Suite News: USG Appreciates Graduate and Professional Students!

shelby photo 11-14-16Hi there! My name is Shelby Speer, and I am the Graduate Student Services Coordinator in the Office of Student Services at Shady Grove. My job is to improve and enhance the experiences of graduate and professional students via events, programs, and services.

It is true that graduate and professional students are not often in the spotlight on college campuses, but at USG we want to make sure that they feel welcome and appreciated. If you are a graduate student who is reading this blog post, perhaps you have had a Student and Academic Services representative from one of our centers swing by one of your classes and deliver goody bags? Maybe you have relayed your suggestions to a member of our Graduate Student Advisory Committee? Or you have attended an event run by a graduate student organization? These are just a few of the ways that we recognize and value graduate students on the USG campus.

I am very excited about our upcoming inaugural Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week, which is April 3-8 in multiple locations and at various times across campus. The week will feature mini-workshops on a variety of topics, multiple opportunities for free food and beverages, and even “swag bags” just for graduate students! Get the complete event schedule on our website, and/or swing by one of our information tables this week (located in the lobbies of all three buildings).

Grad Student Appreciation Week flyer

If you are a graduate or professional student who is looking for ways to get more involved in our campus community, please contact me and I would be glad to discuss options with you. I’d also be happy to hear any suggestions for improving your experience here. Finally, please be sure to check out our Graduate Student Resources webpage, which is frequently updated with events and announcements just for you.

Let’s work together to make this place even more vibrant and welcoming for graduate students. See you at Appreciation Week! And for those of you who are graduating this academic year, I look forward to celebrating with you at our inaugural graduate and professional student Graduation Gala  on May 12th as well!

grad resources flyer

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Suite News: Tips to get a Better Night’s Sleep – Starting Tonight!

Mandi Mader

Mandi Mader

Hi, my name is Mandi Mader and I work as a Counselor in USG’s Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC) located inside of the Priddy Library. I have over 20 years of experience working with adolescents, young adults, couples and families with a variety of concerns related to ADHD management, relationship problems, parenting skills, and insomnia. But today, I would like to focus on an area that is so common to college students, and that is lack of sleep.

Sleep deficiency can cause problems with learning, focusing, and reacting. You may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, remembering things, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. You may take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes. Sleep deprivation is also linked to a greater risk for anxiety and depression.

A common myth is that people can learn to get by on little sleep with no negative effects. However, research shows that getting enough quality sleep at the right times is crucial for mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

Other medical conditions that are also linked to sleep disorders are heart diseaseobesity, diabetes, high blood pressurestroke, depression, and ADHD.

Student not sleeping

Ok, now that I have your attention, here are some important tips for getting better sleep:

  1. Increase your physical exercise! Even a small increase can help.
  2. Do not go to bed until you are sleepy (more than tired). Ideally, you should fall asleep within 20 minutes of turning the light out. This may mean staying up later.
  3. Use your bed only for sleeping in.
  4. If you find yourself tossing and turning for more than 20 minutes, get out of bed until you are sleepy – not just tired. While you are up, do a quiet, non-electronic activity. The key is to associate your bed with relaxation and sleep, not with frustration and being awake.
  5. Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Use a sleep mask or ear plugs if necessary.
  6. Induce the relaxation response. There are many ways to do this, including apps like Calm, or
  7. Go to bed within a ½ hour of the same time, and get up within ½ an hour of the same time, every day — even weekends.
  8. Aim for 7 to 8 Hours, no cheating.
  9. Thirty minutes before sleep, turn off all devices—laptop, iPad, smartphone. Escort your devices out of your bedroom. Download f.lux. This is a gradual screen dimming software. Blue light from our electronics mimics daylight and can delay the release of melatonin.
  10. Create a relaxing ritual.
  11. Change into something comfortable.
  12. Read something non-work related, and not on a screen.
  13. If you start thinking of things you need to remember, or to do, write them down on a piece of paper.
  14. No caffeine after 2 or 3pm. No alcohol after 7pm.
  15. Expose yourself to bright light, ideally sunlight, first thing in the morning and begin to dim lights in the evening.

Remember, we do not need to try to sleep. Our body is designed to sleep. If we increase exercise, keep a schedule, and learn to relax, great sleep is possible. Only YOU can prioritize your health and remember — the only thing that replaces sleep is SLEEP.

If you have trouble a) staying asleep, b) falling asleep, or c) repeatedly waking up too early, three or more times a week for more than one month, you might have insomnia. If you are not sure, and you do not get relief from the above tips, I encourage you to make an appointment at the USG Center for Counseling and Consultation for a free insomnia assessment. To set-up an appointment call 301-738-6273.

Sweet dreams,

Mandi Mader, LCSW-C


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Suite News: LINKEDIN, the Social Media Tool You Should Be Using

Lindsey headshot

Lindsey Seaby

Throughout the day, most of you will snap, tweet, post, tag, filter and share a lot of information. It is estimated that over 90% of young adults use social media. However, for the majority of you, none of these casual ways of sharing content is going to help you land your dream job.

Lucky for you there happens to be a social media platform that can help you network your way to career bliss. Did you know an estimated 85% of jobs today are found through networking? And while LinkedIn may not have all the addicting filters and features of SnapChat, Instagram and Facebook, it is the single most important social media tool you should be using as a college student. It is time to stop ignoring that blue and white logo, and give some long overdue attention to the more professional and polished side of social media.

Hi, my name is Lindsey Seaby, and I’m the Assistant Director for Student Services and Academic Outreach in The Career and Internship Center CISC) here at Shady Grove. Before coming to USG, I was a recruiting manager for a large marketing company where it was my job to select, interview and hire over 200 entry-level positions each year, and my company relied heavily on LinkedIn for finding qualified candidates. So I strongly encourage you to use LinkedIn as a tool and an advantage for your career. Here are three simple ways LinkedIn can help you network your way to your dream job or internship:

1. Make it easy for recruiters to find you

You can’t find something that doesn’t exist.

A recent survey from Jobvite found that 93% of job recruiters tap into LinkedIn to find qualified candidates, up from 87% last year. Simply put, recruiters and HR Professionals live on LinkedIn. As a former Recruiting Manager, one of the first things I did when reviewing applications was to review the candidate’s LinkedIn profile. When I was searching for student intern candidates, I looked at the student’s profile as well.  Some recruiters even prefer to build their talent pipelines exclusively through using LinkedIn to find both passive and active job seekers to reach out to about job opportunities.

So, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, how will a recruiter find you? It is certainly going to make getting on their radar more difficult and consider your competition – the 40 million other students and young graduates out there. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out directly to a recruiter on LinkedIn. One strategy is to first apply to a position you want and then send a well-written, professional message to the recruiter who posted the opportunity. Many recruiters have to interview a certain number of candidates per job posting, so why not do them a favor and proactively engage them? LinkedIn provides you with a unique opportunity to be the one to reach out and request a phone call to discuss why you think you are qualified. Think smarter, not harder!

Linkedin image

2. Connect with alumni that can help you reach your career goals

Turn relationships into opportunities.

One easy way to find people who you will immediately have something in common with is using the alumni finder. The alumni finder will search LinkedIn for anyone who has attended the same university you have listed on your profile. You can then use LinkedIn’s visual tools to narrow it down to alumni who are working in specific locations and occupations. Even if you have no LinkedIn connections to them, you will probably find their e-mail address. Reach out to them! The worst thing that can happen is they don’t reply, in which case, find someone else to reach out to. I cannot stress enough that this is the EASIEST way to connect with working professionals. You have a go-to starter for conversation — your school experiences! People are very nostalgic about their time spent in college. Tap into that. Talk about all the exciting things going on at Shady Grove or on your home campus. Connect and engage with them, ask for advice and if you ask the right questions and prove to be a hardworking and eager to learn, you may even land yourself a mentor!

3. Find industry experts and leaders in your field to give you advice

Find the person that has the job that you want to have 10-15 years from now.

Everyone has a dream job. LinkedIn provides the platform for you to engage with the professionals that work at your dream company. As a student, even senior level professionals are very receptive to you reaching out and asking for advice on how to get ahead in your field. By connecting with the industry leaders, groups and companies that are leading the way, you will gain insight into how you can best prepare yourself now to be the most competitive candidate possible once graduation approaches. This past week, one of my students had a great experience through a LinkedIn informational interview assignment and I asked him to share his thoughts on this networking exercise:

“Networking to find a job can prove to be difficult. Through working with a career coach, as a part of a networking exercise, I reached out to professionals in my field on LinkedIn. Since my dream is to work at Nintendo, the place to start was reaching out to employees currently working there. I checked on LinkedIn, and connected with an employee at Nintendo. We scheduled a Skype interview, and he provided me with incredibly valuable information. He told me what steps I can take to get a job at Nintendo. That alone was a great start – I can now plan out the steps I will take to end up where he is someday.” – Joel Landry, Junior, University of Baltimore, Digital Entertainment & Simulation

Students can make individual appointments with the USG Career & Internship Services Center to review their LinkedIn Profile and discuss their digital networking strategy.

Mark your calendars! USG’s CISC will be hosting “LinkedIn Day” on Wednesday, April 5th where recruiters and industry experts will lead workshops on LinkedIn best practices and there will be a professional photographer on-site to take free professional headshots for your LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn Lab-for PDs

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Suite News: Sorry for your writing? Learn to love it.

Adam profile

Adam Binkley

You might be surprised to hear that the most common sentence I hear from students when working with them as a writing consultant is “I’m sorry.” Some students have apologized over 20 times in an appointment. I didn’t even get that many sorrys when my sister broke my Super Nintendo.

Other common statements: my writing is terrible, uhh…this is so bad, I know this is wrong, I’m not a writer.

I hate to break it to you, but we’re all writers. And none of us are bad (unless you’re reading this blog post out there, Darth Vader).

My name is Adam Binkley, and I am the senior coordinator at the Center for Academic Success. In addition to leading workshops and coordinating academic support programs, one of my primary responsibilities is working with students on their writing. Believe it or not, though, I didn’t always consider myself a good writer.

When I was an undergraduate, the same professor that ended up being my mentor and greatest ally, once told me to literally (and I do mean literally) throw away a paper I had written and gave me my first shiny, red “F”.

It turns out, I didn’t have enough experience with or understanding of academic writing. I had to learn what was expected of me and, more importantly, that criticism of my work and less than stellar grades weren’t meant as put downs, but as a guidance.

So where does this negativity come from? For many students, it’s coping with a new environment of writing with bigger and scarier expectations. For others, it could be about a bad past experience, like mine.

Maybe you’re a student who is coming back to school after a few years out and don’t remember how to even begin to write a paper. Maybe you’re a student who learned English as a second, third, fourth language and the benefits of multilingualism feel less immediate than the challenges of English grammar, where rules are made to be broken.

It’s easy to let these challenges cloud our views of ourselves as writers.

That’s why I love this part of my job, I can help clear those gray skies up by empowering students to find confidence in their writing. That is a vital part of our mission at the Center for Academic Success.

We have one-on-one support for students through writing consultations. We also have awesome programs like Writing Fellows and the Multilingual Writing Mentors—where your peers can act as sounding boards to better your work. We even have a new peer writing consultant working in the Priddy Library. His name is Joey, he’s there from 1-4pm every day, and he gives awesome feedback.  Stop by and see him.

So the next time you’re staring at that blank Word document with the clock ticking towards assignment due o’clock with feelings of self-doubt starting to creep up, maybe even feeling like your writing is ba…


You’re a writer. You’re good. And you’ve got this.

CAS photo

You can make an appointment with CAS by going to To learn about the programs we offer, or to speak to a human email us at or call 301-738-6315.


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Suite News: ACES students are Paving the Way

TiaIn 2013, the partnership of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), Montgomery College (MC), and the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) launched the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES) program to provide a college pathway for high school students who are part of populations that are underrepresented in higher education. The ACES program at USG is designed to support these students as they complete the final two years of their baccalaureate degree.

When the ACES students arrive on the USG campus they meet me. My name is Tia Dolet and I am the ACES Success Coordinator in the Center for Recruitment and Transfer Access (CRTA). I work directly with the ACES students to provide one-on-one coaching and conduct workshops that support academic and professional development. This past August, we welcomed our first class of 12 students from the first ACES cohort, representing five of our university partners and nine different majors. The students are nearing completion of their junior year, and I asked them to reflect upon what their experience has been like through the ACES program. One central theme emerged, all of the students wanted to find ways to help support high school students and give them their guidance.

This led to ACES students taking an active role in talking to high school students and sharing their stories in order to motivate and inspire a new generation of college students. In just one semester, five ACES students attended various USG informational presentations at Montgomery County high schools. During these presentations, high school students learned about the benefits of attending a program at USG while also getting the opportunity to hear ACES students describe their experience within the MCPS > MC > USG pathway. ACES students openly shared their struggles, triumphs and lessons learned with high school youth who were eager to hear from individuals with whom they could relate.

Ariel Blanco

ACES Student Ariel Blanco

One of the most memorable moments, is when two ACES juniors, Evelyn Solis (UMCP, Biological Sciences) and Ariel Blanco (Salisbury University, Exercise Science) gave a bilingual presentation for participants in Liberty’s Promise at Wheaton High School. Liberty’s Promise is an organization that supports immigrant students in Montgomery County. Having once been in their shoes, Ariel and Evelyn shared their stories on what it was like not only being in a new high school, but also being in a new country. They talked about the influential experiences and people that inspired them to continue their education and pursue their field of study. When Ariel came to the U.S., he thought that after high school he would just find a “good paying job.”  But he realized that finding a good paying job with just a high school diploma would not be that easy. While at MC he started to excel and kept a 4.0 GPA, he said education “started to feel more satisfying.” Like most students, transitioning from high school to college can be tough, but Ariel shared how connecting his passions to a major kept him engaged and motivated to confront those challenges head on. As an avid soccer player, one of his main reasons for going to college was to pursue a career in sports. Nevertheless, as he started his coursework, he realized he had a new passion for human sciences and learning how the body works.  He ended his speech by encouraging students to “never give up on their dreams and to take advantage of every opportunity presented.”


Throughout the semester, Ariel continued to present to other students. I later asked him why it was so important for him volunteer his time to reach out to others and he replied:

“Day after day I realize that if I want to see a change in the world, the best thing I can do is change my own world, my day-to-day events, and the people I come across with. The main reason why I want to help others is that it is necessary. I want to give  to someone who is in need, even if that person does not accept that fact, it is important that society helps without the necessity of individuals to ask for the help, like my teachers and ACES have done for me.”


ACES students at USG have truly made the most of the ACES program and are now paving the way for the next wave of young scholars. Their triumphant narratives of grit and perseverance are truly encouraging to every ear reached—mine included.  We are so proud of all of the ACES students’ commitment to the Montgomery County community and we look forward to celebrating their future accomplishments!


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Guest Post: Danely Johnson, UMB MSW Student

Once in a lifetime learning experience in Kerala, India

danelyPart of the reason I applied to the University of Maryland School of Social Work for my graduate studies was because I learned from their website that they had amazing study abroad opportunities. One course in particular caught my eye, “Interprofessional Exploration of Aging, Health, and Mental Health in Kerala, India.  India had always been on my bucket list and I thought this would be an interesting and exciting opportunity.

Once I received my acceptance letter to participate in this class, I immediately started to memorize as many Malayalam words as I could possibly remember. However, when I arrived in Kerala, India I instantly became overwhelmed with the beauty and culture and I had no words to describe what I was experiencing. Then I met the people of Kerala, and the words started to flow from me. I would greet the elderly with my hands clasped together, bow in respect and say “Namaskaram” (hello).


The purpose of our trip was to attend a Healthy Ageing and Mental Health conference hosted by Rajagiri College of Social Sciences. There, a multi-disciplined group of Social Work, Nursing and Public Health students from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, learned about evidence-based models used in geriatric mental health settings. Speakers from India and all over the world participated, including distinguished professors from Australia, England, Slovakia, France, South Africa, and the United States.

india-3Some of the evidence-based practice models presented during the conference focused on religion, others on autonomy and quality of life. The most popular theme within the Indian culture, however, was the positive effects of the traditional family support system. This theme — family support in healthy ageing — resonated with me throughout the trip.

We learned about multi-generational households, women’s roles in the workplace, the affects of colonization, and systems of care for employees at tea plantations in the mountains of Munnar, We visited an employee-owned tea company that provides housing, health care, childcare, and shared ownership to families.  Our guide, Hadley, shared with us that three generations currently live in his plantation home.

india-2Similarly, in Kollam, “cashew capital of the world,” we visited a cashew factory where we talked with the owner and workers about working conditions, the economy, the community, and families.  One of the female workers, Lakshmi, shared with us that she went back to work after her children began their college careers and that her job with the factory was providing the extra money she needed to support her parents.

I am truly blessed to have been able to participate in this study abroad opportunity. Not only has it inspired in me an interest in mental health care for the ageing population, but it has also been a reminder about the respect, love, and attention that our ageing population truly deserves. As one of our speakers so eloquently put it, “A library of information is lost with each elderly person’s passing. It is in their experiences, education, and life lessons that we can find peace in our futures.”

A return to India in some capacity is very much in my future. In the meantime, I will relive my experience through my memories of the aromatic air, spicy foods, vibrant colors, and the sound of the Malayalam word for thank you… “nun-nee.”


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Suite News: Counseling for the Cyberdependent

I Used to Own a Smartphone, but Now it Owns Me


Dr. Jonathan Kandell

No, I’m not talking about some B-movie knockoff of Terminator. What I am talking about is how the smartphone is the ultimate (at least for now) technological gadget, our dependence on it, and its impact on how we deal with others and ourselves.

My name is Jonathan Kandell, a psychologist and Director of USG’s Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC). Before coming to USG I worked at the UMCP Counseling Center for 22 years.  During the mid- to late-90s, I became known for my expertise in the area of Internet Addiction. The funny thing was, that I wasn’t really an expert; just someone interested enough to notice what was occurring and ask the right questions.

I first became aware of this phenomenon when I was a Graduate Assistant.  As part of my Assistantship, I did some computer programming (in BASIC!).  I noticed when writing code and staring into the screen, time seemed to disappear.  I would look up from my work, and it was three hours later!  Clearly, something was going on.

While at UMCP, a colleague and I recognized that some clients coming in for other issues (e.g., depression, loneliness, poor academic performance) were spending an awful lot of time on their computers.  We realized that there must be some connection and decided to offer a support group.  As you can probably guess, no one showed up!

Similar to other addictive behaviors, the first symptom is denial.  The students probably were too busy online, and their “real life” difficulties with others pushed them even further into cyberspace.  It’s a whole lot easier to interact with someone you can’t see or hear!  It’s also not nearly as satisfying. Interestingly, despite everyone having 8 zillion friends on Facebook, a major symptom today over 15 years ago is loneliness.  If people have so many “friends,” then why are they so lonely?

Communicating via text or e-mail is very different than face-to-face, or even on the phone.  Online interactions are “asynchronous,” not taking place in real-time.  If I’m having a face-to-face conversation with you, and I go silent for two minutes, you’re going to start wondering if there’s something wrong with me!  When texting, that’s normal.


It’s easy to come up with the “right” response when you have time to think.  The problem is, when you actually have to be in a face-to-face conversation, you don’t have that time.  You have to do your best and deal with the consequences.  Then there’s those messy non-verbals (e.g., facial expression, tone of voice, loudness, posture), all the things that can make communication so rich and interesting.  To understand their impact, just think how difficult it is to tell a joke online (sarcasm, anyone?) without someone misinterpreting it, or even being offended.  I believe too much online interaction actually reduces a person’s ability to cope with the enormous amount of (often-ambiguous) information one receives when talking face-to-face.  It’s no surprise that ongoing difficulties in face-to-face interactions can lead one to seek the refuge of the online world.

Well, my smartphone has been nagging at me to pay it some attention, so I must stop here.  If this blog post hits a little too close to home, and you’re wondering if you may have a problem controlling your online behavior, the CCC can help.  The CCC offers individual couples, and group counseling to help you directly address behavioral and emotional issues.  Call 301-738-6273 to set up an appointment, or stop by and see us in Room 1134 in the Priddy Library.

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