Classroom Conversations: Your Academic Experience at USG. Guest Post: Adam Binkley from MCAS

Adam Binkley, Senior Coordinator at USG (Macklin Center for Academic Success)

Growing up, I experienced some unique ideas of what a classroom might be. My mom was an elementary school teacher for the public schools in our not so well-off county. Technology in the classroom was a bulky blue and white Mac that took up most of her desk. One year that desk sat next to a shower, my mom teaching from a converted gym locker room. And don’t get me started about portables, those oblong husks of siding and wood—perpetually too hot or too cold depending on the season. If you haven’t heard this term before, it’s a trailer outside of the school building that hosts overflow classes. I’ve come a long way since my time in those structures that were more box than building. Now you’ll find me in the Biomedical Sciences and Engineering building (BSE). Every classroom in this beautiful building is equipped with technology that allows us to interact with one another in unique and dynamic ways. The BSE is a testament to Montgomery County’s investment in students, providing a state-of-the-art experience at an affordable cost. This semester is an exciting one for me as I get to wear two hats in working with students here at the Universities at Shady Grove. By day, I get to assist students from the Macklin Center for Academic Success (MCAS) supporting students one-on-one through writing support, collaborating with faculty to create customized workshops, and participating in campus wide endeavors. By night (well, Thursday nights), I will be teaching the Public Health Capstone writing class (PHSC497) for the University at Maryland here at USG.

This is an important time to have critical conversations about public health issues. The global pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, while social justice issues frame systemic discrimination and racism squarely in public health conversation. UMD Public Health is invested in engaging in these issues head on, particularly through the PHSC Strong initiative, where diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism are being included directly in the curriculum. For PHSC497, the role anti-racism plays in the research and writing process is critical. To get to share in this awesome work with a group of invested and energized students is an opportunity I am eager to take on.

This semester, I am looking forward to using my experience as a staff member to enrich my teaching experience by incorporating all the numerous resources USG has to offer right into the curriculum. Thinking about it, the meeting of these two roles is a fulfillment of the promise of USG—to provide access to a high quality, equitable education with a variety of services supporting you along the way. I will be checking back into the DiscoverUSG blog to share some of the interesting ways different parts of the USG community are connecting with our class to enhance our learning experience. If you find yourself on campus or in one of our virtual spaces, I invite you to check in with me to have a conversation about USG, public health, and what makes our academic journeys here unique. These days I feel like we could all use a few more good conversations. After all, whether we are in portables or classrooms with touchscreens adorning the walls, isn’t the purpose of academic research to have conversations with our peers that advance the way we see the world?

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