Category Archives: Student Services

Exercise is Medicine for Stress

The people have spoken! According to the survey results from last week’s blog, the number one reason that GCC employees exercise is for…wait for it…relief from stress.

The stress relief gained from just one exercise session can last for 60-90 minutes! This is due to the release of endorphins – chemicals that act like pain killers!  According to WebMD, “…that feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.”

Just from reading some of the awesome Write 6×6 blogs, you get a sense of the anxiety and tension experienced by employees and students alike. You don’t have to read the blogs to know the amount of pressure we are all dealing with.

test-anxiety

One of the most common stress responses felt by students is test-taking anxiety.  You know…that feeling when you have stayed up all night to cram for a big exam, and realize the next morning that absolutely nothing was committed to memory. The exam paper staring up at you. Panic sets in. Eyes dilate. Heart races. Breathing increases. Sweat beads begin to emerge, but nothing coming from the brain.

As employees we may feel similar tension related to deadlines, presentations, forging through “red tape,” miscommunications, personality conflicts, cultural differences, personal beliefs…the list is endless.

So grab your work buddy and take them for a brisk walk around our beautiful campus! Encourage your students to move more every chance you get! Be the role model and show people in a positively active way how you handle your stress!

Don’t think you have time to exercise? Watch this video, “23 and 1/2 Hours,” and I promise it will make an impact on your decision.

Next week I will tell you about all of the wonderful on-campus opportunities to move more and have fun doing it. If you can’t wait ’til then, come find an exercise professional on the west side of campus! We are here to serve you!

Results from the survey “My Benefits of Physical Activity.

More energy (have enough energy to play with the kids after work, stay productive after lunch, take care of the house on the weekend) 75%
Less chance of colds and flu 75%
Relief from stress 100%
Increased productivity (feel confident that I can accomplish all I want to do and invigorated when I get things done) 75%
Clean thinking (able to concentrate, sort things out clearly, and solve problems) 75%
Healthy and strong bones, joints, and muscles (lower my risk of injury, tackle heavier household chores, and try new activities) 75%
Increased vitality (feel alive and full of energy, like I can take on the world) 50%
Better quality of life (stay active in retirement, keep up with family and friends on vacation or around town, do things for myself) 50%
Stronger, healthier heart and lungs (climb stairs without huffing and puffing; become more active and less fatigued around town or on vacation) 75%
Better sleep 75%
Decreased feelings of depression or anxiety 75%
Improved physical fitness 75%
More effective weight control (be able to reduce or maintain weight) 50%
Reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes 50%
Brighter mental outlook (feel good about life, ready to take on the day, and confident that things will work out) 75%
Reduced risk of colon cancer 0%
Healthier and longer independent life (reduce my risk of disease and maintain my independence as I grow older) 75%
Improved self-esteem and self-image 75%

 

 

 

Feeling Disgruntled?

This week was extremely difficult for me.  I woke up Monday morning with a sore throat.  Tuesday and Wednesday I stayed home with what I presumed was the flu.  When I returned to work on Thursday, it was to find our office in crisis mode due to a water leak and seven rooms worth of classes needing to be relocated.

I have to admit that I was feeling disgruntled to have such a disruption and abundance of work dropped on me when I myself was just trying to survive the day and not keel over from being sick.  Nobody likes walking into an emergency, especially when they feel like they’re dying inside.  However, as the hours passed and the day was ending I felt a sense of accomplishment.  I was reminded that every day I’m here I’m making a difference in a student’s life.  Whether it’s on the forefront or behind the scenes, we make a difference to students.

When I applied to MCCCD it was because I wanted to be in education, not because I wanted “a job”.  I wanted to help students achieve a sense of fulfillment in obtaining their educational goals.  I may not be in front of them during classes, heck I’m not even in front of them during the registration process, but I know that I’m making a difference in their success.

So I guess my story is for those of you who are feeling “not as motivated” as usual, for those of us who are feeling a little down or disgruntled even.  Just remember that we’re here to make a difference and that everything we do should be done with pride, joy, and self-satisfaction because what we do matters.  It matters to the students who are out there making an effort to better themselves.

 

If Famous People Can Make It

TEACH: to communicate knowledge or skill, to provide instruction in, to give insight by example or experience

I alluded in my first post of someone or something being my teacher. The students I have interacted with and assisted the last 15 years have given me insight by their example and experience. What did they give me insight into? What did/do they experience that I have deemed them to be my teachers?

First of all their diagnosis in itself forced me to learn about their conditions, symptoms, limitations, and learning challenges. We can all agree that there are some real obvious disabilities, like blindness, cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, or loss of limbs but what about the less obvious like deafness or hard of hearing or even yet, the invisible or hidden disabilities?

What does it mean to be diagnosed with a learning disability? Are all individuals with this diagnosis the same and experience the same barriers to learning? What about the subcategories of learning disability like non-verbal learning disability, auditory processing disorder, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, language processing disorder, visual perceptual/visual motor deficit and ADHD/ADD? Now what about the autism spectrum disorders? What do individuals with autism struggle with vs those with Aspergers syndrome? Then enters the psychiatric disorders/conditions such as bipolar, anxiety, depression, panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) schizoaffective, psychotic, obsessive compulsive disorder just to name a few.

You might respond that we can’t possibly have all these types of disabilities or more at Glendale Community College. I would dare say, we do.

Knowing the medical term and description of these disabilities only provide a typical point of insight into what it’s like for an individual to maneuver the physical environment of the college, participate in the classroom, listen to a lecture, participate in a group project, view online material, do presentations, take notes, read a text book, study or do research, or take a test.

We get the more complete picture when we meet with the student and ask some leading questions how he/she might function based upon the above typical activities that college students are expected to do.

As an example of how differently an individual lives with a diagnosis, I leave you with this personal experience I had with two students who were diagnosed with dyslexia. Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects the way an individual reads. It typically affects their reading fluency, decoding, reading comprehension, recall, writing, spelling and sometimes speech. One student, I’ll call her Cathy, had great difficulty reading from left to right in the traditional manner but if she turned her paper/book upside down she read right to left fluently.  She utilized accommodations and eventually read her textbooks in the traditional way. When I left the college, she was working on her degree in Criminal Justice. Another student, Margaret, requested all her textbooks in digital format so she could use a text to speech software to read and listen to her course material. During her four years working on her bachelor’s degree, she spent endless hours in the library, meeting with tutors and using the text to speech program. For her, studying and learning was best achieved by listening and talking about it. She graduated with a degree in English.

These students are in good company with such famous people as Whoppi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg, Tim Tebow, Henry Winkler and most recently we hear, Jennifer Aniston.

 

Student Affairs…By Any Other Name

What is Student Affairs?  What does it mean?  Why should I worry about it?

At GCC, we use the phrase “Student Affairs” but other colleges call it Student Services or Student Development.  By another other name, “Student Affairs” is the group of dedicated people focused on student success through their academic courses and also in developing the whole person.

Many years ago when I started my career as a member of the Faculty, teaching Mathematics at South Mountain Community College, I never even entered the Enrollment Center, other than to drop off my grades (this was way before SIS and electronic grading, we actually had paper grade sheets).

I never considered how my students made their way to my class, I was just so happy to have a full class and to teach a subject that I really enjoyed.  But most of all, I was so happy to have a captive audience that I could mentor, encourage, inspire; to help them believe in their ability because I truly believe that people are more mathematical than they believe and can do more than they believe possible.

Later, I realized, and truly appreciated, the army of individuals dedicated to serving our students  Staff who are as passionate about helping students reach their goals as the faculty.  Staff who go above and beyond to reach the students.

I am honored to serve as the Vice President of Student Affairs at GCC.  My amazing and dedicated team is split into two groups:  Enrollment Services and Student Life.  I’m going to use the next six weeks to share stories of student success and to help strengthen the bridge between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs.  As we all know, it takes a village…and we all have a part to play in student success, but most of all, as we move forward to the next 50 years of GCC, our programs will be strengthened as we continue to work together.

 

Coke and a Smile

I’m a bit of a Coke-Cola nut and one of my favorite ads of all time is begins with, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke”.   As a kid listening to that song I couldn’t think of anything nicer than to share my favorite beverage, sing, and do kind things for other people.  Yes, yes as a child you can see that I had some “coke bottle” thick, rose colored glasses, but really what would our campus look like if each of us were intentionally more kind?  If we started going above and beyond to spend our days showing kindness to each student, staff, faculty, and administrator we come into contact with, what would the possibilities be?  Would we see more smiles, more openness, and even more successes!721382f18bc997290421999a15d6cdfd

If you’ve taken time to read this post I challenge you (as I’ve challenged myself) to focus each day to be kind to those you encounter.  I’d enjoy hearing about your experiences over a Coke…on me.

 

Who is teaching me?

My journey, working with students with disabilities, began when I took a position as an aide in a 4th grade classroom assisting a very large 9 year old boy. He was born with Prader-Willi syndrome. In case you are not aware, it is a congenital (present from birth) disease. It affects many parts of the body. People with this condition are obese, have reduced muscle tone and mental ability. They also want to eat constantly because they never feel full. My responsibility was to sit next to him and keep him busy and engaged with what was being taught in class. I also had to monitor and make sure he wasn’t snacking. When I took this job I had absolutely no experience working with students with disabilities. During my teacher education block, there was a 1 credit class on mainstreaming students. Certainly not enough for what I would encounter in the following years.

I went on to get my Masters in Reading and it was there that I would gain some book knowledge about learning disabilities. Again, not much practical and hands-on experience. Then I landed a position as Coordinator of Disability Services at a small private college in NY. Here I got the opportunity to support students with mostly learning disabilities (LD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Wow, if it weren’t for my colleagues in the field and Google, I would have been totally lost in the complexity of the American Disability Act (ADA) and the agency of the Office of Civil Rights and how they hand down rulings for colleges based on discrimination cases. Not only did I have the challenges of learning the laws and guidelines but of also learning about different types of disabilities and how it might affect their access to the physical and learning environment.

I have come to realize that my learning didn’t just stop at the completion of those two degrees nor did learning cease even after a certain amount of years doing the same thing.  For me, and the type of career I have embarked upon for 15 years (and counting), LEARNING is something I do every day. Being open to learning is a necessity because the field of disability services at the college level is fluid and ever changing, every student is different and has different needs and every day is a new situation.

So who is my teacher? I will share in the following posts.

 

Sharing Success

Student Success is a frequent topic and a constant influence in higher education. It has a multitude of meanings stemming from a student’s idea of what makes them successful to administration gauging the rates of graduates from year to year. But what does Student Success mean to me or other staff members who are not involved in the decision making process and do not have frequent or direct interactions with students? How can you be a part of making students successful? For me it’s going the extra mile to help others when needed. Whether it’s helping someone navigate through our system over the phone or offering training sessions to other employees. Going that extra mile to assist someone promotes student success without directly interacting with students. GCC’s success is dependent on its members and if we can’t take the time to help each other when needed, then how can we be there for our students. Success can be contagious if only we can learn to share.

 

Exercise is Medicine

Exercise is Medicine.  

There is no magic pill, except the kind that you see depicted in the image below.

whatsyourmed_forweb-01

Exercise is Medicine is a global initiative that was created by the American Medical Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. In a nutshell, they want doctors to recognize physical activity as a vital sign.  So next time you visit the doctor, don’t be surprised if you are quizzed on the amount of physical activity you are doing.

The value of this overarching message is everywhere around us. At the community college, it can be seen at every level of learning and it impacts every single one of us.  A healthy employee and a healthy student is the best recipe for college success.

Teaching: As faculty, are we taking the time to look after ourselves so we can serve our students at our optimal ability? SPICES stands for social, physical, intellectual, career, emotional, and spiritual wellness.  This is an ongoing journey, not a destination.

Learning: Students who engage in regular physical activity will benefit from improved selective visual attention (SVA), which experts agree is the key to learning.

Student Success: Regular participation in physical activity is a determinant of student success.  There are literally thousands of studies on this topic.

Trend Toward Inactivity in the Workplace: When we add online teaching and learning to our list of responsibilities, the amount of sitting time increases exponentially. In 1950, 30% of Americans worked in high-activity occupations. By 2000, only 22% worked in high-activity occupations. Conversely, the percentage of people working in low-activity occupations rose from about 23 to 41%.
Source: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/physical-activity-and-obesity/

Check out this infographic on Sitting is Killing You to see why inactivity is a concern for your overall health.

Do you believe exercise is important?  Please take the following survey.  The results will be shared in next week’s blog post.  Survey: My Benefits of Physical Activity.

See you next week!

 

 

 

Milo and Dilbert

*Milo, a GCC F-1 visa student, stuck his head into my office in the international education program one day and said, “Can I see you for a second?” He closed the door behind him (an unusual act unless there is a highly serious issue to discuss) so I was expecting the worst. But instead, Milo asked, “What’s a Dilbert?” “A Dilbert?” I repeated. “Yes, a Dilbert. An American student over in the high-tech center just called me a Dilbert.” Unfortunately, it’s not entirely unusual for international students to consult me about matters of this nature (bullying, comments, teasing). Upon arrival in America, they must traverse a sometimes unfamiliar and hostile terrain. Of course, I knew of the cartoon character, and knew that to call someone a Dilbert was considered an insult. But how was I going to explain this one? Initially, I Googled pictures of Dilbert to show to Milo, and wouldn’t you know it? The very first image I clicked on downloaded a computer virus. I myself had just been Dilberted! Through Wikipedia, I ascertained that Dilbert is a “fictional character…who has a rare medical condition…utter social ineptitude.” But I also found out that Dilbert is a graduate from MIT with a degree in electrical engineering, and an employee with good ideas (though seldom pursued because “he is powerless”). Dilbert’s creator, Scott Adams, penned, “Engineers are always honest in matters of technology and human relationships. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep engineers away from customers, romantic interests, and other people who can’t handle the truth.”** I learned that “Dilbert has a strong immune system and is therefore less likely to get sick than his co- workers. While in most respects weak and un-athletic, Dilbert is a skilled badminton player…Although he is an excellent worker, and does not stop trying, he acknowledges that this will get him nowhere.” Dilbert’s mother is an adept Scrabble player, and his father has been at a 24-hour, all-you-can-eat restaurant since 1986, where he intends to stay until he’s eaten all that he can eat. Ultimately, the international student and I discovered that Dilbert is an educated, employed and skilled man in excellent health who never stops trying. He has good ideas, and two parents (though, admittedly, one is absentee!). And though it turned out that being called a Dilbert was not the best thing in the world, it was also not the worst, and in the end, the cartoon character (sadly, Dilbert was eventually killed by a wild deer in 1990) acquired two brand new fans!

*Not the student’s real name

**The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle’s-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions