Ticket to Ride

Liz Bird, alumna (class of ’11), Burlington, VT

As everyone else has said, I enjoy reading the other blog posts, and also miss being able to sit around and nerd out/bounce ideas off of one another. I have now moved to Vermont, and am settling in until I start working in the UVM Sexual Health Research Clinic on January 16th as a research assistant. The lab focuses on women’s sexual function and dysfunction and I am looking forward to stimulating conversations. *Refrain from inappropriate joke.* But really, I am both excited and nervous to be working in a lab, which appeals to me for graduate school. Naturally, I want to make a good impression. I am currently reading The Psychophysiology of Sex in preparation for working in the lab, and I am starting to do some small trainings so that I can gain access to Fletcher Allen hospital to help recruit participants. I’m not sure yet what this is going to look like, but I feel excited doing anything related to the lab at this point.

At the end of last year (whoa!), I finished up at Comprehensive Life Resources, and left with mixed emotions. My co-workers took me to lunch on my last day and sent me off with road trip supplies. After spending weeks of slowly packing up my things and some sad good-byes, Jonas, my boyfriend, and I took off on our week long road trip across the country. We stayed with friends along the whole way, took pictures and videos, and amused ourselves in the car for hours on end. Jonas says that I ramble so much that we didn’t need to listen to anything like “This American Life.” Anyone who knows me can account for my external thought processes. But don’t worry, he likes my rambling. He better cause it aint stopping anytime soon….!

Anyway, we had a wonderful time, and by the time we arrived in Thetford, Vermont at his parents’ house, we were ready for burgers, hugs, and a hot tub. We then spent a couple weeks celebrating the holidays and the new year with his family. Finally, a few days ago, we actually went to my apartment in Burlington and moved my stuff in. The apartment has three bedrooms, and I am living with two undergraduate women who I have yet to meet, but who seem nice so far! We spent a few days outfitting my room with furniture and decorations, and getting to know Burlington. I am now hanging out in Thetford for a few days while Jonas hikes with some awesome couple in their 70s that he met on trail. We will go back to Burlington in a couple of days and then on the 13th Jonas will go back to the west coast, and I will begin to battle Burlington alone!

Lastly-Jonas and I have been playing “Ticket to Ride” an amazing board game pretty much every day…and I highly suggest that you all look into it! Actually I think you can play online…maybe we should get a game going!

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Trial and Error

Jesse Northrup, alumnus (class of ’11), Tallahassee, FL

First of all, let me tell you how wonderful it has been to read about all of your exciting adventures. We’ve all ended up in such different places and I know that there will be many more wonderful stories to come.

As for me, I decided to accept Florida State University’s offer to study religious ethics in Tallahassee. All I can say is that between moving to the other side of the country, adjusting to a new place on my own, and getting my feet wet with all that graduate studies entail, last semester was a whirlwind of new experiences.  Overall, coursework was fabulous but daunting.  Academics are all I can seem to talk about these days (that’s what you get when all of your friends are in your department). So much of this transition is learning to really put yourself out there and learning to trust your instincts. To remember that you already have a solid foundation in your field, so you can take some academic chances. It’s just a little intimidating when you are taking classes with PhD students!

I was (and still am) a TA for a course called Fantasy Literature and Religion (yes, that means Harry Potter, but also Lewis, Tolkien, and Pullman).  Being on the other side of the grading process is definitely an eye opening experience.  The good papers are exciting, but the problem is that they only take a few minutes to go through. It’s the poorly written ones that take much of your time.  One student attempted to argue that Jesus is Santa, while another claimed that Harry Potter must be a Christian work because Hogwarts has gothic architecture just like all Catholic Orthodox churches of Europe. Good grief!

Other than that, I wrote more than I ever have and somehow managed to test proficient for reading French (which really means using a dictionary to translate). I’ve got one semester under my belt and now that I know I can be successful, I am ready to tackle another.  Who can argue with classes like the Ethics of Torture or the Bioethical Study of Gene Patents (yes, I know I am a nerd)? I couldn’t be more thrilled, anyway.

Wishing everyone the best as we move into the New Year! If anyone is ever in the area, do let me know. White sandy beaches are only a short drive away!

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Spending time in South America

Megan Ostermick, alumna (class of ’11), South America

After graduation I headed back to the tourist town of Talkeetna, Alaska, where I grew up. My boyfriend, Kyle, and I both spent about 4 months there working at a restaurant where I worked in high school. Being a tourist town, this paid pretty good money and we were able to save up for a long trip to South America, which we had been planning for almost a year.  Once the summer season ended we made a short stop in California to visit Kyle´s family and then in mid-October flew into Lima, Peru. We have spent the past two months travelling throughout Peru and plan to spend another month here. After our visas run out in Peru we will make our way to Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, possibly Bolivia, and eventually back to Peru.

During our time travelling we have done a lot of sight seeing as well as volunteering, and we recently finished some trekking. For more information on our travels, visit our blog at: meganandkylestriptosouthamerica.blogspot.com.

Once we have had our fill of adventure for awhile, we will likely return to Tacoma for a couple of years where I will attempt finding a job somehow related to social work and/or working with the homeless. After getting some experience in this field I will apply to graduate school, with the end goal of becoming a clinical social worker.

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Update from Suzanne Taylor

Suzanne Taylor, alumna (class of ’11), Huancayo, Peru

I have loved reading what my classmates are doing, so I wanted to share a brief post of my own. I spent a lot of my fall working as a leadership facilitator for middle and high school students in the Northwoods of Wisconsin (basically a lot of low ropes, high ropes, team building and problem solving stuff) and after a few weeks of traveling arrived in Peru where I am halfway through seven weeks working as a volunteer here – so this is the psychology part!

One of my jobs: working as an assistant to the psychologist/homework tutor at an orphanage for kids who are HIV positive. This one is the most challenging. I am working on trying to get the kids more interested in reading and being read to, which so far is going pretty well and definitely helping me improve my Spanish! They see homework and reading as a punishment so I am trying to get them more excited about it. I am also working with the three youngest kids who are 2, 3, and 4 trying to teach them empathy and verbal expression. the 2-year-old does not talk at all and the 4-year-old has very minimal language (and what I originally thought were signs of autism, but probably attachment problems), so it´s veeeeery interesting. I am currently working on a behavior modification system for the kids, like a token economy type thing with charts, so if anyone has any experience in this I would love any advice!!

Another of my jobs: Working with a six year old girl through home visits on basic early learning stuff. She was born with hydroencephalus and has had surgery for it, but doesn´t have the use of her legs and has some other delays. Mostly the issue is that the special education school is almost an hour a way and her parents work all day – she lives in a pretty rural area – so like most kids in the area with any kind of special needs, she doesn´t go to school and gets home visits from various organizations instead. Luckily her two older sisters are good about teaching her as much as they can, but it´s still hard coming from a country where kids get special ed services daily from age 3 to 21. So we are just doing basic coordination work like coloring and making stuff with play-doh, and learning right hand vs. left hand, numbers, colors, etc.

So if anyone has similar experience and you can share anything, ideas, tips, fun activities, advice, that would be soooo great! The last month has really made me miss being in practicum class and being able to discuss things with a group of like minded students.

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A Working Woman

Liz Bird, alumna (class of ’11), Tacoma, WA

Okay. Time for my blog update! So, since I wrote last, I started my job as a Case Manager at Comprehensive Life Resources. I’ve been there about a month and a half and it has been an amazing experience so far. I have a caseload of around 10 kiddos, my own desk, work phone, work computer, and I share an office with a lovely young woman who graduated from UPS a couple years before I did.

 I work on the “Willow” Team, with a supervisor and multiple therapists to run a BRS (behavioral rehabilitation services) foster care program. My responsibilities are varied and fulfilling, and include paperwork, meetings, setting up meetings, direct work with foster parents, clients, and bio families, and many other little things that I can’t even begin to explain. Basically, I manage things! My tendency to do things early and be organized and picky are serving me well. There are definitely things that are really tough about the job emotionally and in terms of prioritizing tasks and multi-tasking. I don’t really know how much I can put on this blog, but if anyone wants to talk to me more one-on-one about it, I would be happy to talk a little more in detail.

I am struggling to study for the GRE, and have stopped studying entirely as of late. I’m wondering if it would be better to just start up again when I move to Vermont since I will have fewer friends that I want to hang out with all the time! And my boyfriend will be across the country 🙁 I am auditing that class, and sometimes I regret doing it…its hard to want to go to an undergraduate class now that I’m done. I want to go to graduate school! But not yet. 🙂 I’m really enjoying my time off of school. Ive been cooking, taking classes at the YMCA (I tried cycling tonight and it was hard!), and making loads of jewelry! I’ve sold on campus three times and it has been a blast every time. 

Vermont is quickly approaching and I am starting to look for housing in Burlington as well as plan my drive across the country with my boyfriend in December. I will also need to get rid of my stuff and or pack it all up! Definitely a daunting task. 

Well, its almost 10:30pm…my new bedtime as a working woman 🙂

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Update from Elisabeth Meinig

Elisabeth Meinig, alumna (class of ’11), Kathmandu, Nepal

Namaste from Kathmandu, Nepal!

After a slightly difficult summer spent adjusting to living in my parent’s house again and studying for the GRE’s (ick), I have finally made it to my lifelong dream destination: NEPAL! Upon arriving, I had very little idea about what I’d be doing, but I knew it was something with kids and somewhere at a school! Well, SURPRISE, turns out that I am now their visiting creative writing teacher (!!!) at Ullens School, one of the top ranked schools in all of Nepal and home to the country’s single IB program!!! While it has been slightly stressful (I taught my first lesson three days after arriving in Nepal), it has truly become an amazing experience! Without the preparation from Amy Ryken’s EDU420 class, I would truly be flailing about in the classroom, completely unsure where to begin, but THANKFULLY I had a little experience planning lesson plans (now I teach a lesson 5 days a week grades 1-5) and right now we are doing poetry! The administrators at the school have said that Nepali children are very conditioned to memorize what they are taught in class, but they have difficulty creating their own thoughts and recording them. We are doing a lot of creative writing exercises as well as learning some simple elements (yesterday I taught first graders how to rhyme and then we went around in a circle and each student made their own rhyme..my favorite? “I was cleaning the wall and then I got a call *long pause* from a friend!”

Life in Nepal is pretty exciting! And so different! They have power cuts so at anytime in the day the power might get completely shut off.  It was quite shocking at first, but has now become normal. My headlamp has become key and I have to make sure that it is never too far away (a trip over my suitcase and a severely stubbed toe taught me that lesson).  The food is pretty delicious (a lot of rice and vegetables, but not a lot of carbs which I am truly beginning to miss!) and the people here are amazing! I live right across the street from a Tibetan Refugee camp that is surrounded by prayer flags and prayer wheels and sometimes in the morning, I can hear chants coming from inside the walls! There are cows everywhere and because they are considered holy here, they are allowed to roam wherever they want, whenever they want (sometimes causing traffic delays!). I’ve seen an elephant lumbering up my street a couple of times now and the taxi drivers and busses get really annoyed with it and honk their horns at it, which I find really funny. Who honks at an elephant and expects it to move? I can assure you, the elephant does not heed to the honking, it continues on its happy way. Yesterday  while stuck in traffic in a taxi, I saw a monkey walking along the power lines in Kathmandu. What? The sights are extremely exciting and seemingly limitless! The poverty here is heartbreaking though. It is everywhere. The drinking water is completely unsafe to drink, there is dirt and pollution everywhere, and it is not uncommon to see beggars on every block. Sometimes, beggars send their children out to beg, thinking that the children will elicit more sympathy and more money from people. In some extreme situations, parents will blind their own children or abuse them so as to make them look even more desperate.  It really is heartbreaking! LUCKILY, however, there are foundations in place to help alleviate poverty and these awful side effects. The foundation that I am volunteering for is one of these foundations and it has houses for abandoned, disabled, or orphaned children, children with HIV/AIDS, a program that seeks out girls who have been sold into slavery and rescues them (sometimes trading them for a goat or piglet), and a hospital for malnourished children to regain their health while teaching the mothers about nutrition and healthy food preparation. So, while it is hard to walk to school everyday and see these horrifying sights, I have to remember that there are foundations and agencies doing their best to help!

It sounds like all my fellow psych majors are doing swimmingly well, and I am so proud of everyone! Look at us, all over the place! Each doing our own special thing, it’s truly amazing! I am so proud to be a part of such a brilliant class–psh, who needs a fancy building anyway! Even the dungeons of Howarth have produced some pretty amazing individuals! Keep up the great work 🙂 And keep those blog posts coming, I love hearing your stories!

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Post-graduation musings

Emma Byers, alumna (class of ’11), Denver, CO

Hello, everyone! I’m so pleased with how much posting has increased recently and I thought I’d be a bit of a hypocrite if I didn’t post something as well, so here come some thoughts in no particular order…

1. Being unemployed was harder than I expected. After being essentially perpetually occupied for the past 22+ years, finding myself suddenly so directionless was a major challenge. I felt restless and bored spending my days applying for countless jobs and hearing nothing back. So for anyone that is still in this position or will be in this position anytime soon, all I can say is: stick it out! The right job will come along, no matter how hopeless the search feels. After three months of searching and not doing much else, I landed a fantastic job and I am so happy.

2. Staying in touch with people from Puget Sound made the waiting game bearable. Knowing that I was not alone in my transitionary funk helped a lot. Even when friends weren’t moving on to the same things as me, we could commiserate and that has made so much difference.

3. I now belong on an episode of “Kids Say the Darndest Things”. I am working in an elementary special education classroom for kids with emotional and behavioral disorders. The kids are all totally quirky and it’s fun to hear what they come up with. According to one little boy with Asperger’s as we talked about 9/11 today: “There’s a difference between terrorists and extremists…” He’s six. And when asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, one little girl replied “A castle.” You never know what is going to come out of their mouths. I love the teacher and the other para that I’m working with–both have great senses of humor and admirable amounts of patience.

4. The GRE’s are hard. I took them last weekend and they were just as much of a time and energy suck as I heard they would be. My advice? Get them out of the way sooner rather than later… if you’re like me, you’ll feel an enormous weight lift when you do.

5. I miss you all an unbelievable amount. I didn’t think it was possible to yearn for a place as much as I do for Puget Sound and Tacoma, but I find myself counting the days until I can return again. I know that wherever my travels take me, I’m going to end up back in the Pacific Northwest eventually. It’s in my bones.

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The theme of life after college? Journeys, Patience, and Passion!

Molly Witerrowd, alumna (class of ’11), Portland, OR

Hey Everyone! I hope I find all of you doing well and enjoying life after college! After graduation I was blessed with the opportunity to spend more time working at my practicum placement at the Lakewood Child Study and Treatment Center where Prof. Sarah Heavin works. For those of you reading this who have yet to graduate and are
interested in that class, I HIGHLY recommend it! I also would add that the CSTC is an amazing place to work with incredible staff and kids that provide countless learning opportunities day-to-day. After saying my goodbyes to everyone there and friends at UPS, I packed up and moved back home to Portland, Oregon.

My first goal in moving back was to 1) Completely redo my room 2) Get all settled into my life in Portland 3) Get a job in the psychology field working with kids 4) Play more soccer and 5) Have fun with friends from high school and Oregon. I started redoing my room by going through all of my childhood things and paying trips to Goodwill (luckily finding my favorite new toy- Gameboy!), painting the walls a
lovely green, and getting new bedding and furniture (not little kid flowers anymore) and then I applied for jobs.

I ended up getting offered jobs from Albertina Kerr, which is a well-respected organization in working with adults who have developmental disabilities and/or mental health issues but decided against a long commute and something I wasn’t extremely passionate about. In early August, I was offered a job at the Chehalem Youth and Family Center as a Youth Treatment Specialist. I have been working
with youth aged 14-18. I am certain of the role that my experience at the CSTC played in helping me get this job and am extremely grateful for that. Unlike the CSTC where I was in recreational therapy and mainly working with the lil’ tikes, this job has provided me with new challenges in working on altering behavioral issues, enhancing life skills, and coping with a most often negative history. The center is ran through George Fox University so I have been connecting with their PsyD program as well as Pacific University’s campus in Portland in exploring options for graduate school in clinical psychology.

This summer I have also had a lot of fun reconnecting with old friends and making new friends as well. I spent quite a bit of time nannying for a few kids I love, which was nice to see healthy and happy kids with loving families! I’ve enjoyed what Oregon has to offer- the Portland nightlife with concerts, art and music festivals, dancing bars, and comedy clubs. My family and I were frequent beachgoers to our new beach house that we built on the Oregon Coast in a town called Manzanita. I also went camping a few times with friends from school. Considering my work hours are flexible, I have been able to spend a lot of time traveling and relaxing and actually snow skiing
for the first time on Mt. Hood! I’ve been skiing since I could walk because my dad’s on Ski Patrol but this time, it was beautiful and sunny when we visited with one of UPS’ soccer coaches, Kelly Bendixen and his hilarious middle school son who is phenomenal at snowboarding! Also, other firsts during that weekend and throughout the summer were tight-roping on an obstacle course, zip-lining, and reverse and
regular bungee jumping! Quite an adventure!

So overall, a great summer! The theme that I found intertwined throughout life after college was that it’s important to take any opportunity provided in exploring new journeys, having patience and determination in setting goals and getting a job that is fulfilling, and taking time to have fun with the people you love while doing things you’re passionate about! I’m looking forward to the future in continuing to make lists of what I want to do, working with an array of different types of kids, BECOMING AN AUNTIE TO A NEPHEW, staying in shape through physical exercise and the sport I love-soccer, and soon enough- visiting UPS again to explore the new building once more and to see all of you! Especially because I can’t wait to hear about all the wonderful things you have been up to!

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Update from Jenny Ikard

Jenny Ikard, alumna (class of ’11), Tacoma, WA

Hello everyone my name is Jenny Ikard and I graduated from UPS last May. I am currently still at UPS because I am in the Occupational Therapy program. Just started the second week and things have been going well! Even though it’s only the second week I can already tell how much I am going to be using my psychology degree, especially the research I have learned. The new CHS building, as I’m sure current UPS students know, is awesome. I recommend visiting and touring it if you ever get the chance. Campus also looks a lot nicer now since South Hall is gone and they’ve put up a new lawn/garden area, very pretty. It is also nice to be at CHS with the psychology department still because I get to see old teachers and students which is fun. Over the summer I did a lot of traveling. I went to Minnesota, New York, New Mexico, and Ireland. Of course they were all a blast, some more than others (haha). Anyways, hope everyone is doing well, great idea Emma 🙂

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Team McAfee

Liz Milam, alumna (class of ’11), Bay Area, CA

I started writing a blog post way back in June as I was sitting in an airport waiting for my flight from Plano, TX to Oakland, CA. I was returning home to the Bay Area from my very first business trip (!!!) and thought to myself, “How cool would it be to be able to say I was writing this post from my first business trip!?” Well, my lack of drive and sleep foiled that plan, so here I am writing to you now, with the hope that I won’t be writing to you in a few months talking of this foiled plan.

Since I’ve graduated, I’ve been alternately quite busy and quite lazy. The weekend after graduation I went to Las Vegas to celebrate my cousin’s bachelorette party. At the time I didn’t think it could have come at a better time. I then relaxed and did next to nothing before starting work on June 6th. I’m very lucky to have found this job – I’m working in Human Resources at McAfee, Inc. in Santa Clara, CA. McAfee is an antivirus software company, though my engineer friends would cringe if they heard me say that. Evidently “we’re so much more than an AV company – we’re in the cloud!” Well while my engineering skills and technical know-how have not improved since joining McAfee, I do now see the value in security software. Excuse me while I nerd out for a second: Did you know that hackers now have the ability to hack into insulin pumps carried by patients? This means that if an important dignitary or person of interest required an insulin pump, hackers could remotely turn off the pump and cause serious damage, if not death. Crazy!

I say I am lucky to have found this job at McAfee, and I am because HR is actually what I want to do. After freshmen year at UPS I interned with McAfee in HR for the summer, and each summer after that, I came back to McAfee to intern. I was fortunate that they offered me a full-time position upon graduating, and I just passed my 3-month anniversary this week. At McAfee, there’s a 3-month “introductory period” where employees can be terminated or can leave with no questions asked. I joked to all my coworkers that I passed this mark so they now have to have a reason to fire me. 🙂

I am also lucky to have started with McAfee because not only did I already knew a lot of the people I was working with, I also knew the culture and the job. While I have many more responsibilities now than when I interned, I started with a good idea about the types of things I’d be doing and how to do them. That said, I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned on the job. However, there’s also been a few oops moments. Take this one, for example: a couple of weeks ago I learned how to process changes in SAP, for example manager changes, title changes, and organization creations. In the process of making a change, I accidently terminated an employee. It’s funny to me now (effectively, I fired someone on accident), but I was sweating when it happened (things are fixed now). Needless to say, there is still a lot of room for improvement, but I’m happy to report that I am constantly learning and improving.

Beyond learning more at work, I’ve been trying to get out more. It was a stark change for me to go from college life to the working life. Since my work week is largely uneventful outside of work and because I don’t know many people outside of HR at McAfee, I joined the company softball team. In fact, we have our first game tonight. I did crew in high school and at UPS, so I’m very familiar with team dynamics, and it’s something I really love and miss a lot about college. The only issue is that I don’t play softball. I’ll give you a quick overview of my softball career: I was in elementary school when it all started and it was still cute to see little kids dressed in their baseball/softball uniforms even if they couldn’t hit the ball. I didn’t progress much farther than playing with the flowers in outfield, so I was a little nervous to join the McAfee team. But I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone. Last night I even had a little batting/catching practice, so we’ll see how tonight goes. Maybe I’ll find out I’m the next Buster Posey (may he please recover soon… the Giants need him). Or maybe not, but I’m just glad that I did something different. Any if anything – it’ll be nice to go for celebratory beers on Wednesdays.

So that’s what’s going on in my life in a nutshell. I also turned 22 this weekend, much to the surprise of my coworkers who couldn’t believe I was so young. It’s been a fun few months since graduation, and with all of the updates on Facebook about life at UPS, I was surprised to find myself nostalgic for that first week of class. Hopefully the next time I blog I’ll be able to tell you about the softball star I’ve become.

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