We’re in the midst of crafting our personal narratives in the Year 4 BASAM program, and that has had me thinking about how my narrative needs a refresh. Then I came across this fabulous piece my good friend from college Perrin McCormick posted on her Limkedin page – 5 things people would tell you about her. So I’m borrowing shamelessly from Perrin to ask my program people what they would say about me – which was I’ll then use to update my pitch
Earlier today, I had the honor to share the SVC BASAM story at the annual WA State Baccalaureate Leadership Conference. The only thing that gives me more joy than being in the program’s learning environment is talking about it with others. Thank you BASAM program participants for making it so easy to sing your praises.
As my program members know, the land of mybirth is India. I haven’t lived there since I was seven yet thanks to the upbringing, the ties to my cultural roots are strong.
Today, many of the 1.4 billion Indians who live around the world (almost 18% of the global population) celebrate Diwali. I’ll leave its origins and reasons for others to cover. Suffice to say, Diwali celebrates universal truths of the triumph of good over evil and light over dark. For many, many reasons and memories, it is my most favorite day in the year and so I want to wish all BASAM followers the sentiments of festival – may light, love and laughter grace all corners of your home and heart!
On October 25, the BASAM program was honored to have Dr Carl Bruner, Superintendent of the Mount Vernon school district as a speaker in SOC420, a course that examines the intersection of social capital, bias, power and equity and career development. Dr Bruner led the class, drawing from the life story of Dr Donna Beegle, who escaped the pernicious cycle of generational poverty, thanks to a combination of factors including her tenacity and her mentors.
I know I speak for all program members when I say the discussion was thought provoking and inspiring. It will leave a positive, enduring legacy on our hearts, minds and behaviors as workplace leaders and as community members. Thank you Dr Bruner from all of us.
With the Fall Quarter at the half way point, the demands and work in all the BASAM classes is mounting. With that comes increasing time in front of screens, whether PC’s, tablets, smart phones or even the television as a way to unwind. This article from Fast Company provides some great advice on how to reduce eye strain and promote eye care and sleep. And yes, making the sleep area a device free zone is a recommendation!
This evening, my friend and colleague Shawna Blue, BAS Coordinator at Skagit Valley College, received a scholarship from SWAN, an organization dedicated to supporting women leaders in the area. With Shawna’s permission, I am sharing the letter I sent in support of her scholarship application. As you read this, I believe you will come away as impressed with Shawna, her capabilities and her potential, as I am every single day.
“I met Shawna a little over a year ago [May 2018]. Her name came up as a possible candidate for a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) Coordinator role, which was designed to support the two BAS degrees at Skagit Valley College. Shawna had already been fulfilling this role for the BAS in Environmental Conservation. In the spirit of absolute candor, I was not convinced that she had the appropriate background to work with an Applied Management program. I was also concerned that as Shawna has a rich background in Environmental Conservation, the two programs would not get equal attention. I was wrong.
Shawna and I actually met at a college picnic at the same time as the staffing discussions were taking place. We started talking and within five minutes, I discovered that Shawna’s motivation lies in a deep-rooted desire to serve the College’s students and community, without regard to area of study. I learned this by listening to her relay anecdotes about her experiences with various college departments and observing the genuine anguish that appeared on her face when things did not go as they should. I also heard her connect her own student and life experiences with those of the students on our campus. I watched her face light up when she talked about a way in which her experiences allowed her to help a student in a completely unrelated field of study. I heard her voice her uncertainty about how to drive publicity for the Environmental Conservation program. A five-minute conversation turned into an hour. I left our interaction feeling ashamed that I had let my own pre-conceptions lead me to an incorrect conclusion.
As a workplace leader, I have long believed that it is unjust to assess person’s potential solely on the basis of what they have done in the past. And, as a faculty member, I maintain it is unjust to assess a person’s performance in an area where they may have limited or no formal exposure. Yet with Shawna, I had done both. Within a day, I had lined up a meeting with the Dean on the staffing issue. I shared my discoveries about Shawna, took ownership of my unjust reaction and pledged to do everything in my power to support Shawna and her success in the Coordinator role and beyond. Within a week of that conversation, Shawna was hired into the full-time role supporting both BAS programs starting July 2018 signaling the support she enjoys from SVC leadership (college administration, not faculty, make hiring decisions).
The year since then has been remarkable. I have watched Shawna seize opportunities to develop her knowledge of marketing and strategy through her work on the BASAM Marketing plan. Through this plan, we have introduced a systematic, low cost way of working with social media to promote awareness of the BASAM program on campus and in the larger community. We are getting ready to expand this plan to the Environmental Conservation program as well.
I have seen how Shawna leverages her considerable project management skills to see multiple recruitment and admissions -related initiatives to successful outcomes. I have seen her come to grips with SVC’s customer relationship management system (Target X). I have observed Shawna initiate formal and informal outreach to struggling students, sensing what they need from their non-verbal cues. And, I have witnessed Shawna serve as a powerful advocate for the SVC students, helping them navigate processes and obstacles to their success and having tough but necessary conversations to keep them on the path for success.
In my nearly thirty years of work experience (25 years in corporate leadership roles, nearly five as faculty), I have met only a handful of people who demonstrate the same thirst for knowledge, self-awareness, and commitment to make a difference as Shawna. I am confident that completing a bachelor degree in marketing will position Shawna for great leadership success and will extend her capacity to make a difference for the people of Skagit Valley.”
Once in a while, we experience a moment when a piece of music grips our very core. Over the summer, I came across Broken and it’s Beautiful by Kelly Clarkson that resulted in this core gripping moment for me. The line that sticks with me is the one that goes “I’m phenomenal and I’m enough”. As a society, it seems we are quick to find fault with each other, with our circumstances and with ourselves, leading us to a frenetic quest for perfection and the invariable disappointment when we don’t reach it every single time.
In the Skagit Valley College program, we devote time and energy exploring our auto-ethnographies- how the confluence of our life experiences and environments shape our outlooks on society, our approaches to our work, our careers, our families and how they impact how we see ourselves. This week, we started the conversation in the Foundation of Applied Management course that the folks in the third year of their bachelor degree are doing. The Year 4’s unraveled new dimensions to the conversation in the Social Capital course in which they are enrolled.
As I listened to the discussions in both classes, all that kept playing through my mind were Clarkson’s words. With my eyes and ears, I saw the tenacity, the resolve, the power, self-belief that every member of the program has, whether they’re aware of it yet or not. And I realized why I love the Clarkson song so much – it’s because it reminds me of the journeys that each of us in the program are on and the honor and empowerment I feel to be part of it. We listened to the song in the Year 4 class and I’ll share that talking about the song and what it and the people in the program represent was a tear filled moment for me.
The final share on this is that words of the song came alive to me again over the weekend when I was thinking of a recent reunion I had with a friend from decades ago. Our time together and the pride they showed in me and my work left me with the confidence that yes, I’m broken, it’s beautiful , it’s phenomenal, and I’m enough.
This article from the Harvard Business Review describes a school of thought I’ve long believed – if it’s easy, it suggests I can already do it, which leads me to wonder how much am I actually learning. Linked to this is another life long philosophy : if we only did what’s been done before, Neil Armstrong would never have walked on the moon!
As we get ready for our Week 2 class meeting (in T minus less than 12 hours), I’ve been thinking a lot about the program faculty and staff with whom I have the honor of working this quarter.
In our group, we have an economist, a geologist, an environmental evangelist, a former Navy fighter pilot, a soccer coach turned financial guru, a geographer who is now a dramatist, a counseling expert, a reformed corporate type and a college president. What a phenomenal kaleidoscope of experiences, perspectives and world views and how lucky we all are to learn with the fine BASAM program participants at Skagit Valley College!
One of the things that’s always puzzled me is that we don’t seem to spend enough time learning how to breathe. Breathing is something we all need to do to stay alive yet we take it for granted that it’s something we can all perform at the expert level without much coaching. I was so thrilled to come across this article, which talks about how the US Navy Seals are taught breathing so they can perform at their peak under pressure. Try these hints and let me know what you think … if it works for the Seals, could it work for you?