children

An amazing inspirational poem about children, the mistakes we make in teaching them, and how they can learn to become their true selves.

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THE ONE HUNDRED LANGUAGES OF CHILDREN

The child is made of one hundred.

The child has a hundred languages a hundred hands a hundred thoughts a hundred ways of thinking of playing, of speaking.

A hundred always a hundred ways of listening of marvelling of loving a hundred joys for singing and understanding a hundred worlds to discover a hundred worlds to invent a hundred worlds to dream.

The child has a hundred languages (and a hundred hundred more) but they steal ninety-nine.

The schools and the culture separate the head from the body.

They tell the child: to think without hands to do without head to listen and not to speak to understand without joy to love and to marvel only at Easter and Christmas.

They tell the child: to discover the world already there and of the hundred they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child: that work and play reality and fantasy science and imagination sky and earth reason and dream are things that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child that the hundred is not there.

The child says: No way. The hundred is there.

Loris Malaguzzi