Career Change to Teaching: Traci Yerby Shifts from Biotech to the Classroom

Notre Dame de Namur University Alumna Traci Yerby

Dr. Traci Yerby, NDNU Alumna and High School Teacher

Traci Yerby worked in the biotech industry in Silicon Valley after earning a PhD in microbiology at University of California, Davis. She had a successful career in stem cell research, corporate development, product management, and marketing. After she and her husband started a family, she took time off, and the principal at her children’s elementary school asked her if she would teach science to the kids on a part-time basis.

“At first I taught just as a lark, without a credential,” said Traci. “It was the most fun I’d had in a long time.” The principal and some of the teachers encouraged her to think about teaching as a career. She had some experience both as a teaching assistant in grad school, and as an adjunct faculty member at state universities.

Traci researched various graduate programs and decided to attend Notre Dame de Namur University. “I discovered that NDNU offered the most streamlined path to a credential,” she recalls. “When I started the program I felt, ‘This is where I belong.’ I was getting the right information at the right time in my life. At Notre Dame, I learned that each student has a unique story and you have to tap into those stories to reach them.”

She did her student teaching at Half Moon Bay High School on the California coast, near her home. “A biology teacher transferred out of the school right when I finished my credential, and I was lucky enough to land the job,” she says. “I love getting to know the students, watching them grow from freshmen to seniors. Just to have a little part in shaping their futures is a privilege.”

Traci was particularly gratified to help a high-achieving student in her AP Biology class who was having problems with anxiety and depression, falling behind in his classes. “He was able to open up to me and discuss his difficulties,” she recounts. “We’d chat after school and I worked with him to develop a timeline for finishing the missing assignments in all his classes. He said, ‘You‘re my person, Ms. Yerby.‘ With medicine and therapy, he was able to get back on track and earned high marks on his AP tests. I’m so proud of how far he has come, and he still visits with me.”

She tells her students about the range of ways that biology can be applied in careers. “There are medical uses for biology, of course, but now there are also ways to apply biology in engineering, informatics, law—I try to give them a sense of the opportunities.” Traci also hopes to serve as an example for girls who are interested in science. “As a female student, I didn’t have a lot of role models in science when I was in school. I tell all my students that they can be anything they want.”

Traci feels fortunate that she’s been able to make the transition to education. “Teaching is a great way to give back to the community,” she remarks. “Becoming a teacher is the best decision I ever made.”

For information on teaching credential programs at Notre Dame de Namur University, please visit our website.

“Where Do You Want to Be in Five Years?”: A Profile of Professor Judy Buller

Professor Judy Buller

The first time I had Dr. Judy Buller as a professor was during my freshman year in Introduction to Communications at Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU). As I took a seat, the first thing she said was, “Let’s take a moment and close our eyes and think of where we want to be in five years.” I was so confused, because I was barely making it through the day as it was. Four years later, and four classes with Dr. Buller later, the answer to her question feels so much more attainable than it was back then.

Dr. Buller herself also took a while to discover her career goals. Right out of college, she thought she wanted to work in broadcast news, and she did go into that field. As she entered her early 30s, she understood that she wanted to do something different than work in TV. She went back to school to earn her PhD in Journalism at the University of Texas, Austin. Teaching came soon afterwards, as she realized that she wanted a career that would benefit others.

Dr. Buller came across NDNU when she moved back to the Bay Area. She knew she wanted to steer away from auditorium-sized classrooms. She explains, “You don’t really have a connection with professors at traditional big colleges. I knew that I would want a connection with my students and my colleagues as a professor.” At NDNU, she makes sure that she knows every student in the Communication Department that she chairs. She checks in to see where their plans shift and progress during their years at our university.

Dr. Buller has many memories of her years at NDNU, but one of the most treasured ones was when she was given the George M. Keller Teaching Excellence Award in 2012. Students nominate a professor who motivates students, succeeds as an academic advisor, and has made an overall outstanding contribution to NDNU.

I can see why she received the award. I remember moments where Dr. Buller would come up to me and check up on how I was doing, including when I did not have any classes with her. Even before my senior year, she always reminded me that I needed to really think about what I want my career to be. She encouraged me to apply for internships before I was required to. Although it was stressful to apply for internships with no experience, I believe that her check-ins and motivation have given me higher confidence as I leave the university.

If there is anything that I have learned from Dr. Buller, it’s to aim as high as I can possibly go— apply for the job, travel to that country, or try out that new interest! Trying is better than not knowing. Everyone in college deserves a professor who helps them believe that they can achieve anything—Dr. Buller is that professor to me.

Jerileen Rae Ho, Notre Dame de Namur University Senior

Jerileen Rae Ho is a senior Communication major at Notre Dame de Namur University.

For more information on applying to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), please visit the admissions page.

NDNU, My Home Away from Home

Sophia Apolinario, NDNU Undergraduate

I’ve been a tour guide for the Notre Dame de Namur University Office of Admissions for the past three years and one question I always get is “Why NDNU?”

Of the many reasons why I chose NDNU, I keep circling back to, “because NDNU is home.” Moving halfway across the world from Manila in the Philippines to the San Francisco Bay Area was no easy task. While homesickness still kicks in every now and then, I’ve come to realize (as cliché as it sounds), that home is not a place but a feeling. And that’s the feeling I get when I’m at NDNU. Here’s why:

NDNU’s Commitment to Diversity

I immediately felt like I belonged at this campus. Growing up with just Filipinos, it was refreshing coming to a school with such a varied student population. Even at freshman orientation, I immediately hit it off with a diverse group of friends and felt a deep connection with them. It’s not surprising to me that our campus was recently listed among the top 10 most diverse universities in the U.S. and that diversity is one of the university’s Hallmarks. The campus welcomed me, the Filipina “fresh off the boat,” with open arms, and I’ve met so many people from different backgrounds who have become my lifelong friends. I’m more aware of the world around me and have learned to celebrate different cultures. My friends took me to Dolores Park in San Francisco and to see the redwoods in Muir Woods. This broadened knowledge and curiosity about diversity is what pushed me to minor in sociology and become a Bonner Leader, where I helped homeless families find shelter and took part in vigils with loved ones of immigrants facing possible deportation.

Growth outside the Classroom

NDNU is committed to learning, and this doesn’t always mean in the classroom. Every year, we have Call to Action Day where students are encouraged to volunteer in various charities and communities around the San Francisco Peninsula—a way of living out our Hallmarks of community service. When I was a freshman I felt an urge to be more involved in social justice work and ended up at the Sister Dorothy Stang Center. They connected me with a local childcare center where I volunteered for almost two years. The resources needed for students to grow academically, professionally, and spiritually are easily accessible at NDNU.

Professors and Faculty

I’ve once been in a class with only eight students, and let me tell you, I was beyond nervous. Oh gosh, I can never miss a class or say the wrong thing, I thought. But as the semester went by I started to appreciate NDNU’s class size and student-teacher ratio. Why? Because the professors take the time to hear the students’ opinions. Our voices matter. For example, I was in a sociology class where we toured the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco at night, an area where many homeless people live. My professor mentioned my written reflection in class because I had discussed the people we encountered, including homeless people we spoke to that night, and I had talked about their humanity and dignity.

Moreover, being in such a small school enabled me to know my classmates and professors on a personal level. At NDNU, you’re not just a face in a classroom of 100 people but a student who the professors know and want to see succeed. The school has given me a hands-on educational experience where I’m easily able to approach my professors when I feel like I’m not understanding the topics well enough. The professors not only care about your in-class performance, but your overall well-being. I’ll never forget the time my sociology professor came up to me after class and asked, “Are you okay, Sophia? I noticed that you seemed a little stressed. I’m always here if you need anything or someone to talk to.”

I never thought that nearly four years after arriving, NDNU would be the place I’d call my second home. In such a short span of time, I went from being completely homesick to completely in love with the community at NDNU, a place that I’ll really miss once this chapter of my life is over.

Sophia Apolinario is a senior Communication major at Notre Dame de Namur University who grew up in Manila in the Philippines. She plans to work in communications after graduation.

For more information on applying to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), please visit the admissions page.

Wrestling with Pythagorus: How I Conquered Math Anxiety

Blog on conquering math anxiety

Sophia Apolinario, Notre Dame de Namur University student

In high school, I was one of the top 15 students in my graduating class, but ironically, I was probably the worst at math. Going into college at Notre Dame de Namur University as a Communication major, I was really excited to finally kiss the subject goodbye.

With luck by my side, I passed the university’s math placement test and was required to take only one math class during my four years of study. The class was Math and Life, basically an accumulation of all the math you dreaded in high school.

I was thinking, Oh, no, back to trigonometry we go, with my anxiety skyrocketing. I knew that another C in math would affect my dream of graduating college summa cum laude. Yes, as a freshman I was already thinking of how one class could affect my chances of being an honor student!

I’d heard about the NDNU Student Success Center, where students are tutored on campus, but I’d never actually been there. I was on the way to the cafeteria one day when I stumbled across the center. That’s when I met the senior Computer Science major Tej who ended up becoming my math guardian angel. I made it a habit to utilize this free campus resource for tutoring every Tuesday and Thursday after math class.

More than Tej’s expertise in math, her teaching style helped me understand math in a way I never had before. Not only did she want me to ace the class, but she wanted me to grow and see the logic behind Pythagorus’ a2 + b2 = c2. I would have made my high school math teacher proud with what I learned from Tej.

We built not only a professional relationship but also a personal one, as she guided me through my first semester in college and gave me some tips. I was a commuter student and she helped me feel secure that I was not missing out by living at home my first few years. I even told two of my classmates about the Student Success Center, and they also started coming to Tej for math tutoring. The three of us who studied with Tej all became close friends.

By the end of my first semester, I was one of the top students in my math class, earning a high A. I remember running across my house yelling, “Mom!!! It’s literally a miracle!!!” and hugging her as if I had just won the lottery.

That is what I love about NDNU, how the professors and tutors not only want you to ace your classes but really see the deeper meaning behind the theories and lectures. They want to see you bloom and guide you every step of the way—both personally and professionally.

Sophia Apolinario is a senior Communication major at Notre Dame de Namur University who grew up in Manila in the Philippines. She plans to work in communications after graduation.

For more information on applying to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), please visit the admissions page.

Thursdays with Jackie: A Profile of NDNU Professor Jacqueline Berger

Jacqueline “Jackie” Berger, professor of English, Notre Dame de Namur University

When it came time for me to sign up for a required Advanced Writing class at Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), I grabbed at the opportunity to take a class with Jacqueline (“Jackie”) Berger. I’d heard she was a poet with a reputation for being a great instructor.

Advanced Writing was the only English class I needed to complete my bachelor’s degree in Communications. However, I ended up taking five more English classes with Jackie. Consistently, Jackie encouraged me to achieve more in my writing and education, suggesting I add English as a minor and take her pedagogy course. Though I initially turned down both of her suggestions, little did I know Jackie was planting seeds. Roughly a year later, going into my senior year, I added English as a second major. Jackie is the kind of professor who sees the potential of her students before they do.

I attribute much of my success at NDNU to the professors I had. Jackie specifically had a huge impact on my life. Her feedback was always honest. I know a lot of students just look at the grade when a professor returns their work, but with Jackie, I always was eager to read all her comments. I’ve saved every paper I wrote that she commented on. She’d often play devil’s advocate and challenge us to think outside our preconceptions. Not only did she help me to become a better writer—and thinker—but she supported all of my activities outside of the classroom, attending every play I acted in or directed on campus, even at night.

Jackie is a phenomenal educator, and she is an inspiring human being. It seems as though Jackie was destined to be an educator, since she comes from a family of teachers. Her mother and brother are both teachers, and her father took early retirement from his career as an engineer to become a teacher. Perhaps the passion for knowledge is in her blood, although it wasn’t until she was a student at a small liberal arts college in Vermont that Jackie discovered she wanted to be a writer, and ultimately an educator. There she worked with two amazing poets who had an immense impact on her. Their class met at the top of a silo and Jackie remembers snow outside, drums beating, and free writing. “That was it,” Jackie says, “I got in touch with an aspect of my thinking that I never knew was there. I had no idea I could enter an altered state and do this kind of writing. Like dreaming.”

In addition to her career as a professor, Jackie is an award-winning poet with four published poetry books. Her most recent book, The Day You Miss Your Exit, was published in 2018. Jackie has also taught creative writing in women’s prisons.

One thing that has always left me in awe about Jackie is her willingness to learn from her students. When I asked her what the most important thing is that she has gathered from teaching, Jackie replied, “To observe how many different ways people learn and absorb information. I see students blossoming in their own way—there is no one path and that’s an exciting thing.” I’ve seen Jackie’s enthusiasm firsthand when she learns something new from one of her students. Jackie continued, “We are all infinitely complex. You can’t make an assumption about someone. People surprise you. I love that.”

Andrea Rosewicz graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame de Namur University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree. 

For more information on applying to Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), please visit the admissions page.

Meet a Veteran on the Notre Dame de Namur University Campus

Sam Louie, NDNU student, during his military service

Meet Samuel Louie, a 48-year-old junior majoring in political science at Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), who also happens to be a retired master sergeant in the United States Air Force.

The youngest of six children, Sam joined the Air Force when he was 18 years old. He enlisted for two reasons: to fund his college education, and to see the world. What he got was a lot more. Sam worked on several continents, starting in Germany as an air cargo specialist. In Japan, he prepared parachutes, which need to be folded in a highly specific way in order for them to safely land cargo.

On September 11, 2001, after 13 years in the service, Sam was stationed at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware—a mere 30-minute flight from the World Trade Center when it fell. When the planes hit, Sam recalls coming off the tarmac and seeing the news in the break room—the whole base was under threat. Sam states, “I was in shock that we were being attacked on our own soil.” Sam helped prepare C-5 Galaxies and C-17 Globemasters to get off the ground to prevent a potential attack on military aircraft. He remembers the chaos like it was yesterday.

In March of 2002, Sam was deployed to a base in the middle of the desert in Pakistan, an hour flight away from the war. The following year, he served at a base in Iraq that was regularly bombed by mortars. Sam began combat training in which he jumped out of planes 18 times, over half of which were for night operations.

Sam reflects on his experience in the Air Force: “Serving in the armed forces is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.” He beams when he tells of all the places he’s traveled to: “I saw places I never would have visited: Iceland, Greece, and Micronesia, just to name a few.”

Sam says despite the challenges of returning to school after so many years, it’s fun to be a 48-year-old student. At the NDNU Student Success Center, a young student approached Sam and asked if he could sign her form, assuming he was a professor. Sam laughs as he tells this story.

A transfer from a local community college, Sam is currently in his second year at NDNU and plans to graduate in spring 2020: “I’m glad I picked NDNU because it’s a small, private college. The teachers are always there for me when I email them or I have questions.”

Despite enjoying his return to higher education later in life, going back to college also has its challenges. Over the course of 24 years in the armed forces, Sam became an expert in his position. “In college, though, I’m reading about authors and thinkers such as Plato and John Locke I know nothing about,” Sam says. “It’s challenging to read, retain, and understand. But it’s still fun, because it’s new.” Sam’s favorite class at NDNU is History of Political and Social Thought. Political science has always peaked Sam’s interest: “It’s a subject I would have never studied on my own.”\

Sam receives GI Bill education benefits to attend NDNU. “I’m thankful that I finally have an opportunity to finish my BA,” he reflects. After he graduates from NDNU, Sam plans a career as a police officer or firefighter: “My first passion is to go into public safety. That’s the kind of job where I would work for free. But I didn’t just go back to college simply to get a degree or for a career. I’m also going to school for personal growth.”

Notre Dame de Namur University has been named a Military Friendly School. Please visit the Military and Veteran Students page for more information. To apply, please visit the Admissions page.

Discovering My Calling as a Psychotherapist

MaryBeth Lorence, MS in Clinical Psychology, NDNU

It took me forty years to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

Despite having spent many years in several jobs, I never thought I was someone who would have a Career with a capital “C.” With my undergraduate Communications/English degree, I tumbled into the graphic design and publishing world, largely because I liked to read. At some point, though, I lost interest in the release of the latest version of Photoshop.

For a while I pursued things I loved. I loved to cook, so I taught cooking classes. I worked out a lot, so I became a personal fitness trainer. I loved to write fiction, so I wrote fiction. I enjoyed all that, but none of it for me was sustainable. Something nagged at me, telling me there was something else I was supposed to do.

At the age of 40, I took a hard assessment of my life. I reviewed all I had done to try to find out what sparked me. As a cooking instructor, I empowered people to take risks. As a fitness instructor, I worked one-on-one with clients in their homes, finding out what motivated them to change, and listening to some very personal stories. And as a writer, I analyzed how the past shapes a person. In other words, I explored psyches.

I decided to give psychology a try. I was nervous when I first sat down in my Psych 101 prerequisite class. I was afraid that—like many other things I’d attempted—I might lose interest. But three hours later, I walked out of that class feeling for the first time in my life that I had a direction, that I had a purpose, that I had—surprise, surprise!—a Career.

My time as a grad student at Notre Dame de Namur University solidified my commitment to becoming a therapist. It was at NDNU that my purpose turned into my passion, particularly during what was then a year-long psychopathology class taught through a psychodynamic/psychoanalytic lens. I know psychoanalytic psychotherapy isn’t for everyone, but it aligns with how my mind works. It was extraordinarily helpful to me that my practicum class also used that lens. I was challenged in the best way, and I was able to learn from other newbies as we took deep dives into our cases.

As someone who is math-challenged, I was awash with relief when my graduating class became the first to have the choice of a capstone project or a thesis. I chose capstone: no statistics! But I didn’t slack. I wrote a 100+ page review of the research in my field to develop a new treatment for complicated grief. I submerged myself in this and emerged sometime in the final semester of my program, blinking in the light. My thesis advisor, with his encouragement and humor, made sure that I did emerge, and that I produced a project that I can be proud of.

I’m nearing the end of my status as an Associate MFT (I’ve recently completed my 3000 required hours of training!). Some associates stay at the same agency or position for their entire pre-licensed tenure. There are many advantages to that—stability, developing deep working relationships, perhaps the ability to see clients long-term. Maybe it’s just my nature to jump from one experience to another. I changed internships each year.

As a trainee, I counseled kids at a K–8 school, and I also worked at Mission Hospice doing grief therapy. The grief work introduced me to clients with anxiety, depression, substance issues, relational problems, trauma, and personality disorders. Working with those clients gave me the confidence to apply the following year for a position at the Women’s Enrichment Center, an intensive outpatient program, working with women with multiple diagnoses who’d suffered (most of them) from several traumas. It was intense, tiring, frustrating, and one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a therapist.

The following year (last year), I took a position at the counseling center at the College of San Mateo (CSM), where I continue to work. CSM provides as close to a private-practice model as you can get without actually being in private practice. I have my own office, I set my own hours, my clients vary in age from 18 to 58, range in presenting issues from “I just broke up with my girlfriend” to complex trauma, severe depression, suicidality, social anxiety, life transitions—really, almost anything.

In July of 2018, I also began working in an actual private practice, which has been a wonderful learning experience that will help me launch myself  once I pass my clinical exam (oh, yes, I will!) and hang my shingle. Having worked with underserved communities, I also want to continue to provide treatment to those who may not be able to afford typical therapy rates. In addition, I hope to be able to teach psychology classes, both because I love to teach and because I want to be witness to that potential student who, like myself, walks out of Psych 101 having finally found his or her passion.

MaryBeth Lorence graduated from the Master’s in Clinical Psychology program at Notre Dame de Namur University in 2016. She currently works at a counseling center and has a private practice.  She is also a participant in the 2018–19 fellowship program at the Palo Alto Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Training Program (PAPPTP).

For more information on Notre Dame de Namur University’s Clinical Psychology program, please visit the website.

Science Stars or Scientific Illiterates: The Choice Is Ours!

The following is an article by Melissa Book McAlexander, Ph.D. and Isabelle G. Haithcox, Ph.D. that will appear in the premiere issue of NDNU Today, the magazine of Notre Dame de Namur University. The entire magazine will be available online Wednesday, October 10, 2012, at ndnu.edu/magazine.

NDNU is about to embark on one of the most exciting endeavors in its history. Thanks to over $6 million in grants from the federal government that we were eligible to receive as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), NDNU is instituting exciting new programs to help Hispanic and low-income students succeed in college. Some of the grant funds are earmarked especially to help more Hispanic and low-income students pursue careers in what are called STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professions. Yet for all our good intentions, programs like ours will fail miserably if we don’t take science education at the high and middle school level more seriously.

Case in point: California, a state known for its progressive environmental policies and leading-edge technology, ironically stood on the cusp of setting science education back by decades during the state budget negotiations earlier this year. At a time when the rest of the world is becoming increasingly competitive in science and technology, a little-known provision of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2013-14 budget would have eliminated the requirement that high school students take two years of laboratory science and instead require one.

Thankfully, the approved budget salvaged the funding for a second year of science, although Gov. Brown promises massive cuts to education in November if voters don’t approve a tax increase. But the fact that California’s leadership, overseeing the ninth largest economy in the world, so devalues science education that it’s willing to risk producing a generation of science illiterates is alarming. Our focus needs to be on better preparing our students. As it is, students in California and across the country all too frequently arrive in high school with limited science experience from elementary or middle school. The intense focus on testing in math and reading in early grades, increasing class sizes, and ever-smaller budgets leaves little room for serious science education. Even two years of mandatory laboratory science in high school can’t completely close that gap. The effect of these years of limited experience in science is that many students arrive in college uninterested in science and at a disadvantage in developing critical thinking skills. One of my colleagues, who has taught middle and high school science, says science is critical for “figuring stuff out.” Science experiences help students gain the skills they need to solve challenges and make decisions in all areas of their lives, not just in chemistry. Additionally, students who may be interested in science degrees often lack proper foundations for scientific observation or measurement when they begin college-level work.

Meanwhile, colleges and universities struggle to fill gaping holes in STEM education. How can students from low-performing and under-funded schools eventually pursue the high-paying jobs available in STEM fields, when they arrive at college ill-prepared for even the introductory coursework in these majors? To adequately support these students, we’ll need more tutoring and academic support; otherwise, these students are at risk of earning low grades or changing majors before they’ve gotten through the gateway courses.

Why does all of this matter? Well, for one thing, the federal government has been emphasizing the importance of strengthening science, technology, engineering and math education to keep the U.S. workforce competitive in a global economy. President Obama has called for training 100,000 new STEM teachers by 2020 and generating a million new STEM graduates in order to keep the United States’ edge as a leading technological innovator. The country needs graduates proficient in STEM fields to fill jobs in fields ranging from computer science to environmental engineering to renewable energy. We also need knowledgeable teachers at all levels, from kindergarten to university, to prepare
our students to pursue these careers.

High school science classes are vital for exposing students to STEM fields; for some, it will be the last science instruction they ever have, and for others it will lay the groundwork for a college major and perhaps a science-related career. Either way, we’ll only harm ourselves by failing to provide comprehensive science education in high school. By generating high school graduates uninterested and ill prepared for STEM majors and careers, we’ll be creating a knowledge deficit from which we might never rebound.

While programs like those now offered at NDNU are invaluable, they’re no substitute for good educational policy and investment in science education. St. Julie Billiart, co-foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame said, “Teach them what they need to know for life.” In providing support for students pursuing STEM fields at NDNU, we are doing just that.

Giving Tuesday Is A Way Of Life

A number of charities and businesses across the country have named today “Giving Tuesday,” so perhaps it is fitting that today representatives of NDNU’s Mail Center delivered more than 20 boxes of warm weather clothing to InnVision/Shelter Network. However, community engagement isn’t a one-day process; at NDNU, it’s a way of life.

Even though David Baird doesn’t work in the classroom, he still found a way to incorporate the social justice mission of the university into his work and teach those values to our students. Baird, who runs the university’s Mail Center, organized a coat drive for the second consecutive year not only to help those who needed clothing to keep warm in the winter, but also to demonstrate to his student workers the importance of helping those who are in need. “I like involving the students so we can give them a taste of what community engagement is like, and show them that it doesn’t take much effort to help lots of people,” said Baird. The students who assisted Baird with the coat drive are Alex Aguilar, Sal Arias, Gerardo Rodriguez, Marisela Torres, Cristina Basulto and Jordan Tupfer Cruz. “Marisela went with me to deliver the coats,” said Baird, “and we talked about how the little that we did makes a big difference. She could appreciate that.”

From October 15 to November 21, the Mail Center collected donations of coats, rain jackets, boots, scarves, hats, sweaters and umbrellas from students, staff and faculty. Anyone wishing to make a donation simply had to notify the Mail Center and someone would come to pick the items up. “I am so thankful for our campus community’s effort in this coat drive,” said Baird. “It is heartwarming to know that everyone cares enough to help our neighbors in need.”

Top photo: David Baird with students Marisela Torres and Jordan Tupfer Cruz before delivering donations to InnVision/Shelter Network.

Pay for College With Scholarships

As someone who went back to college later in life, and as a parent who paid for the first child’s private education, and has another one currently in college, I understand the benefits of seeking out scholarship opportunities. It would have been a tremendous help to know that we were most likely eligible for something, even if it was small.

Once I started to work in education, I was shocked to learn how much money goes un-awarded because people just don’t apply. I also discovered that grant and scholarship aid for full-time students continues to increase. According to College Board, 53% of college tuition is paid for through scholarships and grants, but there is still a lot of money that goes un-awarded due to lack of applicants.

Here are some useful tips that I found while searching for scholarships.

  • Do not pay a fee for scholarship searches. If you work independently you can generally find more sources than using a paid service.
  • Resources like high school and college guidance counselors, web searches, information from the Department of Education and other sources are available to help you organize your search.
  • As you search you may notice that often grant or scholarship searches are focused on targeted groups like academics, talent, athletics, diversity, underrepresented groups (example: first generation students) and geographical locations.  If you string together words like scholarships, grants, college, university, adult, graduate student, major of interest, your ethnicity or groups you are involved with, this can also bring up random scholarships that are available.
  • Graduate, credential and adult (non-traditional) students should also do these searches. There are generally less funds available for these groups, but it can be worth the effort.
  • In exchange for use of a web site you might be asked to provide your email. People often create a secondary email from a free service if they are asked to provide their information, especially if they are concerned about the free search sites searching them out as well. That way you also have all of the sites and responses in one place.
  • Listed outside scholarships are additional to what a specific college might offer and do not include other grants or scholarships that a school’s financial aid office can determine your eligibility. Always remember to check with them as well.
  • Search local, you’d be surprised how many local scholarships are available, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley.

With the internet the search process has become much easier. There are many sites available to search from. In our free download, “Outside Scholarship Search Information For College Students,” we’ve included links to most of the key sites, as well as sites for diverse groups. Download it today and get started on your scholarship search!

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