Faculty Highlight: Kelly Dalton

Faculty Highlight: Kelly Dalton
Kelly Dalton

New Century College welcomes back Kelly Dalton to another academic year in her new role as the assistant director of the Social Action and Integrative Learning (SAIL) program. In addition to supporting Patty Mathison, director of SAIL, Dalton will also oversee the coordination of all Alternative Break (AB) trips and teach in the Nonprofit Studies program.

Dalton came to Mason after completing undergraduate and graduate degrees in human nutrition at Virginia Tech. Following her licensure as a registered dietician, Dalton spent five years working in the Cooperative Extension Service at the University of the District of Columbia, providing nutrition education and outreach programs.

Dalton’s new position with SAIL is a perfect fit, as she volunteered on three AB programs in 2013, her first year with SAIL. In fact, Dalton’s first AB experience has shaped her long-term educational and career trajectory. In addition to working full-time with SAIL, Dalton is also pursuing a PhD in international education.

This summer, she presented conference papers in Spain and Denmark regarding the revival of indigenous languages, a topic she became interested in after volunteering with an AB community partner, Kamalbe, which works to improve education in rural areas of Guatemala.

Although she has just begun collecting data, Dalton’s preliminary research has demonstrated that educators find new energy and insight after volunteering overseas. She said, “[One teacher] is rethinking diversity and culture in her own classroom, and she is placing special focus on getting past assumptions about how people learn.”

Dalton finds a similar sense of personal reflection and growth in the AB students, and this is one of the program elements that most excites her. She said, “I love working with students. I love providing them with an opportunity to push themselves to grow and learn. When they participate in Alternative Break, there is a piece of them that is transformed. Ultimately, that is how you create understanding and a more peaceful and just society.”

For those interested in Alternative Break trips, please see additional information here.