As part of Wheelock’s set of international initiatives, ONCAMPUS Boston (OCB) is gearing up to welcome its first group of international students. These students will spend their first year taking academic courses as well as a range of skills workshops and English language support classes. The current set of students will include some from South Korea, China, Hong Kong, and possibly Kazakhstan, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia.
Essential to the success of the program is the staff, which is composed of seasoned professionals with over 35 years of combined experience working in the fields of international education and academic advising.
Katherine Hala, who also serves as a Resident Director for Wheelock will be responsible for maintaining student academic records, scheduling, and helping to ensure students progress on successfully.
Kyndra Douglass spent three years teaching English and training English teachers in South Korea. Here with OCB, Douglass will be responsible for ensuring a safe arrival, getting the students academically and culturally acclimated to the U.S. system of higher education, and providing resources and support throughout their studies.
Dr. Alfredo Varela, who has worked in the field of international education for over 20 years, will serve as Director of OCB. In addition to providing support to the students, he will work with faculty and staff to help them appreciate the challenges and opportunities a growing international student population will bring to Wheelock.
For more information about OCB and the University Transfer Program please “like” ONCAMPUS Boston in Facebook or follow @drV_OCB on twitter!
College Preparedness Program Gives Blind Students a Boost
Justin Edwards has dreamed of becoming an archeologist since he was a little boy. His goal: to travel the world, searching for and recovering lost artifacts so that people can enjoy them in museums. He has researched the field and interviewed working archeologists. But relatives and friends have repeatedly questioned whether Edwards, who is blind, could ever accomplish his ambitious goal.
“It happened so much that I began to question if I could really do it,” Edwards said.
This summer, Edwards took a step closer to his dream career by completing The Transition to College Program offered by the Newton-based Carroll Center for the Blind.
The six-week program—designed for sight-impaired high school juniors, seniors, or recent graduates—provides advanced computer instruction for creating papers, downloading books, researching on the web, scanning, using college web-based management systems and social networking with new friends.
Just as importantly, the program gives blind students a chance to actually experience college life by living in Wheelock dorms and attending classes on campus. Students are exposed to the challenge of traveling across an unfamiliar campus to the dining hall and classes, learning to advocate for themselves and to ask for help, meeting other students, dealing with professors, and handling potential roommate issues.
“It gives them a glimpse into what college is going to be like to see if they’re ready for it or if they need to take a step back and get ready for it,” said Rabih Dow, director of rehabilitation services and international training at The Carroll Center.
This is the first year that the residential portion of the three-year-old program was held at Wheelock. It was also the first time that students were required to complete a for-credit writing course. During the course, the eight participating students each wrote a paper about a time in their lives when their expectations shifted from what someone else expected from them to what they expected from themselves. They then presented their papers aloud to their peers, professors, and other members of the Wheelock community.
“We expect them to put in the work that any other student would have to put in and to live up to Wheelock’s standards,” said Dow. “Getting ready for college is not all about a computer and technology. It’s about all of these experiences.”
Dow said there are about 12,000 blind high school students in the U.S. and only a handful of college-preparedness programs like The Transition to College Program. “There is a lot of room for growth,” he said.
In his paper, Justin Edwards said he no longer has doubts about whether he can finish college and finally become an archeologist. “One day, you might see my name in the paper with the words “Doctor,” “Archeologist,” and “famous” next to it,” he said.
Wheelock College Director of Athletics Diana Cutaia has been busy in recent weeks speaking about what she believes is a better way to value athletics and competitive sports. A front-page story in the The Boston Globe initiated a string of invitations to speak and be interviewed. Recently, Diana was invited by NECN to talk about what parents and their children should be aware of to be safe at summer camp. Check out her advice here.
In Washington, D.C., Diana was a featured panel speaker for an Aspen Institute event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the landmark Title IX antidiscrimination legislation and the positive impact it has had on women's sports, while also exploring ways to expand its reach today. During her panel discussion, Diana spoke about promoting development over competition, a topic that she addresses thoroughly in this video created by the NCAA highlighting the approach she introduced here at Wheelock. Check out Diana's Aspen Institute panel discussion here.
Diana has championed the cause of expanding access to participation in sports to as many individuals as possible and has been the driving force behind Wheelock’s unique approach to collegiate athletics, which has garnered widespread attention throughout the nation.
The ride continues, just last night being interviewed by Wheelock alum and Trustee, Steve Aveson, on NECN on the topic of Pop Warner and other sports organizations introducing rule changes and guidelines to reduce the incidence of head contact, and the related injuries incurred in football and other sports.
I started out my letter to the editor of The Chronicle stating, "Sophomore slump is a real problem ("Clemson Seeks to Diminish the Sophomore Slump," The Chronicle, May 11), and the curricular initiative at Clemson is to be applauded. At my institution, we are looking at co-curricular alternatives that may produce similar outcomes."
The alternative I was referring to is SophServe, the direct result of overwhelming evidence that student retention and overall satisfaction was inadvertently suffering upon return to Wheelock (and elsewhere) in the absence of the nurturing and attention paid to the students in their first year.
We participated in a nationwide survey about the sophomore experience, conducted by Prof. Laurie Schreiner at Azusa Pacific University, in Spring 2011. Results indicated:
- 30% of respondents never had participated in a leadership position within a student organization
- 33% never had never participated in peer mentoring or leadership programs
- Nearly 20% reported never having participated in a community service event
- 50% never had never attended a single program geared specifically toward sophomores
- 69% never had never participated in a service learning course
Our solution was to create SophServe—targeting the sophomore class and engaging them in community service, living our mission, and connecting them with the broader community. We built in an academic component (reading, reflection) and encouraged sophomores to take leadership positions; each project had at least one leader, sometimes 2 or 3. Often these were students who did not already hold a leadership position in a student organization.
Projects this year included tutoring local schoolchildren, leading a grant-funded day of service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., fundraising and educating the community in a breast-cancer charity walk, and encouraging participation in the AmeriCorps Student Leaders in Service program. Out of almost 200 students in the class of 2014, 125 of them participated in at least one project.
Flor Romero thinks highly of the program, saying, "I did 3 events in Sophserve this year and I definitely felt really good about participating in these events because I was giving back to my community. [For my second project] I went to a preschool in Roxbury and we cleaned the classrooms and painted the walls. I met some new people there, people who I had seen on campus all the time but I never talked to. We worked together to get the classrooms clean and I felt really good about that at the end as well."
This is a response to SophServe we heard often. Each project is closely supervised by Student Success administrators, and is preceded by readings and followed by reflection on key content and processes. Faculty are invited to participate, and next year we're looking to bring alumni on board to provide additional mentoring.
In a study of 20 colleges and universities that seemed to do a great job of fostering student development, George Kuh, a respected higher education researcher, published in his book, Student Success in College: Creating Conditions that Matter (2005), his findings that civic and community engagement, along with active learning and living an institution’s mission, were practices they called out as being particularly effective. SophServe, so far, has validated Kuh's observations.
Kayla Drescher (Magician)
Hometown: Wallingford, CT
Major: Performing Arts (with a focus in music), Math/Science (with a focus in environmental studies), and a minor in education. I also have a music theory certificate from Berklee College of Music.
Greatest Accomplishments: Oh goodness, that's a tough question! One accomplishment I am very proud of is not only getting back to playing basketball (I stopped playing in high school and did not play freshmen year at Wheelock) and picking up a new sport (lacrosse), but also for getting 3 school records in basketball in only 3 years: most amount of blocks in a game, most amount of blocks in a season, and most amount of blocks in a career.
Another accomplishment I am proud of is getting my internship at the Museum of Science in the Live Animal Center, where I help take care of over 120 different animals. The internship has been one of the best experiences of my life and I am so lucky to have this opportunity.
But my greatest accomplishment is just growing up and becoming a mature individual. Throughout my four years at Wheelock, I have learned how to live on my own, take risks, and make things happen for myself. With help from professors, staff, and friends and family, I have found myself becoming the person I have always wanted to be.
Service Work at Wheelock: I have done a lot of service work while at Wheelock, especially through athletics. As the Student Athlete Advisory Council Volunteer Coordinator, it is my job to promote service projects throughout all student athletes. Many of my teammates and I have gone to elementary and middle schools to do athletic workshops with underprivileged students. We have traveled to soup kitchens, fundraisers for important causes, and raised money for an alumni athlete working in the Peace Corps in Africa building schools.
Challenges: The most challenging thing about my work at Wheelock was trying new things and taking risks. A wonderful piece of advice I was given before coming to college was to write down everything I might want to try and try it once.
It was hard to take risks, meet new people, and try things I had never done before. For example, I had never been on a class council before. But it was a great decision and I am so grateful for the opportunity I had!
Most Passionate About: Another hard question! I am super passionate about sharing my love for learning about both art and about science. That is probably why I love teaching so much! I discovered my passion for science during my freshmen year here at Wheelock. Ever since then, I have been fascinated with the environment and how the world works.
I am also very passionate about performing. I have been performing since I was four years old. The stage has become my second home. I love making people smile and entertaining audiences.
Future Plans: That is a great question and I will gladly let you know in a few years! I would love to continue teaching, especially in the fields of both art and science. I will definitely continue performing magic for the rest of my life. As for specifics, I'll have to get back to you!
Tamara Pace-Emerson – Undergraduate Student Speaker
Hometown: Grew up in Arlington, MA, moved to Framingham, MA for High School, now spends most of her time in West Hartford, CT.
Major: Professional major in Elementary Education, as well as a Bachelors of Math and Science. She also has a minor in Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy.
Tamara has lived in the Boston area almost all of her life. With no parental figure since age 18, she has had to hold down as many as 5 jobs at a time to support herself throughout college. Tam dedicated two years to City Year Boston prior to attending Wheelock. In her first year after high school, Tam worked at the Ellis Mendell Elementary School in Roxbury as a role model, teacher, reading interventions specialist, tutor, and afterschool manager.
The next year she ended up managing 6 people in the same role she held the year before. That second year the City Year organization awarded her both the Eli J. Segal Bridge Builder Award and Core Member of the Year award!
It was during this time that Tam realized her passion for community service, children and education.
During her sophomore year at Wheelock Tam went to London to be part of a four-person start-up team for the first-ever City Year London site. Wheelock approved her 55-page paper documenting the experience as an independent study on leadership.
Tam also helped City Year set up an Alumni scholarship at Wheelock, saying “There’s too much in common that can't be ignored. We had to build a bridge between the two!”
Tamara has finished her undergraduate years at Wheelock on a personal peak. She was recognized this year with the Walter Burke Award for Science, and was selected as student speaker at this year's undergraduate commencement.
“The biggest challenge for me is making sure I find what I’m passionate about and pursuing it”
Tamara is not sure if she wants to be a teacher anymore; she hopes to study nursing or pediatric medicine. For the immediate future, she accepted a summer Research Fellowship with the American Cancer Society, working full time in a local hospital for 10-12 weeks.
The desire to change the world comes in many varieties and at differing scales. Some seek to change governments, others neighborhoods, but often Wheelock students graduate realizing the power for good that they can wield by working face-to-face with people who cannot see around the challenges they face.
Jordan Pina realized that he could inspire a world of good by majoring in communications, then applying those skills into juvenile justice and sports-based youth development. Watch this short video and hear in his own words what he hopes to accomplish:
The talent, commitment, and potential coming out of this year's Wheelock graduating class is both remarkable and highly encouraging. Great contributions are soon to be felt in social justice agencies, early education schools and centers, and—in Jordan's case—in many troubled teens finding a mentor who cares and is willing to walk with them until they find their own way.
Congratulations to all in the Class of 2012!
Major: Human Growth and Development with a focus in Children, Families and Culture and an Early Childhood Education professional major.
Not only is Ava the first in her family to attend college, her efforts during high school earned her a Passion For Action scholarship here at Wheelock, and she is at the top of her class at Wheelock. When Ava first came to college she didn’t know what to expect. No one else in her family had gone to college, so Ava had no idea what it would be like. Knowing that her scholarship was at stake, and without the scholarship she would not be able to complete college, Ava aimed all her energy on school work, and today she is at the top of her graduating class.
Experiences at Wheelock:
Ava was excited to share her experiences working in classrooms in Boston Public Schools. She said that at first it felt weird to be back in the BPS elementary schools, but not as a student this time. She also explained that she felt proud teaching in BPS because teachers of color are needed in the classroom. Diverse teachers help ensure that students will be able to relate to their teachers. Teachers can also help students develop a positive self image and serve as a role model to students. With a diverse group of students, there is a need for a diverse pool of teachers.
In high school Ava participated in Teen Voices between the ages of 13 and 15. During her sophomore year of high school Ava joined “Teach Boston” as a teaching assistant. She took part in rigorous academic work in the John D. O’Bryant School, but she only received a 2.7 GPA in high school and was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to keep up with the work and maintain her scholarship.
Influential Wheelock Contact:
Ceronne Daly! “All these great things happened and it’s all thanks to Ceronne. She was my mentor from high school through college. She helped me believe in myself. She showed me how great of a person I am, and she taught me to embrace it.”
Ava explained that it is not always easy to put school first, and also to be proud in your work. She said that she noticed a big change in her self from high school to college. Today, she is open about sharing how much she enjoys her program, “I’m proud, and I deserve it.”
Freshman year – Participated in College Access / Student Success program. She showed urban students the Wheelock campus, exposing students to college at an earlier age so they can realize that college can be an option for them. Ava participated in the New Orleans service learning trips in the Summer of 2010 and January, 2011. During the first trip with Upward Bound she chaperoned a group of high school students. In 2011 Ava went to NOLA with Passion For Action scholars. She learned how to put up drywall in a house she was helping to rebuild. Despite the freezing January temperatures in the uninsulated construction area, Ava remembers being dedicated to putting up that drywall – sometimes even taking down the wall if it was not done properly and redoing the work. “Despite the cold, we had fun.” Ava also explains how amazing it was meeting the mother and little boy who would eventually live in the home she was helping to build.
In the Summer of 2011 Ava went to West Africa. She describes it as very different from anywhere else. What struck her the most was that despite the poor living conditions, everyone there was always smiling. For Ava the trip was extra special because of her connection to West Africa. Ava explained that her father was Nigerian, but she didn’t grow up with her father, so it was nice to learn about her heritage. “I learned about my country – it was a personal connection and a spiritual connection.”
Ava “wants to see a socially-just society.” She sees society today as still organized in a hierarchy where some people aren’t ever expected to move up from the bottom. Her efforts to change this will come in teaching. “Educate the child. Let them know that they can do anything – this has to start in early childhood practice.” She wants to become a role model to her students and show them, even the youngest ones, that college is an option for them because it was an option for her. Ava explains that her mother wasn’t able to help her with her college applications, because her mother had never applied to college. Ava wants to help students like herself, students who need to see that they can go college.
Hometown: I am originally from a small province in Thailand. I immigrated to the United States (San Antonio, Texas) when I was eleven years old.
Major: I have a double major: Social Work and Human Development with a focus in Psychology.
What are your greatest achievements while at Wheelock?
I have been a part of the Dean's List since my first semester at Wheelock and have had the opportunity to work a couple of jobs on campus (i.e. the Office of Academic Affairs) as well. I was inducted into Pi Gamma Mu in 2010 and became the president this year. Through Wheelock's partnership with AIFS, I was also able to study abroad in South Africa for four and a half months. Additionally, the courses I took along with the field placement and practicum I had enabled me to grow and learn about myself both professionally and personally, which I consider to be one of my greatest achievements.
What type of service work have you done at Wheelock?
I traveled to New Orleans twice on the Service Learning trip with Bobbi Rosenquest and other students. During my first time, I worked with other students and volunteers to rebuild homes that were affected by Hurricane Katrina. On my second trip, three other students and I did a group independent study, visiting various artists and communities in New Orleans to explore how different art forms can heal the people in New Orleans.
I also traveled to South Africa and did an intern project which focused on learning for sustainable community engagement and volunteered at different townships. Some of the things we did were:
- developing lesson plans and teaching 45 third graders
- painting a school
- providing information about HIV/AIDS and encouraging people to practice safe sex and get tested
- starting a garden project in a rural community
- engaging with and mentoring teenagers, and
- building foundations for new homes.
Moreover, I did some service work in the surrounding community of Boston. I participated in a walk for BARCC, volunteered at soup kitchens, and collaborated with Pi Gamma Mu to organize events such as The Giving Wheel and Last One Standing to benefit children, families, and programs in need, and other charity organizations.
What are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about human rights and working with people. There is a quote by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe that I love: "Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you will help them become what they are capable of becoming." That quote explains all that I am passionate about. I never want to go into someone's life and simply "help" them, I want to collaborate and work with them. To me, it's not about what I can do to help others, but what we all can do to help each other.
Oftentimes, we only see the negative aspects of people's lives, so we instantly feel the need to fix them. However, we should also be conscious of the positive aspects of their lives and things we can learn from each other. I think that is why I am so passionate about working with and meeting new people because I know that in one way or another, they are going to teach me something that I did not already know, and hopefully, vice versa. I strongly believe that everyone has a story and thus should always be given a chance, be treated as an equal, and with respect.
As a future helping professional, I want to be able not to just tell others what they can do to better their lives, but empower them so they can reach their own goals and become who they want to be.
What do you plan to do after graduating?
After graduating, I plan to volunteer with the Peace Corps. I have wanted to volunteer with Peace Corps since I was thirteen years old, and though I am currently waiting for a placement, I feel extremely fortunate to have developed the skills I did during my undergraduate studies and to have the support from my family, friends, professors and other mentors. Without those things, I would have never felt so empowered and that I can just leave the country to do whatever I have to do for 27 months. Afterwards, I hope to work for a little while before going back to graduate school to get my Masters in Social Work.
Before heading off to Norwich CT for a new job, Nicole Anllo was able to interview some of the many members of the Wheelock College class of 2012. What follows in this post and more in the days to come is but a brief glimpse of the rich lives of learning that students have experienced here in the heart of Boston.
Hometown: East Boston, MA
Major: B.A in Mathematics and continuing Masters in Elementary Education.
What was your greatest achievement or accomplishment while at Wheelock?
I think my greatest achievement at Wheelock has been being a part of La Herencia Latina from its inception.
How has your education at Wheelock made a difference in your life?
I think education at Wheelock has given me more confidence because the knowledge one is exposed during the four years at Wheelock helps one look at things from many perspectives, which leads to confidence. In the case of La Herencia Latina, its formation was a long process simply because of the preparation of developing strong answers to why La Herencia Latina was needed on Campus. Even though some saw the perspective of why La Herencia was needed, it forced us (its founding members) to see things through the perspective of La Herencia Latina's opponents. I think that in order to be an effective leader one must see things from different angles to make a strong case for whatever cause one is working on. The more angles one looks at an issue, the more confident one is one their response or action.
What was a challenge you faced while in college?
Many of my classmates would never guess that the main challenge I faced in college was my mom being diagnosed with breast cancer. I found out about the diagnosis near the end of the spring semester of my freshman year. I really did not think much of it because the doctor told my mom that they caught it really early. She was going to receive radiation to stop the cancer from spreading and it would be enough, but things only got worse.
By the beginning of my sophomore year, my mom had become less energetic and gradually stopped working. At the time, it was soccer season and it was a must because I needed an outlet to let my anger out. I was angry because I felt my mom didn't deserve to go through something like that and that I couldn't help her situation.
I wanted to help out my dad economically because I noticed that we were getting less and less food every week, so I got a part-time job. I really only slept 6 hours (at most) between school, soccer, and work. I was lucky enough to turn in the amount of work I did for my classes because I would have to either stay up late, wake up early, or pull all-nighters. The only relief I had was summer because I slept a lot more.
The only change in junior year was soccer and spring semester. I didn't do soccer for the whole season because of physical fatigue, so I caught up on sleep.
Spring semester of junior year was a crucible. My mom started chemotherapy and was just exhausted all the time. My dad was getting less hours at his job, which meant that what I brought home was necessary. The only way I could get another job was by doing an overnight shift because of classes, so I did. I was basically up from Sunday to Thursday for that whole semester because Sunday I went to work 11pm-7am and Monday I had classes from 9am to 2pm, work from 5-9pm and work again from 10pm to 7am. Sleep happened during my dad driving to work, two 3-hour naps at home, break time in the overnight (sometimes during the shift), between classes (in classes sometimes; ask Lisa Lobel, Marjorie Hall, or Judith at the cafe), and on the weekends. Homework was done on the fly and projects in three hours. I remember my dad saying one time, "You're gonna die. Your eyes are dark at the bottom and you look pale." After that semester, I felt empowered as I realized that I had just done for three months.
What are you most passionate about?
I'm passionate about educating kids from the urban setting. Personally, I think that kids in the urban setting have a strong focus on things that do not necessarily help them. I remember when I was a kid that I really hated school because it basically seemed like the teacher just wanted me to memorize what they were teaching, but my focus was on playing soccer or helping Super Mario find the princess (I never found her because of school and its homework). Today, things are not much different. Kids do not feel school has any relevance at an early age, which later on is troublesome because they decide to drop school and just "be cool". Later on they realize the importance of school. I think that engaging kids at school at an early age can help out with the school-to-prison pipeline that is heavily present in urban communities.
I think another thing missing in urban school settings is this lack of personal connection to the students. I understand that there is a level of professionalism that teachers must keep, but there are many kids out there that stop attending school because they feel that no one really cares. Others feel like they have no motivation to continue. This is one aspect of urban setting education I strongly want to help change simply because I felt that through out most of my classes.
What do you plan to do after graduating?
After graduating, I always thought about going into the Air Force for personal reasons. However, I intend on going to grad school in the fall to earn my Masters in Elementary Education.