Feb 17

To Share or Not To Share. That is the Question.

Well it seems like we can’t swing a dead cat (sorry, couldn’t help it) without running into yet another story about so-called “Fake News”. Or see yet another reference from 45 about “Fake News”.

While I haven’t actually conducted a study on the number of times our President has mentioned “Fake News” it seems like it is happening a great deal.

A scan of recent news reports referencing “fake news” includes news organizations on the left, the right and everything in-between. Potentially trusted and not so trusted and even so-called “alternative media” are all writing about “fake news” and pointing their biased fingers at each other claiming the other is “fake”.

But…it can’t all be “fake” can it?

To begin with it is important to know what “fake” really means, especially in this context. Many thanks to @NPR for providing this awesome piece on the meaning of “fake news”.

From my perspective there are several big issues with this concept of “fake news”. Not only do we need to become more savvy readers, we must accept that just because we don’t agree with someone else’s point of view, that doesn’t make the opinion or context “fake”.

So how does one tell if a news item is fake or not? FirstDraftNews.com author Claire Wardle tackles this very issue and quite well I might add.

She provides this wonderful chart that shows the different types of “information” that you can run into, categorizing it as either misinformation or disinformation and adds in the purpose or why that particular type of content is being created.

Misinformation and Disinformation chart from FirstDraftNews.com

Please take a few minutes to read more about Claire’s take on “fake news”. I’ll wait.

Now that you know how to tell the difference between the complicated levels of information, how can you put into practice what you’ve learned?

  1. Think SLOW. Stop sharing content just because your friends shared it. Resist the impulse to hit that fast share button without first reading the content your friends shared.
  2. Be CRITICAL. Use your critical thinking skills. Read the content critically. Check the date. Does it really make sense to share this further to your friend circle or do you have questions about it?
  3. Trust…but VERIFY. As you read the article shared by your friend, take an extra minute to conduct a search to see what others are saying about the same topic.

Remember, just because you don’t agree with someone’s opinion doesn’t mean the information is “fake”.  It might be…but then again it might not. Just because information comes from an “alternative” source also doesn’t mean it is “fake”. Again, it might be…but it also might not be.

In the digital age it is increasingly important to support a vibrant press — we may not always agree with them, but without them, our democracy is lost.


Feb 17

What does it mean to be CURIOUS?

Last week I wrote a post on LinkedIn about What Skills Are In Demand For Grads. I used survey results from a recent “WorkForce Prepardeness” report compiled by PayScale and highlighted the top hard and soft skills employers are looking for.

To be honest there weren’t too many surprises, but there was one “soft skill” in particular that I believe requires some more discussion.

According to the survey 16% of Hiring Managers believe that new grads lack curiosity.

I thought that was very interesting. What is it about curiosity that would land it on a soft skills for employees list? To be curious means that you wonder about things. You want to know more. You seek out knowledge. And, you are excited to do that. As I considered the importance of curiosity to hiring managers I realized that it isn’t that different from what I look for in an engaged student.

Curiosity Definition from Google

When I have a student with a strong desire to know or learn something it is an exciting moment — they question, they engage, they bring in more information. They seek out other sources. Their excitement is invigorating and challenges me to be a better teacher. So why wouldn’t this be an important skill that employers need in their employees, especially now?

Technology continues to drive change in so many ways that no one can “rest on their laurels” at work anymore. Platforms get updated, new tools come out, technology enables us to do things faster, more efficient and more effectively. Naturally it makes sense that employers need employees who are CURIOUS.

So how can a college student foster curiosity and even more importantly prove it on a resume or LinkedIn profile?

Step 1: Practice

As a college student the easiest way to foster your curiosity is to practice it! Take the extra step in your classes to bring the professor outside readings, or ask questions outside of class about a topic of interest. Seek out new sources of information that will help deepen your exposure to a topic.

Step 2: Share

Share your knowledge with professors and with friends. Consider writing about what you are learning on a blog or on a platform like Medium or as long form posts on LinkedIn. As you share what you are learning or questions you have, others outside of your university experience will connect with you and answer questions and provide further resources.

One great tool to help students find information about different topics is Twitter. It is no secret that I am a supporter of Twitter and have been for a very long time. If you follow the right people it is a great platform to expose yourself to new ideas, current events, and points of view different from your own. Hashtags can be very helpful as well.

I recommend to my students who are in Marketing and Digital Marketing to follow a group of individuals I’ve been connected to for a very long time. They continue to keep me current and allow me to be on top of my game as I bring current marketing trends and information into the classroom.

Here are several of my Twitter Lists of people to follow:

So students how about you practice being curious? Start your own Twitter list and see how it works out for you. Consider following organizations, associations and people in your discipline who are on Twitter. Then, take information you learn from them and talk with your professors.

Challenge yourself to become that “curious student” and start a habit that will benefit you for a lifetime.


Jan 17

Reflections on the Woman’s March

On Saturday I stood with a crowd of 15,000 or so individuals at the Statehouse in Montpelier.

It was pretty amazing to stand with so many people and to know that there were marches like this all over the country and the world.

I felt a sense of hope. A sense that united together we were showing how many people care and will stand against hateful rhetoric from the man who was elected our president and the individuals in the US Senate and House of Representatives. That we will, when tested, stand up for our sisters and brothers of color, our Muslim friends, those who we don’t know who come from countries far and wide striving for the same freedoms my ancestors from Poland gained when fleeing from oppressive regimes. That we will stand and fight for fundamental access to health care, reproductive rights and free speech. That we will use our white power to protect, support, and defend the social justice issues that are what really make America great.

We stood together on that day as a crowd of majority white people. Many of us privileged in many ways. As women of color, Muslims, Lakota and migrant workers spoke, we cheered and clapped. Migrant Workers at Woman's March in Montpelier, VTWe listened to song from Nicole Nelson. We were stunned and amazed by Muslim Girls Making Change, we listened in rapt attention when Ebony Nyoni challenged us with #blacklivesmatter. We cheered in support when migrant justice workers asked if we would stand with them. We offered our applause for Rep. Kiah Morris. We stood in solidarity with Mary Gerisch as she spoke eloquently for native rights. We cheered loudly as Vermont’s teacher of the year, Rebecca Eun Mi Haslam spoke about the importance of education in a democracy.

There were whites who spoke as well, representing politics, choice, history, LGBTQ, and social justice views — Lt. Gov. Zuckerman, Sue Minter, Meagan Gallager of Planned Parenthood, and former Gov. Madeline Kunin, Linda Quinlan of Rainbow Umbrella and a passionate young woman from high school Greta Hardy-Mittell.

And of course there was Bernie.

I have been thinking a great deal about that day. I have been asking myself important questions such as why are we so proud that this was a peaceful march? As I read my Twitter feed and listened to people of color and native Americans I realized that while we did something amazing that day, because it was majority white in many areas, it was peaceful — not because white people are more peaceful (far from that) but more because law enforcement expects us to be more peaceful and “law abiding” so they showed up in pink hats and smiles, rather than riot gear and snarls.

I questioned myself. Will I REALLY STAND UP when it is time? Or will I retreat into my privilege, into my bubble, into my whiteness and just keep on going through my day because I can. Because I’m white. Because I’m baptized Catholic. Because I “fit in” to the definition of “American” being enforced so blatantly by our new President and his administration and the republican-led Congress.

As I was brought to tears by Muslim Girls Making Change. As I thought passionately about how I would support Kiah Morris. As I nodded my head vigorously in support of #blacklivesmatter. As I stood in witness of the migrant workers specifically asking us if we would protect them if needed….

A question kept slipping around my brain.

Would I? These individuals had the courage to stand in front of us. This huge white crowd. I am in awe of their courage. Their every day courage in the face of ignorance, fear and hatred. And I asked myself…will I REALLY stand with them? Will I stand BETWEEN them and help protect them?

All week I’ve been thinking about this.

What will I do besides march?

So far I’ve written one blog post, this post, emailed Sen. Sanders, Sen. Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch. I’ve posted content on my office window to help students use a new tool “5calls.org“. I’ve reached out to my local reps in Vermont because states will be the front lines. I’ve tweeted a lot. I’ve posted on Facebook.

Is it enough?

Well based on the news today, it looks like we will all get the opportunity to stand up and take action based on what we pledged last Saturday. In just one week the President of the United States and his team have begun to lock down this country and frighten people — and perhaps the worse at this point is what has happened to our friends and neighbors who have green cards who are not allowed back in this country because of their nationality and religion. This is not America.

So now we have our chance.

I for one am committed to writing and calling and getting into #goodtrouble. I’ve asked myself the questions and I know that if I am to look myself in the mirror I will not be silenced nor will I stop standing up for what is fundamentally American — FREEDOM.

Jan 17

Choosing Priorities in a Time of Uncertainty

Well it’s been coming. We’ve seen it coming. And yet, in a conversation with a dear friend today, she summed it up, “I think I’ve been in denial.”

Change is never easy. Even though our lives change all the time. We transition from one life stage to the next. We move from elementary school to middle school. From middle school to high school. From high school to college. From student to adult. From child to parent.

And every four to eight years we change leaders in our country. Depending on your point of view that change can be “good” or it can be “bad”.  Sometimes it’s not that much of a change at all.

This time though, going from the 44th POTUS to the 45th POTUS is like plunging yourself into freezing cold water after you’ve been in a nice hot bath. It’s a shock. I think this is for several reasons. At the most basic it is because the values and mission of the two men is so completely different. They are Americans. That they have in common. After that, their life experiences, what they hold dear, and how they approach others and the world is pretty much as big a difference as Black and White (and yes I did that on purpose).

So what to do now?

Well tomorrow I march. I will be attending the #womensmarchvt.

I am writing more. Writing very intentionally. Like this post.

And I’m setting my priorities.

In a time of uncertainty when it feels like ALL THE THINGS must be dealt with AT ONCE and you are receiving messages about ALL THE THINGS, and people you are connected with are freaking out, it’s hard to know what to do. It actually just might be easier to hide in a corner and avoid all the icky things.

As a professor I’m encountering a great deal of uncertainty from my students. While I have some who are clearly supportive of this change — whether or not they agree with the rhetoric that has happened — I have many others who have only known one president and have been able to gain great rewards because of this president as they have come to college. The least of which is being able to remain on their parent’s health insurance until they are 26!

So while this leadership change is hard for me, because I believe and have supported many of the social justice initiatives set forth by the Obama Administration, it is even harder for the students I teach. And on a side-note don’t waste my time by trying to convince me that colleges are coddling our students. If you make that statement I would encourage you to think carefully and critically about the influence of parenting on whether or not a young person comes to college needing to be “coddled”. My students are strong, thoughtful, caring, passionate, and worried. But for them, this was their first real presidential election where they could actually participate. And the rhetoric was by far the worst I have ever seen it — so I can only imagine what they are coping with.

I realize though, that because I’ve been through this type of change before, I actually know what to do. My students, however do not. So what follows is my advice to my students…and others…who are overwhelmed by the changes coming and don’t know what to do about it.

Step 1: Prioritize. You cannot and should not try to stay on top of all of the issues that are going to be impacted by this change. While this is hard to do, now is the time to focus in on two or three of the most important to you. Yes issues of climate change, human rights, health care, trade, education, land management, world aggression are all important — but given the scope of the change we are now in the midst of, you’ve got to hone in on what you really believe in. What you value. Be confident that there are others around you who are focusing in on the other areas. For me it is:

  • Education
  • Health Care
  • Women’s Rights

That doesn’t mean I don’t think climate change isn’t important, it is just that I value education, health care and women’s rights as social justice issues and feel they will need a lot of attention, and voice.

Step 2: Stay Informed. Avoid talk shows and pundits. Rather, find several places where you can go to get unbiased reports of legislation. I recommend @housefloor and @senatefloor on Twitter because it reports what is happening throughout the day. Use C-Span to watch and gather information and visit the Congressional Record. I also believe strongly in a non-profit press so highly recommend ProPublica and here in Vermont, VTDigger.

Step 3: Take Action. It’s a simple fact that our Senators and Representatives will listen when we CALL. If we like what they are doing we need to let them know. If we do not like what they are doing we need to let them know. You can do this by engaging in protest (as I’m doing in Montpelier on Jan. 21), you can do this by sharing content on social media, and you can do this by actually engaging with your elected officials — whether or not you actually voted for them. Your Senators and Representatives often have forms you can fill out on their websites, but don’t be afraid to actually dial your phone and speak to a human.

Step 4: Be resilient, be resolute, be ready for the long haul. I take inspiration from individuals who really know what it is like to fight, again and again for equal rights and for social justice. The rhetoric of this election cycle has been horrible and has set a tone that each of us must fight against. I look to the wise words of Rep. John Lewis to keep me focused. Who do you look to?

“Fifty years later, those of us who are committed to the cause of justice need to pace ourselves because our struggle does not last for one day, one week or one year, but it is the struggle of a lifetime, and each generation must do its part,” Lewis said. “There will be progress, but there will also be setbacks. We must continue to have hope and be steeled in our faith that this nation will one day become a truly multiracial democracy.”

And with that….I’ve got a march to get ready for.


Jan 17

Write More

Over the years, I have found that my students inspire me in many ways. This past fall semester, in the Marketing Capstone where we have students build their Professional Digital Identity, I was inspired by everyone — but one student’s approach to the assignment has been digging at me.

Ben challenged himself with “the More project” where he decided to do “more” of something and then write about it. As I watched him develop this and keep it going over the fall semester, I kept thinking to myself that as a professor who is pushing her students to create and build content, I’ve not been holding up my end of the bargain.

Ben Villnave

I’ve fallen into a state of non-writing. Going from one thing to the next, but not pausing to reflect, think, and explore. The very things I ask of my students.

So as we head into an uncertain political climate (although, truth be told, it’s getting more and more certain every day), face constant change in the discipline I teach, and I get ready to celebrate my half century birthday, it’s clear that it is time to WRITE MORE.

And so, I begin, with thanks to Ben and all my students. So much content to create..so little time!

May 16

Class of 2016 Ready to Take on the World

It was a beautiful day for a graduation. And this year I was privileged to sit up on the platform with the VIPs which included the regular suspects AND Grace Potter (who thought we all looked “super hot”!)

But even more awesome was the vantage point I had as I watched the students I have been lucky enough to teach, guide, and get to know over their four years at Champlain walk across the stage, receive their diplomas and bring closure to their college experience (at least for now).

Although, at first, as they all filed in, it was a bit lonely.

I SnapChatted a lot and also used Twitter from the stage and caught a few moments of students taking that grand walk.

As I said. It was an AWESOME DAY.

And at the end of the day, I went home and these outstanding graduates began their launch into their professional lives. Graduating is an ending AND a beginning. It’s joyful and also a little sad as one chapter ends and a new one begins.

The Marketing students from this Spring’s Capstone also walked across the stage. I didn’t capture most of them because I was too busy clapping and cheering. Showing my #ccssb pride! Even though I don’t have that graduation moment captured for them all, what follows is a look at their PDI Projects for the Capstone.

Each student is required to develop their Professional Digital Identity. This past semester I had students who wrote about branding, travelling, digital marketing, sports, cars, project management, beer (of course!), real estate, innovation, entrepreneurship, media and environmental issues.

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The students had specializations/minors in Digital Marketing, Event Management, Advertising, Environmental Policy and I even had several majors outside of Marketing — but we adopted them anyway! Many lessons were learned as these students found their voices, created content, connected and networked with professionals and used their PDI work (plus their internships) to help them get jobs!

Everett Ackerman: HIRED at New Breed Marketing in VT
Kayleigh Arthur: Hire this Grad!
Deane Banker: Looking for a project manager in IT? Hire this Grad!
Dan Bornstein: HIRED at Stone Corral Brewery in VT
Lauren Buniva: HIRED at Mullen-Lowe in BOS
Ian Corcoran: Hire this Grad!
Joey Favara: Hire this Grad!
Sam Fessman: Hire this Grad! (in Maine)
Ben Follett: Hire this Grad!
Amanda Merlo: HIRED at Onia Swimwear in NYC
Greg Moores: HIRED at The Sticky Brand in VT
Alex Nathanson: Hire this Grad!
Greg Salwen: Real Estate is his passion! Hire this Grad!
Todd Steiner: Hire this Grad! He wants to stay in BTV.
Melissa Thebarge: Running her own Photography Business.
Katherine Weed: Hire this Grad! She is looking in NYC.

And that is a wrap!

If you want you can enjoy my SnapChat story from the day!

Elaine’s ChampGrad 2016 SnapChat Story

Dec 15

#hirethisgrad IF you can get them!

High Five for HirerthisGradOh yes, it is that time of the semester already! Champlain College Marketing Seniors have once again completed their Professional Digital Identity assignment. It’s changed just a little this semester but essentially is focused on young people who are getting ready to embark on their professional careers making sure that their online content supports and
propels them successfully…instead of damaging them.

Consider this your inside track into hiring the best and the brightest for internships this coming spring OR for full-time work. But don’t wait too long…several already have jobs, internships and offers coming in!

So let’s get right to it shall we?

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Eleven awesome individuals…learn more about them on their blogs and be sure to follow them and connect. They’ll be doing great things, maybe even for your organization!


Luke Carpenter
Commercial Real EstateLuke Carpenter

Timothy Dubois
Event Managementtimdubois

Mike Frekey


Brendan Grahn
Digital Marketing


Page Hallock
Digital Marketing


Allie Hanson
Digital Marketing


Scott Kliczewski
Digital Marketing


Jillian Leslie
Marketing and Psychology
Social Media and Community Management


Sam McCarthy
Branding, Marketing and Advertising


Christian Olivieri
Event Management


Jorie Spaulding
Marketing, Photography, Branding and Advertising


And there you have it! Jorie, Christian, Sam and Mike are all graduating this December. The rest have just one more semester and they will be ready for full-time work. Of course you could always reach out to them to see if they’d like to intern with you!

Sep 15

Making a difference in the world is about to get easier

ShareYourselfHave you ever wanted to change something in your community? Build something that helps others? Contribute your skills to a project where you know there will be social good?

Good intentions are awesome, but making those intentions a reality is not easy. Between time constraints, figuring out what to do, and making the right connections, it can be overwhelming.

This is why I’m so excited to be part of a start up team for a new platform called ShareYourself. It’s been conceptualized by my good friend Stu McGowan and Lauren McKenna. I get to be the older lady on the team bringing my wisdom to the awesome talents and energies of the youth helping to build the platform. It’s an awesome opportunity for me to share my skills in helping to create something that I believe can really make a difference.

We’ve got social media to help us be social. What about social media that helps us make a difference in our communities in a meaningful way? A way to share more than an opinion or click a like button but to really, finally be able to use social media to not just do good, but to make a difference…solve a problem…create opportunity!

This platform is being designed to help people create new projects, join up with those who already have a project — the focus is all about people sharing their skills from around the world to make a difference in our global community.

In order to kick it off, Stu is bringing a team of us together so we can build the platform out in a hard core hackathon in October. We’ll be making this happen, fast and furious under the watchful eye of a man who knows what it means to make a difference in a local community (just go back up there and click that link on his name to learn what he’s done for Burlington) but in order to pull it off, Stu and Lauren are asking for some help through a KickStarter Campaign.

They need to raise $15,000 to help pull off the SYS Hackathon — they’ve got over $8,000 raised so far and are more than half way to their goal. The clock, however is ticking, and there’s a little over a week left to raise the rest.

So take a few minutes and watch their video and consider donating to the Kickstarter. There’s some cool incentives…but really, don’t you want to be someone who has helped to get a really meaningful social media platform off the ground so you can join others as they make a difference in our world?

More so than ever we need a platform like this. Take a risk with us and back our KickStarter. Share Yourself!