Thank you for visiting Discover USG, the official news blog for The Universities at Shady Grove.
My name is Sandra Amaya and I just finished up my semester in the Criminology and Criminal Justice program at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG). Like most students, the current situation changed my life completely. This semester I was taking five classes and working two jobs, one being at the USG REC center. Most of my days consisted of me going to school then heading directly to work.
Of course, with the pandemic school transitioned to online, but my jobs didn’t. I lost both of my jobs. With such a drastic change it was difficult to take in what was happening. I was left without an income and school became more difficult to follow. I was spending much more time at home and had free time – something that I haven’t had in a long time. During the first couple of weeks I honestly spent most of my time in bed. I felt alone without my friends at school and work. I was extremely anxious about classes being moved to online, since I’m a better learner in a classroom setting. During the first couple of days of classes I was having issues focusing and was confused about future assignments.
Luckily my CEO program coach, Melissa Herrera, gave me advice on how to organize myself for school. Tips such as creating a space to do your work and to avoid doing work in your bed. Since many professors were changing assignments and due dates it was important to write everything down. I went through every class email and wrote every upcoming assignment down in specific colors and hung sticky notes in front of my desk. By doing this, I knew what assignments were coming up and their due dates. It was important for me to follow my deadlines closely so I wouldn’t fall behind.
Before this situation I would barely spend time with my family, as I mentioned earlier, I would be at school and working so we really only saw each other during the weekends. I’m really appreciative that I have had the opportunity to eat dinner with my family and interact with them more than I’ve ever had.
Today, I spend most of my time at home, but when I do have to head out I wear my gloves and mask. I usually take walks around my neighborhood with my dog. Having a dog is something that I’m appreciative of. My boyfriend noticed how down how I was feeling and arranged for his dog and their siblings to have a puppy play date. This was something that really helped me forget of the stress of finals and life now. Like millions of other people, the coronavirus has changed my life completely. But I’m extremely grateful to have my family, boyfriend, friends, and dog all by my side.
Hospitality is the backbone of the world, from car rentals, to hotel stays, bus tours, baseball games, spa days and celebratory dinners… taking care of people is at the center. Even the word “restaurant” comes from a French verb that means “to restore.” The Hospitality industry restores your mind, body, and soul.
In a recent article from Tom Sietsema, the food critic for The Washington Post, “Restaurants are big businesses. Before the pandemic cost so many of them their jobs, more than 15 million people were employed in the food service industry, about 10 percent of the private sector.”
We just celebrated National Tourism Day on May 7, another arm of the Hospitality industry. According to a 2019 Forbes travel report, “The travel and tourism sector grew more in 2018 than all other economic sectors but one, adding a record $8.8 trillion to the world’s combined Gross Domestic Product – up from $8.3 trillion in 2017 – as well as 319 million new jobs.”
The skills learned in Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) programs like the one offered at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) are transferable. UMES at USG partners with businesses across the county and state to provide a college to career pipeline. Even though the industry is on pause, there are still business recruiting graduates, from financial institutions to insurance companies, there are still plenty of opportunities available to those in the Hospitality sector.
At the heart of the Hospitality industry is resilience, from the great recession to 9-11 the industry has always bounced back and certainly will again. Why? Because taking care of people is at the heart of the industry. And I know that after this crisis passes, we will all need to restore our mind, bodies and soul.
Teaching Teachers to Teach Online and Plan for Their Future. By: Jennifer Schnur, Program Director, Towson University at USG
What a world we are living in right now. A few short months ago, our Towson senior teacher candidates were in their professional development sites, preparing for their capstone projects and polishing their skills as educators. Our Towson juniors were in courses learning to be effective teachers and completing internships in reading, math and science education. A moment later, we were home, “distant learning” from our computers and trying to understand what exactly that means for education and for our future educators.
Our Towson juniors are learning remotely in their courses just like all of you. Internships have had to take a backseat, but the learning does not stop. Pedagogy and overall best practices have still occurred through alternate modalities. Learning from other educators online, watching videos, teaching each other, and collaborating occur daily. Our faculty is able to teach synchronously allowing for our students to participate, ask questions and share materials in real time. They have learned about different apps for educators to increase engagement such as kahoot, padlet, panapto, smore, flip grid and so many more.
Our Towson seniors, our teacher candidates, have learned firsthand about the challenges this pandemic has brought to all our youth in Montgomery County and the state. Learning has shifted to Zoom meetings and online lessons – a world none of us were prepared for. Our teacher candidates teach from their homes, meet with their grade level teams to plan effective virtual lessons, and coordinate with special educators to make sure they are providing the necessary services to those students who need them. Their knowledge of online tools has helped them to reach their students to not only deliver curriculum virtually, but to provide stability in their students’ learning. They continue to impress me with their compassion, commitment, and enthusiasm as they guide our youngest learners through this moment in their lives.
Our senior seminar typically held on campus is now virtual, but the learning does not stop. Seminars continue via Zoom and WebEX and we are meeting with Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) Consulting Teachers, MCPS Human Resources, and other professionals in order to provide various opportunities for growth. Teacher candidates continue to interview, and many have already accepted positions within MCPS.
Every Towson student shares a strong dedication to their profession, and this makes me proud. They have excelled in their personal professional development in ways that I could never have imagined three months ago. I am confident that we are producing excellent educators and I know that our future children’s education is in good hands.
Congratulations Towson Tigers!
This April has seemed more like an age, a slow crawl of time where days blend into one another and our academic deadlines lurk over our heads like semi-permanent specters of a semester that feels like it could last forever. When T.S. Eliot wrote “April is the cruelest month,” I am not sure even his poetic imagination could have cooked up this one. And yet, April is almost over. May is coming, and bringing exams, papers, and projects to the (virtual) party.
Staying motivated and on-track in the time of quarantine is no easy task and closing out this semester is going to be a challenge.
Luckily, I’ve been spending some time with the Greatest of All Time*, who knows a thing or two about performing in crunch time.
Perhaps the best thing about not being able to leave the house is that I’ve been able to watch the brilliant Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance, airing on ESPN. If you aren’t watching it, I encourage you to tune and enjoy this deep dive into the legacy of His Airness and his final NBA championship run with the Bulls. Even if you aren’t a hoop-head, this is a great look into a cultural icon and the adversity he faced.
In honor of his six NBA Championships, here are six ways MJ can inspire you to become MVP of your Finals:
- Start Now
Michael Jordan is perhaps the most competitive athlete in the history of sports (all of them, not just basketball). When Jordan would win a game, the celebration would end as the timer expired to make room for preparation for the next game.
This mentality will serve you well as you approach finals. You may not have a paper or exam next week, or even the week after. That doesn’t matter. Start strong by grabbing your syllabus and planning out each major assignment. Schedule time to work on those exams and papers now!
- Have Unmatched Focus
Jordan is famous for his intensity. He would never take a play off, and played every game as if it were the most important one he ever played. When he was in the zone, he couldn’t be stopped.
Similarly, your focus can help you do well on your finals. When you are studying, push away the distractions and put all your time and energy into that endeavor. Schedule dedicated time to study for each class—your own personal game time—and turn it on.
- Do It Your Way
Coming out of college, MJ was the third overall pick. Two centers were picked before him, because it was believed you couldn’t win without a dominant big man. Michael used this motivation to change the way the game was played forever, both on and off the court. From his iconic shoe to Space Jam, he did things his way.
Be like Mike. Figure out what works for you! Do you work better in the morning or the evening? What kind of learner are you? There’s no one right way to be successful—just ask the Portland Trailblazers who drafted Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan.
- Be Resilient
When Michael Jordan first tried out for Varsity in High School Basketball he failed to make the team. In his second year in the NBA, he was injured and on a minutes restriction unable to fully help his team to the playoffs. Jordan famously lost to the Pistons three consecutive times in the Eastern Conference Finals. You don’t need to watch The Last Dance to know he never gave up.
Like Jordan, you will encounter challenges and barriers to your success. Don’t give up. But your time and energy into the things you can control and keep moving forward. Just imagine, if MJ would have given up this blog post might not even exist, or would be about something like The Bachelor.
- Find Motivation in Unexpected Places
Everything motivated Michael. The Last Dance capture this in one of my favorite scenes. The day before an important playoff game against the Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge (an all-time great Celtic) beat Michael Jordan in a game of golf, winning some of MJ’s cash. Clearly angered, Jordan dropped 63 points on the Celtics that night—a number that still stands as the record for points scored in a playoff game.
Don’t be afraid to tap into your motivations. Practice self-care and let the things that give you joy be incentives to be successful. If you are competitive like MJ, let that drive push you to be your best self.
- Form the Perfect Team
Not even MJ could do it alone. Scottie Pippen. Dennis Rodman. Ron Harper. Toni Kukoc. Luc Longely. Steve Kerr (the coach of a famous team in California you may have heard of). Watching The Last Dance reminded me of all the great people that helped MJ be successful.
You have a great supporting cast too. Form virtual study groups with your classmates. Ask your professors for help. And utilize support services. My team at the Macklin Center for Academic Success is here to help you through academic coaching, feedback on papers, and disability support. All of our services can be accessed through sg.mywconline.com. My beard is longer, and my ZOOM background isn’t as entertaining as my office in the BSE, but I am still here to provide an assist on your journey to success.
We also have career services, student life and financial support, counseling services, and so much more. My blog post is already becoming longer than the ESPN series, so check out this post by Jen Riehl to get a great look into services available for you.
With our help and Jordan’s example, you can be your own Finals MVP!
*MJ’s status as GOAT pending the outcome of LeBron’s career and his future championships as a LA Laker.
At first it was exciting but now it’s overwhelming. The transition to online classes was a hard adjustment. Every class has a calendar and a course schedule to follow so this helps. However, the online space has become a never ending notification area, and sometimes makes me panic. I have to keep track of what each professor is posting to be able to give equal attention to each of my classes.
Finding a comfortable working space at home has been challenging as well. Sometimes I just want to be in the comfort of my room and study but that can encourage laziness. I can’t be selfish when it comes to the study area since it is a place shared by my brother and I. In order to stay on top of my to-do list I have an agenda book where I list what I would like to have done by the end of a day and I try my best to ensure that I do away with procrastination as we try to get used to the change.
From time to time when the weather is good I go to the balcony and sit out to do my assignments. I listen to some instrumental music to keep my spirits up as I study and this personally is a good tool of motivation for me. Music is an essential part of my life and during this time it is where I draw strength to stay focused. Sometimes I forget to catch some sunlight and it makes me gloomy, but I am constantly reminding myself that this phase will pass and soon we will all be able to meet in the same classroom setting that used to feel exhausting, but now we crave.
This lockdown has taught me a lot and these lessons include the following:
- I have learned self-love and appreciation of what I have such as shelter and my
- I have learned to use resources only when needed, not because they are available. An example is that I only go grocery shopping when there really is nothing at home to eat.
- I have learned to follow a strict eating plan and a strict studying schedule.
- I have learned to check-in on friends and send them some motivational quotes so they are not feeling too overwhelmed or lost. I realized I have been
reflecting a lot on everything I can think of in my life and in the lives of those around me.
For me this is an opportunity to grow and learn to respond to unexpected situations that no one ever imagined would happen. Only a few more weeks left before I graduate! Even though I won’t be able to walk across the stage and be handed my diploma, virtual graduations are being scheduled. USG has planned a Virtual Graduation Celebration on May 8th at 7pm online. This will be a celebration of all of our hard work and achievements. It is not the ending to my academic journey that I had imagined, but I appreciate everything that has been done so far to ensure students still get the best out of this unfortunate situation.
One of my favorite aspects of my job as the Universities at Shady Grove’s (USG) Senior Recruiter is being able to meet prospective students and families at various college fairs, presentations, on-campus conversations, and of course our biannual open house events. Hearing a student say that they have a better understanding of how USG works or now know what their next steps will be in the confusing college application process – as a direct result of our interaction – is extremely rewarding.
So it goes without saying that when we were instructed to cease all in-person interaction with prospective students a few weeks ago until further notice, I was visibly disappointed. But just as students and professors are being asked to adapt to online courses, I realized that I, too, could create an equally meaningful and informative experience for prospective students using just the technologies available to me.
After two intense weeks of telework (emphasis on the “work” part!), my colleagues and I are proud to unveil two new webpages, USG 101 and Academic Program Information, that each contain a plethora of resources for prospective students and families and offer alternate ways to connect with USG and academic program staff. Some highlights of both pages are below:
General USG Campus Information:
Academic Program Information:
Scholarships & Financial Literacy (at USG, students have access to scholarships from their home university AND from USG!):
USG Services & Student Life:
MC-USG Transfer Access Programs (if you have at least one semester left at MC, you may qualify for a Transfer Access Program):
ACES at USG:
Hear from Current Students:
As you can see, while we regret not being able to meet you in the same physical space at this time, that doesn’t mean we can’t connect! We look forward to doing just that through one or more of the ways listed above in the coming weeks and hopefully being able to welcome you back to our campus this summer and beyond.