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From the Forest

While many people think of March Madness in basketball terms, for admissions offices around the country, March Madness could just as easily be the final push to determine the incoming freshman class and to get the decision letters out the door.

Some of you may already have discovered the From the Forest admissions blog; I am ashamed to say I only found out about it this week.  The admissions team has been blogging about the final days of mailing letters, and today’s blog post has a letter from Martha Allman, dean of admissions, about the slate of applications they received and the difficult decisions they had to make.  It’s a good read.

The view from the forest (at least from where I sit) is that today began as a foggy day.  It’s cleared up to a degree, but is not the kind of sunny and beautiful spring day we had this time last week.  We appear to be due for some rain tomorrow and it will be cooler, but thankfully back into the 70s next week.

We’ve received a couple of questions in the Parent Programs office about families coming to visit for Easter weekend, and where are good places to eat?  As a reminder, the best first line of defense for questions is to try our Parents’ Page Q&A – we cover a lot of commonly asked questions there.  Towards the end of the section on Dining we have some links about restaurants parents and alumni have recommended.

– by Betsy Chapman

New Dean of the College Named

michele.gillespie.620x350-460x260Today was a big news day.  The new Dean of the College was named, and it was a familiar name to our campus: Michele Gillespie:

“Wake Forest University has appointed Presidential Endowed Professor of Southern History Michele Gillespie as Dean of the College, with academic oversight for the undergraduate school of arts and sciences. Gillespie will begin serving as dean July 1.

Gillespie joined the Wake Forest faculty in 1999. She was named Kahle Family Professor of History in 2003 and served as associate provost for academic initiatives from 2007-2010. In 2013, Gillespie was the first Wake Forest faculty member to be honored with an endowed Presidential Chair, which recognizes and supports faculty who excel in both academic leadership and outstanding scholarship. She also serves as the faculty representative to the Advancement Committee of the Board of Trustees”  (see the full news story.)

There have been many times when she has been a part of programs or events our office has planned, and those events have always been exceptional.  She is recognized as one who embodies the teacher-scholar ideal, and connects well with students as well as others on campus.

Full disclosure: I have known Michele for many years and she has been a trusted friend and colleague.  She helped mentor me when I was in a terrible bind professionally and did all she could to help me – even when she didn’t have to, and even though helping me didn’t benefit her in any way.  That’s the kind of person she is.  I will always be grateful to her for that – and for the example she set that it is always better to try and help someone if you can.

So what does this mean for your students exactly? The Dean of the College has oversight for the undergraduate arts and sciences programs (i.e., everything except business).  So she will be working with the academic departments in the arts, literature, humanities, social sciences, and math and natural sciences to help make our already-great programs even better.  She begins her new position on July 1st, and I know there will be many good things to come.

My kudos to the search committee, who had the unenviable job of sorting through a lot of wonderful applicants.  Happily, one of Wake Forest’s own rose to the top.

Welcome to your new role, Dean-Elect Gillespie!

 

– by Betsy Chapman

Wake ‘N Shake Recap – Project Pumpkin Planning

If you hadn’t already seen it, there is a terrific story on the WFU main page about Wake N’ Shake, the campus dance marathon to raise money for cancer research:

“More than 1,300 students teamed up to fight cancer on Saturday and raised $164,157 for the 10th anniversary of Wake ’N Shake, a 12-hour dance marathon to benefit the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund. This year, faculty, staff and alumni were invited to join students in honoring loved ones affected by cancer.

‘Wake ‘N Shake is such an important event because it allows students from all over campus to come together and fight for a common cause,’ said senior Cat Draper, who co-chaired the event with seniors Anna Morten and Jordan Schuler. ‘Every student at Wake has been touched by cancer in one way or another.’

More than 50 student organizations, including sports teams, theatre groups and Greek life, participated this year.”

$164,157 is an impressive number!  Many thanks to all our Deacs who gave their time, talent, and treasure to fight the good fight for Brian Piccolo.

Looking ahead to future Pro Humanitate efforts, the Volunteer Service Corps listserv has information about how students can apply for Project Pumpkin Steering Committees:

“Have you ever seen Project Pumpkin and thought to yourself, now there is something I want to have a larger role in??

Well, you’re in luck!! the steering committee applications are live.

They are due next Monday, March 30th and then the co-chair applications will be available.

The steering committee oversees the co-chairs and the co-chairs oversee everything else!  And with the help of Head Pumpkin, the Halloween dreams of children all over the Winston-Salem area come true!!

If you’re interested in applying for the steering committee, here is the link!!

Even though it is only March, it is not too early for your students to think about Project Pumpkin.  Applying to be on a steering committee could be a fantastic outlet for your students – they can learn about leadership, organization of a huge event, rallying volunteers, etc.   And of course, serving humanity, as our motto suggests.

– by Betsy Chapman

 

Five Senses of the Tribble Courtyard

3 23 15I am in between meetings on a cool but sunny day.  Found a perch outside the ZSR near the Benson-Tribble courtyard.  Here’s what my five senses are revealing:

 

I hear…

– an airplane flying overhead.

– a snippet of a guy-to-girl conversation.  The guy is retelling a story about someone who was referring to “my boy, Slick!”

– a visiting dad and his son ask me where Manchester Quad is.  I ask if they are looking for a particular building, and they say no, they are just trying to get their bearings.  Dad looks like he likes this place.

– a second airplane overhead, followed by the toot of a train in the distance.  (There are train tracks across University by North Point Blvd).

– laughter of people as they walk by.  The occasional yelled greeting from across the courtyard.

clop, clop, clop of high heeled boots.

– a strange loud flapping fabric sound.  When I turn around to investigate, I see it is the umbrella from an umbrella table.

– jingling of keys as they hang off a girl’s ID holder.

– the sound of a leaf blower.  Normally that seems to be happening at the early part of the day; I am surprised to hear it now.

 

I see…

– some students in shorts, others in sweats and otherwise long-sleeved outfits.  Some of the girls are still sporting equestrian boots.

– several students with to-go bags from the Benson Center food court.  They look like they are headed back to their residence hall.

– lots of students are either using their smartphone to surf/text as they walk.  No one trips or bumps in to each other.

– tiny pink buds on the trees in Tribble courtyard.  Give them a few more days and they will be in full bloom.

– clear blue sky.  Not a cloud anywhere.

– lawn chairs set up in front of Greene Hall.  No one is in them, they are just sitting there.

– three different cafe tables are occupied, but just with one student apiece.  They all have their laptops out.

– the Student Union golf cart parked and charging in its space on the sidewalk.

– a girl walk by in a WAKE sweatshirt.  I want to go up and thank her for wearing our school’s shirt and not some other school’s (a pet peeve of mine), but I refrain.

– two girls have passed by carrying boxes from the post office – they look like care packages.  Good job, Deac parents, for sending some goodies to your students!

 

I smell…

– a skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks.

– cold wind.  It isn’t super windy, but when it is there is a distinct cool smell.

– the first hint of flowering trees blooming.  It smells like spring.

 

I feel…

– the cool surface of the green cafe table.  It’s sitting in the shade and the tabletop has not had a chance to warm from the sun.

– cold.  If you are not in the sun and the wind picks up, it’s too cool for no coat but too warm to wear the coat.

 

I taste…

– skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks :)

 

– by Betsy Chapman

Thursday Roundup

Today is starting out grey and cool, and will devolve into rain within a couple of hours.  After the early part of this week was sunny and 80 degrees, this is going to be an unpleasant surprise to your Deacs.  A good day to stay inside.

So we turn our attention to a few things that are coming up in Deacdom.  Next Thursday at 6:00 pm in Wait Chapel we have a Voices of our Time event (part of our speaker series on important topics from renowned thought leaders).  This one is “The Human Face of Environmental Inequality” and the speaker is Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland (Bio).  Please, please encourage your students to attend.  There will likely never be another time in their lives when they can be in an audience of only 2,400 people to hear from a former president.  This is a rare and wondrous opportunity.

Today and tomorrow, the Z Smith Reynolds Library is hosting a symposium entitled “Mass Incarceration and the Criminal Justice System Student Panel and the Opening of Release: From Stigma to Acceptance.”  This will be held in the ZSR Auditorium (404) and will have a faculty panel today, a student panel tomorrow followed by an opening reception in the atrium.  Looks like a wonderful opporunity for students to reflect on the role of the criminal justice system and to consider their thoughts on an important societal issue for all of us.

Also tomorrow night is Wake-Appella, Wake Forest’s First Annual a cappella festival hosted by Demon Divas and Plead the Fifth.  This event is bringing together collegiate and high school a cappella groups from throughout the Southeast, and is a fundraiser to help the arts community in the Triad area.  If your Deac is a fan of Pitch Perfect or Glee, or just wants to hear some amazing music, this is an event for them.

On Saturday from noon until midnight, Wake ‘N Shake will take place.  This is one of the signature Pro Humanitate events of the year.  Reynolds Gym will be rocking with 1,300+ students who will be on their feet for 12 hours to raise awareness and funds to support cancer research at the Wake Forest Cancer Center via the Brian Piccolo Cancer Fund.  If your Deac isn’t involved but wants to be, or if you want to help their efforts, visit wakenshake.com.

There are other events too of course – and your Deac can visit the Events calendar to see more.

The range of opportunities at Wake Forest is enormous.  Your students have so many potential opportunities outside of class to think, to serve, to participate in important conversations, to reflect, to dance, and to simply enjoy.  To use (once again) my smorgasbord metaphor, this is a rich buffet filled with so many dishes.  Encourage your Deac not to be a picky eater, but to try a bite of as many things as they can.

 

– by Betsy Chapman

 

 

 

 

 

Senior Oration: Shoshanna Goldin ’15

Last but certainly not least, we come to our final Senior Oration feature.  This is from Shoshanna Goldin ’15,  and it is titled Near and Far: The Impact of a Demon Deacon

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College. The word implies mountains of textbooks and rivers of lukewarm coffee. Entering Wake Forest University, we were eager to dive headfirst into biology lab and literary analysis. Four years later, we reflect how experiences in the Forest equipped us to take on local and global challenges as a community. As we prepare to write our next chapter, I ponder three questions.

Why does Wake Forest feel like a family? How have we engaged with the Winston-Salem community? What have we learned from global experiences?

Many of us consider the Wake Forest community to be family. “Family” consists of people who help us discover who we want to be. The people we seek out to be comforted and challenged. How did we turn a collection of strangers into a support system? Conversation was key. Through conversations that stretched us far beyond our comfort zones, we formed a family.

Families argue and reconcile. The Wake Forest community is no different. From Deliberative Dialogues to Town Halls, we have challenged ourselves to find a collective vision for a stronger Wake Forest. This year, we have shown that we care about the spectrum of voices in our community. We have not stayed silent when challenging moments have arisen. Instead, we have rallied against currents of exclusivity. Together, we formed a stronger network of advocates and allies.

A family is a rooted in relationships. As the co-founder of the Interfaith Themed House, I have been inspired by cross-campus partnerships. While across the world, we see a wide variety of ideologies crashing against one another, Wake Forest strives to create a cohesive environment. Here, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian students engage in open dialogue. As we understand the stories, faiths, and dreams of those around us, we establish a safe space. By forming this family, we learn to accept difference and create community. These conversations were key to providing valuable skills that we carry forward into graduate school, a profession, and adult life.

As wide-eyed freshmen, we heard upperclassmen speak of the Wake Forest bubble. They talked about this sphere as if it were tempered glass: a permanent wall. But our class has done an incredible job at poking the bubble.

Through our collective fight against local hunger, we bridged this invisible separation between Wake Forest and Winston-Salem. Concerned about chronic childhood hunger, Wake Forest students realized that this fight would require more than a food drive. We rallied students, faculty, staff, and community members to create a unified front. Over the last four years, we have expanded Campus Kitchen’s community partners and implemented a hunger awareness program within Wake Forest’s student orientation. We initiated campus-wide collaboration for the Forsyth food backpack program and hosted Hunger University’s mobile exhibit. In the process, we have been recognized as the best Campus Kitchen in the state.

Last fall, Wake Forest hosted the statewide North Carolina Campuses against Hunger Conference. Wake Forest and Winston-Salem’s partnership inspired 175 students, researchers, and policymakers across North Carolina to focus on local hunger solutions. As the student chair of the planning committee, I was thrilled to see our collaborative work address this complex problem.

As we move forward, I want us to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the place we call home. And, if we come across another bubble—remember that it is simply waiting for someone to come along and poke right through it.

As we leave Wake Forest, our future has no borders. Class of 2015, we are entering an increasingly global workforce. As Wake Forest students, we are well-prepared. Our passion to improve the world is reflected in our collective global impact and experiences. We studied the nature of bees in France and analyzed dance styles in Brazil. We tasted life in Italy and Nepal. We lived Wake’s motto of Pro Humanitate on international service trips to Vietnam, Russia, and Rwanda. Through study abroad, we developed lasting relationships. These friendships will remind us in years to come of the commonalities and uniqueness of individuals around the world.

As we reach the close, I’d like to return to the three questions we began with. Why does Wake Forest feel like a family? How have we engaged with the Winston-Salem community? What have we learned from global experiences?

Our next mountains will not be located in the Forest (unless you plan to be a double Deac). Our challenge now is to draw on these lessons as we embark on our next chapter. Because, as Wake Forest Demon Deacons, our potential to improve our communities and world is limitless.

Thank you!

Black and Gold Friday

Happy Black and Gold Friday, Deac families.  I hope that wherever you are, you think about wearing black and gold or WFU apparel to show your WFU pride.  And help spread the idea to your students.  If we want to have tremendous school spirit, a great way to do that is to wear our school colors.

A few random musings for a drizzly Friday morning.  A friend on Facebook posted an article with advice for the Class of 2015 on finding a job and the danger of feeling you have to find a passion.  Workplace consultant and career coach Alexandra Levit said this in the article:

“I think what’s dangerous is when we as career advisors tell people they won’t be happy until they find their passion. It puts pressure on people to go out and find this elusive career of passion and… they can’t be happy with the job they have. Just because you have a passion doesn’t necessarily mean you can or should make a living at it. Find a job you like well enough. You’re not going to love every minute of every day, but you want to genuinely get some satisfaction out of it. And then leave time for other things in life that are important, like your personal life, hobby, friends and family.”

You can  read the full story here.  This is interesting food for thought, becuase many of my contemporaries who have jobs (but their passions might be elsewhere) are starting to question whether to shift their career to more of a passion, but can they turn that passion into a salary with which they are happy?  Or is the better strategy to stay the course in a solid job and use the money from the job to fuel your passion on weekends, trips during PTO, etc.

As always, we invite your comments at parents@nullwfu.edu.

Hope that as Spring Break winds to a close, your students have safe travels back to campus and they are ready to bring a strong finish to the semester.  Looming in the near term is advising and course registration for the fall, then housing and dining selection for next year.  It will be a busy time.

Just about 7 weeks until the end of classes.  How is that possible?  The semester has flown by.

 

– by Betsy Chapman

Senior Oration: Gianna Blundo ’15

Today’s Senior Oration is Humans Are Like Onions, by  Gianna Blundo ’15.  Enjoy!

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Humans are like onions: we have layers. Skin color, hair, eyes, height, weight…. each of us has our own unique external beauty. However, we often get lost in the superficial differences between us and fail to see the beauty of all life…of ourself. We are blinded by the variations of appearance and culture. We forget what we have in common: we are human. This element is both empowering and limiting. Our motto Pro Humanitate serves to remind us to unite at Wake Forest to use our common basis of humanity for the collective good. In this way we can work together toward the amelioration of the problems of today and tomorrow. Our humanity is also limiting, because it is what reminds us of our imperfections, our differences, and our boundaries as mistake-prone individuals. We are human. We are different.

When first coming to Wake Forest I struggled to find a community and find that “home-away-from-home” feeling. For many months I felt as though I was just a guest, a stranger to most of my hall, and even to myself. Since I was little I have known my appearance is that of a minority. I am Asian-American but, having been adopted by an Italian-American family, I don’t identify as Asian. I have always identified with the Italian-American culture in which I was raised.

It has come to my attention that no matter what my age, my looks are still an overpowering association. On regular occasion a stranger will ask me, “Where you are from?” I say Wilmington, North Carolina but repeatedly people say, “No, no…I mean where are you from? What country is your family from?”. This question equally confuses me because my parents were born and raised in the Unites States, “Tennessee… Virginia.” I offer. Naturally I ask myself why I feel as though I must lay out my family tree to some stranger with a simple question.  Though I was adopted as a baby from another country, that is not who I am. It is only a small part of me. You see, people look at each other too often and see, “Different.” or  “Other.”.

At Wake, I have not felt mocked by my peers as I was on the playground when I was younger for my eye and face shape. I did feel however my peers’ tendency to judge others based upon differences. Differences even as rudimentary and elementary as style, height, and brand. I became caught up in the differences between all of us too. In fact, I found myself ensnared in an old trap of negative body image and struggled with my adolescent eating disorder problems once again. I lost sight of what health really means. While re-searching for nonexistent perfection I lost sight of how wonderful difference and uniqueness are. But this is no humdrum story, because Wake Forest allowed me to grow even more so by learning to break free from the chains of surface-level judgments that tried to restrain me.

My escape from superficial delineation had much to do with academics. It was through taking an array of classes with professors who had a passion for their subject that I let go of superficial comparisons and was reminded of perspective. My sophomore year in my Intro to Buddhist Traditions class, Professor Johnston familiarized me with the concept of mindfulness, the power of now, the power of understanding suffering and the transient nature of life. That same year my Health Psychology class with Doctor Katula studied Tuesdays With Morrie, which seemed to magically line up with many notions in my Buddhism class. I was reminded that we all face battles of varying degrees and that transient things such as skin and beauty are just that: transient. We age. We change. I was further re-grounded by the loss of one of the biggest mentors of my life: my Martial Arts Sensei of 13 years. Through seeing life happen around me and taking diverse classes I discovered how much I had zoomed in on my life perspective. Bodily imperfections, racial difference…enough! I was reminded of what a tiny part I am in this large and mysteriously complex universe. I found that there are many people at Wake who see beyond our differences and embrace them in their daily lives. There are those who equally thirst for knowledge and understanding of cultures, even worlds, beyond their own. Our small Wake community let me reach out to professors and connect with those students.

To learn the value of now is something of infinite importance. To try to let go and be in the moment is cathartic. It is a skill to be able to sit with oneself in silence and be in good company. Even though we might feel restless and uncomfortable, there is value in shoving aside pestering thoughts to just …be. Breathe…. sit…and unplug. I have found that having the eyes and curiosity of a child allows our differences and our self-criticism to slip away. Too often humanity fractures itself due to alienation based upon differences in skin, height, culture and weight instead of embracing diversity. I look Asian but was adopted by Italian-Americans. I speak French, but love Indian and Vietnamese food. You cannot tell much from the outside who a person is because it tells not even where they’re from. Each of us has different types of battles, and our own stories that are still being written. If we look at the world not by the spaces that separate us but instead with the curious non-judgmental eyes of a child, then we can learn to accept differences to see the world in a fascinating new light. As Aristotle elegantly reminds us, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it”.

 

 

 

 

Senior Oration: Jim Le ’15

We’re coming down to the wire with our Senior Oration feature.  These have been wonderful glimpses into the experiences, thoughts, challenges, and dreams of some of our students.  Today we have Breaking the Formula by Jim Le ’15.

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It’s funny how sometimes stereotypes do fit. Vietnamese American families want their children to become either doctors, lawyers, or CEOs. As a first generation Vietnamese American, my family wanted me to go to either medical school, law school, or business school. Their thinking is that good grades lead to good schools, good schools to good jobs, good jobs to lots of money, and money to happiness. Seemed like a pretty straightforward formula to success. And boy do I know a thing or two about scientific formulas! My family told me that science and math were the keys to becoming a doctor. Through high school, my life orbited around the letter ‘A’. Extracurricular activities were important, not because I enjoyed every one of them, but because they built up my resume. I kept this ambitious mindset as I applied to colleges and I was excited when I got accepted to a top-30 ranked institution. Can you guess which one?

Going into college, I applied the same clear-cut formula. Go to class, pay attention, work comes first, and join any group that could help me get into medical school. Yet, by the end of my first semester, I was unhappy with what I saw in the mirror. My drive to success was tearing me apart. Although my grades were superb, neither the numbers on my transcript nor the titles on my resume reflected who I was. Wake Forest provided everything I could want in the classroom, but after the intense hours of lectures every day, I felt lost in the forest. School was draining my love of learning and I had cut out the parts of me that were not necessary for success. I became more like a robot than a person.

Returning to Wake for my spring semester, I began to question the formula. I dropped the organizations I was using only to boost my resume and took a leap of faith by going on the spring Wake Alternative Break to New Orleans. There, I shared in fellowship and the strenuous work of renovating homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. As the sweat and dust covered my face and my shoulders ached from painting the ceiling, I started to question myself, “I could be at home playing Halo 4 right now rather than suffer in this miserable humidity and heat.” Our group was invited one hot afternoon to attend a house opening ceremony for a family close to our work site. Standing in a crowd of strangers, I watched as a mother with a baby in arm and a toddler by her side cut the ceremonial red ribbon. Tears of joy streamed down her face as she took the first steps into her new home with family and friends. In that instant, I started to realize why community service was so important. Seeing the gratitude and happiness that my actions can bring to another human being was worth all the sweat and blood of volunteering. Whether or not this activity applied to getting into medical school, I did not care at the time. From that moment on I continued to volunteer on service trips and events ranging from within our own campus to New York City to Ben Tre, Vietnam.

As a science major, it is ironic that the performing arts would become my salvation. My mother has evidence of me as a toddler dancing and singing to Michael Jackson. In college, I rediscovered dance. Instead of becoming a robot, I learned to do the robot. I was popping and locking my way to class, from class, and sometimes even in class. Once I started dancing, I did not know how to stop. I could not get enough of the adrenaline rush in front of a screaming crowd nor the silliness, camaraderie, and love that I shared with my dance teams: Momentum Crew and Crunchy Beats. These groups have grown to become a part of my family at Wake. I found the same satisfaction in playing my ukulele, banjo, and guitar in a folk Americana band. Through both dance and music, I expressed myself in forms beyond words. This artistry was not a part of my four-year plan. “Amateur dancer and musician” does not improve a med school resume, but it brought out a side of me I did not know existed. For once in my life, I was not fulfilling the expectations of others, but satisfying my own aspirations.

As I grew to appreciate this part of myself, I began to wonder how my ability to moonwalk or play a riff on the banjo would help in medicine? Indeed, was becoming a doctor my own aspiration or was I fulfilling the expectations of others? Volunteering as a student EMT on the Wake Forest Emergency Response Team reminded me that the medical field was where I felt most confident and excited about helping others. This experience reaffirmed for me that good medicine heals all aspects of a human being.

To my fellow graduating seniors, please remember this observation. Wake Forest’s motto, Pro Humanitate, literally ‘for kindness’, ‘for humanity’, the motto urges us to strive to help others in any form we can. However, before we can be missionaries of Pro Humanitate we must take one important step. We must learn to accept and nurture who we are, because this awareness is the essence of everything we do. Our passions are essential to our being. To suppress our true selves is to deprive us of genuinely understanding, appreciating, and relating to each other. Only when we know who we truly are can we devote ourselves to the good of humanity.

Success in life should not be reduced to a formula. We cannot calculate every decision and result. There is no one set path. To my fellow graduating seniors, I hope that you all will remember as you are tested and judged in your future endeavors that you are worth more than your grades, or rank, or list of accomplishments. Formulas are designed for repetition and evaluation, but individuality cannot be replicated. Never lose sight of what makes you who you are, because that is what makes you beautiful, even when you are playing the banjo.

 

Friday Roundup

The potential ice or snow event did not happen at Mother So Dear, but it is once again really cold.  I was walking around campus this morning and saw a lot of big coats and scarves on students.  The sun is out, which helps a little, but it is in the low- to mid-30s.

Stopped by Starbucks for a meeting and to take in the atmosphere.  It was not as crowded as I expected it to be at 11:30.  There were plenty of students sitting at the tables and seating groups with ‘midterm style’ fashions (running pants, sweats, ponytails for girls or 2 day stubble for guys), but there were still seats available.  Most of the students looked focused but not fretting about exams or classes.  I saw a student I knew and asked about her spring break plans.  She said she is headed to a warm destination.  My hunch is a lot of our students are heading farther south.  You could tell who looked to be leaving campus by the students toting suitcases or waiting for car services in front of the Benson Center.

Turning to news of the day, Wake Forest joined “The Campaign to Change Direction,” a national initiative to create a new story in America about mental health, mental illness and wellness. As part of the collective effort led by Give an Hour, Wake Forest University joined 50 other campaign partners in this effort with its pledge to support this initiative through campus programs and services focused on mental health.”  You can read the full news story here.

Parents and families, you can encourage your students to “help change the direction” of mental health by taking a pledge on the Change Direction web site.  The simplest pledge is one that anyone can do: Learn the five signs of emotional suffering so you can recognize them in yourself or help a loved one who may be in emotional pain.  To learn more or to take a pledge, visit www.changedirection.org.  And the University Counseling Center announced a second Mindfulness Awareness Group that will be starting after Spring Break.  If your Deac is interested, feel free to share this Mindfulness Awareness Group spring flyer.

Finally, if your Deac is coming home to see you for Spring Break (as opposed to going on a trip with friends), think about having some good conversations about his/her time in college.  Our students are no doubt learning a lot in the classroom and are mastering academics, but it is just as important that they have time and space to reflect on who they are as people.  You can prompt your student with particular questions (see some suggestions below).  It may be that your Deac doesn’t know the answer yet (or isn’t comfortable sharing his or her thoughts yet, particularly if your student thinks you wouldn’t like to hear them).  But help plant the seed that introspection and reflection are going to be vital to your student knowing who he/she is (and isn’t).  Asking the right questions of yourself can shed light on so many things, and can help shape future decisions so you are moving in directions that will bring you the most fulfillment (vs. pursuing careers/hobbies/people that aren’t really where your heart is).

Here are some examples but you can add your own (thanks to the Mentoring Resource Center for some of these prompts):

When and where are you the happiest?

Which things/experiences/people are most meaningful to you?

What is the last class/idea/possibility that has truly excited you?

What is your biggest “a-ha moment” or lesson that you’ve learned about yourself this  semester?

How would you complete this statement:  “One year from now, I want to look back on my Wake Forest college experience and say “I’m glad I did…” and/or “I learned…about myself.”

Are there new experiences you are afraid of trying?  What is keeping you from doing those?  What might you learn if you try it?

 

– by Betsy Chapman