A Serviceable Spring Break

Over their recent Spring break, a group of Albertus Students and Alumni took part in “Service Learning: Across Borders” in Canada. Leyna Arden ’14 recalls her experience of the trip below.

A few semesters ago I had the privilege of taking one of Albertus Magnus’ service learning classes, “Literature of the Immigrant.” Because my experience during this class was incredible, I became interested in partaking in another Albertus service learning class, “Service Learning: Across Borders.” I knew from the start of the Across Borders class that I would be granted an irreplaceable experience; however, I would never have thought it would have had as strong an impact on me as it did.

P1000252The Across Borders students began their journey began with a twelve hour train ride to Montreal, Canada in order to spend their spring break volunteering with five non-profit organizations. Before the trip, we spent our classes learning about hardships and problematic situations that United States citizens face on a daily basis, and were encouraged to come up with solutions to these problems. Learning about these hardships and problems in depth and attempting to come up with solutions, gave each of us an understanding of what kinds of problems people face in other countries as well.

Volunteering with the five Canadian organizations brought us face-to-face with those same hardships and problematic situations that we learned about in depth facing people in the United States. I may be able to read and learn about other countries and people in school, but nothing will ever compare to actually going and experiencing what I have learned.

P1000320The Service Learning: Across Borders class, as well as the other service learning classes offered at Albertus are not just classes; they are hands-on knowledge and most importantly, they are experiences that sitting in a classroom sometimes does not give a student. The mission of Albertus has always been “to provide men and women with an education that promotes the search for truth”, and the school’s service learning classes do exactly that. Not only do these classes encourage students to take action in their communities, but they also encourage each student to be an active person in shaping the world.

The service learning classes enabled me to find out who I truly am, and to share my gifts and knowledge with the world. I do not think I will ever fully be able to express my gratitude for the opportunities I have been given, but I will be making it one of my life’s goals to at least try.Group Image

 

 

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Leyna Arden, graduated Albertus Magnus College summa cum laude May 2014, with a bachelor of arts in photography.

 

How to NOT Pay for College

Looking to find a way to cover your out-of-pocket school expenses? Interested in reducing your student loan debt? Sounds like you should start applying for scholarships.  Applying for scholarships sounds like it takes hard work, creativity and time, but these tips will help demystify the process.

Here are some “Do’s and Don’ts” for the scholarship application process:

Do: Complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even if you missed the institution’s priority deadline, you may not have missed the deadline for scholarships. Don’t miss out on free scholarship money.

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Do: Check in with the Financial Aid Office. The Financial Aid Office offers many resources and tools to find scholarship information and applications.  One primary source is a list that is regularly updated on the myAlbertus Portal.  Click the Financial Aid Services tab (top right side), next click the Alternative Financing link (left side), then a list of updated scholarships and the links will appear.  Scholarship information can also be found on the Financial Aid bulletin board and in the “Scholarship Book” in the Financial Aid Office.  Occasionally, Financial Aid Counselors will send emails to students who have been pre-screened to meet scholarship criteria.

Do: Check with your local clubs and organizations. Organizations such as The American Legion, Knights of Columbus, local Elks Club and Lions Club frequently offer scholarship opportunities. Each club or organization has its own selection criteria process.  Membership is not always required.resources and tools to find scholarship information and applications.  One primary source is a list that is regularly updated on the myAlbertus Portal.  Click the Financial Aid Services tab (top right side), next click the Alternative Financing link (left side), then a list of updated scholarships and the links will appear.  Scholarship information can also be found on the Financial Aid bulletin board and in the “Scholarship Book” in the Financial Aid Office.  Occasionally, Financial Aid Counselors will send emails to students who have been pre-screened to meet scholarship criteria.

Do: Check with your employer or parent’s employer. Many employers not only offer scholarships, but tuition remission, another means of financing your education without coming out of your pocket.

Do: Check social media sites. There are scholarships listed on Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit and pretty much every other social media forum on the Web. Try to narrow your search by adding additional details (i.e. #Scholarship will bring up everything from news articles, to recipients, to blogs about scholarships; however, #AccountingScholarships narrows the search dramatically).

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Do: Search the Web. Think regionally in your search not just locally; searching “New

Haven County Scholarships” or “New England Scholarships” broadens your opportunities and will allow you to find some overlooked and potentially lucrative scholarships.

Do: Use free scholarship search services. Sites like Fastweb.com and ScholarshipExperts.com may take 15 minutes to complete a profile, but cut down on the time spent searching and allow you to get to the important part, APPLYING.

Do: Have fun with it! Not all scholarships are serious. A search of weird or obscure scholarships will result in a ton of interesting topics and fun applications. ScholarshipExperts.com offers a “Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship,” a “Superpower Scholarship” and a “Make me Laugh Scholarship” to just name a few.

Don’t: Ignore deadlines. You don’t want to miss out on any free scholarship money.

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Don’t: Give out your bank account or credit card information. Do not proceed with the application unless you are 100% sure the organization is legitimate.

Don’t: Pay a scholarship application fee. College is expensive enough. Save your money for books and other educational expenses.

Don’t: Give in to anything branded as “limited time offer” or “exclusive opportunity.” These are high-pressured sales tactics which could end up being misleading.

DON’T FORGET: Stop in or call anytime. We’re here to help point you in the right direction.

 

Emotional Intelligence

Being an emotionally intelligent person requires us to remain poised when our stature, ego or psychological well-being is being threatened. Emotionally intelligent people are able to prevent the emotional hijacking of their brain; more specifically the part of the brain called the amygdala. When things heat up and stakes are high emotionally intelligent people prevent their emotional brain from taking control. Instead they take the necessary actions that allow their rational brain to control the situation.

EI_chartThe Emotional Brain: The amygdalae are considered your “emotional processors”. The amygdalae are almond-shaped groups of nuclei located deep and medially within the temporal lobes of the brain. The amygdala performs a primary role in the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. Research indicates that sensory stimuli reach the amygdalae where they form associations with memories. These memories of our emotional experiences are imprinted in the amygdala. This factor implicates the amygdala in the beginning of fear responses such as freezing, fight or escape responses.

Sensory information is directed in part to our amygdala and in part to our neo-cortex; the “thinking brain” or rational brain. If the amygdala perceives the experience as a fight, flight or freeze situation, then the amygdala hijacks the rational brain. This emotional brain activity processes information six seconds earlier than the rational brain, so if we perceive a threat, the amygdala acts before any possible direction from the neo-cortex can be received. When the amygdala perceives a threat, it can lead that person to react irrationally and destructively. If we respond to a threatening situation in a fight or flight manner, when in reality a poised and cognitively sharp response is required, the term amygdala or emotional hijacking can be used to label what is happening.

Amygdala hijacking is a term coined by Daniel Goleman to describe emotional responses from people which are immediate and overwhelming and out of measure with the actual stimulus because it has triggered a much more significant emotional threat. An amygdala hijack exhibits three signs: strong emotional reaction, sudden onset, and post-episode realization if the reaction was inappropriate.

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There is an evolutionary purpose to why we are built this way. Our ancient ancestors relied on the amygdala for survival. The amygdala signaled and prepared their bodies for what was to come – fight or flight. The amygdala is responsible for signaling the release of adrenaline and direct blood to our arms and legs. This is wonderful if we are going to fight or flee, but if we need to think, we are at an extreme disadvantage.

We want to avoid our amygdala from being hijacked in business situations, unless we are truly in physical danger. In most cases, threats to our ego, psychological well-being or stature are the causes of our amygdala being hijacked. It is at these times that we need to have our wits about us. We need to be poised and calm. But if our amygdala is hijacked, blood will be rushing to our legs and arms, not our brain where we need it. Our cognitive ability is impaired to prehistoric levels.

What can you do to improve your emotional intelligence in these circumstances? First, when you are hit with sensory stimulus that poses a threat to your ego, psychological well-being or stature, wait six seconds before responding. Waiting six seconds will give your rational brain a chance to process the sensory information. During those six seconds direct your thought process to think of what you want from this situation and for yourself. These steps will help you gain your composure, to focus on what is most important in the here and now, and prepare you to have that crucial conversation.

Don NowillDr. Don Nowill, is an Adjunct Professor of Business and Leadership at Albertus Magnus College. When not teaching classes, Dr. Don uses his expertise and passion to help executives, family businesses and partners of closely held companies improve the performance and the sustainability of their companies by helping them develop productive and satisfying relationships. Don is certified in emotional intelligence assessment and coaching, as well as several other leadership assessment instruments.
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