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.

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?

 

Insights from Adult Students – Donna Williams

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“When I was laid off in November 2012, the last thing I had considered was going back to school. At 56, I felt that I was too old and unprepared for the demands of a college degree.  After speaking to my daughter (who is also a student) I realized that going back to school was the best way to update my skills and make myself competitive in today’s job market.  Being a machinist for over 30 years has taken a physical toll on me and without a degree I have been unable to secure a supervisor role that pays a livable wage.  I finally decided to enroll and devote myself to earning an A.A.S. in Business Administration. Soon I realized that there were others at GCC just like me. They shared the same fears and the same doubts. All of the staff has been very helpful in helping me through this difficult time. This semester I had the pleasure of being in Mr. Dudkowski’s Advertising class. He inspired me to write this blog about my experience here at GCC. One of my classmates, Robin, is also older and returning to school to advance her career. She is busy not only with school, but also building a house, her artwork and tending to her small farm. If we can do it anybody can! Now that I am in school I am hearing about other careers that I can apply for after I earn my degree and I am hearing about them from teachers who have real-world experience in those positions. The teachers at GCC bring their own experiences to the classroom.  It is not about just teaching us what is in the textbooks.  I am in my third semester and I am proud to say that I am earning A’s. I am on track to graduate in December of 2014 and I have come to learn that going to college is not just for younger students anymore. Thank you GCC for helping me to realize my full potential!”

Donna has 2 children, Michelle. who is GCC’s PTK president, and a son who lives 2 hours away with his wife and Donna’s 2 awesome grandchildren. Kenneth is soon to be 16 and Samantha is 8. Her time is devoted to her education and family, for they are the backbone of everything she does.

Insights from Adult Students – Robin Alexander

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“At the age of 56 I have chosen to return to school to further my education.  Having worked for a company for almost 20 years as a color specialist and doing other various jobs and getting laid off, the choice for schooling seemed like a natural fit.

Not always making the right choices in my life this opportunity was one not to ignore for me.  I am trying to get a degree in digital art.  Having done art since I was a little girl will help and one should feel you’re never too old.

I have also developed some wonderful friendships.  My instructor Mr. D. is trying to push me out of my comfort zone and urging me to make use of the social media that all students have access to.  This is very hard for me; I am a very private person.

With the help of a classmate Donna, she has helped to get me acquainted with social media.  Donna has been an inspiration for me also.  We both have so much in common and want careers when finished.  To enjoy what our chosen fields would be.  Being an adult student seems natural for returning to school. I am now more settled and focused to achieve my goals.”

Why Are We Here?

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Hey student nation how’s the world been treating you since last time around? Well I hope. A lot’s been going on since we last chatted. I’ve been attending all the Leadership Development Workshops and Career Service Center seminars that I can fit into my schedule this semester. John McGowan does a great job presenting the various topics for Career Services. Barbra Shine, Amy Masters, Brian Fraser, Amy Conley, and Lina LaMattina to name a few, do the LDW program just as proud. In case you didn’t know it the LDW presenters donate their time to make sure this information, this knowledge, these advantages, are available to us all. I highly recommend attending as many as you possibly can. The gift of time is the greatest gift of all. Don’t miss out on it!

Another fine activity to involve yourself with is the Toastmasters organization. Headed by Jacqueline DiBella and John McGowan you’ll learn the ins and outs of becoming a polished presenter. If you’re uncomfortable in front of an audience this is the place for you. In today’s world the ability to professionally present, both yourself and information, is vital. This club will help you on your way to becoming a confident presenter not to mention the networking aspect that walks hand-in-hand with it.

How does all this tie into the title which was the question I left you with last blog. Why are we here? I’ve asked this question around campus and here are some of the responses. I came here to become an accountant, a paralegal, IT major, and so on. Myself I enrolled here to become a business administrator or so I thought. Holy smackdown Batman was I wrong.

Business administration is what I was going to learn along the way to the ultimate goal. It’s now my opinion that we are all here to become the exact same thing, that being a PROFESSIONAL. A professional what is but a mere sidebar in my mind, hopefully something you like.  A person could know accounting till the cows come home but if you don’t handle that knowledge in a professional manner you’ll “account” for no one. First and foremost yourself!

Yes I truly believe we are all here for the exact same reason weather we realize it or not.  Are there any thoughts on that one? Please let me know. So when you get up in the morning, when you come to school, when you study and do your work, as you walk down the hall try and attack it with that train of thought in mind, of becoming a professional. What a difference one thought can make in everything you do. Well I probably shouldn’t speak for everyone but I will say this. What a difference it made for me! Go ahead, try it, don’t be scared. Let’s face it your probably already not doing it, I wasn’t!

I leave you with this question for our next chat. When someone “gifts” an item to you most people feel privileged for receiving it.  The question is does paying for an item yourself diminish the privilege of ownership? Enjoy the holiday and find something to be thankful for. Until next time student nation, be good.