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Julia Jalowiecjj headshotJulia Jalowiec is a multidisciplinary artist based out of Dallas, TX. She currently works at Southern Methodist University in the Division of Art.  Julia began her education at Collin College, and later earned her BFA from Southern Methodist University where she graduated with honors. Julia was an Egaged Learning Fello, one of SMU's highest honors and as a Fellow, she traveled to France where she furthered her research in art and its ability to heal. Her research was published in Kairos, a journal for SMU's Honors Research Association. Julia's art has been shown at SITE131, the Amarillo Museum of Art, and she was chosen by CADD (Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas) as part of the New Texas Talent 2018.  




M'Banna Kantako, Masters Student, UNT
Keynote 2018

M'Banna Kantako was born in Springfield Il, in 1981. He is a humanitarian who has always led by example as he strives to teach the importance of community service. M'Banna graduated from Collin College in 2014 with his Associates of Arts degree where he was also the President of the Black Student Organization. M'Banna went on to graduate from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Science degree with concentrations in Political Science, History and International Studies. M'Banna is currently in his last year of studies completing his Masters degree in Public Administration at the University of North Texas. He is passionate about the pursuit of purpose and community service, and aspires to one day be Secretary General of the United Nations after becoming President of the United States of America. 




Brandy D. Spencer, Lifelong Learner  
2017 speaker

In December of 2016 Brandy D. Spencer graduated Magna Cum Laude from Southern Methodist University, earning her BA in English and History with distinction in both departments. However, this was not Brandy’s first foray into the world of academia. Like many typical American kids, she was pushed into college directly out of high school. In 1991 she enrolled in the fledgling Collin County Community College, but the typical American path was not quite the journey the universe had in mind for her. After fighting a proliferative cellular disorder throughout her adolescence, Brandy was ready to live her life rather than spend four-plus years in college working toward an unknown destination. After one aimless semester at Collin, she opted instead for a quick ten-month cosmetology program and spent her twenties dressing fabulous hair and living an overindulgent, glamorous lifestyle in University Park. By 2001 she had become restless in her superficial routine, so she sold all of her possessions and spent most of the next decade traveling the globe. As she met new people and discovered different cultures Brandy became fascinated with food and its significant relationship with community. In 2010 she enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu where she began her research in food history. Earning an AAS in Culinary Arts led her to a position as the research assistant on a highly acclaimed, narrative heavy cookbook, which won the prestigious James Beard Award the year following its publication. After completing the cookbook project in 2012 her desire to continue researching and writing provoked her to test the waters of traditional college once again. Twenty years after her first attempt she enrolled in the rebranded Collin College. By this time both Brandy and the college had grown and changed, and she then found Collin to be her perfect match. Brandy’s two years at Collin College taught her that formal education is a reward that isn’t limited to only one demographic, and she sings the school’s praises to anyone who will listen!


Currently, Brandy is exploring graduate school options, navigating the blogosphere, and looking forward to whatever exciting experiences life has in store ahead of her.




Jason Wang, MBA 
CEO of Byte Size Moments

Jason Wang picture

Early in life, Jason faced great adversity and hardship. To escape, he turned to a life of hustling, gambling, and eventually joined a gang. At the age of 15, Jason was incarcerated and earned a 12 year sentence, 3 of which he spent within a juvenile prison. It was here that Jason finally committed to turning his life around.

Since being released from prison, Jason has graduated from UT Dallas with a double masters (MBA, International Business), has raised over a quarter million dollars in private funding for non-profits, serves on the board of directors for TCJC, is featured in the hit documentary, Chasing Bonnie and Clyde, and is the CEO and Founder of Byte Size Moments, a company specializing in hand delivering gifts and capturing the reaction (featured on MSNBC)!

Jason is passionate about entrepreneurship and creating positive change in the lives of formerly incarcerated individuals.





Jennifer K. L. Buchan
Published Author & Student - University of North Texas

Jennifer K. L. Buchan attended Collin College from 2011 to 2013. She is a published fiction and nonfiction writer, a senior at the University of North Texas (UNT), and the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship award. Jen (her preferred name, as she encourages informality whenever possible) is an active member of UNT’s Honors College and several honor societies, most notably, Phi Theta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Tau Delta, an English honor society, and Triota, an honor society for Gender and Women’s Studies. She heads a small creative writing group in Denton, Texas, and has a piece forthcoming in this year’s North Texas Review.

Jen’s research deals primarily with gender and class issues, especially as they pertain to domestic violence and abuse. She is passionate about helping others see their own potential and strength. As both a child and adult survivor of domestic violence, she advocates for those unable to speak for themselves. Currently, she is researching how to open a women's shelter close to her home. While she devotes free time volunteering at the local animal shelter and preventing animal cruelty, she still thinks her dog is the best dog in the world (nothing can convince her otherwise). Ultimately, she hopes to write a great American novel, buy a farm, and save everyone. You can find her at




Alex T. Williams
PhD Student - University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School

Alex T. Williams attended Collin College from 2006 – 2008, where he began studying the immigration debate in Texas. After transferring to the University of North Texas, he was awarded undergraduate fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the Ronald McNair Program. As a second-year doctoral student at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, he was recently awarded the Google Journalism Fellowship and the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship.

Alex's research explores how political, economic, and technological changes influence media innovation and political discourse. He has studied the role partisan news websites played in spreading the derogatory political term “anchor babies”; how the expansion of user-generated content in newspapers led to more moral and cultural arguments against immigration being printed; and the evolution of the debate over the digital paywall model in the newspaper industry. His work has been published by the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication and Digital Journalism, and presented at conferences held by the American Sociological Association and the National Communication Association. His address will focus on the benefits of undergraduate research and practical steps students can take to build upon their research.




Ray Wheatley, MS, CLP
UT Southwestern Medical Center - Office For Technology Development

Ray Wheatley is Director for Technology Transfer and Cooperative Research in the Office for Technology Development at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. He joined UT Southwestern in 1984 and has worked in technology transfer since 1990 where he and his staff are responsible for the management and licensing of UT Southwestern's intellectual property (patents, trade secrets and copyrights). Mr. Wheatley has negotiated hundreds of various intellectual property and license agreements, working with US and foreign companies including major pharmaceutical companies, venture capital firms, and leading medical device manufacturers in their efforts to license products such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, software, and bioengineered research materials. He has been an invited speaker at many national and international meetings and has spoken on a variety of topics. Mr. Wheatley is active in both the Licensing Executives Society (LES) and the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) and served as a liaison between these two associations for 3 years. Mr. Wheatley has a BS degree in biochemistry from the University of Illinois and a MS degree in health care administration from Texas Woman's University. He is also a recipient of a Certified Licensing Professional credential.




Alan R. Sanders, M.D.

- Graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Biology (1986), from Baylor College of Medicine in 1991, and attended University of California at Los Angeles - Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital and West LosAngeles - Veterans Affairs Medical Center from 1991-1995 as an Intern, Resident, & Chief Resident in Adult Psychiatry.

- He previously held medical licenses for California and Texas, is currently licensed in Illinois, and is board certified in psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

- Dr. Sanders has been appointed to numerous faculty positions including but not limited to: NIMH-IRP as a Sr. Staff Fellow, the University of Chicago as Assistant Professor & Full Professor, Northwestern University as Associate Professor, and is currently the Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago. He has also worked at the University of California at Los Angeles, West Los Angeles – VACM, the University of Chicago Hospitals and is currently working at Medical Group NorthShore University Health Systems.

- Dr. Sanders has been an Investigator, Founder, Director, & Associate Director of Research, of respectively, Genetic, Molecular Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences, Psychiatry, Psychiatric Genetics and is currently & Co-Vice Chair of The IRB at NorthShore University Health Systems.

- He has served on numerous committees, mentored countless students, received a dozen scholarships, & won scores of accolades. Some of those awards include: Federal Junior Fellow, Departments of Respiratory Therapy, Radiology, and Social Work, Amarillo VAMC, Research Assistant, Institute of Developmental Biology, Texas A&M University, Top Graduating Senior and Gonfalonier, College of Science, Texas A&M University, Faculty Achievement Award, College of Science, Texas A&M University, Texas Medical Association Mental Health and Mental Retardation Committee, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Medical Student Research Training Fellow, Baylor College of Medicine, Alpha Omega Alpha Student Research Fellow, Baylor College of Medicine 8th Annual Bingham Award for scholarship in schizophrenia, Schizophrenia Foundation of Kentucky and Kentucky Mental Health Association, American Psychiatric Association - Leadership Conference, American Psychiatric Association - Research Colloquium for Young Investigators, Association for Academic Psychiatry – GlaxoSmithKline, Junior Faculty Development Award, Research Career Development Award, NorthShore University HealthSystem Fellow, Searle Junior Fellows Program & The Searle Center for Teaching Excellence Northwestern University.

- Dr. Sanders has also acted as an Editor and Reviewer for the following publications:
Biomedical Psychiatry, BMC Genetics, Genes, Brain and Behavior, Human Genetics, Journal of Affective Disorders, Molecualr Psychiatry, Neuroscience Letters, and Pharmacogenetics and Genomics.

- Dr. Sanders has received various research grants, mostly from the National Institutes of Health, over the past decade, totaling millions of dollars in research support.

- Finally, Dr. Sanders has had 63 original, Peer-Reviewed research articles published, he has written 5 Editorials, Reviews, Chapters, Books, and Commentaries. He has created 3 Web-Based publications and other on-line Teaching Materials, holds 3 Patents, and in the past 5 years alone, has Presented his work at 13 different conferences.



Dr. M.K. Underwood

Dr. Underwood, Ashbel Smith Professor of Psychology in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at UTD.

In 1999 Dr. Underwood “received a $3.4 million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct the first-ever study of the content of teens’ texts, e-mails and instant messages. Dr. Underwood has been studying 250 children and their families since 2003, when the students were in the third grade. The study began as an effort to understand how children make and keep friends. As the students grew up, it became clear that electronic communication was an enormous part of their social lives. Underwood adapted her study to capture this important aspect of the students’ social development” (UTD News Center).

Dr. Underwood’s scholarly interests lie within the broad domains of children's emotion regulation, peer relations, and developmental psychopathology. She earned her doctoral degree from Duke University in child clinical psychology in 1991, and then joined the faculty and was granted tenure at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. In September of 1998, Dr. Underwood began her appointment as Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Because gender and emotion regulation and peer relations are intimately intertwined, other recent work has explored the extent to which empirical research supports the claims that boys' and girls' social groups are sufficiently different as to be separate cultures. Other studies have examined the long-term outcomes associated with childhood peer problems for girls, including delinquency but also adolescent motherhood.

Research Interests
“My research focuses on how children express anger in their peer relationships. We are particularly interested in the more subtle forms of anger expression common among girls, behaviors we call social aggression. We are observing how children use social aggression across contexts (face-to-face, behind-the-back, and online), and beginning to investigate the developmental precursors and outcomes associated with social aggression” (Dr. Underwood).

Recent Publications
Underwood, M.K., Beron, K.J., & Rosen, L.H. (2009). Continuity and change in social and physical aggression from middle childhood through early adolescence. Aggressive Behavior, 35, 357-375.

Underwood, M.K., Beron, K.J., Gentsch, J.K., Galperin, M.B. & Risser, S. D. (2008). Interparental Conflict Resolution Strategies, Parenting Styles, and Children’s Social and Physical Aggression with Peers. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 32, 566-579.

Underwood, M. K. (2003). Social aggression among girls. Guilford Press.



Mark P. Orbe, Ph.D.

A native of New London, Connecticut and a product of New London public schools, Dr. Orbe is a internationally known educator, author, and consultant/trainer. With a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication (Ohio University, 1986) and a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration (University of Connecticut, 1989), Dr. Orbe has worked as a student affairs administrator at several colleges and universities. In 1993, he received his doctoral degree in Interpersonal/Intercultural Communication from Ohio University and began teaching full-time.

Dr. Orbe’s teaching and research interests center on the inextricable relationship between culture and communication as played out in a number of contexts (intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup, mass media). He teaches a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses (interpersonal communication, interracial/intercultural communication, communication theory, critical research methods, and gender and communication) and is actively involved in numerous research projects. He has presented over 80 papers at regional, national, and international academic conferences, and published close to 100 books, articles in scholarly journals, and chapters in edited books. His publications have appeared in a variety of journals including: Communication Education; Critical Studies in Media Communication; Communication Theory; Health Communication; Race, Class, and Gender; Howard Journal of Communication; Management Communication Quarterly; International Journal of Intercultural Relations; Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, Women’s Studies in Communication, and Communication Methods and Measure.
To date, he has published seven books: Constructing Co-Cultural Theory: An Explication of Culture, Power, and Communication (Sage Publications, 1998); Interracial Communication: Theory Into Practice (with T. Harris, Wadsworth Publishing, 2001); Building Diverse Communities: Applications of Communication Research. (with T. McDonald and T. Ford-Ahmed, Hampton Press, 2003); Contemporary Issues in Interpersonal Communication (with C. Bruess, Roxbury Publishing, 2005); The Same and Different: Acknowledging the Diversity Within and Between Cultural Groups,, (with B. Allen and L. Flores, NCA Press, 2006); Communicating Within/Across Organizational Contexts (with B. Allen and L. Flores, NCA Press 2007); and Intercultural Communication in a Transnational World (with L. Flores and B. Allen, NCA Press 2009). A second edition of Interracial Communication: Theory Into Practice was published Sage Publications in 2007.

In addition to his award-winning teaching, research, and service accomplishments, Dr. Orbe has actively sought out opportunities – across the U.S. and abroad – to utilize his expertise beyond the walls of the university. Specifically, he has worked with a number of corporate, educational, health-care and community-based organizations in terms of promoting communication competence in an increasingly diverse society. His range of expertise includes communication and diversity, community building, strategic planning, mentoring, and academic writing/publishing.

At present, Dr. Orbe is Professor of Communication & Diversity in the School of Communication at Western Michigan University where he holds a joint appointment in the Gender and Women’s Studies Program. He also is the immediate past Editor of The Journal of Intergroup Relations and the current Co-Editor of The International and Intercultural Communication Annual. From 1993-1997, he served as an Assistant Professor of Communication at Indiana University Southeast, where he also served as Department Coordinator and the first campus-wide Director of Diversity.