My Education at SUNY Empire State College: A Life-Affirming Process of Self-Discovery
By Vickie Moller, student, Long Island Center-Hauppauge Unit; 2012-2013 student representative, Student Affairs Committee
June 13, 2013
As an undergraduate student at SUNY Empire State College nearing the end of my studies, looking back I can say that one of the most life-affirming, enriching adventures of my life began when I attended an information session at the college.
Along with my enthusiasm and expectation that day, I also brought with me a tremendous amount of trepidation and self-doubt. Not only did I lack clear direction for my educational pursuits, but I had serious reservations about my ability to successfully complete college-level learning.
Impelled by a lifelong, latent desire to earn a college degree, however, I moved forward and began working with my primary mentor, Jim Robinson, to develop my degree plan. Initially, based upon my passion to advocate for, communicate with and encourage others, I believed a degree in community and human services or human development would be a good fit for me.
However, as I began poring through the Student Degree Planning Guide searching for more specific direction, I happened upon cultural studies: the study of culture as lived experience and as creative and philosophical expression; critical reading, writing and interpretation; information gathering; interviewing and speech writing. I knew immediately that this was the area of study I should pursue.
As I began to grasp a more complete understanding of my purpose and gained direction through the degree planning process, I thought about how many people go through life never discovering where their gifts and talents lie. They live from day to day without the fulfillment of having found their true purpose, the challenge of developing their attendant skills and, ultimately, the joy of offering them to enrich the lives of others.
As I continued working with my primary mentor, he helped me “feel” my way around the nuances of the myriad course selections available. The college’s policy of “unpacking” traditional institutionalized study and creating a natural learning environment allowed me to take several courses that were customized to meet my individual educational initiatives. Under the direction of my writing professor, Mindy Kronenberg, I pursued a publishing internship specifically designed to give me the critical hands-on experience she determined I was ready for.
Today I am enjoying an income from the freelance work that grew out of that internship. Through the many interviews I have conducted and scores of articles I have written, I have been able to more specifically identify my career goal as a journalist and feature story writer.
Empire State College also enabled me to gain experience through writing for The Student Connection on a regular basis. The college’s highly-experienced, skilled editors have afforded me incisive hands-on instruction in professional writing that I have readily adopted and applied.
Now, nearing the end of my educational experience, I supposed that I would complete the last of my studies by “rote” with graduation in view. But, rather, professor Robinson took the time to critically review the remaining portion of my degree program based upon the writing I am currently doing, my career goals and my personal needs.
He referred me to professor Jase Teoh, the college’s faculty instructional technologist, for an in-depth consultation. As a result I will be taking a course entitled Topics in Narrative Computing that was not part of my original degree plan. Professor Teoh crafted the course to acquaint me with the very latest Web tools to research, save, archive, journal and write about my work in the professional arena. This instruction represents a valuable and relevant contribution to me, both educationally and professionally. Even at this late juncture, Empire State College has, once again, entirely exceeded my expectations.
In addition to receiving an exceptional education through a vigorous, challenging and enjoyable program of study as an Empire State College student, I have specifically identified and sharpened my unique skills and talents, acquired the means to give expression to them professionally and developed realistic, clear and measurable goals.
Without question, my education at Empire State College has been as much a life-affirming process of self-discovery and accomplishment as it has been a source of academic advancement and achievement!