A Way with Words: TRIO Star Jadie Dow

jadiedowAt first, the numbers didn’t add up. Jadie Dow was a good student, but she struggled with calculus. And sometimes, the first-generation college student wondered if she’d be able to pay for her education.

Fortunately, Jadie took advantage of the TRIO Student Support Services Program at Castleton’s Academic Support Center. She visited the Center’s Math Clinic. Thanks to the math tutors, she got through calculus. The TRIO Grants she received her freshman and sophomore years helped defray the cost of attending Castleton. Finally, she met with Academic Services Director Kelley Beckwith, who helped Jadie understand her bill and loan options. “With the grant and Kelley’s advice, I no longer had to worry about money,” says Jadie.

Today, the senior Journalism major with a minor in Business Administration is thriving at Castleton. A strong student with a GPA of 3.57, Jadie has been the editor of The Spartan, Castleton’s student newspaper, since Spring 2016 after writing for the paper since her freshman year. She also sings in Vocal Unrest, Castleton’s acapella group.

Jadie also has a gift for teaching. She is a Teaching Assistant for the Communications Department Feature Writing course. Since Spring 2015, she has been a Writing Tutor at the Academic Support Center. A gifted writer, Jadie finds teaching rewarding. “There’s that moment when you finally see it click in someone’s head – even when you think you’re not explaining it very well,” she says. Writing Specialist Bill Wiles praises her work with students. “Jadie is patient with struggling writers. She meets them where they are and brings them (sometimes kicking and screaming) to where they should be,” he quips.

Despite her current success, Jadie hasn’t forgotten what it felt like to be a new college student. For two years, she served as a Student Orientation Staff leader, helping freshman acclimate to college during orientation weekend and throughout their first semester in their First Year Seminar class. Dr. Andy Alexander, chair of the English department, felt grateful to have Jadie to support his class of TRIO students. “Like you hope all SOS will be, Jadie was an excellent role model for my first-year students, in just about every way,” he says. “She was funny, but she knew how switch gear when needed… it seemed to me that Jadie represented a quiet source of comfort to those students who needed it. One very important thing is that Jadie let the students know that she took her studies seriously AND that she had to actually work at things to do well.  She shared her study habits, and I think all these things combined served the students very well.”

Although Jadie is enjoying her final year at Castleton, she’s excited about what comes next. In the spring, she’ll begin an internship at the Rutland Herald’s newsroom. After graduation, she hopes to be a journalist and eventually edit her own newspaper. Someday, she plans to earn a graduate degree and teach journalism at the college level.

Jadie credits the Academic Support Center with her success and advises new TRIO students to visit the Center. “It’s all free and everyone is so helpful,” she says. “It won’t always be like that, so take advantage of that while you can.”

-Doe Dahm

 

From Reluctant Student to Public Health Advocate: TRIO Star Kyla Leary

kyla leary

Before Kyla Leary enrolled at Castleton, she wasn’t sure whether college was right for her. She’d struggled in high school, and her high school teachers had emphasized how challenging college classes would be. “I was afraid of the volume and level of work,” she says. And like many new students, she worried about meeting new people.

Once Kyla arrived in Castleton, she found a host of people waiting to welcome her. “I had an amazing suite my first year,” she says. She joined the cheerleading team and made more friends there. She took classes in Mandarin Chinese and studio art. And despite her initial anxieties about meeting new people, she discovered she had a gift for presentations when she earned an A+ in Effective Speaking. Her professors proved friendly and approachable, and though Kyla sometimes needed help, she found it – and lots of encouragement – at the Academic Support Center (ASC).

Today, Kyla is a senior Ecological Studies major and Global Studies minor with a 3.15 G.P.A. She balances her academic achievements with athletics: she is still a member of the cheerleading team, and she plans to join the varsity track and field team this spring. She attributes her success to the assistance she received through Castleton’s TRIO program. During her time at Castleton, she has taken advantage of the ASC’s tutoring services and met with many of its full-time staffers. “It’s so nice that we don’t have to pay for tutoring; it’s not that way at other colleges,” she says. “And each year, I’ve learned more about time management, improved my math and writing skills, grown socially, and become more independent. I can figure out when and how to ask for help.”  

After graduation, Kyla plans to work at Johnson Group Consulting, Inc., the national public health advocacy firm where she has interned for the last two summers. During her internship, Kyla discovered she had a knack for data when she caught a serious error in a report. Kyla’s attention to detail impressed the firm’s director, who offered her a full-time position after graduation. Kyla also plans to take classes in public health after she leaves Castleton. But her ambitions don’t end there: she hopes to work overseas for a bit and eventually build a career in maternal-child health. A lifelong animal lover, she also dreams of extending her advocacy to animals.

Although Kyla seems to have the world at her fingertips, she still remembers what it felt like to be a new student in an unfamiliar environment. She encourages other students to seek support at the ASC. “I always tell other kids to ask for help, especially if they had a 504 or IEP plan in high school,” she says. “I tell them not to worry about what others think and to not think of any support they receive as an advantage or disadvantage – it’s just a resource. And the ASC is just such a good, safe place to study. Everyone in the department is working for you.”

-Dorothy A. Dahm

When You Can’t Move On

college-student-depression

What can’t you get over? A bad grade? A bad semester or year? A breakup? The person you were in high school? Mistakes you’ve made? What’s between you and success?

There’s no question about it: moving on after a painful period can be tough. Sometimes, it can seem almost impossible. And in some circumstances, you might not even want to move on entirely. For example, losing a loved one can be painful, but you probably don’t want to forget that person. In other cases, replacing negative thoughts with positive ones can be difficult.

But feeling frustrated and discouraged doesn’t just mean a series of bad moods: it can interfere with your ability to do well in college and meet your goals. So if you can’t move on, keep moving! Here are some ways to keep going even when you find yourself in a rut:

1.) Take care of yourself. This means eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising, and getting regular check-ups. It also means taking time to do the things you love: reading, watching a favorite film or television program, practicing a hobby, or getting together with friends and family. Start thinking of yourself as a person with physical, mental, and emotional needs. If you’re healthy and well rested, you’ll be far better equipped to deal with any problems that may arise.

2.) Get out of yourself. Do something nice for someone else. This can be as involved as volunteering for a charity or as simple as really listening to a friend or family member. Hearing about others’ problems will make your own seem less overwhelming. And for a few hours or minutes, you won’t be thinking about your own pain or frustration.

3.) Try something new. Have you always wanted to eat Thai food, tap dance or go on a particular hike? Now is the time to do it. Even listening to a new genre of music or reading a different kind of book is energizing. You won’t like everything you try, and don’t feel you have to the finish the book or continue with tap if you don’t enjoy it. But you’ll never know until you try.

4.) Figure out what you have to do. If you’re a college student, this means attending class, completing assignments, and submitting them on time. Some students also have jobs, bills, and family obligations.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try reevaluating what you really do have to do. Could you take that class another semester? Reduce your hours at work? Cut your expenses? What changes would make your life less stressful? Figure out what you have to do. And do it.

5.) Get Help. Remember: you are not alone. There are lots of resources available right on campus. Here at Academic Support, we can help you find a tutor, understand your bill, manage time, and improve your study skills. If you need to talk to someone about personal issues, meet with a counselor at the Wellness Center. And if you’re not quite sure who can help you, ask anyone at Residence Life, Wellness, or Academic Support. We can point you in the right direction.

If you find yourself dwelling on the past and feeling unable to move forward, know you’re not alone. Most people, including professors and university staff members, have been through rough periods. Get help if you need it – and realize that you don’t have to solve all your problems at once. Sometimes, we don’t leap forward: we take baby steps. And that’s okay.

-Dorothy A. Dahm

 

 

 

 

Student Loans 101: Getting Educated

student-loan-calculator

In just a few weeks, it will all be over. You’ll turn in your last exam and sigh with relief. Then you’ll don your cap and gown, accept your diploma, and pose for photos. Finally, you’ll be off to the real world – to start your job search or, if you’re lucky, your first post-college position.

But one aspect of your education is just beginning: your student loan repayment. This may sound intimidating, especially if the financial vocabulary is new to you. However, with a little research, you’ll find your debt far less daunting. Here are some key points to remember as you prepare to tackle your loans,

1.) Know your loan servicer. Although you’ve borrowed money from the federal government, you’ll your federal loans through a loan servicer, which the federal government will assign you. Common loan servicers include Navient, VSAC, Nelnet, and Granite State. If you took out a private loan, from a bank, for example, you will repay the money you borrowed, plus interest, to that lender.

2.) Understand grace periods. Most federal loans, except for PLUS loans, have a six-month grace period. That means you do not have to start paying your loans until six months after graduation. Use this time to educate yourself about your loan repayment options if you haven’t done so already. And don’t get too complacent: you’ll have to start making payments shortly, so you don’t want to get used to spending a lot of your income.

3.) Know your options. There are lots of ways to repay your student loans. You can pay the same amount every month for up to ten years (Standard Loan Repayment), or you can make payments that increase over time (Graduated Repayment). Some plans take into account your income (Income-Based, Income-Contingent, or Income-Sensitive Repayment.) Other options exist as well. Although you will pay the least interest – and thus the least amount of money – under the Standard Repayment plan, other schemes may be better suited to your financial situation. This is particularly true if you find yourself working less hours or earning less money than you anticipated. Visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/plans for an overview of your repayment options.

4.) Beg forgiveness – or at least a reprieve. If you return to school, are active-duty military, find yourself unemployed, or experience economic hardship, including Peace Corps service, you may be able to defer your loans. That means you won’t have to make payments for a period of time. Depending on what type of loan you have, the government may even pay your interest during your deferment. If you find yourself unable to make payments, ask your loan servicer for information about your options. In addition, the federal government offers loan forgiveness programs for some teachers and public servants. If you qualify, you may not have to pay back some of your loans. Visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation for more information.

5.) Do the math. Know how much you borrowed and how much you can expect to pay, over time, under the various repayment plans. Fortunately, the federal government offers a website that will do the calculations for you. You’ll need your FSA id to log in.

It’s natural to be apprehensive about your student loans. After all, you borrowed a lot of money to get where you are today, and you may already be anxious about starting your career. However, by educating yourself about student loans and your debt, you can prevent most problems and ensure a much brighter financial future.

-Dorothy A. Dahm

Game of Life: Come Learn, Come Play!

wheelAs college students, we’re caught up with our social and academic lives. With so many thoughts zooming in and out of our heads, where do we find time to think about life after college? Although we’re in college to prepare for our careers, we rarely ponder life after graduation.

It’s time to narrow that gap. On Wednesday March 23, 2016 from 5:00-6:30 PM in the 1787 Room, the Heritage Family Credit Union, Academic Support Center, and Student Life will host a Game of Life Financial Reality Fair to heighten students’ awareness of financial literacy and personal finances after graduation. You can start at 5, 5:30, or 6 pm, and it takes about a half an hour to play. After you play, stick around for free pizza and a chat about the game.

It works a lot like the board game Life. You’ll choose a career and create a monthly budget based on a starting salary for that position. Then you’ll visit various stations to explore housing, transportation, food, night life, pets, furniture, and cell phone options. See how far your money goes! In the end, you’ll meet with a financial advisor to discuss your budget and assess how well you made out. But don’t worry: in the Game of Life, you get a second chance to make your budget work!

This will be the second annual Game of Life held at Castleton. Last year, 100 students attended. We’re hoping this year will be even bigger – and we can’t wait to see you there.

-Katie Haseltine

Katie Haseltine is a junior Management and Marketing major who tutors math and writing and serves as a Student Ambassador in Admissions at Castleton University. She is also actively involved in planning events through the Campus Activities Board.

Bumps in the Road: TRIO Star Rachel Brigham

rachelkittySome students start college, earn excellent grades, and graduate in four years. For others, the path is a little less direct. Sometimes, they even take a detour. That’s what makes their eventual success all the more remarkable.

In high school, Rachel Brigham was a good student. “I did all my homework at school,” she said. “My time was structured for me.” When she enrolled in Castleton in Fall 2006, she continued this pattern, earning a G.P.A. of 3.74. Both math and writing came easily to the health science major, so her future seemed bright.

Then, Rachel embarked on her first serious relationship. Her boyfriend frequently skipped class, and Rachel found herself playing hooky with him. “I thought, ‘Well, he’s not going to class, so I’m not going to class,’” admitted Rachel. “I let my relationship influence my schooling.”

The years rolled on – and Rachel’s grades plummeted. Twice, her semester GPA dipped below a 1.0. Finally, in Fall 2010, at the start of what would have been her fifth year, Rachel withdrew from Castleton.

In the real world, Rachel worked over sixty hours a week to support herself and repay her student loans. She knew that taking time off from her education was the right thing to do, but the fact that she hadn’t finished her degree nagged at her. The following autumn, she took two classes at Community College of Vermont (CCV). “I got a B in one and failed the other,” she said. “That showed me I wasn’t ready to put in the time and effort I needed to go back to school.”

Finally, in January 2014, Rachel reached a breaking point. “I couldn’t keep working just to pay back my student loans and not have a degree,” she said. Once again, she enrolled at CCV. This time, she earned an A+ in the class she took. Rachel was ready to return to college.

That fall, Rachel enrolled at Castleton again. Since then, she has earned mostly A’s in her classes despite the fact that she works 66 hours per week while taking courses part-time. Rachel, who once skipped classes to hang out with her boyfriend, has become a master of time management.

She’s also not afraid to get help when she needs it. After failing the first exam in her physics class last semester, she met with Deborah Jackson, Math and Science Specialist at Castleton’s Academic Support Center. Through regular meetings with Jackson and diligent studying, Rachel earned a B+ in the course.

Rachel’s efforts have paid off: her cumulative G.P.A. is now 3.0. But Rachel, who is scheduled to graduate in May, intends to keep studying. For the last few years, she has been a caregiver for older people, including those with dementia. The work, although challenging, has sparked her interest in elder issues and geriatric nursing. She now hopes to pursue a nursing degree at Castleton or the University of New Hampshire.

As a caregiver and future nurse, Rachel wants to make a difference in others’ lives. However, she also hopes her story will motivate others to pursue their dreams – even if they’ve had some bad semesters. She advises students not to put off assignments. “No one wants to sit down and write a ten-page paper,” she said. “It’s better if you start early and don’t procrastinate.”

She also emphasizes the role of healthy relationships in academic and professional success. “Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed,” she said. “My current boyfriend is supportive of the work I do; it’s important to him that I get through school.”

Rachel’s determination has also impressed faculty and staff. “Rachel has demonstrated grit and resilience,” said Deborah Jackson. “Despite hardships, she has refused to give up her goal of earning a degree. I believe she could inspire other students inclined to quit when facing a challenging semester.”

-Dorothy A. Dahm

Spring 2016: Here’s What’s Going On at Academic Support

photo-for-student-access-and-opp-guide-march-2008From paying for college to thriving after graduation, we’ve got you covered!  

Thursday, January 28th. Resume and Cover Letter Workshop. It’s never too early to start preparing for your job search. Renée Beaupre-White, Director of Career Services, will help you market your best asset: you! Academic Support.2-3 pm.

Wednesday, February 10th. FAFSA Renewal Drop-In. Bring your questions about completing the FAFSA and applying for financial aid. Academic Support. 2-4 pm.

Thursday, February 11th. Interviewing Strategies. Don’t sweat the big interview! Renée Beaupre-White tells you how to impress. Academic Support. 2-3 pm.

Wednesday, February 24th. Scholarship Help Drop-In. Come with questions about scholarship applications and essays. Academic Support. 2-4 pm.

Thursday, February 25th. LinkedIn Profile. Learn how social media can help you boost your career. Academic Support. 2-3 pm.

Thursday, March, 10th. Job and Internship Strategies. Ready, set, go! Renée Beaupre-White helps you translate your dreams into reality. Academic Support. 2-3 pm.

Wednesday, March 23rd. Game of Life. The most fun you’ll ever have learning about saving money and planning for the future. Location TBA. 5-7 pm.

Thursday, April 7th. Resume and Cover Letter Workshop. Renée Beaupre-White will help you market your best asset: you! Academic Support. 2-3 pm.

Wednesday, April 13th. Senior Loan Event. Dinner – and straight talk about repaying your loans. Academic Support. 4 pm.

Saturday, April 30th. TRIO Community Service Day. Join students from all over the state and give back to your community. Location TBD. 9 am.

For more information, call 468-1347, visit www.castleton.edu/academicsupport, like us on Facebook (Castleton Academic Support), or follow us on Twitter (@CastletonTrio).

Building an Academic Community: TRIO Star Matt Fortier

Matt Fortier1Matthieu Fortier
Expected Degree: BA in Psychology (Honors), May 2016

Matt Fortier admits it: he wasn’t the most engaged student at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont. He was more interested in fitting in and having fun with his friends. But he’d enjoyed his psychology class, his grades were good enough to get him into college, and the first-generation student arrived at Castleton hoping to major in psychology.

Matt may have been a lethargic student in high school, but Castleton’s faculty woke him up. One day, he asked his psychology professor a question. “I don’t know,” his instructor replied. “You figure it out. Then come back and tell me.” This was startling, but exciting. Matt liked taking responsibility for his own learning, and he appreciated being treated as a member of an intellectual community. He immersed himself in study and research, earning a cumulative GPA of 3.74 and serving as a Teaching Assistant in psychology and English classes. He is a member of the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society.

Now a senior, Matt is working on his honors thesis, which explores the relationship between wisdom and well-being. After graduation, Matt hopes to pursue a PhD in psychology at University of Vermont or Temple University. He is particularly interested in lucid dreaming and its implications for treating phobias and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

In addition to his professors, Matt credits Castleton’s Academic Support Center (ASC) and TRIO with his success. A Summer Transition participant, he has also taken advantage of the ASC’s Writing Clinic, graduate school counseling, and academic mentoring services. He has also been a Summer Transition Mentor and tutored other students in psychology.

“Matt provides a wonderful model of how to use college to change your life,” says Becky Eno, Castleton’s Academic Counselor, who has worked with Matt in Summer Transition. “He appreciates the way faculty and staff ushered him into the intellectual community as a valued, contributing member, and he enjoys welcoming other students in as they show interest. And he does it all with his inimitable, quirky sense of humor!”

-Dorothy A. Dahm