Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mass Communications Alumna Reflects on BU Experience

Julie Gould '14
May 2014:  I woke up to rain hitting my window and my phone buzzing as my family was letting me know they were on their way, but all I could think about was graduation day. It was a day that I remember thinking about 4 years earlier when I entered Bloomsburg as a freshman, and thinking how far away it was in time, but in reality, college is the fastest four years of life. My time at Bloomsburg taught me a lot about myself and everyone around me; I’m glad I was able to spend my time with the College of Liberal Arts and graduate with a Journalism major and English Minor.

Within days of graduation, I was already moved out of my hometown of Hamilton, NJ, and moved in with my boyfriend in Newtown, PA. During winter break of my senior year, I began to apply for jobs and interview in hopes of landing something shortly after graduation. Well, needless to say … it worked! I walked across the stage on that rainy day May 10, a couple weeks later I received a job offer, and June 9 was my first day on the job.

Through a lengthy process of a phone interview, face-to-face interview, reference check and about a month wait-time, I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation waiting to hear if I got the job or not. I applied to work with a company, Vantage Labs (USA), LLC, as their Proposal Writer. Although it wasn't directly reporting much like Journalism is known to be, it was still a writing position that would use the skills I learned through the Mass Communications/Journalism and English departments.

The Mass Communications department at Bloomsburg was by my side for the entire journey. They were the ones who pushed me to go and apply early because they knew I had it in me to land a job quickly. Many fears ran through my mind because you go through school and hear things about how hard it is to find a job, but with the right support, anything can happen.

My journey doesn't end there; I have also applied and been accepted to many different contributing writer sites to have personal work published on different websites. Currently, I contribute to Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, Quirky Daily, and I even have a piece featured on USA Today College. I have been contacted through some of my articles to join other sites as well, and it is a rewarding feeling to know that out of the thousands of viewers reading my posts, it does make an impact on a few.

When I sat in my classrooms during my four years at Bloomsburg, I never thought I would be this far along in my life in such a short time after graduation. I have to thank the support of everyone around me while there at Bloomsburg because I wouldn’t have made it this far without them. Since graduation, I have also had the opportunity to come back to Bloomsburg and speak to an underclassmen lecture for professor, Dr. David Magolis. I was able to go back and share my personal experience with the students and also give them tips about what they should be doing, and what they will be doing in their future; it is important for them to learn these things now before it is too late down the road.

I left Bloomsburg Univeristy with the confidence that I can do and accomplish anything that stands in my way. I also left with many connections that I know will last a lifetime between professional connections through professors and also those of my peers. My biggest dream and aspiration is to publish a novel for young adults, and although I have submitted a manuscript for a children’s book, I hope to turn that into bigger things. I know that Bloomsburg is always there behind me, and I still have many professors and friends that I can turn to when needed.

- Julie Gould, Mass Communications Alumna ‘14

Monday, October 27, 2014

Spanish majors help migrant children of Central PA through summer internship

Sarah Jeffrey with some of her students,
photo courtesy of Dr. Hidalgo-DeJesus
Spanish majors Amber Stanton, Jenny Lipps and Sarah Jeffrey were hand selected by Dr. Amarilis Hidalgo-DeJesus to participate in a summer internship at the Central Pennsylvania Migrant Program in Hazleton, through the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit.

The students worked with children from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Mexico to provide bilingual lessons in science, mathematics, reading and writing.

All students must be Spanish majors to be eligible to participate in the program, but some also focus their studies in education, communications, sociology, business and speech pathology.

“It was a great opportunity to experience working with children in grades 1 and 2 and also experiencing a co-teaching classroom design. The director, Sandra Medina, was incredibly helpful. We all were invited to teach as paid teachers for the upcoming summer program next year,” said Jeffery.
Jenny Lipps participates in Zumba with some of her students,
photo courtesy of Dr. Hidalgo-DeJesus
In addition to being the sole teachers most of the time in the program, the interns also created extracurricular activities and art projects to engage students in learning as well as participated in field trips and Zumba classes with the children.

As many of the migrant children were still in transitional stages of their ESL education, the interns developed activities to help them gain confidence in their speaking skills.

Jeffery, Lipps and Stanton also mentored high school students and worked more closely with them due to the level of difficulty in learning a foreign language as an adult.

“My experience as an intern of the migrant program was one of the memories that I will always value. It reminded me my own experience coming to this country at a young age,” said Lipps.
Amber Stanton with some of her students,
photo courtesy of Dr. Hidalgo-DeJesus

Lipps also participated in a science program in which she translated science terminology of the human body from English to Spanish and created accompanying bilingual activities to foster better understanding of her lessons.
Other interns also helped to translate documents and gained experience in interpretation work through their communications with parents of the children and other teachers. According to Hidalgo-DeJesus, this experience will help the students in their post-grad work, specifically regarding the Federal Court Interpretation Program.

“The evaluations were excellent. Every year, the directors are very happy with our students and some of them get hired at the end of it, which is a great thing from our program,” said Hidalgo-DeJesus. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Theatre Alumna Puts Her BU Learning and Connections to Work

Guest blogger Lauren Shover '13
Since May 2013, when I graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, I have worked professionally as an actor, assistant director, assistant producer and associate producer on several different theatre projects. Everything I have been able to accomplish in these past two years is thanks to Bloomsburg University’s extraordinary theatre program. 

Shortly after graduating I moved myself to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to work on my first production outside of Bloomsburg, The Last Plot in Revenge written by Brian Grace-Duff and produced by Brat Productions.  I worked as Assistant Director to John Clancy, a well-known director in NYC as well as one of the key founders of the NYC Fringe Festival.  I had the opportunity to work with John on a production my junior year in college; our school brought him in as a guest director.  Working with him at BU created a bond and a network between the two of us that continued after college and has continued to expand ever since.  Creating connections between the college level and the professional world is something Bloomsburg University’s theatre program excels at. 

Lauren being interviewed by Fox News about
Trapped in a Room with a Zombie
Devised work is an area I knew very little of when I came to Bloomsburg University in fall 2009.  However, this past April I worked as an assistant producer on a devised piece produced by Simpatico Theatre Company that spoke on the stigma related to Craigslist.  The skills and understanding I learned from working on devised theatre at BU allowed me to jump right in with the other members.

Exploring other forms of theatre at BU helped me to open myself up to new experiences in theatre world.  For the past six months I have worked as the Associate Producer for a Room Escape Adventure, Interactive Theatre show called Trapped in a Room with a Zombie.  The show demanded me to work as an actor, director, stage manager, makeup artist, producer and stage hand.  Bloomsburg University gave me confidence to believe in my abilities as a leader.  This production has gained huge success and is now present in 13 cities in the United States as well as Madrid, Spain and London, England.

As a student at Bloomsburg University, not only did I create a lot of professional connections but I left with a lot of peer connections as well.  Recently, a fellow alumnus and I have started up our own theatre company, Elephant Room Productions, consisting of several other Bloomsburg University Alumni.  We are planning to debut our company in the New York City as well as Philadelphia Fringe Festivals of 2015 producing a play written by Dano Madden, yet another connection made during my time at Bloomsburg University.
-        Lauren Shover, Theatre Alumna ‘13

To learn more about Trapped in a Room with a Zombie, visit

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

2009 Grad Waxes Philosophical in PhD Program

The following was contributed by Josh Cruz, Class of 2009: 

I graduated from Bloom in the spring of 09 with a degree in philosophy and English liberal arts. When I started in 05, I was in English and education, and my parents were concerned about my career options when I dropped the ed portion and took up philosophy. Given my majors, I suppose I didn't leave myself much of a choice but to go off to graduate school. So I did. And while philosophy isn't generally seen as a “practical” course of study, there is no field that has been more informative and helpful for the things I've been doing in my years post-Bloomsburg. The point of this piece is to give a few specific examples of the real-world, real practical value that my philosophy degree has.

The most salient examples come from the last month of my life. At the beginning of August, I started a PhD program at Arizona State University in language, literacies, and technology (it's part of the college of education). They're “training” us to be educational theorists and researchers.

So let's look at some of the classes I'm taking: on Mondays, I have research ethics. The first assignment had us reading Mill, Kant, and Aristotle. I am one of two students in that class with a background in philosophy; guess which two students were really comfortable discussing Aristotelian ethics and started an argument about whether virtue is contingent upon social perceptions. I have another class, qualitative research methods. Currently, we are working on our epistemological identity statements, which are reflective pieces about what we think can and should be considered knowledge. Our beliefs, presumably, will inform the ways that we go about conducting research and designing studies. A quick list of words and phrases that regularly appear in this class: epistemology, phenomenology, (post)positivism, ontology, metaphysical assumptions, discourse analysis, constructivism, truth, power dynamics, lived experiences, post-modern... you get the idea.

And let's not even talk about what I'm doing with my research advisor (okay, let's talk about it a little). We're trying to 1) figure out if it's possible for schizoanalysis (of Deleuze and Guattari fame) to be a legitimate kind of research method and 2) apply a Foucauldian genealogy to capoeira, the Brazilian martial art (think Eddy Gordo from Tekken). The point here is that philosophy not only underpins these activities, but it is present—in very obvious ways—in just about everything I'm doing. I could talk about how philosophy has helped me discover myself as a person and how it helps me live more fully and all that other generic, non-tangible kind of crap, but at the end of the day, in the really-real real world, some of my classmates are already struggling with these classes because they don't have a philosophical background.

This post is getting long—I would love to talk about how Marx, Bourdieu, Horkheimer, Freire and other critical theorists are huge figures in education too, but you'll have to take my word for it. Bottom line: there are places where the philosophy degree is not only valuable but absolutely critical for success. I could never have known how practical it would be to get a BA in philosophy, but at this point, in hindsight, it is possibly the best educational choice I could have made for myself.

Friday, August 29, 2014

White House "Correspondence" in Summer US Gov't Class

Two students from Dr. Sheng Ding's summer US Government class recently received letters from the White House in response to a writing assignment. Says Dr. Ding: "I have always encouraged my students to apply their classroom learning to real-world politics and develop their independent thinking and communication skills. In my US Gov’t class, I require my students to complete an essay 'Letter to President Obama.'"

The assignment asks students to "Write a letter to President Obama telling him what he has done right and what he has done wrong in his five-and-a-half-year presidency." Students are encouraged to mail their completed essays to the White House.

English major Mary Heffner wrote to the president about the conditions of Veterans Administration Hospitals, based on the experiences of her brother, a Vietnam-era veteran. President Obama's response reads in part as follows: "Where we find misconduct, it will be punished. Those responsible for manipulating or falsifying records at the VA-and those who tolerated it-are being held accountable, and some have been relieved of their duties. At the same time, we are working to get every one of our veterans off wait lists so they receive the care they have earned."

Ashley Rivera, a student in the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology program, wrote to the president expressing her concerns about the Affordable Care Act "Obamacare," welfare reform, and the NSA scandal, writing in part, "... my own government doesn't trust its own citizens enough to let them have their own privacy to the luxury of the Internet and social media. In my eyes, this is in direct violation of the fourth amendment ..."

Thanks to Mary Heffner, Ashley Rivera, and Dr. Sheng Ding for providing the above.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Why do I need to take this class?"

In her "From the Editor" column in the Summer 2014 issue of Diversity & Democracy, Kathryn Peltier Campbell writes the following:
The idea that components of one’s education are boxes to be checked seems most fitting if higher education is simply a series of training modules preparing students for the workforce. But higher education must be so much more than this. As Michael S. Roth recently recounted in The Chronicle of Higher Education (2014), American luminaries from Thomas Jefferson to Martha Nussbaum have conceived of liberal learning in college as necessary to prepare students for the messy unknown that is life, not simply the specific requirements of a job. As Roth argues, a narrowly practical approach to higher education will do nothing less than “impoverish us.”
 Last Saturday a colleague and I were discussing how society has lost sight of education as a public good. In higher education, so-called "general education" has been the chief casualty, its erosion hastened by budgetary challenges and--more importantly--by the hesitation of its professed proponents to accept the challenge of asserting its relevance.

We in the humanities, arts, and social sciences need to accept that challenge. We may not see ourselves as agents of "workforce preparation" as such, and we are certainly not just that. But let's not shy away from it either. We know that in the "messy unknown that is life" our future leaders--including those sitting in our classrooms next week--will need to make decisions drawing not only on their own experiences but on an unpredictable collection of facts, ideas, and dreams to which we introduce them, the experiences of historical figures and of those who never existed outside the pages of a novel. In response to challenges we cannot even imagine, they will need to exercise the creativity that was nurtured and challenged on our stages and in our classrooms and studios. They will need to apply the intellectual rigor they sharpened against scientific and abstract philosophical concepts as well as the compassion that comes from understanding the plights of others.

The future depends on it.