Faculty Highlights

Faculty Highlights

Adding Value Beyond the Classroom
JWU Magazine 2011 Spring Faculty Bonaparte 230x160

Cultivating Global Connections 

Students in the International Learning Community at the North Miami Campus are focused on contributing to and experiencing American culture. Students in the Black Student Union (BSU) are intent on asserting themselves as an African American community active on campus, and making others aware of their culture and history.

“Students in both groups are all enthusiastic; they’re ready to try anything and do anything. They’re very intelligent, very motivated. They share those similarities,” says Petas Bonaparte, instructor in the School of Arts & Sciences on the North Miami Campus. What the groups also have in common is Bonaparte as club advisor.

On campus teaching English, communication skills, composition and literature for four years, Bonaparte recalls being in clubs during her own student days and their vital impact on her education. “That interaction with other students I remember as being a highlight of my college experience,” Bonaparte says. “I want to share my expertise.”

Bonaparte guides the nearly 45 students in her learning community and the dozen BSU members who meet biweekly and for monthly outings, with characteristic high energy and imagination. The international group takes trips to places like colonial Williamsburg where members can learn about the history of America. The group also stages an annual holiday World Celebrations to spotlight cultural traditions. For the BSU, Bonaparte helped organize a highly praised presentation on the legacy of the Black arts movement and literary experience in New York during the 1960s.

“The contributions I make are always based on creativity — anything that’s new and exciting and current — and students love that,” she notes.

Her own affections encompass the entire campus community. “It was love at first sight. I loved the campus, the faculty, the energy and diversity of the students,” Bonaparte gushes. “Interaction with students is my reward.”

Image top: NMI instructor and club advisor Petas Bonaparte visited Williamsburg, Va., with members of the International Learning Community for a lesson in American history.

JWU Magazine 2011 Spring Faculty Harvey 170x150Fundamentals with Frosting 

There are areas of culinary study beyond labs and textbooks. Unexplored novel and tangential topics are the playground of the Providence Campus Pastry Arts Club. Christina Harvey, instructor in the International Baking & Pastry Institute, took over the defunct Cake Club seven years ago, changing the focus to pastry arts. “I try to expose students to parts of the pastry industry that they wouldn’t get in class,” Harvey says.

Food photography, demonstrations by JWU and outside chefs and hands-on sessions offer forums for exploration. “It gives them an outlet if they want to create something outside the classroom which they’re not exposed to,” she notes. The club meets at least once a month with members dictating direction. Field trips have included three excursions to the Chocolate Bar in Boston, Mass., and an outing at a local cinema for a showing of “King of Pastry.” Lectures include discussion of trends.

“Right now the key word is sustainability — what is within season and available whether culinary or pastry,” Harvey says. Club members consider the texture-altering magic of molecular gastronomy and sample gourmet chocolates harboring complex flavors. They explore ways pastry recipes are being shaped by dietary restrictions to offer gluten- or sugar-free alternatives.

Beyond the group’s educational sessions are its contributions to community. The Pastry Arts Club bakes close to 1,000 cookies during the holidays for the university’s Drop In & Decorate efforts. Students and staff ice the sweets to be distributed to local food pantries, emergency shelters, senior centers, lunch programs and other community agencies.

While Harvey’s own specialty is plated desserts, in her 11 years with the institute, she’s taught every area but bread. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without Food Network or Martha Stewart. Students are graduating from high school knowing that they want to be a food star,” she says. “I’m introducing pastry techniques that might spark their interest in other avenues that students are not exposed to in their education at JWU.”

Image above: Christina Harvey works with a student on a plated dessert.