Fall Break 2014: Raleigh X 3

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RALEIGHX3Over Fall Break I went on this amazing trip with Scholars. It was called Raleigh x 3 and over 3 days we hiked 6 miles, canoed 10 miles, and then biked 20 miles all throughout Raleigh. It was a trip to see the amazing backyard in Raleigh and discover how Raleigh is just a city within a park. It began with hiking the Falls Lake Recreation Area. I didn’t know anyone on the trip, but that was soon corrected. The leaders had us do small talk with each other and I usually don’t like small talk, but I wanted to do this right since we were going to spend 3 days together. The scenery was beautiful and they had us turn off our electronics, other than cameras. We got away and just began to relax! Once we finished the hike and made it to our camp site we had an “on the road” dinner of burritos which was muy bueno.

Waking up was rough; the sleeping arrangements weren’t that great in a 3 person tent with 3 guys. That day was gorgeous, though, and the weather was great to boot. Canoeing, while hard, is a lot of fun, and you can just take in so much around you. Team work was a must today since we used two person canoes. We traveled down the Neuse River past bridges and embankments and saw so much wildlife. After getting out of the canoes, we were all exhausted and just wanted sleep.

We woke Saturday morning, ate breakfast and set off for 20 miles of biking down the walking path which follows the Neuse. It honestly didn’t feel like 20 miles though. It was over and done with before I knew what had happened, probably because I kept singing and looking at the insane amount of beauty and greenery I forgot existed in Raleigh. I hated that it all had to end. I got to meet a group of 14 incredible people who I was able to grow close with and might not have otherwise. Also, I finally got to get away from technology and the rush of the city which can be overwhelming at times.  I now have a new appreciation of nature and plan on taking my friends out into the wilderness and show them what Raleigh has to offer in its own backyard.

Check out our video from the trip! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78DQUK1nu98

Allen Coates
2014-15 University Scholars Assistant

Celebrating 35 Years of USP Alumni!

35yrlogoThe USP is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.  We will be celebrating this event, as well as Alex Miller’s outstanding 28 year tenure as Director, all year long, kicking off with a celebration dinner on May 6th.

As 2013 came to a close, we emailed our alumni with news of this event, as well as our plans to rename our endowment in Alex’s honor.  Our alumni responded generously, many donating as well as responding to our survey.  To see our most recent alumni updates or complete our alumni survey, visit http://scholars.dasa.ncsu.edu/alumni/. To contribute to our endowment, visit https://ccfn.ncsu.edu/advancement-services/giving/ – and thank you very much!

We are very excited by the activities of our distinguished alumni.  Scientists, doctors, veterinarians, educators, lawyers, business owners, and even an astronaut…our alumni are living and working across this state, country and globe!  They are contributing to their communities, creating new knowledge, teaching the next generation and raising families.  And in a funny (but not surprising) turn of events, many of our alumni are married to each other. Remember when Alex told you to look around at Orientation because you might be looking at your future spouse…he obviously meant it!

In all seriousness, we are immensely proud of all that our alumni have accomplished, and grateful for the opportunity to work with such amazing students who go on to become such amazing adults.  The best part of our jobs is the time we spend getting to know, advise and learn with our Scholars. Even after 35 years, we are still committed to our mission to develop our students “as thinkers, citizens, and leaders and prepare them to achieve their personal and professional goals as they make their contributions to a democratic society.”   Our alumni are a testament to the success of this vision!  Go Pack and go Scholars!

Allison Medlin, Associate Director, University Scholars Program

Celebrating our Fall Graduates!

photo (8)This fall, 72 University Scholars Program seniors completed the requirements of the program.  They represent the largest fall graduating class in our 34 year history!  They will be recognized at the commencement ceremonies in the official program, with a certificate, and by the medals they will wear.  Their completion will also be designated on their university transcripts.  As our soon-to-be newest alumni, we wanted to highlight some of their plans that they have shared with us!

  • Stephen Aldrin will work at Novo Nordisk Pharmaceutical Industries in LEAN manufacturing.
  • Zachary Barker will study Water Resources Engineering while in graduate school at the University of Illinois.
  • Michael Bissette will intern with KMX Engineering prior to starting graduate school.
  • Pressly Blackley will join her family’s retail hardware and farming business in Matthews, NC.
  • Allison Coats will travel to Kenya this winter, then work with ExxonMobil in Texas.
  • Ryan Coble received a Gates Millennium Scholarship and will return to NC State for graduate school.
  • Andrew Crothers will work at the Berkley National Lab in California this spring, prior to starting graduate school in the fall.
  • Taylor DeGrasse will work with the Triangle Autism Society.
  • Curtis Duncan is off to Thailand where he will teach English and travel.
  • Hira Faisal and Shima Ghattan both plan to attend dental school.
  • Hannah Gardner plans to attend veterinary school.
  • Alyssa Godown plans to pursue a PhD in Zoology.
  • Aaron Fung plans to continue running his own small business while working for an engineering firm as an Information Technology Analyst.
  • Kayu Ho will stay at NC State to earn a Masters in Global Luxury Brand Management
  • Kathryn Hornaday will work as an Implementation Analyst at Allscripts prior to starting medical school in the fall.
  • Amanda Jones plans to work as a research assistant before pursuing her PhD in School Psychology.
  • Ashley Knappenberger will work as a graphic designer for ThinkingMaps in Cary, NC.
  • Cassia Lewis will work for the International Textile Group in Greensboro, NC.
  • Catherine McMillan will pursue her Masters in Civil Engineering at NC State.
  • Ashley Meyers will celebrate graduation with a trek through SE Asia with her brother. Upon her return she will work as a Business Technology Analyst with Deloitte Consulting in Washington, DC.
  • Aaron Olive and Lauren Rakes will both pursue a Masters in Accounting.
  • Leanna Osisek will start her own business as a professional photographer.
  • Megan Perry will complete a Food Safety Internship at Carolina Packers, Inc. before heading back to school for a MBA.
  • Gretchen Stokes received both the Udall and the Hollings Scholarships while at NC State. She has accepted a position with Americorps as an environmental outreach educator, and plans to pursue her PhD.
  • Sarah Turner will work as a CNA and EMT before applying to PA school.
  • Amanda Wilkins will apply for the Royal Horticultural Society Fellowship for Fall 2014, after which she plans to attend the Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture.
  • Brett Wilkinson will work as an engineer for Hazen & Sawyer in Raleigh, NC.
  • Morgan Woods will attend law school next fall.

Advice for Smart Students…and that means YOU!

Success_SignIn a recent New York Times article, Lionel Anderson, Assistant Director of Academic Resources at Haverford College, offers some worthwhile advice to new college students on how to succeed in college.  Mr. Anderson touches on a point that those of us who work with high achieving students know too well:  Students who were among the best and brightest in high school have rarely, and sometimes never, had to ask for help with their school work in the past.  Which means that when they find themselves challenged by their college coursework (or college life in general), they don’t always seek out help in time, or even know what resources are available to them.  For that reason, we wanted to highlight some of the resources that every smart student arriving at NC State should know about:

  • Undergraduate Tutorial Center: Tutoring is FREE for all NC State undergraduates.  This is a great benefit, so be sure to take advantage of it for any courses that you are struggling with, or for help with your writing and speaking skills.  And if you are a STEM major, keep this thought in mind: you may be the top student in your science and engineering courses, but if you can’t communicate well, you will hinder your academic and professional success.  So get that help with writing and speaking EARLY – don’t wait until senior year!
  • Disability Services Office: If you’ve had accommodations for a physical or learning disability in the past, you probably know what this office is about (and plan to register when you arrive on campus), but what if you’ve never needed accommodations?  My advice is to familiarize yourself with this office and what they offer, even if you may never need their services.  Why?  Because as they say, “things happen”, and if you ever find yourself in need of these services, you should take advantage of them.  For example, what if you break an arm over spring break and are unable to write or take notes in class – what will you do?  Call the DSO of course, and they will help!
  • Academic Advising Services:  While you may think you will graduate from the same major you enter in as a freshmen, you are likely wrong.  Don’t close yourself off to exploring other majors and careers, particularly if you end up having concerns about your current major.  I personally started my freshman year in college thinking I would be a marriage and family therapist, and here I am with a graduate degree and a decade spent working in higher education administration.  Go figure!
  • Career Development Center: Don’t wait until your senior year to start preparing your resume and learning about the job application process.  Developing a career plan is a 4 year journey in college, and it should start freshmen year.  Explore what this office has to offer, meet with a career counselor, and consider taking USC 202- Career Exploration and Development.  How good will it feel to have a job lined up before you even graduate?!
  • Fellowship Advising Office: The FAO is your one-stop-shop for all information on national and international fellowship opportunities.  Dr. Kershner will advise you on which fellowships might be appropriate for you and how to apply.  She will also review and critique essays, and stage mock interviews for applicants.  To make sure that you are a competitive candidate, meet with Dr. Kershner early in your college career.  Like planning for a career post-college, applying for fellowships doesn’t start senior year.
  • Counseling Center: Everyone comes to college thinking it will be the absolute. time. of. their. life.  Well, it may be, but it can also be lonely, stressful and challenging at times.  The Counseling Center is another great resource that offers everything from free workshops to free group support to free individual counseling.  Did I mention it was free?  The bottomline: If you are struggling in any way, don’t hesitate – get the help you need.

And finally, don’t forget one of your best resources as a member of the University Scholars Program: the USP staff!  We are here to help you succeed from the time you arrive on campus until the time you graduate.  Some of us have worked at NC State a very. long. time.  We know this university well, and  we are great at connecting our students to the resources and people that can help with whatever issues come up.  We also enjoy getting to know our students and talking one-on-one.  Remember: the more we know about you, the more opportunities we can send your way.  So do what smart college students do – make connections, know your resources, and get help wherever and whenever you need it.

Allison Medlin, Associate Director, University Scholars Program

What is college for?

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valueA recent Chronicle article titled “How to Assess the Real Payoff of a College Degree” explored how we determine the value of a college degree in our changing economy.  Can it be measured solely in terms of its “return on investment” based on salaries and earning potential?  What is higher education for?  And how do we measure the value of the personal and cultural development that take place during the course of a college education?

When Frances Bronet, now dean of the school of architecture at the University of Oregon,  taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, her department surveyed engineering alumni, asking what they felt they had missed in their education. Graduates who were a year out of college wished they had gotten more technical skills. Those who were five years out wanted more management skills. But alumni who were 10 to 20 years into their careers wanted more cultural literacy, “because they were traveling all over the world, working with cultures they never experienced before,” she says.

This quote really struck me, because improving cultural literacy is central to the mission of the University Scholars Program.  For over 34 years (9 of which I’ve worked here), the USP has been challenging students to think globally and encouraging them to take advantage of opportunities for cultural immersion through study abroad, service learning and USP trips.  We hope that our graduates leave NC State not just prepared for their vocations, but prepared to be active contributors and leaders in both the workplace and community.  College wouldn’t be complete without personal, intellectual and cultural development.

But that is what I think – what do you think?  I’d love to hear from our current Scholars and alumni about what you think college is for, and what you hope to get out of it?  Or what you did get out of it or didn’t and wish you had?

Allison Medlin, Associate Director, University Scholars Program