Campus Closeup: Shirley Brozzo

Shirley Brozzo (MERC) is going on her 16th year as an NMU employee. In addition to her position in the Multicultural Education and Resource Center, she serves as an adjunct assistant professor and an adviser to student organizations.

As associate director of MERC, Brozzo supervises the day-to-day operations of the office. She also oversees three grants, all part of the King-Chevez-Parks Initiative: the Future Faculty Fellowship grant, which provides funding to graduate students who are interested in becoming faculty; the Peer Advising Counseling and Education (PACE) program, which primarily targets incoming freshmen but assists anyone who needs help getting integrated into a university setting; and the GEAR-UP/College Day grant.

“A lot of minority students are first generation,” Brozzo said. “Through PACE, we focus on helping them find their way and feel like they do belong in college. With GEAR-UP/College Day, we provide outreach to North Star Academy and Gwinn High School. We work with a pre-determined cohort, which this year includes 10th and 11th graders, to help them see the value of staying in high school, graduating and going on to college.”

Brozzo teaches freshman seminar with probationary students. She has also served 15 years as an adjunct assistant professor with the Center for Native American Studies. Her courses include one on the Native American experience and one that she created called “Storytelling by Native American Women.”

“It’s probably interesting to note that I have guys who take the women’s storytelling class,” she said. “They do very well in there, but they’re usually pretty shy at first because they think, ‘I’m a guy, what do I have to add to a women’s storytelling class?’ But by the end, I draw them in and they feel comfortable.”

She is the adviser of Black Student Union and OUTLook, an organization that helps gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight and transgender students reach their fullest potential.  Brozzo was a co-founder of NMU ALLIES, now in its 11th year of providing an avenue for students and employees who wish to offer visible support for a safe university environment for those in the campus community who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (GLBT). Her community involvement includes the organization Wraparound, which helps provide services to families who have lost their children to foster care.  She is also an enrolled member of the Keweenaw Bay Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

The NMU graduate received a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She later added a master’s degree in English writing and an MFA in creative writing.  Brozzo said the combination works well, especially when she is writing grant applications. She has more than 60 publications to her credit, primarily short stories and poetry. Her favorite piece is a book she wrote for her MFA thesis on four generations of Native American women.

Brozzo has three children and a grandchild. She spends her spare time knitting and crocheting homemade mittens and scarves, working on jigsaw puzzles and—of course—reading. Her favorite author is Louise Erdrich, but over the holiday break, she was partial to J.K. Rowling and finished all seven Harry Potter books.


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Updated: February 17, 2010

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