Monica Szakacs, News Writer:
The model for teaching multicultural confidence across the curriculum was developed by Misty Ginicola, assistant professor in the Counseling and School Psychology, and her leadership led to the creation of the diversity passport portfolio experience.
The road that led her to develop these programs comes from her own life and cultural experiences. Her heritage is Blackfoot and Cherokee from her father’s side and English, Irish and German from her mother’s side.
“In my grandparents’ generation it was not very good to be an Indian,” said Ginicola. “So my grandparents, even though my grandmother was very dark skinned, tried to hide the fact that they were native, so my father’s generation—all of their names are very American and very English actually.”
Ginicola said her father grew up with a lot of the values of being Native American, but not the traditions or the ceremonies. She grew up with a mix of cultures.
“I am also a Shaman, so I follow a lot of the Native American traditions, but I also follow some of my more Celtic side too,” said Ginicola. “That is actually why I became very interested in culture. I have done a lot of work in it as well and wanted to better understand culture.”
When she became involved at Southern and the counseling school psychology department, she said multicultural confidence is a large piece of what counselors need to do, because they need to be able to work with any client from any background.
Ginicola’s role as a professor doesn’t end in the classrooms.
She said professors are continuously expanding their knowledge. She loves academics as a student and she said she is still learning, so when she is preparing for classes, she has to go to the research and see what’s new.
“I also learn from my students. They have such interesting and rich stories that their input and their background educate me as well,” said Ginicola. “I think I get paid for this job, but I don’t think it’s a job.”
When she graduated high school at the age of 14, her father was her main inspiration for going to college.
Her father dropped out of school to provide for his family, because in the Native American culture, education comes second to family.
“My father made it his life mission to always provide for his family so that we could go beyond what he was able to do,” said Ginicola. “He was the one that took me to college to sign up for classes the first time—he did everything for me.”
She knew she wanted to go into psychology, because she said in high school people would always come to her for advice. She said a principal called “of non interference,” which is part of the Native American culture, lets people live their lives without interfering with their path.
“Even when people would come to me for advice, I wouldn’t really give them advice,” said Ginicola. “I kind of pulled it out of them what they wanted to do, so I didn’t know then but I was kind of doing counseling.”
In the past four and a half years, Ginicola has taught 47 courses and two independent studies courses. Since she feels an obligation to keep her content and pedagogy current, she has revised the content in six courses and created two new courses to the curriculum.
Ginicola has involved students as co-presenters in professional conferences, included them in educational workshops that she’s conducted and mentored six graduate assistants and has six research projects underway in collaboration with students and other faculty.
Misty Ginicola is Trustees teaching award recipient
Monica Szakacs, News Writer: