Lasting Generational Change Part 3 ~ Starting Anew, Conquering Algebra, & Battle Buddies

You would think that would be enough examples of achieving a higher education and leading through example, right? Well, fast forward 13 years. Now a family of 5, my mother realized she needed a new career. Her one college regret, was not following her initial dream to become a teacher because of the College Algebra credit requirement. It was time for a change. We moved to a single income family and my mother would return to the college classroom ready to tackle Algebra. At the time I was in middle school and can remember the financial adjustments our family made to make ends meet. We threw newspapers, delivered phone books, & shopped at thrift stores. I watched as the “family tribe” stepped in to help make the dream of a new beginning happen for my mother. My father took on the extra work of raising all 3 of us while my mom studied. As the oldest, I can remember endless hours in lines at the Lilliard building watching siblings while my mom enrolled in classes, bought books, and applied for financial aid. Her final school semester included a full student teaching internship, a full right arm cast, and the upcoming June arrival of my youngest sister. To say my mother refuses to allow obstacles to stop her from achieving something, would be an understatement. That May, she completed her 2nd degree from UCO; a Bachelor in Elementary Education. She went into the elementary classroom in what turned into a 27-year career as a public school teacher. My mother’s return to the college classroom and the positive support she received as an adult student instilled even more examples for generational change.

You are never too old or too late to join the party. The opportunity to return to a dream and start again is always there when you are ready.

The people around you can either motivate you to persist or distract you from your goals. It is up to you to refuse admission to detractors and carefully select your battle buddies who are going to stand with you.

Check back for the final part 4 of this series.

Lasting Generational Change – Part 1

Lasting Generational Change – Part 2 ~Babies, Cows, and Diplomas

Lasting Generational Change – Part 2 ~Babies, Cows, and Diplomas

Just like with college students today, life happened and the road to degree completion was a challenge for my parents. At the end of their fall semester back in December 77 I was born three weeks early right at the start of fall finals week. What can I say I have perfect timing! Nothing like going into labor while the father is across campus taking a final! Somehow, my parents managed to successfully finish their finals that semester, continued on to the next semester, and eventually complete their degrees. Money was tight, maintaining employment with a paycheck was a requirement, and their school assignments still had to be done. I cannot imagine having to physically go to the UCO library to type all of my papers on a typewriter! Or the frustration of having to retype an entire paper because of one small error. Or perhaps when your new infant puked milk on the assignment, I’m thinking it was a good thing I was cute! During their college years, there was a rogue black cow that jumped in front of their car late one night on their way home from the library damaging the main family car, a fully paid ’69 Camaro. Obstacles at times seemed to be in abundance for my parents. In the end, their persistence and adaptability prevailed. My father graduated with a Bachelor in Political Science and my mother with a Bachelor in General Studies. Instilling additional examples of how to persist in the face of challenges.

Troubles in life will come, how you overcome them matters more  than the initial delay toward your goals. Always adapt, adjust, and advance again. Achieving the end goal will be worth the bumps in the road in front of you. Just watch out for the cows!

Lasting Generational Change – Part 1

Lasting Generational Change Part 3 ~ Starting Anew, Conquering Algebra, & Battle Buddies

Lasting Generational Change – Part 1 The Start

Generational change begins with someone deciding to take the first step on a new possibility. Beingthe first to take those steps into the unknown can have a lasting impact on the generations behind you. For the many first-generation college students, they are creating new pathways and new ways of overcoming challenges to achieve personal growth and create opportunities for future generations.

I am a 2nd generation college student, both my father and mother were first generation college students on the University of Central Oklahoma campus back in 1975 and 1976. Both began their freshman year of college at a statistical disadvantage. My father was raised by a single mother with limited financial resources. He knew the road out of poverty for him would include completing a college education. Upon graduation from high school, he enlisted in the US Navy Reserves, enrolled at UCO, and moved into Thatcher Hall, the men’s student dorm. At the same time, my mother’s high school guidance counselor was discouraging her from pursuing a college education.  My mother had a seizure disorder that made memorization work challenging and school had always taken a little more effort on her part. Thankfully, my mother ignored the opinion of the guidance counselor, applied for vocational rehabilitation benefits, enrolled at UCO, and commuted from Midwest City to the UCO campus. This first step created a lasting generational change for all four of their future children. Setting the example that, it is okay to create a new path in your life even if it is different from the one you grew up knowing. That the most important belief is the one inside of you, not that of the outside world.

Lasting Generational Change – Part 2 ~Babies, Cows, and Diplomas

Lasting Generational Change Part 3 ~ Starting Anew, Conquering Algebra, & Battle Buddies

What’s My Grade and other things that ARE IN THE SYLLABUS!

Before accepting the staff position with Veterans Upward Bound I spent many years on the faculty side of the university academic world. In my current role as a VUB Outreach Specialist, I use that experience to talk with our VUB participants about meeting academic expectations of faculty in the classroom today. The first step in meeting expectations and ultimately achieving success can be found in the mystical document your professors provided in the first week of class. This document often holds all the answers to your academic concerns and provides a direct map to securing an A in the course. It can even help tell you what your grade will be without the professor saying a word or returning your graded assignment. What is the name of this all powerful document that will lead me to success you ask? It’s in the syllabus!

Chinks in the Student Armor

After years of being 10-foot-tall and bullet proof as members of the US military, many of us struggle with admitting or letting anyone else see the chinks in our metaphorical armor. This mindset continues when we transition back into civilian life as veterans. We will reply with “I’m fine” when really, we are not fine. Myself, I often fall into the thought of “there’s someone else who needs your help more than I do.” Other times I just do not want to admit I might have a limitation. As a returning non-traditional student, this mindset can lead to critical academic supports not being requested or implemented in the classroom. In particular, services available through the institution’s Student Disability Support Services office are often skipped completely by student veterans.  Read on to learn how the Disability Support Services program can help all students succeed in the classroom.

Mental Fitness

What is mental fitness and how important is it to success in college? Mental fitness is multidimensional including our emotional, psychological, and social well-being (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (2019). Meaning all three play a role in the stability of a person’s mental fitness like a three-legged stool. If one leg is shorter or lacking in some way the stool is not considered stable. Our mental fitness plays a role in everything we do down to the smallest details. It also affects larger aspects of college life like coping with stress, functioning in a campus society, and our decision patterns (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2019). Now that we have a general understanding of what mental fitness is and how it can affect us as college students; the better questions are what exercises can I do for my mental fitness?  How many set’s and how many repetitions are needed to reach maximum gain? Do I have to do cardio and legs for mental fitness?

The answers to the questions above are different to each person. As you can see our buddy up top needs to stop skipping leg day. A person’s mental fitness is multidimensional in aspect to the roles internal and external factors play and how they contribute collectively. The average student veteran can be hit by a barrage of different past and present stress related factors on any given day. Don’t be discouraged there are personal trainers that specialize in helping you tailor a workout plan that’s right for you. At the bottom of this page are some resources to find the right trainer for you.

Sleep Your Way to Better Grades

Students who get good sleep may have cracked the secret to better grades and some time on the Dean’s list, according to a study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Sleep is a needed to help us stay alert for threats to our well-being as well as a chance for our bodies to heal after each day. Students want to work hard to stay current in their classes and keep up with the work from a full schedule. That requires a balancing act that goes heavy on activity and usually sleep is sacrificed. The point is that we need good, quality sleep not massive amounts of it.

Researchers at MIT have found that a regular consistent sleep schedule contributed noticeably to not only better grades but lower anxiety levels in class. Quality rest helped with retention of material read before class and understanding of discussions during class. The researchers also found that students who tend to stay up late and go to bed around 2 a.m. tended to perform poorly on tests no matter how much sleep they got. Quality sleep was also connected to how well student scored on quizzes, midterms, and final exams.

When you go to bed matters. If you go to bed at 10 p.m. or midnight, performance was found to be about the same. There was a significant drop off for those who regularly went to bed after 2 a.m. if you get the same amount. Quantity is good but, again, researchers found that quality and consistency make the effort you put into studying more effective. There is nothing worse than staying up all night to study for a test or prepare for a presentation only to “choke” when it is time to demonstrate how much you know.

Crossing the Finish Line to Degree Completion

STRIPES-VUB works with veterans from multiple points in their journey to higher education completion. Some walk into our office after a few years of service having never stepped foot into a higher education setting. Others started an academic program and have been on hiatus for several years. It is not uncommon to be working with a veteran who attempted a higher education program and was not able to complete to graduation. This can happen for several reasons; a poor academic fit, financial pressures, lack of passion, minimal student supports, etc. The STRIPES-VUB program is happy to partner with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and connect veterans with degree completion programs like the one highlighted below.

So, what are you waiting on? Did you begin a higher education program and stalled out before completion? Are you at a cross roads and need some help finding the right road map for you? Give your STRIPES-VUB program a try this next time returning to the classroom. We can help you get back on the path and ready to cross the finish line to degree completion. Outreach Specialists are available by appointment throughout the state of Oklahoma. Call 405-974-3686 or email STRIPES-VUB@uco.edu to schedule an appointment today!

8 schools selected for Degrees When Due initiative

Originally published in The Journal Record on 10/7/2019

OKLAHOMA CITY – Eight colleges and universities from Oklahoma have been selected to join Degrees When Due, a national initiative of the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

Thrive On A Budget & Eat Like The King

College Life and Food

When I think of college students and food, I think of cheap instant noodles being heated in a dorm room microwave. Chances are this diet is no stranger to most service members from their E-1 thru E-3 days. Well that was then and this is now. The goal is not to just survive college we want to thrive in college. To accomplish this feat, we are going to need more than instant noodles to power our brain and body. Although instant noodles are one of my favorite instant meals they should not be a staple in your college diet. College is a marathon like no other that requires more than processed carbohydrates. We need simple and complex carbs like those found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy that can be broken down by the body and used as energy.

What Do I Want To Be?

What do I want to be when I grow up?

Chances are you have asked yourself this very question. I know I did after I retired from active duty. The difference is most people ask themselves this as children and in high school. We as veterans ask ourselves this after serving our country at a later time in life. Some of us in our early 20’s and others in our 40’s. The most common responses I have heard from veterans when asked this question is I do not know, I am not sure, or they give a list of several possibilities.

This is where STRIPES-Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) can come into play. All of us here at STRIPES-VUB have been in this very situation. We have gone through the transition from military life to civilian student life. We are subject matter experts in the pre-enrollment phase of college assisting hundreds of veterans walk the path. Don’t bang your head against the wall trying to find the right school and the right degree plan that fit you. We have don’t that leg work for you and can assist in guiding you with your decision.