2020-21 ISSUE 2
» Wellness in the Wake of COVID
WELLNESS IN CHALLENGING TIMES
» Clear Your Head with a Hike » Feed Your Body, Feed Your Mind
FROM THE PRESIDENT Building a Franciscan Future… Dear Members of the USF Family, Welcome to the latest issue of Engaging Mind & Spirit magazine! This publication is one way the University of St. Francis strives to remain connected to you—our alumni, our friends, our parents, our employees, and our supporters—in short, our USF family. In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we hope that this issue finds you safe and healthy. Indeed, I would like to begin again by thanking our “on-campus community members”—students, faculty, staff and partners—for everything that they have done to ensure that our continued on-campus learning has been as safe and successful as it has been. We've had only a handful (5) of on-campus transmissions since last August! As “Saints United,” we continue to wear masks, maintain physical distancing, practice good hand hygiene and self-screen daily, and the compassion that we’re showing for each other through these actions continues to be effective. That said, I have to tell you that this particular issue, with its focus on health and wellness, has been over a year in the planning and making, having been delayed/upstaged by our centennial celebration issues in 2020. This topic is one that has resonated deeply with the Engaging Mind & Spirit editorial team, led by Julie Futterer, and you can see the evidence of this on every page. As someone who is trying to achieve his own health and wellness objectives, I am inspired and motivated by the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” The health and wellness of our employees and students, as well as all those who support our mission, is also an important part of Objective 5 of the University of St. Francis strategic plan. This objective calls upon us to “cultivate an environment that attracts, develops, and retains faculty, staff, and administrators who embrace a culture of continuous improvement along with USF’s mission and values.” Indeed, when I speak to prospective students and their parents/partners, I often note that USF’s “competitive advantage” is its people: » Our faculty are world-class teachers, who make educating our students their number one priority; » Our students are not only talented, but also compassionate and committed to improving the lives of others through service and leadership; » Our staff works tirelessly to care for our students as we serve those who aspire to serve others; » Formed by our campus of “do-ers,” our alumni are the best at what they do, and credit USF for what they have accomplished; and » Our local community members, whether elected officials, businesses, other organizations or neighbors, are true partners in every sense of that word. As I noted in the last year’s magazine issues, throughout its first 100 years, USF maintained its focus on offering a Catholic, comprehensive educational experience—rooted in the liberal arts and challenged by our Franciscan values and charism—to each and every student. This focus… this commitment… is as strong, alive and well today in our second century as ever, as we work to build a Franciscan future! So pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy this latest update about what’s happening at your USF. And, as always, please know that I continue to consider myself incredibly blessed to serve as your president and promise to continue to work hard to earn the trust that you have placed in me. Together, let us remain “Saints United!” Peace and all good things,
Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D. University of St. Francis President
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Wellness in the Wake of COVID Clear Your Head with a Hike
To join in our efforts to reduce waste, contact Penny Basso at email@example.com or 815-740-3748 if you would like to receive this magazine digitally, or if you want to change or remove your address on our mailing list. CONTENT
Tame COVID Brain with a Little Mindfulness Feed Your Body, Feed Your Mind My Dorm Room Spacecraft Saint Spotlight: Leslie Juarez-Law (Resendiz) '17
Engaging Mind & Spirit is published by USF’s Institutional Advancement and Marketing Services offices. Feedback is welcomed and can be sent to Julie Futterer ’93, ’18, director of marketing services and magazine editor, at jfutterer@ stfrancis.edu or 815-740-3826.
Wellness in the Workplace
Jeff Barker Mary Ann Andrade- Bekker Chuck Beutel Eva Bruno Audrey Davis Dave DiLorenzo Amanda Dutkiewicz Julie Futterer Jerome Gabriel Julee Gard Melinda Hammond Brady Jones Leslie Juarez-Law (Resendiz) Molly Knapczyk Dan Knapp Kelly Larson Michelle Madura Jack Orr Jessica Peek Courtney Pritchard Eyal Sagi Carol Sheetz Cindy Sloan Sandee Sloka Steve Wettergren Samantha Whiteaker Other USF employees, alumni, students & friends
IMAGERY Jeff Barker Don Bersano Bersano Photography Cherry Hill Studios Maria Cruz Uceda Dave DiLorenzo Dog Lovers of USF Amanda Dutkiewicz Tom Flavin Family Jerome Gabriel Tyler Keene Photography Kelly Larson Nicole Salow Other USF employees, alumni,students & friends
DESIGN Nicole Salow
PRINTING & DISTRIBUTION St. Croix Press, Inc. stcroixpress.com
Our Mission As a Catholic university rooted in the liberal arts, we are a welcoming community of learners challenged by Franciscan values and charism, engaged in a continuous pursuit of knowledge, faith, wisdom, and justice, and ever mindful of a tradition that emphasizes reverence for creation, compassion, and peace-making. We strive for academic excellence in all programs, preparing women and men to contribute to the world through service and leadership.
500 Wilcox Street, Joliet, Illinois 60435 800-735-7500 » stfrancis.edu
USF NEWS USF GLOWS, ONCE AGAIN, IN NATIONAL RANKINGS U.S. News & World Report released its 2021 Best Online Programs rankings in January, and USF's online MBA program has been ranked as the top program of its type in Illinois. The publication also recognized four other online programs offered by USF, including two named as the best private programs in the state.
RECOGNIZED USF PROGRAMS INCLUDED: Online MBA Program: » #1 ranked program in Illinois (one of the top 43% in the U.S.) Online Graduate Education Program: » #1 ranked private program in Illinois (top 28% nationally) Online Graduate Business Program (excluding MBA): » #1 ranked private program in Illinois (top 44% nationally) Online Bachelor’s Program: » #3 ranked private program in Illinois (top 16% nationally) Online Nursing Program: » #4 ranked private program in Illinois (top 43% nationally)
NEW ACADEMIC PROGRAMMING TO BE OFFERED USF is offering two new majors and several other new academic programs to students. Business Analytics and Digital Humanities will now be offered as undergraduate majors, with Business Analytics also being offered as a minor. In addition, USF's Social Work Department has added a School Social Work concentration to the Master of Social Work degree program.
USF RECEIVES $40,000 NETVUE GRANT FOR PUBLICATION PROJECT THROUGH COUNCIL OF INDEPENDENT COLLEGES The University of St. Francis was recently awarded a $40,000 grant through the Council of Independent Colleges’ (CIC) NetVUE Grant for Reframing the Institutional Saga to create two publications—one comprised of faculty essays and another comprised of student essays—that will focus on both the university's past and its future. “This CIC NetVUE grant challenges the university to reexamine its historical narrative in order to craft and articulate an institutional vocation going forth that responds to the needs of the present and future,” said USF's Beth Roth, Ph.D., provost and vice president of academic affairs. “To undertake this challenge, we proposed two publication projects. The first is a volume of 100 essays by faculty who will share personal vignettes of how teaching and service align with the university’s core values of respect, service, integrity and compassion in the past and in the future. The second book is a companion volume that will collect student writing and artistic contributions on how our core values shape the way they engage with current situations, such as the pandemic, structural racism, the immigration crisis and climate change.” Funding through the grant will allow for a two-year production timeline that includes writing retreats and group meetings, and will culminate with a presentation event for the campus community in spring 2023. English & Foreign Languages professor, Kathryn Duys, Ph.D., will oversee the projects and head the project's overall leadership group.
ESPORTS TEAM COMING TO USF Of interest to gamers, in February, USF received approval to launch an esports team for the 2021-22 academic year. Esports is organized, competitive video gaming. Playing requires and builds critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. Steve Wettergren, USF's director of accreditation, will be heading the effort as USF's first esports coach.
CAMPUS LITERARY MAGAZINE IN DEVELOPMENT Assistant professors Beth McDermott, Ph.D. and Anna Ioanes, Ph.D. tasked students in their respective Eco-poetry and Technical Writing classes with developing a literary magazine for USF. The classes conducted research reports to discover what kind of things made a successful literary magazine, applied for grants and created a web space for the publication. "Bernie’s Paw Prints" is still in development, but there's some wonderful work there to enjoy. Visit litmagprototype.wordpress.com.to check out some student writing.
Engaging Mind & Spirit Magazine
ENGAGING MIND & SPIRIT RECOGNIZED BY CASE USF celebrated its centennial in 2020, and even though the COVID-19 pandemic challenged the university’s ability to host a majority of its in-person centennial events, other activities and initiatives were completed with success. Three centennial-themed issues of Engaging Mind & Spirit magazine were published, and the series was recently recognized with a Bronze Award as part of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s (CASE) annual Pride of CASE V Awards Program. The competition judges for the “Magazines > Alumni/General Interest Published three or more times a year” category, in which USF’s submission was awarded, praised USF’s use of photographs throughout the series. “One of the strengths of USF’s work is their use of old photos to create nostalgia and tell historic stories. We really enjoyed the ‘Then and Now’ piece. USF is doing good work in relaying information to its readers and keeping the magazine’s look consistent,” the judges said through their evaluation feedback.
SO LONG, THREE OAKS Around 1875, the Sisters of Saint Francis of Mary Immaculate purchased property in Joliet upon which they eventually built a motherhouse. That building allowed the Sisters to take in orphans and boarding students, staff parish schools, and welcome new members into their novitiate. It was also around that time that the Sisters planted three oak trees on the property. Over the years, the trees grew together, symbolizing, to the Sisters, relationships and community. Together, the trees became known as the Three Oaks. Starting in 1920, Three Oaks became a favorite landmark on USF’s beautiful campus and remained so for the next 100 years. Over time, the Three Oaks stood tall and endured many challenges presented by time, weather, and changes to campus. However, new challenges in recent years took their toll
on the Three Oaks, prompting the need to remove them in a proactive measure of campus safety. On December 16, 2020, representatives of the Sisters of St. Francis said goodbye to the Three Oaks as the beloved trees were removed from campus, ending a chapter that spanned approximately 145 years. “My predecessor, Sr. Rosemary Small, told me that the Three Oaks stood guard to the ‘convent yard’—just as our Sister Sponsors continue to stand guard over their USF. This really is the close of USF’s first 100 years, and the planting of three new oak trees in front of Tower Hall will help us to pass into the university’s next century,” said Sr. Mary Elizabeth Imler, OSF, vice president for mission integration and ministry.
Wellness in Challenging Times
USF NEWS SENIOR ALYSA KLINE NAMED 2020 LINCOLN LAUREATE The Lincoln Academy of Illinois recently honored top students representing Illinois’ colleges and universities during the 46th annual Lincoln Academy Student Laureate virtual ceremony on November 10. Senior nursing major Alysa Ann Kline was one of 55 students named to the Class of 2020 Student Laureates. “Being named as USF’s 2020 Student Laureate is truly an honor. Helping others has given me a sense of purpose and becoming a Student Laureate has only fueled my drive to create a community that I want my children, our future generations, and our family to grow old in. I believe it is obligatory to be a good citizen, a great role model, and to advocate for others,” Kline said. During the final semester of her undergraduate studies at USF, Kline believes that USF has prepared her well to make a difference within her field. “Nursing school is challenging and the thought of obtaining a job after graduation is daunting to some. Through state-of-the-art, high-fidelity simulation labs, extensive hands-on training, clinical practice in a wide variety of settings, and career support services, USF has made me feel confident in my transition from student nurse to new graduate R.N. Furthermore, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to see firsthand what it means to be a nurse who advocates and is passionate, thoughtful, patient, dedicated, and culturally aware by observing my own nursing instructors in action,” Kline said. After graduating in spring 2021, Kline looks to begin her career working in a hospital setting focused on children with critical needs.
At left (left to right): LCON Associate Dean Annette Mattea, Alysa Kline, LCON Dean Dr. Ebere Ume and LCON Administrative Assistant Geri Brent. At right: Alysa Kline.
Engaging Mind & Spirit Magazine
LEV IVANOV, NEW DIRECTOR OF JSO Lev Ivanov, DMA, serves as the music director of the Joliet Symphony Orchestra. Ivanov, who has achieved acclaim in the concert hall and in the pit, has received recognitions and awards including The American Prize (in multiple categories), Jeunesses Musicales Bucharest International Conducting Competition, The George and Geraldine Swensen Watkins Endowment for Excellence in the Arts, Arizona State University and Brigham Young University Special Talent Awards, Vorzel and Guitaralia International Ensemble competitions in Ukraine and Poland, and others. A recipient of both the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation Grant and the Harmon Arts Grant to continue to bring orchestral music and opera to audiences in central Illinois, Ivanov has made efforts to bring music to underserved communities. He has facilitated projects and partnerships with school districts, universities, and professional music organizations, and has worked with student and youth ensembles across the U.S. Ivanov received degrees in music performance and conducting from Tchaikovsky National Academy of Music (Kyiv, Ukraine), Brigham Young University, and Arizona State University. He studied under Roman Kofman, Niku Mitzney, Martyn Brabbins, Kory Katseanes, William Reber, and Timothy Russell. Since then, he has collaborated with soloists and composers including Eve Beglarian, Hilary Purrington, David Vayo, Benjamin Taylor, Myroslav Skoryk, Judith Shatin, Ilia Radoslavov, JamieRose Guarrine, Kyle Pfortmiller, Kent Cook and Vadim Mazo, and has participated in many music festivals and masterclasses in Europe and the U.S. Raised in Kyiv, Ukraine, Ivanov began his musical studies playing piano and singing in the acclaimed Children’s Choir Shchedryk. He later studied flute and started his conducting studies at the age of sixteen. Before coming to the United States, Ivanov worked professionally as an orchestral musician in Kyiv, Ukraine, and toured internationally, including performances in Berlin Konzerthaus and Royal Conservatoire Antwerp.
College of Arts & Sciences
College of Business & Health Administration
ART & DESIGN COURSE DELIVERED TO STUDENTS IN CHINA
SERVANT LEADERS DONATE TO BOYS & GIRLS CLUB OF JOLIET
A new University of St. Francis Art & Design course is bringing Midwest art to students at the Sichuan University of Science and Engineering (SUSE) in China. In December, USF's Paul Erschen, MFA, associate professor and department chair, and Michael Chester Costello, MFA, professor, launched their new course, “The American Artist: Chicago & Beyond," over Zoom to a class of approximately 50 students. The course serves to introduce the students at SUSE to the diverse range of studio practices and artistic careers found in Chicago and the Midwest. “One focus within the course will be on new media, graphic design, performance art, and video. I will be showing works by international artists, including Matthew Barney, Yayoi Kusama, Nancy Burson, Olafur Eliasson, and Nam June Paik, among others,” Costello said. Erschen added that the new course is part of a long-range plan that includes additional courses and students eventually taking on-campus courses at USF. "This is a pilot course and will likely lead to additional course offerings as we move forward. For now, we want to introduce students to our teaching style, our art practices, and the careers of artists in the United States,” said Erschen. Erschen and Costello also hope to do a seminar at the SUSE in China later this year.
Members of COBHA's Servant Leaders program, led by USF Professor David Gordon, DBA, donated new winter clothing to the Boys & Girls Club of Joliet in December. “Striving to serve others and uphold our Franciscan values, the Servant Leaders donated 100 pairs of hats and gloves for the Boys & Girls Club of Joliet. As a part of the Joliet community, we want to have a positive impact on the city, especially during such a challenging time. We hope that our donations bring joy and comfort to the children who receive them,” said Nicole Kulon, a junior majoring in business management and minoring in marketing. USF’s Servant Leaders program started in fall of 2019 and was one component of a successful grant proposal submitted to the Robert and Patricia Wheeler Family Foundation to make the College of Business & Health Administration a visibly "Franciscan college." “The program is comprised of students who focus on three things: Jesus Christ and the work of Francis of Assisi, promoting Franciscan values within the college and university, and service to others,” explained COBHA Dean Orlando Griego, Ph.D., who added that since its inception, the Servant Leaders program and its participants have donated over $2,000 to help with the feeding of the homeless and have volunteered many hours of service at local shelters.
College of Education
COE PROGRAMS RECEIVE EXEMPLARY RATINGS FROM ISBE The Illinois State Board of Education introduced a new annual report in December to assess educator preparation programs. The focus of the Illinois Educator Preparation Profile is continuous improvement in diversifying the teacher workforce and meeting districts’ needs. The public version of IEPP is available at apps.isbe.net/epp/public#. According to ISBE, “The Illinois Educator Preparation Profile (IEPP) provides a holistic view of each teaching program in the state. This includes a program's ability to select and prepare effective educators to serve the students and schools of Illinois. The IEPP system is an opportunity to both recognize programs that are producing strong learner-ready teachers, and to utilize data as a tool for accountability, continuous improvement and transparency to strengthen teacher preparation statewide in the long term.” The College of Education is proud to share that all eligible programs were rated Exemplary, the highest possible designation. Programs included in the current IEPP for the university are Elementary Education, Special Education and Reading Specialist.
Leach College of Nursing
FNP STUDENTS RECEIVE CVS HEALTH FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIPS Three Family Nurse Practitioner students were named recipients of the CVS Health Foundation Scholarship. Chao Moua, Eva Cybulski and Renalda Tomic were each awarded with a $1,000 scholarship. USF’s Leach College of Nursing administered the application and selection process at the university level. Applicants are required to be students in good standing in the FNP program. Additional consideration was given to students who are military veterans, as well as those who are bilingual or a member of a minority or underserved population. “We are appreciative of the financial support offered to our students through the CVS Health Foundation FNP/PA Scholarship Program. The investment that this support makes locally continues to be paid forward as our graduates continue to serve our communities,” said LCON Dean Ebere Ume, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., PHN. In other LCON news, a USF team of employees and student nurses worked with Kodo Pharmacy in Joliet this winter to administer the vaccine to residents at the Joshua Arms Senior High Rise and Trinity Services, along with clients of Cornerstone Services and the Will County Health Department clinic. In three days, USF's student nurses administered over 1,660 vaccines. The students also provided COVID-19 testing for approximately 200 Will County residents.
Wellness in Challenging Times
WELLNESS in the wake of
Introduction by Audrey Davis, Ed.D.; assistant professor and department chair of social work
In March of 2020, COVID-19 arrived in the United States like a Tsunami—uprooting, tearing down, destroying, and impacting the lives of all. Some Americans were abruptly laid off, furloughed, or terminated from their jobs. Schools were closed and/or classes at all levels were transitioned to online modality, with no preparation or transition time for faculty, teachers, students, or their families. Daycares were closed, stock markets crashed, and shopping malls and libraries were shuttered. Purchase limits were placed on essential items such as tissue, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant cleaning products after many shoppers engaged in panic shopping—making purchases in large quantities—which limited the availability of future supplies for
months. This resulted in individuals having difficulty obtaining the most basic items necessary to be able to navigate through this unprecedented time. In essence, life—free, uninhibited life—was halted and people were ordered by both local and federal governments to stay inside their homes unless they were essential workers or had valid reasons to leave. Most people complied with the stay-at-home orders, while others protested, contesting it as a violation of their constitutional rights. Unrest caused by mandates to wear mask and face coverings while in public, and to maintain at least a six-foot distance from others, caused further debate. Grocery stores, and other store chains that remained open conformed to the mandates by stationing employees at entry points to ensure patrons wore masks, minimizing business practices to delivery and curbside pick-up and changing business hours. Schools like the University of St. Francis had to work swiftly to transition classes to online delivery, then had to work to make the campus safe for students when on-site courses resumed in August of 2020 by making signage and collateral as part of the "Saints United" effort. Family gatherings such as birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and retirement celebrations were cancelled or modified to be remote, virtual meetings. Weddings were cancelled. Elderly relatives, friends, and caregivers of those living in senior homes—the most at-risk population—were gravely impacted by the elimination of physical visits from individuals they used to see frequently and without restriction. Through it all, many questioned, “How long will this last?” Information provided by officials about the disease frequently fluctuated, worsening the perception of the pandemic. People were left wondering if life, as it was previously experienced, would ever return. And now, with the long-awaited availability of a vaccine, we begin the journey to a "new normal." Things still feel complicated for many, but we know in a few months, when the springtime sun starts shining a little brighter, we will slowly begin to learn the way. Until then, we reached out to several accomplished faculty and staff members for information and advice on how to achieve wellness in the wake of a global pandemic. Read on to hear more from our campus mental health, psychology, social work and faith experts.
MENTAL HEALTH IMPACT COVID-19 and Its Implications on Trauma and Mental Health by Mary Ann Andrade-Bekker, Psy.D., LCPC; director of counseling and wellness
The year 2020 will live in infamy. It started with an experience that forced us to quarantine, limit our contact with others, and be mindful of hygiene behaviors in an effort to lower the risk of being infected with a deadly virus. We quickly started using the term “COVID-19” in most of our conversations and to describe our life before and after the presence of the virus. Other words quickly became part of our everyday vernacular: coronavirus, shelter-in-place, social distancing, and face masks, just to name a few. These are words and lived experiences that we expect in Hollywood movies—not in “real” life. In the thick of COVID-19, rates of mental health issues skyrocketed. In June 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with a mental health or substance use issue. Of those surveyed, 31% experienced anxiety/ depressive symptoms, 13% started or increased their substance use, 26% reported trauma/stress-related disorder symptoms and 11% seriously considered suicide. (For more information, the article can be found here: cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm. Throughout this pandemic we have experienced waves of fear, anger, denial, grief, and surprise as we attempt to navigate our way through a life-threatening era in our history. What we have been experiencing since the early months of 2020 can be defined as collective trauma. The Journal of Frontiers in Psychology’s article “Collective Trauma and Social Meaning” (2018) defines collective trauma as the “psychological reactions to a traumatic event that affect an entire society.” It does not merely reflect a historical fact; it suggests that the tragedy is represented in the collective memory of the group…and is an ongoing reconstruction of the trauma in an attempt to make sense of it. We have been in a state of constant flux and change over the past year. It is important to recognize that with any type of change there is an ebb and flow involving flexibility, stability, routine, and compromise. The perception that trauma is comprised of one big, singular, and painful
event that changes our immediate and long-term outlook on people and life is only true in part. In actuality, a trauma response is related to a repetitive nature of many smaller traumas over time. These experiences are heavy to carry in our everyday life, especially in the midst of trying to survive a deadly pandemic. To work through our trauma, it is important that we be honest about the status of our mental health. This includes being able to seek appropriate treatment with providers who can support and provide us with tools to manage any distressing symptoms. At the beginning of the pandemic, we embraced the phrase “We are in this together.” Now, more than ever, we need the support of loved ones as well as the medical, mental health, and spiritual community. Change is on the horizon; as we enter life without fear of COVID, we need to continue to engage in mental health wellness and human connection to strengthen our human spirit and resolve. COVID-19 has shown us how important it is to maintain our mental health. While we wish for life to return “back to normal,” even returning to “normal” may seem odd or difficult. By putting mental health practices into place, we can become more resilient when we transition back to activities that we once feared to do. Social gatherings and hugs will once again make a comeback. While we have renewed hope and are energized by the recent distribution of the first doses of COVID vaccines, we still need to keep our daily mental health needs in mind as we continue to make our way through this pandemic. The following suggestions can help make a positive impact in your everyday mental wellness: Take notice of what your body needs. Spend time reflecting on your overall wellness and ask yourself the following questions. Am I hydrating well? Eating healthily? Exercising? Am I getting enough sleep and feeling well rested? Do I need to change my sleeping patterns? Being mindful of our habits and regulating our bodily responses helps us become more resilient over time.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO STAY MENTALLY HEALTHY DURING THIS TIME? » Focus on one to three goals that are attainable per
it increases our awareness and our ability to pause
» Reduce screen time. Being immersed in social
day. Setting unrealistic expectations can overwhelm
before reacting impulsively. Apps such as Calm,
media apps on our phones and glued to
our nervous system and lead to symptoms of
Headspace, and Insight Timer strengthen your
constant news cycles increases our anxiety,
anxiety and depression. Examples are completing
meditation skills. These sites are also helpful as
dysregulates our brains and nervous symptoms,
a household chore, scheduling an appointment, or
well: mindful.org, how-to-meditate.org, and there
and impacts our sleep. Put a limit on screen time
creating a budget.
are a host of videos on youtube.com. Better yet,
and focus on activities that have low energy
see pages 10-12 of this magazine for tips from our
stimulation (i.e. crossword puzzles, putting
» Develop a new practice/hobby. Stimulating our brain with new, novel tasks increases our neural growth and keeps us focused on a task/skill that we
campus mindfulness leaders! » Connect with people that are close to your heart.
together a puzzle, etc.). » Make an appointment with a licensed mental
find is important to develop, leading to curiosity,
COVID-19 challenged us to change our perception
health professional and consult with them about
imagination, and relaxation.
and manner in how we stay connected with others.
treatment recommendations and tools you can
Video conferencing, letter writing, and appropriate
use. If you do not have insurance, there are
the present moment by being immersed in
social distance events with masks can fill our
agencies that can work with you on a sliding
everyday experiences. You can try meditation, as
» Engage in mindful behavior. Take time to stay in
PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT Challenge Leads to Growth by Brady Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor with Melinda Hammond, Psy.D., assistant professor and Eyal Sagi, Ph.D., assistant professor and department chair of psychology
Psychologists know that people grow only when they’re challenged. The ancient Greeks, for example, argued that true happiness comes not from chasing pleasure but by achieving eudaimonia, contentment that springs from virtuous living. In more recent times, the famous psychologist Jean Piaget described how children enter a state of “disequilibrium” when their old ways of thinking no longer make sense and they have to make new ones. Erik Erikson argued that we mature by facing a series of developmental tasks that we must conquer one by one. In a similar vein, educational psychologists identify the “zone of
proximal development” as that sweet spot when you’re learning to do something just beyond your current abilities and “deliberate practice” as a rapid improvement prompted by focusing on the hardest parts of a skill. USF’s psychology department thinks a lot about challenges as well. Melinda Hammond, assistant professor, and Larry Dunbar, teaching instructor, work in clinical psychology and substance abuse counseling, respectively, helping people directly as they face difficult life challenges. Eyal Sagi, assistant professor and department chair, and Brady Jones, assistant professor, have worked together to use
computer algorithms to identify the structure of “redemptive narratives,” stories that depict goodness or growth coming out of adversity. Jones also studies how students motivate themselves when work that is important to them becomes especially difficult. What do we know, then, that might help people during this exceptionally challenging historical moment? What advice can we offer to help you through the pandemic and subsequent economic and political fallout? First, remember that, throughout history, everybody—every person, every generation, every nation—experiences challenges that feel
impossible to survive, and that through those difficult moments they experience growth they wouldn’t have otherwise. Whether it feels like it or not, you are becoming a stronger, wiser person as you live through these times. In the words of the eminent philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.” In a recent study conducted through the SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience) program, Rebekah Kerr, a USF senior, and Jones found that people rely more on redemptive narratives in the winter. When the world is dark and cold, we search for the goodness awaiting us on the other side. This individual tendency mirrors the midwinter celebrations of many religions. Think of Christmas, Hannukah, Diwali, etc. These holidays have their roots in pre-monotheistic celebrations of passing the darkest point in the yearly cycle. If you can, then, allow for some mental space to dream about the end of this literal and figurative winter. Second, while psychologists spend a lot of time thinking about the brain, cutting-edge research in our field reflects ancient wisdom and folk knowledge connecting a healthy mind with a healthy body. We feel better psychologically when we feel good physically. Exercise and nutritious food can help us face isolation and stress head on. The pandemic might even make certain healthy behaviors easier. No commute might mean longer nights
of sleep. A limited social calendar might allow for much-needed downtime. Moreover, psychologists have found that time in nature is really good for us. Limited indoor options might spark a habit of outdoor adventuring that continues even when life looks more normal. If engaging in outside activities seems daunting in the winter, try choosing an outing that feels manageable (a shorter-than-usual hike, for example), bundle up, and consider adding a fun twist, like a thermos of hot chocolate. Likewise, keeping up with our connections to others, even if those connections are virtual or within a small “pod,” is critical to our mental health. There’s no need to exhaust yourself attending every Zoom gathering you’re invited to, but there might be new social rituals you find you enjoy. Said Jones, “My extended family has found that 10 a.m. Sunday virtual coffee dates work well for us, my sister makes a habit of calling my mom as she walks the dogs each night, and several of my neighbors host small, masked gatherings in their open garages. Find a routine you like that gives you that warm feeling of social connection that is so important to us as human beings.” Finally, psychologists know that feeling a sense of self-efficacy is important, especially when facing a big challenge. However, we don’t often give ourselves credit for all we’re doing. “Habituation” is our tendency to get
used to a situation, whether it’s something exciting (winning the lottery; getting married) or something difficult (homeschooling a child while continuing to work; living on a significantly reduced income). The next time you feel overwhelmed, try this simple exercise: list everything productive you’ve done that day, even the little things: “I got out of bed when my alarm rang. I made the bed. I cooked my kids breakfast they liked. I recycled the cereal box.” It’s a good way to remind yourself of all of the small daily tasks you do without thinking to contribute to the world around you. And here is another activity that you may find useful: The next time you succeed, revel in it. Take a minute and celebrate. Let yourself fully experience those feelings of self-efficacy rather than blowing by them, on to the next task. It will help build a sense of competence that will serve you in both happy and difficult times. I certainly don’t mean to force a silver lining onto a very dark cloud. But even though none of us would have chosen this moment, we are all living it. We hope these lessons from psychology give you ways to step back from the stress, grief, and exhaustion you may be feeling, care for yourself and your neighbors, and remember that through this challenge, you are growing.
SOCIAL IMPACT Using Control and Community to Stay on Course by Dan Knapp, Ph.D., LSW; director of USF's Bachelor of Social Work program
In this story, I want to address the concepts of control and family, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning with the prior, historically, our society has faced varied hardships on individual, family and societal levels. With already existing hardships, the last 12 months have further intensified our vulnerability and, for some, have created a crisis situation. A common theme resulting from these types of situations can be a sense of lost control. Some might feel this way when they cannot visit or communicate with their loved ones in ways they did in the past. Others may start to lose sight of who they are after being forced out of routines they were used to, and may struggle to keep control of simple daily life. In control or not, the question for everyone now is, “Where do we go from here?” As we seek answers to this question, I want to urge all people in our USF community to take back the opportunity for control, and to do this by feeling good about making choices. That’s right—in a world that, at the present time, does not seem to give you opportunities for
choosing, each of you has the ability to choose how to respond to the environment around you! I would like to take this one step further by asking each of you, when making choices, to include others as you would your own family. The reason for this is twofold. First, not everyone has the same resources for making choices. Secondly, our community can only grow if choices are made together, and not in isolation. I will share a bit of my own history as a means to help further illuminate this call to action. In my earliest memories, family, to me, started as having parents and siblings who were caring and nurturing. I was raised in a family of seven, and in a large family such as this, patience among one another was a requirement! Patience, and maintaining— or giving up— control, were qualities that were present early on in my life. In a large family, money was spent on education and basic needs, and only on rarer occasions, we were able to have the newest gadgets or vacation experiences. Over time, not having control over obtaining things I
The impact of COVID-19 has tested each of us and our connections with others, as well as our sense of control regarding how we live life. Despite the changes that are necessary to protect us from harm, we all can take back control in our own ways by making choices with others as a family would: » Stay connected with others by scheduling a time once per day or week to talk to a loved one, colleague, or even stranger, and be okay with their preferences on how you communicate (i.e., in person vs. Zoom). Remember, decisions must be shared and mutually agreed upon and we can make the choice to be okay with focusing on the process of making decisions and not necessarily worrying about the outcome of that decision. » Stay connected with others by giving other people choices. For example, in a primary family unit, each member of the house will get a day where they decide on what meal to eat for that particular day. In a task group, each member could be offered to create an agenda.
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wanted became a secondary priority. The people I loved and cared for took priority in all decisions and, over time, the relationships established with my family allowed me to successfully grow and develop as both a person and professional. Because of the strong focus on relational needs, my family experiences have transformed my ideas about who might be eligible to be a part my family. Today, I stand before each of you, seeing you as a family member—even though some of you may identify as a colleague and others may identify as simply a stranger that passes by with a smile. I’ve come to define family as a group of people that all have some shared bond with one another. What bond can I possibly share with a stranger? For me, commonalities I look for can include the community in which we live, a love for pets, or even the enjoyment of simply wanting to be present with others. Each day, I look forward to knowing more about others and how we relate, and I urge you to do the same.
» Stay connected with others by helping other people in need. For example, can you volunteer your time to assist others? Can you donate food items to a local pantry? With new strains of COVID being identified, we might not have an ability to foresee how our lives will look months from now. But what would happen if you and I made a choice in saying it is okay not knowing what the outcome of my life will be, and instead, I am okay focusing on the process of how I will go about making decisions? As we move forward into this unknown, I encourage everyone to focus on the present moment and to continue finding ways to stay connected with others when making choices.
SPIRITUAL IMPACT Finding Grace Through the Pandemic by Jessica Peek, director of university ministry
Our Christian faith teaches us that the Church is not just a building but a people. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us on both of these fronts, separating us not only from the walls in which we pray but also from the people with whom we pray. The virus has certainly affected every aspect of our lives, but for many it has also brought challenges to practicing a part of life that makes the challenges a little more bearable— through our faith communities. Many religious institutions have adapted to these new times by moving their in-person services online and coming up with creative ways to help feed people’s faith during this difficult time. Nevertheless, it is hard to substitute the feeling of sitting in a pew surrounded by others who share the faith and lifting up a collective voice to God, especially when that voice wants to cry out to God for strength and hope during such a difficult period of desolation (St. Ignatius of Loyola used this word to describe the feeling of being separated from God). Within the Catholic Church, the greatest concern is the separation of the People of God from the sacraments. So many of life’s most important moments are marked by faith through sacramental grace. Baptism welcomes new life into the communion of saints and believers, marriage provides witness to the power of the family as the domestic church, anointing of the sick recognizes the dignity of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, etc. Fortunately, we have found ways to adapt in order to communicate the grace of these sacraments for their recipients, but something is lost when the faith community cannot partake and uplift their families and friends into the Body of Christ. Above all these sacraments, the sacrament of Eucharist, the source and the summit of the Catholic faith, has become less accessible to a large part of the Church. This has led Church leaders to strive for more formation about the Eucharist. Even before the pandemic, the Catholic Church has seen a decline in understanding or belief in the real presence of the Eucharist, along with the decline in attendance at Mass. The concern among the faithful is that even after the pandemic ends, many Catholics will not return or will not think of regular Mass attendance or reception of the Eucharist as important. Pope Francis has warned of the dangers of online Mass, which does not represent the fullness of the Church. Especially when watching a recorded Mass at a personally convenient time, the viewer becomes far removed from the faith community and from the sacrament. During this time when we may not be able to receive the Eucharist as often, it is especially important to remember that the Eucharist is the sacrifice of Christ as gift to the Church. The consumption of the Body of Christ helps us to be consumed into the Body of Christ (the Church). The Eucharist is the unifying grace of the Church that reconciles us into the union that God wishes for us. Without the power of the sacrament, the People of God separate from God and from one another.
What can we do to keep our faith alive during this time? If it is safe and available for you to do so, try to go to worship in person. If it is not, endeavor to at least keep holy your time. Participate in the service live and think about all the others with whom you are experiencing this sacred time. Even if you are not physically together, allow yourself spiritually into the community. If your faith community is doing any virtual events or activities, try to attend some, especially groups where you can engage and share your faith. Be open to the Spirit to share both your joys and your doubts, the highs and the lows. If these groups don’t exist, form one with some trusted friends, as well as being open to invite in a newcomer or two! If you have a family, remember that you are the domestic church, the smallest unit of believers, where we first learn of God and our role as disciples. Put a little more time into practicing your faith together and to talking about your faith. Keep as many routines of your faith practices as possible so that this period of pandemic does not cause you to let your faith fall to the background. God is not just for the good times or the bad, but is the God of all time and the God of all things. Include God in every aspect of your life!
Wellness in Challenging Times
Clear Your Head
WITH A HIKE
by Jerome Gabriel, Ed.D.; associate professor of recreation and sport management
In the spring of 2020, we were met with an unprecedented pandemic. We were asked to social distance, stay home, wear masks, and discontinue doing many of the things that we enjoyed. Throughout this time many people were affected both physically and mentally, and one option to combat those things remained: get outside and get into nature. Organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1, the Mayo Clinic2, and the Outdoor Industry Association3 all recommended using the outdoors during this time to help people feel better. If you are someone who has not regularly been using the outdoors as a place to recreate, then there may be some questions as to how to approach it. Fear not, we are here to help! Before heading out on your first hike, whether it will just be for an hour or for a whole afternoon, there are a few steps you should consider to make your experience the best it can be.
PREPARING FOR A HIKE
RESEARCH YOUR LOCATION What type of hike are you looking for? Would you like to just spend a bit of time in the woods? Want to see something historical? Are you looking for wildlife? Do you want to avoid crowds? These are some of the questions you may want to ask yourself before you head out. State parks may offer some beautiful views of nature, but will often be very crowded on the weekends. On the other hand, some parks areas may not have the length of trail you are looking for to be out for a whole day. Most local outdoor locations can be researched via their websites (see some recommendations at right) and normally will include a map of the area. CHOOSE AN APPROPRIATE CHALLENGE When you first begin going out hiking don’t plan on spending the entire day doing it. Start small with local parks and trails for an hour or so and then work up to larger distances. Trail hiking can be more challenging than a neighborhood walk due to uneven terrain and hills, so take your time to work up to larger difficulties. In the Joliet region there are many great parks that can offer 1-3 hours of hiking to begin with and then you can move into some of the longer 10+ mile trail systems that exist, too. Finding the right balance of distance and difficulty is important to ensure that you will enjoy your experience. PACK APPROPRIATELY A great day of hiking can be ruined if you forget to bring the right items with you. Consider the following as a list of basic essentials to bring along. Additional items you may want to consider are included in the typical "10 Essentials" used by those exploring the outdoors4 (which includes things like light sources, navigation tools, sun protection, and more). Backpack A small backpack to carry your items will make the hike more comfortable. Typical school backpacks work fine for one to two-hour hikes, but if you plan to be out for the day, consider using one with a waist belt to help support the weight. Water bottle Choose enough water for the length of time you’ll be gone and for the weather. Warmer days will require more water, but it is still important, regardless of the temperature. Snacks Hiking can be tiring so planning to bring along an energy boost is a must. Easy to eat snacks like granola bars, trail mix, or jerky are some of the most common ones, but taking something you like is important too. If a pack of gummy bears is going to make your day, take one along. Map A map of the area you are hiking can be great especially if there are many trails to choose. These can
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often be printed off directly from the website of the park or location you’re hiking. Looking at this ahead of time will help you know where to park, where to start hiking, and which areas you’ll want to visit. Extra layer Dressing appropriately is necessary for the weather, but always pack an extra layer as well. On colder, dry days this might be a fleece layer or extra jacket, while on an overcast day, you’ll want a rain jacket or other waterproof layers. First aid kit A small personal first aid kit can be very useful to take care of minor bumps and scrapes that can occur while hiking. A few antiseptic wipes, Band-Aids, antibacterial cream, are a few of the items you’ll want to have on hand. Cellphone Most local hiking areas have good cell reception, so while you are trying to get away from everything for a little bit you’ll still want to be able to contact someone in case of an emergency.
LOCAL HIKING RECOMMENDATIONS Jerome Gabriel shares a few hidden gems around the Joliet area that you might try exploring!
Will County Forest Preserves One of the best areas to begin your hiking adventure in our region is with the Will County Forest Preserves. Whether you’d like to check out the bald eagles at the Lake Renwick Preserve, learn about some local history at the Joliet Ironworks Historic Site, or put in some miles along the Wauponsee Glacial Trail, the Will County Forest Preserves has a location that will fit your interests. There are over 70 different preserves and trails scattered across Will County, so there is a good chance one is local to you. reconnectwithnature.org
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year is the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. With nearly 20,000 acres of land to explore there is something for everyone. This might include learning about the history of the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant (the bunkers are still visible at the Prairie), seeing the herd of bison that are living on the preserve, or hiking the 10-mile Henslow Trail to see the seed beds for prairie restoration. fs.usda.gov/midewin
I&M Canal National Heritage Area Weaving through the region is the 96-mile Illinois and Michigan (I & M) Canal Heritage Trail. This trail connects 60 different communities and was created from the original towpath along the canal’s side. It provides an excellent opportunity for some longer hiking days while also exploring some of the region’s rich history. Original Lock houses, dams, and historical markers line this trail teaching about the area’s history in water travel. Multiple entry points exist along the trail so many of the local towns have easy access to it. iandmcanal.org
REFERENCES » 1 cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/visitors.html » 2 mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities during-covid19/art-20489385 » 3 outdoorindustry.org/covid-19-resources-outdoor-industry power-outdoors-covid-19/ » 4 rei.com/learn/expert-advice/ten-essentials.html
Wellness in Challenging Times
GROWTH INSPIRATIONAL FRIENDSHIP SCHOLARSHIPS
Getting Social FINDING COMMUNITY
THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
One way to stay connected (when you feel like you're not) is to interact with others on social media! The University of St. Francis has a very active group of social media followers, and in a recent contest asking fans to describe USF in one word, the result was a beautiful testament to the welcoming community that the University of St. Francis is known to be!
TAME "COVID BRAIN" WITH A LITTLE
MINDFULNESS Long before the pandemic began, the well-minded Saints at USF have been tapping into the talents of Cindy Sloan, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Education, and Steve Wettergren, USF's director of accreditation, for quite some time. NOT just for advice on an education course to take, or for help with developing new academic programs, but for guidance on getting their minds in a better place. Sloan is an experienced meditation practitioner who creates and delivers courses, seminars, and presentations related to mindfulness and mediation. She conducts occasional employee events and workshops, and presented at the AFCU conference at USF about mindfulness. Wettergren is also an experienced practitioner who also loves working with the USF community. Like Sloan, he's facilitated several workshops at USF for the alumni office and through the USF Wellness Program. Wettergren usually begins his sessions by posing an interesting question to participants... "How many of you have ever experienced the following? 1) You're driving down the highway late, after a rough day, and you zone out and miss your exit, 2) You went to the fridge, only to open the door and not recall what you were going to get, 3) You're watching TV and eating some chips, only to discover your snack became the entire bag." (Don't worry, you don't have to answer out loud!) Distraction is our biggest challenge, says Wettergren. "Many people find
it hard to be present in the world today. Add to that other stressors such as remote learning, finals, COVID, work, the holidays and more, and sometimes it gets to be overwhelming. When we are bombarded by so much information during a day, it can be hard to simply relax in the present moment. Meditation helps you familiarize yourself with the present moment, allowing you develop greater clarity and focus." Wettergren likes that there are numerous approaches one can take, and nothing special is needed. Meditation can be done anywhere, anytime. Not to mention, you'll reap a ton of benefits, including better concentration, improved focus and sleep habits, and an increase in energy awareness, adaptability and resilience. You'll feel a spiritual calm and sense of well-being. You'll reduce anxiety, stress and fear, and may see decreased muscle tension and cortisol (a major stress hormone) levels too. Wettergren and Sloan both encourage just ten minutes a day as part of a general wellness routine and say it can change your outlook, attitude and life. Mindfulness exercises can be a gateway to a more formal meditation practice, so let's get mindful! On the following pages, Sloan shares four practices that she curated for her College of Education colleagues. They are easy to access and might benefit Engaging Mind & Spirit readers who are interested in taming their COVID brain.
TIPS FOR NEWBIES » Set an intention to meditate daily-ish. It’s okay to miss a day, just begin again. » Believe that meditation is a skill that can be learned by most people and
substitute any frustration you experience with humor.
» Accept that you will not stop your thoughts but you will interrupt them, this
IS the power of the practice!
» Choose a meditation anchor such as your breath, an object, a sound or a taste. » Use a timer and don’t be too ambitious because frequency is more important
than duration. A few minutes a day is better than one hour a week.
» Set periodic alarms on a fitness band throughout the day. When the band
vibrates, have a mindful moment by taking a breath or checking in.
» Take a look at meditation apps! All have guided meditations for every skill level.
There are many, but be sure to check out Headspace, 10% Happier, Calm, and
the Insight Timer. YouTube also has many guided meditations available from a
wide variety of teachers and practitioners.
Wellness in Challenging Times
FOUR EXERCISES FOR FOUR WEEKS WEEK 1 It’s important to build some common vocabulary and understanding starting with the words MINDFULNESS and MEDITIATION. Both terms are frequently used interchangeably, and often without explicit meaning which can be confusing. My favorite definition of mindfulness was penned by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the father of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), “Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment." Living mindfully is a way of "being" in the world; meditation and mindfulness practices help to build the capacity to do so. Mindfulness is a skill that can be learned and there are exercises (practices) with a meditative quality that can help to build the capacity to be mindful. In other words, to be able to show up for whatever is going on at any given moment (conversations, music, prayer, meals, relationships, studying, playing, etc.) without being preoccupied by incessant past and future thinking.
PRACTICE ONE: FEELING MY FEET (1-2 minutes) » Sit comfortably and upright in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. » Place your hands either on the chair arms, folded in your lap, or on your thighs. » Gently close your eyes, not tight, or leave them slightly open. » Take a few deep breaths in through your nose, into your belly, and out through your mouth. » Bring your complete attention to your feet. » Feel the weight of your feet on the floor and maybe even your bare feet in your socks or shoes, wiggle your toes and feel the restriction or open sensation, sense of the arch of your foot and possibly even the contact points of the balls of your feet, heels, and toes. » Notice any sensations. You may feel pressure on the bottom of your feet, tingling sensations or nothing at all. » Stay focused on your feet for a few breaths (in through your nose, out through your nose). » When a thought comes to your mind (notice I said when, not if) kindly bring your attention back to the physical sensations of your feet » Gently open your eyes and orient yourself to the room. At the end of your 1-2 minute practice, you may or may not have a greater sense of calm. However, you will have guided your mind to focus on sensations in the present moment. Present moment awareness generally does not come naturally but, over time, your capacity will increase and flow into other parts of your life.
WEEK 3 This week is all about checking in with ourselves. Not the rhetorical “how are you,” but the authentic how are you? Like, REALLY, how are YOU? Checking in with ourselves during the day provides excellent opportunities to tune-in to the quality of our physical, emotional, and cognitive state in the present moment. When checking-in it is important to lose the perpetual running narrative (what/where/why/how/who), judging, blaming and opinioning…it’s simply noticing what’s there.
PRACTICE THREE: CHECKING-IN (3-5 minutes) » Sitting or lying comfortably take a few deep breaths through your nose, into your belly, and out through your mouth. » Draw attention to your body, head to toe. Any aches, pains, strains? Areas that feel particularly good? Simply notice where your attention goes for a breath or two. » Now transition to the quality of your mind. Observe your mind state, not your thoughts. Is your mind sharp, alert, dull, foggy,neutral, comfortable, busy, or scattered? Avoid the narrative and just notice what’s there. » Finally, draw attention to your emotional state, whether it be desirable or undesirable it is important not to identify with it. Instead of saying "I am frustrated" simply notice “there is frustration”. Observe how the emotion presents itself within your body (tightness, lightness, eye twitch, knot in stomach, excited stomach, etc.). But be alert, the tendency is to slip into the narrative and stir it up! When this happens, gently bring yourself back to where you feel the emotion in your body. » Take a few deep breaths through your nose, into your belly, and out through your nose and gently bring your awareness to the room.
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FROM MINDFULNESS COACH CINDY SLOAN WEEK 2 DISRUPTION, the purpose of mindfulness! Most of us are functioning on autopilot a good bit of the day. In fact, upwards of 50% of our awake hours are spent this way…YIKES! While we want our biological systems to function independently (heart beating, liver detoxifying, etc.), we do not want experience life on autopilot. As Steve alluded to previously, we have all experienced arriving at a destination without any recollection of the trip, eating a meal without actually tasting and having conversations while simultaneously thinking about something else. We do not do this by choice! We involuntarily stumble into thinking and are either ruminating about the past or forecasting the future—both being HUGE contributors to the symptoms of stress. Mindfulness and meditation practices intentionally disrupt the autopilot mode and brings us to present moment awareness.
PRACTICE TWO: USING MY NON-DOMINANT HAND (2-5 minutes) » Sitting comfortably take a few deep breaths through your nose, into your belly, and out through your mouth. » Hold a writing utensil in your non-dominant hand. » Get a feel for how you need to hold the utensil in order to write. » On a piece of paper, print your first/middle/last name. » Notice your grip and the pressure you are placing on the page. » Do the same using cursive. » Now try to draw the image of Bernie St. Bernard. Was it difficult to use your non-dominant hand? Was your level of focus any different? At the end of your practice, you may or may not experience a greater sense of calm. However, you will have disrupted the autopilot mode. Look for other opportunities for non-dominant hand practice (brushing your teeth, twisting off caps, mousing, etc.) and notice the level of present moment awareness needed to execute the task.
WEEK 4 Similar to building muscle mass, building the capacity to pay attention involves repetition…lots and LOTS of repetition! A daily formal meditation practice is ideal, however mindful practices with a meditative quality can also help to disrupt incessant thinking and improve our quality of life. When I chat with people about meditation and mindfulness I often hear, “I meditate when I’m feeling stressed and sometimes it helps.” The triage application can provide some short-term value, but the full benefit of a meditation practice builds over time. Given this, it is critical to remember that frequency is much more important than duration.
PRACTICE FOUR: MAKING THE MINDLESS MINDFUL (1-2 minutes) » Select a daily routine such as making your bed, brushing your teeth, brewing a cup of coffee or tea, walking from the parking lot to a building, the possibilities are endless! It is important that the activity be something you normally execute on autopilot...meaning, you typically think about other things while you are engaged with the task. » Take a few deep breaths through your nose, into your belly, and out through your mouth. » Bring your attention to any number of sensations such as the grip that you have on your toothbrush, the minty flavor or odor of the toothpaste, the feel of the bristles on your gums, the motion of your hand or arm, the suds in your mouth, and so on. » When your mind wanders—and it will—simply bring your attention to the physical sensations of the task (as often as needed). The “goal” of making the mindless mindful is not to calm your mind, although that may be a welcomed side effect. The goal is to cultivate your ability to pay attention to what is going on in the present moment. The flow of thoughts in such a short period of time often surprises people! Noticing when the thoughts arise and redirecting them, without judgement, is the practice.
Wellness in Challenging Times
FEED by Samantha Whiteaker, MSN, R.N., RNC-OB, CNE, LLLL; instructor, Leach College of Nursing
How to eat healthy—what does that even mean? There are many schools of thought about ‘ways’ to eat. Many people choose no-carb or high protien diets, juice cleanses, or are on 1100 calories-per-day plans. But most healthy people agree on one main concept: eat real food. You will never go wrong eating whole foods, the way God made them. A well-balanced diet will generally have a person eating a wide variety of foods, in as close to their natural state as possible. As you’re looking for ways to stay in good health, think of what you might eat over a few days. Maybe even track it formally by writing it down, and ask yourself: would my ancestors from 100 years ago recognize this food? If there was a zombie apocalypse tomorrow, how much of this food would still look the same on the store shelf if left untouched for four weeks, four months, or four years? If the food would look exactly the same four years later, and if your ancestors would be bewildered by what they see, you probably shouldn’t be eating it—or at least not eating it in large quantities (or often). Your body will not recognize or metabolize industrialized food the same way that it recognizes real food. Do yourself and your immune system a favor and fuel it well. So where can you start? It can feel very overwhelming—many of you might even feel guilt when you think about what you eat regularly. But don’t! You can do this! It’s generally advisable to make small changes and implement them over time, to create lasting habits. Don’t go overboard and change everything at once—it won’t last. Food is meant to be enjoyed, so find ways to enjoy food that you love that is also good for you. My advice for starting to focus on proper nutrition is from my favorite Instagram health and fitness person, Jordan Syatt (@syattfitness). He promotes the following 1/2/3 Method: eat
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one salad per day, two servings of fruit, and at least three big glasses of water every day. What do you like on a salad? Start with at least medium greens and work your way towards adding in darker greens. Romaine lettuce is much more nutritionally dense than iceburg lettuce—but start where you can. Add in some spinach and kale, or spring mix—work on getting it as green as you can. Find a source of protein you like and put that in—it could be diced ham, chicken, salmon, leftover meat from dinner the night before. Then think of toppings: sunflower seeds, diced bacon, cheese, nuts, dry fruit—whatever you like. Top it with a reasonable amount of dressing that you enjoy. My favorite is a simple 50/50 mix of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Greens are SO very good for you! Your body will thank you! Fruit is usually not that hard to add into your diet. Find fruit that you like, and EAT IT! Fresh is always best, but if you need to eat canned or frozen, do it—fruit is always good for you. Make sure there's no added sugar, and if it’s canned, that it’s canned in it’s own juice—not any kind of heavy syrup. Water makes up a huge percentage of you as a human (seriously, like 60%) so get a water jug you like, refill it often and reap the many benefits. Add in a lemon or orange slice if you need a little flavor, but really try to find a way to enjoy your water. Play with the temperature—some really prefer room temp water, some folks prefer it ice cold. I would be remiss if I also didn’t mention focusing on being MINDFUL when you eat. Plan meals ahead of time if you can, and sit down when you eat. Focus on being grateful for this nourishment... maybe even say a prayer! You are literally fueling yourself and your wellness with the food you eat, at every meal—make sure you’re taking care of YOU.
PEANUT BUTTER FLAX ENERGY BALLS Samantha Whiteaker, LCON instructor Here is a favorite recipe of mine, for a healthful treat that you can eat anytime. It has a nice balance of fat, carbs and protein. This is a base, but you can add in anything you like... hemp hearts, protein powder, use almond butter, or add no-added-sugar chocolate chips—go crazy and enjoy!
INGREDIENTS: » 1 cup rolled old fashioned oats » 1/2 cup no added sugar peanut butter » 1/2 cup finely ground flax seed » 1/2 cup honey » 1/4 cup cocoa powder » 2 tsp vanilla extract
INSTRUCTIONS: Mix all ingredients together, then roll by the heaping tablespoon into little balls. Refrigerate.
SHEET PAN SAUSAGE & VEGGIES Courtney Pritchard, LCON instructor Want something savory? Try one of Courtney Pritchard's healthy go-tos.
INGREDIENTS: » Olive oil » 1 lb. fully cooked sausage (organic apple sausage is great!) » 2 zucchini (medium-sized) » 2 yellow squash (medium-sized) » 1 head broccoli » 1 head cauliflower
INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. 2. Wash veggies and cut them in bite size pieces. Make sure pieces are approximately the same size. Put them in a bowl and set aside. 3. Slice the sausage into 1-inch slices and place in bowl with the veggies. 4. Coat the sausage and veggies in olive oil, and spread them onto the paper-lined sheet pan. Season evenly with sea salt and pepper. 5. Bake for 10 minutes and then turn over and bake for another 10 minutes (add time if you want your veggies crispier) 6. Enjoy!
Explore our adult programs below. Contact Sandee for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit stfrancis.edu/admissions or stfrancis.edu/online for more resources and to see a guided tour of an online class.
ADULT UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS Business Administration (B.S.)
The global COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way people work, socialize and live. If you’re home more than usual these days and want to keep your mind sharp, crosswords are one option, but it's also the perfect time to begin an online learning program! Online courses mean you can study whenever you want, from wherever you are. This might be especially helpful if you've experienced a change in your job or career as a result of the pandemic—you’ll come out of COVID with a degree, and we think that’s a positive and productive way to respond to these challenging times. Sandee Sloka, director of adult undergraduate and graduate admissions, offers some tips for online learners, especially for potential adult students worried about not only being a good student but juggling studies with your family life. It's not as daunting as you think!
Health Care Management (B.S.)
SAY NO MORE OFTEN You may not be able to manage all the events and activities you’ve juggled in the past. Being a student is your new priority, and it’s okay to scale back your schedule a little bit. You’ll only be studying a short time in the big scheme of things, so make learning and studying a priority—it will be worth it when you get your diploma!
LISTEN TO CLASSICAL MUSIC Listen to music without lyrics when you can’t stay focused. This kind of music will soothe and inspire you, but won’t distract you by making you want to sing along.
Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN)
FIND A STUDY SPACE TO CALL YOUR OWN Use a comfortable chair that you can sit in for a few hours without discomfort, and be sure there’s ample space for your laptop/computer, books, papers, and a cup of coffee! If you don’t have a home office, feel free to set up a card table in a quiet room in your home—it works just as well.
Nursing Administration (MSN)
USE A CALENDAR OR PLANNER Mark assignment due dates, discussion deadlines, or group meetings, and take a few minutes daily to set your daily and weekly priorities. The clock/alarm app on your phone is another great way to hold yourself accountable to the schedule you set. SCHEDULE TIME EACH DAY TO WORK ON ASSIGNMENTS OR RESEARCH Find time, even if it’s only 20-30 minutes. You’d be surprised at how much you can get done in a short amount of time. This also assures that the material stays fresh in your mind all week. MAKE TASKS MANAGEABLE Break large assignments up into smaller tasks. If you make a list of all the tasks required to complete the assignment, you’ll find it easier to tackle and you’ll be able to cross things off your list faster. SET GOALS AND DEADLINES Deadlines will keep you on track and allow you to achieve success at smaller intervals.
GET REST Perhaps one of the most important things you can do to stay on top of your game is to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re burning the midnight oil on a project and notice that you feel exhausted, or that your eyes are getting weary (or even closing!) you are likely not retaining much of what you’re learning. Go to bed, and plan to get up early the next day to finish. BE FLEXIBLE Plans and lists are helpful, but distractions and interruptions are inevitable. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go according to your plan. GO WITH YOUR PERSONAL FLOW Figure out when/how you do your best work and save your most difficult work for the times when you’re at your peak.
Nursing BSN Completion Program (BSN)
GRADUATE PROGRAMS Business Administration (MBA) Educational Leadership (M.S.) Elementary Education with Professional Educator License (M.Ed.) Health Administration (M.S.) Management (M.S.) Middle Grades Education with Professional Educator License (M.Ed.) Nursing Education (MSN) Physician Assistant Studies (M.S.) (Offered only at USF’s Albuquerque, NM campus.)
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (MSN) Reading (M.S.) Secondary Education with Professional Educator License (M.Ed.) Social Work (MSW) Special Education with Professional Educator License (M.Ed.) Teaching & Learning (M.S.) Training & Development (M.S.) Visual Arts Education with Professional Educator License (M.Ed.)
DOCTORAL PROGRAMS Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) Nursing Practice (DNP)
Graduate certificates are also available in many areas.
Wellness in Challenging Times
RUN TO BEAT THE BLUES WITH JEFF BARKER, HEAD CROSS COUNTRY/TRACK COACH Can you explain the difference between cross country and track? Cross Country is sport in which teams and individuals run a races typically on natural terrain such as grass or dirt. Distances range from 4k-8k (2.5-5miles). Track is running on an oval. The outdoor track distance around is 400meters. To run one mile, you need to complete four laps. How many athletes are on your teams, and how long have you coached? In cross country, we have 40 athletes. In track, we have 75 athletes. I've been head coach for nine years. How has COVID impacted the teams’ schedule and competition? With the nature of our sport being mostly outside (excluding indoor track), we have managed to social distance and remain safe. The student athletes have been amazing in following the new rules and guidelines. Competition has been different with smaller field sizes (so there are less participants). However, just having the opportunity to compete has allowed all of us appreciate our sport and not take it for granted. Can you tell me about how running can change/improve mindset? The running program at St. Francis has a foundation of focusing on character, discipline and team. To be a student athlete is a lot different from being a regular college student. You have to make lot choices to be disciplined and avoid outside distractions. These choices become easier when you have purpose and goals in you daily life. We work hard to improve each other individually and as a team.
There are a lot of ways to get physically fit, but if you've been considering taking up jogging to combat the COVID blues, here's how Barker suggests you do it.
GETTING STARTED » Go to running store and get fitted for the proper shoes. It's the most important thing you'll need. Getting a pair of shoes that are right for you will allow you to enjoy the experience without sore feet. » Mix in walking and running. » Be consistent but also plan in rest days in reward yourself. » Find a friend or group to run together. » Don’t limit yourself. Get in a routine, says Barker, and after 30-40 days, you will see a difference in your health.
STRETCHING Another important thing is stretching. At right, Eva Bruno, a senior English/Secondary Education major, minoring in Spanish, explains three must-do stretches for runners. "The first stretch is just stretching the quadriceps muscles. As part of our warmup, we do these while walking, picking up each foot while taking a step. The second picture is a calf stretch, which is important for preventing shin splints. The third picture is a variation of a hamstring stretch. This is one that we do after running, making sure to do both legs to stay balanced. After we stretch, many runners also like to use foam rollers and other tools to help prevent muscle soreness." Said Bruno about the benefits of her sport, "In all honesty, running is what my sanity depends on, and it's definitely been my crutch for getting through this crazy year. Any exercise is a great stress reliever, but I tend to have a lot of anxious energy and running helps exhaust me enough to keep it at a manageable level. After I run, I find that I'm able to focus so much better and I sleep much better, too. I promise, you won't regret it!"
Engaging Mind & Spirit Magazine
Strengthen Your Spirit As this magazine gets delivered, Lent will be ending and the Christian world will be celebrating Easter. This holy season is a great time to embrace the fullness of our new life in Christ. If you want your spring to be spiritually transformative, be honest with yourself about the state of your faith and do some spiritual “workouts.” Even after Lent ends, the season’s three pillars of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are still essential building blocks of our faith. USF's Peer Ministers offer some advice to inspire you.
With all that is going on in the world right now, something I believe we all can engage more with is prayer. Many people believe that praying requires reciting a list of prayers that we have learned throughout the years. But this year, I challenge you to approach prayer differently. Each day, I would suggest simply thanking God for your graces, praying for those in your life, and finish by asking God for whatever is bothering you. -Maddy Smietanski
I find it very difficult to consistently pray and I hate having to force myself to speak with God. While I do not think there is a simple solution to this common prayer problem, I will say that I have found a way to feel more engaged in my conversations with God. As Christians, we believe that during Blessed Adoration we are quite literally in the presence of God, and in my experience, I can confirm this because I have indeed felt His presence there. During Adoration, I feel closer to God and never have trouble praying. I find my time before the Blessed Sacrament to be very relaxing and it gives me time to reflect upon my recent decisions. -Michael Nickel Sometimes we see prayer as a task, or even a chore. In all reality, it’s actually quite the opposite! Prayer is the time when you get to converse with God, you speak what’s on your mind, and you develop the best and most intimate relationship with him. The truth is, there are no specific set of rules to talk to God. Say what’s on your mind and heart, simply express yourself, and you will find that you have a best friend in him. -Leslie Delgado
The best thing I ever did for Lent was two years ago, when I decided to give a thank you note to 40 people who had been positive influences in my life. I don’t think I ever made it to 40, but it was so impactful on the 30-ish people who received one, that it was well worth the effort. It was a little hard at first, but once I focused on remembering the good that people have left in my life, it was exceptionally beneficial for everyone. -Alex Kromkowski I have had the opportunity to witness the pillar of giving in some of my best friends over the years who do not share my Catholic faith. When I was younger I had friends who are Hindu and had the privilege of
Whenever I fast, I try to keep in mind why I'm doing it. I usually put myself in the perspective of people who are struggling more than me and pray for them. I think about their worries, thoughts, and circumstances. We won’t know how to love people until we put ourselves in their shoes and sometimes it takes us to understand that when we are uncomfortable. - Nicole Kulon Fasting is meant to get rid of distractions that keep us from Jesus. A problem that a lot of us have, myself included, is comparing ourselves to others. Because of social media, we are constantly seeing images of our peers and celebrities where they appear to be living the perfect life. I think it is a good idea to fast from social media from time to time as it takes us away from our relationship with Jesus and causes us to envy. Pray for the intercession of St. Therese of Lisieux as she experienced anxiety in her own life and understands the anxiety we feel from social media. -Payton Rolón Sometimes we slip up during our fasting, and it can feel like Lent is ruined. Something I have learned over the years is to remember that God is not mad if you make a mistake! Fasting is, among other things, a reminder that we need God’s strength. Fasting is a reminder that God is always by my side, helping me no matter what I am facing. When I mess up, it helps me remember that I am only human and that God is so forgiving. It reminds me to continually pray and worship even after Lent. He gives us the strength to resist temptation in any form, whether it’s eating candy during Lent or the sins we face every day. -Lauren Wozniak
attending a Bommala Koluvu festival at their house. Their practices of giving to their gods and spending time honoring them really inspired me to spend more time with Jesus and to honor my God for all the kindness, mercy, and endless blessings he has showered upon me and my family. I also have a friend who is Muslim and the pillars of Islam share the values of giving, prayer, and fasting. Another friend who is a non-denominational Christian does not go to Masses but still prays and believes in God. These relationships helped me see the good sides of other religions and it is the pillar of giving that really connects all the religions together because we all believe in acts of service. - Ann Benoy
Wellness in Challenging Times
S TA F F P I C K S
Great books, music, movies and more to keep you occupied during challenging times.
READING » The free Libby app helps you borrow ebooks and digital audiobooks from your public library. Whenever I hear a book recommendation, I go to my account and put a hold on the book. When it is available, I get a notification. If I don’t think I’ll have time to read the book before it would be due, I can update my hold so it is redelivered at a later date. When the book is due I also get a notification and I can update my hold if I didn’t finish it or it is just returned. No more overdue books, and I always have a pipeline of books I want to read (or listen to) in the queue. -Tracy Spesia, Ed.D. (field experience coordinator and partnership liaison, College of Education) “Thaddeus Mosley" by Karma—A beautiful illustrative monograph of African American sculptor Thaddeus Mosely. Based-in Pittsburgh, PA, and still active in his 90's, Mosley makes incredibly rich and dynamic hand carved wood sculptures, from domestic woods, such as Black Walnut, and White Oak. -Paul Erschen (associate professor and department chair, Art & Design) The book "Getting Things Done" by David Allen has been very influential in my life in the last two years. It offers an organization system that makes the management of multiple tasks and projects, well, manageable. -Angela Antenou, Ph.D. (assistant professor, Mathematics & Computer Science) “Resisting Happiness” by Matthew Kelly. I love Matthew Kelly’s work because it inspires the reader to become the best version of himself/herself that God created us to be. In “Resisting Happiness,” Kelly explores his own life’s journey and challenges the reader to tune out the noise in our own lives and focus on the call we hear from both our heart and from God to be happy and live a life driven by purpose and passion. Learn more at dynamiccatholic. com/matthew-kelly. -Dave DiLorenzo (director, Community Relations) I recommend “Craft a Life You Love: Infusing Creativity, Fun & Intention into Your Everyday” by Amy Tan. The title speaks for itself—I often try to embody these things to have a fulfilled life and this cute journal helps me with that! -Ceddi Carver (assistant director, Residence Education) I recommend the book “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. Even the title makes me think of clean, fresh air and enjoying the great outdoors – especially in warm weather. As we are stuck inside at wintertime, this book will take the reader away to a totally different setting. At our house we also play Jimmy Buffet and Kenny Chesney when we are dreaming of warmer weather! -Amy Mihelich (administrative manager, REAL) “Death and Life of the Great Lakes” by Dan Egan—Fans of USF alums Jessica and Brendan Walsh’s “Making Waves” documentary will recognize Egan as a reliable and engaging source of information on what humans are doing to the Great Lakes. An excellent read for anyone concerned about how we are negatively affecting the environment and what we can do about it. Also, "First Over There" by Matthew Davenport. Davenport’s book looks at the first battle the U.S. army fought in World War I, a battle fought in and around the small village of Cantigny in France. If the name sounds familiar, the battle was the
Engaging Mind & Spirit Magazine
inspiration for the name of Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL (the park was created by Robert McCormick, who fought at Cantigny). I found it to be an interesting bit of history with local ties. -Dan Schwert, Ph.D. (associate professor, Chemistry) I’ve loved to read since I was a child. It can be an escape as well as a great way to relax. I was asked to join a USF book club years ago and I really enjoyed it. The best part about being in a book club is that it gets you out of a “reading rut” and forces you to read things that you may not otherwise choose. So I started a mother/daughter book club with friends six years ago and we’re still going strong even though now we meet over Zoom. Some of my recent favorite picks have been: “A Man Called Ove” by Frederick Backman, “The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom and “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Phillipa Gregory. I strongly recommend joining a book club or starting your own! -Sandee Sloka (director, Adult Undergraduate & Graduate Admissions) I am currently listening, on Hoopla, to a political spy thriller by Jack Coughlin, “An Act of Treason” (book 4 of the Kyle Swanson Sniper Series). It is a typical action, military-type series written by a retired marine. And I am actually reading book 1 of the “Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness. It is kind-of a combination of Harry Potter and Twilight, set at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. -Rebecca Fry (director, Financial Planning & Analysis) “The Splendid and the Vile” by Erik Larson—A gripping true story about Winston Churchill in 1940 trying to hold England together during the Blitz. This book shows that non-fiction can be as compelling as any novel. “Where’d you Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple—A witty, fast-paced novel about a quirky misanthrope in Seattle who suddenly vanishes, leaving her daughter to piece together clues to track her down. -Cathy McDonnell Schultz, Ph.D. (professor, History & Political Science) “The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature” by Daniel Levitin (2008)—A renown researcher in the field of music psychology and neurology, Levitin combines research, interviews with conductors, anthropologists, evolutionary biologists, and performers (including Sting) to create an engaging and provocative read. Why do you feel moved by music? This book may lead you to a possible answer through its exploration of six familiar songs. -Paul Laprade (assistant professor, director of choirs and department chair, Music & Performing Arts) "Rediscovering Catholicism" by Matthew Kelly. I received this book from my parish, where I teach 7th grade religious education. It's a great look at the world today, the role of faith, and the Catholic church. -Rich Vaughan, D.M. (associate professor, College of Business & Health Administration)
“Great Kitchens of the Midwest” by J. Ryan Stradal—This book (which is not a cookbook!) is sweet, funny, and will make you want to eat good food. It's the story of one very cool protagonist told through a series of chapters narrated by people who love her. The book portrays Midwestern culture more accurately than any I've ever read. -Brady Jones, Ph.D. (assistant professor, Psychology) During this time, I have returned to some old friends! I am reading Augustine's “Confessions,” Bonaventure's “The Mind’s Road to God,” a bit of Chesterton. -Dan Hauser, Ph.D. (professor and department chair, Theology)
LISTENING » I recommend the podcast "By the Book." Co-hosts Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer read a self-help book together and then live by its teachings for two weeks. The hosts are hilarious, but they are also willing to be vulnerable and introspective. I really like this podcast because it models ways to listen to our own needs when we are trying to improve our lives. The hosts show listeners how to follow advice that works for their lives and leave behind the rest. The hosts are close friends, and when they support each other, they also model ways we can lift our friends up and lean on them in our lives. -Anna Ioanes, Ph.D. (assistant professor, English & Foreign Languages) I'm still stuck in the 70s with groups like the Eagles, and I like all decades of country music. -Rich Vaughan, D.M. (associate professor, College of Business & Health Administration) “The Quote of the Day Show” with Sean Croxton. This daily podcast features excerpts of presentations from some of the most inspirational minds of yesterday and today. From goal setting to motivation, each short episode (average duration is approximately seven minutes) is the perfect way to start your day and set the tone for productivity and personal progress. To listen to the podcast, search the keyword “Quote of the Day.” Learn more at seancroxton.com/quoteoftheday. -Dave DiLorenzo (director, Community Relations) Brene Brown’s podcast, "Unlocking Us," reminds me of the power of humility and vulnerability. It helps me not only be a better professional but a better person. -Ceddi Carver (assistant director, Residence Education) “Fantasia on Christmas Carols” by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1912)—In the absence of a pandemic, our choirs would have sung this majestic and powerful work for the Christmas at the Motherhouse concerts. This work is the first Christmas-related work I place on my stereo each year, for it is a poignant juxtaposition of statements of faith (“This is the truth sent from above…”), stellar orchestral/ choral writing, and both somber and ecstatic music that mirrors the entire movement from Advent to the joy of Christmas in a mere ten minutes. It will touch you at any time of year. Richard Hickox’s recording of this work (available on YouTube) is transformative. -Paul Laprade (assistant professor, director of choirs and department chair, Music & Performing Arts)
You can never go wrong with the podcast “On Being” with Krista Tippett. In times like these, it's a much-needed dose of perspective. -Brady Jones, Ph.D. (assistant professor, Psychology) I am dating myself, but I listen to my iPod. I like selections of Pavaroti and Rachmananoff's “Piano Concerto No. 2.” The other day, I heard a recording of Pavaroti singing "Ave Maria," which was quite inspiring. -Dan Hauser, Ph.D. (professor and department chair, Theology) “Unlocking Us”—I have enjoyed this podcast hosted by Brene Brown. She has a great variety of guests—many of them are quite well known—but the real gems are the experts in their fields. “For the Love”—This podcast is hosted by Jen Hatmaker. Like Brene Brown, she has an authentic voice and a variety of guests. Her podcast is created around series and it led me to the series she did on the Enneagram (which led me to the book “The Road Back to You” by Cron and Stabile). So now I am into learning about the Enneagram and it is a fascinating personality tool to build understanding and compassion for yourself and others. -Tracy Spesia, Ed.D. (field experience coordinator and partnership liaison, College of Education) Tom Petty – My go-to no matter how I’m feeling. My favorite songs are “The Last DJ,” “Yer So Bad,” and of course, “Wildflowers.” The Dangerous Summer—Their name is taken from the Hemingway book, and they’ve been a favorite of mine for a long time. Listen to “Where Were You When The Sky Opened Up,” “Infinite” and “Where I Want To Be.” -Nicole Salow (graphic designer, Marketing Services)
WAT C H I N G » Movies in the James Bond series are my pick. They are something that I enjoy watching with my husband—he is a watch lover and he likes the style of clothes as well. Add on to that the action, and it is a nice way to pass the time. My entire family enjoys MST 3000—the incredibly bad movies and dry/sarcastic humor makes us all laugh! -Maureen Hunt (licensure officer, College of Education) I highly recommend “Bosch” on HULU. He's a Los Angeles detective who gets some very complex cases to solve. There is also a new show, “Resident Alien,” that shows some promise. It's a quirky comedy about an alien on earth who is impersonating a Doctor. -Wayne Clements (shuttle driver, Operations & Transportation) “Virgin River”—A Rom-Com series about a nurse who moves from LA to a small town in Northern California called Virgin River. Each of the characters has a very interesting back story that you get to learn more about as the show goes on – it hooks you in. Two seasons are on Netflix now and I can’t wait for season 3! -Amanda Dore (visiting assistant professor, College of Business & Health Administration)
“Bridgerton” on Netflix is fun, frothy escapism. It has a Jane Austen feel but sexier, and with a gorgeous, multi-racial cast. “The Good Place” is a comedy about the afterlife that’s heart-warming, wise, and often hysterically funny. And it’s one of the rare shows with a series finale that wraps up the story perfectly. -Cathy McDonnell Schultz, Ph.D. (professor, History & Political Science) “How To with John Wilson” (on HBO)—Self-described "anxious New Yorker" and documentarian John Wilson takes the viewer on a journey starting with a premise and ends up completely somewhere else. Recommended for fans of early Woody Allen films, Michael Moore documentaries and “Seinfeld.” -Anthony Musiala (director, WCSF 88.7FM) I have been watching Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix. I never considered myself a Trekkie before (and hadn't even considered watching the show before this year). However, now that I've discovered it, I am hooked. I enjoy some of the questions they raise: about what it means to be human. For this reason, I find the episodes focusing on the android Data to be especially interesting. -Angela Antenou, Ph.D. (assistant professor, Mathematics & Computer Science) National Geographic’s “Life Below Zero” follows four families as they struggle with life in Alaska. Why do I like it? In a cold Chicago winter, misery loves company! I like all TV travel programs— with the COVID lockdown, I'm getting my travel fix through TV. I also like “Big Sky” on ABC-TV… shamelessly, I got hooked on the first episode. -Rich Vaughan, D.M. (associate professor, College of Business & Health Administration) I love “The Bold Type” because it shines on friendship, women’s empowerment and it is rich in diversity of individuals, thought, issues and so much more! I also love reality TV—all of it. It’s fun and watching others’ lives reminds me to not take everything so seriously all the time! -Ceddi Carver (assistant director, Residence Education) “Amazing Grace” (2018)–Aretha Franklin’s music and remarkable voice was revered by many, but her influences and ability never shown as brightly as in this film, which captures her singing a full concert in her home church in 1968. The film’s release was delayed for decades as a result of legal wrangling, but the wait was worth it. It is not only a musical journey, but an experience that will speak to one’s faith with strong conviction. This is the real Aretha, unpackaged, raw, and undimmed by commercial considerations. -Paul Laprade (assistant professor, director of choirs and department chair, Music & Performing Arts) I’m currently watching 911 and Legacies (which I don’t think are super popular like Bridgerton or the Tiger King…LOL)! -Suzie Garvey-Dieter (senior accountant, Accounting)
"British Pathe"—These archival videos, available for free on YouTube offer details glimpses into amazing old-world arts & crafts, such as paper-marbling, wallpaper printing, and tin smithing. -Paul Erschen (associate professor and department chair, Art & Design) Are you nostalgic about the 80s, a techie, fascinated by social media, or enjoy shows about relationships? "Halt and Catch Fire" could be for you! I's a four-season drama (40 episodes) that has something for everyone, but give it a little time... it takes 5-6 episodes to get in the HCF groove. -Cindy Sloan (associate dean, College of Education)
S O C I A L-I Z I N G » I happen to follow female body builders/girls who lift on Instagram. I have a few that I follow that will post videos of workout routines and workout techniques. I then will implement them into my workout routine or at the least try them. -Diana Pliscic (officer, Safety & Security) I'm going to do something a little different here... you may want to be social, but on occasion, try to resist the temptation of your phone! You don’t have to answer every message that everyone sends you... remember, there's time for work, and there's personal time too. -Fr. Terry Deffenbaugh (university chaplain, University Ministry)
P L AY I N G » I have recently rediscovered the joy of board and card games! They offer varied degrees of engagement, competition and laughter, along with an always needed screen break. We’ve dusted off classics like Backgammon and Othello and found a new favorite (and some intense rounds) in the card game Spot It. Blank Slate has been a hit in our office – it’s quick, family friendly, and a fun way to find out which great minds think alike! -Michelle Madura (communications manager, REAL) I’ve had some fun with TENZI, a colorful dice game that players of all ages can enjoy. The object is to roll and reroll the dice quickly, setting dice aside until all ten of them are showing the same number. Purchase the “77 Ways to Play TENZI” card deck for tons of game variations. I also highly recommend making your own board game, which was a fun quarantine experience with my seven-year-old niece. I purchased a blank board, blank cards and player pieces online. A word of advice: do some thinking about the game strategy before jumping in with the permanent markers! -Julie Futterer (director, Marketing Services)
Am I the only person watching “Best Leftovers Ever!”? This Netflix show is extremely satisfying, and I've actually picked up some useful skills for using leftovers creatively and reducing food waste. -Brady Jones, Ph.D. (assistant professor, Psychology)
» Wellness in Challenging Times
» READ THIS My Dorm Room
Spacecraft Story and room diagram by Amanda Dutkiewicz, for Dr. Kathryn Duys' Fall 2020 College Writing I Class
In the past few months, my dorm has become my favorite place, a place I even prefer over the bedroom I grew up in for 18 years. It was quite loud and crowded in the small house I lived in with my parents, two siblings, and seven pets; this makes my dorm seem quiet and spacious by comparison. I never truly experienced independence and the luxury of quietness until now, but I also never was faced with so many responsibilities. Coming to live at the University of St. Francis for a “trial of adulthood,” as I like to call it, was a life-changing move for me, and I credit my bed and dorm as the reason I have survived college life thus far. Although I am living a similar life to the one I had during the first five months of the pandemic being cooped up inside, being bound to my dorm is drastically better than being trapped in my childhood bedroom. I may always have the ever-present anxiety over the future that I do, especially because of COVID-19, but at least I can be at ease and feel like everything is normal when I am in the surroundings of my dorm room and falling asleep in my bed, the place that is most special to me. My dorm may be an area of merely 180 square feet, but it manages to contain, in a sense, everything I was used to at my parents’ house—a bedroom, kitchen, dining room, study space, living room, storage closet, and vanity/bathroom—all in one room. I have spent only a couple months inside the walls of my dorm, but I already consider it to be my new home. During these months, I have also begun to think of my dorm as a spacecraft. When quarantining at home over the summer, I had already started to imagine I was aboard a tiny space capsule that I was unable to leave. I attempted to be as self-sufficient as possible, but it was still an option to walk to other rooms of my house to interact with my family members and pets. Living in a dorm is different; I cannot walk to the kitchen, living room, or basement to distract myself or find something interesting to do like I could at my house. There are not even many other places besides my dorm that I would feel safe to sit in for a prolonged
Engaging Mind & Spirit Magazine
period. Because of these factors, I continue to restrict myself to only my dorm, fantasizing that I am living on a rocket floating through space. In addition, I imagine my dorm as a spacecraft because it is the only place on campus that I can take off my mask and freely breathe. Every time I leave my room, it is like I am putting on a spacesuit and helmet that will allow me to breathe and survive in the environment outside, as if I am going out into the cold vacuum of space. I always need to prepare myself for a “spacewalk” to class, practice, the cafeteria, or even just the bathroom, by equipping my face mask and donning my ID before I leave. When I return, I must decontaminate by washing my hands and using hand sanitizer, then disinfecting my doorknob, ID, phone, and other belongings I had brought with me. I then rip off my face mask to breathe unhindered again, as if I just stepped back onto my ship and can finally inhale fresh oxygen again. Furthermore, I spent a lot of time in my first week on campus thinking about my future of living in a dorm, and I realized I would need to improve upon my idea of pretending to be in space because my dorm is much smaller than a real house. After some rumination, I came up with a system to have multiple sections within my dorm that would each have their own purpose. Distinguishing different portions of the room to have specific activities creates the illusion that there are multiple rooms within a single room, or as I think of it, different departments of the space shuttle I am on. I try to keep tasks and objects from each section within the zone they belong to—eating only while sitting at my “table,” sleeping only in my bed, working on homework only at my desk, etc. This philosophy of categories and branches to my space is something I was never able to live by in the past, and it has allowed me to stay more organized, productive, and on-schedule than I have ever been in my life. Going clockwise, the first thing in my room after stepping through the door is what I think of as a storage closet, as I have all my clothes, tennis equipment, music-related objects, cleaning supplies, towels, and extra blankets stored here inside the two wardrobes that are to the left behind my door. The only way I can keep my dorm clean is by organizing and putting everything where it goes within these wardrobes, allowing me to keep my head clear because my room is clean. If I do not do this, things get in the way, and I imagine everything would be floating around,
bumping into the walls and consoles of the spacecraft. Then there's my “living room,” which consists of a standing lamp, footstool, and comfortable purple lounge chair to lounge in. To avoid lying in bed all day on my phone, I designated my comfortable chair for relaxing and brain-numbing activities. I watch movies and YouTube, read, talk to friends, browse social media, play video games, and sit here if I need to relax. Although I sometimes am lazy and end up not leaving my bed, psychology says it is best to use a bed only for sleeping. Using technology, eating, doing homework, etc. in bed make one’s brain associate those activities with their bed, which will make it harder to fall asleep at night. Therefore, I know it is in my best interest to instead sit in my chair in my “living room” area to do those leisurely activities. The next region in my room, in the back-left corner, is the quarter of my dorm that I consider to be my kitchen and “dining room.” My minifridge and the extra desk in my room together function as a pantry, kitchenette, and table to eat at, and I reserve this segment of my dorm for anything food-related. I stocked the drawers of the desk with non-perishable foods, water bottles, dinnerware, utensils, and extra napkins, as if it were a pantry cabinet. I placed my coffee maker and microwave on top of the desk, as if it were a countertop of a kitchenette. I also sit at the desk to eat all my meals, as if I were seated at a one-person dining table. The aromas of food I bring back from the cafeteria may fill my entire dorm (especially with spicy smells if it is taco night), but it allows me to avoid eating in proximity to anyone else, making it well worth it. Eating and storing all my food in one zone not only makes it easier to stay organized, but also prevents me from trying to eat in bed or at my school desk, preserving cleanliness and making me more responsible. In the other far corner of my room is my main desk and desk chair. This department is reserved for studying, schoolwork, and logging into my Zoom classes, which is why I think of it as an office/classroom. I keep my laptop, textbooks, and supplies on this desk, and try to avoid having my phone or food in the immediate vicinity to avoid getting distracted. If COVID-19 were no longer a threat, I would be in a classroom for classes and in the library to study, but the 4’ by 2’ desk in my room is currently the only viable option. This area of my room is solely for getting important things done and using my laptop, which creates a metaphorical bubble of productivity for me when I am in it, just like my bed should only have an aura of sleep. Although there is not a sink in my dorm, the small dresser with a tall mirror on top is the closest I have to a vanity/bathroom, and it is positioned on the right wall, between my desk and bed. A majority of what I use to get ready when I wake up is here: my brush, blow-dryer, toothbrush, hair-ties, etc. This allows me to prepare myself for the day as much as possible without having to go into the public bathroom until necessary. Lastly, the most important place in my dorm is the portion that is a bedroom, with my nightstand and bed. My bed has always been my favorite place, but the bed in my dorm is especially sacred to me. Sleeping is the activity I love the most, and it becomes especially addictive to me when school is in session and I am constantly sleep-deprived. My
comfortable bed is the only place I ever want to stay, and I think about sleeping from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed. When I am warm under the covers on a cool night, I remember well why I love my bed so much. When there are freezing nights and I am under three blankets, I feel so cozy and safe. The mattress in my dorm is much more comfortable than I had expected, and when I fall asleep, my bed is a means to escape to dreamland, a place where I no longer have a care in the world. Furthermore, my bed is the most meaningful to me because, even in this anxiety-filled, COVID-19-infested world, I can feel serene and relaxed by sleeping. I am comfortable, safe, happy, and free while lying in my bed, and it transports me further away from the stresses of life than any real space shuttle could. My dorm allows me, like a spacecraft would, to isolate myself from everyone else. Within its walls, I can remove my mask to physically breathe fresh air, but my bed allows me to go a step further and mentally breathe fresh air by escaping the negativity of planet Earth. I can forget about all the craziness outside of my dorm and the troubles of life and feel happy to be alive while sleeping. Nowhere else has ever been as special of a spot to me as my bed in my room in Marian Hall, and I have realized that moving into a college dorm was the right choice after all.
Wellness in Challenging Times
Wellness in the Workplace USF Commits to Making Employees Healthier and Happier Over the past ten years, employers have seen an increase in the popularity of and need for employee wellness programs. Many factors, including the way people live and work, and trends in physical and mental health, have contributed greatly to the need to provide a healthy work environment for employees. According to Molly Knapczyk, benefits, compensation and Title IX coordinator at USF, workplace wellness programs encourage employees to improve health behaviors and reduce health risks, while reducing health care spending. Good wellness plans lead to healthier lifestyles and more productive employees. “Today, wellness programs are common among both medium and small-sized businesses and are regularly part of a company’s benefits package. When done correctly, wellness programs give employees incentives, tools, social support, privacy, and strategies to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors," she said. The University of St. Francis started taking a closer look at wellness in November of 2014. Employee wellness became a strategic goal of the university, striving to manage health care costs while continuing to build a culture of medical consumerism and healthier lifestyles. The idea of instituting a wellness program took root, with the purpose of fostering a sense of community by bringing colleagues together through challenges, activities, wellness programming and educational opportunities. The USF Wellness Committee, led by Human Resources, was formed, consisting of individuals representing all employee classes. Wellness incentives, or “challenges,” began being regularly developed to encourage employees to be proactive about their health. Incentives ranged from fun prizes, to employer HSA contributions, to monetary gift cards. Said Knapczyk, “Over the past several years, our medical claims have improved annually due to USF employees participating in our wellness initiatives." Knapczyk also noted that over the last few years, approximately 40% of USF employees have participated in wellness events. “This year, we had to tone it down with no in-person events, but every month we typically have 50-60 participants. Employees like the challenges. They like being motivated by their peers and are very appreciative of the prizes each month,” she said. "I really enjoyed participating in mid-day walks around campus, yoga, and Inwood group classes. Not only was it nice to take an exercise break during the day and interact with colleagues, it also allowed me to feel reinvigorated and more productive for the afternoon at work. said Bettylou Zmudka, lab safety manager in the College of Arts & Sciences. The efforts appear to be working for everyone. In September 2019, the University of St. Francis was recognized with a Silver Award in the WEWILL WorkHealthy Worksite Wellness Recognition Program through
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Will County’s Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnership (MAPP) collaborative. USF was one of eight Will County organizations recognized for their commitment to the improvement of employee health in six main workplace categories, including health promotion and education, physical activity, mental health, environmental health, nutrition and safety. “I honestly believe that the variety of programing and support from USF leaders to promote and fund the programing led to USF being honored for its wellness initiatives last year,” said Knapczyk. Wellness Commitee member Lisa Bersano, communications coordinator in USF's Enrollment Services Office, says the wellness challenges keep her focused on maintaining a healthy balance on life. "I enjoy the activities USF provides, and meeting up with employees who strive for the same things I do," she said Added Ruth Nelson, circulation supervisor in USF's LaVerne & Dorothy Brown Library, “Thanks to this program, I joined a gym, get an annual doctor’s check-up and make healthier food choices. I feel better, have more energy, and all it comes with an added financial incentive.”
Carol Sheetz, talent coordinator; Molly Knapczyk, benefits, compensation and Title IX coordinator; and Stephanie Gubelman, administrative assistant, accept a silver award in the WEWILL WorkHealthy program.
USF EMPLOYEES FLEX
T H E IR STR EN GTHS
USF cares about the well-being of its employees, and has been using Gallup’s CliftonStrengths program on campus since 2017 to help employees recognize their strengths. CliftonStrengths is a tool that includes an assessment that helps individuals determine their top five out of 34 pre-identified strengths that fall into one of four domains: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking. Following, USF's Julee Gard, vice president of administration and finance, and Carol Sheetz, talent coordinator, explain how the tool is being used on campus. Can you tell us more about the CliftonStrengths concept? Why and when did USF first explore this tool? USF rolled out CliftonStrengths (then called StrengthsFinder) to employees in May 2017. The first Q12 survey, an ongoing employee survey that measures employee engagement, was administered in July 2017. A Strengths-Based Management core team was put in place at USF to assist with the roll out of the program, educate and provide awareness about the Q12, and help coordinate “State of the Team” conversations among departments. Members of this initial core team included Jeff Chiapello, Rebecca Fry, Julie Futterer, Julee Gard, Becky Garland, Allison Heard, Maribeth Hearn, Janine Hicks, Aubrey Knight, Sandee Sloka and Ed Soldan. All faculty, administrators, and staff were invited to take the initial assessment to discover their top five strengths, and approximately 83% of those invited completed it. How would you say that this tool, when utilized by an employee, can enrich or improve his/her work life? Gallup has found that building employees’ strengths is more effective to improving performance than considering potential weaknesses. Employees who know and use their strengths are more engaged, perform
better, and are less likely to leave their organization. At USF, employees are encouraged to have their top five strengths displayed where they can be seen and to productively aim their talents. By setting goals and expectations based on their strengths, an employee will be more productive and engaged. All USF employees were provided with reports and information about their strengths, and the domains they fall under, so they can productively aim their talents at work. Departments and divisions within the university are greatly encouraged to have frequent strengths-based conversations as well. Has there been an instance where you’ve seen someone take a really positive, direct action as a result of understanding their (or someone else’s) strengths? Julee Gard: The most profound example for me was at a previous employer of mine. I had asked a product engineer multiple times for (what I thought was a) simple spreadsheet summarizing new material costs for one of our products. My #1 strength is "Analytical," so the requested cost summary, in my opinion, was incredibly straightforward request. I asked multiple times for this time-sensitive information and was repeatedly disappointed in either a lack of a response or inaccurate information. The company had recently encouraged all employees to take the StrengthsFinder assessment, and I noted that this particular product engineer’s #1 strength was "Context." In reading about the Context strength, it quickly became clear to me that I needed to change the way I was trying to communicate with this employee. I explained how the material cost updates would directly impact the selling price of the product, and that information was needed before we could publish the product catalog. I put my specific information request in the context of the company’s overall product pricing methodology. In other words, I modified the
way I communicated the request. I ended up receiving one of the best product costing analyses I have ever seen. The problem was not a weak employee in the engineering department; the problem was that I was trying to communicate a request that was tailored more to my Analytical strength, rather than the recipient’s Context strength. Has knowing more about your own strengths helped you, personally, in your HR role? Carol Sheetz: Contemplating and utilizing my strengths helps me personally and professionally. When teaming up with someone or working on an independent project, knowing my strengths has helped me. My top five strengths are Input, Maximizer, Learner, Achiever and Intellection. Three of my top five strengths are in the Strategic Thinking domain, one is in Influencing, and one is in Executing. When I use my Input, Learner and Intellection strengths, I find that I make better decisions and create better outcomes. My Input strength comes into play with my need to collect and archive information. I also seek to learn something new every day, and I strive to continuously improve, which is a result of my Learner strength. I like to think and take time to reflect which taps into my Intellection strength. When I prioritize my Maximizer strength, I strive for excellence and look to transform something that is good into something that is exceptional. I flex my Achiever strength by staying busy and productive. If you're interested in identifying your own strengths, or proposing this program to your employer to inspire workplace wellness, visit gallup.com/cliftonstrengths.
Wellness in Challenging Times
SAINT SPOTLIGHT LESLIE JUAREZ-LAW (RESENDIZ) '17 A fourth-year University of Illinois veterinary student, USF alumna Leslie Juarez-Law (Resendiz) '17 talks about her career path and the benefits of pet ownership during challenging times. When did your passion for animals begin to develop? I've loved animals since I can remember and wanted to be a voice for them even as a child. Although I have siblings, there was a large age gap so I technically grew up as an only child and it often made me feel lonely. Once I finally convinced my parents to let me have a dog, that loneliness disappeared. Animals have amazing ways of comforting humans. They are loyal, interactive, and brought joy to my life while growing up. What made you decide to pursue veterinary medicine? During my early childhood in Mexico, I saw a lot of injured and stray animals and tried to help them by bringing them home all the time. (My mom was not thrilled!) I grew up having dogs. When I was in high school, they became sick and I realized that I wanted to know how to best care for my future pets. In veterinary medicine, you develop many skills and become versatile in many specialties. Veterinarians need to treat many conditions and have the freedom to perform surgeries, treat dermatologic conditions, know how to treat cardiac diseases, interpret blood work and radiographs, and know species differences. Have you learned anything in your studies about the bonds between humans and their pets? The human-animal bond is discussed in our communication course. In order to provide good quality care, we also need to take into account the human-animal bond regardless of species. Many people only think of cats and dogs when discussing a bond, however, this goes beyond that, as people get attached to their reptilian pet, or their fish. As future clinicians we need to acknowledge this connection. From personal experience, I can say I feel very connected to my red eared slider (aquatic turtle)—his name is Tortuga and he has a spunky personality, demands attention and recognizes when I'm making his food and has been trained to go on his ramp for me to take him out of his tank. Interesting question: Are animals capable of loving? I absolutely think animals are capable of loving! Humans have daily tasks and responsibilities, go to work, interact with others and come back home. To pets, their owners are their entire world! Our pets wait for us to come home and provide them with food, treats, belly rubs and comfort.
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When I'm stressed or feeling down, my dogs tend to feel my changes in mood and respond by wanting to cuddle more or sit with me at all times. With time, I think you develop a bond with your pet where you can communicate and understand each other in a special way. Training also helps strengthen the human-animal bond and provides mental stimulation for your pet. Do you have your own pets? How do they make your life better? In Joliet, when I lived with my parents, we had four dogs (three Chihuahuas and a Westie) and Tortuga. When I moved, I took Tortuga and three dogs and my mom stayed with her single Chihuahua. I can say that I would not have survived vet school and moving away from home without my "kids." During finals and midterms, while I was stressed out, Meredith (my female Chihuahua) would pull me out of all my stress. She was silly, and had such a great personality. She would join me on the kitchen floor to dance every single time I played Bruno Mars. Unfortunately, Meredith developed tracheal collapse and lung disease and passed away earlier this year. Romeo is my 10-year-old Chihuahua. We rescued him from a family that bought him for a two-year-old child, that did not realize how dangerous it could be to let small children handle dogs. Romeo developed a sassy personality, but has been doing much better with kids recently. Max is my Westie and he is definitely bonded with me. He's friendly with everyone and loves training. Many people have considered getting pets to help cope with these stressful times. If you were to recommend anything about getting/ adopting and taking care of a pet, what would your advice be? I do think that pets have helped many people during the pandemic and they add to our emotional support, especially when human interaction is limited. If you are interested in adopting, you need to educate yourself about food, training, and specific needs and predispositions of pets. For example, some breeds are more predisposed to having allergies or dental disease. Being prepared to treat these conditions is important. It is always a good idea to go to the veterinarian for wellness exams twice a year to make sure your pet is staying healthy. Also, it is great to have time with your pets while working from home, but if you will soon return to the office, keep in mind that sometimes pets can have separation anxiety.
PUPPY LOVE ♥
“Not only did Scout keep me company during the beginning stages of the pandemic, but he also loved saying hello to everybody, making their day a little better as well." Michelle Condon » Senior » Psychology
"Tyson is not only there when I need him the most, but he's also intelligent, kind, and goofy, and seeing him on a dark day can brighten the world." Joselyn Mena '17
"Yoyo brings me joy because I was able to give him a life that he so desperately wanted while also giving me what I needed after some really tough times." Sami Hatagan » Sophomore » Biology
"Inspector Gadget always knows when I have a bad day and makes me feel better with his cuddles!" Diana Ortega » Sophomore » Secondary Education & History
"Bernie is the best mascot! He's easy to groom, doesn't eat expensive food, and always makes Fighting Saints fans smile!" Dave Laketa » Athletic Director
"We love our Shetland Sheepdogs Bernie (left, 6 months) and Breaker (right, 2 years). That’s right–we named one Bernie!" Anne and USF President Dr. Arvid Johnson
“We rescued Zeus last summer as a puppy… he has brought so much joy (and fur) into our house during this pandemic!” Julee Gard » USF VP for Administration & Finance
"This is Coco—I just love having this puppy around to bring a little fun to our home, and she loves her USF blanket!" Diane Habiger '77 » USF Trustee Centennial Campaign Chair
"When Dakota is by my side, I know that all things are possible—there’s just something about him that helps me know that everything will be okay." Mary Mathieu » Sophomore » English, Psychology & Theology
"My ‘work from home’ co-worker, Rooby, is a Black Lab/Blue Heeler mix." Caroline Portlock '02, '04 Alumni Association President
"Luca is my bilingual best friend (Korean-English). She's amazing and I'd be lost without her!" Nicole Salow » Graphic Designer
ALUMNI EVENTS See our upcoming alumni events below and visit stfrancis.edu/alumni/events to register.
Alumni Network Meetings Saturday, April 10 Business Alumni Network (BAN) 9 a.m. CST Mass Communications Alumni Network (MCAN) 10:30 a.m. CST Virtual & Complimentary Join us, whether you’ve never been to a meeting or are a current member, as our alumni networks gather to share ideas, plan events, and network with students and fellow alumni. These professional groups are open to all alumni and current students.
Student Alumni Mentoring (SAM) Award Presentation Wednesday, April 14 | 7-8 p.m. CST Virtual & Complimentary Our student mentee and alumni mentor award winners will be honored virtually for our annual SAM awards presentation. Mentors/Mentees of honorees are encouraged to attend. All are invited to celebrate!
Virtual Escape Room Thursday, April 15 | 8-9 p.m. CST Complimentary; Limited Tickets Available Join fellow alumni and students while working in small groups to unravel cryptic messages and beat the clock in a virtual escape room. The event will take place via Zoom and an escape room app, using augmented reality to find clues and reveal hidden secrets. The team that escapes the quickest will receive prizes! Sign up as an individual or in groups of three to four.
USF Trivia Night April 21 | 6-6:45 p.m. CST Virtual & Complimentary How much do you really know about USF? Battle it out to be the Saint that knows the most about your alma mater! Open to students and alumni.
ALUMNI NEWS JOB SEEKING IN A VIRTUAL WORLD: STAYING CONNECTED, NETWORKING, AND INTERVIEWING In February, the Alumni & Family Relations Office hosted “How to Successfully Apply & Interview in a Virtual World” online webinar, sponsored by the Business Alumni Network. Alumna Caroline Portlock ‘02, ‘04, director of the workforce investment board of Will County, and Dr. Maribeth Hearn '20, director of USF's Career Success Center, shared their knowledge and provided alumni and friends with important tips as professional interviews are becoming more and more virtual. They discussed the importance of a strong resume as well as how to apply for internships, jobs, and more. Although most interviews are virtual, the foundation of a successful interview remains the same. A few tips that Portlock shared include: focus on where you will be seated where there are no interruptions or background distractions; test out your internet connection, as well as your camera and mic to be sure everything is in working order and looks the way you want it to for the interview; and have a copy of your résumé or portfolio of work on hand to reference throughout the interview. Most importantly, Portlock added, "Dressing appropriately remains the same—dress the same way you would for an in-person interview. Resist the urge to go casual. The way you dress will affect they way you carry yourself on camera… and it ensures that there will be no mishaps." Hearn added that the number one question asked in an interview is, “Tell me about yourself.” This question can throw candidates off if they have not prepared for the interview. "Start with telling them about your most recent role and the successive positions that helped you get there, and then discuss why you are applying for the job. The answer is not a history lesson on your family, your marriage, your life story, etc.—it is a way to introduce your professional self to the employer through a story or two that helps them to see your value and personality," said Hearn. "You might benefit from thinking about your values, why you choose roles, and how you perform in specific environments as part of your interview preparation. Is there something about this role that piques your interest? Explore that mentally and think about how you can add value. For example, if you thrive in fast-paced competitive environments and apply for a new job where that skillset will be a value—talk about your experiences and help that recruiter understand that there is a good fit there."
First place: $50 Barnes & Noble gift card Second Place: $25 gift card Third Place: $15 gift card
Pat Sullivan Golf Outing Friday, June 4, 2021 Details TBA
Dr. Maribeth Hearn
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CAREER SUCCESS CENTER OFFERS RESOURCES FOR ALUMNI It's been a hard time, and it's not new news that many Americans have lost their jobs, been furloughed, or had to quit working for other reasons during the pandemic. But there's great news—the University of St. Francis Career Success Center staff assists not only students, but also alumni with internship and employment needs. The office is devoted to helping people research their career options, focusing on the needs, goals, and values of each individual. The Career Success Center believes in personal and professional development, therefore assistance with job searching, resume and cover letter writing, and career counseling are among the services available. Whether you live locally or out of state, you can view employment listings. The University of St. Francis Career Success Center is member of the Illinois Cooperative Education and Internship Association (ILCEIA), the College Career Consortium of Illinois (CCCI) and the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). CCCI offers a free system to USF's
DID YOU KNOW? Colleges of Distinction has recognized the Univeristy of St. Francis on its Illinois and Catholic listings since 2011. This past year, USF received designations in other areas, including a new category for Career Development, recognizing the outstanding work of the USF Career Success Center!
current students (undergraduate and graduate) and alumni. Once you register, you can explore jobs posted on CCCI’s Online Career Center, submit a resume and cover letter for review and receive feedback, construct and save an approved resume and cover letter to send to employers advertising positions through the system, and even apply for jobs through the system. NACElink and College Central Network are additional, helpful web-based employment/internship job posting systems. You can access job boards by setting up free accounts. College Central Network reaches 18 small colleges/universities throughout Illinois. The Career Success Center also uses Handshake to help students and alumni discover great resources to find full-time jobs, part-time jobs, and internships with over 200,000 employers on Handshake. For more information, email email@example.com or call Betty Kohl at 815-740-3384.
MINDFUNLESS & MEDITATION EVENT Over 60 alumni and students attended a meditation event led by USF Director of Accreditation Steve Wettergren, who spoke about starting a meditation practice, then used chocolate in an exercise to get attendees in touch with their senses. The exercise was helpful in focusing thoughts on the present, and not letting them wander. Said Aubrey Knight, '04, '07, director of Alumni & Family Relations, "The event was incredibly relaxing and the timing was perfect, helping to uplift our guests while getting a great start to 2021. Many reached out following the event to express their gratitude and request that we do it again soon.”
GIVING BACK UNIVERSITY MOURNS PASSING OF LONGTIME TRUSTEE TOM FLAVIN Trustee Emeritus Thomas Flavin passed away in December of 2020. Flavin was USF's longest-serving board chair and board member, guiding the university for more than 30 years under two USF presidents. Flavin, always recognized as a steward of the Catholic, Franciscan ideals of the University of St. Francis, joined the Board of Trustees in 1971 and served as chairperson from 1981 to 1994. His leadership and support of the university's mission during that time helped the university complete two capital campaigns, including the renovation of Tower Hall with new science laboratories, the building of a new recreation center, and the establishment of a bookstore and maintenance facilities in 1986, as well as the campus addition of the Moser Performing Arts Center in 1993. His leadership efforts also helped to enhance student scholarship and faculty development funds, and to grow and expanded its educational programs through the establishment of then-CSF's first graduate programs that would be offered to health care professionals throughout the country. Dr. Jack Orr, USFs sixth president, said "Among Tom’s many contributions were his efforts at organizing and developing the College’s financial affairs. Under Flavin’s tenure, operations were stabilized, enrollments grew and experienced personnel were added. He was instrumental in leading the College to its greatest period of success and growth up to that point in its history. Through his service and leadership, Tom Flavin brought life to the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, 'Like a wise master builder, I laid a foundation and others are building upon it.'"
FIRST-EVER VIRTUAL CARITAS SCHOLARSHIP BALL RAISES OVER $280,000 FOR STUDENT SCHOLARSHIPS For over 60 years, the annual Caritas Scholarship Ball has served as the University of St. Francis’ primary fundraiser for student scholarships. This year, due to COVID-19, the university moved the annual ball online and raised more than $280,000 at its virtual event on January 30, 2021. The virtual event, themed "From Our Home to Yours," was chaired by Ann & Steve Randich and Corey & Steve Carbery (pictured "on set" at right), and hosted by USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D. and his wife, Anne.
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Flavin was honored by the university with the prestigious President’s Medal and an honorary doctorate of humane letter degree in 1994 before retiring from the board in 2003. He was honored as trustee emeritus that same year. Added USF's seventh president, Dr. James Doppke, "As a board member and board chair, Tom Flavin’s insight and intelligence together with his commitment to St. Francis’ growth and development were an invaluable part of the institution’s evolution. He consistently encouraged all of us to expand and improve and implement our vision to better serve students and the community." Flavin spent 35-plus years as an executive at Inland Steel Co., starting as an accountant then eventually overseeing computer systems. After his retirement, he worked as a consultant at a series of life science companies. He and his wife, Lois, were the proud parents of nine children, 36 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
Lois & Tom Flavin
Sponsorship support for Caritas provided over $140,000 for student scholarships. We extend our special thanks to: » Gold Sponsors: Wintrust Commercial Banking—Joliet Bank & Trust and D’Arcy Motors » Silver Sponsor: Diane & Bill Habiger » Bronze Sponsors: Bronze Sponsors: Barnes & Noble Booksellers; Jay & Lori Bergman—First Secure Community Bank of Joliet; Busey Bank; Crowther Roofing and Sheet Metal; Gloria & Edward Dollinger; Johansen & Anderson, Inc.; Cheryl & Kevin McCarthy; Pepsi-Cola; Sentinus, LLC; Streitz Dental Arts–Stephanie & Daniel Streitz, DDS; and Patricia & Robert Wheeler.
Tom Flavin with Carolyn (Tomecek '65) Murphy, who succeeded Flavin as board chair, and Dr. Jack Orr, former USF president.
Please save the date for the 65th Annual Caritas Scholarship Ball on Saturday, January 29, 2022. We are delighted to announce that Caritas will, again, be held in the Pat Sullivan Center on the USF campus.
PROFESSOR EMERITUS WILLIAM BROMER, PH.D., ESTABLISHES "LAUDITO SI'" SURE GRANT Dr. William "Bill" Bromer came to then-College of St. Francis in August of 1992 as an assistant professor, to help implement a new Environmental Science major. His student-centered and active learning teaching approach was designed to help all students learn. Bromer also held various leadership positions within faculty governance as a member of
almost every committee and chaired Academic Affairs, University Curriculum, Faculty Compensation, General Education Revision, and Academic Assembly. He also served as department chair of Natural Sciences for three terms, and as interim dean for the College of Arts & Sciences. Bromer started planning for a new science building in 1998. His persistence paid off when USF President Dr. Arvid Johnson found the resources to make it a reality. Bromer served as the faculty shepherd for the planning, construction, and move-in for the LaVerne & Dorothy Brown Science Hall, which opened in January of 2018. Bromer was also a co-principle investigator on the first Robert Noyce Educator Scholarship grant awarded to USF by the National Science Foundation. He continues to serve on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for the Forest Preserve District of Will County and as a board member for the Midewin Prairie Alliance. Even though Bromer has retired from USF, he still serves on the university's Sustainability Committee and is currently the first director of the Charlotte Codo Prairie.
Because of Bromer’s love for the university and the environment, he and his wife, Linda (pictured below), have made a contribution to fund 12 "Laudito Si’ SURE Grants" through the Student Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program. SURE, which originated in the College of Arts and Sciences in 2003 but was expanded to undergrads in all four colleges in 2013, encourages student-faculty research projects. It typically runs from the beginning of June until the fall semester starts, though oftentimes, project work continues into the fall. Students must submit a research proposal to the deans and provost in order to participate. While the majority of projects have been in the STEM fields, projects from business, social sciences, education, English, history and recreation therapy have also been funded. Earning a SURE grant is a competitive process. Each student-faculty team's proposal is ranked. The proposal guidelines and ranking rubric mimic those used by national granting agencies. All research proposals involving human subjects must be submitted to the Institutional Review Board in order to protect and assure the rights of research participants as defined by ethical considerations and government guidelines. The top-ranked projects are awarded a student stipend, a small faculty stipend, and expenses toward travel and materials. Students are also given a housing and tuition discount. SURE proposals will be considered for the Laudito Si’ SURE Grant if they meet the SURE program guidelines and make an explicit connection to Pope Francis’s Laudito Si' encyclical. Throughout the letter, the Pope makes the case that everything is interconnected, and we will find that solutions “demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the underprivileged, and at the same time protecting nature.” (139) To qualify for the Laudito Si’ SURE Grant, students should clearly demonstrate how their research makes connections with some of the topics discussed in the encyclical, such as concern for nature, justice for the poor, non-violence, ethical economy, fair health care, environmental activism, challenges in education and sustainability. After formulating their research questions, students should read Laudito Si’ and determine how they can integrate different disciplines and ideas, possibly using direct quotes from Laudito Si’ with explanations to demonstrate how their research project integrates across disciplines to address human problems.
Wellness in Challenging Times
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