Category: Faculty and Staff

Darnishia Slade

Darnishia Slade stands holding the Bayard Rustin award.

I’m still floored about winning the Bayard Rustin award. Ya know that phrase, do what you would do when no one’s looking? For me to get the award from the students was the highest compliment and really powerful for me.

I currently work in Pavlis Honors College, and it’s a lot of fun. In my 13-plus years at Michigan Tech, I can’t remember the last time I worked. There are long days, hard days, and difficult days, but I can’t remember the last time I worked. It never feels like work for me. I get all of my energy from students. I feel like I secretly get more than I give (laughs). I learn so much, and I’m always challenged in new and different ways. Higher ed is my calling in life; I love being on a college campus. There’s always something going on, something to do, something to think about, something to dialogue about. I’m also one of the advisors for the Society of Intellectual Sisters (SIS) and I was a member when I was a student here. I’m very passionate about it, so I continue to serve in that capacity with the young ladies.

I’m working on a degree, studying mental toughness and persistence. I’m living it and studying it (laughs). A lot of mental toughness and persistence has been studied in top performing athletes or the military. Bringing it into an academic context is pretty cool. The big juicy question is how can we get away from “oh, they have the right GPA or the right SAT score.” There’s just so much more to people that causes them to be successful and I think we just need to look at that a little more. The reason why I am getting the PhD is to be at the table, to be a voice for people who don’t have a voice at the table; so it’s bigger than me. I do believe there’s a level of influence that happens from being at the right table.

I always say “you don’t go through Michigan Tech, Michigan Tech goes through you,” and it is truly an experience. I want to pay it forward every day. The experiences and the support I had as a Michigan Tech student transformed my life. #mtuhumans #mymichigantech #pavlishonorscollege #phdlife

Curt and Rachel Eikenberry

Two or three years ago when Curt was out for two months because of a disease, I found out we were called Grandma and Grandpa Wads.

I’m Curt Eikenberry and that’s Rachel. We’ve been here since 2013. We’ve seen a lot of ’em come and go. The joke was, we moved up here for our grandkids and now we’ve got a thousand of ’em!

Rachel: He’s got their names down. And because he traveled so much downstate in former work, he knows all the little teeny tiny towns.

Curt: Where the little towns are.

Rachel: A few years ago he asked a kid, “Where are you from?” Finally, the kid said “Twining,” and Curt said, “Well I know where that is. There’s a John Deere dealership…”

Curt: He went and got a whole bunch of friends from that town and said, “Do you know what? He knows where…” So then there was four of ’em that came and talked to me! But that’s part of what we do: by having two of us we let—if anybody needs to talk or wants to talk, we can.

Rachel: And they do want to talk. When it first started happening it was like—we looked at one another and said “I really didn’t need to know that. But they needed to get rid of it.” So we were the ears that heard it! And it has to be the two of us because during those two months that he was not here, I didn’t have time to do that kind of thing.

Curt: Something we do is try to watch for kids who are struggling and get ‘em hooked up with whatever. Sooner or later I’m not going to catch somebody; so far I’ve been able to catch everybody, as far as I know anyway. I’m sure there’s a lot of other stuff we don’t catch up on. We see ’em probably more than anybody other than their roommate on campus on any given day…

Rachel: …the kids that are in and out of here. In terms of what else we do, I crochet. In the summertime before Tech is out, we do a lot of gardening. We have been able to raise a lot of the vegetables that we eat so we don’t need to buy any: carrots, potatoes, red beets, rutabagas, spinach, green beans.

Curt: We used to go home during our break. Rachel: Now we nap [or read] downstairs.