Alumna Sarah Balderas, owner of the immigration law firm Baleras Legal Group, LLC, is team teaching a night class with her former Newman professor Sonja Bontrager. She is co-teaching the Newman Studies Program (NSP) capstone course “Stories of Home and Immigration: Legal Perspectives.”
Balderas graduated from Newman in 2015 with her Bachelor of Arts degree in English. While at Newman, Balderas played softball and was the president of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO). She is now an avid reader and has a social media book club with her friends, which has a small social media following.
Balderas went on to get her Juris Doctorate for Washburn University School of Law in May 2018. She has always been a big fan of Newman’s English department and is thrilled to be back on campus serving in this role.
Team teaching this class with Bontrager has shown Balderas that it takes a lot of experience and preparation to be a great professor at this level of education.
“I love teaching alongside Sonja,” Balderas said with a smile. “I have so much respect for Professor Bontrager and how she takes control of a classroom to get the most out of our class time. I utilize her knowledge and experience while she utilizes my knowledge and experience as a previous student and now attorney. We work great together.”
With a small group of five students, the class involves in-depth, effective and personal discussions. NSP courses have four different categories and this one falls under the human story section.
A big focus for this course is the concept of home. Some of the concepts students will know after completing this course include: understanding how human cultures have created and developed the concept of a home; understand the reasons why people leave their homes and immigrate to other places; gain a greater awareness of other cultures and of the global phenomenon of immigration and better understand the human story.
Nayelly Rosales, a freshman biology pre-med major, said she is really enjoying this course. Learning about different immigration stories and how they tend to shape communities and families is one of her favorite parts of the class.
“It is very mind opening and the classroom is an open discussion where everyone’s thoughts are welcome. I believe that Sarah’s law degree has been very helpful and insightful in learning about how people in our community are impacted by immigration,” said Rosales.
Reading is a big part of this class and it’s one of Rosales’ favorite parts. Along with lively discussions, students act out scenes from the books they read or read chapters aloud.
“We have so much fun playing out reading and playing out scenes from literature pieces we are reading, which consist of ‘The Book of Ruth,’ ‘The House on Mango Street’ and ‘The Human Comedy.’ It has taught me how to get out of my comfort zone,” said Rosales.
Newman Studies Program (NSP)
The Newman Studies Program is an innovative, educational opportunity exclusively offered to Newman University students that prepares Newman graduates to adapt to a rapidly changing world in which future professions do not yet exist.