Education - Page 3 - A focus on the student

Education
- Page 3
A focus on the student
New initiatives expand students’ horizons

By Gregory J. Alexander,
Contributing Writer

Colleges across the country are continuously working to make their campuses more inclusive and to celebrate diversity. Last December, Salisbury University went one step further with the grand opening of its new Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion, which provides space for research, programming and camaraderie for historically marginalized populations.

Humberto Aristizábal, associate vice president for institutional equity at Salisbury University, says that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA) community spearheaded the effort to create the new center. “The LGBTQIA community deserves a lot of credit. They are one of the most visible and vocal communities on campus, and they were the first group to submit a formal proposal,” says Aristizábal.

One of the primary goals of the center is to provide a space for historically marginalized populations that specifically supports their initiatives. “We want to give them visibility, which leads to recognition, which leads to a sense of belonging,” says Aristizábal. “At the center, they will be able to connect with one another for friendship, support, resources and camaraderie. This is especially important for freshman LGBTQIA students to create a support system.”

In addition to the LGBTQIA group, the other two occupants are the Women’s Forum, which focuses on gender equity, gender politics and women’s issues, and disAbilitiy, which focuses on academically successful students with disabilities. Aristizábal says that later this spring, three more groups will be added. Interested groups submit a formal proposal to the school’s Diversity and Inclusion Consortium Committee for approval.

According to Aristizábal, Salisbury’s Multicultural Student Services Office handles the day-to-day operations for the Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion. Each organization at the center has a liaison who submits programming ideas to the Multicultural Student Services Office. “The Center is open to everyone, and through programs, speakers and events, we want to reach the entire campus, the city of Salisbury,Wicomico County and beyond.” As the center continues to expand, its impact will grow, as well. “We’re confident that these groups at the center are going to interact with each other and the campus in new and innovative ways that are sure to transform the landscape of SU for the better,” says Aristizábal.

An Advantage for Students

Traditionally, college students visited their career services offices during their senior year. It was only then that they started thinking about their career path and seeking advice on how to land a job after graduation. Additionally, the onus was on the students to find where career services was located on campus and to ask for help. Through a new initiative at Goucher College called the Goucher Advantage, the school aims to make career education a central element of every student’s college experience, beginning as soon as students arrive on campus.

“Most college students don’t want to discuss career paths as freshmen,” says Traci Martin, interim assistant provost for career and experiential learning at Goucher College. “We are now part of the campus tour and freshman orientation, and we use that opportunity to introduce ourselves and let them know of the services we provide. We want to integrate career education into their overall experience at Goucher.” Martin notes that Goucher recently changed the office name from career services to career education and identified some of the core elements all students experience – orientation, first-year seminar and certain core classes, for example – where her office can deliver content to students. “Our office is unique in that we are aligned with academic affairs, and we work closely with faculty in order to reach students,” she says.

Another key element of the Goucher Advantage is the Exploration Hub, which brings together the Career Education Office, Community Based Learning and the Office of International Studies. The Exploration Hub provides students with opportunities that they may not have been aware of, and allows them to think intentionally about how study abroad (which is required for all Goucher students), internships and community service can help advance their career.

“We are a liberal arts school, so we are not preparing our students for one particular career – engineering for example. Instead, we want to prepare students for opportunities in a variety of fields. We help them update their resume, write an effective cover letter, incorporate social media into a job search and establish personal branding to clearly articulate strengths, interests and skills to an employer or graduate school. Also, many students do not fully take advantage of the many professional experience opportunities, so we established internship fellowships that provide a stipend to help offset the costs associated with a non-paid or low-paying internship,”Martin says.

Martin adds that students receive a five-week break in January, and many students look to earn money during this time. “We established ‘J-Jobs,’ which are paid professional opportunities on campus. We also recently launched ‘Take a Gopher to Work Day,’ where students are connected with an alumni member, for example, and the students ‘shadow’ that professional at the workplace. It’s a great one-day professional experience for the student and gives them the confidence to later apply for an internship,”Martin adds.

New Opportunities at a Lower Cost

In an increasingly difficult job market, the value of a graduate degree has increased over the past few years. However, for many students, it’s difficult to commit to two more years of college education, not to mention the costs involved. With this in mind, the University of Baltimore’s Accelerated Learning program allows students to begin graduate school while still finishing their undergraduate degree. Students who qualify can take as many as nine graduate credits as an undergraduate, essentially shaving off one semester of graduate school.

“It’s a great way to save time and money,” says Ronald A. Castanzo, Ph. D., assistant dean of the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Baltimore. “By eliminating a semester of graduate school, students are looking at saving about $4,000 in tuition and fees.”

Students in the program must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 or better and maintain a 3.50 GPA or better in undergraduate coursework and a 3.00 GPA or better in graduate coursework. Students must also stay con-

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Eye-opening experience

“She showed me that there is so much more to human resources than just hiring and firing people,” says Josephine McKinley, a junior at Goucher College. McKinley recently participated in the school’s “Take a Gopher to Work Day” and was paired with Jennifer Hervy, a Goucher alumnae who is vice president of human resources at Connect Your Care in Hunt Valley. McKinley says that she is interested in industrial organization psychology and “how companies broker relationships between employers and employees,” she says.

“I learned so much how about how human resources can impact productivity and how someone in human resources can help an employee who is going through a tough time,” she says of the time she spent with Hervy. “She also showed me the type of company that I want to work for one day. She was so interested in my personal story and when she shared hers, I was surprised as to how much in common we had,” says McKinley.

“I am a non-traditional student as this is a second career for me. The job shadowing experience was such a positive experience for me, as it showed me that it’s OK to change careers, and I have more confidence now,” she says. •