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8 Career Tips to Maximize Your Winter Break from the CDO

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Feeling overwhelmed? Not sure where to start when it comes to majors, internships, jobs, and this thing called a “career”? The CDO is here to help every step of the way. Check-out tips below for getting started and using winter break to your advantage-take one step at a time. No matter your year or major, it’s never too early to get started.

Learn more about yourself and careers, build your network, start your summer internship search, or begin your post-Goucher job search.

  1. Build Your Network! (breaks are a great time to connect)
  • Start to talk about jobs and careers with people you already know – when meeting friends, family, mentors, co-workers, community members, teachers and, really, anyone you come across over the winter break, start to ask questions about jobs, careers, their experiences and who else they might connect you with. Focus on gathering information, paying attention to career clues, and expanding your circle.
  • Conduct informational interviews – this is an excellent opportunity to explore career fields and jobs, connect with professionals in your field(s) of interest, develop an understanding of those fields. Through this process you will often gain advice, and learn about internship/job opportunities without specifically asking for the job.
  • Reach-out to Goucher Alumni Career Coaches – nearly 200 alumni who have volunteered to connect with you, current Goucher students, for career and major advice, industry insights, and job market opportunities. Use the Alumni Career Coaches tab in Goucher Recruit to search and message alumni.
  • Create (or update) a LinkedIn profile – begin to build a network of contacts and showcase your interests, experiences, skills and education. Connect with alumni, faculty, staff, peers, and family to get started.
  1. If unsure about a career direction, complete the quick Traitify assessment for personality insights and recommended job titles, available on the CDO homepage.
  2. Spend time identifying (or reviewing) your career/work values, interests and motivated skills. Stop by or contact the CDO for an appointment to further explore YOU.
  3. Update your resume to include community service, academic projects, on-campus jobs, and other relevant experiences. Utilize the CDO’s Resume Check service through Goucher Recruit to have your resume reviewed by a professional.
  4. Check for on-campus jobs, internships, and off-campus openings on Goucher Recruit and through other websites (e.g. LinkedIn, Baltimore Collegetown Network, Indeed, Idealist), professional associations, and personal contacts.
  5. Develop a prospect list of organizations in which you are interested or want to learn more about. Review their websites for opportunities and checkout LinkedIn and Goucher Alumni Career Coaches (in Goucher Recruit) for potential contacts working at those organizations.
  6. Draft a cover letter that is targeted to a specific job or internship.
  7. Pursue an internship experience (ideally multiple across your Goucher experience)! Learn about (or review) the Internship Learning Agreement, available on the CDO website, if you intend to apply for academic credit. And, remember that Goucher Intern Fellowship funds are available to support summer internships (with an application deadline in late April).

And don’t forget, the CDO is here to help and we look forward to connecting with you. We meet with students year round, even over breaks, through scheduled appointments (email us at career@goucher.edu or call us at 410-337-6191) and drop-ins from 2pm-4pm Monday-Friday (just stop by!). We also host events and programs throughout the year to help you to become career ready! Follow us on social media @GoucherCollegeCDO to keep up with all that’s happening at the CDO or visit our website for more resources.

BY JENN LEARD, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF CAREER ADVISING AND STUDENT ENGAGEMENT

This Month in Goucher History

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Photo Credit: Goucher College Digital Archives

 

At Goucher, we have the luxury of having all of our publications digitally archived! Any student here can access old issues of the Quindecim through the library website. When examining these issues, it is interesting to see how our college has evolved over the years. This time of year, when winter break and finals are coming up, is especially fun to look back at in Goucher’s history to see what was happening.

Photo Credit: Goucher College Digital Archives

December 14th, 1922: The Goucher Weekly came out on December 14th, 1922 and had some interesting events happening on campus. Goucher’s debate team, called the Agora, held a debate about whether fraternities should be allowed on Goucher’s campus. Three faculty judges sided with the team that said fraternities shouldn’t be allowed, on the grounds that they are undemocratic, lower academic standing, and destroy college unity.

The student decorum committee submitted a small poem, which said that, “A Goucher girl upon the street/ Should look precise and very neat”.

December 1st, 1950: This issue of the Goucher Weekly reported that Robert Frost spoke to a huge, campus audience. He shared that he usually wrote his poems with logic in mind at first, then moved on to a witty idea. He also stated that he especially enjoyed writing ‘eclogues’ (a poem in classical style) for the same reason he enjoyed chewing tobacco: because women couldn’t do it.

There was an editorial written on communism, critiquing the policy of the Red Scare. The student who wrote the editorial also recounted an incident where a Baltimore man ranted about how all Communists should be in jail. When the man realized that the student did not agree, he said, “You’re from Goucher aren’t you? That place is loaded with Communists, too!”

December 1st, 1999: This issue of the Quindecim reported that Muslim students were struggling to have accommodations made for Ramadan at Goucher. The student writer raised dietary concerns, in part regarding the availability of food during Ramadan, and emphasized the need for a prayer room for Muslim students.

There was an article which raised concerns with the addition of the shuttle stop by the Towson Town Center. Goucher had been the first college in the area to set up a shuttle system for students. The Collegetown shuttle had only been established a few years earlier, and was being expanded. Students worried that adding additional stops would make it harder to come to class on time. One student complained that the shuttle was supposed to be for “educational purposes and not for mall stops.”

Goucher was also undergoing construction at this time, similar to our campus currently. One article comments about how Stimson was built ‘nearly half a century ago’ and needs to be replaced soon. Goucher was also changing to more electronic systems, putting in place the OneCard system and implementing online class registration.

December 10th, 2003: In December 2003, the Quindecim reported that Goucher was still under construction. There was an article detailing the plans for building the Athenaeum. Goucher was also revamping its curriculum and finding new ways to integrate general education requirements.

Additionally, Goucher was trying to find new solutions to busy dining halls. Pearlstone was seeing much more student traffic than Stimson and was overcrowded, which meant it had difficulty keeping food in stock.

Faculty Insider: Dr. Gillian Starkey, Center for Psychology

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Dr. Gillian Starkey, who came on as Assistant Professor of Human Neuroscience for the Center for Psychology fall of 2016, seems to have fit right into the campus culture. Photo Credit: Olivia Baud

For new professors at Goucher, an adjustment period is not unusual — Goucher has its own unique and eclectic atmosphere that differentiates it from other colleges and universities. Yet Dr. Gillian Starkey, who came on as Assistant Professor of Human Neuroscience for the Center for Psychology fall of 2016, seems to have fit right into the campus culture. She is already highly regarded as a kind, patient, and inspiring mentor. At the request of several curious students, I sat down with her for an interview to learn more about her journey coming here and the work she engages in now.

Having graduated from Bryn Mawr with a Bachelor’s in Psychology with a concentration in Neural and Behavioral Sciences (’08), Dr. Starkey has experienced liberal arts education firsthand. Yet, to her, Goucher students have different priorities than students from many other, similar colleges. “I’ve only been here for three semesters and this stood out to me right away: Goucher students are much more interested in making a difference,” she told me. This was the kind of community she sought to be a part of when applying for her position. Students seemed less competitive, less centered on grades, and to have, in her words, “much more of a social justice orientation.” Moreover, faculty strove to foster students’ curiosity by seeking innovative approaches to learning. “When I was here for my interview, I asked a lot of faculty about the kind of classes that they taught. Some fell into traditional canon of psychology classes, but they had different names, and they used different, more creative methods of teaching,” she said.

Dr. Starkey’s interest in education predated her studies in neuroscience. It wasn’t until becoming an undergraduate student, however, that she began to consider teaching herself. One of her biology professors, a neuroscientist and philosopher, was a big influence. “He had us debating about the nature of consciousness on the first day of class,” she remarked. Her facial expression and body gestures recalled the astonishment she had felt at his impactful lessons. “I was just hooked.” After receiving her PhD in Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience from Vanderbilt, she decided to go into teaching.

This semester, she is teaching both an Educational Neuroscience seminar and an Introduction to Psychology course. The Center tried to keep the Introduction to Psychology class small, capping it at around 22-24 students instead of 80-100 (as was the case in previous years), so Dr. Starkey has had more of an opportunity to integrate activities and experiments in her classes. She uses them as a tool for emphasizing student experience, connecting complex topics with real world issues. “Science can zoom in so closely to the level of a neuron and students can feel removed from that,” she explained to me. “For my classes, I really…I try to give things a context.”

Like the undergraduate professor who inspired her, Dr. Starkey tries to relay her passion  for neuroscience to her students. “There are so many mysterious things about the brain. It’s just always exciting. I feel like every week I just learn something new that just blows my mind,” she said. For her, it’s not just an exciting field, either. It is also a practical one. Neuroscience relates to many social justice issues, including educational inequity. “I always had an awareness about issues of privilege related to access to education,” she said. Both of her parents worked in Head Start schools where they developed math curricula. “Hearing them talk about that at home I think is what clued me in that my educational experience was a little bit different [than that of the kids they taught].” As a result, she often refers back to a key question in her coursework: how can educational neuroscience help explain the disadvantages and threats that children face as their brains develop, and how they should be addressed?

This is a question that she has also sought to answer through research, focusing primarily on the neural basis for children’s math development. Educational neuroscience often involves examining brain imagery through EEG — caps with electrodes worn by participants. Dr. Starkey has been conducting EEG research for 10 years, beginning with undergraduate school and continuing throughout her postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University. Luckily, Goucher provides her a nice EEG setup which has allowed her to build on that research. She has thus had the opportunity to work with both undergraduates and elementary school children, who are tasked to play number-related computer games while their brain activity is recorded.

What she and her research partners have found is that pedagogical practices in education aren’t really capitalizing on brain development. “Many kids are starting school at 8 am or starting second languages in middle school that aren’t in line with findings in neuroscience,” she told me. In examining the development of math skills in elementary school children, “We found that basic number skills, just like the most fundamental things… a lot of kids cannot do. That goes on to severely impact them as they go onto higher level math.” She gave me an example with addition. Kids who continue to depend on their fingers to add numbers together throughout elementary school tend to struggle with more complex math problems down the road. “You’re building on fluency,” she explained. In light of these findings, her goal is to develop some training programs in math for kids who are coming from backgrounds in which their exposure to math was limited due to school resources or learning differences.

When she is not researching or teaching, Dr. Starkey enjoys spending time in the outdoors, whether it be by jogging, hiking, or even skiing. As a cook and food enthusiast, she takes advantage of the underrated food scene in Baltimore. She also “love love love[s] to read,” setting the goal for herself on any break from school to “read a book that has nothing to do with neuroscience.” After all, as she imparted to me, “neural connections that you don’t continue to use you will lose over time. But older brains can still pick up information.” It’s never too late to learn something new!

Goucher Pets— Poe the Bunny

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Poe the bunny! Photo Credit: Paige Harris

Owned by Paige Harris (’19), Poe the bunny is a popular rabbit on a variety of social media platforms, including Tumblr (poethebunny.tumblr.com) and Instagram (@poethebunny). His full name is Edgar Allan Poe Dameron, and though he is small in stature, he makes up for it in personality. At three years old, he is full of energy and has plenty of love to give.

“When people first meet him, they always comment on his fur,” says Harris. “Mini Rexes are known for their soft fur and friendly disposition. He’s a good specimen of his breed, and if his previous owners hadn’t lost his papers, I would have been able to show him.”

Poe was bought off of Craigslist, and has been on campus with Harris since her freshman year. “Originally me and three other people adopted him, but things got messy, custody got complicated, and now I’m his owner. He was living in a fish tank and had two toddlers constantly picking him up and dropping him. He was underweight as well. But he’s doing so much better now.”

Poe is Harris’s emotional support animal and has helped improve her overall mental health. “He’s so sweet and energetic,” she says. “It’s nice to come home to someone who’s always excited to see you.”

“It’s nice to come home to someone who’s always excited to see you.” Photo Credit: Paige Harris

When not being held or kept in his cage, Poe will run around Harris’s room. He’ll do quick circles and jump into the air for fun, an action called a binkie. He’ll also play with almost anything. “He’s played with plastic forks, sunglasses, key rings, and even phones if you put them where he can get to them. He especially loves keys though. He likes to pick them up and throw them in the air.”

Another favorite activity of Poe’s is eating, so like many other pets he is always on the lookout for food. He eats alfalfa and hay, with supplemented fruits and vegetables as treats. “His favorite food is apples. If given the chance, he would absolutely eat a whole one in a single sitting. I don’t let him though because apples are very high in sugar – something a rabbit doesn’t need a lot of,” says Harris.

In warmer months, Harris will put a harness on Poe and bring him out to the Residential Quad to let him run around. “He loves being out in the sunlight and eating the grass. I’m always a little afraid that a hawk will come down and snatch him up though.” The rabbit has met many people, including Jose Bowen. With winter having officially set in though, he is no longer allowed outside. Even Sondheim gets too chilly for the rabbit sometimes. “He hasn’t been as active lately since he really dislikes the cold on his paws. That’s the only thing that bothers him, really. Other than the fire alarms, which has luckily only gone off once.”

Sadly, though, this will be Poe’s last semester at Goucher. Harris will be transferring to another school, so she will be unable to care of Poe any longer. But don’t fret! Poe is to be given to Mikaela Smith (’19), who owns Poe’s friend, Rascal the rabbit, before becoming the class pet for a class of third graders.

Professional Clothing from the CDO

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As the fall semester slowly comes to an end, we know you’re excited to put your newly acquired networking skills to use and land your dream internship during J-term, the spring semester, and perhaps even the summer. The Career Development Office recognizes that the internship search process and job search in general can be very hectic. We’d like to help you take one thing off your plate!
Professional attire is a vital element of any interview, job, or internship experience. We know that sometimes it is not so simple to figure out what to wear to a professional meeting or setting. You no longer have to worry about what’s ‘too casual’ or ‘too formal’ thanks to the CDO Professional Clothing Closet. The Professional Clothing Closet is completely free and open to all students. Whether you need a whole outfit or just another item of clothing or two, it is here to serve you! Thanks to the many donations of our faculty, staff, and alums, the closet is stocked with a wide array items such as blazers, suits, jackets, blouses, slacks, sweaters, collared button-ups, skirts, dresses, ties, and shoes (in both men and women’s styles) in a number of sizes. This semester alone, we’ve received over two hundred new donations for our closet. We are also sponsored by Zips for dry cleaning so that the clothes are clean and ready for you to pick up and keep. Do not miss out! Over twenty students have already used this service this semester. In addition to finding an outfit, you can get a LinkedIn headshot taken by the CDO staff.
Stop by the CDO in Van Meter 117, Monday-Friday, from 10am-4pm to check out the closet. Tell your friends or bring one along!

Charles Blow: Musings on Modern activism

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On November 1st, visual op-ed columnist for the New York Times, political commentator, and best-selling author, Charles M. Blow, was invited to lecture in Meyerhoff. Addressing the Goucher and wider Towson community, Blow framed his discussion within the context of relationships, resilience, and reflection; a motto adopted by Goucher to describe the ideal outcomes students would gain from their education. While the three Rs were originally meant for usage in an academic setting, Blow applied them to his philosophy behind the fight for equity in an unjust society.

“Blow’s stance on the necessity of open expression is one that has been interpreted by some as a critique of ‘sheltered spaces’ often associated with liberal arts colleges like Goucher.” Photo Credit: John Patterson (via Charles Blow’s Instagram)

Goucher prides itself on its sense of community. In reference to this, Blow began his remarks on with his own thoughts about communities. He pointed out the need for communities that stretch across identity. These types of communities don’t occur as naturally as would be hoped, which Blow explained was the result of an age old idea that “sameness is safety”. As humans, Blow stated, we are attracted to people who are similar to us, and congregate in such groups. He argued that these groups rob us of something important: growth and empathy towards others.
‘Privilege’ and ‘oppression’ were two frequent terms that Blow used. In his remarks, Blow borrowed the words of Toni Morrison to describe racism as “a robbery”. Blow expanded the use of the word to encapsulate all kinds of oppression and to capture a core idea of why these oppressions must be fought against. Discrimination robs us of time, energy, motivation and other personal facets that could have been used in a more productive way, he argued. In this sense, it hurts the whole of society, not just the individuals specifically targeted by it. It must be actively combatted. “Inaction is a choice,” he stated. “If you are not totally against oppression, you are for it.”
Blow regarded the recent election “backlash” as nothing new. He cited it as a pattern that has always been a part of American history. He described the battle for equity as “messy” and a necessary process where “feelings will be hurt.” Blow’s stance on the necessity of open expression is one that has been interpreted by some as a critique of “sheltered spaces” often associated with liberal arts colleges like Goucher. Blow emphasized that the emotional pain associated with open discussions must be felt in order for real progress to be made. “Fragility cannot be the frame for these discussions,” he said. Though he did not state it explicitly, he seemed critical of the concepts that drive ideas like safe spaces and affinity meetings. He argued that fragility made discussion untruthful by leading people to lie to try and make others comfortable. “You have to be hurt,” he emphasized.
Blow also made a few humorous remarks on politics. “You may have heard, I have a few thoughts on that,” Blow joked when he first brought up the topic. Blow commented on politics when he began answering audience questions.  Blow discussed the role of media coverage in politics, particularly during an administration in which the president is an avid tweeter. Blow felt he had an obligation as a journalist to cover Trump’s tweets, yet he made it clear that the president’s behavior, especially toward his disabled colleague Serge Kovaleski, was completely inappropriate.
Another topic brought up through audience questions was the current state of news and media organizations, something which Blow had surprisingly left out of his initial remarks. Blow was particularly critical of news organizations preventing minority reporters from covering stories within their communities. He explained that by assuming minority reporters are “biased” towards other minorities, news organizations are simultaneously claiming that being white, cis, male, Christian, etc. is a “neutral” position. He also criticized the trend toward “snap news”, which is characterized by shorter and shorter segments and “Yelling, yelling, yelling,” as he described.
As his final comments for the evening, Blow reflected on what the end result of advocacy for social justice would look like; What would an equitable world look like? “Liberation looks like the truth,” he finally said.

Goucher Pets: Botticelli the Ferret

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Botticelli the ferret, owned by Rebecca Silber ’19, is one and a half years old and has been at Goucher since August of 2017. Silber has owned Botticelli for a little over a year.

Botticelli the ferret. Credit: Rebecca Silber

“We met at Petco,” says Silber. “I’d been frequenting the local pet shops looking for the right match for several weeks. I went to visit him multiple times until I knew he was the right one. He was much bigger, and a bit older than the other ferrets because he’d been adopted and returned. The Petco staff said that he’d been returned malnourished, with cigarette burns on his ears. I couldn’t help but get him after hearing that.”
Now, Botticelli doesn’t have to worry about mistreatment. Silber cares for him just as much as he cares for her. As her emotional support animal, Botticelli helps alleviate Silber’s anxiety. “Having him grounds me to the space and allows me to feel a sense of home,” she says. “Having him means I have to be conscious of my surroundings and that I have to be there for him. Sometimes just looking at him helps calm me down, and if I’m having a panic attack I’ll let him out and he’ll run around. Focusing on him means not focusing on myself, and I calm down far quicker.”
Running around is one of Botticelli’s favorite activities, along with digging. Silber’s succulents have been dug up more than a few times, and most of them are now dead. Botticelli also loves cat toys, such as laser pointers and anything with a string. “He’s also a big fan of any sort of bag he can get into, especially if it makes noise while he rustles around,” says Silber.
Though ferrets are a fairly common pet in the United States according to the American Veterinary Association, people often do a double-take when they see Botticelli around campus. “He’s harnessed-trained, though many ferrets aren’t because you have to get them used to the harness as soon as you get them,” says Silber. “A lot of people think he’s a very small dog or kitten when they first see him. They often ask to pet him, which he loves, and he especially loves getting attention from children. I’ve had a lot of older people tell me that they remember ferrets from the ‘80s. He’s a unique one.”
Ferrets come in a variety of colors, including chocolate, silver, albino, and cream. Like cats, ferrets can squeeze themselves into nearly any space, thanks to their flexible rib cage. Unlike cats, though, ferrets require a lot of attention.
“Ferrets aren’t good for inexperienced pet owners. Botticelli can be destructive and loves getting into my trashcan. That he’s deaf doesn’t change the fact that he can be quite mischievous.” According to Silber, about 75% of white ferrets are deaf and affectionately known as Wardys. “Because he’s deaf the construction doesn’t affect him at all. He loves it here! I spend more time with him here than I do at home.”
Ferrets, like otters, are part of the mustelidae family and are carnivores. “[Botticelli] eats a special ferret food that I get off of Amazon. Most of the ferret food in pet stores is the equivalent of junk food for ferrets. Admittedly, he likes junk food a lot more, but I’m trying to be careful because malnutrition can lead to issues with the lymph system. He loves chicken and eggs,” Silber says. “A lot of people will feed their ferrets mice or chicks, but I used to have pet rats and I can’t stomach it.”

Botticelli the ferret. Credit: Rebecca Silber

Botticelli is very friendly and can often be found sleeping, as ferrets sleep about seventeen hours a day. “He’s a great pet for a busy person. If you ever see us out and about, feel free to come say hi.”

First Years Spraypaint Drains to Prevent Pollution

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Left to Right: Andrew Ackerman, Oliver Dillard, Luke DeWitt, Jolie Price, Erica Bulzomi, and Brady O’Neill Photo Credit: Dr. Cynthia Kicklighter

Earlier this semester, you might have seen groups of people huddling around storm drains, gazing intensely at the pavement. This was probably Dr. Cynthia Kicklighter’s First Year Seminar (FYS). They are learning about marine organisms, and what impacts marine environments. One of the topics they are covering is trash pollution in the ocean, and how trash travels into waterways through storm drains. This trash affects our drinking water, pollutes our oceans, and affects marine life.
In the Towson/Baltimore area, all water entering storm drains eventually arrives at the Chesapeake Bay. Because plastic cannot be digested and it can entangle marine organisms like fish and turtles, plastic trash (like grocery bags, snack bags, etc) is particularly harmful.
In order to educate people on campus about this danger and the fact that all trash from our storm drains will end up in the Chesapeake, Dr. Kicklighter learned how to stencil a storm drain. The training was organized Blue Water Baltimore, an environmental charity focused on restoring the quality of Baltimore’s aquatic systems. She then transferred what she had learned from the organization to her First Year Seminar students, who, in the middle of the semester, spray painted stencils of marine life around the storm drains on campus.
“It was freezing outside,” wrote Jillian Carsud (‘19). But the “hands-on experience” was enjoyable.
Jolie Price (‘19) agreed. “I liked the actual ‘doing’ aspect of spreading awareness instead of just talking about it in class,” she wrote. Both students hoped that their project would cause passersby to pause and consider the stencils, increasing awareness about where our trash goes and who it affects.

High Number of Goucher Grads Teach for America

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Rae Walker ‘17 is is currently teaching at Dr. Carter G. Woodson Elementary/Middle School (PK-8th). Photo Credit: TFA Baltimore

This past year, Goucher was among the top colleges and universities to contribute new members to the Teach For America 2017 corps. With six alumni joining, Goucher contributed significantly to a nationwide network. This past year was also the first year that students were able to apply early to the program–during their junior year of college. Two Goucher students did so and were accepted.
Teach for America (TFA) is a national organization that certifies recent graduates and others without teaching certification to work as teachers in low-income communities. Applicants fill out an online application and complete a group interview online or in-person. Once accepted, applicants fill out a form with their location preferences from a list of 53 different regions across the nation. TFA teachers commit to teaching for at least two years as full-time salaried employees of the school in which they are placed.
As an organization, TFA focuses on understanding and combating educational inequity, an angle that tends to appeal to Goucher graduates. For Rae Walker (‘17) this was one of the reasons he decided to apply. “[As a public school student], the quality of your education literally depends on your zipcode,” Walker said in an interview. “In Parkville they have iPads while in Cherry Hill, we’re struggling for paper. And that’s needed for the curriculum, because they [the school] don’t buy textbooks.”
Walker graduated from Goucher as an English major with a concentration in creative writing. He knew he wanted to be a teacher, but he dropped his major in education because he believed that focusing on his content area (English) was more important than learning theory.
Walker is currently teaching special education at Dr. Carter G. Woodson Elementary Middle School (PK-8th) in Cherry Hill, Baltimore. He is also working on his Masters in Education at Johns Hopkins and is on track to receive a doctorate in five years.
Walker was drawn to the field of special education because of its relationship to inequity, and the situation that results from the over-diagnosing of students, particularly poor black students. “For gen-ed teachers, [labelling students with an IEP or Individualized Educational Program] is like code for ‘I don’t want to teach you, so I’m going to put you in another class,’ and this can happen as early as 1st grade,” said Walker. Once students are labeled as in need of special education, the effects of that label are difficult to reverse. For Walker, one of the important aspects of teaching special education is advocating for his students.
Teaching in low-income communities requires teachers to be very committed and invested in their students. Lila Stenson (‘17) appreciates the connections she’s been able to make with her students, “learning about their lives and telling them about mine.” Stenson graduated with a degree in Sociology and Spanish and is currently teaching 7th and 8th grade Spanish in Memphis, Tennessee. “It’s really fun to see [my students] grow and get excited when they can say new things in Spanish,” said Stenson.
Walker has also certainly become invested in his students. The Saturday after this interview, he was planning on taking one of his students to the movies because it was their birthday. “I’m a black male figure [in this student’s life], so we’re going to the movies,” Walker said. “On Friday, we’re going to celebrate with a cake.”
Because his special education classes are self-contained, Walker spends all day with the same nine students, who range from 5th grade to 8th grade. According to Walker, it is actually illegal to have over three grade levels together in the same class, but it often happens in Baltimore public schools because of understaffing. TFA works to combat understaffing in schools, but it is not enough. As Stenson states, TFA “really isn’t a long term solution to ending the problems in education.”

Goucher was among the top colleges and universities to contribute new members to the Teach For America 2017 corps. Photo Credit: Teach for America

Stenson became interested in education in part because of her experience working at a summer camp called Breakthrough Collaborative that works with students from under-resourced urban schools. Stenson’s experiences working in local schools through the Office of Community-Based Learning (CBL) added to this interest.
Walker also mentioned one of CBL’s programs, Middle School Mentoring, when talking about what influenced his decision to stay in Baltimore and teach. Both Stenson and Walker highlighted the way in which Goucher encourages students to engage with equity and social justice.
One thing that TFA corps members seem to have in common is their passion for what they do. “I think it is really cool to have a lot of new energy in the teaching field, as a lot of teachers who have been teaching for a while are burnt out,” Stenson wrote in an email interview.
However, because many of the applicants for TFA are young and inexperienced, they also face extra challenges. Stenson has twenty-seven students, which she said is actually a pretty small number compared to some of her coworkers’ classes. She is fortunate to teach a subject (Spanish) that is not tested at the state level, because it comes with more freedom. On the flip side, however, there is also no pre-prepared curriculum for her to use. “I did not major in education and while TFA does pack a lot into their summer training institute, you are still pretty unprepared for teaching everyday on your own. Classroom management and behavior issues are something that I struggle a lot with,” Stenson wrote.
Eliezer (EC) Cartagena (‘18), who did study education and was one of the juniors who applied early to TFA last year, critiqued this aspect of TFA. “TFA tries to train teachers in the summer, which is literally impossible. A lot of people will be woefully unprepared,” said Cartagena.
Cartagena also critiqued the fact that many people use TFA as “a stepping stone,” and move on to other careers. Cartagena emphasizes that students need consistency. “Two years seems like an injustice,” he said.
While many TFA alums move on to other careers, there are also TFA alums who stay in the world of education. As Walker points out, some of the biggest changemakers in Baltimore public schools, the principals of “turnaround schools,” are TFA alums. Cartagena hopes to stay in the school system for at least four years, while Walker sees himself continuing to teach ten years from now.
One of the incentives for applying to TFA are the benefits that come with the program. In addition to offering the opportunity to become certified to teach, TFA offers a summer training institute, an extensive alumni network, affinity group networks with other TFA members, mentor partnerships, and online location guides. TFA also has partnerships with graduate schools. Regional programs either require or encourage TFA corps members to work towards a Masters in Education. Fellowships and awards are also available to help teachers get a financial boost. For Stenson, who was moving to an entirely new city, she appreciated having the support network that came with TFA. “Memphis is a new home, so it is nice to have other people who are new and trying to explore the city as well,” she said.
TFA tries to draw a diverse group of members, and they advertised that their 2017 corps was more diverse than ever. Cartagena highlighted that TFA considers diversity factors besides race, like gender identity and sexual orientation. Walker also mentioned the diversity of educational backgrounds of corps members: “you’ll meet people from across the gamut, from Harvard, Stanford, from your local community college.”
However, despite their diversity of backgrounds, many teachers will face the same challenges. “Teachers are overworked and undervalued, and you need to be really dedicated, because financially you won’t get much from it,” said Cartagena. “Only apply if you’re really passionate about making change happen in school systems.”
Stenson emphasized the importance of flexibility and adaptability. “Things will not run smoothly, materials will not be available, school schedules and student behavior are always unpredictable,” she said. “A lot of this experience is just trying to roll with things.” Walker seconded this. “If administration emails me tonight and says, ‘we’re teaching in the dark tomorrow,’ then I’ll say, ‘okay, I’ll bring a flashlight,’” he said. Walker suggested that teachers should have a “growth mindset”–not just believing that their students can grow, but that, as teachers, they can, too. “You can’t enter the classroom thinking about what happened yesterday,” he said.
Overall, Goucher’s recent graduates who are members of the TFA corps seem proud of the work they’re doing. “It’s a noble profession,” said Walker.
For the 2018-2019 school year, there are a number of TFA application deadlines approaching, through March 2018. If you are interested in applying, Cartagena, who asked several people to look over his application, advises other students not to be afraid to ask for help. “People think that they have to do things on their own, but that’s not true,” he said.
For assistance with the application, students can also take advantage of on-campus resources like the Career Development Office.

CDO Student Profile: Brett Rapkin-Citrenbaum

by
Brett Rapkin-Citrenbaum. Photo Credit: Brett Rapkin-Citrenbaum

STUDENT PROFILE: Brett Rapkin-Citrenbaum

CDO: We’re talking to Brett Rapkin-Citrenbaum, class of 2020. Brett, let’s start out on a serious note. What two animals would be combined to become you?

Brett: Bear Cub and Caterpillar

CDO: And what’s your major?

Brett: Political Science and International Relations

CDO: How did you go about choosing a major?

Brett: I took a bunch of intro classes to test out the waters, then I looked into the requirements of each major and tried to gauge what I’d like to take. I talked extensively to my advisor and some upperclassmen friends and by the end of it all it seemed obvious!

CDO: In what ways have you utilized the CDO team/resources?

Brett: The CDO helped me find a summer job in my town that was relevant to my career path. They also helped me format my resume and taught me some cool resume tricks for the future. (Note from the CDO: We did not pay her to say this!)

CDO: What has been the result, to date, of being proactive in your career development?

Brett:  I had a fun summer job at an environmental education center which is something I’m passionate about. I also feel a lot more confident looking for internships and applying for career focused positions.

CDO: How do you reduce and manage the stress that can come with being a busy college student?

Brett: Make time for fun! Even if it’s just a quick Stimson lunch with some pals or a walk in the woods or a quick game of chess.

CDO: What do you think Goucher students MUST KNOW about…

o    Choosing a major:

Brett: If you are planning on going to a grad school of some kind your major isn’t super relative. Just take classes you’re interested in and see where it leads you!

o    Getting involved on-campus:

Brett: Do it! Whether you’re attending the student government open meetings or common hour happenings, participating in academic events, or joining clubs. Also, make sure you’re taking part in all the student to administration conversations! These happen during Mobile Dean or common hour or even via email or on Van Meter Highway, but keep your eyes peeled!

o    Gaining work experience:

Brett: Goucher has a lot of resources, specifically at the CDO, but also within the academic departments. Ask your advisor for help!

Thanks to Brett for sharing her insight! Have some perspective about majors, careers, resume writing, etc. you would like to share with the Goucher community? Write to us at Career@goucher.edu!

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