See you Later – Reflection: the Fourth Honors Competency

A heartfelt farewell from Ashley Kanak, our Graduate Assistant, as she moves to Georgia.  

Ashley2

As I look forward with excitement about beginning a new chapter of my life, I realize that I would not be heading in the direction I am without every person and every experience I had in Minnesota and the Honors Program. No matter how short or long of an interaction I had with students, faculty, and staff each person was part of my journey. I have collected many new stories, experienced adventures, and watched as characters developed and blossomed.

I took a unique path on my journey to Minnesota which all began in New Hampshire. Here I worked at Camp Robindel, a seven week long camp for girls which changed my life. I was able to meet new people from all over the world, many of which I still talk to thanks to technology and Skype. I developed my leadership and facilitation skills working with children and further developed my passion for teaching. After camp I returned to Georgia wondering where my life was going to take me next. I believe it was in October that Jolly, the camp assistant director, called me and asked if I wanted to go to graduate school and work in a place that would foster my leadership development. Of course I said yes even knowing this place was in Minnesota and I started to believe I would freeze solid upon arrival. After interviewing for the Graduate Assistant position for the Honors Program and receiving an acceptance letter from the Educational Leadership Program at the university, I began the mental preparations for a drastic climate change. I arrived in Minnesota in January on a day with -45 wind-chill, which on the bright side, I do not believe it has been that cold since then!

When classes began so did my work in the Honors Program. There was so much to learn about competencies, course requirements, and language development – oh my! Fortunately there are some highly motivated faculty and staff working in the office who care greatly about the future of the program and the individuals who will have an impact. Dr. Chris Corley is an inspirational educator and mentor who wants everyone to succeed and receive the best educational experience possible. Watching him teach the Developing Your Mentor Philosophy course impacted me to the point that I draw some of my educational philosophy from his methods. Ginny Walters is an innovative mentor, leader, and advisor to myself and the students she interacts with. She uses creative educational methods that are focused on student needs and finds inspiration in their success. Sadie Anderson is a multitasking professional wonder woman. Her drive to develop her own leadership skills through involvement in community organizations is something I admire. Dr. Anne Dahlman is a wonderful educator who looks to foster innovative practices in order to create positive educational experiences for students. The students I have interacted with make me want to be a better learner. Everyone is so highly motivated, passionate about their fields, and constantly looking for new ways to experience life. All of these people helped me to develop my passion for peer mentorship and allowed me to put into practice many ideas and concepts over the past two years.

I know that I will see all of you again. The faculty and staff are publishing in journals, presenting at conferences, and I believe will make the headlines one day about new educational practices. I know that all of the students will have an impact on the world in their own ways. It might be publishing in journals, developing new research models, leading corporations, or saving lives but each will positively impact the world on a global scale. I encourage the students to be lifelong learners, to experience as much as possible, and to always remember the importance of reflection.

The Honors Program at MNSU changed my life for the better and I will always value this experience as the one that shaped me into the leader I am today.

Summer at Robindel

by Jaci Ullrich, ’18 (Biology; Clear Lake, IA)

Jaci

As someone who hasn’t had much of a chance to travel and explore new places, it was quite a big step for me to hop a plane for the first time and travel to New Hampshire to work as a counselor at an all-girls camp for 9 weeks this last summer. I was immersed in a new environment and surrounded by people from all over the world all the while training for a job that I have never done before. It was definitely overwhelming, but I was so busy having fun and learning new things that the adjustment was rather easy.

Within the first two weeks at Camp Robindel I was trained as a ropes and archery staff member, instructed on how to manage and interact with the campers, and assigned a group of girls that I would be living with for the next seven weeks. During this time, I was spending every minute of every day surrounded by the other staff members. Even though it was exhausting, the sense of community that we formed and the way we worked together with the campers were some of the best learning experiences that I have ever had.

While working at Robindel there were two main groups of staff members that I interacted with daily: the co-counselors that I shared a cabin with and the members of the ropes and archery staff that I was a part of. While working with these people I practiced valuable skills such as patience, adaptability, trust, and selflessness. As I learned to work well with my co-counselors, I found that using these traits brought out the best results in our ability to work as a team. Although these skills were crucial for me to really work well with the other staff at Robindel, it was also important to use these traits when working with the campers.

As a camp counselor, it was my job to act as a mentor toward the campers. Especially as part of the ropes staff, it was important for me to be positive and encouraging in order to help the girls push themselves and try new things outside of their comfort zone. It was amazing to see the growth in the campers throughout the course of the summer and to know that I was a part of that progress.

By the time summer came to a close I had developed valuable skills that I can apply to myself now and in the future, and I had built unforgettable relationships that will last a lifetime. I believe that this experience has helped me to become a more well-rounded student, friend, and mentor. Often times being a counselor was stressful and exhausting, but in the end I have realized that it was probably the best learning experience that I have ever had.