Meet the Mentors
Vivian Alvarez is a visual artist in painting, drawing, paper crafts and photography. She works collaboratively with the youth to interpret, critique, and re-imagine the physical, social, and cultural environments. She has developed and implemented innovative, standards-based art and design curricula with high school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Vivian has worked within a variety of school and community contexts, including DePaul University, Ogden Elementary School and the Marwen Foundation.
In her own words:
"I have been a visual artist since the age of three. Seriously...I used to take scissors my mother strictly forbade me from touching and secretly created collages from weekend ads. By the age of six I had an ample portfolio on figure drawing, tracing, still lifes and book making which I proudly presented to my first grade teacher (instead of walking in with a book bag). As a teenager I attended art-based organizations similar to YOU Media such as Randolph Street Gallery, Marwen and Gallery 37."
Vivian has 12 years of professional experience in the non-profit field with artwork exhibited at the Smart Museum in University of Chicago. Vivian’s academic achievements include graduating with Honors from DePaul University with a Bachelor of Arts in business administration and a Minor in fine arts, master core research in art as pedagogy, and graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Master of Arts in Art Education.
Taylor Bayless is a librarian and Chicago native. After finishing a BFA in Cinema Studies at New York University, Taylor decided to leave the entertainment world behind to become a librarian. In 2008 she graduated from the School of Information at University of Michigan with an MSI in Library and Information Services. Taylor is the leader of the Library of Games video game podcast and blog as well as the leader of Geek Craft. She loves manga is always wants to see everyone's manga style artwork!
A Hip Hop artist and singer, Camellia currently serves Chicago's Englewood community as the YOUmedia Cyber Navigator, at the Thurgood Marshall Library. As a child she was very fond of nature, animals, and her peers. Her education began at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where she enjoyed science and art the most. As a teenager, Camellia struggled with her behavior, became involved in Chicago's street life, and eventually dropped out of high school during her Sophomore year. Camellia turned everything around after she voluntarily participated in a 6-month military leadership development program with the National Guard, and graduated high school a year early.
At 17, she discovered her interest in digital media when she interned with Free Spirit Media at the Gary Comer Youth Center, where she worked as a camera operator, actress and video editor. At 18, she began mentoring with the Chicago Youth Centers, completed two more internships, one technology and the other business; and developed her first digital media program model- a four year, global, peer-to-peer mentorship program under the supervision of Think Global School.
At 19, Camellia began recording her original songs, and left Chicago to pursue music, performing in New York City, and opening the stage for artists like Nas, Damian Marley, and the Dirty Projectors.
Because of her own journey, she has a special way with children, especially troubled teens and our at risk youth. Things on her radar: a college education, her first album, and more traveling. Camellia's hobbies include reading, walking at the lakefront, motivational speaking, and really-- just spreading knowledge and Love.
Marshall Caal is new to the YOUmedia space. Marshall graduated from Dominican University and received her MLIS in 2010. Marshall loves to crochet. You can find her crocheting in the train, car or cafe in her spare time. Her hobbies include but are not limited to: crocheting, making jewelry, listening to audiobooks, watching black and white films, listening to music (swing, big band, Dolly Parton, Gaby Moreno, etc.), sewing, jamming on her clarinet during the Christmas holidays, dancing, poetry, reading, roller skating, playing pool, soccer, football and more. Marshall loves storytelling especially listening to others tell their stories. If you have a story to tell, Marshall is your audience. Her future goal is to someday be a roller derby librarian.
YOUmedia Coordinator/Lead Mentor
Mike Hawkins (aka Brother Mike) is the heart and soul of YOUmedia. The Associate Director and Lead Mentor for Digital Youth Network, Brother Mike came to DYN with eight years’ experience working in the classroom at Carter G. Woodson on Chicago’s South Side. Brother Mike specializes in spoken word and hip-hop. In 1999, he co-founded a performance group called Poetree Chicago, which brought spoken word and hip-hop together to venues and communities throughout Chicago. The group was selected for the Illinois Arts Council’s Traveling Artist Roster, creating positive, uplifting material that could inspire and educate. In 2004, the group produced its first album, Positive Pollution.
As a DYN mentor, Brother Mike has worked across media, from spoken word to radio to graphic design. Most notably he helped develop a multi-media arts class called “iRemix Records,” in which sixth-grade students analyze and critique the music industry while learning how to create their own music. Students take on multiple roles as producers, artists, managers, designers, and videographers, with the goal of creating a CD and presenting their work to a larger audience. Brother Mike is the creator of such projects as Change Society, which engages students in media creation with a focus on civic engagement, and Lyricist Loft, which provides a pathway for students to showcase their work to a public audience.
“Students have the power to participate in the media, to react to the media, to create the media, to be the media. With this newfound power, our youth don’t have to simply be fed what the media presents; they can join in the process, to provide a broader more and relevant perspective, while at the same time defining themselves in new, and powerful ways. This idea of redefinition can influence the birth of a new youth cultural renaissance.”
Matt Jensen is a CyberNavigator in the downtown YOUmedia branch at Harold Washington Library. You can often find him at the front desk engaged in conversations about books, games, movies, music, or anything else one might argue about. Matt leads the Homeschool Club every Thursday in various arts and crafts projects and enjoys working with paper and paint as much as video games and laptops.
Matt came to YOUmedia with several years experience working in various Libraries and several years experience working with teens, but never at the same time. Considering that these are two of Matt's favorite things, working in YOUmedia is basically his dream come true. In August of 2012, he graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with his MLIS. He hopes to have his title changed one day from CyberNavigator (which is a name, albeit cool sounding, that is made up and means nothing) to Librarian (which is a title signifying that one is a superhero master of the universe).
Jeff Lassahn is an artist whose work explores the politics and economy of modern life in media ranging from lithography to video and animation. He is the Assistant Producer of the The Cluster Project, a groundbreaking web-based project that will present a wide array of potent artwork on the pervasiveness of war in modern society.
In printmaking, he is producing a series of lithographs entitled Portraits of the New American Economy that focuses on the human impact of the ongoing “Great Recession.” Portions of the series have been displayed at the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative, where he is also a working member.
Marcus currently leads YOULIT magazine collecting teens’ writing, photography and art work helping them curate it all into an online magazine and website. He has also led YOUmedia’s book discussion group and instigated more than a few discussions about cycling at the front desk . During summers in YOUmedia he assisted in the development of special summer projects including The News Know How Project and Engage! Picturing America through Civic Engagement program.
Marcus joined YOUmedia’s mentor staff after working at the Chicago Public Library’s South Chicago Branch (And he biked to work there, too) At the South Chicago Branch, Marcus created children’s story times, developed afterschool programs, and served by extending the Library’s services and resources to neighborhood schools and organizations. Before coming to the Library Marcus taught preschool and substituted in Chicago Public Schools.
Julia Pyatetsky is an extremely animated self-proclaimed nerd, who also happens to be a librarian. Hailing originally from Kiev, Ukraine, but based in the Chicagoland area since she was 5, Julia received her MLIS at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in August of 2012, with a certificate in Youth Services. When Julia is not in the YOUmedia space, you can also find her in the Youth Services and Adult Services departments of Wilmette Public Library. Beyond her obvious obsession of working at public libraries, Julia is also an avid storyteller, who participated in the 2011 Storytelling Festival through the Center for Children’s Books in Champaign, IL. When she’s not telling stories, Julia spends her time listening to music, reading books for all ages and being an overall bibliophile, and playing nerdy board games like The Settlers of Catan. Beyond that, Julia also has a serious love for dancing, traveling, and playing pool.
A librarian since 2003, Adrienne has been teen librarian (in practice and spirit) since 2005 working with teens in many library roles in Massachusetts, Ohio, Arizona, and now Illinois. She considers herself a picky reader of teen fiction and a dabbler in many things: writing, blogging, video creating and editing, knitting, painting, amateur photography (of the iPhone kind) and much more. Her current interests include memes, phone apps, and books. But that could change as new dabbling opportunities emerge. She values interest-driven activities and initiatives for YOUmedia. Adrienne is a contributing editor for The Unabashed Librarian and reviews teen fiction and professional collection titles for School Library Journals.
Daniel is a new cybernavigator at Youmedia for the Harold Washington Library branch. He is currently an University of Illinois at Chicago student majoring in Business Management with a minor in International Business. You can find him sitting at the front desk usually and is quiet but if you have the pleasure of getting to know him, he is cooler than the other side of the pillow. His interests include reading, video games, cooking, watching baseball, and local politics. Daniel is also vice president of Moneythink; an University of Illinois at Chicago student organization that emphasizes the importance of entrepreneurship and financial literacy to high school students in the classroom.
Jami Thompson arrived in Chicago by way of Detroit to learn the ways of librarianship at Dominican University. She has been making zines and comics since middle school and helped co-organize the 2013 Chicago Zine Fest. She believes self-publishing, whether in zines or online, is a great way to share stories and experiences. She enjoys reading young adult fiction, especially fantasy, science fiction, and horror.
Graphic Design Mentor
With a background in theater and design, Niq comes to DYN with a passion for the collaborative artistic and education process. Working as the marketing chair for an educational theater company in Chicago, as well as on marketing committees for other theaters and filmmakers, Niq has learned to draft images that portray information, sell a product, and stand alone as their own art pieces.
Niq’s interest in the arts stemmed from an upbringing rich in art museums (touring some of the finest museums in the country) and animation, including frequent trips to an actual studio where he watched teams of people working together to bring an artistic vision to life. He has worked in a number of artistic mediums including (but not limited to) performance, sculpture, installation art, collage, story and poetry, and songwriting and performance. He's excited to join DYN as a mentor and for the opportunity to collaborate through digital mediums with so many other young and innovative artists.
Aldo Vasquez was born and raised on the north side of Chicago and is currently the YOUmedia CyberNavigator at the Rudy Lozano branch in Pilsen. Aldo has been working with the Chicago Public Library for a little over 5 years now and has worked in 7 different libraries located in various neighborhoods all over the city. Working in such unique communities, Aldo has been able to work and assist a diverse collection of individuals.
Aldo has always been passionate about helping others. He believes in helping people find solutions that meet their specific needs and is dedicated to making this world a better place, one patron at a time. Naturally, Aldo is currently pursing a degree in social work. Aldo also has a great appreciation for all types of music and is an avid concert attendee. Aside from his social work career, he hopes to one day be a music journalist. He currently writes reviews for music concerts and festivals that take place in Chicago for various blogs.
When Aldo isn't busy helping YOUmedia patrons he spends his free time reading comic books, playing video games, watching sports, traveling, and listening to music.