I have written a number of times in my blog about my mom’s path to education: a single mom in her late 20’s with 3 young kids coming back to school. This story is very common to many of our students and it is a story of perseverance, sacrifice, and dedication. Over the last 24 hours, I have been thinking a lot about 2 other women who define true life-long learning—one named Clarabelle and one named Ruth.
Clarabelle is an amazing lady—she raised 8 children here in Peru, Illinois and at the age of 53, she entered college to pursue her dream of being an LPN. She had been grandfathered in based on prior training, so she didn’t need that certificate but she went on to complete it anyway here at IVCC. She graduated in 1976 at the age of 55 and continued to work at People’s Hospital, where she had been working in the OB department. For years, she was the nurse at Camp Manitoumi. Once she graduated, Clarabelle didn’t quit learning…she took an internet and email course through continuing education so that she could communicate with her kids and grandkids using email at the age of 80. At the age of 90, she began using her iPad so that she could communicate on FaceBook. What a treat to see her posting on FB and interacting with her kids, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren!
Even once she retired, Clarabelle continued to work in hospice and caring for individuals who needed assistance to be able to stay in their homes until 2 months before she turned 91. She even cared for women sometimes 10 years her junior and she did so with a compassionate heart. She continued to volunteer at Red Cross Blood drives into her 91st year—ringing the bell for donors who reached milestones and signing up donors for the next drive with a relentless passion. When I reached my 4 gallon milestone, she was there to ring the bell even though she had been in the hospital only days before. Of course I am biased that she is so wonderful because she is my grandmother.
My second shining example of a life-long learner is Ruth. Ruth came to IVCC when the factory she worked at for 27 years closed and she found herself as a Dislocated Worker. Ruth embraced the opportunity to go back to school—not only immersing herself in her classes, but in the campus as a whole. I had the opportunity to work with her as a Student Ambassador and to say she was top notch is an understatement. The tenure for an Ambassador is generally one year and during the year that Ruth was working on her pre-requisites for the program, Ruth was the one of the top ambassadors for service hours. During her first year of the very rigorous nursing program, Ruth continued as a student ambassador, earning an additional 73 hours of service in one year. This poised her as one of the top ambassadors for a second year—the first time in 10 years that this was accomplished.
Ruth also was active in Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year colleges, and Student Nurses Association as an officer. Ruth was a 21st Century Scholar finalist and won the IVCC local competition for the Paul Simon Essay contest about “How IVCC Has Changed My Life.” Through all of her schoolwork, Ruth cared for her husband, who sadly lost his battle with cancer and complications from a stroke this weekend. Marty was able to see his wife graduate in May and I know he was as proud of her accomplishments as she was of his strength in the face of his challenges. Their story is one of mutual love and support, especially when times are tough. What a great example she is for her children and grandchildren!
Two amazing women—I am blessed to have each of them in my life!
Tomorrow is our Student Appreciation Day—an initiative by our Student Success Team to help us to make contact with students and let them know that they are appreciated. We know htat students have many options for higher education—in fact more than ever—so it is a small way to say thank you and let them know about the services that we offer.
This gets me thinking in general about appreciation and common courtesy. I have a button in my office from Merri Mattison, a former sociology and anthropology instructor. It reads, “I believe in manners and complete sentences.” It always makes me smile but it brings forth the question—should we really need reminders on this? The answer, sadly, is yes. It seems that common courtesy has fallen by the wayside in our current culture….
I looked around the internet for statistics to back up my thoughts and there were some, although they were dated. I did find some great websites but what it really said to me was this—it seems that many people have noticed this change, but what are we going to do about it?
This article starts with the reader making small changes in his life—it is a great place for all of us to start. As I head to Disney next week (the happiest place on earth—but also the home to some seriously upset, frustrated and crabby visitors), I will plan to sprinkle some pixie dust and practice my good manners—even with the crabby people. Hope you can do the same!
Today is Columbus Day and I am hearing a few rumblings from students who think that since many high schools and elementary schools are off, we should be off too. While I would have loved nothing more than to stay in bed and play around with my kids in our PJ’s all day, this got me thinking…
Yes, college is different than high school. There are several key areas where I want to talk about these differences:
- Scheduling—Since this was the topic that got me started today, why not start with this? In college, we have different requirements that we must meet regarding meeting times and minutes. The biggest issue for us here at IVCC is scheduling Monday night classes (and Monday labs/seminars.) By our state guidelines, we must meet for a pre-determined amount of minutes for each class—for most classes, this equates to 15 class meetings plus a final. In the fall, we have Labor Day and this year Veteran’s Day on Mondays—to take another Monday for Columbus Day would have created a major hardship for Monday night classes—forcing us to hold classes on Christmas Eve or make these long classes even longer. Trust me, this would not have been popular. The spring is even tougher—with Martin Luther King, Jr., Spring Break, and President’s Day all falling on Mondays. We already have to add minutes to the Monday classes and they are challenging to begin with.
The great part about the difference in scheduling is that very few students go from 8-3 Monday-Friday. This is great—those students who plan ahead and get in to see a counselor early can often register for a MWF schedule or one that has them done by noon or 1 pm. This is a huge benefit since so many students work.
- Personal responsibility and freedom—This is one of the best differences, but also the most challenging for new students. We don’t have people chasing you down in the hallway making sure you are going to class. Students can leave campus for lunch. Students can plan their schedules or spend their free time between classes in pretty much any way they please. This is a huge bonus…but also a challenge for students who are used to being told what to do and where to be all the time in high school.
- Academic rigor—The final major difference is in the challenging nature of the courses. Many high school courses give grades for homework and homework (and extra credit) may make up a significant part of the grade. This is very different in college. Sometimes the instructors give homework and do not give a grade—you do the homework so that you learn the material (GASP!!). For people like me who are fortunate enough to be good test takers, this is OK. However, it is a challenge for some students who have depended on homework grades or extra credit to do well in the past. Good thing we have a lot of great resources here on campus to help!
I could go on and on (ask anyone who listens to me at the New Student Orientation) but that’s enough ranting for the day. Bottom line—please remember to come to class today! We are open and looking forward to seeing you today!
I saw this message as a retention message on the top of an empty desk today and laughed out loud! Genius!!
As I have said before, I was not the most motivated student my first time in college at IVCC. I thought it was cool that there was nobody to watch me and make me go to classes. Sometimes I hung out in the cafeteria and played cards and other times I left for lunch and didn’t come back. Looking back—it was pretty crazy. I got myself up and out of bed (often with mom’s help) and got all the way over to IVCC and then didn’t bother to go to class. I vividly remember in SOC 1000 when Mr. Bauswell called me out on it after I had missed a few classes, “Miss Gapinski—how nice of you to show up this week!” I was mortified!! But a funny thing happened—I never missed his class again!
It came down to this for me—a teacher noticed that I wasn’t there! I meant something and was a part of that class. Now I wish that I could say that all of my attendance problems were solved that day—a revelation of sorts. Nope—that isn’t the case. I just learned which classes the teachers wanted me there for and skipped the rest. I did a little better when I went to WIU—if I got out of bed, then I made it to all of my classes. That waking up thing was a bit of a challenge without Mom around so my attendance was not too great…that is until grad school. Did I mention that I paid for grad school myself? All of a sudden, I went from a semi-slacker to a 4.0 and perfect attendance student. Amazing how paying for my education changed my perspective!
So what did I learn from this? Here are my top 4 points:
- How many of you would pay over $250 dollars to buy a concert ticket…and then not go? Pretty stupid! That is what you are doing when you don’t go to your classes. You are missing an opportunity that you have spent a lot of money on (or someone spent a lot of money on.) There is a great “show” waiting for you and you have a reserved seat—skipping out is only hurting one person—YOU.
- There is nothing wrong with making students pay for part of their education! Even if you can afford to pay 100% for a child’s education, they need to take some personal responsibility for their education that can only come from earning it–maybe it is a loan, maybe it is a job around the house, maybe it is paying for a part of each semester’s bill. Whatever it may be—making a student invest in their education makes a difference!
- Community colleges are great because most of us still will have mom and dad there to give us that extra boost to get out of bed and off to class. That extra 2 years to really learn the value of education and make going to class an intrinsically (instead of extrinsically) motivated decision will serve most students well. Sometimes we need the extra time to mature!
- Attending classes is the EASIEST thing that you can do that also brings about the greatest rewards! Talk about getting your best bang for your buck—show up, sit up front, and actively participate in class and funny things start happening. You start learning, retaining information, doing better on your tests, and maybe even finding your passion and career path in a place you never thought you would find it!
Exerpts of this blog were published in the 2008 IV Leader…
There is one sound—a haunting sound—that a person who has experienced it will never forget. It is the sound of a knock at the door in the middle of the night. My mom always told me growing up how much she would worry about us and always feared hearing that sound. I never really understood what she meant. That is, until I heard it myself.
In the early morning hours of September 26, 1999 I heard this knocking and had to open my parents’ door to their worst nightmare. Standing on our front porch were the coroner and several police officers who came to tell us that my sister Amanda and her friends (ages 20, 18, 22, and 26) were dead. They had been killed shortly after midnight and there was no way we would ever see them again.
Three of these young people were IVCC students, including my sister. This past week, I heard a number of students chatting in the halls like students do and often I heard them talking about drinking and parties. With the long weekend ahead, the thoughts turned to having fun—too often equated with drinking. That was my impetus for this blog.
Losing my sister was devastating for so many reasons but most of all because we were all together that night. We had a family birthday party and although we knew they were drinking, no one thought that the driver (my sister’s new boyfriend from the suburbs) was drunk. None of us thought to take the keys or tell them they couldn’t drive. I remember waving goodbye without any worries—I knew they would get home safely and I’d see them tomorrow. They weren’t stumbling, slurring, or acting at all drunk, although the inquest showed that the driver was above the legal limit. The bottom line is that they were impaired…and that was enough to take their lives.
This past year, my sister would have celebrated her 31st birthday. She never got to celebrate her 21st birthday, graduate from college, get married, have children, watch her nieces and nephews grow up, see our brothers get married, live to regret the large Gemini tattoo she had on her right arm, and so much more.
When I talk about my sister and I share what happened to her, I am always saddened to hear about how many other people have had to face the loss of a family member or friend from drinking and driving. It happens too often, to too many people. In the 5 miles from Spring Valley to the site of the accident, the lives of four young people were gone and the lives of hundreds were changed forever. Amanda, Brooke and Bob were all from Putnam County and were IVCC students. There is no way to take back that lapse in judgment—no way to “do over.” All it takes is to have one person be that designated driver, one person to be the lifesaver for the night.
What I ask for our students (and for anyone reading this blog) is to have a designated driver, be that designated driver, call a cab, call a friend, choose to say “no,” or find other things to do. Please save your parents and your friends from hearing that knock on the door.