aa On July 1 the 8th cohort of NCCE Engaged Faculty Scholars began their one-year term of service. Allison Walker, High Point University, and Susana Cisneros, UNC Charlotte are the 2022-23 Engaged Faculty Scholars. Two faculty members from the North Carolina Campus Engagement (NCCE) network are selected annually for this prestigious statewide role.
Engaged Faculty Scholars undertake a project to deepen the practice and scholarship of campus-community engagement at their respective schools. They will also serve as consultants to another NC college or university seeking to enhance community-engaged teaching and scholarship. Scholars receive a stipend and additional funds for professional development. The scholar’s institution is encouraged to provide a monetary match, course release, or other resources.
Allison S. Walker
Allison S. Walker is Instructor of English and the Director of Service Learning for the Center for Community Engagement at High Point University. Through her Engaged Faculty Scholars project “A Seat at the Table: An HPU Center for Community Engagement Initiative” she will help expand the existing community partnerships of the HPU service learning program and add new partnerships that build bridges between HPU and the surrounding community. One specific partnership in development is with River Landing at Sandy Ridge, a continuing care retirement community. Students will connect with elder adults, growing their intercultural competency and interpersonal communication skills, two vital elements of lifelong learning. The residents of River Landing have wisdom to share, and a partnership with HPU will give them an opportunity to pass that knowledge on to a new generation of global citizens while also gaining reciprocal insight and inspiration from the young adults of HPU. She will also extend and expand HPU’s partnership with Operation Xcel, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of local K-12 students. Through her EFS project Walkers seeks to cultivate human and ecological flourishing in the greater High Point area through data-driven engagement and collaboration.
Walker, whose research interests include narrative medicine and empathy studies, is an experienced and well-regarded service learning practitioner-scholar having taught numerous service learning courses over the last decade at HPU and presented on the topic at numerous conferences in the service learning and community engagement field. She also directs HPU LifeLines, a service learning initiative that harnesses the healing power of poetry by connecting students with residents of local assisted living facilities and after-school programs. In 2016, HPU LifeLines, earned the “Sustainability Award” from HPU. In 2017 Walker was named “Service Learning Professor of the Year.” She has several peer-reviewed publications in academic journals dedicated to this essential work, including two in the Community Literacy Journal. As a member of the NCCE Community of Practice, Inquiry, and Learning (COPIL), a collaborative community of service learning practitioner-scholars across North Carolina, she co-authored “A Primer on the Benefits and Value of Civic and Community Engagement in Higher Education.” Published in 2021, the Primer is a vital resource for SLCE programs across the country. Her scholarship has also garnered support from HPU in the form of two grants, including one for the Growth Mindset Scholars program, “Growing Empathy in the Classroom and Beyond.” Another grant for the QEP Continuing Scholars program, “First Do No Harm,” supported her research in empathy studies and resulted in the curricular development of two new SL courses for the general education program and a course in the graduate program in communication and business leadership.
A graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage, Walker received her M.F. A. in Creative Writing in 2004.
Susana Cisneros is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Languages and Culture Studies at UNC Charlotte. In 2015, she was a finalist for the Outstanding Teaching by Part-time Faculty Award by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Cisneros joined the department as a full-time faculty in 2016, and in 2020 she was a finalist for the UNC Charlotte Award for Teaching Excellence.
She taught service-learning courses in Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 and observed the powerful impact on student learning and career development. Through her EFS project “Más que un viaje en tren / More Than a Train Ride” she will engage her students in a service-learning project to explore the city of Charlotte. They will learn about the services and resources (e.g. food, health, art, education, among other services) available at locations where Spanish is spoken. These locations will be at walking distance of stops on the Blue Line light rail. Students will learn about economic mobility, language capital, public and private transportation, and the price of time while reflecting on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This will result in the creation of a bilingual website that will include articles and videos featuring the locations where services and resources are provided. She seeks to highlight language learning in the context of the local community, fostering engagement and understanding of the growing Latinx population of Charlotte.
Speaking of her Engaged Faculty Scholars project, Cisneros says “it will contribute to increasing visibility of the Latinx community and validating their identities, challenges and contributions.”