Makena Neal

Learning Designer
Storyteller. Educator Celebrator. Cheese Lover.

Makena lives in two intersecting worlds- that of educator and that of learner- and while this is technically true (as Makena finishes the final year of her doctoral degree) Makena has always been proud to call herself a lifelong learner. Her goal is to help amplify, elevate, and celebrate the innovative practices of educators in the MSU community. Makena’s projects focus on efforts and initiatives that recenter teaching and learning for Spartans by advancing MSU’s culture toward recognition and support for all educators (anyone who contributes to the teaching and learning mission of the university). She takes a hands-on approach to collaboration, working across a variety of units on campus, and is dedicated to advancing aligned educator development in our decentralized spaces.In addition to her work at the Hub, Makena co-facilitates the MSU Graduate School’s Leadership Institute programs. Prior to her work here, she engaged in work at the Graduate School surrounding institutional storytelling, as well as directing Graduate Fellowships with the Liberty Hyde Bailey Scholars Program. Before she transitioned to part-time work, in order to give more energy and attention to her doctoral study, Makena worked as a state-wide youth Leadership and Civic Engagement Educator with MSU Extension.

Makena is a “Spartan-lifer.” First, she earned her BS in Environmental Studies and Agriculture Sciences with a specialization in Connected Learning. Then, she went on to complete her MS in Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies (now known as Community Sustainability Studies) with a focus on community food systems and a certificate in Adult Teaching and Learning.  Makena plans to earn her PhD in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education with a certification in Community Engagement in Spring 2020. Makena lives with her spouse, Curtis, and their two dogs – and this academic year will be bringing two babies into the world…her dissertation and their first child.


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