Today was a good day. I went to meetings as usual, and while on campus I picked up the vibe of the students' first days (daze) in school. There is something special about hopeful faces and new beginnings. I am anxious to see the same faces throughout the school year and into the next and the next and the next. After all, within the crowd of faces all are looking forward to the same goal...to graduate!!!! And that is what we are here for. We are here to help, mentor when needed, and look for creative possibilities to help all reach the same goal. We are here to provide experiences that integrate classroom learning with what is happening out there in the real world, so that our graduates are able to participate in society in a meaningful way.
Some students have many barriers, where their shoulders are heavy and the mountain seems insurmountable. It is with those students that we have our challenges and our greatest rewards as administrators. Let me talk about two very different students. One is a traditional minority student, first in his family to go to college, who could not find his niche and was not succeeding. He was studying the wrong discipline, not succeeding in many classes, and did not realize that he should have been in another major until almost too late. He was in danger of falling through the cracks. He did not see graduation as a goal and could not imagine how he could get there. He had many in the university community pulling for him. We found a way to look at the classes he has taken and create a plan of study that will get him out of college in five years!!! Now five years you say....that is not four....no it is not...but it does represent success for someone who was ready to give up and walk away, seeing only defeat. Graduation is just around the corner for him. His life was changed today. Her life was changed today.
The other student is an adult student who was in the ladies room, sighing loudly. I happened to hear her and started talking to her. She is the mother of five and was taking five classes this semester. She was exhausted and it was only the second day of class. I invited her into my office and introduced her to one of our advisors who sat her down and listened to what she wanted to accomplish. To make a long story short, out of a chance meeting we were able to shave off a year and a half of study for her and created a plan of study that will only entail 6 more classes toward graduation. She didn't know what the School of Continuing Education could provide...she will be doing Credit for Lifelong Learning based on her sixteen years of experience in banking. And that came out of a chance meeting with someone who was listening!!!!
So yes, today was a good day.....we are in the business of changing lives. It can't get better than that!
--Dean Gimenez, School of Continuing Education