Director: Erika Buhring was born in Wisconsin and grew up there, attended Grinnell College in Iowa, and graduated with her BA in Sociology in 1995. While attending Grinnell in addition to her academic work she was a member of the tennis team, jazz band, and she studied abroad in Kenya, Africa. Following her graduation she worked at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora as a Residential Counselor, as well as helped students through various outreach programs in the math department. Following this position she was hired as an assistant director for Boys Hope Girls Hope which was a non-profit organization that worked with children in need in Chicago. Her excitement and commitment to education grew in various directions when she then took a job with the Harper Court Foundation in Hyde Park, IL that worked with art programming in the schools and neighboring organizations. During this time Buhring also attended the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and received her Master’s of Education and her Ph.d. in Curriculum and Instruction. In addition, while she went to UIC as she neared graduation, she and her husband, Kurt Buhring, an associate professor in Religious Studies at Saint Mary’s College, as well as their son Jackson, moved to South Bend. After completing her Ph.D. she took a full time assistant professor position in the department of Social Foundations, Policy Studies, and Research at Concordia University Chicago. Most recently Buhring comes to Saint Mary’s from Monmouth College where she was an assistant professor in the Educational Studies department.
She is looking forward to working with the various communities and organizations connected with Saint Mary’s that would strive to foster the spirit of lifelong learning as students merge theoretical and practical lessons together to formulate their own repertoires of experience.
220 Student Center
Assistant Director: Samira Payne is the Assistant Director of the Office for Civic and Social Engagement, and the Director of the College Academy of Tutoring (CAT) Program at Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, IN. She is a Chicago native and graduated from Marquette University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare and Justice. She earned a Master's of Education in Instructional Leadership- Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois- Chicago in 2014. Samira has been a teacher and social worker in Chicago and Milwaukee, working with youth from kindergarten through high school. She looks forward to working with Saint Mary's students in helping to create meaningful experiences and connections within the community.