We’d like to take a moment and recognize our newest employees to Green River. Please take a moment to learn more about them, in their own words.
Please tell everyone your new title and a little bit about your professional background.
My name is Marshall Jeffries, and I am the newly appointed instructor of sociology. I am also known as Oninewa Itai (Stands Strong), “Itai” (ee-tie-ee) for short. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2009 at Guilford College, a small, Quaker liberal arts college in North Carolina. I went on to pursue a Master’s and Doctorate in Sociology at Georgia State University in Atlanta. I completed my PhD coursework and qualifying exams in 2013, and I am currently working toward the completion of my dissertation. My scholarly interests are in the topics of race studies, American Indian studies, colonialism and culturally accountable institutional practices. I have taught undergraduate sociology since 2013. I love being in the classroom! I have additional professional experience working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Association of Chronic Disease Directors through the Tribal Support Office and the Traditional Foods Program (a collaboration with American Indian Nations and organizations).
What drew you to apply to Green River?
If I were given the ultimate power to create an ideal professional home for my motivations, values, teaching philosophy and personal interests, it might look something like Green River College. Foremost, I am looking for a place to grow and expand into an excellent teacher. For me, this involves creating a learning environment where students from multiple cultural backgrounds and life experiences can excel. This also involves conscious and impassioned mentoring and engagement with students inside and outside of the classroom. Because of the unique student body and the commitments made by GRC administration and faculty, I believe that GRC is a place where these ideals can manifest into realities. Additionally, I am originally from a rural area and enjoy my time outdoors. For that reason, I quickly fell in love with the natural beauty and splendor of this magical campus.
On the car ride to work, what do you listen to?
I am a total NPR nerd. 80 percent of the time you will catch me listening to that. When I am not tuned in to NPR, I am mostly likely listening to Indy bands that no one has ever heard of.
What was the very first job you ever had?
At the age of 16, I took my first job folding clothes and cleaning restrooms at the Old Navy clothing store in Durham, North Carolina. Each job that I have held has taught me something useful. That job, in particular, helps me relate to the many students working low-wage jobs while taking classes.
What about your new position is most exciting for you?
The potential to build constructive relationships with students is the most exciting thing about this new position. Some of the students may be in the process of completing high school, some earning transfer credits, and others looking for terminal options. Regardless of the end goal, the discipline of sociology has the potential to change lives (I can personally attest to this). I want to create educational experiences that are truly trans-formative and participate in and witness this transformation in the lives of students from all walks of life.
What is one thing you’d love to accomplish in your first year at Green River?
A solid goal for my first year is to connect and foster relationships with my fellow faculty at GRC. If the faculty community is strong, the students will benefit from that. I look forward to the friendships that can be made here.
What three accomplishments are you most proud of in your life?
1) I am the first in my family to go to college. I did not stop until I had earned a doctorate. This required a great deal of persistence (and debt!) but was truly worth it.
2) I have surrounded myself with a network of diverse, educated (in all senses of the word), and compassionate people that offer mutual support and guidance. I am keenly aware of the fact that when I enter a situation, professional or otherwise, I have them with me.
3) I have been able to finish graduate school and move in to the professional world without losing my passion and drive. I am every bit as motivated to creating change through the conscious application of sociology as I was when I first committed my life to the discipline.
If your coworkers were to give you an office nickname, what would that be?
I don’t know, but it might involve hot tea! I love hot tea, and I offer a hot tea tray for students who visit my office. Perhaps it is my southern hospitality, but I believe if you can offer food and drink to someone, you form a bond and level of comfort that is difficult to achieve otherwise.
For Green River’s annual talent show (this doesn’t actually exist), what hidden talent would you showcase for everyone?
Though I do not generally consider this to be a “talent,” I am one of a handful of people that speaks the Tutelo-Saponi language, an Indigenous Siouan dialect. If I were to appear in this talent show, I would probably fly my sister here and we would do a Tutelo song together.
If G.R.E.E.N. were an acronym for something, what would each letter stand for?
Growing Responsible Educated Existences Now