Monday, November 23, 2009

Much to be thankful for....

Our students are heading home tomorrow (Tuesday) although some have already left :) but at this time of year as they are all stressed with papers, exams AND the end of the semester looming right ahead (seniors are already lamenting that this is their LAST Thanksgiving vacation from SMC) I have tried to remind them to take care of themselves, to enjoy home, family AND to get some much needed sleep. I can't remember if my sleep patterns were the same as theirs when I was in college but I am amazed at what they can accomplish on so little sleep.I also remind them that we all have so much to be thankful for, even if that is simply because we have new friends, have learned new information about ourselves and our world or because we have more than many others do. Classes have been wonderful with both Theories and Practicum students continuing to learn more and more about themselves and the counseling profession every day. The experiences they have either on their Practicum sites or in the Developmental Lab assure me that they ARE going to be good clinicians and that they will be more culturally sensitive, more compassionate and more experienced than I ever learned from my undergraduate education. The Developmental Lab continues to be a great learning tool. Sports Psychology class amazes students as they have never considered some of the issues we discuss in this "applied" psychology class. They are gaining a greater insight into the working of the mind as we look at the behaviors of not only high school and college athletes, but the professionals as well. They are also learning a great deal about parents and the impact that parents can/do have on young people who participate in athletics - I am grateful that so many of my former students from this class have stayed in touch with me and they send me information that they think the class can benefit from on a regular basis - I love those long-standing connections.

Yesterday afternoon my friend/colleague Kuntz and I drove to Lincoln, VT to visit OUR colleagues/friends Ari and Molly - their second son was born a couple of weeks ago and we wanted a chance to visit with them and their three year old son Noah. I have posted pictures on Facebook and have already received many comments from friends on the pictures. Ari and Molly are both in the Psychology Department and while she was at home awaiting Quinn's arrival and avoiding getting the H1N1 from our students I had the pleasure of taking over Molly's Practicum class and thoroughly enjoyed not only helping out, but also getting the perspective of 18 students on their Practicum experience. Several of Molly's students are either in my Theories course or have been in other courses I teach so it was good to see them again in a different academic setting. Practical experience is such an excellent learning tool for our students as it cements some goals and alters others - not a bad thing.

I have been working with the College and with Senator Leahy's office in securing veteran's benefits for one of our graduate students who served four years in the military and then was stop-lossed for an addtional year and a half - those of you who have been followers of my blog know I am talking about Alan. I am amazed, infuriated, saddened and confused that we have asked so much from our young men/women who serve this country but the bureaucracy gets so bogged down that it takes months and months, too many telephone calls and faxes, senatorial intervention and he still doesn't have his benefits - this just simply isn't right!!! There has to be a better way to make sure that these veterans who are returning to college or who choose to enter college for the first time are NOT forced to pay everything "out of pocket' at they wait for their benefits to kick in. They have enough to deal with on a daily basis to have to also be worried about when they will be reimbursed............ Many thanks to SMC President Jack Neuhauser, Marilyn Cormier, our Registrar's Office and Katherine Long from Senator Leahy's Office for their assistance in this matter - even after the VA is FINALLY notified (with the "correct" paperwork that Alan IS a full-time student here it will take 8 to 12 weeks for him to receive reimbursement from OUR government - as I said, it simply isn't right!!!!! The latest is when the VA informed him that they didn't have records of his being stop-lossed ???????? I told Alan that perhaps he had really just been vacationing somewhere on a Caribbean Island those 18 months and that he really wasn't back in Afghanistan during that time - fortunately he knows that we ARE working with him to resolve these things AND he hasn't lost his sense of humor although he sure has reason to.

Take care, have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families and please keep all of the members of our military - current and veteran alike, in your thoughts and prayers as WE get to celebrate so much.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

JibFest a success!!!!!!!

Last night on the 300's field there were over 200 of our students who either participated directly as competitors or who were there to cheer their friends on as the SMC Ski and Snowboard Club once again presented their JibFest. It was a huge success as the members of the Club and their friends trucked "snow" in from local ice rinks (the Zamboni scrapes the ice surface clean before every game and between every period of every game and our students were able to truck all that "snow" to the 300's field on Thursday and Friday), constructed scaffolding and the rails and a few "obstacles" for the competition. They had three ramps and the competitors, carrying their skis or snowboards, climbed to the top, strapped on their skis/snowboards and hurtled down the ramps to the cheers of the crowd. Grace Kelly (Director of Student Activities), Mark Litchfield (Assistant Director of Special Events), Marilyn Cormier (Director of Corporate and Community Relations) and "grill master extrordinaire" Dave Vorozilchak (senior Engineering major, three year RA, captain of the men's ice hockey team and all around good guy cooked up over 200 hamburgers and all of us, myself included, served our students ALL of those burgers. At one point, around 8:00 I looked over and saw Jack Neuhauser, our President standing there enjoying the competition and talking with students and some parents who also were visiting the festivities. So here we all were on a Friday night with over 200 students having an absolute blast. Anyone who wonders about the behavior of college students today should have been there to watch everyone having such a good time. A couple of students came up to Grace as she was slapping more burgers on the two grills and asked her what she was doing still on campus at 8:30 in the evening on a Friday night? She said that she was doing what the rest of us (Jack, Marilyn, Mark, moi) were doing - having a great time helping our students have a successful event on campus.......... That says it all - THAT is what makes this place such an amazing place to live and to work....

I am in the office grading papers and writing letters of recommendation for some of my seniors. I am going to head over to the Ross Sport Center for our swim meet at 1, then to the ice rink for our women's hockey game at 3 and then the men's ice hockey scrimmage at 5 and then back here for the 6th Annual International Festival sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs - this event is great with music and dancing from all over the world AND spectacular food from all over the world. Kemi Brewster and Joy-Anne Headley are from Barbados and they have both promised me some amazing Barbadian food. All in all, another great day at SMC.

I want to leave you all with the following prayer which appeared in last Sunday's Burlington Free Press - since this past Wednesday was Veteran's Day, I feel it is appropriate:

"Dear God, I pray to give all of our soldiers the courage and strength to do the duty that is required of them. May they always remember our appreciation for the sacrifice they are making for us. We are thankful for the men and women who are willing to risk their lives to protect our freedom. I ask you to go with each one of them and protect them wherever they go. Amen."

take care and be well.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Collaboration at its best.

On Tuesday of this week Tim Ford ’83 came to campus to speak with a group of five of our psychology majors (all seniors) who are working with Carolyn Whitney and me on independent research into the organizational behaviors and the psychological implications for four different groups within the work environments of today’s corporate world. These four groups are the traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y. Four students are researching each of these four groups and the fifth student is looking at the gender implications of all of this. It has been a fascinating experiment with these students who have already submitted two papers to us and who will complete a major collaborative paper before the end of the semester. We may even present their findings at a “brown bag” luncheon on campus. Jim Wall'74 also came and spoke with the group during the Career Symposium which was held a couple of weeks ago. I had contacted Jim and he provided the students with several excellent articles on how the corporate world is dealing with the various personalities of these four groups and what the implications are for integration of the various personalities of each group into the corporation. He provided us with some in-house research that Deloitte has been doing and he spent over an hour and a half with us on the Thursday night prior to his keynote address to the Symposium. On Saturday morning of that weekend I was on campus for the Admission’s Office Academic Preview and ran into Ryan Devane, one of our students – he was in a workshop that Tim Ford was presenting and as they talked, Tim commented that he had all four of these groups in his work site locally AND Tim offered to have our students come to that workplace (Hackett, Valine, McDonald ) to interview these folks (he has a 70+ year old partner in the firm who doesn’t even have a computer in his office and he has a number of 20-somethings who work for him). Tim came in Tuesday and spent over an hour with us and has offered to be a resource for our students as they progress in their individual and collective research. Each student is working on his/her own research area and sharing it with the others in the group. There will be a final “product” which will combine the efforts of all five of them.

This is an excellent example of the positive effects of ALUMNI, FACULTY, STUDENTS, CAREER SERVICES collaboration. The Symposium brought our alums back to campus – they listened to Jim Wall and connected with our current students and are following up with some of those contacts such at Tim Ford. CAREER SERVICES staff are connected to the students and the alumni. This is not only a great example of collaboration at its best, but it also is an example of what Carolyn and I have been able to craft with five of our senior psychology majors who had a specific interest and how that is all coming together in a great educational experience.

I have been "subbing" for Molly Millwood's Practicum class for the past few weeks as she just gave birth to their second child this week. Ari and Molly are both members of our psychology department faculty and very popular with the students who have been quite excited as we have all awaited the arrival of Quinn Alexander Kirshenbaum. It has been great to get to know another class and to see how their internship sites are going as they, like my 16 Practicum students are having a very challenging and very educational experience out in the local community providing services in agencies across the county. It is very reinforcing when we get to see how our students are able to take classroom learning and apply it in real-life situations. I am very proud of our students.

Please take care, be well and please keep the members of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers. One of my students saw some of our Vermont National Guard soldiers and their families as the soldiers were preparing to deploy and she too, much like I experienced last week, was struck with the reality of this WAR. I spoke with Prof. Bill Grover the other morning as we both walked to our offices. He has maintained a wall covered with pictures of all those killed in the Iraq War and he asked me if I felt that he should begin a wall for those soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan - I told him YES and when I mentioned this to my classes, they agreed. It is a sad reality that too many of us can easily forget that there are WARS going on and that we all need to remember not only those who HAVE served, but those who ARE serving and their families.