How did you first get involved with UC Links?
I first got involved with UC Links when it started in 1996. I was a graduate student at UC Riverside and there were two faculty members, Mary Gauvain in the Psychology Department and Sharon Duffy in the School of Education, who were interested in starting a UC Links program.
We partnered with a local elementary school, working with a sixth grade teacher, the principal and another school administrator. I taught the undergraduate course and I was the site coordinator for the after-school program. So I did everything from crawling around on the ground to try to wire computers to working with the students on the computers after school. I always joke that everything that I know about Microsoft Word, I learned from sixth graders. They knew way more than I did about how to use all of its fun features.
I finished my PhD in developmental psychology in 1997 and jumped at the chance to work as the Director of Site Development and Evaluation in the UC Links Statewide Office at Berkeley.
You’ve been involved for quite some time. Can you share some moments that keep you energized?
Those moments happen every time that I'm out visiting programs, whether it be in an undergraduate course or after-school program. Witnessing the powerful transformations that occur among students is very moving for me -- especially how transformative it can be for students to experience a non-hierarchical learning environment, shifting traditional roles of power, and as a result experience the roles of expert and novice as fluid and changing based on activity. When I talk with undergraduates, they tell me about how much they learn from working with the P-12 children and youth. The kinds of things that they’re quoted as saying in the reflections from our site visits describe these realizations and are things that I've heard firsthand since starting my journey with UC Links in 1996 -- and still can still move me to tears!
That's a super powerful experience for the P-12 students, as well – to be knowledgeable in that sense and to be seen as experts and that they are the ones who are in some ways teaching the undergraduates about how these programs work. Oftentimes, the P-12 students participate in these programs throughout the whole academic year, but a new group of undergraduates starts participating each quarter, or each semester. And so the P-12 students are the ones who are teaching the undergraduates what it means to participate in the culture of this after-school program.
So much of what keeps me going is the community – the leaders at the GSE and UCOP who are committed to this work and have supported it for almost 25 years and the passion and the commitment of everybody within the UC Links network to doing this work.