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Uncovering the Hidden Stories

Boise State at the Capitol

May, 2019

There are stories all around us. If we listen closely, we may hear stories that make us proud. Or we may hear stories that make us uncomfortable. But – especially in our noisy and divisive public arena – it is important that we pay attention to the hidden voices of our neighbors and to consider how lives are impacted by our work as educators, leaders and citizens.

In this issue of Public Interest, we’ll show you how a group of our Urban Studies and Community Development students are uncovering the industrial past of Boise and other cities in the Northwest to preserve the nearly-forgotten stories of industrial workers and communities. We’ll also show you how our researchers are looking closely at the health and well-being of Latina farmworkers in Idaho right now. We’ll show our innovative course on Federal Tribal Relations taught by a tribal leader and which takes students out of Boise and to the Fort Hall Reservation. Finally, we’ll introduce you to a Criminal Justice alumna who exemplifies the spirit of public service in her work supporting crime victims.

We’re also proud to announce our 2019 Commitment to Idaho honoree is Karan Tucker of Jannus. Tucker and the employees and volunteers at Jannus demonstrate a deep commitment to the people of Idaho in the work they do every day. Check out the photos from the award ceremony, which also honored Melissa Davlin with the Enhancing Public Discourse Award, on our Facebook page.

Thanks for listening,

Corey Cook
Dean, School of Public Service
Boise State University

Allison Corona photo

Charting Boise’s Industrial Past

Boise hasn’t always been the green and sporty city it is today. The City of Trees once was a far more industrial place, home to steel plants, foundries, slaughterhouses, warehouses and a blue-collar workforce.

Jennifer Stevens, an environmental urban historian and assistant clinical professor in the School of Public Service, led an Urban Field Studies class in which students explored Boise’s Industrial past. Students also learned about the “deindustrialization” that transformed Boise into the city we now know.

Watch a Video about our Urban Field Studies Class >

Read From Blue-Collar to Green: Grant Will Help Historian Chart Boise’s ‘Deindustrialization’ on the Boise State website >

Latina farmworker working

School of Public Service Researchers Study Health and Well-Being of Latina Farmworkers

A team of Boise State faculty has been awarded a $65,000 grant to support pilot research exploring health and well-being disparities among Latina farm workers in Idaho. The team includes Cynthia Curl, an assistant professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Health; Rebecca Som Castellano, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology; Lisa Meierotto, an assistant professor in the School of Public Service; and Jennifer Schneider, a professor and PhD program coordinator for the School of Public Service’s public policy and administration program. The team also will include undergraduate and graduate students.

The study, “Assessment of Risk Factors for Health Disparities among Latina Farm Workers” was awarded through the Mountain West IDeA Clinical and Translational Research – Infrastructure Network (CTR-IN). A report on their findings will be published in June, 2019.

sign on door

School of Public Service Offers Innovative Course on Federal Tribal Policy

A course offered this semester took Political Science students to Eastern Idaho to study Federal Tribal Policy. Political Science 497 met for three intensive weekends in Boise with the fourth weekend at the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Fort Hall, Idaho.

The course was taught by Dr. LaNada War Jack, a Fort Hall resident and member of the Shoshone Bannock Tribes. Dr. War Jack served as the Executive Director for the Shoshone Bannock Tribes for three years and is presently the President of Indigenous Visions Network. She is the author of Colonization Battlefield.

Joanna Torres

A High Level of Sacrifice and Service

Alumna Spotlight: Joana Torres Fonseca, Victim Witness Coordinator

Navigating the court process during a time of emotional distress can be a confusing and frightening experience for victims of crime, many of whom may suffer from severe trauma. As a Victim Witness Coordinator, Joana Torres Fonseca helps inform and guide victims and witnesses through the court process.

Victim Witness Coordinators serve as a liaison between a crime victim and the assigned prosecuting attorney, informing victims of court decisions, developments and related information while relaying victim concerns and wishes to the attorney. They also communicate to the victim their rights and prepare victims and witnesses to testify at court hearings. In addition, Victim Witness Coordinators provide support and referrals to local services such as shelters and counseling services.

Torres Fonseca, who spent her childhood in Mexico and American Falls, Idaho, compares the challenge of being a victim in the legal system to that of living in a foreign country. “Having to navigate the court process during a time of hardship and emotional distress has to be one of the most difficult, foreign, and frightening moments for any victim,” she said. With a current client load of well over 100 victims and witnesses, her job can be demanding and emotionally exhausting, but it’s a challenge she embraces. “Growing up, I always had a desire to work in a career where I could help people,” she said.

Torres Fonseca “fell in love” with Boise and Boise State during a visit and decided to major in Criminal Justice early in her academic career. Her Criminal Justice degree prepared her for her career by providing foundational knowledge in theory of crime, criminal procedures, court proceedings, and law enforcement activities. It also helped instill a greater sense of public service by exposing her to different institutions and professionals.

She notes that a Boise State student internship with the Legal Department at the Idaho Department of Correction was particularly useful in preparing her for her career. At the Department of Corrections, she assisted attorneys by writing legal documents and assisting in preparation for court proceedings or responses to complaints. She also credits Criminal Justice professors, Dr. Tony Walsh and Dr. Lisa Bostaph in particular, with “guiding and challenging” her as her academic career transitioned into a professional one.

Torres Fonseca encourages current Criminal Justice students to fully engage in the learning process by seeking out and connecting with current Criminal Justice professionals in the community and participating in professional opportunities. But she also reminds students that “any career within Criminal Justice field requires a high level of sacrifice and service to the community and the citizens we serve.”

“The most inspiring aspect of my job as a Victim Witness Coordinator,” she said, “is working with strong and brave victims who having experienced difficult moments and emotional hardships and who turn terrible situations into ones filled with aspirations, healing and hope.”

Read more about Joanna Torres Fonseca and other SPS alumni on the School of Public Service website >

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