Lisa Whalen has a Ph.D. in postsecondary and adult education from Capella University and an M.A. in creative and critical writing from Hamline University. She teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.
In her spare time, she rides horses and volunteers at the Animal Humane Society.
Narratives impact a person's cognitive, social, emotional, and psychological development. They shape how individuals experience pain, view the world, and conceive of personal identity. Narrative therapy is an important tool for healing, and is especially powerful when combined with equine interaction.
Empathy binds people to those they care about and can motivate strangers to risk their lives for one another. It is essential to all relationships and to maintaining functional societies. Yet we know relatively little about its neurological roots or why it varies in intensity from one person to another. My Ph.D. dissertation examined links between college students' reading habits and their level of empathy.
I began riding as a beginner in my 30s and have since progressed to advanced jumping classes. I'm passionate about horses' capacity for fostering healing and personal growth among those who interact with them.
I volunteer for Minnesota's Animal Humane Society by fostering kittens until they are old enough to be adopted and assisting with adoptions at a local shelter. Animals have so much to teach humans. I'm humbled by what I have learned and continue to learn from them.
Music, Language, and Learning
In college, I wrote a senior honors thesis on the importance of music to social and emotional survival among American slaves. As a professional, I have researched and presented on connections between music and language, especially as they pertain to teaching writing.
I love nearly every form of music. I played the flute in marching band, concert band, orchestra, and as a church soloist for many years.