Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hunger, Homelessness, and Perspective

In honor of this week being Hunger and Homelessness week at SMC, I was inspired to write an article for the school paper, The Defender. I've been working with at-risk youth at the Spectrum Co-Op for about 2 months now, and I've loved every minute of it. A large part of Spectrum is working with homeless and at risk youth or youth in transition. Since working there I've really gained a different perspective on homelessness and its causes, which is a big reason I wrote the article. So, I'm bringing it to you here to read, but make sure you go to the Defender Online (link above) and check out the rest of the fabulous SMC publications.

“I’m 7 months pregnant and I haven’t eaten anything yet today”. Not exactly what you’d expect to hear from the mouth of a teenager at noon on a Wednesday. Two minutes and a few blocks later and it was “do you have a dollar I could borrow?” She was so nice, and I was nice back. I honestly didn’t think I had a dollar, but as I opened my wallet later to take out my debit card for an indulgence at Starbucks, I realized I had a few singles. In my defense, I forget I have cash at least once a week.

Still, I wrestled with the idea of going back and giving a dollar to her. But what would she use it for? Drugs? Alcohol? Or food, a bottle of water, a winter hat, or a bus ticket? Isn’t that the dilemma most people have when they get asked for money on the street? Are these homeless people really in need or are they simple messing up their own lives?

I’m guilty, too, of having stereotypical thoughts about homelessness, especially before my internship this year. But consider this situation: a married couple with two kids works jobs with hourly wages, and when one falls and is injured, the couple falls behind on their rent and eventually gets evicted. Homelessness and moving to a shelter is the only viable option. Or how about this: a young woman moves away to college, loses her part time job, and can no longer afford an apartment on top of school loans and living prices. She winds up in a shelter, living on meals from the food shelf. Not what you were thinking when I first mentioned homelessness?

I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad. Remember, I was stereotypical about homelessness once too. But for the last two months I’ve been working for Spectrum Youth and Family Services with at-risk youth. I’ve spent time in their shelter, I walk into the drop-in once a week, and I am constantly learning about the struggle of kids lucky enough to be in the system and not on the street. Recent years have seen an incredible increase in the number of children living with their families in shelters like COTS, or youth living in shelters like Spectrum. These are the lucky ones, who have warm place to stay and some food. Countless more survive on the streets of Burlington, and we can only hope they will take advantage of food shelves, health centers, and street outreach programs.

So what about the pregnant teenager? Is it her fault? I mean maybe. But maybe her parents also kicked her out into the cold Vermont winter without any family to turn to and nobody to help her through the pregnancy. I’m not asking anyone to make a dramatic life change and begin volunteering at the soup kitchen every night. I’m not asking you to never indulge in a cup of Starbucks, or to give all of your money away to charity donations or to people on the street. I’m simply asking for some perspective next time you see someone on Church Street who might be down on their luck. Just remember that homelessness isn’t always the result of alcoholism or drug addiction. If nothing else, perspective is the least we can give to these people.

If you’re interested in giving more, especially with the cold weather and the holidays approaching, visit the wish lists for COTS and Spectrum or donate your time, it won’t go unnoticed.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Is intro to Psychology a lecture course?

Yes, intro psych is one of the few big lecture courses at SMC. It is held in Cheray 101, the lecture hall, and our largest classroom on campus, which holds about 100 students.

However, while this is a lecture class (the only one for psychology), the class is broken into 4 sections and each section meets at its own time during the week for "discussion" with the professor as well, so students always get more individualized attention, despite the large class size.

Hope this helps :]

What do you want to know about SMC?

Monday, November 8, 2010

What's up with the course levels? What are the differences between a 200 level course v. 400 level course?

A 200 level course is a lower level course, typically larger size, which often requires less work than a higher 300 or 400 level course does.

Almost all 100 level courses are basic intro courses with a lot of reading and usually exams. When you get into 200 and 300 level courses, you still read a lot but often write long papers instead of take written exams. 400 levels courses are almost all exclusive to seniors (for their capstone projects, final research, or senior seminar) and involve research and paper writing or an internship.

Hope this helps! :]

What do you want to know about SMC?

I lovermont in fall

So October is over and we've moved into the wet month that is November. Still, I wanted to touch back on my fun fall adventures with some photos and update on what's going on in my life and here at SMC.

First, some October photos of pumpkins, apples, cider, a 5K, and Halloween:

I've been home twice since I got back to SMC. The first was a while back for Columbus day weekend, and the second was 2 weekends ago when I returned for the Notre Dame vs. Navy game at the New Meadowlands Stadium, right near my house. I went with my family and my cousins and we had a great time, despite the ND loss.

Before that weekend home, the swim team had a Purple vs. Gold meet where we split the team up and competed against each other to see where we were at in terms of times and racing ability. The meet was fun, and this past weekend we had our first home meet/season opener against Colby Sawyer College. Both the men's and women's teams won by a considerable amount and we all raced so well. My favorite parts were definitely how many peoples came to watch (especially our families), how excited everyone was to race, and how much fun everyone was having. Eileen, our new coach, was definitely proud of us and we congratulated her on her first win as a head coach too.

I've also recently been accepted to go on a service trip in March over Spring Break. I will be going to NYC to work for an organization called Covenant House. They provide a lot of services, especially to homeless youth. It is similar to what I am doing at Spectrum now, but a lot is different too. I'm really excited for that, so look to hear more when it gets closer.

Things continue to be busy for me, but I'm trying to touch in here as much as possible, even if it's only with a formspring questions, so keep them coming!

I'll try to update soon on anything new and exciting at SMC, so check back!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Date Change: SMC at CWL TODAY (Thursday!)

Hey everyone!

St. Michael’s will be participating in the College Week Live’s Fall Online College Fair TODAY!. Two SMC students, along with Admissions Counselor Jeremy Brown, will be available during a live video chat to talk about St. Mike’s. You’ll be able to ask them questions throughout the chat! Register online here and be sure to tune in at 3pm EST, Thursday, November 4th (that's today!) and check it out!

Can’t make the live video chat? Don’t worry – you can log into college week live later on in the day and watch the recording. If you have a question you’d like SMC to answer LIVE, head over to the Class of 2015 Facebook Group page and ask us now!”

See you there!