A Non-traditional Student and a Veteran

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This blog post was written by Steven Bussard

            I am a “non- traditional” student (someone going to college that is over the age of 23 according to the GCC website) and a Veteran of the U.S. Army.  I tried college before in the 80’s, but never finished due to personal reasons.  I bounced around from job to job and state to state not really having a direction in my life. I never really appreciated the clout a college education holds until after transitioning out of the military. I had a very well-paying job in Florida, which I loved, at a simulations company, but when it came time for layoffs it was the people that had certificates or degrees that kept their jobs.  So now I am doing what I should have done so many years ago.

I am a son of a U.S. Navy Veteran.  I was born on a Navy base in Bermuda, and then my family was transferred to Norfolk, Virginia where I grew up.  For those of you who do not know the Norfolk or Virginia Beach area is one of the top ten cities with the most military installations in the U.S. My life was going in the wrong direction for quite a long time and I needed a stable environment so I joined the U.S. Army Military Police Corp at 27 years old.  It was during the Gulf War in 1991, but I never got a chance to go to Iraq because 4 days prior to my first day of basic training the Iraqis gave up.   I suppose they heard I was joining (just kidding).  After basic training I was stationed in Camp Darby, Italy which is just outside of Pisa.  I spent 3 years there and whenever I could I traveled Europe because I may never get this chance to do it later in life.  I honeymooned in Paris, France (and the people are not as rude as other Americans would like you to think), spent time in Germany, Hungary, Austria.

Through this time in the Army I learned more about respect and a sense of duty. You start to understand what role the veterans that came before you had to go through, I am sure some of those experiences were worse than mine.  There is a strong sense of brother/sisterhood in the Army and in the other services that is hard to explain to someone that has never been in the military.  I knew when I was in trouble my military brothers/sisters had my back.  I would imagine that is why once we transition out of the military we tend to gravitate toward other veterans because we know that that trust is still there, a feeling we sometimes cannot get from our own families.  That is also why we are so patriotic and respectful to all veterans from WWII, Vietnam, to now.  Even though you did not serve with that veteran the sense of gratitude and brotherhood is still there.  You see we just picked up the torch where they left off.  I like this little ode written by an unknown author “A Veteran Is Someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to and including their life.’” That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it. I don’t know what happened to this country since the end of WWII but the respect we should give to all veterans has declined.  To many, Veterans Day is just another holiday or a day off.  It is a day to honor those who have served their country the living and the dead. I for one will never forget that our veterans fight for our freedom every day.  Not just the ones on the front line, but all who have served.  For me, every day is a day for honoring our vets.

An Opportunity of a Lifetime

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My name is Erica Cheman, I am enrolled in the Tourism & Hospitality degree program where I have two more semesters to complete. I waited until I had reached my 30’s to attend college and it is the best decision I have ever made. The present semester is actually my fifth because I decided to take it slow at the beginning in order to become re-acclimated into school. Genesee Community College in Arcade, New York has been perfect for me because the campus is close to where I live and work.

The experiences I have had and the opportunities available to me are more than I had ever dreamed were possible. I was nervous at first about attending college; mostly due to the thought of ambiguous situations and awkward moments. However, I have learned to challenge myself and have actually surprised myself because of the amount I have added to classroom conversations and the initiative I have taken with group projects, papers, and homework. Overall, my fellow students and the staff have been great to work with, they are all very helpful and friendly.

The greatest advice I can give is to be present and try to actively participate in every class. I have learned that by applying what I have learned into real life not only serves to make connections with the given material but helps one to remember its importance. One of my favorite classes was Management Principles because I learned a lot about who I am, why I am the person I have become, and the importance of managing oneself before attempting to manage others. Our professor also assigned fun yet challenging homework assignments such as recording a five minute conversation with another person in order to determine how we carry ourselves and how others respond to us. It was an interesting technique, but it worked!

Although being a full time student is time consuming I have learned to manage my responsibilities and my time because I love college and what it has done for me. It has opened so many doors and I am truly grateful for the experience.

This blog was Contributed by Tourism & Hospitality Student Erica Cheman.

Why GCC Is Great for Returning Adults

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GCC offers flexible classes, a plethora of available courses, easily accessible campus centers, and an incredible staff. I am a returning adult studying tourism and hospitality management and without GCC I would not have had the opportunity to continue my education or to be able to advance in my career.

Top Four Reasons Why GCC Is Great For Returning Adults:

1. GCC’s flexible classes
Whether you work night or day, there are classes offered at many different times in order to accommodate your schedules.
2. Availability of courses
There are numerous degree programs you can choose from, and many classes as well! So, depending on if you want a whole new career change, or are simply just taking a few classes to learn more, the opportunity is there.
3. Close Campus Centers
There are several different GCC campus centers where you can study, some include: Batavia, Warsaw, and Arcade. This offers current, as well as potential students, more time to learn since they can pick a location that is closer and more convenient to them.
4. The Staff
The staff is amazing! Many of the GCC campuses are small, offering teachers the opportunity to have more one-on-one time with their students. The professors also bend over backwards to help their students. It is truly a community at GCC.

If you are looking to return to school or to even get a few of your major classes out of the way before moving on to a four year college GCC is definitely the place to go. Studying at GCC will lead you onto the road to success!

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 9.54.33 PMThis blog was contributed by Tourism & Hospitality Management Student Olivia Lawrence.

5 Things I’m Excited About for Spring 2015 at GCC

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Last semester I made a list of 10 Things I was excited about for the semester so I thought I would revisit my list and improve it for Spring 2015. Last semester was my last full-time semester so I suppose it’s only appropriate that, as I transition into part-time study at GCC, my list is shorter than the last one. Enjoy!

5. One. More. Class.

400_F_47125909_X2LDGA4m4GKtUcI6R6NnCyPrTLdHQwznI have to say, I’m a little frustrated with fumbling the ball last semester with Managerial Accounting but now that this class will be my main academic focus, I have a renewed confidence that I can get through this last painful class. My degree depends on this last class and I cannot wait to finish.

4. Sledding Down That Hill

These awesome people know how to have fun in the snow.

These awesome people know how to have fun in the snow.

I’m not sure if my College Village friends will appreciate this as much as I do. They, unfortunately, have to suffer while they walk up and down the hill with rain, sleet and snow whipping in their faces. Most days I say a silent prayer for them. However, I can’t wait for the next big snowfall to arrive at GCC Batavia Campus so I can go sledding down that hill. I wonder if anyone will join in the fun with me…

3. Actual Spring.

1527083_10152897850578103_4748297676987475065_nIt seems kind of funny that the spring semester starts in the middle of January. I think a little part of me dies inside when I udder the phrase “spring semester” during the dead of winter because I honestly can’t stand the snow and cold past the Christmas holiday and/or my one and only sledding day of the year. I sometimes find myself fantasizing about driving in the nice warm days of spring rather than the snow drift war zone that I have to endure on my way to GCC. It helps but then I have to get out of the car and walk/run into campus and my happy little fantasy is gone.

2. The Annual GCC Fashion Show

Last year's Fashion Show theme was "Ethereal"

Last year’s Fashion Show theme was “Ethereal”

The annual GCC Fashion Show is always something to look forward to. We have an unbelievable amount of talented fashion students here at GCC. I cannot wait to see what these student have in store for the show. Another great aspect to the Fashion Show is the Fashion Show Reception that the Tourism and Hospitality students plan and execute on their own take of the theme that the fashion students have chosen for the show. The theme will be announced soon so stay tuned!

1. GRADUATION!!

I can't wait to be in that line!

I can’t wait to be in that line!

Although I dropped the ball last semester and I have to retake Managerial Accounting, I am slightly glad that I did. If everything went according to plan then I was not going to participate in Commencement in May after finishing courses in December. Now that I’m going to be making the trek to Batavia once a week, I figured that I may as well participate in the Commencement ceremonies and graduate with the wonderful group of friends that I have made while attending GCC.

Organization Leads to Success

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I was not the organizing type before I made my return to GCC last fall. I quickly learned that I had to get organized fast. In high school, I was never organized because every teacher wanted you to organize differently and this had me confused and unorganized. Everyone has their own way of getting organized so I picked the best ways to get organized according to my needs. By the end of week one of Fall 2013 I devised a plan and stuck to it. To my surprise, it worked! Here’s how I organized my academic life:

Time Management

A major factor of being able to stay organized is time management. I don’t like to be rushed so I have to schedule my life. Everything is so much easier when my bag is packed the night before, coffee’s ready in the morning and outfits are laid out and ready to wear. I’ve also found that if I plan out specific times to write that paper or study for the big test then I will actually do it. This is where Google Calendar and my weekly planner are extra helpful. The GCC Career Service Center will be hosting a Time Management Workshop from 12:45-1:45 on Tuesday, September 23. For more information and to register for the workshop please visit our website. I’ll be going because there isn’t a time management tip I’m not ready embrace. Join me!!

My Weekly Planner

I like multifunctional things so it’s only fitting that I found a three in one organizer. I have a zippered pocket for pens and highlighters, a notebook and a pocket for business cards and other loose items. Each week, I made a to do list and crossed items off as I finished them.

Online Organization

I am a Google fanatic. Gmail is a must and, in my opinion, a far more professional email platform. Google Drive is Google’s version of “the cloud” where you can store your Google Docs, Sheets, Drawings, pictures, and other Google and Microsoft Office Apps. You are allowed 15 gigabytes for free and, if you have a Gmail account, you have a Google Drive. I use Google Drive and Docs to type up all of my homework and papers. It’s a simple way to have everything you need in one place without a thumb drive. The last way I stay organized online is with Google Calendar. At the beginning of each month I sit down and make events for every homework, test, and appointment. This way I’m reminded via email (and push notification on my phone) that something is due or I have somewhere to be.

Class Notes and Handouts:

Many of my classes had their powerpoints posted on Blackboard. I made sure to have them printed out and ready to go. I chose the option that lets you print three slides on one half of the paper and three spaces for notes. I kept separate two pocket folders for each class so I could keep the powerpoints and handouts exactly where I needed them. Finally I used a three subject notebook for the classes that didn’t have powerpoints available on Blackboard. I made sure to take great lecture notes and even better book notes to ensure success in each and every class.


School Locker

One thing I truly dislike is carrying all my stuff around all day long. So I decided to rent a locker for the year from Student Activities. Its only $30 for the year or $15 for a semester and you get a portion of your money back at the end of the year. I loved being able to drop nearly everything off at my locker before classes. A locker at GCC is a must.

So there you have it. That is how I organized my academic life. Check out our Pinterest board about getting ready for classes for more organization tips. Do you have any tips or tricks of your own?

 

Ten Reasons Why I’m Excited for Fall 2014 at GCC

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I have to admit. I’m going through GCC withdrawal. I go to the store to pick up some pool supplies and I find myself battling through the back-to-school supplies to find the clearance pool floaties. Part of me gets mad because we haven’t even gotten through July yet, but another part of me becomes nostalgic and I suddenly can’t wait to get back in the swing of things. So I thought I would share a list with the top ten things that I am excited about for the Fall 2014 semester.

10. The GCC Child Care Center

This one is for my daughter. She talks about her classroom, teachers, and friends daily. It is such a relief to know that my daughter is well taken care of at the GCC Child Care Center and she loves every minute of it. Last fall I was beyond nervous about putting her in school but I really had no other choice. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made for my little lady.

The center has structured schedules, wonderful teachers, and spotless classrooms. Their services are available to children ages six weeks to preschool aged children. Children of students, staff, faculty, and the community are able to use the facility. Visit their website to learn more and to find the contact information for Staci Williams, Director of the Child Care Center, to see if they have openings.

9. Seeing Old Friends and Making New Friends

When I came back to GCC I decided that I would not be a wallflower and that I would force myself to socialize. I encourage everyone to do this. I have made some great friends at GCC and I cannot wait to see everyone. I am also excited to meet a whole new round of friends.

I think everyone should have that genuine college experience. You won’t keep the same circle of friends from high school forever. This is the time to get used to the unknown and learn to put yourself out there. You may not make friends right away but before you know it, you will find a great group of friends.

8. The Student Union

The Student Union is a great place to relax and hang out with friends between classes. My personal favorite thing about the union is the smoothies in the cafe. The cafe also offers subs, pizza and other great food. While you’re hanging out in the union with friends there is usually a few games of pool and ping-pong being played. I’ve never played but I do enjoy watching the seemingly endless games!

The Student Union is also home to the Student Activities Office. Student Activities plans a wide variety of fun events throughout the year like movie nights, dances, and pizza parties. They also run a Leadership Certificate Program to help students develop their leadership skills. This is a great program that is open to any student. To learn more about the Student Activities Office and the Leadership Program please visit the Student Activities website.

7. Clubs!

Fall 2014 Club Fair

There is a wide variety of clubs and organizations at GCC. There is something for everyone and joining one of the clubs is an awesome way to make great friends and memories. Each semester during WOW (Week Of Welcome) Week Student Activities holds a club fair where you can learn more about the clubs from their representatives in the Forum. You can find a list of all the clubs here. Some of the clubs are for certain majors and others are open to the public. All of these wonderful clubs are welcoming new members so feel free to contact the club advisors or meet them in person at the WOW Week Club Fair.

6. Stress

I guess it’s a personal preference. I feel kind of lost without the challenges and stress that comes along with my coursework and extracurricular activities. This is my last semester before I graduate and I cannot wait for the challenges that are ahead of me. I’ve found that as long I keep my work life planned then life is good. One way I do this is by going through all of my schedules and combine them on my Google Calendar. I usually sit down and put about a month’s worth of appointments, exams, and homework into this online calendar. I even set email reminders so I don’t forget about an upcoming event.

5. The T-207 Computer Lab

The T-207 Computer Lab

Whenever I need to buckle down and get a ton of work done I go here. There are usually a lot of computers available and if you’re working on a project that needs a pop of color then you can use their color printer. Don’t go crazy with the color printing. There is most definitely a page limit. This computer lab is on the second floor of the T Building on main campus and their schedule can be found here. Staff at this lab can also help you find or reset your GCC username and/or password as well as help you with your Blackboard account.

 

4. Campus Centers and Online Learning

GCC Campus Center Locations

GCC offers a wide variety of courses online, at the main campus and at six additional campuses across the area. I’m taking full advantage of these conveniences this semester by taking a few online classes, classes at the main campus, and one class at the Medina Campus. If you’re considering taking all or some classes at one of our campus centers please take a look at the Campus Center website.

Did you know that you can earn some degrees with GCC completely online? Yup. It’s true! There are over a dozen degrees that can be completed online, plus another thirty can be completed almost entirely online. Check out this list to see which program fits your schedule.

3. The Alfred C. O’Connell Library

The library at GCC is basically awesome. There are four banks of computer stations, a technology classroom in the back of the library, quiet study rooms for groups, and an endless amount of resources. The librarians are friendly and are more than willing to help you find the proper resources you need to complete your coursework. The library will allow you to check out laptops and textbooks but you cannot take them out of the library. I like borrowing textbooks from the library because it helps me focus and get a lot of work done. One of the newest online resources available to students with a GCC username and password is Mango Languages. Thanks to the Alfred C. O’Connell Library students can now learn over 60 different languages. Check out a recent blog post about Mango Languages to learn more.

2. The City of Batavia 

Over the years I’ve become very impressed with Batavia’s growth. When I started attending GCC for the first time in 2005 there wasn’t much to do. Now the city is booming and there is a better variety of shops, restaurants, and fun times. The Batavia Business Improvement District has set up a great website and Facebook page with information on upcoming events and local businesses. Check out these websites to learn about the Batavia Farmers Market, Jackson Square Concerts, and more.

1.  Student Success Driven Professors, Faculty, and Staff

I truly believe that the biggest reason why I succeed here at GCC is because of the amazing professors and staff. They want to see their students succeed and are more than willing to give their students the tools for success. You can always find help on the Student OneStop website. This is a huge resource that is available to students that need help finding their advisors, learn how to get involved with clubs or sports, and even request your diploma.

photo-1Honorable Mention: The Spring 2015 Fashion Show Although I won’t be a student in the Spring of 2015 I am looking forward to attending the 34th annual fashion show. The talented students and designers work very hard to put together WNY’s longest running fashion show and they never disappoint. Check out our website to learn more about previous GCC Fashion Shows.

Online Class Experience

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Last semester I didn’t have that many options when it came to actually attending a class in person. So I decided to take online courses for the spring semester instead. I had my concerns for it; would I be able to keep up with it and earn a passing grade?

However, it turned out that by the end of the semester that I did alright because I managed to get by with one A and one C. Which is not too bad I suppose! If you’re considering taking any online courses I suggest contacting your professors before that start of the semester to find out if you can get a syllabus. That way you can sort of get an idea of what the class is going to be about.

Also, if you’re class requires discussions as a part of your participation, always get involved. Most of the time everyone is really friendly and positive that it makes you realize what the genuine meaning of the community part of Genesee Community College truly means. So if you’re sort of lost like I was last winter than don’t rule out the option of online classes.

I’m also taking some online courses for this summer semester right now and when I finish with that experience I’ll fill all of you in on what that was like. But meanwhile I hope that you’re all having a fantastic summer and an even a postive start for this coming fall!