Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Learner Series: The Family that Studies Together, Succeeds Together

At Peirce, we’re always thrilled to highlight exceptional students who overcome challenges to meet their academic and career goals. In that past, we’ve featured deployed service members, married couples, and a mother and son who are completing their studies together, among many others.
So when we learned about the Young family we knew we had to speak with them. They are a husband, wife, and daughter all attending Peirce together while each managing incredibly busy schedules. It was inspiring to hear about their amazing story of commitment, dedication, and their extraordinary ability to balance many different priorities while also excelling in their academic studies. We think you’ll agree.

We started our conversation by discussing the circumstances that led them all to be enrolled at Peirce at the same time. The conversation then turned to the demanding schedules that each member of the family manages on a daily basis. Finally, we ended with the advice they would give to other learners who are juggling family, work, and personal commitments while pursuing their education.

Meet the family
Leigh first came to Peirce several years ago to pursue an associate degree. At that time her husband, Anthony, was in the military stationed in Kosovo and she was taking care of three children in the home, the youngest being just 18 months old. Because of this challenging schedule, Leigh found the online courses at Peirce to be convenient and compatible for her situation. She’s now a senior at Peirce where she is pursuing her bachelor’s in Integrated Leadership.

Her daughter Bene’t was part of the Year Up program that partners with Peirce College to provide young adults with the skills needed to succeed in the workforce. The yearlong program starts with six months of professional development and upon completion guarantees an internship at a Fortune 1000 company. Bene’t excelled in the program. She won the Leadership Award, secured an internship at JPMorgan Chase, and eventually earned a year-long extension of the internship.

For Bene’t, after graduating from high school and taking classes at the Community College of Philadelphia, she realized she wanted to advance further in her studies. Her mother recommended she take a look at Peirce because of her earlier positive experiences. Soon thereafter, Bene’t found herself enrolling at Peirce to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Information Technology.

It was around this same time, now back from Kosovo, that Anthony realized he had a GI Bill he could use. After retiring from the military (though working full-time at the U.S. Post Office) he decided to join his family at Peirce and pursue an associate degree in criminal justice.

Getting down to busy-ness
To say that this family is busy would be an understatement. Leigh, who just got a new position at Temple University’s School of Podiatry, is also very involved with her church as the Women’s Director and church board secretary. She’s enrolled in a yearlong leadership course with the church and takes weekly fitness classes. She wakes up at 5am to get some studying and homework done before taking her 13 year-old son to the bus stop at 6am.

Anthony leaves for his third shift position at the Post Office at 10pm and returns home at 8am. After settling in, he begins studying and completing homework, often until he falls asleep.

As for Bene’t, she’s taking online classes at Peirce while also taking a Saturday calculus course at CCP. She is working 19 hours per week in her Year Up internship extension at JP Morgan on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. She plans on dedicating Tuesdays and Thursdays as her study and online class days this semester.

In addition to their individual schedules, family time and taking care of their 13 year-old are very high on their priority list.

So how do they do it as a family? Leigh tells us:

“There is always bumps in the road. We’ve had to learn as a family how to study and be involved with school, while still being involved with each other. There were points where everyone would scatter and sometimes we would only see each other in passing or at meals. Being knowledgeable of each other’s schedules, stresses and time needed helps us to be empathetic to what each person is going through. For example, I may take a class and do very well in it but another family member may not feel the same way about the class. We push each other by being competitive and we always help motivate each other.
 Once you get in a rhythm you can do it, you can find a way. I don’t get home from work until 7 but still have to find a way to do it. So time management for all of us is very important. The time that you spend watching a television show is the time that it takes to study, so it’s about sacrificing and knowing your goals. But through all of the stress and challenges I would do it again because of the many rewards of it. We’ve developed as a family and it is setting a good example for my 13 year old son, who is already placing in advanced classes. We’re proving that education can be a family event.”

Leigh is only eight classes away from completing her degree and hopes to graduate next year. She tells us that since Temple is such a big organization, she plans on utilizing her education to go further along in her career than she would be able to without one.

Anthony currently has a 4.0 GPA and hopes to graduate with his associate degree in criminal justice in 2016. From there he may decide to continue his education by pursuing a bachelor’s and possibly finding a third career in criminal justice. “Who knows, he may be working in homeland security!” Leigh added.

Bene’t plans on pursuing a two-year Career Development program at JPMorgan Chase that starts in July 2015. She hopes to graduate from Peirce with an Information Technology bachelor’s degree in programming and application development. She’ll graduate with her associate degree from CCP this January.

Good luck to you all and thanks for being such an inspiring family!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Year Up Check-In: Young Philadelphians Going Against the Grain

Young Philadelphians dressed in corporate attire – almost oxymoronic given pop culture fashion and high rates of unemployment amongst this group.  Yet, if you are at Peirce during the day you will see 50 young adults dressed to the proverbial nines. They are participants in Year Up, striving to ascend from a mere job (or joblessness) to a career pathway in just one year.

Year Up students dressed to the nines
Year Up is a non-profit organization, founded in Boston. Since, 2000, Year Up has served more than 10,000 young adults in 12 urban centers across the country. Philadelphia, its 12th city, joins Baltimore, Miami, New York, Chicago and Puget Sound to name a few.

Year Up students taking a Selfie with Founder Gerald Chertavian
Year Up’s mission is to close the Opportunity Divide. That is, to connect young low income adults to entry level career opportunities in the corporate sector. Millions of young adults in the US have talent and motivation, but lack opportunity. At the same time, companies have opportunities available, but lack the talent they need to succeed. In response, Year Up provides its participants the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.

Mission aligned, Year Up and Peirce forged a partnership and launched in the fall term of 2013 with 21 students in its inaugural class. Year Up and Peirce enroll students every 6 months, in the fall and spring terms. Year Up has doubled in size, serving 51 students this fall and expects at least as many in spring, 2015.

51 members of class 3 during orientation August
Year Up is a one year intensive training program. The first half of the year is called the Learning and Development phase. During this time, Peirce provides hard skills training through introductory level IT coursework. Concurrently, Year Up staff spends 13 hours per week with students on soft skills: professional communication, dress and disposition. On Mondays, the program team delivers a course called Pro-skills that builds upon and expands Peirce’s PRC100 course. On Thursday’s there are one-on-one and small group coaching sessions. Fridays, affectionately called Friday Feedback, includes guest speakers, team building activities and a formal, peer-to-peer exchange of feedback on professional behaviors.  On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Year Up students are engaged in Peirce coursework.
“you have got to get comfortable being uncomfortable”, says Annie Subah, member of the very first class at Peirce, reflecting on the advice of her Year Up Mentor.“
Year Up staff member, Stefanie Cuadrado facilitating a team work excercise
After one term at Peirce, students spend six months working 35 hours per week at a large company. This year, Year Up students have interned at Comcast, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, University of Pennsylvania, and Gilbane. Students are placed with a manger within a range of departments like Cyber Security, Quality Assurance, Help Desk Support and HR Operations.
John Ropas, the Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase (JPMC), Wilmington has been a long standing supporter of Year Up from his work with JPMC in New York City. He understands how important it is to cultivate young talent

 “…these Young adults are our future, we need to give them the tools they need to be successful.”

After completing Year Up, students will have earned up to 21 college credits and will be able to tout substantive work experience on their resumes. Having expanded their networks, Year Up students come away with recommendations from experienced professionals at reputable corporations. However, the ultimate goal is for students to be gainfully employed within four months of completing the year-long program.

In the best case scenario, Year Up students are retained by their internship employer. Indeed this was the case for eight of thirteen students who completed the program this past July. Five Year Up students now work at Comcast and three students were retained at JPMC. After the program ends, Year Up staff assists its graduates in leveraging their experience. Ten of thirteen students are working in professional track entry level jobs at an average hourly wage of 18/hour. Moreover, 100% of the first class of students have re-matriculated into Peirce to move toward the completion of their Associates Degree.  The outcomes of Year Up and Peirce’s inaugural class exceed Year Up national standards: 85% working or in school full time with hourly wages of $16/hour.

A hand up is not a handout, Year Up seeks to hoist young people from poverty to a career by providing access to opportunity. Angel Ponce of class one, who recently landed a job at USLI, plans to make good on his opportunity.

“As long as I preserve and I work hard, I can do it. It’s a matter of how hard I work that puts me that much closer to where I want to be”

Year Up and Peirce, embarking on year two, are seeking 50 – 60 students in the spring term. To be eligible for Year Up students must meet the following criterian:
  • Pell and PHEAA
  • High School Diploma or GED
  • 18 – 24 years of age
  • Eligible to work in the United States
  • Must NOT have obtained AA degree already (fewer than 30 college credits preferred)
To apply to Year Up, complete an interest form on line, call the recruitment manager, Craig Smith at 215.670.9394, and visit the Year Up office in Alumni Hall. Dress to impress!

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Scholarship Opportunity for Aspiring Paralegals

Paralegal students, here is an amazing opportunity to earn a $2000 scholarship while honoring a local pioneer in the paralegal profession who recently passed away.

The Mary L. Creekmore Memorial Scholarship is a $2,000 award given through the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals to a paralegal student who shares Mary’s vision for the profession. The mission of the scholarship is to “preserve and foster the ideals of Mary L. Creekmore by supporting the paralegal profession and individuals who aspire to the profession who share like-minded ethics, values and interests.” She created the scholarship a few months before her passing as a way to benefit the next generation of paralegals.

Mary was a very dedicated member of the paralegal profession and spent much of her career advocating on its behalf. In addition to serving as president of the Philadelphia Association of paralegals, she also taught Professional Responsibility and Ethics to paralegal students. On a national level, she served as a delegate and Ethics and Professional Responsibilities Coordinator to the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA).

All students demonstrating academic excellence while enrolled in a paralegal studies program within the Delaware Valley area are eligible.

To be considered, students must submit an essay on the following topic:
The theme of the 2014 PAP Education Conference was “The Ethical Paralegal.” Explain what it means to be an ethical paralegal. Please provide examples of ethical dilemmas and how you, as a working paralegal, would handle these situations.

If you’re interested, the full application and further details can be found here. All submissions must be postmarked by Friday, November 28, 2014. Winners will be selected by the PAP Professional Development committee and awarded at the Association’s quarterly luncheon in January 2015.

 Mary was dedicated to the profession and a driving force for the evolution that has taken place in the paralegal profession.  This scholarship is a wonderful memorial to a wonderful person. We’d love to see a Peirce student win the scholarship and continue to advance the paralegal profession the way Mary intended.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Graduate Student Association Welcomes 2014-2015 Executive Board Members

We’re excited to announce the launch of the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and welcome the newly elected Executive Board members!  The GSA is the student governing body for Peirce College students enrolled in the graduate program. It serves as an additional support system for students and advocates to help further the interests of graduate students. In addition, the GSA will host various events for graduate students and the Peirce community as a whole including guest speakers, workshops for APA, civic engagement opportunities, networking opportunities, and more.

The GSA is governed by a student-elected Executive Board and a faculty advisor representing Peirce College. Graduate students voted for the current board via electronic ballot the week of September 29th. The 2014-2015 GSA board members were announced on October 5th, its board members are:

  • President - Steven Amster
  • Vice President - Karl Fritz
  • Secretary/Treasurer - John Morris
  • Programs Coordinator - Alyssa Dorney
  • Student Senators - Beverly Diggins and Mary Grassia
If you’re enrolled in the Peirce College graduate program you’ve already been granted membership to GSA.  Although it’s too late to run for a board position this year, graduate students are encouraged to stay involved with GSA. There will be a variety of volunteer opportunities, including at events, and a general meeting for all students once per term. If you’d like to learn more about the GSA and how you can be involved, please email me.

Congratulations on the launch of GSA and to the 2014-2015 GSA Executive Board members!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A History of U.S. Presidents at Peirce College

Last month PBS aired the Ken Burns’ series The Roosevelts, which documents the lives of the famous political family. Though it wasn’t mentioned on the show, there’s a Peirce connection to the family.  Teddy Roosevelt spoke at our commencement ceremonies twice; first in 1896, when he was the Police Commissioner of New York City, and again in 1918 as a former President. His 1918 speech was focused on US entry in the First World War. He urged graduates to “pay taxes cheerfully” and conserve food and energy at home to aid in the war effort.  “Teddy” was a critic of the Wilson Administration, believing they hadn’t done enough to prepare for the war, and he used part of the speech to express his criticisms. Perhaps to achieve balance, Wilson’s Vice President Thomas R. Marshall was the commencement speaker the following year.

Roosevelt was not the only former President to address Peirce graduates. Benjamin Harrison was the first person to address the college as a former President in 1893, with an address focused on labor issues. Grover Cleveland spoke to the Class of 1900, and Howard Taft addressed the graduates of 1913. Taft’s January 1913 speech took place just a few months after losing the Election of 1912 to Woodrow Wilson, and a number of local and national dignitaries attended the commencement. The city even held a parade in his honor on Broad Street, and he addressed a crowd in front of the Union League.

 Not every person asked to speak at commencement was able to attend; our archives contain a letter of regret from William McKinley, who stated he hoped to “sometime have the pleasure of visiting your school.” Unfortunately that opportunity never materialized; McKinley was assassinated in September of 1901, when then Vice President Roosevelt became President.  

1893 Commencement

Benjamin Harrison

Grover Cleveland

Howard Taft

McKinley Letter of Regret

Teddy Roosevelt

Monday, October 6, 2014

Suited for Success: Help Others Make a Lasting Impression at Job Interviews

400 years ago the Catholic priest, theologian, and social critic Erasumus uttered the famous lines “Clothes make the man.” Since then it has been echoed by the likes of Shakespeare, Mark Twain and countless career consultants. For men and women looking to return to the workforce, this idea rings especially true.

A job interview is one of the most important occasions to make a strong first impression. Studies show that 55% of another person's perception of you is based on how you look. Before you even say hello, your interviewer has made an initial judgment of you based solely on your appearance.

The Peirce Career Development Services’ Suited for Success drive aims to provide men and women looking to return to the workforce with the appropriate attire to make that perception a positive one. Through the donations of the Peirce community, we’re providing future job candidates with the attire needed to build their confidence as they begin the interviewing process.

Throughout the month of October we’re collecting gently used men and women’s business attire in the College Hall Lobby. So as you clean out your closets and prepare for the winter months, please consider donating any gently used items to our Suited for Success drive. Your kindness will help provide men and women with the necessary attire to build their self-esteem and leave a memorable impression after the job interview.

On behalf of the recipients who may land a job because of your generosity, thanks in advance.

Monday, September 29, 2014

How to Find the Perfect Mentor

What do Dr. Martin Luther King, Colin Powell, and Oprah Winfrey have in common?  They all attribute a large part of their success to meaningful relationships they’ve had with mentors. Regardless of what field you’re looking to enter, a good mentor can provide many benefits that will help you excel in your career path.

As we are preparing to launch the third year of our Peirce Student Mentoring program with an on-campus kickoff celebration, allow us to share some reflections about what goes into a successful mentoring relationship.

There are many different types of mentor/mentee relationships. Some mentors may be professionals in your career field, while others may simply be a role model you look up to. A good mentor will help you define and refine your direction, help you realize your full potential, provide valuable life advice, and push you to keep moving forward. You will need to do the work and the self-assessment, but they will be there for feedback and guidance.

Mentorships can come in all shapes and sizes. Some are formal, others are informal. Some mentors meet with their mentee weekly or monthly, and some connect through email, or on the phone. Others may meet quarterly or every couple of months for lunch. The most important thing is that you develop a relationship that is most beneficial for the both of you.

Here are some effective ways to find a mentor and tips for developing a successful relationship.

Understand why you want a mentorship
The most effective relationships will be those where you define what you’re hoping to gain even before you start looking for a mentor. Identify the areas you hope to grow in or any challenges you may be having with your personal or professional development. Think about your long term goals so that you can find a mentor that can best help you grow into the person who can achieve them.  Ask yourself these questions: 
  • What do I hope to gain from this relationship?
  • How can the mentor help?
  • Who would be the ideal mentor? Why? 
Find your mentor
A potential mentor could be anyone you look up to personally or professionally who is willing to help you reach your full potential. With that said, you could find a potential mentor in a variety of different settings and events. Some great places to find one include: 
  • Career related workshops
  • Alumni
  • Networking events
  • Professional development events
  • By talking to your professor
  • Civic groups
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • LinkedIn connections
  • Bosses or professional colleagues 
Many mentees also say they found their mentor while volunteering. Others have found theirs by setting up informational interviews with professionals working in the field they’re interested in.

You would do well to do some research on a potential mentor.  A Google search or survey of their LinkedIn profile ahead of an ask may provide valuable insight into their background, skills and interests, and provide you with information for a future conversation.

Develop the relationship
Keep in mind that being a mentor is a large commitment, especially for busy professionals. Ease into the relationship. You should never ask anyone you have just met or don’t even know to be your mentor. Perhaps instead of coming right out and asking them to be your mentor, ask if they would give you some advice or meet with you to answer a few questions. Depending on the outcome of that meeting, you can move to formalize the relationship. Consider asking if they would mentor you in a specific area rather than broadly asking if they’d be your mentor.

Keep in mind this is a two-way relationship. You should always be looking for opportunities to provide value to your mentor. In addition to looking for ways to assist them, you should also show your appreciation for their help and demonstrate your commitment to making the most of the relationship. Be sure to keep them updated on how you’ve progressed and thank them for specific things they’ve done to help you.

Look for a mentor who has already done what you’re hoping to do, who understands what it will take to help you get there, and is passionate about their field and helping others excel.

Good luck on your search! We’d love to hear how a mentor is helping you succeed both in and out of the classroom so be sure to keep us updated!

If you would be interested in being connected with an alumni mentor as part of Peirce’s Student Mentoring program, email cds@peirce.edu or call 215-670-9202.  A second cohort of the program will be launched early next year.