Eyes On Tomorrow. Feet On Today.
Julie Ann Snyder, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Students & Director
Happy Fall! I hope this edition of the PLA newsletter finds you well. It was wonderful to see so many families at this year’s annual Family Weekend reception. The feedback we received has been extremely positive, and I am happy that families enjoyed the event changes. As I write this article it is hard to believe that half of the semester is already over! Your students were just home for Fall Break and have returned with renewed energy. We are so proud of the hard work and dedication each scholar demonstrates on a daily basis. Our successes continue as we earned a spring grade point average of 3.21 (BGSU=2.79), and maintained a cumulative grade point average of 3.26 (BGSU=2.81). Over 74% of the PLA earned a 3.0 or higher for the spring semester, and we retained 97% of our scholars. This year we are focusing on increasing our community with PLA by living THE FISH! Philosophy! I encourage everyone to ask your student about one of the four tenants: play; make their day; be there; choose your attitude.
On a personal note, Elijah is wrapping up his fall baseball season and is excited to be working with a new travel team. Liliana is gearing up for Halloween! This year she has chosen to be Princess Sofia. Whatever happened to being a ghost and just wearing an old sheet?
As we move toward the end of the semester, and the holiday season, please know how grateful I am for your support of the PLA. I sincerely hope to see you at our annual spring banquet. The event has moved to a Saturday to help accommodate more families. Please keep an eye out for an official invitation in the spring. In this edition of the newsletter we decided to focus the articles on the amazing things scholars completed this summer, and all of the opportunities that exist for every student. Enjoy reading, and best wishes!
PLA Summer Program
Matt Henkes, 2013 Cohort
Looking back on one of the busiest summers I have ever had, it is easy to see why it was also one of the greatest summers. That is attributed to the PLA Summer Program. Although strenuous and quite stressful at times, the summer program left me with a deeper self-awareness, confidence to act as a leader, and impactful relationships with people that will last a lifetime.
Going through a full-time semester schedule in a matter of 4 weeks is no easy task, but the rigorous academic structure of the summer program was helpful. I could not be better prepared for what I am now experiencing in my collegiate career because of the PLA. Although I am still working on them, I learned time management and organization are crucial in being successful in college. However, the skills and experiences I gained beyond the classroom were the most life altering. Coming into the program as an individual who thought I knew everything, I was rudely awakened to ways of dealing with people who were different than me and better leaders as well. My perspective has expanded because of this, and I have become a more diverse individual. In my wonderful cohort of 22 people I know that I have a family who will be there to support and love me through any future struggles. This summer program experience was one that was well needed and appreciated.
Summer Research: Working with a Mentor
Brionna Powell, 2009 Cohort
This past summer was one of creating new relationships and learning new things. I was afforded the opportunity to become a McNair Scholar here at BGSU, this meant I would conduct research throughout the summer and gain valuable graduate school preparation. The research aspect of the McNair program challenges the student to obtain a research mentor then work closely with them throughout the research journey. Although I am a BGSU student I did not want to limit myself to professors on this campus because there is so much more out there. Instead I reached out to professors at the University of Toledo Medical Campus in the epidemiology department. This is what I am truly passionate about and I wanted to do research with someone that shared the same passions. I was not guaranteed that anyone would respond or be interested in working with a BGSU student, but to my surprise I found a mentor!
My mentor’s name is Dr. Barbara Saltzman and she is an associate professor in the department of epidemiology. This was a dream come true seeing how I plan to obtain my graduate degree in epidemiology. I did not know how beneficial this new relationship I had formed would be until the summer progressed. In the beginning we focused mainly on the research that we would complete. My research topic is “Association between Attention Hyperactivity Deficit Disorder and Heavy Metals”. This was right on target for the type of research I wanted to do which was anything that focused on human diseases or disorders. This really fueled me to want to work hard on my research because it was more of graduate level research.
Aside from my research, my mentor and I began to build a true mentor/mentee relationship. She began to inquire about my plans after undergraduate school and was pleased to hear they were all related to things she could help with. Her genuine care for my future has allowed our relationship to grow and it has made her push me more in all aspects. I could have not asked for a better mentor. Due to her being an amazing mentor I will now be applying to the University of Toledo for their Master’s of Public Health in epidemiology program. I have created a lasting bond with the entire epidemiology department, and they have insisted I become a student there. These are the things a student wants to hear when they are working with a group of professors. My mentor will also prepare me for medical school interviews because that is my plan post-graduate school matriculation. She is one of the professors that conduct medical school interviews for the University of Toledo. I was also able to sit in on one of her lectures and get a feel for graduate school classes. This is preparation I did not expect she could provide but when you use your resources the possibilities are endless.
I am so grateful to have been able to work on my research at an actual graduate school because of the preparation I have received. I will now be confident to enter a graduate school class because I have sat in on one. I also know how to conduct graduate level research and this is something that is expected in grad school, lots of research. This initial journey stemmed from a research opportunity but opened doors that will help me for a lifetime. I can now give undergraduate students the advice to branch out of their home university when planning to conduct research. There is no greater opportunity than gaining skills and relationships from those you share similar passions rather than merely sharing similar schools. This advice is especially for students whose specific career passions may not be offered at BGSU’s campus, doing outside research will allow you to get experience in that area without transferring schools! This is one of the best summers I have had in a while due to the cool new things I was introduced to through my mentor and the University of Toledo Medical Campus.
Summer Research: A Great Learning Experience
Danielle Rice, 2010 Cohort
This past summer I had the opportunity to engage in undergraduate research through the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program. In the process of completing my research I was able to build relationships with faculty members, and prepare for work at a graduate level. In order to begin my research, I had to find a faculty mentor willing to guide me through the research process, as I’d never done research prior to this summer. I was hesitant when finding a mentor because I was unsure about how to approach faculty members. I talked with the director of McNair who encouraged me to find a mentor with similar research interests as mine. After looking through the resume’s and curriculum vitae’s of faculty members I found a few individuals who I believed would make good faculty mentors. I contacted three different faculty members and they were not what I was looking for however, they were able to recommend a woman, who had similar interests and professional goals as me. After an initial meeting with her where I discussed what I wanted to do and what her role in the process would be, I’d found my faculty mentor. My faculty mentor had similar research interests, and she was a faculty member in the department I was studying under. She was invested in helping me to grow professionally, as well as personally. My faculty mentor and I connected right away; from the beginning she helped guide me in the research process. I’d never done research before and she was very patient in making sure I understood what I needed to do. She pushed me to begin exploring career options for myself. She helped me to narrow down what I want to do in the future and the type of graduate program that I would be interested in. She also helped me to develop relationships with other faculty members off campus, which were very beneficial to my research and my personal growth. Conducting undergraduate research has prepared me for work at the graduate level. In graduate school, I will be conducting research but it will be on a larger scale, however, the techniques and the tips I learned this summer from working with my faculty mentor have prepared me to be one step ahead of those students who have never had the opportunity to complete research. For this advantage I have been given I am very grateful and humbled!
Overall, the process of conducting research was a great learning experience for me. I learned how to connect with and reach out to faculty members. I’ve gained a mentor to help me with the process of selecting and applying to graduate school. Most importantly I’ve developed a relationship with my mentor that will continue to be beneficial and help me grow both professionally and personally.
My Summer Experience: WSB-TV in Atlanta, GA
Dominique Hicks, 2010 Cohort
This summer I had the opportunity to intern at WSB-TV channel 2 in Atlanta, GA. It was an amazing experience, filled with challenges and triumphs. I had the chance to work with veteran reporters, anchors, and producers on a wide variety of stories happening in Atlanta and its metropolitan area. Stories ranged from the new Georgia Dome to a series of smash and grab burglaries in the Edgewood neighborhood. Since I was new to Atlanta, I had to study the demographics of the city upon starting my internship. Being in Atlanta I was challenged with finding my way around the city and adjusting to the culture of the city. This was a key task for me to adjust quickly, because news reporters are often moved to new areas and challenged with producing fresh stories about the community they serve. This internship helped me become more comfortable with being in front of the camera and challenged me to be creative and innovative. It reminded me that even though I am bringing today’s news to the masses, I also have to make it entertaining. I learned to never be afraid to step up to the plate, and that being credible is the most important thing. When working in news, there is nothing worse than to present information that is not from a credible source. While being in the PLA, I’ve learned the same thing applies in terms of being a leader; your actions must align with your values and morals. No one wants to follow a leader that is not credible, it was a great thing to see how my PLA experience and my future career are connected in some way!
Study Abroad: France & Burkina Faso
Jayna Clemens, 2012 Cohort
Ten and half weeks was all it took to make me realize that I am just one individual in a world full of people who have a multitude of differences but also share one striking similarity. Throughout my travels, I heard various different and unfamiliar languages, experienced different cultural traditions, and delved into the daily routines of my two host families that slowly became my new “normal”. But above all, I discovered that beneath it all, we all share one thing, our innate “humanness”. This characteristic brings about our longing to live, striving to build a successful life for ourselves, and loving those around us and the life we are living.
Tours, France and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso were the two cities where I chose to spend this past summer studying abroad. During the month of June I studied French at a language institute in Tours, France. Being there I not only continued my education of the French language but was also able to interact with individuals from all over the world. I had classmates from Mexico, Singapore, Lybia, Japan, and other regions within the United States. Getting to share stories and experiences with them was an unexpected but immensely rewarding experience. In addition to the new friends I made at school, I was also very fortunate to have an amazing host family that I stayed with. My host mom and sister gave me an opportunity to immerse myself in their daily lives and experience it myself rather than observe from the outside.
After spending a month in Tours, France, I traveled to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. For the month of July I studied Burkinabe cinema and aspects of their everyday life. I was not only able to better connect to the individuals I met because of the course work in my classes, but I was able to deeply appreciate them and their rich history. Located in West Africa, Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, but regardless of this unfortunate circumstance, every individual I met appreciated and made the most of everyday. This allowed me to see how as Americans we should be more grateful for the necessities we usually have access to. My host family showed me an unimaginable amount of love from the moment I arrived and truly made me a part of their family.
Traveling to Tours, France and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso was an experience of a lifetime. I was able to experience aspects of daily life in each of those cities that, if I was not studying abroad, I would not experience. I explored historic chateaus, went on more train, metro, and airplane trips than I could count, sat on a sacred crocodile, ate a worm that was delicacy, and got my hair traditionally braided like a Burkinabe woman. Yes, some of these experiences challenged my comfort zones, but because I was in the mindset of learning I was able to gain something through every experience.
In addition to the two cities I studied in, I was also fortunate enough to spend a week in London, Venice and Rome. Seeing Big Ben, an authentic Venetian gondola, and Pope Francis were also experiences that I will never forget. Although I was a tourist in these cities, combined with my experiences in Tours, France and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, I had the summer of a lifetime. I learned more about myself and the people that I met along the way than ever expected. And after all of the amazing experiences I had, I occasionally miss things and places I saw, but not a day goes by that I do not think about and miss the amazing friends and family I met along the way. I still keep in contact with my host families and the friends I made, because beyond the language and cultural barriers we are all just people, striving to find our place and make our mark in this world.
Educational Testing Services (ETS) – Intern
Celeste Smith, 2011 Cohort
I am Celeste Smith, a junior here at BGSU. I am a student in the College of Health and Human Services, in the Social Work Program. I am a scholar of the prestigious President’s Leadership Academy and I am heavily involved on BGSU’s campus. I am involved in a myriad of student organizations, one being the Black Student Union. This summer I decided to get an experience outside of BGSU. I served as an undergraduate research fellow at Educational Testing Services (ETS). ETS is a company whose mission is to advance equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research, and related services. Just to name a few, ETS is also the company that is responsible for creating well known assessments such as the GRE, Praxis, and Teacher Licensures. My time at ETS was more than amazing! As I mentioned, I served as an undergraduate research fellow and this opportunity lasted for eight weeks. During those few months, I resided in Princeton, New Jersey where the ETS headquarters is located. I worked full time, 9am-5pm Monday through Friday, on a specific research project. As an undergrad research fellow I spent most of my time doing qualitative research. This included completing a literature review and conducting key informant interviews with some of the nation’s leading experts in assessment development. Due to a confidentiality agreement that I adhered to while working at ETS, I am not able to go into depth about the project that I worked on as an ETS employee. Not only did I have a great time working for ETS, but I was able to travel and explore the east coast. Traveling was my favorite part of the experience! During my eight weeks, I had the chance to travel very often, for both work related and personal reasons. Some of the places I traveled to were Howard University and The National Press Club in Washington D.C., Times Square in New York, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Seaside Heights in New Jersey, Princeton University’s campus, and a number of other places. Words cannot come close to explaining my summer experience at ETS. It has developed me into a better researcher, networker, and person in ways that I could have not received at BGSU. Most times aside from receiving a great education you have to branch out and develop skills from other institutions that are not specifically offered at your university. Through this internship, I was able to develop a strong skill set that will be essential in my future, for both graduate school, and also the Social Work Profession. I had the opportunity to travel and meet so many amazing, intelligent people, including some individuals who have offered to serve as lifelong mentors. It was a pleasure being involved in this company and representing Bowling Green State University outside of campus life.
My Summer Experience with Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity Headquarters
Greg Cherry, 2010 Cohort
This past Summer, I was given the honor and privilege of being one of nine interns chosen to work at Lambda Chi Alpha out of numerous applications from around the nation and two provinces of Canada. The internship allowed me to take my undergraduate experience in Greek Life to new heights and show me just how close complete strangers can become when united underneath a common cause and brotherhood. I was chosen as the alumni involvement intern in which I reached out to alumni of Lambda Chi Alpha. I connected the alumni with undergraduate members at 190+ chapters across the U.S. and Canada. I also played a role, along with the other interns and staff, in planning and running the Stead Leadership Seminar, which had more than 500 undergraduate members and 700 people total in attendance, at the University of Memphis. Each intern and staff member was recognized at the event, but that individual moment of recognition paled in comparison to when I saw everyone at the final dinner stand up in pin attire and applaud together towards the end of the event. It was then that I learned my biggest lesson that the individual is not greater than the whole and every person attributes in some way shape or form. Yes, the staff at headquarters helps organize the undergraduate and alumni experience, but none of it would exist without the base of the organization which are the undergraduates themselves. Every person involved in Lambda Chi Alpha is just as important as the next. Whether someone is an associate member who just accepted their bid or is the CEO in Indianapolis, every single person adds to the final product in an intricate manner. Everyone is essential to our successful brotherhood that has lasted for nearly 104 years. For an organization to exist is simple, but for it to thrive it needs the unyielding support and belief from its members. That is what this experience taught me, and I am honored to have gotten such a great experience through an internship.
Dan Lemle, 2010 Cohort
On the weekend of September 13th-14th, all members of the Sidney A. Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy traveled to Hiram, Ohio for the annual retreat. Scholars had the opportunity to further develop relationships with one another as well as creating new ones, all while learning practical information about leadership.
This year’s retreat, themed “Lights, Camera, PLAction!”, was planned and executed by the 2010 Cohort. Beginning in the fall semester of 2012, my cohort members and I brainstormed what we envisioned our retreat to be like. After discussing what we liked about prior retreats, we broke into different committees that worked on finding a location, a theme and other logistical information, in addition to developing fundraisers. Throughout the remainder of the year, we continued to unfold our retreat, focusing on the educational sessions and what we wanted the underclassmen to gain from the experience. An entire day in March was dedicated to mapping out our sessions to ensure they were based on legitimate leadership studies and experiences and ensuring they dealt with relevant topics for leaders in today’s age. I think this planning day was beneficial in making our sessions a success for the PLA scholars.
By the time August rolled around, we had raised $3,000, finished a 33-page long document that detailed every moment of the retreat, and sought an end to last minute preparations. I know my cohort agrees when I say that watching ten months of hard work come to fruition was the most rewarding and valuable experience for us thus far. My cohort has grown personally and as a group from this hands-on experience. I am grateful we had a successful retreat through our hard work!
Study Abroad: Spain
Vaughn Thornton, 2011 Cohort
I’ve known that I was going to study abroad for a few years now, what I didn’t know is that snails are delicious, camels aren’t the easiest to ride, and I don’t stand a chance against a Spaniard in soccer. This past spring I spent the semester in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain and a stint in multiple cities throughout Morocco. Alcalá, for short, is a bustling Spanish city about 20 miles outside the Spanish capital, Madrid. The experience to eat, sleep, and breathe a culture so different from my own was enlightening and more educational than words can possibly describe. While I took classes abroad, just living there taught me so much about myself and aided in my personal development.
Studying abroad taught me just how different similar people are. I often found myself wondering why Spaniards would stand so closely when they spoke or why Moroccans so often ate with their hands. At the same time, the energy at a sporting event or the embarrassment at karaoke night were all familiar to me. Being able to recognize and connect with people from other countries, and getting the answers to these why questions, opened my eyes in ways that can never be imitated.
The virtue I most appreciated while abroad was patience, because I needed a ton of it, especially when I was lost in Morocco. I don’t speak Arabic or French, the countries major languages and, with two other Americans, I found myself struggling to find a building within walking distance. The language barrier, in Morocco specifically, made me think of the vast amount of people in the United States who struggle on a daily basis with simple task such as asking for directions, solely because their mother language isn’t English. While I loved Spain, my stint in Morocco was more enlightening. I had little experience with practitioners of Islam, or countries in which Islam is the most practiced religion. The opportunity to see the world through their eyes was something I’ll never forget.
While abroad I had the opportunity to take a service learning class. I spent the semester teaching English to Spaniards who wanted to become more marketable or just wanted to improve their English skills. This conversation course gave me the opportunity to have relaxed conversations with Spaniards that taught me so much about both the country and myself. One comment that I’ll never forget is how rarely my students ate fast food. I had a student tell me he ate McDonalds once a month, I remember thinking how funny that was considering there have been weeks when I’ve eaten McDonalds once a day. The class also gave me a chance to leave my mark on people and the country. I felt like I did more than just show up, learn, and leave. I feel like I impacted.
Studying abroad is a feeling like no other. I recommend every single college student find a way to study abroad. Study abroad is about more than just the classes you take…it’s about people. It’s about growth, it’s about impact, it’s about finding yourself and never letting go. Right now I’m planning on studying abroad again because this is one addiction I will never kick.