Peace at Last – A Career Odyssey

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Barbara Wolf Shousha, UNHS Director

“When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace.” —Hyrum Smith, co-founder Franklin Covey

My first research report was for my middle school science class. I cannot remember the actual topic but I remember visiting the main public library (life before the internet for you young ones!) where I was awed by the reference librarians and the abundant amount of material. I felt thrilled to read, make notes and cross-reference!

As an adult, I studied educational theory and wrote a thesis on educational philosophy. I spent hours alone in school archives and I LOVED it!  I remember when the ideas started to come together so fast I could barely record them. I would read through documents for hours, my only human interaction being brief exchanges with the archivist, “I’d like box two, folder six of this collection please.” I was incredibly happy and filled with energy.

In my career, I worked as an instructional designer for corporations and felt that same thrill taking apart complex information and re-structuring it for learners. It didn’t matter what the content was, I was on a mission to make it clear and useful.

As much as I loved some of the challenges of my professional life, my career just felt “off” sometimes. My academic interests were abstract and idea driven and my corporate career felt too bottom-line and pragmatic. Finally, when my last corporate job ended, I resolved to find an environment that would be a good fit for me—that was when I joined the University. At last, my academic interests, my work life and my existential nerdiness are in congruence and it feels terrific!

This week I was in a meeting listening to faculty and instructional designers discuss changes to a Biology grading rubric. As they talked, everyone in the room grew more and more excited, “Yes! That will definitely help the learner!” and “This will give the student confidence to take on the more difficult concepts!” I watched them in real-time applying Bloom’s Taxonomy in the service of others and I smiled. These are my people and I am free to let my nerd light shine.

So I implore you to take note of your everyday activities—whether in work or academics—and fit these with your highest priorities and passions in life. You will be amazed at the amount of energy and peace you will experience when your daily work is aligned with what you value most.    

The Power of One

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Ray Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

Cancer does not play fair.

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Ball. This event is a big fundraiser for cancer research in Nebraska. Many accounts were told of families who have lost loved ones, or have friends or family members who are currently battling some type cancer.

My wife, Marcia, was one of the people who shared her story.  She was diagnosed with stage IV mantle cell lymphoma four years ago and after many rounds of chemo and a stem cell transplant (her total treatment took about one year) she is now a survivor. One of the points she noted in her remarks was from a card she received which had this saying that became very important to her:

“Cancer is a villain and it does not play fair, but it can’t take your spirit and it can’t silence prayer.”

Immediately after the Cattlemen’s Ball, she received many words of appreciation and encouragement for her willingness to be vulnerable with her cancer journey.

What makes this empowering event possible are the hundreds of volunteers. Because of their hard work, vital money for cancer research isn’t the only thing being raised—those who are affected by cancer can have a carefree night to lift their spirits and faith that one day they or their loved ones will be cancer free.

Volunteering comes in many forms. From picking up trash on the side of the road to serving dinners at a local homeless shelter, volunteering is any act that provides a service for another. More importantly, this service is done for the benefit of someone else and even the smallest things can make another smile. Seeing a clean road might make a commuter smile on their way to work, while a full stomach might empower someone who may be down on their luck.

With that in mind, my challenge to you is to volunteer for something that is important to you!

American author, Edward Everett Hale once said, “I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do”.

The power of one can make a difference. Make a difference for someone today!

4 Tips for a Successful School Year

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Hugh McDermott, UNHS Principal

For many high school students, August seems to be the favored month for the start of back-to-school. For students involved in sports, many have actually been training and working out even before the traditional pre-season of the school year officially began, and August means the start of when they can demonstrate their hard work. For others, the start of school means the reduction or the stopping of work for summer jobs as they begin to focus on their studies.

As a high school principal, my previous talks to students at the start of the school year focused on these four rules—applicable to all whether you’re an athlete, have a part-time job or anyone else.

  1. Show up. Attendance is critical to your success—you have to be there to get the instruction offered by your teachers. For online students, you have to open up your coursework and you have to submit assignments frequently so that there is evidence of your involvement and participation on a frequent basis. Ask questions of your online teachers [unhsteach@nebraska.edu]—this lets them know you’re engaged in the process.
  2. Do your work. Not only is it critical that you do the assignments and work assigned to you by your teachers, but you should do quality work. Remember, everything you turn in has your name on it. Your name should mean something—it is who you are and stands for the integrity of your good character. Be proud of each and every assignment you submit because it represents (or should), your very best efforts.
  3. Practice civility. Students who really care about their education demonstrate great amounts of civility toward others—even folks they don’t know. Your words and actions matter, whether it is how you speak and act towards members of your community, others are forming an impression of how you manage yourself as a human being. Keep your words and actions positive and reflective of your dedication to yourself. Your words matter to your teachers as they grade your work and your projects. Use them wisely and carefully. Online teachers can quickly pick up the “tone” of your comments in your writing. Make it a point to practice your civility online!
  4. School comes first. If you continue to work during the school year, which is perfectly fine (and more power to you!), just remember that your schoolwork should be your priority.

If you follow these simple rules, you are more likely to enjoy the learning experience this year.

I hope that what you will take away from this is experience is a life-long love of learning that will guide you along a very productive life. Have a great start to your year!

Travel Tips: When You Return Home

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Charlotte Seewald, UNHS Assistant Director

Your trip is now over, but don’t be too sad! Now you have fond memories to look back on, and I bet it also feels good to be home. Here are some things to keep in mind as you readjust to your home country.

Remember how you had jet lag when you traveled there? Coming home may be worse! While I hope you land and feel great, it is understandable if you feel tired, irritable, distracted as your brain and body readjust to the time zone.

Be gentle with yourself—most people need a day for every hour difference to be back to their normal energy level. So if you were in a country that was 10 hours different than your home it may take 10 days for you to adjust. It is a good idea to not have big projects or stressful agendas to work on the first week of your return. Also, let your family and friends know you need some time to “get back to normal”.

After a long trip home from Malaysia, I found myself crying over a TV commercial! My friend’s husband came home from a long trip and was a grouch for 2 days. Fair warning!

Now that you’re home, here are some things to do:

  1. Store your passport in designated and secure spot for the next trip.
  2. Review credit card charges to note any errors. Contact credit card companies to inform them you have returned.
  3. Store electrical adapter where you can find them again.
  4. Download photos, edit and share!
  5. Sort through gifts and mementos you brought home to share now or later.
  6. Reflect on your travel experiences and consider where you would like to go next!

Whether you are reading these tips before you travel to prepare yourself or are using the advice now, I hope you have a wonderful experience before, during and after you travel!

Travel Tips: While You Travel

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Charlotte Seewald, UNHS Assistant Director

Congratulations! Now that you’ve arrive at your destination, here are a few tips to help get your trip off to a good start.

  • Cash is always accepted! When you arrive in a new country, it is always good to have U.S. dollars on you. Get local money at an ATM or currency exchange location, and avoid getting it exchanged at the airport—they have the worst rates. It can be helpful to use a calculator or app on your phone to figure out the price of something in a specific currency.
  • If you’ve landed in a time zone that is five or more hours different than home, you may have jet lag. There are different theories on how to deal with jet lag, but it helps to try and jump into the local time and plan a not so strenuous first day. Eat and sleep on the local schedule. Here’s hoping you get a great night’s rest!
  • Remember you are always an ambassador of your country. Be courteous and respect the local culture. It may be tremendously exciting to visit a place, but may not be appropriate to do certain things. For instance taking photos, selfies, funny poses and gawking at new sights can sometimes make others feel awkward and less than respected.
  • It’s always a good idea to keep passport, money, credit cards, phone, camera, etc. close to you. Some people like money belts or a zippered pouch on a lanyard. Prevent potential problems by having items in a safe, locked pocket or bag. Also because of potential jet lag you may be more forgetful, so it’s good to have a designated place to find these items.

One more big things to remember: Just because you are in a world famous place doesn’t mean you have to do the “expected” tour. Often the most meaningful experiences are more personal. For instance, in Venice, you may find that the expensive gondola ride is eclipsed by rich gelato eaten in the beautiful sunshine.

Ask locals for advice and be genuinely open to new and different people, places, and cultures. You will make new friends and learn lots!