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Michelle Vazquez Jacobus brings a range of diverse perspectives to her positions at USM LAC. Her perspectives hail from her range of experiences as a lawyer, as a social worker, as a college instructor and as a student herself; as well as her personal experiences growing up and living biculturally. Michelle is also USM LAC’s Coordinator of Community Service Learning. She has lived, studied and traveled extensively in Spain, England, France, Guatemala and Belize, and thus, has viewed the U.S. from a range of global perspectives. She has also practiced law in San Francisco and Boston MA where her clients ranged from corporate giants to multiply disadvantaged individuals and families. Prior to coming to USM, Michelle was a bilingual school social worker in the public schools in Brooklyn New York, where she became intensely familiar with the devastations inflicted on children growing up in poverty in dense urban areas. Lately, as a college instructor of primarily non-traditional students, Michelle has been fortunate to merge the current events in the world and locally with her teaching and learning in the classroom. Being a wife, as well as a mother of three, Michelle has also recently been challenged to impart and integrate her ideals in a positive way with her family and to the next generation. Michelle lends this range of experience with privilege and disadvantage; with multiple cultures and lifestyles; as well as with the obligations of living multiple roles to her perspective on policy issues.
Michelle’s research interests include a focus on community capacity building; building resiliency in vulnerable children and youth; community organizing of disempowered peoples; and promoting diversity. She is a founder and steering committee member of the new Downtown Education Collaborative (DEC), an innovative service learning collaborative that includes Bates, CMCC, Andover College and USM LAC working collaboratively to foster cooperative community engagement projects. Working with DEC, and community partner Lots to Gardens, Michelle and USM colleague David Harris have been working with students to develop a comprehensive multidimensional Community Food Assessment of the Lewiston area. Michelle has also been collaborating with local community education agencies such as Lewiston Adult Education to develop college aspirations and welcome non-traditional and multicultural students to USM LAC through interactive college tours. Michelle is also beginning work on a multiphased outreach, assessment and “wrap-around” intervention program aimed at vulnerable children, particularly those whose families are recent immigrants to the U.S.