Student Post: Anyone can Study Abroad

This past summer I was able to study abroad in France for 9 weeks with the help of the Gilman Scholarship. My program was a non-GVSU program located in the south of France in a small town called Pau. I was able to study French language and culture there, while living with a host family and taking classes in both French and English. It was my first time traveling internationally, and was my most memorable summer to date.

I think my Junior Seminar helped prepare me a little for my travels a little, since I took European Civilizations, giving me a broad background in European history and culture. I even got to see some of the places we discussed in that class in real life. I met students from all over the world, was able to study at a French university, and travel on the weekends.

I know a lot of students want to study abroad, but often feel that they can’t. I just wanted to share a little of my story in order to tell you that anyone can study abroad if they really want to.

At Grand Valley, many of the semester long programs cost the same or even less than a normal semester at GV. If you can’t study abroad during the Fall or Winter semester because you’re in a program such as the nursing program (like me), there are tons of options for summer study abroad programs instead. With the help of scholarships and working a part time job, I made my dream come true.

The Padnos International Center and the Office of Fellowships helped me navigate finding study abroad programs and applying for scholarships. It can be a daunting task when you start looking into studying abroad, but GV has a lot of resources to help students out with the whole process.

My advice is to just go for it. The other students I know who have studied abroad have all said the same thing: the work you put into studying abroad will be so worth it in the end.

If spending a summer taking classes with international students, eating crepes overlooking a French castle, and hiking in the Pyrenees Mountains on the weekend sounds like something you’d enjoy, then I encourage you to achieve your dream, too.

Plus, I know what I learned abroad will help me with my future career as a nurse, as I care for people from different cultures on a daily basis, and as I will (hopefully) work as an international nurse in the future. I’ve realized that I learn so much every time I travel somewhere new: about people, the world, and even myself.

Studying abroad has been the best decision I have made thus far in my life, which I know sounds cliche, but it really is true.

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Adrianna Lee is a senior at GVSU. She is in her last semester of the nursing program and received the Gilman Scholarship to study abroad. 

 

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5 Tricks to Mastering Registration

Now that the third week of classes are starting and everyone has gotten somewhat comfortable with their classes, it is time to focus on the future. Yes, that inevitable but dreaded time of the year: registration.

Although registration isn’t fun, it can be bearable if you get prepared and start early, so here are our best tips for registration season:

1. Check out your myPath. You can find this by logging into MyBanner, going to student, student records and then myPath — Degree Planning and Evaluation. MyPath is helpful to see what classes you’ve taken and what is left before graduating. Thinking of changing majors or adding a minor? Hit the what if tab and you can see how that changes the rest of your college schedule!

2. Meet with both your academic and honors advisor. Make your registration morning easier by planning out what classes you need to take for the next year and double check that you aren’t missing any requirements before graduating. Check out some walk-in advising hours for every discipline here. You can call our office to make an appointment or watch the announcements for walk-in advising hours. It is also a great time to ask about any career or major changes!

3. Figure out what day you can register for classes and set an alarm. Class registration is determined by the number of  credit hours that you have completed by the end of this semester. You can find the registration calendar here. Don’t know where to find that number? Use myPath to see how many credit hours you have by looking at the credits applied number.

4. If you’re taking Honors classes, check out their course descriptions around March 1. Honors courses don’t put their class descriptions in myBanner, so head over to our website and find the course descriptions here on March 1.

5. Create a sample schedule for registration day. Remember that you register for spring/summer 2018, fall 2018 and winter 2019 all at once. Lay out on an excel spreadsheet or sticky notes to ensure that you remember the course numbers and alternate options so that your registration goes as smoothly as possible!

Now that you’ve set yourself up for success, go out and register!

Student Post: Designing the Future of Honors

This semester, the Design Thinking junior seminar was tasked with the challenge of making Grand Valley’s Honors College more distinctive. On the first day of class, we were split into three teams of six or seven students. Our professor, Professor Chamberlain, did this by looking at students’ majors, attempting to create teams of diverse thought.

To foster a productive environment, each team created a team charter which outlined the expectations of individual team members and the team as a whole. Next, we completed a design brief. Through this, our team’s problem statement was established. Each team chose an area of focus that they felt was extremely important.

For example, team Uncharted chose to focus on marketing aspects of the Honors College and creating a brand. Team PSI focused on the curriculum and improvements that can be made in order to make it accessible and applicable to all majors at Grand Valley. Our team, the Creativity Crew, wanted to shine a light on the lack of diversity in the Honors College.

At our first meeting, our team realized that we were a group of diverse students, which is hard to find in the Honors College. Not only were we racially diverse, but we were interested in and involved in numerous academic areas and student organizations.

The design thinking process, which emphasizes empathy with the end user, began with primary research. In total, we interviewed twenty-four of our stakeholders, people we felt were invested in our challenge.

Additionally, we completed secondary research, in the form of fifteen research bibliographies. Through our research, we discovered our top five need statements. In turn, these led us to our top five prototypes, our top two innovations, and finally, our decision to focus on the implementation of a service learning trip with a target of creating dialogue with a focus on diversity. We presented our final prototype at our innovation symposium, with the goal of receiving support from our stakeholders.

Speaking for our entire class, this semester was full of ups and downs. While challenging at times, we gained confidence in our ideas and our ability to implement these ideas. This course changed the Creativity Crew’s perspective on what a team is, but also redefined what it means to be a member of a team. Now, we are learning to embrace the unknown because it is full of potential possibilities waiting to be understood and innovated with.

(The Creativity Crew, from left to right: Taylor, Pierce, Lynn, Marisa, Alexis, and Darius.)

Lynn Doherty is an International Relations major, with minors in Business and Spanish.

Marisa Kahnt is a Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Leadership, minors in Human Rights and Psychology.

The 3 “Ships” That’ll Make College Smooth Sailing

It’s been four years since I graduated from GVSU with my degree in Business. I spent my first two years of school living in the Honors College and I always look back on my time very fondly. In fact, that time went by way too quickly and there are a few things that I think are especially important for current students to reflect on while in this stage of life.

Internships. I cannot stress enough how important it is to complete at least one internship while you are in college – whether during the summer or the school year, paid or unpaid. Most programs even offer credit for internships, so don’t miss out on that opportunity! Internships are critical because they provide you with precious real-world experience that almost every employer requires, even for entry level positions. Working part-time in your desired field and/or for an organization you’re interested in is a great learning opportunity. For some, it solidifies they are heading down the right path, but for others, it’s a heads up that you might need to pivot – something that is better done before you graduate if you can help it. Plus, if you perform well, you might just get a job offer! I interned at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan during my senior year and was lucky enough to secure a full-time spot after graduation, which provided much-needed stability for the next chapter of my life. Schedule a meeting with the Honors College advisors and let them help find the right internship for you!

Mentorships. Forming a relationship with a mentor figure in college is something I think is highly underrated. Often students believe this is an experience better saved for later in life, when you’re actively headed down your career path. However, now that I mentor a college student, I can clearly see the benefits and how such a relationship can positively shape your future. I have had the pleasure of guiding a GVSU senior along in his endeavors – everything from his class schedule to resume to job offers – he actually calls me his “life coach”. This mentorship has been of great value to him because he doesn’t have to navigate this tricky time on his own and can rely on some of my knowledge and experiences. Think about the people you interact with who are further down your desired career path and those you consider wise – maybe you work with them, volunteer with them, or you are both part of the same social or professional organization. You can explain that you’re looking for a mentor or you can just start asking them questions to learn more about how they got where they are now. Either way, just soak up what you can!

Friendships. This one may seem obvious, but it’s definitely worth including. Chances are that you are making some incredible friends right now and are having the time of your life. After all, college is the only time where your responsibilities and freedom are perfectly balanced – you are out of the house, but you don’t have the full weight of employment and bills piled on top of you. What you are experiencing now and those you are experiencing it with will make a lasting impression. However, what you may not realize is that after graduation, people’s lives start going in many different directions. Your friend whose hometown is on the other side of the state might return there; another friend might get a job offer across the country; or maybe you’re the one moving away from the people you used to see every single day. I met three amazing people my freshman year in the Honors College and we are still close, but unfortunately do not get to talk or see each other nearly as often as we’d like. Change happens and that’s okay, but cherish the time you have with your friends now because the college experience will be gone before you know it.

College can be some of the most fun and influential years of your life to date! Capitalize on this time by getting a head start on your career, absorbing some great advice, and appreciating your friends. After you graduate, you’ll be glad you did!

 

Kalset Bartlett

 

Kelsey Bartlett is a GVSU Honors College alum and will complete her Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications degree from Eastern Michigan University this year. She works at Indiana University Health and manages internal communications for their two flagship hospitals.

 

Alumni Post: What does Honors have to offer?

As a recent (and extremely proud) GVSU Honors College graduate, I vividly recall some of the fears and anxieties that crept through my head as I neared graduation. During my last semester in Allendale, I knew that I would be enrolling in a master’s program in higher education administration/student affairs upon graduation, but I did not know where that would take me or what sort of work that would involve. Now, having successfully conquered year one of my graduate studies, I would like to offer some practical advice to those Honors students or alumni who may be considering an advanced degree (or two) to further their careers and personal ambitions.

Although my master’s program is easily built upon everything that I was engaged with as a Laker, I cannot emphasize enough that the wide range of high-quality opportunities that GVSU offers is remarkable. To prepare for graduate school and separate one’s self from the pack, the resources around campus can really set a student up phenomenally well for future success. Whether that’s studying a language abroad, completing an internship with any of the major companies in the Grand Rapids area, volunteering in poverty-stricken areas over spring break across the country, or combining all three of those outlets, GVSU is poised to give you experiences that can be tailored to shape your graduate school career before you even consider applying. In a particular way, Honors is stacked with resources and connections waiting to propel you confidently forward into the graduate school arena. In just over a year since leaving Allendale, I have had the opportunity to listen to other highly-involved students from across the country and have worked at a range of higher education institutions, and I can safely endorse GVSU as an unusually exceptional university in fostering so many superb life and career-altering possibilities.

Until I was interviewed by dozens of potential employers at multiple universities across the Midwest last spring, I don’t think that I realized the enormous importance of the graduate student’s relationship with their supervisor and academic unit. Searching for and cultivating a high caliber of connection with these two groups can indelibly influence one’s graduate school trajectory, as well as a student’s drive for producing excellent work. Gratefully, I can say that I have found an enriching work environment in my graduate assistantship. However, I would not have been able to identify the potential lying beneath the surface of that solitary interview last year without having thrived under the phenomenal support of the GVSU Honors College. I want to implore Honors students who are considering graduate school to search for professional programs with professors, administrators, and supervisors like those that characterize the hallways and offices of Niemeyer. You may not find another academic environment that has so many finely tuned components (there is only one Holy Grail, after all), but the importance of searching for such a setting may be an undervalued aspect of selecting a graduate school.

To say that I am extremely thankful for the Honors College, both personally and professionally, is a massive understatement. My four years were engaging and formative, and have strongly influenced what I aspire to in my graduate degree (an internship with my current institution’s Honors College is on tap for the fall!) and future career, and I hope that they are similarly foundational for other Honors students considering graduate school.

Finally, I would like to take a moment to publicly thank Dr. J for his incredible leadership at GVSU for the past 10 years. He and many of his administrative staff members (particularly Amanda Cuevas and Janaan Decker) have demonstrated what it means to build an exemplar student-centered academic culture, which has tremendously influenced my career path. I can only pray to make the same sort of personal impact on students that he and the Honors College had on me.

Brad Mueller

Brad Mueller (’16) is halfway through his master’s degree in Higher Education Administration and Student Personnel at Kent State University in Ohio. His graduate assistantship is ​with the Office of International Programs and Education Abroad in the College of Arts and Sciences, where he has the opportunity to engage with a wide range of internationalization and education abroad efforts. Brad has been fortunate to build on his experiences and studies at GVSU through his various internships at a number of Midwestern universities. In his spare time, Brad enjoys running, reading, and exploring northeast Ohio.

 

Student Post: A Career on the Breakfast Table

I never thought the Trix Rabbit would help me get a job.

After all, “Trix are for kids,” not college-educated adults, right? But it’s a lifelong love of whimsical breakfast mascots and their commercial escapades that has made me what I am today: an Advertising & Public Relations major at Grand Valley State University at the outset of his fourth and final year.

I won’t bore you with the fully fortified story, but I have many fond childhood memories of bonding with friends and family over the wacky ads we saw on TV. From Lucky Charms’ purple horseshoes and Heinz purple ketchup to NERF guns and Nintendo games, these 30-second glimpses into imaginatively advertised worlds were as enchanting to me as the Saturday morning cartoons they were sandwiched between.

When I finished high school with no clear career goal and a penchant for writing, I knew one thing for certain: I wanted to re-create these memories for a new generation of kids, and maybe even redeem the often disparaged field of advertising through wholesome nostalgia.

But how could I do it? As an Economics major? A Marketing major? The answer seemed unclear, until I went to a student-to-student Q&A session during my overnight Honors College orientation—at this point, the Honors College had already won me over on its promise of independent learning and its progressive, general education-replacing first-year curriculum—where the wonderful (and recently graduated) Jaclyn Ermoyan told us she was an Advertising & Public Relations major.

I had no idea GVSU offered a full major on just advertising, and after making an eager internal promise to investigate the program, the rest was history. Here I am, 3 years later: president of Grand Valley’s Advertising Club and proud member of the university’s winning National Student Advertising Competition team, with a second major in Writing (to evolve my copywriting), a Gold ADDY Award to my name and a name made for myself in the professional West Michigan advertising community.

So while I quite literally have that night in the Honors College Multipurpose Room to thank for my success and professional satisfaction, that’s far from the only way the school’s innovative educational approach has helped me thrive. During my freshman sequence, Social Product Innovation—still the most challenging (in a good way) course I’ve taken at GVSU—I was taught to tackle socially beneficial entrepreneurship from the ground up. The course showed me the design thinking process, gave me the chance to write an enlightening paper about McDonald’s innovative marketing, and encouraged me to become a self-starter—by crafting a pair of fair trade, fish leather mittens.

How did I use this self-starting stimulus? I created my own cereal blog, a passion project that has brought together hundred of thousands of breakfast lovers across the globe, made me lasting friends, and given me a unique conversation-starter with advertising pros nationwide, who love to hear how someone with a niche interest built a brand for himself from the ground up and learned valuable digital marketing skills in the process.

The takeaway? Take your passion and make it happen. You’ll be surprised by how many doors are opened by demonstrated drive alone—whether you’re writing about Cocoa Puffs, Coney Islands, or carnivorous cryptids.

And while I love GVSU’s Advertising & Public Relations program, I also have my Honors junior seminar to thank for polishing the copywriting skills I’m forever honing. Despite having a different academic focus, Professor Stillerman’s Sociology of Consumption looked at consumerism through the lens of the receiver, helping me better understand how to meaningfully speak to consumer pain points and craft compelling narrative myths through “Cultural Strategy.”

The takeaway here? Look at your field of work from a different angle. An interdisciplinary perspective can help you see the two faces, so to speak, when all you saw before was a face.

I still have a year of university life left, but thanks to the Honors College’s professional environment and refreshingly “non-academic” approach to self-inspired learning, as well as the countless extracurricular engagement opportunities presented through the entire School of Communications, I already feel readily equipped to enter the working world.

So while I don’t know exactly where I see myself in five years, I can see the limitless potential afforded to those who grow communities instead of just going to class. Oh, and I can definitely see why kids love the taste of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Dan GoubertDan Goubert is an incoming senior, set to graduate in Spring 2018 with a B.S. in both Advertising & Public Relations and Writing. Dan has a passion for combining his two areas of study and has recently started his third advertising internship in agency copywriting. When he’s not strategizing for Grand Valley Advertising Club or writing academically, Dan can be found geeking out online about the newest Oreo cookie variety or obscurest ’90s Pop-Tart flavor.

Alumni Post: Unique and Profitable Opportunities

I love science. Whether I’m riding my bike, sweating through a Detroit Lion’s third quarter or enjoying a Detroit Lion’s fourth quarter, I’m probably thinking about science. I’m the type of person that can enjoy watching paint dry because I’d argue it was never wet, to begin with. I can enjoy talking about the nature of tape because it manages to be sticky despite the fact that there is no “sticky force” found in any physics textbook I’ve ever read. What do these anecdotes tell you about me? I like to observe the world not only for its beautiful phenomena but also for the circumstances under which its phenomena are enabled.

With this in mind, I’ve been reflecting on the good fortune that’s come my way over the last few months in the form of graduate school admissions decisions. I’ve been wondering what the circumstances must have been that enabled my current path forward. It can’t be that I had a good GPA because GPA alone does not a valuable scientist make. It can’t be that I’ve worked hard because hard work alone does not ensure that the energy was spent in the proper direction. It’s not that my parents told me I could achieve my dreams and thus enabled my actions toward doing so because support alone is not enough. It can’t be that I’m just smart because I’ve just told you that I’d argue about whether or not paint can be wet.

However, it seems to be some combination of these things that enabled my dreams to become my real future. While I don’t currently have a curve or an equation that describes the circumstances under which somebody can experience positive admissions decisions, I can rest assured that every opportunity in the world was available to me at GVSU. This hasn’t always been my perspective, but as I’ve traveled to numerous institutions and met with faculty and students, I’ve realized how fortunate I was to have GVSU’s resources at my fingertips while the other applicants did not. Not every applicant had mentors who cared as deeply about the wellbeing of their students as they cared about the progress of their students’ projects. Not every applicant had the hands-on experience that is offered at primarily undergraduate institutions. Not every applicant had professors who were so invested in their students that they offered review sessions on Easter Sunday. Not every applicant was able to live in the building where they’d later meet their professors for office hours. Not every applicant was able to be a resident assistant for 2 years, to work in multiple labs, to speak at national conferences, and to experience life as the business head of a startup.

In only three and a half years, GVSU Honors offered me all of these experiences and many, many more.

Anyway, I’ve only recently appreciated the unique and profitable circumstances that exist in Allendale, MI. I was fortunate to attend GVSU, enroll in Honors and benefit from a program whose circumstances (people, support, environment, etc.) enable incredible possibilities for its members. I can only hope that I might have contributed to that environment in some way.

Usually, when I picture somebody staring through a window, I hope that they wonder to themselves why the window is transparent while the wall is opaque. However, I hope that you, while staring through your window and admiring this fine spring day, wonder to yourself what the circumstances must have been to enable your future. Similarly, I hope that you take advantage of the opportunity to contribute to the circumstances that will enable somebody else’s future as well.

 

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Joel Francis is a recent alumnus of Grand Valley State University (’16), where he studied Cell & Molecular Biology and Chemistry. During his time at GVSU, he worked in multiple labs and served as a Resident Assistant in the Honors College. He was born and raised in metro Detroit before moving to Grand Rapids. Joel is an avid Detroit Tigers fan, a cautious Detroit Lions fan, and also enjoys woodworking in his spare time. He will enroll at Stanford University in the Fall to begin working on his Ph.D. in Cell & Molecular Biology.