Blogtober 2019: Week 1

Its Blogtober. Though I am late, I still intend to complete my weekly posts. Here is a day by day run down of week one:

My colleague and I are directors of departments that have the word research in the title and so we do a lot of overlapping student advising and programming. We got together and dubbed the month of October research month [1].

October 1st was the kick-off event where we had fourth-year students talk to first, second, and third-year students about their path to doing research. We had about 30 attendees in a huge lecture hall because that was the only available space that wasn’t a classroom space. It was still great to hear from them about their growth and to hear about their plans for the future. It was also great to have the underclass folks ask all of their questions about best practices for securing paid opportunities.

Me and the Senior Research panelists. Obligatory selfies or it didn’t happen.

Later that same day I did a guest lecture for first-year first-generation/low-income students about Stereotype threat. I had never met the students before, but I connected with them immediately in our discussion about what stereotype threat is, and how to build structure into our lives to reduce and mitigate the impact of stereotype threat. We ended up talking about the fear and anxiety that folks felt about confirming stereotypes. Eventually, folks talked about their initial motivations for joining the group and talked about building an intentional community among themselves. It was amazing to make space for that growth and development to occur. I, of course, have no pictorial evidence of the conversation. Oprah and Shonda Rhimes (two of my favs) have spoken on different occasions about feeling the hum or being in the flow when you get lost in doing something that you love. Connecting with those students was like being in the flow and I was humming. It was a great way to end a long Monday and I walked away feeling energized.

October 2nd was all about 1-1 and small group meetings. I checked in with each of the coordinators and the IE STEM Fellow about their ongoing projects and had a troubleshooting session with peer leaders who were having low attendance to their sessions. I also met with the leadership team of the Inclusive Excellence grant to discuss structure and planning for next year. I suggested that we make the division-wide and department-specific retention data easily accessible to the faculty so that they can visualize the trends in a disaggregated way. We plan to invite stakeholders and to follow up on that idea in the next meeting.

October 3rd | The faculty and staff inclusive excellence reading group met to discuss a paper about student anxiety in response to active learning teaching strategies and swapped best practices. My hope is that this group will go beyond the surface and get to the heart of the limiting beliefs and biases that can work to re-enforce homogeneity in the sciences. I held another troubleshooting session with different peer leaders who were also having low attendance in their sessions. The Alumni are in town for homecoming and I met with a few over cocktails to talk about building a more inclusive STEM environment.

October 4th | I have a new advisee who is taking her first geology course! This week she’s learning about the Coriolis Effect. I had a hard time explaining the rotation of the earth, the impact it has on the atmosphere, and how winds impact conditions in the oceans. I’m getting rusty! I meet with another unofficial advisee to give her a mock interview for grad school. She visited two programs last weekend and was so nervous. I’m sure she did a great job.
I also hosted two events on Friday. One was an alumni event about the physicians assistant profession [2]. The other was a reunion of Scholars that I mentored this summer. I call them baby STRONG and am so proud of them for transitioning from being pre-first years to being enrolled at Oberlin College. This was a great way to end the work week.

I forgot to take a selfie so hers an us-ie from the summertime.

Thats all for week one yall.

Footnotes

[1]This means that I have been in charge of logistics (choosing dates, times, locations, inviting guests and speakers) for the events that are sponsored by my department.

[2] Did you know that physician’s assistants are trained with the same philosophy that medical doctors are, and that they make a starting salary of at least $100,000? I sure didn’t until I met the two alumni who spoke and did the quick google search about the career path. For two years of intense schooling, one could almost double their base salary in the medical field. I honestly wish I enjoyed bio-medical sciences, but alas the rocks and the outdoors were calling my name.

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