H.O.P.E. Academy


Our professors are recognized for their contributions to their respective fields and put students first.  The H.O.P.E. Academy faculty have dedicated a portion of their summer committed to the mission and goals of the Academy.  They engage students in relevant academic coursework, using a student centered approach while teaching students to work together.



The dynamic presenters for H.O.P.E. Academy are experts in many different fields and bring excitement and critical thinking to their audiences.  All bring with them a wealth of knowledge in working with students to reach their fullest potential and tools to become successful.  
Dr. Fariborz Parsi 
Dr. Fariboz

Fariborz Parsi was born in 1961 in Tehran, Iran. He attended Alborz High School in Tehran, moved to the United States in December of 1978, and graduated from Dreher High School (Columbia, SC) in 1979. He completed his undergraduate and graduate education in Chemical Engineering at the University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC). He has been a Professor of Composite Materials Engineering at Winona State University (Winona, MN) since 1991.

Course: CME 103 – Understanding Engineering
This course is for non-engineers who want to learn what it is like to be an engineer. The topics covered in this course include engineering, design, ethics, intellectual property, personal and environmental safety, and principles of engineering.
Paul Stern Portrait
Mr. Paul Stern

Paul began his journey with martial arts in 1989. He has studied martial arts consistently from that time forward with an emphasis on Choy li Fut kung fu and Chen Taiji Quan. He has studied extensively in Taiwan, Canada, and Europe. Additionally, he has taught martial arts since 2000.
He continues to cultivate his own personal practice of martial arts and meditation as part of this journey. Currently, Paul lives with his family in Winona where he works at WSU and is an owner/instructor at Manitou Martial Arts and Wellness Center.

Course: PESS 144 - Contemporary Activities – Kung Fu, Tai Chi & Meditation
This course introduces the student to varied contemporary, movements-based activities. A variety of activities will be introduced as a means of encouraging movement and expanding the student's leisure interest profile.

Trish Johnson
Ms. Trish Johnson

Trish began her exploration with meditation in the mid 1990’s. During that time she spent several years living and traveling throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. In 2001, after returning to Minnesota, she began her formal studies in Zen Buddhism and Zen Meditation at the Dharma Field Mediation and Learning Center in Minneapolis. She currently lives in the Winona area with her family and is one of the founders of Manitou Martial Arts and Wellness Center.

Course: PESS 144 - Contemporary Activities – Kung Fu, Tai Chi & Meditation
This course introduces the student to varied contemporary, movements-based activities. A variety of activities will be introduced as a means of encouraging movement and expanding the student's leisure interest profile.

Mary Jo Klinker  Dr. Mary Jo Klinker

Mary Jo Klinker graduated from Washington State University with a PhD in American Studies, where she taught in the Departments of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies and English prior to teaching at Winona State University. Engaging activism in the classroom is central to Mary Jo's pedagogy and also fuels her research, which focuses on the relation of queer activism and theory to feminist antimilitarist organizing and anti-imperialist critique. Her research utilizes ethnographic and participatory action methodologies to examine the impacts of neoliberalism on contemporary social movements. Her teaching interests include LGBT/Queer politics and history, transnational feminism, contemporary masculinities, and postfeminist media studies.

Course: WGSS 220 - Power, Privilege & Gender
This course explores social construction of differences that lead to power and privilege in modern society. Issues of race, class, and sex, and gender are considered. 
Connie Kamara Ms. Connie Kamara

Connie serves as Director of Health & Wellness Services which supports students by offering primary care, specialty care, urgent care, ancillary and diagnostic services, and mental health support and health promotion programs.

Her hometown is Chippewa Falls, WI and she obtained her BA from Winona State University and her MPH from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
Connie enjoys traveling and has worked or lived in over 50 countries. Her favorite quote reads, “I must admit that I personally measure success in terms of the contributions an individual makes to her or his fellow human beings” and was said by Margaret Mead. If you want to earn brownie points with her you should have a respect for all forms of knowledge, formal and not.

Course: PESS 199 - Cultural Healthcare Disparities
 Jennifer Chernega Jennifer Chernega

Jennifer has been teaching at Winona State University since 2007 when she moved to Winona from Chicago. Jennifer lives with her husband and sons and is glad to be back in the state where she grew up. She studies social inequality, including gender and class inequality with an emphasis on policy, welfare reform and qualitative methodology. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys reading and knitting.

Course: SOC 205 - Social Interaction
The course is a study of human social behavior, interaction, social relations, and the effects of and on individuals, groups, organizations, and societies. Topics covered may include socialization, symbolic interactionism, social constructionism, social roles, group and individual identity, deviance, conformity, group behavior, social networks, and social cognition.
Bruno Borsari

Dr. Bruno Borsari

Bruno Borsari is a Professor in the Biology Department at Winona State University. He earned his Doctor of Agricultural Sciences Degree (D.Ag. Sc.) in 1986 from the University of Bologna, Italy and his Ph.D. in 2001 from the University of New Orleans.  He taught biology, agroecology, agroforestry and habitat restoration for 30 years in various countries (mainly west and central Africa), but also in Bolivia, Italy, Panama, Louisiana and Pennsylvania before relocating to Winona in 2005. His native language is Italian; however, he is also fluent in Spanish and French. He is married to Julie and together they have two sons: Giovanni (24 y.o.) and Michele (22 y.o.).  During his spare time Dr. Borsari enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, growing native plants, beekeeping, listening to and playing music and learning more foreign languages.    

Course: BIOL 118 – General Biology
A course that promotes critical thinking about the process of studying living organisms. Students are exposed to a sampling of major living groups while utilizing the scientific method.

Fred Lee

Dr. Fred Lee

Dr. Fred Lee has been on WSU faculty since 1992 and a participant in H.O.P.E. Academy and its predecessor virtually every year since its inception because he enjoys being around the students, his colleagues and the hardworking staff. He doesn't like writing about himself because he feels there’s nothing particularly noteworthy about his life. And if he doesn't want to read about himself why should you?

Course: POLS 330 – Race & American Politics
This course is a study of the impacts, effects, and consequences of race and racism in American Politics. Emphasis is placed on the origins, definitions, and political consequences of race and racism within American politics. 

JaHon Vance Dr. JáHon Vance

Professor Vance is a world-renowned educational administrator and facilitator with twenty years of work experience that extends from K-12 to Higher Education. His academic background in African American Literature, Curriculum Redesign, Educational Administration, Humanities, Music, and Teaching and Learning has afforded him the great opportunity to be recognized both nationally and internationally in the field of education. In addition, Professor Vance’s academic background includes work at Cornell University, Harvard University, Jackson State University, Northeastern University, Oxford University in the United Kingdom, Princeton University and Wayne State University.

Course: CMST 191 - Introduction to Public Speaking
This course includes selection and organization of materials, delivery of common types of speeches, listening skills, and analysis and evaluation of presentations. 
Joyanti Debnath Dr. Joyanti Debnath

Dr. Joyati Debnath is currently a full professor of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Winona State University (WSU), Minnesota. Professor Debnath received her M.S. in Pure Mathematics and Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. She has received numerous Honors and Awards including the Best Teaching Award from Iowa State University, the Outstanding Woman of Education Award, and Whose Who Among American Teachers. Prior to joining WSU, Dr. Debnath was a faculty member of Mathematics and Computer Systems at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls. Dr. Debnath has research interest in the areas of Topological Graph Theory, Integral Transform Theory, Partial Differential Equations and Boundary Value Problem, Associations of Variables, Discrete Mathematics, and Software Engineering Metrics and Tools. Dr. Debnath is an author or co-author of over 50 publications in numerous refereed journals and conference proceedings in Mathematics and Computer Science.

Course: MATH 120 – Precalculus
This course is a study of topics designed to give students the skills necessary for successful completion of MATH 212 - Calculus I. Emphasis is on equation solving, symbolic/algebraic manipulation, and graphing of rational, exponential, logarithmic and trigonometric functions.

Nate Emerson

Daniel Bernstrom

Mr. Nate Emerson and Dr. Daniel Bernstrom

Mr. Nate Emerson works in a multi-campus environment supporting over 3000 students.  He is involved in Kiwanis, Special Athletics, Human Rights Commission, Community Partnership Program, Winona Dakota Unity Alliance, Inclusion and Diversity at Winona State University and Minnesota State CAO/CSAO advisory committee among other charitable organizations. He has been an Admissions Counselor at a four-year university, a Financial Aid Director, Director of Institutional Research and Interim Director of Finance and is currently the Vice President of Student Affairs at Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical. He has also taught college math since 2008.

Course: STAT 110 - Fundamentals of Statistics
This course is an introductory statistics with emphasis on applications.
Keith Brooks

Dr. Brooks
Dr. Keith Stanley Brooks is a native of Los Angeles, California. Above all else he views himself as striving to be a great husband, father, mentor, & servant leader. Brooks is a proud alum of Xavier University of Louisiana (B.A., English Education). From there he completed a Master of Education (M. Ed.) degree in teacher leadership and PhD in work & human resource education at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Professionally, he recently served as the Dean of Academic Foundations at Minneapolis Community & Technical College and professor of Education at Bethel University. Dr. Brooks enjoys sharing his expertise as an author, facilitator on topics such as educational leadership, intercultural competence, goal-driven staff development and as an inspirational keynote speaker through Chosen Path Consulting.

Individuality within community:
A self-reflection. This session will highlight some domestic and international examples of innovation that adds value to those around us. The participant will reflect on their career and personal goals, and how those aspirations positively impact our collective humanity.

Marcellus Davis 

Marcellus Davis

Marcellus Davis has spent over 15 years working towards racial educational equity in education ( K-12 & Higher Education). He has held numerous positions through his educational career ranging from Urban Education Professor, Cultural Liaison, Transitions Advisor, Summer Program Director, Educational Program Designer, and Diversity and Multiculturalism Director, Director of Achievement and Integration and American Indian Education, and he is currently the Interim Director of Sankofa Underground North. He is a student of Critical Race Theory (CRT), in particular CRT in education, he specializes in student development, in particularly, racial identity formations. He is a past President Elect of Minnesota National Association of Multicultural Education (MN-NAME). He is a co-founder of Change Agent Consulting: Each one, Reach one, Teach one. This consulting company is designed to help organizations create equitable learning, working experiences or environments within their organization.

Mr. Davis has designed numerous college preparatory and transitional programs for higher education (Camp Building my Future Anoka Technical College, Cornerstones Jr. North Hennepin Community College, and Success Stepping into College Anoka-Ramsey Community College). Most recently, Mr. Davis helped design and implement the Robbinsdale Area Schools Civil Rights Research Experience. This experience provided students the opportunity to travel like Freedom Bus Riders and visit leaders in the Civil Rights movement and historical cities in the movement. This experienced culminated in learning exhibitions were students demonstrated their learning to the greater community.

Mr. Davis has recently co-authored a book chapter in the upcoming book titled Going Deeper: Conversations About Race and Racism, and has co-authored an article to be published in the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy titled African American male teachers and African American students: Working subversively through hip-hop in three urban schools to be published in early 2013. Lastly, he is in the final stages of completing his doctorate in Higher Education Administration.

Tamonna Combs

Tamonna Combs
My passion lies in the ability to help the youth reach their brilliance through education, personal experience but most of all trusting their inner selves.

Tamonna Combs was born St. Louis, MO and raised in Saint Paul, MN. Her interest in facilitating and coaching began with her work with the youth and young women. However, she has expanded to all areas working with multifaceted groups of people. She uses her own understandings, knowledge, and experiences to help people work through their own difficulties and to speak about matters of the heart. She is strong enough to know when to follow and plenty of a leader to know when to serve. She is a motivator, educator, and friend. She wants all to experience healing of self and freedom of mind. She enjoys being a mother first, an avid reader, and baking for her family and friends.


Frederick W. Gooding
Frederick W. Gooding
Frederick W. Gooding, Jr. is an Assistant Professor within the Ethnic Studies Program at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. A trained historian, Gooding most effectively analyzes contemporary mainstream media with a careful eye for persistent patterns along racial lines that appear benign but indeed have problematic historical roots. Gooding’s most well-known work thus far is "You Mean, There’s RACE in My Movie? The Complete Guide to Understanding Race in Mainstream Hollywood," which critically analyzes the value and impact of contemporary racial imagery based upon historical narratives of sex, power and violence.

"You Mean, There's RACE in My Movie?":
Did you know that there are racial patterns in your movie?! Learn specifically how to identify six minority character patterns and explore the reasons behind their creation and perpetuation so you can avoid being "typecast" in such roles in the future.
Joseph L. Mbele

Joseph L. Mbele
Joseph L. Mbele is a Tanzanian professor in the English department at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. He previously taught in the Literature Department at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Educated at the universities of Dar es Salaam (B.A., M.A.) and Wisconsin-Madison (M.A., Ph.D.), he teaches literature in English as well as Folklore. He has published journal articles and reviews, as well as books such as Matengo Folktales and Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences. He is also a consultant, working with colleges, non-profits and other entities to help them deal with cultural issues.

"Embracing African and African American Culture."

Synopsis: In my book, Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences, I deal with differences between African culture and American culture. I discuss common traits I see in Americans, irrespective or racial differences. In this presentation I will discuss Africans and African Americans with a focus on culture. While acknowledging continuities I will also show the differences as a way of countering ignorance and illusions and laying the groundwork for mutual understanding and wholesome relations. To illustrate my reflections, I will draw mostly from historical, cultural, and literary sources.

Vannessa Falcon

Vannessa Falcon
Vannessa Falcon is a third year doctoral student in the Joint Ph.D in Education Program offered by San Diego State University and Claremont Graduate University. She has lived a transborder lifestyle since the age of 12 and her background has inspired her research on transborder students in higher education. In her research she has explored the concepts of transborder identity, hybrid identity, hybrid habitus, male transborder identity and action research, and has presented her findings in local and national conferences in the United States. Vanessa is also a graduate research associate for the Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3), where she manages and facilitates qualitative research on men of color in community colleges at various institutions in Southern California. Through M2C3 she has conducted research on the transborder experiences of Latino men in the community college and in June 2016, she presented her findings at the 2016 National Consortium on College Men of Color at SDSU. Additionally, in April 2016, she also presented her findings on transborder men in the community college and their interactions through the transborder commute at the 58th Annual Council for the Study of Community Colleges in Dallas, Texas.

Vannessa aspires to become a faculty member and continue to serve as a change agent for underserved student populations in higher education through research and practice. She has been accepted to the 2016/2017 CSU Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program (CDIP), tenure-track faculty openings in the CSU system.

Mexican - U.S. Border Life

Ben Mchie

Mr. Ben Mchie
Benjamin Mchie is the founder of African American Registry and a Multi Media Professional for over 38 years. Mchie has been featured on the BBC, commenting the life of Dorothy Height, TV Asahi for background on the African American response to the 1940’s Japanese American internment and HBO VICE News regarding the myth of Eli Whitney and the Cotton Gin. He is a sought after speaker for educational assemblies, recently at UNLV, Luther and Cornell College. He is a contributing writer in many books and articles on Race in America.

As an educational consultant and founder of African American Registry, Mchie often visits E-12 school assemblies and college campuses. He presents his content/curriculum as a resource of America's stories applied to any subject taught. He senses a shift in young people striving to link scholarship, activism and civic engagement. Mchie directs, produces, operates camera and edits. He's received 4 Emmy's and 2 MTV awards/nominations. His work formats include feature films, corporate, commercials, music videos, documentaries, game-shows, broadcast sports and more. His passion now is producing media that 'normalizes' the image of the black experience in his work with African American Registry.

Teacher Education

Keary Saffold

Mr. Keary Saffold
Keary Wayne Saffold of Saffold Consulting has extensive experience, training and background which make him qualified to support youth and their families. Over the past 13 years Mr. Saffold has successfully served the needs of youth and families in various direct service roles through employment, self-employment and volunteerism.

Get Out Your Feelings: How to Manage Your Anger & Emotions


TOO BLACK is a spoken word poet, public speaker, activist and educator based in Indianapolis, IN. The name TOO BLACK developed as a challenge to society on the perceptions of blackness and humanity especially in the United States. Influenced by a wide variety of artists and historical figures – from Malcolm X to Gore Vidal, from George Carlin to Audre Lorde – TOO BLACK fuses these multiple perspectives, his life exploration and passionate performance bringing them to life on the stage. His working dialogue draws from personal experiences, historical and current events and the culture of Hip Hop in which he was born.

TOO BLACK has been performing poetry professionally for almost a decade. He successfully launched his own college tour called Education Redefined 101: Tips, Fees, and Degrees. ER 101 has provided an opportunity for TOO BLACK to perform at a wide variety of colleges and universities including UCLA, NYU, and Princeton University among a plethora of more. Overall, TOO BLACK has headlined venues throughout the country in over 20 states including the historical Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City, Jus Words in Philadelphia, Soul Speaks in Chicago, and Busboys & Poets in D.C. In 2015 his spoken word was featured in the online magazine AfroPunk.

Speech is My Hammer REMIX: Social Justice and Written Tongue
Bryant Smith Mr. Bryant Smith
Bryant K. Smith is a man with a vision. As the Founder and President of Smith Consulting and Networking, a comprehensive consulting, speaking, and training firm; his work often helps to make good people great and great people memorable. A seasoned educator, and higher ed administrator, Bryant has witnessed the power of diversity in the classroom, the boardroom, and on the field of competition. Born and raised on the South side of Chicago, Bryant K. Smith is a man with a past. A proud product of the Chicago Public School system and recipient of a state education, Bryant earned both his Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and his Master’s degree in Organizational Communication from Illinois State University with the help and support of a government funded Trio program. Upon graduation, Bryant spent the next 15 years working as an administrator and faculty member at 5 different colleges and universities and has helped thousands of students to graduate and find their purpose. For more than two decades Bryant K. Smith has been at the forefront of assisting business, athletic, and educational institutions train, inspire, and develop their employees, athletes, and students into world altering people.

Applications of Manhood and Womanhood
Sovatha Oum Mr. Sovatha Oum
Sovatha is the founder and CEO of The Experiential Based Leadership Learning. An organization that provides group initiative/team building; youth development; experiential learning; curriculum design; youth outdoor leadership; diversity training and the Killing Fields simulation. He has over 30 years of experience in team building initiative, especially outdoor leadership programs designed for at-risk youth, with over 15 years of those years working with gang members on building character based on the principle of: culture, leadership, experiential, authenticity, truth and forgiveness. He loves to combine leadership initiative and diversity training into a package in which he has over 20 years of experience facilitating with a broad group of audiences.

Leadership Institute
William Blackwell

William Blackwell
Bill Blackwell Jr. is the Executive Director of the American Indian Resource Center at Bemidji State University. Driven by a strong desire to make sure all American Indian student have access to successful education led Bill to the education field. Prior to BSU, Blackwell had served as the Director of Institutional Advancement, at Leech Lake Tribal College. A Retail Manger for 12 years Blackwell went back to school to positively impact Native communities through education. Blackwell serves on various on campus committees as well as sitting on The Native Youth Alliance Board and Treasurer of the Minnesota Indian Education Association Board.

Blackwell is an enrolled member of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa where he grew up. He currently resides in Bemidji with his two sons, TJ (11) and Brady (4). He has a B.A from Bemidji State University and an M.T.A.G from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

American Indian Culture

Thomas Berry

Thomas Berry
Thomas E. Berry Jr. is originally from South Bend Indiana, where he lived for 13 years. He then moved to the twin cities in the Summer of 1990. He was apart o the Farview Youth Line in North Minneapolis in the 90s where he was able to serve some time on the Hawthorne community youth leadership board. He also coached Basketball and Football during that time. He’s the founder of S.W.I.M., a youth program that served youth ages 13-18 in North Minneapolis. He is a husband and father of three and currently the Dean of Students at Sankofa Academy Underground North and he is a free lance photographer. Mr. Berry has been with his wife since high school. 21 years and six out of those years they have been married. His children range from ages ten to 19.


Jamal Abdur Salaam

Jamal Abdur Salaam
Mr. J is an Assistant Principal for the Saint Paul Public School District and is a proven leader with a reputation for building rapport with students, families and faculty in schools and in the community. Mr. J has been highly successful in the development and implementation of various school programs dealing with issues and needs surrounding youth and families. Particularly around culture, behavior, education, self-sufficiency skills and parent involvement. Mr. J brings to the conversation, over 20 years of experience working in education and arts and a drive for change to make the institution of education work better for all students, and he does so, keeping their needs at the center. As African-American male, Mr. J became a Muslim in high school, but was studying Islam in middle school, starting with the meaning of his name. Islam has kept him centered and is guiding his efforts to build a more just society in the community and in his occupation.

Muslim Culture