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

Apr 15

Oh The Places You Will Go. #HireThisGrad

It seems just like yesterday when I wrote the post about students in the Fall 2014 Marketing Capstone class and their Professional Digital Identities. And yet, here we are a few months later and it is time to highlight another crop of outstanding soon to be professionals.

If you follow this blog you know that each semester that I teach Capstone, the students are required to build their online Professional Digital Identities. Essentially they are creating/building/maintaining their online brand. As a marketing professional who will have to utilize online tools to be successful, being able to showcase how they used some of those tools to promote themselves is an important challenge.

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What have these students learned?

  1. How to find their voice. This is not easy, as many of us know. It takes practice and time to figure out the right balance between personality and professionalism.
  2. Which online channels have the biggest reach and impact on SEO. For some students ego searches on their names are easy and spit back all their results, for others (like myself) there is always one or more “alter-egos” that get in the way. Producing content on multiple channels allows students to learn which channels help raise their content faster.
  3. Managing multiple channels is not easy. It takes work. It takes time. It takes dedication.
  4. It takes a village. Linking to one another, sharing each others content, supporting one another, enables students to increase their visibility in positive ways.

I really can’t wait to see the places these students will go…and just maybe you might get lucky enough to hire one of these amazing graduates! In this group we have several who are already employed, others who have amazing travel aspirations, ones who plan to move on to graduate school, and a few others who are actively seeking opportunities. So without further ado, may I introduce you to the Spring 2015 Marketing Capstone Students:

Mikayla Caprio

Mikayla Caprio

Meg Carrington

Meg Carrington

Steven Charnley

Steven Charnley

Melissa Chase

Melissa Chase

Luke Garnet

Luke Garnet

Julia Haass

Julia Haass

Sarah Hebert

Sarah Hebert

Katherine O'Neil Murphy

Katherine O’Neil Murphy

Julia Nittler

Julia Nittler

Casey Reagan

Casey Reagan

Kayleigh Vespa

Kayleigh Vespa

Christian Williams

Christian Williams

Jake Wollman

Jake Wollman

Emily Zelko

Emily Zelko

So check them out and connect with them on LinkedIn. Watch them launch and be ready for the great things these Champlain Graduates will accomplish. And as always don’t miss your opportunity to #HireThisGrad.

Oct 14

Hire This Grad: Fall 2014

unemployed-lol-cat4I love this time of year. It’s the time in my Marketing Capstone class when the seniors have been working on their Professional Digital Identity (PDI) projects enough for the “big reveal”.  We are past midterm and in just a few short weeks (six to be exact) they will be presenting their final PDI to the class and to professionals in the field.

The PDI project is one that we’ve been doing in the Marketing Capstone for some time. The guidelines are pretty straightforward and are based on the fact that to be a marketing professional in a digital age, a student must show that they are more than proficient with social, blogging and analytics tools.

This semester there are nine outstanding seniors, three of which are graduating in December, who are getting ready to transition into the professional world. This is your opportunity as potential employers to get a sneak peak at their awesomeness!

Like what you see? Better reach out to them right away! I’ve got students who have had three – four internships, studied abroad in China, held down full time jobs, managed projects for clients and know social media tools, analytics, event planning, promotions, video, digital marketing, and can communicate clearly, professionally, and confidently.

In other words…you better move quick employers because they are going to take the world by storm!

Time for you to #hirethisgrad

Chrissy Delphia: Event Planner

Chrissy Delphia

 Taylor M. Downs: Community Manager and Dog Lover

Taylor M. Downs

Jenna Giguere: Arts Marketer and Dancer

Jenna Giguere

Mikey Gongwer: Event Promotions, Copywriter, Avid Skier

Mikey Gongwer

Alex Greenberg: Videographer, Storyteller, Skateboarder

Alex Greenberg

Kyle Judd: Digital Marketing, Event Management, Beer Aficionado

Kyle Judd

Jake Keohan: World traveller, International Foosball Champion

Jake Keohan

 Wylie McKenzie: Digital Marketer and Homebrewer

Wylie McKenzie

Isabelle Monticolombi: Fashion Maven and Community Manager

Isabelle Monticolombi


And there you have it. Nine awesome young professionals ready to take on the world. For those of you looking, Taylor, Alex and Isabelle graduate this December. Everyone else graduates in May.

What are you waiting for?


Feb 14

Making the Most Out of Your Last Spring Break: Advice to College Seniors


In just a few short weeks it will be spring break. It’s that epic time of year when the annual pilgrimage of college students to all places warm begins, or to places with much better snow and powder. At Champlain College our spring break is March 3 – 7. Naturally that actually means February 28 – March 9.  For many students this is a right of passage. An opportunity that comes once a year throughout college to let loose, have fun, and escape from the norm.

However, for seniors who are eyeing May as their graduation — aka welcome to the real world — spring break should be taking on a whole new focus.

There are many ways to look at it. One could think, “Hey, this is my last time to really have fun and let loose.”  Once could also think, “Whoa, in just 8 short weeks I have to find a job!”

Perhaps you are a senior and you are thinking both of these things.

Well I have some advice for you.

Make your final spring break count.

Honestly you will have plenty of time in your life to go to exotic locations, have great fun, and explore the world. And you’ll have many more opportunities to do that if you kick off your career right out of the gate and have a job in May.

My advice to you right now is to take the next week to set up a spring break that will have a lasting impact and maybe help you land a job. This is homework that goes way beyond the classroom. And the grade you get is a job.

  1. Focus on where you want to work. By now you should have either an idea of the city/location you would like to start your job search, or you have a list of a few companies where you’d love to work. If you don’t have that list. Make it. Now.
  2. Get your resume and your LinkedIn ready. By now your resume and LinkedIn profile should be rock solid. You’ve kept up on your accomplishments, you’ve listed your projects, you’ve written your results oriented descriptions. Your resume provides the right amount of information and sends people to your LinkedIn for more depth. What? Not feeling confident about your LinkedIn profile? Well then. Fix it. Now.
  3. Leverage your connections. I’m sure you’ve made a ton of connections with professionals while you’ve been in college. Professors, Internship Supervisors, local professionals from Chambers of Commerce and Young Professionals organizations, and even social media contacts via Twitter chats in those locations you want to go to. If you haven’t…you better get on that! Reach out to those contacts to find out if they know of any upcoming jobs. Let them know you have time coming up over spring break to meet with people and discuss opportunities.
  4. Set up “Informational Interviews”. Using your list of companies in the locations that you are interested in, pick up the phone…yes..the PHONE. Call their receptionist and ask to speak with someone in Human Resources. Use those connections mentioned in #3 above, to help you get in the door. Make a set of informational appointments and follow up with an email that includes your resume and a link to your LinkedIn profile.
  5. Go have the Spring Break of your career! Practice interviews at your Career Services office, buy that power suite (or get your parents to do it for you as a pre-graduation present), board that plane and meet people, connect with organizations, set yourself up for a successful graduation.

Many people think that college graduation is the culmination of four years of your life. I’m here to tell you it isn’t. It’s the kick off for the rest of your career. To set yourself up for ultimate success don’t wait to walk down that aisle in your cap and gown before you start looking for your first professional job. Start now. Use your spring break to help you get ready. And if you are super creative, like several students I know, you’ll still be able to get in some recreation and down time in between those interviews. Catch some great runs, see great sites, hit the beach…and secure a job.

I’ve seen students do this over and over again. And those who have taken their final spring break to expand on their job search have all gotten jobs before they graduate.

Now that’s something to party about!

Jan 14

Kick off the New Year and #hirethisgrad

I think there is no better way to kick off the New Year (and a bit of a blog hiatus) than highlighting the work done by Marketing Seniors from the fall semester. A great group of students with a variety of backgrounds and interests — all building their professional digital identity as they get ready to launch their professional lives. Most of these students are graduating in May so act now and #hirethisgrad! I know they will be in great demand!

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Tess Cristen: Focus on Fitness and Nutrition. She’s planning on becoming a personal trainer and with her background and knowledge I’m sure she’ll go far! http://tcristen.wordpress.com/

Lochlan Dougherty: Sports of many kinds and branding are his interests. If you are a sports organization needing to up your digital profile and engage your fan base he’s a great hire! http://lochlandougherty.wordpress.com/

Johanna French: A passion for entrepreneurship and marketing means she has an agile mind and she’s ready to help you grow your start-up  into the next big thing. And she graduated in December.  http://jomarfrench.wordpress.com/

Leif Gurdin: Numbers cruncher, and e-Sports fan, he gets analytics in many different forms. Couple that with a passion for marketing and you have someone who will help you make it count when it matters. http://leifgudin.wordpress.com/

Kayla Hedman: A prolific story teller with a creative eye and a wide mix of strong marketing skills, she has a passion for interior design. Are you a magazine looking for a young, energetic and creative addition to your team? http://kaylamhedman.wordpress.com/

Matt Leap: Marketing major along with an MIS minor. He has a love of sports and a passion for digital marketing and analytics. Are you a sports organization looking to for a digital marketing wiz? He might be the perfect fit! http://mattleap.wordpress.com/

Joey Pellegrino: A creative writer with interests that range far and wide. One of the only people I’ve every known to spend time over the summer WWOOFing (read his post about it to find out more). Here’s an individual who will do very interesting things. I wonder if the Peace Corps is in his future!  http://joeypellegrino.wordpress.com/

Adam Rowe: If you’ve ever read Lovemarks you would understand Adam’s passion and interest for branding (if you haven’t read it, you should).  He truly enjoys looking at ways to communicate the benefits of a luxury brand. http://adamtimothyrowe.wordpress.com/

Matt Scarpa: His passion lies in snowboarding and snow sports. Whether it’s for a brand or a mountain, he loves the lifestyle and the East Coast snow scene. So much so he’s started an addtional blog all about it. Read more here: http://mattscarpa.wordpress.com/

Mike Snook: Personable and humorous, Mike is what I would call an old school marketer — someone who gets how important people relationships are. And he’s taking that old school approach and going new school with his work in digital marketing and most specifically social media marketing. He’s putting it to work for a local country music personality…perhaps he can put it to work for your organization. http://michaelsnooksite.wordpress.com/

Joey Szela: A small business owner, Joey doesn’t need a job per se, he needs clients. His work speaks for itself, but what I can tell you is that his video skills are first rate and they are only getting better. Take a look at his blog, and then contact him for your next video project! http://josephszela.com/ 

Ryan Terry: Another student into sports, but his focus is snow sports.  He’s already interned for a sports marketing firm in Canada and with his background and skills he’ll be a great asset to your firm or your mountain. http://ryanterry92.wordpress.com/

Matt Upshall: More than an action sports fan, Matt wants to combine his marketing interests with an industry that he loves. His motto is to do what he loves, and his passion for the action sports industry shines through. http://upshallmatt.wordpress.com/

And there you have it. The seniors from the fall 2013 semester of the marketing capstone. Ready to take on the world, or at least their own little piece of it. Take some time to look through their work. You won’t be disappointed, and hey, you just might hire one of these grads!

Jul 13

Getting your head in the game: Why you should treat college like training camp

I read a great blog post the other day by Janell Hazelwood, a blogger and writer for herself and companies including the New York Times and BlackEnterprise.com. Entitled “Career Training Camp: Are you Prepared for your Next Season?” the post connects the training process of an NFL football player getting ready for the season, to the process each of us should go through as we come out of the summer and get ready to do our best work in our careers.

Janell Hazelwood

She created a list of her recommendations to include:

  • Scrimmages and training drills
  • Meetings with coaches and senior players
  • Evaluation of your peers
  • Elimination of weak links
  • Participation in enrichment

Go on over there and read it. I’ll wait.

As I read this post I found myself nodding my head in agreement, but also thinking about how well this advice translates to incoming and returning college students.

Anecdotally, in the 13 years I’ve been teaching, I’ve observed an interesting behavior of college students. It’s a pattern that continues and is becoming even more pronounced. Please remember that my area of expertise is Digital Marketing and while that includes some consumer behavior, I’m no anthropologist or sociologist. They probably have a much more academic and clear way to describe this process. But over the years I have taught all levels of students, been an advisor, and watched how young people change, mature, and grow as they experience their college years. So, begging forgiveness of my colleagues in those other disciplines, I’ll provide you with a glimpse of what I have observed:

  • First year:  Students go from the “deer in the headlights” or “lost puppy phase” of the first few weeks to that heady realization that they are on their own — many for the first time. I watch every year as many young people go from polite with an aura of scared, to a false sense of freedom, to forgetting completely why they are even here in the first place — to learn!  This first year is the make or break year for many students. Those who keep their eye on the ball and remember what the purpose of these four years are for, rally quickly and start getting involved in things and begin building for their future careers. Unfortunately, I see fewer and fewer students starting their college career this way. More often they are so busy having experiences outside of the classroom that interfere with their academics they fall further and further behind.
  • Second year: Where I teach many students get opportunities to begin their first internships in their field of study as soon as their sophomore year. If a student has been proactive in their first year, they will have made connections on campus with faculty, become part of a strong peer group, let go of those behaviors that are not helpful, and have taken advantage of every opportunity to learn about their chosen field both in and out of the classroom. This may mean they change their major, which at this stage is actually a very good thing, because they are even more clear about what they want and what they do not want. However, a student who is not on their “A” game,  might not have a second year at our college…or if they do, it will be unfocused. They may blame the faculty for their faults, or outside circumstances, and may be focussing far too much on the life experiences outside of the classroom. These are the students who don’t turn in work, who show up late to class, who don’t pay attention, and who disrespect their teachers and their peers. They shut themselves off from learning and in so doing fall even further behind.
  • Third year: As juniors, many of our students get ready to study abroad. Those “A” game students have already decided where they want to go, have references (almost too many to pick from) from an internship and faculty, are on top of the process and know exactly where they are going to go and why; which means their study abroad experience will be more than an “experience”. It will be transformative. It will change their life. Students who have not been as proactive, may find themselves scrambling to line everything up, or will be going abroad for all the wrong reasons — like one student I had who learned a great deal in Australia, but failed every single class he took, so he had to retake everything and ended up having to take an extra semester of classes to graduate. They go to “soak up the culture” if you will, and miss so many opportunities.
  • Fourth year: I call this the “Oh shit!” year. This is when every student I have, regardless of their preparation (or lack thereof) wakes up and sees that in just a short period of time they are done, and have to go out into the big bad world and make a living.  Universally I see students in crisis. They feel a great deal of pressure and are afraid that all their work has been for nothing. This “crisis mode” makes that last semester very difficult for faculty and students — in my case, I push them even harder to make sure they are ready and have the confidence to go out there, and they resist even harder….but an interesting things happens as their final year wraps up. Those who have really worked, and I mean worked hard, every semester, every year, suddenly find themselves on interviews and often getting jobs even before they graduate. Still others find that they have the skills, they graduate with confidence, and even if they go home for a short time as they decide what area of the country they want to live in, they go on interviews and they get jobs. Those who treated college like an extension of high school, or spent their time with their energies focused in other directions have a much more difficult time of it.

Which experience would you like to have? Parents, which experience would you like your child to have?


So I would ask that every student getting ready to go into college, or entering another year of college take the advice of @jphazelwood. Think of each and every semester as training camp for the next semester, always keeping your eye on the prize — a strong start to an amazing and rewarding career once you graduate college.  Every semester do each of these things:

  • Scrimmages and training drills: treat every class as a scrimmage and training drill. Engage in conversation, ask questions, do the reading, do your best work, take feedback in the spirit is intended — to help you improve and be at the top of your game.  Walk into every class with the attitude of “what am I going to learn today that will help me be successful?”
  • Meetings with coaches and senior players: Meet with your professors. Don’t wait for a bad grade, or to complain. Make your first meeting count. Go for advice, stop in to say “Hi!” Learn about them as people and you will find that some will become mentors, others will become friends. Remember, we know people. We help you get internships and jobs.  Meet students who are juniors and seniors. Get involved in clubs, organizations, the student government. Connect with those who are involved and you too, will become involved.
  • Evaluation of your peers: Pay attention to what your peers are doing. Assess their strengths — what are they doing right? Assess their weaknesses — what are they doing wrong?  They are your competition for internships, for scholarships, for awards. Keep it friendly, but stay aware that in business in all of it’s forms we must always understand our competition to benchmark ourselves and to see how we can be better. When you graduate, you will be competing for jobs.
  • Elimination of weak links: Are you in the right peer group? Do you have friends that are “dragging you down”? Are you in a major you dislike? Is your advisor not working for you either with their personality, or their advice? Continuously consider and evaluate weak links to assess how you will modify, change, or even eliminate that weak link. If it is a poor study habit, change it. If it is a peer group that isn’t on the same trajectory as you, slowly disengage in that group. Don’t be afraid to talk to professors about your changing interests and possibly even changing your major. Weed out what is not working and replace it with things that are.
  • Participation in enrichment: Seek out opportunities outside of class. Start a club, become part of a club, participate in community service, volunteer, audit other classes, do more than one internship, attend networking events off campus, in the business community where the college is located. Step up in your peer group. Become an orientation leader, or an admissions tour guide. Try to be a teacher’s assistant if they have them. What about a resident assistant in a dorm? Look for things that fulfill your interests, open your eyes to new possibilities and help you grow. Be a leader. Be a good follower. Make a difference.

As you do all of these things in college, which I see as the ultimate training camp for your career, you will ensure your long term success. Janell Hazelwood’s advice is spot on, for your career and for your preparation for your career, and worth paying attention to.  So treat your college experience like training camp. Follow your passions, network, try new things, all while keeping your eye on the prize — building experiences that will lead to graduation and the start of a successful career.


Thank you Janell for the inspiration for this post!

Apr 13

Teaching Social Media Marketing Means Getting Hands On

kittyeducationChamplain College is getting ready to graduate the class of 2013 (commencement is just a few short weeks away!) and that means a whole host of Marketing grads are ready for YOU to hire them!

And unlike that little kitty right here, these students know exactly what to do with their education. At a time when employer expectations are high and many individuals assume that college graduates automagically know all the latest and greatest tools of the marketing trade, I can say with confidence that the young women and men I’m about ready to showcase actually do know all the latest and greatest tools of the marketing trade. And they can prove it.

It takes getting hands on to really understand the tools in demand in marketing.  From SEO, to analytics, to blogging, to social media marketing, to building an online brand, these students have actually done it.  Teaching social media marketing means creating a curriculum that weaves the tools throughout their classes, where expectations are that students will not just read about the tools, but they will use them. From their first year at Champlain, marketing students have had to utilize tools such as Twitter (yes I even developed a rubric for it!) and various blogging software to tell stories and fulfill academic requirements. They have had to read and follow bloggers ranging from David Armano, to Danny Brown, to Avanash Kaushik, to Laura Fitton, to Ann Handley. They have had to work on class projects for brands ranging from Sugarbush, to Fiddlehead Brewery, to Darn Tough Socks. They’ve written marketing plans, implemented events, made digital marketing recommendations, analyzed analytics, and created branding campaigns. And it all culminates in their senior capstone class where they bring it all together.

The goal, as they graduate, is to get found on Google. To build a social brand that has clout (and Klout). To create a full Professional Digital Identity (PDI). An online ecosystem that shows employers:

  • Writing and thinking through an ongoing blog
  • Personal philosophy through a reflective statement
  • Strengths/Values/Work illustrated through narrative and images
  • Social media experience through a presence on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and others

The PDI is designed to help our students provide employers with a dimensional look at who they are, what type of employee they might, and to help our students get fully hands on with the tools of the trade. The assignment requirements are in-depth, and emphasize critical thinking and a holistic approach to building their online digital identity. Their final work will be graded on how well they met the requirements which include content, social media, SEO, visual identity, and how they have measured success (we’ve explored quantitative tools like Google Analytics and the built in WordPress analytics as well as qualitative tools like Klout, Kred and Tweetgrader).

Just 15 weeks ago most of these students had a basic LinkedIn profile, very little on Google+, and a mix of content on Twitter. Some had blogs they had started, most hadn’t been keeping them up. They have learned what it takes to have to create ongoing content, utilize social media to build their following, write search engine friendly content, link their online properties, and endorse and follow one another in order to build stronger results. They have had to set goals and see how those goals have been met…or not. In other words, they have been learning…by doing.

So when one of these students shows up at an interview, they won’t be afraid to show their social media, they’ll be proud of it and you’ll really, really want to hire that grad!

Each of these students has been working hard, and since their final PDI isn’t actually due until the 25th, I anticipate they will be continuing to update and even change their content as they complete the assignment, so don’t be surprised if you go to their sites to check them out and find that they’ve made even more changes!

Kaisey Arena:
Initial Klout: 33| Current Klout: 65


Samantha Beebe:
Initial Klout: 16 | Current Klout: 43


John Desmond:
Initial Klout: 49 | Current Klout: 54


Ricky Fitzpatrick

Initial Klout: 36 | Current Klout 42


Ollie Fichera:
Initial Klout: 46 |Current Klout: 60


Quillan George:
Initial Klout: 55 | Current Klout: 62


Jess Lowell:
Initial Klout: 44 | Current Klout: 60


Tommy Lyga:
Initial Klout: 33 | Current Klout: 62


Adam Miller:
Initial Klout: 19 | Current Klout:  44


Colby Sears:
Initial Klout: 15 | Current Klout: 63


Nikki Tetreault:
 Initial Klout: 51 | Current Klout: 61


Samantha Winchell:
Initial Klout: 24 | Current Klout: 56



And there you have it. To get graduates ready to take on the jobs that are available, it takes giving them an opportunity to get comfortable with the tools of the trade. It takes more than theory and discussion. It takes doing the work and building a professional digital identity. This is not just the culmination of four years of academic, project based, internship focused, education. It is the stepping stone to a career in marketing. It is not just an ending but the beginning of great things yet to come.

Note: This page was updated on 4/22 to reflect a new domain for one of the students, and to update the name of another student. It was updated on 4/26 to add a new student to the list.

Jan 13

A joyful re-entry isn’t that hard…really!

I’m stunned. Seriously. It seems like just a few hours ago that I left campus for my sabbatical, and here it is already the third week of classes in the Spring 2013 semester. I’ve been officially back to work now for three weeks. And I’m already sick, and have already had to miss one of my classes (thankfully, didn’t need to cancel it since my partner in crime, Professor Kelly Thomas was fit and healthy!).

sicklolcat Put me back into the petri dish that is a college campus at the beginning of the semester and no matter how much antioxidant foods, and antibacterial soaps I utilize, it is no match.  For those of you who teach, you know what I mean.  That third week pandemic that hits every semester. It’s shear luck to beat it.  Clearly my luck in this case did not hold.

You’d think I’d be upset about it.

But I’m not.


I’ve been away for months. I’ve had the summer and fall of a lifetime enjoying this amazing privilege called “sabbatical”. I’ve rested. I’ve relaxed. I’ve re-energized.  I’ve done amazing things, like level my blood elf, Lisaralisa, to an 88, overcome my fear of riding motorcycles, continue on a journey of health and wellness and I’ve slept… a lot. Oh, and I’ve been writing a book too! But something in all of that has been missing.  As wonderful as it has all been (and it’s been wonderful!), there was something that I have come to realize about my absence that has moved my re-entry from being onerous and difficult to a time of joy.

I’ll start by saying that it was clear to everyone, even myself, that I was burned out, exhausted and needed a break. Life as an administrator was very difficult and even my spring semester last year, when I no longer had the administrative responsibilities was still very difficult. I am the first to admit I was not a pleasant person to be around, and certainly not a good model for my students.  I even questioned if I should continue being a teacher. I’ve been doing this for thirteen years.  I didn’t feel I could reach the students any longer.  I walked into my sabbatical unsure, unclear, exhausted, and burned out.


Thanks to several former students (you know who you are), I pretty quickly came to realize that I love teaching and I love being in the classroom with students who are learning, growing, and teaching me new things every day.

This became even more clear to me as I walked back onto campus this January. My first day back, I started meeting with students. My first office hours were jammed packed. My classes have been fun, engaging, and super interesting. Quite joyful actually.After just a few short weeks into my sabbatical I was able to notice that the one thing I missed was the interaction I had with students.

It’s all about the students.

The reason why I became a professor in the first place was to teach. I felt that my background and interests would translate well into the classroom and that I could bring a lot to students. Over the years I’ve had good classes and bad classes. I’ve had great relationships with students and I’ve had very bad situations happen. It’s been an amazing ride and my sabbatical has provided me with a real gift.  A gift to come away, see things clearly, and remember why I decided to become a teacher in the first place.

My father was a teacher. I remember as a child watching him help high school students learn, and I remember him trying to teach me math (algebra was when we realized I make a really good writer). He was patient, kind, and met students where they were.  I’ve always respected his ability to calmly and thoughtfully reframe answers over and over helping his students make mental connections that allowed them to learn.  When I became a teacher I think he was proud of me.  We talked about it once recently while he was in the nursing home and he told me stories of his teaching and how he was able to connect with and reach his students in meaningful ways.  I talked about my work and I remember how engaged he got as I told him about issues with students. He would give me advice and we realized that we had some common ground, which is nice to remember.  My Dad passed away on Monday, December 3. This Thursday would have been his 77th birthday.  I think about this connection we shared as I walk into my classrooms now after sabbatical and after saying goodbye to this wonderful teacher and I am filled with gratitude.

And that, my friends, is why my re-entry is joyful.