BACHA Newsletter All of the Above 2014 By Stephanie DiCindio, Graduate Student Senate Programming Chair Merrimack College Master’s Candidate 2014
As a graduate student in the final semester of my Master’s Program, it is safe to say that the stress tide has well risen over my head. I wondered if there would be anything for me to do to lift my spirits, and keep pushing forward to the finish line. Well, that was exactly what I found at the All of the Above Conference. The moment I stepped through the door, the warmth of the smiling faces and professionals immediately drew you in to place where all of your hard work and passions had come together to tell you, “this is why you keep going”. All of The Above Conference 2014 was nothing less than phenomenal. The educational programs were inspiring, engaging, and tons of fun to attend. BACHA, MA-NASPA, MCPA, ACUI, NODA, and NACA, as per usual, did an amazing job setting up the conference and using incredible professionals to network with along the way. The mock interview I attended was sculpted around where I see myself working in the future, and the professional who worked with me in particular gave out, hands down, the best constructive feedback I have ever received thus far! The conference was flawless and fun, and did not fail to remind me why I fell in love with Higher Education and Student Affairs in the first place. I am honored to have attended the event, and proud to say I have walked away with a “plate” full of new knowledge and professional relationships I will continue to use throughout my journey as a Student Affairs Professional.
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Starting a Doctoral Program: A Marathon, Not a Sprint By Kelly Treseler, Assistant Director of Residence Life, Stonehill College 3-time Boston Marathon Finisher Running a marathon takes time, dedication, practice, determination, and a willingness to push your body through things you did not know you were capable. Becoming a doctoral student is in many ways, quite the same thing.
“Nonetheless, this experience has demonstrated that, like running a marathon, starting a doctoral program is not for everyone and there is a great deal to consider.”
This summer I began my first semester as a doctoral student in the Higher Education Administration program the University of Massachusetts, Boston. The experience has been one that stretched my mind (and body at times) in ways that I didn’t think were possible. Late nights, learning how to increase the pace of my reading, and finding the time to hydrate and sustain myself were all obstacles along the way during my threeweek intensive class period. Now, as I balance being back at work and completing my papers, I can finally look back and be confident in the journey I have begun. Nonetheless, this experience has demonstrated that, like running a marathon, starting a doctoral program is not for everyone and there is a great deal to consider. In my own experience, pursing a doctoral degree was something that always seemed like a distant idea or something suited for others who were much more qualified than me. I toyed with the idea of pursing a second master’s or a different terminal degree down the line. After a lunch of fate with a coworker in the same program, I finally felt urged to consider it and apply. The coworker shared her enthusiasm for everything she was learning and the way it was influencing her work. Around the same time I was just starting my new positions as the Assistant Director and felt motivated by a desire to know more about HOW to learn and understand what are the best practices for my department and institution, rather than simply taking in information at face value. In discerning whether to apply I would recommend considering the following questions that were very important to me. Do I have time? We are all busy (let’s be honest), but is this something you can reasonably fit into your schedule. Are you willing to make sacrifices from personal life or turning down other opportunities at work? How does this fit into my life routine? Do you have a family or children who are still dependent on you? Will they support you or will they still demand your time on a day-to-day basis? How far do you live from the institution? Do you have any health issues that could impede your success? Is my supervisor supportive? Will she/he allow you the flexibility to arrange your schedule accordingly? Will she/he be honest with you when deciding whether to accept other commitments?
How does this fit into my life routine? Do you have a family or children who are still dependent on you? Will they support you or will they still demand your time on a day-to-day basis? How far do you live from the institution? Do you have any health issues that could impede your success? Is my supervisor supportive? Will she/he allow you the flexibility to arrange your schedule accordingly? Will she/he be honest with you when deciding whether to accept other commitments? Does my institution support me? Will you institution allow for time out of the office for classes? Is professional development supported? Is there financial assistance available? How much will this cost me? How much do tuition, fees, and miscellaneous costs (books, laptops, snacks and caffeine) really add up to? If I cannot receive funding will I be able to support myself and this investment for 35 years? Perhaps one of the biggest questions to ask yourself is: Which program is right for me? While having the word “doctor” before your name may be important, the means is as, if not more, important than the end. There are many more online programs that are becoming more and more attractive to professionals who “don’t have the time” for an in-class cohort program. (We are all in student affairs, time is relative and valuable to everyone). It is important to consider your motivations for applying and how you best learn. If you are interested in learning from others and having your ideas challenged, then an in-class program that allows you access to the professors, mentoring, and relationships is the best way to go. However, if time and location are truly an impediment, an online program may be more suited to your needs. My advice, however, is to really think critically IF this is truly something you need to augment your professional goals rather than just a sprint towards a new title. Throughout my interview process, and since being in class, it has become clear to me that with great knowledge comes great responsibility. “Becoming The Ph.D. is a research degree, one that signifies that the recipient has acquired the capacity to make independent contributions to knowledge through original research and scholarship.” While there is some difference between a Ph.D. and Ed. D. (which warrants an additional article itself), becoming a professional researcher is a weighty consideration. It is your responsibility to develop new knowledge but understand that your thoughts and ideas will be challenged along the way with each paper or class participation. This is a delicate balance and often and adjustment for doctoral students. Entering a doctoral program is a marathon, not a sprint. One must be prepared to have the support and resources to make it to the finish. The questions and sacrifices for each person are unique but for each person it is still a heavy consideration. Many will never feel compelled to run a marathon, or enter a doctoral program, but it does not lessen the contributions they have made to the field in other ways. So far the race has been going alright, but then again, talk to me in the Fall when I head up my first hill.
Barbara Lovitts. “Being a Good Test Taker is Not Enough,” Studies in Higher Education, April 2005.
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Member Spotlight: Dan McDowell, Stonehill College Housing Assignments Coordinator/Assistant Area Coordinator By Kelly Treseler, Assistant Director of Residence Life, Stonehill College What led you to pursue a career in student affairs? I was very involved as an undergraduate student with a variety of student organizations and university departments, especially student government and orientation. Working in these roles I got to “see behind the curtain” on a number of occasions and steadily grew more interested in the work my advisors and supervisors did and the significant impact they had on the student experience. By the time senior year arrived, I knew I wanted to work in student affairs and have those same positive impacts and so I began searching for jobs and looking at Master’s programs. What did you gain from your master’s program?
“To catch the reader's
My Master’s program was great! It provided a great foundation in the functioning of higher education and a number of trends that will have significant impacts on our institutions. It also offered a great opportunity for my cohort to specialize in different areas of higher education, offering courses in areas such as admissions, institutional development, and student affairs. I was able to get a firm understanding of areas traditionally taught in student affairs programs, such as student development theory, but also branch out and learn more about other areas of the university with which I hadn’t had much interaction. What issue in higher education are you most passionate about?
attention, place an interesting sentence or quote from the story here.”
I am very passionate about issues of access and affordability in higher education and in particular of our public institutions. With investment in higher education falling in many states, rising costs, and the failure of federal aid dollars to keep up, we are not only seeing student debt rise, but the start of an unsustainable trend that could have significant impact on low income students. While this is an issue across all of higher education, our public universities have a responsibility to remain affordable and accessible to all residents, a responsibility that is becoming more and more difficult. What have you learned by working in a dual role? Working in a dual role has given me an understanding of two very different areas that nonetheless have significant impacts on student experiences. On the Assistant Area Coordinator side I work closely with my RAs to ensure students are having a positive experience in their halls, act as a resource for my residents, and ensure that the area is well maintained. On the Housing Assignments Coordinator side I conduct mid-year placements, coordinate the lottery process, and assist students with room changes. While that role is much more administrative in nature, the impact has been just as significant and has been very rewarding. What do you do in your free time? I spend a lot of my free time with my wife, watching Netflix, reading, or playing fetch with my cat. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In five years I would like to be in or preparing to enter a doctorate program. What is one fun fact about your institution? We have a shovel museum on campus! Do you have a mentor or role model? Shelby Harris, Assistant Dean of Students at UMass Boston, has been an incredible resource for me since I started as a student, and has become an amazing and supportive mentor as I begin my career in student affairs.
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