CEHD Study Abroad: Puerto Rico

It’s been said that travel is the best way to learn about yourself and the world around you, and over winter break, three participants in CEHD’s  Puerto Rico: Diversity and Social Capital Under the Sun program did just that.

1ae26c_f3372636dacd4e13b8f57cbd3f7ef329.jpg_srz_157_157_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzLeidy Kasper is a CEHD senior who is majoring in Family Social Science with a minor in public health.


1ae26c_6db1d2e24963440982a1d9e23e4fa29a.jpg_srz_159_159_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzChloe Villegas is a CLA senior who is majoring in African American & African Studies with a minor in public health.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 10.42.59 PMMegan Pieters isn’t a student, but instead involved in the UMN community as a coordinator for the CEHD America Reads program.

Read on to find why each participant– whether a CEHD student, CLA student, or university employee– chose this CEHD  program as their way of exploring the world.

Why did you decide to attend a Global Experience Opportunity program?  What drew you to Puerto Rico, specifically?

LK- I wanted to experience studying abroad at least once in my undergraduate career without being gone for an entire semester. What drew me to Puerto Rico was the program’s topic of social capital and diversity, which I thought was closely related to my field of study and personal interests. I also liked that our program leader was a native Puerto Rican, which made me feel that we would learn authentic information about the diversity and culture of Puerto Rico. Also, Puerto Rico is a beautiful island and who wouldn’t want to spend winter break in 70-degree weather?

CV- Last spring, I was offered a study abroad scholarship through the African American & African studies department . That same day, I found the Diversity and Social Capital Program in Puerto Rico on the learning abroad website and I was so excited, I was probably the first one to sign up! What drew me to Puerto Rico specifically was my personal interest in Puerto Rican history and culture, given that my father’s parents are from the island and my ties to the heritage. I really wanted to gain a deeper understanding of my ancestral history and what was it that made my community so proud to be Puerto Rican.

MP- I learned about the new GEO course in Puerto Rico from an email. The topic, diversity and social capital, aligned with my personal and professional interests. I was also interested in Puerto Rico specifically, because I minored in Spanish and hoped to gain (or regain) some Spanish skills there. As soon as I sat down with the program leader and got my questions answered, I knew I was in!

Photos by Megan Pieters
What was the most meaningful thing you learned on the trip?

LK- Diversity manifests itself in many different ways. Diversity can come from a mixture of different categories working together. Although Puerto Rico is just one place, there are a plethora of different ecosystems, plants, and people that inhabit the island. Each piece of the island is important and contributes to what makes the island diverse and unique.

CV- The most meaningful thing I learned on the trip was the strong value of community in Puerto Rico. Before leaving for Puerto Rico, our instructor Dr. Maria Pabon encouraged building community among each other in the group and I am glad we did because that is the way of the island. Despite the socioeconomic reality for many of the communities we visited, there were always people outside, sharing a meal, enjoying the beach, and just having a strong gratitude for living life surrounded by loved ones.

MP- In addition to learning more about the complex relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico, I learned a lot about the power of language on the trip. By that I am referring to several facets of language- that which allows or prevents communication with others and access to resources, the ways in which we engage in dialogue, and the words we choose to identify ourselves and others.

Photos by Chloe Villegas

What were your favorite activities abroad? 

LK- One of the places that I enjoyed visiting the most was the Bioluminescent Bay. We kayaked through a narrow canal at night, to get to a bay, which has microorganisms that glow when they are moved. Visiting the Capitol building in San Juan was another of my favorite activities.

CV- My favorite activities abroad were the many guided tours we embarked on: museums, government sites and buildings, historical sites and cities, and nature tours. Most importantly visiting various beautiful beaches and stuffing my face with delicious Puerto Rican food (especially the fried Frituras.)

MP- I think I had the most laughs on a group excursion, kayaking the bioluminescent bay. I also loved paddle boarding, visiting the rainforest, exploring the cave systems, and everything we did outdoors!

Photos by Leidy Kasper
Photos by Leidy Kasper

Ready to have an international adventure of your own? The Puerto Rico program is expected to be held again over winter break 2015-16. For information on learning abroad programs and how they fit into a CEHD education , visit the CEHD Learning Abroad website or email cehdintl@umn.edu.

Student photos are credited to the program’s official blog.

Career Fair Tips

It’s career fair crunch time. With less than a week before the University of Minnesota Job and Internship Fair at the Minneapolis Convention Center, it’s time to step up your career fair game. Get all of the details and follow this checklist for tips on how to bring your A-game!

The Details

What: University of Minnesota Job and Internship Fair

When: Friday, February 20, 2015

Where: Minneapolis Convention Center

Fee: $10 before midnight on Tuesday, February 17or $25 at the door. Register here.

Why:  Because where else can you meet 250 employers in one place? And get a professional headshot? And break in that new dress shirt you’ve been dying to wear?

What to Bring

Suit. Keep it classy in a neutral colored suit and shoes. Keep the accessories minimal in order to let your best accessory steal the spotlight– your personality.

Portfolio. Be able to access your resume and notebook easily with a portfolio. A portfolio is easier to manage than a bag and is a lot simpler to hold when talking to a recruiter.

Resume. Come to the fair with a fresh resume, thanks to CEHD career services. Check out their website for more information on how to get your resume in top shape.

UMN athletes show the do’s and don’ts of career fair dress.

Pre-fair Prep

Decide which employers to talk to. Check out the employer directory on GoldPASS before attending the fair. Decide which employers you want to talk to and do your research. Make sure you know the position you are interested in and a basic background on the company.

Practice Your Elevator Speech. An elevator speech is what you say when you approach an employer. It typically includes your name, major, year in school, goals, and experience. It is helpful to end with a question to keep the conversation flowing. Check out an example from UMN’s Grad School website.

 The Day of the Fair

Show up early. Talk to employers while they are still fresh (and before they talk to 439 other students.) Showing up as early as your schedule allows lets you make your first impression first.

Warm up! You wouldn’t run a marathon without doing a small warmup first! Shake your nerves off by practicing your elevator speech with one of the career counselors that will be present at the fair. When you are ready to meet with employers, save your top choices for last to allow you time to get comfortable with the process.

Get contact information. Make it your goal to leave each employer’s booth with contact information. This gives you the chance for a longer conversation with the recruiter if you feel rushed or leave the fair questions. Contact information also allows you to ask the recruiter for the contact information of an employee in the position that you are applying for, which gives you an opportunity to arrange an informational interview.

Pay another visit. If you had a good connection with an employer, think about stopping by one last time on your way out of the fair. A quick handshake, thank you, and saying that you are really interested in their company can go along way in leaving a positive impression– and it shows that you are willing to go the extra mile to stand out!


After the Fair

Send a thank you note. Less than twenty percent of employers said they received a thank you note following last year’s fair, according to career counselor Fen Chen. Set yourself apart by sending a brief email to each employer you meet with no more than 24 hours after the fair.

Check out LinkedIn Alumni. LinkedIn Alumni is an feature that allow students view and connect with alumni in almost every field imaginable. If you find an alum who is working in the position or for an employer that you are interested in, don’t be afraid to send a message asking for an informational interview.

Keep your suit in the front of your closet. This tip is extremely important because all this good advice is sure to land you tons of interviews. If you keep your suit in the front of your closet, you’ll safe yourself the effort of having to dig it out later.

Extra Tips

Spit out that gum! Let the focus be on you instead of the two pieces of Juicy Fruit hanging out of your mouth.

Wait your turn. Although it is tempting to interject into the a conversation between an employer and another student, resist the urge until it is your turn.

Break away from the pack. Don’t walk with your friends. Approaching employers alone shows you’re confident and self-motivated.

 Good luck and go rock that career fair!

Photo credits and more information can be found at the U of M Job and Internship Fair Facebook.

The Scoop on the CEHD Undergraduate Student Board

This interview  with Ms. Courtney Koplien spotlights Courtney’s experiences as the president of CEHD’s Undergraduate Student Board, provides general information about the board, and touches on how to make the most of your campus experience.

How did you get involved with this organization?

I joined the board as a freshman! I knew I wanted to get involved in some sort of club on campus to start meeting new people and getting my feet wet in college, and this seemed right up my alley. I had been a part of student council in high school, so when I talked to some advisors at Welcome Week, this seemed like a good mix of past knowledge and new experience!

Describe your role as President of the board.

As President of the board I oversee all of the board’s actions. We went into the year with goals we wanted to accomplish and events that we wanted to put on, and executing those events is part of my role. I have worked with Career Services and the CEHD Alumni Society to plan career workshops and networking opportunities for students. Another duty of mine is to oversee the members of the board and make sure everyone is involved and informed. I am so lucky to have a great team to work with this year who bring so many creative ideas to the table and who are willing to put time in to creating flyers and posting on social media, as well as doing some behind the scenes work.

What is your favorite memory from your years on the board?

During Homecoming this year we handed out free donuts to students and staff! We had a great turn out and gave away 500 donuts! Everyone on the board was able to be there for part of the time and it was a great way to bond, as well as talk to our fellow classmates and brighten everyone’s morning!

Homecoming Breakfast
This picture is from this year’s Homecoming donut breakfast.

How would you describe the Undergraduate Student Board to someone who has never heard of it?           

The CEHD Undergraduate Student Board is a club that works to better the lives of students in CEHD by helping boost their professionalism, aid in networking and putting on fun events to unite the college.

What special projects has the board worked on in the past? Are there any upcoming initiatives that you’re excited about?

Every year we work with Career Services to put on some career workshops where students can come in and learn how to enhance their professional skills. This year we are hosting 3 workshops: Resume and Cover Letter Writing Workshop (2/4 from 10:30-11:30, 325 EdSci), BrandU Online, which focuses on working on your online appearance to employers (2/9, 2:30-3:30, 330 EdSci) and Mock Interviews (2/17, 11:00-12:30, 330 EdSci). We also host an Alumni Networking Event, which is our most important event of the year! Students come in and connect with CEHD alumni and ask questions about their major and potential career fields! That event is February 25, 5:30-7:30 in the Mississippi Room at Coffman. Additionally, we can be found giving out free food on the Knoll to students during Homecoming and the week before finals each semester!

What accomplishment(s) is the board most proud of?

This year I think we are all proud of our increased number of members and the initiative our members are taking. We have had a lot of great discussions about what the students of CEHD can benefit from and how we can help the community and it has been really great! Plus, hearing how our events have made an impact on the lives of CEHD students always makes us happy and proud to know we are doing our job!

What makes a good board member?

A good board member has to be self-motivated and responsible. We provide many opportunities for the members of our board to get involved with the process of posting on social media, marketing our events, designing spirit wear and banners and networking. We appreciate those members of the board who take initiative when opportunities arise and can be trusted to get the job done!

What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to get involved (with the Undergraduate Student Board)?                 

This photo was taken 2 years ago at an alumni networking event.
This photo was taken 2 years ago at an alumni networking event.

Getting involved is such an important thing to do at this point in our lives and I think that the CEHD Undergraduate Student Board is a great place to do that! With many different roles and opportunities there is always something to do. Plus, it is a great way to practice your social and professional skills! If you are looking to get involved with the CEHD Undergraduate Student Board you can email us at cehdusb@umn.edu. We meet every other Wednesday night from 7:00-8:00pm. You can also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (@cehd_usb) or Instagram (@cehdusb) to keep up with our latest events and happenings in CEHD!

What tips do you have for students who are looking to make the most of their campus experience?

As soon as I got involved on campus, my college experience skyrocketed. Getting involved with the board helped me practice my professional skills and allowed me to meet new people. When I got more involved during my classes (and stopped being scared about raising my hand) I felt like I got more out of my education and connected more with my professors. By getting an on-campus job I felt more connected to the inner-working of the university and expanded my social circle. Getting involved and immersing myself in whatever I do has worked for me to truly make the most of every opportunity that has been presented to me.

Why are you enrolled in CEHD? What do you love most about the College of Education and Human Development?

CEHD houses my major, Kinesiology. CEHD is a tight-knit community that I feel so connected to. I feel like I can, and have, made relationships with students and staff in the college that I would not be able to do in another college. Being able to communicate with others has been a great part of my experience in CEHD.

Fun fact about yourself?

I am a Kinesiology major and will be graduating this spring! After graduation I will be starting Physical Therapy School in the summer here at the U! I am so happy to be staying here in Minneapolis and I am thrilled to be a gopher for 3 more years!

This picture features Courtney (in black) and her Vice President, Sarah Minsky (in maroon).
This picture features Courtney (in black) and her Vice President, Sarah Minsky (in maroon).

One Class, One Day- CI 3211: Introduction to Elementary Teaching


CI 3211: Introduction to Elementary Teaching

Instructor: Tracy Leitl

“What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing”. – Aristotle

Learning has never been a spectator sport, and a great way to learn is through experience. This is why the students enrolled in CI 3211 are involved in a practicum program where they get the chance to observe elementary school teachers in their classrooms. This allows the students to interact with little kids and to learn more about various teaching styles. These education majors are getting hands-on experience and are being taught in a dynamic way. At the beginning of class, the students in CI 3211 had the chance to discuss how their practicums were going thus far. Undergrads took this time to share their stories with one another and to reflect upon what they had been learning. After listening to this engaging discussion, it was apparent that these undergrads were getting real world experience. One student in particular ended up instructing an elementary level Spanish class after finding out that the assigned substitute teacher couldn’t speak any español. This CEHD student wasn’t afraid to take the initiative or to break out of her comfort zone, which is admirable. Although the young woman was taken by surprise, she was happy about overcoming this challenge. She said that instructing this class was a great experience. It had enabled her to apply classroom concepts in an authentic environment.

After talking about their practicum experiences, the class began wrapping up their language and literacy mini presentations. These presentations were designed to help students learn teacher lingo, and they were also very informative. Additionally, the presenters were energetic and seemed to have a knack for public speaking. After each presentation concluded, Ms. Leitl would teach a cheer to her students. She taught them how to “raise the roof”, and “ride the rollercoaster”. These cheers were fun and they helped to create a likeable classroom environment. Ms. Leitl was teaching them to her undergraduate students in hopes that they would one day share them with the elementary kids. These peppy cheers ensure that students feel a sense of accomplishment and they tell students that their hard work is appreciated.

Next, this 3211 class was introduced to the idea of “knowing the learner”. Questions like “who are we?” and “how do we get to know our students?” were posed. Then, the class began to delve deep into the artifact activity where students were asked to share a special story with their peers. They were all told to display their artifact and their description of it on their desk. After each desk exhibited a sole artifact, the students were asked to participate in a museum walk. The museum walk allowed students to roam around the classroom and to observe their peers’ artifacts. As students wandered around, instrumental music began to play. The atmosphere in the classroom was truly inimitable in the way that you could feel the students getting to know one another on a more personal level. This activity was responsible for taking surface relationships to the next level. Now students were beginning to form an emotional connection with those around them, and this was awe-inspiring. Belongings that once meant nothing to the students now seemed to hold a sense of importance, and they empowered the students to look at each of their peers in a new light. For example, what was once just a necklace was now an emblem of a beautiful love story. It was interesting to see both the similarities and differences that existed among the classmates and to see what made each artifact distinct. When most professors want their students to learn about each other, they assign a group project. But, Professor Leitl knows better. She understands that students can benefit more from a 20-minute activity than they could from spending two weeks working on a mundane group assignment. There was a lot of purpose behind the museum walk, and this activity did impact the culture of the classroom in a positive way.    Applegraphic

Following the museum walk, the undergrads discussed how this activity might have panned out differently if done with elementary students. They spoke of what might have happened and the importance of setting expectations as a teacher. Since the undergraduate students were old and wise, Leitl didn’t need to say much in regards to the rules of the museum walk. However, she explained that if she were to do this activity at an elementary school, she would have to go over her expectations with the students first. Establishing rules beforehand ensures that classroom activities will run fairly smoothly. Professor Leitl then covered the look/sound/feel teaching technique with the undergraduates to show them how they might set expectations as an educator. Once again, the students in CI 3211 were learning how to apply course concepts in a way that would be beneficial to their future students.

Lastly, Professor Leitl discussed course readings with her students. She addressed the meaning behind each text and explained why it was significant to the teaching profession. Each reading related to the overarching theme of “knowing the learner” and exemplified the importance of mutually beneficial teacher-student relationships. She spoke of how an educator must understand the needs of individual students and be cognizant of the fact that people learn in different ways. A teacher must also realize that there’s not a “one size fits all” teaching style and therefore, she instructed her students to cater their teaching style to meet the needs of the class.

This course revealed that if an educator wants their students to learn, they must first learn about their students. And although this notion seems rudimentary, I think it’s one of the most important concepts that a teacher can grasp. This class, CI 3211, did a remarkable job of covering best teaching practices and clarifying how these practices will be beneficial to learners. Not only are enrolled students learning how to teach, but they are also learning about the significance behind this profession. I think this makes the course both unique and worthwhile. CI 3211 offers students the chance to learn through experience, and it’s often been said that experience is the best teacher of all.



Photo Cred: Word cloud, Apple, Love teaching, love learning, Teacher and students