Week Two Thoughts

Week 2 of Year Two is finished for me, strictly speaking. I have Fridays off from work and classes this term.

I’m still not feeling like myself. I’m going in on Saturday to check my Vitamin D levels and some other statistics to see if there’s some other medical issues screwing with my mood and well-being. I have been processing overtime, and “talking it out” with a lot of people, but I just keep ending up coming full-circle in my discussions. I hope things straighten up soon; otherwise, this term will be rougher than normal.

Ballet class is going alright. It’s definitely a challenge for me, seeing that I’ve put on weight and my dance technique has never been that good. My “learning gears” are rusty, too, so it’s taking me longer than usual to pick up new combinations. I’m usually a quick learner when it comes to dance, but I’m stumbling through a few things. However, I’m glad to be getting a mental and physical work-out, and it’s really showing me that I’m going to need to find good group fitness outlets as I grow older. I am discovering the joy of Zumba currently, and I went to my first full class last night. I’m sore today (which I’m sure didn’t help my coordination in ballet), so that’s a good sign. I’m hoping I can get back down to my “entrance” weight, that is, the weight I was when I got to grad school and wasn’t constantly sick with some strange bug from the residence hall.

Class-wise, things are very good. I am in AHE 558, Organization and Administration, and this past Tuesday, we had a very good discussion surrounding “Mission, Vision, and Values.” Our first piece for this discussion was to retrieve the MMV for our alma mater, as well as the MMV for a different institution of our choosing. I searched for the appropriate documents from WWU and Wenatchee Valley College, then put the statements into a Wordle. The Wordle was a way for us to view the key concepts by seeing which words were repeated the most. For WWU, words like “Western” and “Washington” came up, naturally, but so did things like “community” and “scholarship.” For WVC, “community” was a big one, as well. The take-away from this is that both WWU and WVC are institutions which seek to serve a geographic population, and they are institutions that care about the well-being of those areas and the community members.

As the discussions progressed through the night, we were able to talk more in-depth about how current White House challenges are affecting missions for schools. The big push from the current administration is the completion rate for colleges; that is, the administration is basically pushing for schools to increase and improve the numbers of students that complete their education. Now, there is some debate over what “completion” look like for community colleges. Is it simply the number of students that graduate with an Associates or a transfer degree? Is it the number of degree completions and certifications? What about students that transfer to a four-year institution before finishing a transfer degree (and assuming these students complete their education at the four-year college)? And how does this affect community-centered, non-degree programs, like continuing education courses?

I found this portion of the discussion completely interesting, since after this summer, I have really intensified my interests in both community colleges and public four-year institutions. It’s not to say that I would not pursue opportunities with private institutions, but I think I am at more times aligned with the general missions and visions of public institutions and the community colleges. (After all, there are several private institutions on the West Coast that are dream employers.) I have to say that part of my love for public education comes from the fact that my dad was a public school employee and that I have spent my entire academic career in public institutions.

And I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I’ve got a pretty dang impressive academic record.

I see a lot of potential in students coming through, and there is a bit of a stigma to fight in community colleges. One of my classmates, after we were told that only 2% of philanthropic giving to higher education goes to community colleges, asked if it was because CC’s don’t have the same kind of athletic presence as four-year institutions. I shook my head “no,” stating that I think it’s more of a matter of pride. As our professor said, even students that have gone to CC’s for part of the education will claim their university or four-year as their alma mater.

I want students to recognize the value that comes from community colleges. I loved the environment when I did Running Start, and I loved my internship at WVC this summer. Fittingly, I just taught my first class of the term, which is a transfer student orientation for STEM majors. It’s my hope to not only get my students comfortable in their new home at OSU, but to also have them take pride in their educational background. Community colleges provide a type of diversity that sometimes four-year institutions don’t have. They have a very different atmosphere most of the time, and I want that to be taken as beneficial, not as “two years I spent at a ‘fake’ college.”

Anyhoo, that’s my take on things so far. It’s far past my bedtime, and I have errands to run and meetings to attend tomorrow. Until next time…

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