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168 Hours
Alumni Spotlight
Faculty Focus
New Year, New Brand

 

Volume 7  |  Issue 1

January 2017

 
 

WEST CHALLENGES US TO THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT TIME MANAGEMENT

On Thursday, Nov. 17, West held a special networking event and presentation, 168 Hours: How Are You Investing Your Week? The West community including students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered at the Microsoft Store located in Scottsdale Fashion Square for an informative and entertaining session on treating our time like an investment. It was an exceptional event that allowed students and alumni to interact with West President, Tracy Lorenz, and speaker Chris Hewitt, Vice President of Marketing.

"We wanted to share an approach to thinking about our time as a measured thoughtful investment…something that's often lost in the overwhelming demands of our lives."- Chris Hewitt, West VP of Marketing

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West aimed to present time management from a different perspective. There are many authorities on the subject with great insights on managing time… including some promises of revealing the "secrets" of time management. Beyond the tips, tricks and promises, there is only one basic truth: there is a definite and finite amount of time available to each of us.

In addition to our local attendees, numerous West students watched the event online. Several comments from the West community express their delight from the evening's activities.

"The speaker was excellent, he knew the topic and is very good with delivering the content. Great choice on location and the set-up was appropriate."

Time management is certainly not a new topic, but a common one that we all tackle head on each day. Your approach to time can be critical to your own success. Whether it’s managing a project, training for a race, or studying for an exam, the time you spend directly shapes the person you become.

West Now* will begin to feature thoughtful, practical time management concepts based on the practice and philosophy of investing your 168 hours per week. Stay tuned to West Now for our new series focused on how we invest our time coming this month

West's commitment to our community extends well outside the "classroom." We work to bring relevant concepts, content and experiences to our students and alumni so that they can valuably apply to their education, careers and lives.

For more pictures of this event, please visit: http://bit.ly/2fiRTud.

* For the latest compelling and engaging content from all our West community members—faculty, students, graduates, staff, and guest contributors – on a variety of relevant topics concerning business, globalization, entrepreneurship, leadership, education, personal interests, career/professional development, community engagement, and more, please visit: http://west.edu/now.

168 Hours

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT:
DOLORES RAIVZEE-BELL
Director, Afterschool Programs
DeSoto Independent School District
Cedar Hill, TX

Her goal was to become a pediatric doctor. She was told by her high school counselor that attending a university would not be a good option. Disappointed and feeling dejected, she was reminded of her mother’s words that she instilled in her, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it. All things are possible if you believe”. Those strong words and the value of education carried her to pursue a Master in Public Administration*. Her desires, dreams, and hopes fueled her to become the first in her family to finish college. Dolores shares about how her education is just the beginning in making an impact in our own communities and throughout the world.

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Why did you decide to pursue your degree, and why did you select West?
I decided to pursue my masters because I had over 25 years in management but could not move higher in management unless I had a master’s degree. I chose West after reviewing several on-line universities (including the state of Texas where I live). I remember late one evening I made a commitment to find an on-line school that I could afford, that was accredited, and that would support my endeavors. I googled “low-cost on-line master degree programs” and West was on the list. The exciting part was they were offering the opportunity to register and enroll in 2 classes with no up-front cost. If you make a B or greater, West would cover all cost for both classes. That was my jump-start! I went in the mind-set I would pass both classes and continue on! The counselor immediately contacted me and went over the process steps. After the call, it hit me…I’m a graduate student now!!

What did you find most valuable about your West experience?
The support from the instructors and counselors. When I was discouraged or had set-backs (such as the passing of my mother), they continued to encourage me and some professors even called to discuss assignments, share experiences which made my desire to finish the program even greater! Another valuable piece at West was the mentor/support group which is comprised of students who have graduated from West. Current enrolled students can email or call them for additional assistance and support. I was fortunate to receive assistance in research papers or testing questions, but I gained some new friends along the way. Today, we still email and touch base on a regular basis. I was so inspired by the mentor/support group, I signed up after graduation to assist other students and I love it!!

What were the benefits to you of earning your degree?
Since graduation from West, I received a job with the DeSoto Independent School District in Desoto, Texas as Director of Afterschool and Curriculum Programs. I currently oversee 15 school sites and approximately 122 staff under my supervision. The benefits of having my degree has allowed me to continue and excel in my job role and continue doing what I love, which is serving children of all backgrounds and social/economic status as well as social services to their parents (job training, ESL, GED, etc.). My degree has provided me with new management concepts in developing educational programs, development of contracts and negotiate financial agreements for the school district. This is something I never had the opportunity to do before. I feel more empowered as a leader which is what I was missing prior to my MPA.

What are your plans for the future?
Since my graduation, I applied and was accepted to Northwestern University Ph.D program in Educational Leadership. I will begin this new journey in January 2017 for the next 3 ½ years. Who would have ever thought someone like me from Canton, Ohio with low grades…….not only graduated at West with honors, but is now enrolled into a PhD program and with a partial scholarship!! I feel truly blessed!

What would you tell a friend who is thinking of going back to school?
I recently sent an email to a friend about West and provided the website because after she saw my accomplishments following graduation, she was motivated to finish her Bachelor’s degree. She will be starting West in January 2017 – and I will be mentoring and coaching her all the way!! I would tell anyone to close your eyes and just think of the “positive” advantages with having a degree, then think about the “negative” consequences. If those positives outweigh the negative (which I am sure they will), you should go for it and don’t look back! When I was a senior in high school, my counselor informed me that my grades were not good enough to get into college and I should look at a trade school. Being the first in my family to want to go to college and having a mother and father who never finished high school, I refused to let this counselor take my dreams away. So when I wanted to pursue my MPA, I thought about what that counselor said and it was my driving-force that “If I can imagine it, I can achieve it. If I can dream it, I can become it. All things are possible, if I believe.” I am a believer in the power of education and what it can do for your life!

* For more information about our programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed their programs, and other important information, please visit: http://west.edu/online-degree-programs.

Dolores Bell

INTRODUCING...FACULTY FOCUS:
DOROTHEA TERRY
Sr. Learning Facilitator
Western International University
El Mirage, AZ

One of our most fascinating pieces every issue is learning about our graduates through the Alumni Spotlight. We noticed the only constant component among our featured alumni is that they each have their own unique, individual story. A story filled with goals, obstacles, and successes they experienced throughout their time at West. However, we only see one perspective. Faculty Focus is a new feature highlighting West faculty members. A good teacher is instrumental in a student’s growth and like our alumni, West faculty is diverse and each person has their own unique, individual story. Dorothea Terry and her 27 years in teaching, training, and development shares how college has changed over time and offers advice to educators.

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How has the undergraduate experience changed since you were pursuing your bachelors?
I completed my undergraduate degree 35 years ago – 1980. I went to college right out of high school because that was what was expected and I was told you couldn’t get a reputable job without a college degree. What I found through my experience is that college was more about social experiences and less about academics.

Now there are more non-traditional post-secondary education offerings that provide relevancy, flexibility, and accessibility as a result of the advancements in technology. Whether night classes, online classes, certificate programs, or professional development courses, the aim is to design and offer a program where students have choices and are in control of their education. This format supports more collaborative learning, self-discovery, and interdisciplinary learning. In 2001 when I decided to go back to school and seek a master’s degree I chose a degree in Adult Education and Distance Learning because I realized the portability and scalability for future opportunities. Online Universities are providing unique educational offerings that are designed to meet the needs of students. This focus is providing an education that is relevant and flexible and can be customized to the field of interest or career path of the student. Now coupled with my master’s degree in Human Dynamics* from West I feel I am equipped and prepared to meet the needs of 21st century students and corporate organizations.

What are some of the biggest challenges you see from the students in the online classroom and how would you recommend students get help?
Most of the challenges I see faced by my online students can be categorized into the aspects of – self-discipline, time management, technology, and social engagement.

A common misconception about traditional versus non-traditional/online learning is that it is easier. Online classes are easier in that they offer flexibility so it can be accessed at the convenience of the learner, but with this flexibility a learner must understand that a certain amount of self-discipline and time management is required to be successful. Flexibility does not mean less content or rigor is required, if anything more is required because the learning is self-directed and the social engagement must occur online versus on campus. Students who are not self-motivated and are easily distracted tend to struggle in this environment and should look to incorporate strategies to remain motivated and on task. To help students with this challenge, I suggest creating a calendar schedule that outlines all school, work, and personal task requirements. This will help students manage the completion of all activities. Also there is the need to establish a routine and good study habits. If students are new to school, or have been out for a while, this will take some time, but developing these will help students stay on task while minimizing stress and the last-minute rush to complete assignments.

In traditional education, social engagement occurs during face-to-face campus interactions. Now, with online education, social engagement must be organically facilitated within the learning management system using discussion forums, online sessions, breakout team activities, etc. To help students become comfortable with the technology and with building relationships online I recommend students participate in the “Getting to Know You” forum activities prior to the start of class. This is something West has incorporated into its online classroom to build a sense of an academic community before class starts. It has been very effective in getting faculty and students talking before class. I personally feel it prepares for the social engagement discussions. Think of it as an online “Getting to Know You” Icebreaker. Once you know the position from which a person speaks, it becomes a lot easier to openly embrace opinions, thoughts, and ideas during classroom discussions. Faculty also creates Welcome Videos, and likewise students are encouraged to share videos or pictures as well. These are both introductory activities to get students engaged and utilizing the technology. There is the potential of students struggling to navigate through the course in an online classroom. I feel this is another thing West does well. New students are scheduled for an Online Orientation of the classroom and as part of the first night of class Faculty host an interactive session to ensure students are comfortable with navigating to the course content, learning activities, and assessments. Participating in these type of activities can help meet challenges a student might have with technology and social engagement.

What do you find most valuable about being a West faculty member?
West is an innovator in providing a quality post-secondary education to working adults and has effectively built traditional elements into its non-traditional programming format thereby bridging the transition and meeting student desires to get a traditional education while in attending a non-traditional institution. West offers a non-traditional educational solution and because I view myself as a non-traditional academic professor I think it makes for a harmonious partnership. I say I am a non-traditional teaching professional because where many approach their job from the theory and mechanics of teaching, I approach it from the spirit and heart of the student – a student-centric style/approach. To me I wear many hats as a West Professor – instructor, facilitator, coach, guide, motivator, encourager, and mentor – just to name a few. The ability to fulfill these roles in one capacity or another is what I value about being a West faculty member.

Teaching is a rewarding profession and I appreciate the opportunity to teach at West because it affords me the opportunity to do what I am passionate about. I think my ultimate responsibility as a teacher is to make a difference. As a professor I feel I am touching our future. I’m often asked why I am so passionate about teaching and my answer is because I feel in this profession I have a chance to mold the future and shape the direction of our future leaders. To me this is the only profession that has long-term intrinsic reward and the ability to impact and transform a life.

As I think back now I can remember the teachers who had the greatest impact on my life and the defining moment that placed me on a path to my future opportunities. Watching a student undertake an educational journey or watching them suddenly discover an idea or thought is the most exciting thing for a teacher to experience. To see the proverbial light bulb go off as a student grasps an idea or concept, or having a student tell you how something they learned in class was applied to a real-world work situation is rewarding. When you see students walking across the stage at graduation, or even when, some 20 years later, they seek you out to say thank you for caring you know that teaching was worth it all, and have a feeling of self-gratification knowing that you were a part of their journey. West provides a forum for me to be me and to do what I enjoy doing – teaching and transforming lives. Recently during our 2016 Commencement, I had a student approach me to introduce themselves and to thank me for the encouragement during their last class. I guess they had experienced some personal challenges and because I treated them as a person first, then a student it made all the difference.

How do you think West prepares students for a career?
Businesses are interested in individuals who have not just obtained a degree, but rather who possess the written and verbal communication skills, relationship building skills, and practical knowledge to troubleshoot and solve issues prevalent to this global business economy. With 35+ year’s history of providing education, West knows its customer and has evolved its educational format and degree program offering to align with what businesses are looking for in today’s modern business world. Courses at West build on core business skills, incorporate global and cultural business aspects, and learning that is application focused versus theory focused so it’s relevant to the marketplace, careers, and positions.

Through Career Services, West offers students and alumni tools to assist with goal-setting, job searches, and, interviewing. The West Career Guidance tool is a wonderful resource West offers to assist students with marketing their skills and preparing for job searches and career opportunities. . Networking, and professional development are also offered through Webinars and hosting of live events where relevant topics are presented, as well as through social media connections such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

What's the best advice you would share to an aspiring educator?
Teaching can be a rewarding profession. The best advice I could give to an aspiring educator would be these four aspects:

First, know your audience and do what you do from a student-centric perspective. It is so easy for those in this profession to get drawn into the theory and mechanics of teaching and to lose sight of the true purpose for which we have been called to this profession – to teach meaningful, impactful lessons that guide, inspire, motivate, educate, and ultimately change lives and help students reach their educational goals. We are called to help transform not just to teach or impart information.

Second, continually seek ways to challenge yourself to make teaching interesting, relevant, current, and fun. This is important because if you don’t the task will become mundane, monotonous, and you will, over time, find yourself in a rut. When this happens generally educators have lost sight of their initial goal and purpose. For me, each time I teach a course I approach it from a fresh perspective. Even if I have taught the class a hundred times before, each new session brings the opportunity to meet new students, have new discussions, and assist with resolving different issues. I look for how I can present information a different way and how I can link discussions to current events to make training relevant and applicable to real-world issues.

Third, never stop learning and stay up to date on advancing technology. When I look back on my career in training and development one of the life-changing mistakes I made was assuming because I knew my job, and was good at my job I would always have my job. What I failed to remember was that change is constant and happens every day. I didn’t pay attention to the world and industry evolving around me and before I knew it I no longer possessed the relevant knowledge and skills to provide and develop training solutions that were in-line with advancing technology of that time. I committed then to myself that this would never happen again and became a lifelong learner. Continue to take classes, attend Webinar’s, workshops, conference, shadow or training professionals, etc. whatever is available.

Finally, stay true to your passion and calling. There will come a day when you will ask yourself – What was I thinking? But if you remember the purpose that led you to this profession and listen to your heart you will find your answer. Bring the best you into your teaching. Your talents, skills, caring-nature, and those things that make you who you are. Think about those examples of teachers you had that made you say – This is what I want to do. What made them effective and what were those qualities that you wanted to immolate and then stay true to your calling. You will find yourself hooked for life.

* For more information about our programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed their programs, and other important information, please visit: http://west.edu/online-degree-programs.

Dorothea Terry

CAREER CORNER:
New Year, New Brand
5 weeks to a better personal brand

January 1st is a day used by many to make resolutions. These may be on any number of topics, such as weight, health, family, or career. While they vary in subject, resolutions tend to have one thing in common: failure. Don’t set yourself up to fail by creating a resolution you won’t stick to. I challenge you instead to start 2017 with a plan. If you want to enhance, or change your career in the future, create a plan focused on improving your personal brand.

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Your personal brand is the way you present yourself professionally in order to portray a certain image. Think of your brand as a puzzle comprised of different pieces that come together to give you a professional identity. When put together, the pieces should create a cohesive image that conveys your areas of expertise. The way you brand yourself can have major impacts on your career. While your brand is ideally developed continually, it often gets pushed to the side or minimally tended until necessary. Below is a breakdown of how you can manage various areas of your personal brand each week of January 2017, allowing you to completely refresh your brand.

Week 1: Self-Assessment
Who are you (professionally speaking)? Who do you want to be? This week take a closer look into your values, skills and interests, as well as strengths and weaknesses. Look back on your education, training, and experience. You can self-rate and also get feedback from family, friends, and colleagues. Your self-assessment is important for understanding a few things, including how you will present yourself and what you need to focus on to reach your goals. Are you weak in public speaking, but want to be a lobbyist? Take note of your weakness and look for ways to improve, such as joining Toastmasters. Did you recently take a class on leadership? Consider how you can use your updated knowledge at your current place of employment.

Week 2: Your Presentation
This is the time to work on how you will introduce yourself to others. You have probably heard of crafting your “story” or “elevator pitch.” Use this week to determine what you need to say to make an impact with your target audience(s). Who needs to hear your pitch and how can you get in front of them? What are some strengths you discovered during self-assessment that others need to know? These are considerations to make when refining your pitch.

Week 3: Professional Documents
Review your resume, cover letter, references list, business cards, and any other documents you use in a professional capacity. Is it time to ask for a letter of recommendation to add to your portfolio? While you may not be looking for employment, you need to be ready when the right opportunity presents itself. With your fresh perspective on strengths, skills, and experiences, you can better tailor your documents to fit the professional you are striving to be.

Week 4: Online Presence
Have you done a Google search on your name lately? When is the last time you added to your LinkedIn? Focus this week on adding recent accomplishments to LinkedIn, and updating your summary and headline to better fit with the job you want. Double check that your Facebook and other personal accounts are private. If you have a website, make sure it reflects the professional you aspire to become. When your future employer looks at your online presence, he or she needs to see the right fit for the job.

Week 5: Physical Presence
There is much emphasis these days in how you present yourself online. Don’t neglect your in-person presence! This is the time to dress for the professional you want to be. Improving your appearance and style can help you look and feel like you belong while increasing your confidence to boot.

Completing these steps will have you off to a great start in 2017, but remember that your work on your brand is never truly complete; it needs continual evaluation and updating. At the end of 2017, look back and see where your branding efforts have taken you.

Haley Foutch is a professional career coach, outplacement consultant, and university faculty member who has devoted the past 6 years to helping people better their lives through career planning and enhancement. She focuses on working with clients to position themselves for transition into new ventures through exploration, career decision-making, self-marketing, and individualized job search strategies. Haley has an MS and EdS in Career Counseling and is a National Certified Counselor.



Haley Foutch

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WEST FEEDS FAMILIES FOR THE HOLIDAYS
St.Mary's Food Drive

West Food Drive

West partnered with St. Mary’s Food Bank from November 7-December 12 to help feed less fortunate families this holiday season. West donated 720 pounds of food that will go toward feeding more than 857,000 Arizonans living in poverty. Thank you to all that participated and dropped off canned food items. Your generosity will not go unnoticed. For more ways to donate: http://www.firstfoodbank.org/

CREATE YOUR VISION PATH
As you look back on 2016, do you feel satisfied with your results? Or did you find yourself staring at a familiar unorganized, disarrayed path of unfulfilled dreams? Laura Varner, founder of AHA Strategic Partners, LLC, discusses the power of sticky notes to reach your goals. Read more at West Now: VISION PATH.

REFER & REWARD
Savings for Alumni & Referrals

West offers our graduates who enroll for a new West degree program—and new West students referred by a West grad—a tuition reduction of $250 per course, upon successful completion of each of your first eight courses ($2,000 maximum).** Just make your introduction, and we'll take care of the rest.

CONTACT US
Hue Haslim
Alumni/Career Resources &
Senior Director, University Engagement

602-429-1078 or hue.haslim@west.edu

Alumni Reenrollment
866-948-4636 or inquiries@west.edu

602.943.2311

866.948.4636

west.edu


*For more information about our programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed their programs and other important information, please visit: http://west.edu/online-degree-programs

** New students who have not attended a Western International University (West) course in the past 365 days and are referred by a West graduate, as well as West graduates enrolling for a new West degree. Western International University is unable to enroll residents of Massachusetts. Certain programs are not available in all locations. Please verify program availability with a University representative.

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