Thursday, December 15, 2011

Endicott Graduates See Next Step as Foothold on the Rest of Their lives

By Rachel Bell
Gordon College News Service
November 21, 2011
(This story appeared in a GCNS package series December 15, 2011, in the print and online editions of the Boston Globe, North section.)

BEVERLY, Mass. – This Christmas, Rebecca Haile, 22, will be bringing home a degree in business administration, a minor in English and a slew of internship experiences. Having attended Beverly Middle and High Schools, Haile is now a dean’s list student graduating from her hometown’s local college.

Haile will join approximately 30 other Endicott undergraduates receiving their degrees in December instead of with most of their classmates in May, and will enter the job market in the middle of the holiday season. Some of those December graduates are adult learners taking their degree at an accelerated pace and others like Haile, are graduating a semester early.

“More and more students are coming to us with credit earned in high school giving them the opportunity to accelerate their program,” said Amy Ross, dean of Endicott’s school of business. According to Ross, some students decline the early graduation option, despite the chance to save money during the spring semester. “It boggles my mind that a lot of students opt to stay in for the full four years,” she said.

But for Haile, the choice to graduate early was not a financial one. “I’m just done,” she said. “It’s not about the money, though saving money is a plus.”

Christopher Durocher, 23, a sports management major had a different reason for graduating in December. In 2008 he entered Endicott as a transfer student from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada. When his credits could not all transfer to Endicott, he ended up taking an extra semester of classes, which meant graduating in the middle of the academic year. “It’s a weird feeling that all my buddies still have another semester,” he said, “while I’m going off and doing something completely different.”

Accelerated Studies at Salem State University Bring Job Hopes in the Holidays

By Rachael Bailey
Gordon College News Service
November 21, 2011
(This story appeared in a GCNS package series December 15, 2011, in the print and online editions of the Boston Globe, North section.)

SALEM, Mass.—Many college seniors may consider the December holidays a month-long hiatus from studies. For December graduate Yasmeen Kouki, 25, of Reading, MA, however, the holidays are the end of school altogether and the beginning of a full-time job.

After completing her first financial accounting class at Salem State University (SSU), Kouki declared a concentration in the field at SSU’s Bertolon School of Business. Kouki, as one of 305 undergraduate students finishing in December, was able to transfer enough credits from the University of Connecticut in the spring of 2009 to earn her degree—just in time to be a semester ahead of May graduates applying for jobs.

When Kouki knew she would meet the 150-credit requirement she needed to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, she distributed her résumé at a career fair in October hoping to score a job by January. Days later, Tonneson + CO of Boston called her for an interview and in less than a week, she was offered the position as a staff accountant. The Dean’s List graduate accepted and is slated to start in January.

An early finish can be a leg up for any graduate, but accounting students like Kouki, are at a special advantage because, according to SSU professor, Doug Larson, peak recruitment in the industry is from July to October. Kouki has been a student accounting lab tutor, peer mentor, and works part time at a C.P.A. firm in Lexington.

“In my field, most students have a job lined up,” said Larson. “But it’s like most things in life. If you work hard you do well.”

UMass Lowell Business Students Preparing For Life After December Graduation

By Angela Rodriguez
Gordon College News Service
November 21, 2011
(This story appeared in a GCNS package series December 15, 2011, in the print and online editions of the Boston Globe, North section.)

LOWELL, MA – When Christian Elwood, 23, first applied to UMass Lowell, the last thing he thought he would be doing his senior year was meeting and learning from billionaire Warren Buffet. Elwood was one of twenty students who traveled to Nebraska last month (mid-November) for a question and answer time with Buffet about his investing philosophy. The timing for hearing Buffet’s tips was good for Elwood, a finance major with a 4.0 grade point average, who begins his future in the business world after the holidays.

Elwood and fellow classmate Richard LaFlamme, 22, are two of some 2,000 students enrolled in the Manning School of Business at UMass Lowell (newly named from the College of Management), and part of a small cohort from the Lowell campus who will be graduating this month.

“There has been a steady increase of about 100 graduates each December graduation,” said Christine Gillette, assistant director of media relations at UMass Lowell. Gillette said that mid-year graduations have grown from last year’s class combined total of 595 graduate and undergraduate degrees and this year’s closer to 700.

“Competition is probably less in December,” said Gillette. “We want students to be out in the job market when ready. We want to support them as best as possible.”

Though Elwood has taken all the right steps to become ‘ready,’ he says he is unsure of his future plans. “Right now it’s hard to tell if it’s really better graduating in December,” said Elwood. “I thought it would be easier getting a job. But because of the floundering job market, I’ve turned up a lot of dead ends.”

Opinion: Why I’m the Future of Journalism

By Angela Rodriguez
Gordon College News Service
December 14, 2011
(This appeared December 26, 2012, in the Salem News.)

WENHAM, MA – When I found out my freshman year that I could graduate a semester early from Gordon College, I didn’t know what that entailed. I thought hey, it could save lots of money, and I could be ahead of the game, right? But now that it’s December, I’m nearing my early graduation date with lots of excitement and admittedly, a little bit of dread.

My parents worked hard to raise five independent and capable girls. But after I finish my last final this week, I will be responsible for the bills and payments I knew existed, but haven’t had to deal with. The fear I hadn’t felt before appeared suddenly when I realized it was November, and now I’m finding it is as bad out there as I’ve heard. Perhaps it’s the changing state of the industry or the slowly rising job market that’s hiring fewer but more experienced journalists, rather than rookies like me. Or perhaps it’s the fact that I’m graduating in December, a time employers aren’t necessarily looking to hire.

Anyway you look at it, the news is not exactly optimistic. Last year, for instance, 58 percent of news executives saw the future of journalism heading in the wrong direction. And surprising to me, newspaper executives were more optimistic of that direction than broadcast executives, according to an analysis done by Pew Research Center. I watched my dad read the Sunday paper every week, but lately, I have heard of the dying newspapers since technology is taking over. So in my world, I saw broadcasting as still being crucial, while newspapers were going away because of online and television news.

No matter the outcome, though, I believe there will always be a need for reporters—like me—finding, investigating, interviewing, and writing or broadcasting stories for the viewers. Why is it, then, that reporters are getting cut from newspapers? Shouldn’t there be more, not less, job opportunities for journalists?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Opinion: The Malleable, Marketable Minds of Children

By Rachael Bailey
Gordon College News Service
December 9, 2011
(This column was published December 15, 2011, in The Gloucester Times.)

Making a Christmas list as a seven-year-old was never a problem for me. Complete with giga pets (in every color), an ice cream maker, cabbage-patch doll, a skip-it, and the Lion King soundtrack, the contents of this list consumed my mind from their first television ad till the long-awaited moment on December 25th when I could tear these packages apart.

Fifteen years later, I imagine these goodies might be of little interest to today’s seven-year-old. Sure, they were toys I eventually lost, became disinterested in, or maxed out battery life, but at Christmas morning I didn’t care. I replayed in my head the commercials depicting best friends, elated by the responsibility to feed their giga pet. Once the gifts were opened and enjoyed, however, my father wisely reminded us not to place our value in them. We were not, after all, entitled to them.

The American Psychological Association (APA) recently reported that in the U.S., children under the age of eight are mentally incapable of comprehending the messages elicited in televised advertising. Nonetheless, retailers’ aim is to sell no matter what and so children are unknowingly buying into a 40 billion dollar industry. Parents give in so children have more and more spending power every year. As this permeates our culture, veteran advertisers target a younger crowd every year.

I’m worried that television ads are merely a fraction of the industry devoted to child marketing. A larger impact comes from television shows geared toward children and preteens, product placement, the rise of cell phone use at a younger age—to name a few. These new media are becoming the “norm” for kids, places where they learn to get what they want and “grow older” younger.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Opinion: Why I’ll Still Be “Home” for Christmas

By Rachel Bell
Gordon College News Service
December 8, 2011
(This editorial was published December 13, 2011, in the print and online editions of The Salem News.)

I learned who Bing Crosby was in 2005, during my first Christmas in America. Crosby’s bright smile and rich, deep voice floated out from my grandparents’ television as he sang, “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” My family had come from Zimbabwe to live in New Jersey for 10 months and I’d seen my first snow 30 days earlier on Thanksgiving morning. It was quite a change from the sunny, 70-degree December-weather I was used to. In Zimbabwe we don’t get snow and Christmas isn’t white, it’s wet. As children we always hoped for a rain-free day so we could go swimming with our cousins. Even now, grown up, living in Massachusetts and having experienced my share of New-England winters, it still feels surreal to be wrapped in sweaters and blankets, sipping tea and watching the white-coated world outside.

My feelings about Christmas are not the same as they were five years ago. For most of my life this holiday evolved around family, home and Jesus. December was a time of warm weather, stockings at the end of my bed, mince pies with cream, special church services and, of course, a huge family gathering of aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. But our last few Christmases have seen dwindling numbers back home; Grampa is no longer with us and the cousins have been dispersed through several countries and colleges.

Christmas has changed. I’ve changed.

I’m starting to see an ironic twist in the carol “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”