This week has been an interesting one. We have 45 Jamaican students on campus that bring with them experiences from their culture not only individually but as a group. When you have a group working together toward a common goal, as in this case, a bachelor's degree, we as professionals concentrate on what curriculum needs to be delivered to meet requirements toward completing the degree. We work with the students individually taking into consideration what they have already taken and what they need to take. We look toward the diploma and graduation as a labor of love knowing that we are going to change lives with the completion of their degree. However, what we don't normally take into consideration, is the vast cultural change they are going through while studying in a foreign land doing their on-campus residency. We don't realize that for many this is a list of firsts; first plane ride, first elevator ride, first escalator ride, first ride on American highways, first time in a residence hall, first time rooming with others that are not related to them, first time on a university campus, first time eating American food, first time going to an American supermarket....so many firsts. There are not only cultural firsts but emotional firsts. As an administrator working with these wonderful students I too have had firsts and am learning that when in a foreign land the whole person has to be taken into consideration and not just academic completion of a degree.
--Dr. Shelly Gimenez, Dean of the School of Continuing Education