Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A tasteful tour of Costa Rica



We’re almost to the end of the third module of classes now, and our group is busy studying Latin American Civilization and Culture. Together we’ve covered everything from ancient Aztec and Inca civilizations to the Latin American wars of independence in the 18th and 19th centuries.

A few of us took a day for a tasteful tour of Café Britt, a leading innovator in gourmet Costa Rican coffee. I’m not big on coffee myself, but fortunately Britt also specializes in cookies, nuts and chocolates (highly recommend the dark chocolate-covered pineapple jelly).

Two weekends ago we piled into the buses to head to La Fortuna, a small town northwest of San José in the shadow of two huge volcanoes, but first we took a high-flying detour to a huge jungle zip-line course. The Tarzan Swing was a surprise, not to mention the “Superman” line for the grand finale.

Arriving at La Fortuna, we got our first breathtaking look at Arenal Volcano, a 5,500-foot geological wonder with clouds surrounding the summit. Its most recent eruption was in 2010, and visitors can occasionally spot thin lava flows near the crater.

We spent a night in the natural hot springs that flow from the Tabacón River at Arenal’s base. Trust me, they’re better than any hot tub you’ll ever find. We’re coming into the homestretch now, and the daily rains have finally died down as the dry season (mid-November to April) steadily approaches.

— Joshua Lloyd #HuskyUnleashed #HuskyAbroad

Joshua Lloyd is a junior Spanish and Interpersonal Communication major spending this fall studying abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica. Through SOL, she is studying Latin American culture and civilization.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Empowerment through philanthropy



On Jan. 9, 2015, while my college peers were enjoying their winter breaks and time off from school, I sat anxiously in a waiting room at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Over the course of the previous 24-hours, my family received a life-changing phone call: they had found a heart for my dad, after nine months and nine days on the organ donation “waiting list.” For over 10 years, my dad was suffering with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a genetic heart condition and eventually went into congestive heart failure.

On top of the heart problems, my dad also has primary progressive multiple sclerosis, the rarest form of this disease. My dad receiving a heart transplant was a blessing. However, my family endured many setbacks because of my dad’s heart transplant.

A few weeks later, I headed back to Bloomsburg for my second semester of college. The guilt of leaving my family, especially my dad, during such a hard time was eating away at my conscious.

I needed to find something to distract myself from the guilt and the stress, so I decided to go through the sorority recruitment process with my roommate. When I first decided to rush, I did not expect to end up anywhere; however, my whole perspective of Greek Life changed when I met the sisters of Delta Phi Epsilon.

It’s hard to explain that instant connection you feel when you find where you’re supposed to be, but as I mingled with several of the DPhiE sisters, I had never felt more comfortable. It felt like I knew all of these young women my whole life and not just several minutes. As the rounds of recruitment continued, I got to know more sisters and about the sisterhood of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority. While the bond I felt within the sisterhood was certainly part of the reason I joined, what drew me in to this sorority was one of the philanthropies: the National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

Anorexia is a disorder that has affected several members of my family, most recently including myself. I was drawn in to the idea that I could be a part of a sisterhood where empowering women were empowering other women on the importance of body positivity. When I learned that DPhiE was an organization that did this, I felt compelled to not only be a part of that empowerment, but also spearhead it.

Shortly after joining Delta Phi Epsilon in March 2015, I ran and was voted as the coordinator of community service position for the following academic year. As the community service coordinator, I worked directly under the vice president of programming (VPP) where I supported the fundraising, philanthropic, and community service efforts for our chapter. Because of my experience and passion for all three of our philanthropies, I decided to run for VPP the following year.

Empowering other women was one of the many goals I set to accomplish as VPP. I got the idea to create an awareness video for the National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders from a sister from another chapter. My vision for this video was to show that every woman has things they are insecure about, but there are so many positive things about each of us that we should focus on instead. In addition, I teamed up with the Women’s Resource Center for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Through our partnership, we had several successful educational events throughout the week.

Members of Greek Life are often stereotyped for partying all the time and having low GPAs. However, those assumptions are not always the case. Being involved in Greek Life is so much more than that — it offers you a support system and a home away from home. But more importantly, being involved in Greek Life allows you to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Members of the Greek community collectively completed over 22,400 hours of community service last year.

How many other organizations can say they did that?

— Kim Oaster, senior mass communications and marketing dual major #HuskyLife

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Am I career ready?


Okay I’ll start off with a quick story about girl that was entering her senior year of college and by a sick twist of fate was forced to change her major,….AGAIN. Yes folks, she was entering into her fourth year of school and on to her third major and not by her choice this time. If you have not already guessed this mystery girl is me!

Summer 2016 I was officially without a major and for the first time in my college career completely directionless. With some research I decided to become a communications studies major with a track in leadership and public advocacy.

Going into the major kicking and screaming if I may add. I had no idea what comm stud majors did and what they had to offer, all I knew it would get me out of school the fastest so I signed up. Disclaimer, this is not one of those Cinderella stories about how I fell in love with my major and lived happily ever after. Even though that is literally what happened. This is about the journey that helped me realize that is major is where I belong and who/what helped me get to that “ahh” moment.

Career Boot Camp


Because I had no idea what I could do with my major, I decided to visit the Center for Professional Development and Career Experience (CPDCE) where I learned about the Career Intensive Boot Camp. If you do not know what the boot camp is, it is a weekend where juniors and seniors participate in workshops all about professional development.

I got the opportunity to network with alumni, get my resume reviewed, and go through mock interviews throughout the weekend. One of my personal favorite sessions was the etiquette dinner at Monty’s, where I enjoyed a four-course meal with a straight posture and fancy new (proper) dining etiquette.

What was most impactful throughout the experience was talking to some of the alumni who had such an interest in listening to my dreams and goals. I mean really listened, took their time out of the day to speak with me and guide me on how to make them into a reality.

Encouraged me to stick with my major and challenged me to see how my department could befit me. I had some of the most meaningful conversations that weekend that inspired me to have a new outlook on my situation and communication studies.

Since then, I have stayed connected with many people I met that weekend. Now a regular in Center for Professional Development and Career Experience. I go to workshops throughout the semester and learn some great tips about handling life after graduation.

I am now in my last semester of college, last…semester…of undergrad! The time has flown by and I am excited to see where my life takes me. Join me as I explore what the CPDCE workshops, guest and events to help me prepare for the ever so daunting adult life ahead.

— Giovanna Andrews, senior communication studies major #HuskyLife

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

In the shadow of Kearsarge

Go. Go somewhere new. Exciting. Different. Get out of your comfort zone. Go somewhere you’ve never been before. Just … go.

You’ve heard those words before. Whether you’re reading this as a grad student or an undergrad student, or not even a student at all, I’m sure you’ve been told this before. You may have even given this advice to someone—If you have, I say to you: Thank you!

For the first time, this summer, I took that advice with regard to my higher ed career by accepting an internship for Bloomsburg University's College Student Affairs program at a tiny private college in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire, working in institutional research and strategic planning with the president there, areas with which I was geographically and professionally unfamiliar.

As it turned out, this proved to be one of the most powerful professional development experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve taken to calling it my “North Star Experience” because, while I learned a great deal from the people that I met there and the work that I did, my time there confirmed many things about my career path.

It affirmed my desire to work at small, private, liberal arts institutions, especially if they are located in somewhat rural areas with ample outdoor recreation opportunities (more on that later), and also my goal to eventually shift my professional trajectory from purely student affairs to the broader world of higher education administration.

A little bit about the place: Colby-Sawyer is a small (~1,100 students), private college in a very small, idyllic, quintessential New England town in the middle of vacationland New Hampshire, overlooked by the prominent Mt. Kearsarge. The College has captured what they call their “sense of place,” which is their identity as an institution, evident in their commitment to sustainability and respect for nature and to providing a multidisciplinary, experiential education to their students.

What really sold me on the place, however, was the people. From the president and senior leadership team to the students, everyone I met and spoke to was welcoming and possessed an inherent happiness, an excitement about they’re doing, and above all, hope for the institution. This is a place that has fallen on hard financial times in recent years and has responded with confidence, hope, and innovation.

If you have the opportunity to take the advice as stated in the beginning, do it. If you don’t have the opportunity, ask. My experience in New Hampshire happened because I had met the president when she worked in a different role at my undergraduate institution. I reached out to her last winter and asked if she would provide me with an internship opportunity. We all have a professional network, large or small, and it can be uncomfortable to utilize it and ask things of people. My advice: Get over that; ask anyway. As a grad student, you have the time and the ability, so take the opportunity.

Take a risk. Get a little bit uncomfortable. It’s worth it.

— Jonathan Gowin, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Getting out of your comfort zone


Growing up, I attended thirteen years of small, Catholic schools in Delaware County. While I received a quality education while attending these schools, once I began attending Cardinal O’Hara High School, I quickly learned that if you weren’t on one of the sports teams, in the band, or a part of the theatre productions, you slid through the cracks. While despite not being very involved in high school, I still managed to form a tight niche of friends; but I still yearned to belong to a group that made me feel bigger than myself.

Unfortunately, I consider myself virtually talentless — I can’t sing, I have two left feet, and I am pretty much the most uncoordinated person you will ever meet. So if I wasn’t in school, I was found working part time at Rite Aid. Once I graduated, I made a promise to myself that college was going to be different — I would do more than just work, go to class, hang out with my friends, and watch Netflix.

During my freshman orientation, they mentioned that the Center for Leadership and Engagement would be hosting an Activities and Involvement Fair where student clubs and organizations would be highlighting what they were about and what they would be doing that year. I was so excited! This was the perfect opportunity for me to keep my promise to myself — and a few days later, that’s exactly what I did.

I was a little overwhelmed at first because I had no idea what kind of things I wanted to be involved with; but the best part about attending a public school for the first time in my life was that if there was something I was remotely interested in, there seemed to be a club for it. I ended up signing up for six clubs at the Activities and Involvement Fair ranging from academics to fitness to community service. At first, I seemed to be able to balance 15 credits and seven extracurricular activities; but as soon as midterms hit, I realized it was going to be impossible to be involved in everything.

During Week 6 of my first semester in college, I called my mom in a panic. That week I had three exams and a ton of meetings for all of the clubs I was involved with. I have always had really bad test anxiety, so my mom suggested I take a step back from some of the organizations I was involved with and focus on just a few. I realized she was right and after that phone call, I created a pro-con list for each activity I was involved in.

I decided to try to stay involved in the American Marketing Association because marketing is one of my majors and I had already paid the dues for that year. But I still wanted to be involved in something that wasn’t necessarily academic. Because I attended Catholic school, I was required to do a certain amount of community service hours every year; but usually I went beyond the minimum amount. I realized in that moment that I needed to be involved in some sort of community-service club.

During my junior year of high school, I attended a leadership camp for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and quickly grew passionate about finding a cure for childhood cancer. When I saw that Bloomsburg had a Colleges Against Cancer chapter, I knew that this club would be perfect for me. During the summer before I started at BU, my grandma was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer so I thought that this was the perfect club for me.

I was pretty active in CAC my first two semesters of college, however, decided not to be involved any more during my sophomore year. I had joined Delta Phi Epsilon in my second semester and became the community service chair for them, so I wanted to put all of my passion into that.

While I believe that being involved on campus and in the community is an important part of being a student, I think it’s more important to find a few activities you really enjoy and are able to put your time, energy and passion into. As college students, we are often running around like chickens with no heads; but the friendships, soft skills, and resume boost you gain from being involved on campus is truly worth the stress.

Bloomsburg University has so many opportunities for you to get involved and leave your mark; and I really encourage you to get involved as early on as possible. The earlier you get involved — the more positive experiences you’ll get out of it.

Don’t be afraid to try something new and get out of your comfort zone. Even if you don’t think a club or organization is right for you, try it out and see how you feel. You never know the amazing things that could come out of it.

— Kim Oaster, senior mass communications and marketing dual major #HuskyLife

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Yes, I belong in this work


My name is Jonathan Gowin and I am currently in my third semester of Bloomsburg University's Educational Leadership, College Student Affairs program. When I think back over these last three semesters, I can say that it has been wild ride!

I got my start in student affairs as an orientation leader at my undergraduate institution, Lycoming College. While there, I struggled a lot to find a major that I loved, so like any typical escapist, I ignored that problem and got involved on campus instead! After one year in Orientation, I really dove into all the co-curricular opportunities that Lycoming could give me. By the time I graduated, I had added residence life, academic and disability support services, student activities, and leadership to my student affairs repertoire. Despite some lingering doubts about my direction, I decided to immediately pursue graduate school at Bloomsburg. Within the first week, my doubts were pushed aside and I thought for the first time, “Yes, I belong in this work.”

That confirmation hasn’t wavered in the last 10 months. In the fall and spring, I held a graduate assistantship in the Center for Leadership and Engagement, where I helped run the Leadership Certification Program for undergraduate students, planned large scale campus events, and co-supervised 12 student staff members. It was really my first opportunity to think like a student affairs emerging professional and be in that kind of role. When I think about the experiences I had with my students, it was straight-up fun.

For this semester, I have taken up a GA working with Dr. Denise Davidson, who is the program coordinator for the summer term. This has given me the opportunity to see the operational, nuts-and-bolts side of running a graduate program and for someone like me, whose passion transcends student affairs and encompasses higher education broadly, this has been very exciting. In the fall, I will continue to explore new areas of student development when I move to University Tutorial Services, where I’ll be coordinating the Supplemental Learning Program.

For me, the CSA program has been so much more than just the sum of my GA and class work. My favorite part about this program is the wealth of the co-curricular opportunities that are available (spoken like a true student affairs person, am I right?). In March, I, and several colleagues attended the international convention of a leading professional association, College Student Educators-International.

I’m currently a member of two research teams; one with Dr. Mark Bauman studying college presidents and the other with Dr. Mindy Andino and two fellow CSA colleagues, studying Generation Alpha. Just last week, I presented my preliminary findings for the former at the Pennsylvania Student Affairs Conference at East Stroudsburg University. Last, and perhaps most excitingly, a colleague and I, with collaboration from faculty here and at other PASSHE institutions, are starting the Student Affairs Graduate Almanac (SAGA), a “by students, for students” academic journal. I’ll share more details about these projects in future blogs!

If I’ve learned anything from these semesters at Bloom, it’s that the sky is the limit. This is an environment of inspiring people that will encourage you to take your ideas and run with them and challenge and support you (@Sanford) in the process. Bring your wild ideas and enthusiasm to us, it has a home here!

— Jonathan Gowin, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU

A large learning experience full of transition

Hello! My name is Alex Reynolds, and I am a second-year student in Bloomsburg University's Educational Leadership, College Student Affairs program. Before coming to Bloomsburg, I graduated from Salisbury University in Maryland with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in New Media. Since starting at BU, I have engaged in a high capacity in my graduate assistantship as a Graduate Hall Director and as the Treasurer for Chi Sigma Alpha, the College Student Affairs honor society and student organization.

For the summer, I am working as a Summer Graduate Hall Director (GHD) in Elwell Hall East. With my transition from Montgomery Place Apartments complex last year to a more traditional residence hall, there have been a lot of learning experiences. Living with the students in the same general location, my office being one floor below my apartment, and the ease of accessibility to the departmental office that I communicate with daily has been convenient. The proximity of my office has also promoted reflection about the challenges of and learning involved in keeping a work-life balance.

My chief responsibilities as a GHD involve engaging the residents of Elwell with their Summer Session 1 classes. Planning events, keeping students aware of maintenance of the building, and checking in on students overall have been my tasks so far. Alongside of this, I am preparing to integrate residents within the Summer Preparatory Program into the climate of living on-campus for the coming weeks and within the academic year if they continue to matriculate here at Bloomsburg.

Getting to know my student staff has been nothing less than immersive. I have enjoyed developing relationships with the Community Assistant staff that I supervise. In addition to the standard GHD responsibilities, the department has added a new professional position assigned to the new residence hall that will open in August. There have been interviews with candidates for that role and it has been nothing less than exciting.

I also work with Joanne Powser, a CSA student and Summer Graduate Hall Director for Elwell Hall West. Working with her and going through similar transitions, from working with upperclass student populations to preparing for both the Summer Preparatory Program students and for the 2017-2018 academic year, has been stimulating. Working with each other and going through graduate school together has been beneficial for me by having support from a coworker and a future colleague in the student affairs field.

This summer is one large learning experience full of transition. Overall, seeing the large amount of learning and engagement with all aspects involved in my summer work so far has me hopeful for the future learning experiences that are to come.

— Alex Reynolds, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU