Engaged Pedagogy Initiative Fall 2017 Fellows

Students interested in teaching and bridging classroom instruction with community-based learning were selected to participate in the Engaged Pedagogy Initiative (EPI). Below are the members of the current cohort:

Nicky Hentrich

Nicky Hentrich is a PhD candidate in Communication Studies at the University of Michigan. Her specific research interests include television and media industry studies, particularly issues of distribution, geography, and the post-network era. More broadly, she is concerned with the cultural work that the media does: questions of identity, the production and circulation of discourses, and the implication these have for how audiences make meaning of the texts they consume. Nicky is passionate about, and heavily invested in, teaching and student learning as part of her scholarly agenda, with a particular focus on critical media literacy. She has served as a GSI for several semesters, as well as being an instructor of record in the communication department. Nicky works as a graduate instructional consultant at CRLT and as a tutor in the athletic department’s academic success program, working one on one with student athletes at the university. Before coming to Michigan, Nicky worked as a high school teacher as well as volunteering as a peer educator in the realms of sexual health and youth advocacy.

Taylor Gaikema

Taylor Gaikema is a second year doctoral student in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology. Her thesis research focuses on the students in the Wolverine Pathways program and the mechanisms by which parents’ actions and discussions influence their child’s civic engagement behaviors. More generally, Taylor is interested in program development in school settings, especially for the purpose of creating resilient identities. For her dissertation, she hopes to develop and evaluate a first-generation and low-income student focused mentoring program. Her research interests are inspired by her own experience as a first-generation college student. 

Beatriz Otero Jiménez

Beatriz Otero Jiménez is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Her main research interests are at the intersection of agriculture and biodiversity conservation. In her research, Beatriz integrates tools from population genetics and landscape ecology to understand the effects different agricultural management practices have on population connectivity and biodiversity. She hopes her research will aid in the development of agricultural management practices that can both, ensure a better livelihood for the farmers and preserve biodiversity. Beatriz also has a long standing interest in diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education, and more specifically in science education and outreach. She has been involved in the development several informal science education initiatives with communities, mostly K to 12 students, in southeastern Michigan.


As an EPI fellow Beatriz hopes to gain tools that will make her science teaching more inclusive and accessible to her students.

Bryon Maxey

Bryon Maxey is a student at the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies. A longtime student of history, he is inspired by family and community narratives of resilience, erudition, and triumph. Bryon researches, and seeks to bring increased attention to, a centuries old, intellectual, cultural and educational heritage bridging Africa and the Americas. This understudied legacy is widely documented across innumerable manuscripts in myriad languages written in Arabic and Latin scripts. Through his research and teaching activities, Bryon interprets, and seeks to facilitate greater access to, this heritage——particularly for descendant communities remembering and reclaiming histories that serve as models for overcoming past and present indignities and injustices.  Bryon's professional and academic career includes multifaceted experiences as a pre-college educator, multifaith community organizer and project facilitator of digital learning at the University of Michigan.  

Rashun J. Miles

Rashun is a first-year master of social work student. As a graduate research assistant at the Implementation Research and Practice: Inter-Professional Collaboration Lab (IPC-Lab), he investigates practitioners’ roles in providing evidence-based services to high risk populations. Rashun is specifically interested in the resiliency of infectious disease survivors. He is interested in the stories, strategies, and techniques they employ and the role of their support systems.

As an EPI Fellow, he hopes to develop a syllabus for a social work/history/(medical) anthrophony course that focuses on diseases, and misconceptions; history of disease; how it impacts domestic and international communities; and the importance of community engagement and activism. 

María Militzer

María Militzer is a PhD student in Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health (UM – SPH). Built upon her experience as a Mexican immigrant, María’s research addresses the influence of socioeconomic inequities in health outcomes among Latino immigrants and their families in the United States (US). Her dissertation research examines psychosocial, cultural, and environmental factors influencing physical activity patterns of pregnant women of Mexican origin in economically-deprived neighborhoods in Detroit, MI. María’s additional areas of research include socioeconomic and linguistic barriers that limited-English speaking immigrants face when accessing healthcare, educational, social, and legal services in the US with negative and synergistic effects on their health outcomes.With over 14 years of professional experience as a Spanish healthcare interpreter and community advocate, María is currently leading the Spanish Community Interpreter Project (SCIP), a collaborative effort between key community informants, and community-based organizations interested in/already servicing the Washtenaw County Latino community. Guided by community-based participatory research principles, the SCIP aims to reduce Latino health disparities by providing Spanish community interpreting training to bilingual community members. SCIP’s trainees enable effective communication between healthcare, educational, social service and legal organizations, and their Spanish-speaking clients.  This training seeks to assure cultural sensitivity, build community capacity and social capital, and promote collaboration among healthcare, social and legal organizations.María holds a bachelor’s degree in veterinary science from the University of Veracruz, Mexico and a master’s degree in Language and International Trade from Eastern Michigan University. She has designed and taught medical terminology, medical Spanish and Spanish healthcare interpreting courses at the UM Medical School and the UM Health System, as well as served as a graduate student instructor at the UM – SPH graduate program.

Arianna Zapelloni Pavia

Arianna is a PhD Candidate in the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology. Her research project focuses the geographical frame of the religious landscape of Umbria (Italy) and its material manifestations. More specifically, her work examines the change in location, architecture, and ritual behaviors of the Italic sanctuaries of the region during the Middle and Late Republican period and their significance for Italic communities in two critical moments of ancient Italian history: the aftermath of the Roman expansion in the fourth century and of the concession of Roman citizenship to the whole peninsula in the early first century BCE. 

As an EPI Fellow she hopes to develop a syllabus for teaching Archaeology of Religion in a way that encourages students to combine the study of ancient religion with contemporary issues of religious diversity. The goal of her class is to use Archaeology as a lens through which to reconstruct rituals and inquire about ideology or belief systems underlying social actions. 

Samhitha Raj

Samhitha Raj is a student at the department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental biology (MCDB). Her thesis research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of thyroid hormone mediated DNA demethylation. More broadly, she is working on understanding the role of thyroid hormone in gene regulation in the developing brain.Samhitha also has a long-standing interest in classroom teaching and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the STEM fields. She has been involved in several science education and outreach programs in the USA and abroad, aimed at making science education accessible to the underrepresented minorities in STEM.

Christine Sargent

Christine Sargent is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology. She is interested in examining how populations both draw from and critique dominant human rights discourses in light of local political economic structures and social values. Her dissertation examines how families living in Jordan’s capital city of Amman make sense of Down Syndrome through multiple conceptual frameworks. She spent 20 months volunteering at a family-run organization that provides mothers with social support and offers early intervention programs. In her future research, she is interested in exploring how communities confront bioethical dilemmas raised by the globalization of prenatal screening and diagnostic technologies. As an EPI fellow, she hopes to develop an ethnographic methods course that allows students to engage with local communities in productive and sustainable ways.