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Graduate Student Highlight: Nicholas Mercer, MPA ’19

Posted by: Haley Schanne | August 6, 2018 | No Comment |

For the University of Charleston, SC student Nicholas Mercer, this summer was all about innovation and inclusion.

Nicholas, a second-year student in the Master of Public Administration Program, has been working with the Alliance for Full Acceptance (AFFA), a social justice non-profit that strives to achieve equality and acceptance for the LGBTQ community right here in the Lowcountry. This partnership was made possible through Nicholas’ Graduate Assistantship with the Community Assistance Program (CAP). Housed within the Public Administration program, CAP students partner with various non-profit organizations in the region to help with necessary projects.

With AFFA, Nicholas has been working on the launch of the LGBTQ Community Needs Assessment, a survey which is first of its kind ever to be undertaken in the tri-county area. The survey is a replication of similar studies conducted in Spartanburg, SC, and Birmingham, AL. Nicholas was present at the launch event for the AFFA survey on August 2, 2018 at the Joseph P. Riley Center for Livable Communities and was recently interviewed by the Charleston City Paper in reference to the project.

The survey, called “The Tri-County LGBTQ Community Survey”, has become a passion project for Nicholas.

“This project is something that effects my community right here,” Nicholas explains. “And it’s research that’s never been done before in this area. Being involved in this effort right where I live is incredible.”

The survey aims to gather information on the various facets of an LGBTQ person’s life in the Lowcountry, such as religion, family life, and professional ventures. AFFA hopes to create a wholistic view of the experiences of LGBTQ community members, which is particularly exciting for Nicholas once the results come in. When asked about the how the data that is collected will be used, Nicholas had this to say.

“With this first-time assessment, the sky’s the limit! The results will help AFFA assist with the needs of the underserved LGBTQ community right here in the tri-county area.”

Working with AFFA through the CAP program has been invaluable for Nicholas. His focus within the MPA program is non-profit management, and his Graduate Assistantship position allows him to gain real world experience every single day.

“The CAP program has brought to life what I’ve been learning in class,” Nicholas says. “And the opportunity to work with AFFA has been such a richly rewarding experience.”

Nicholas will continue working with AFFA through the Fall 2018 semester and hopes to continue to work on the behalf of the LGBTQ community within the nonprofit sector after his graduation in the Spring 2019.

To learn more about The Tri-County LGBT Community Survey, visit AFFA’s website at https://www.affa-sc.org/. To participate in the survey, visit https://the-lgbtq-survey.com/. For more on the Community Assistance Program with the Master of Public Administration Program, visit http://puba.cofc.edu/community-assistance-program/index.php.

under: Academics, Charleston, Diversity, News, Public Administration
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The University of Charleston, SC provides current graduate students with research, presentation, and professional development grants, allowing students to travel both domestically and internationally to enhance their academic experience. In addition to various other campus funding opportunities, Zachary T. Stephens, recently utilized his Graduate School Professional Development Grant to travel to Dubai, U.A.E. for the 2018 Future Cities Show and Conference:

As a student, I am extremely interested in sustainability practices both in business and applied to cities or nations. This is the primary reason I came to The College of Charleston, as our Quality Enhancement Program (QEP) is Sustainability Literacy. Being in a university where sustainability is both taught, experienced, and practiced is a wonderful thing. Throughout my coursework in my first year as a graduate student, I was able to explore the academics and theory of sustainability. As a result of my academic experiences and financial support from The College of Charleston Graduate School, I am excited to have had the opportunity to attend the 2018 Future Cities Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The conference was held in April and furthered my knowledge base while also providing me with invaluable networking opportunities.

The Future Cities Show was a global conference related to city systems thinking of sustainability and resilience. The conference covered a wide range of topics including: digital infrastructure, Blockchain applications, mass transit, smart transportation, big data use, Internet of Things (IoT), security, sustainable development, futurology, resilience, citizen happiness, renewable energy, waste management, Net Zero (carbon), smart cities and buildings, and urban planning with design for sustainability. The breadth of this conference was supported, in part, by being in close proximity to the Dubai (U.A.E.) National Economic and Investment Forum, as well as a tech startup conference. I was exposed to many areas of cutting edge investment, design, solutions, research, and working professionals in the public and private sectors, and was able to utilize some of this knowledge in a classroom assignment back here at the College of Charleston to close the semester.

I am very thankful for the funding I have received from the graduate school, the Masters of Science in Environmental Studies Program, M.E.S.S.A., and G.S.A. for without this overwhelming support the experience would not have been possible. I am proud to say that I have enhanced my understanding of both city systems and their sustainability, as well as knowledge of how industry is also rising to the challenge to meet the U.N. Sustainability Goals. Both the civic and business sectors are in my personal areas of interests, and the speakers at this conference did not disappoint with their targeted messaging and commentary on local to global solutions. Many topics discussed within the conference I have been able to start working with the Sustainability Literacy Institute, the Office of Sustainability, and the college’s upper administration to implement these ideas in various forms of function and practice throughout this campus’s physical and digital presence.

In short, this conference and experience was proven to be the wealth of knowledge I expected and, as a result, I was able to bring back and apply my new knowledge and experience back home here at the College of Charleston. I genuinely hope other students, graduate and undergraduate, will take advantage of the numerous funding opportunities The College of Charleston grants its students. Many topics covered in lecture and personal learning experiences here at the college can be further enhanced by attending a conference for your discipline.

About the Author: Zachary is a current graduate student beginning his final year in the Masters of Environmental Studies Program. He currently serves as the President of The Graduate Student Association, Graduate Assistant for Outreach and Communications for the Sustainability Literacy Institute, and Graduate Hall Director for Rivers Residence Hall.

   

 

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Graduate Student Spotlight: Abigail Davis, MS Child Life

Posted by: Michelle McGrew | May 7, 2018 | No Comment |

For most graduate students at the University of Charleston, SC, summertime does not necessarily mean “time off” from their studies. Students who are not taking summer courses are often enrolled in internships, travelling for professional development, or continuing their ongoing research. Incoming second year MS Child Life student, Abigail Davis, has accepted a prestigious offer through Connect 123 in Cape Town, South Africa, where she will gain first-hand experience with other child life specialists at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Read more about the MS Child Life program and Abigail’s incredible opportunity in her recent blog post below!

I am a first year graduate student in the Master of Science in Child Life program at the University of Charleston, SC. My academic and clinical coursework and training are focused on becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist, a healthcare professional who will work with children and families with chronic or episodic healthcare needs.        

I have recently been accepted into the Connect 123 program in Cape Town, South Africa. While in Cape Town, I will be completing an international Child Life practicum at the Red Cross Children’s hospital. As an undergraduate student, I completed a medical mission trip to rural areas in Belize, and this led to my commitment to improving the psychosocial care for children across the world facing healthcare challenges. The Connect 123 program will provide a unique learning experience giving me the opportunity to be involved in the Red Cross Children’s Hospital healthcare team, and work with children and families from diverse cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. I am excited for the opportunity to use the educational and applied skills learned through my program in a new country, experiencing intervention planning and delivery working within a non-western health care facility.

Through my graduate education in developmental, play, and stress and coping theories I believe I can work effectively to address the psychosocial effects of hospitalization in children and families, and benefit from the close mentorship of a senior child life specialist and former president of the child life national organization. Through my graduate training, I have witnessed, firsthand how play and expressive arts can address the fears of children facing hospitalization and medical procedures. I have observed our MUSC Child Life Specialists use play and preparation to address those fears, promote normal development, and improve the hospital experience for the child. I have developed the skills to assess children’s developmental levels and create developmentally appropriate interventions that I will utilize within the Connect 123 program.

I look forward to immersing myself in a new culture, and learning how experienced Child Life Specialists use their skills with children from other cultures. Although I have traveled extensively prior to graduate school, I am extremely interested in applying my graduate education and skills to the international health care setting, Cape Town’s Red Cross Children’s Hospital. I believe this opportunity will give me a unique experience in working with a CCLS and children within a different country and broaden my scope of experiences and understanding of culturally competent child life intervention and advocacy. I am confident my graduate education and training and positive energy can contribute to the 123 connect program and health care team.

   

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This spring, the Graduate School reinstated the 60 Second Program Video Competition, granting students the opportunity to showcase the highlights of life within their graduate programs. The Graduate School collaborated with the Addlestone Library to utilize their expertise through online tutorials and an exploratory workshop, navigating the user-friendly iMovie software. Armed with only a smartphone or tablet, students were able to give the audience a firsthand look inside their respective classrooms, laboratories – or in some cases – even beaches.

Check out the full video of this year’s winner, MS Marine Biology student, Zachary Proux, online here!

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Eliza Bower says the changes she’s seen since her Freshman year at the College of Charleston – increased development, population, and traffic – are extensive. Charleston is not the only city facing these issues, and Eliza sees the college’s new Master’s program, Community Planning, Policy and Design (CPAD), as the perfect foundation to study potential solutions.

After graduating from the college’s Historic Preservation and Community Planning program in 2015, Eliza moved home to Baltimore for a gap year, or two, before grad school. She returned to the South in the fall of 2017 as one of the first graduate students accepted into the CPAD program, and says she was drawn to the program because of its small size, familiar location, and reputable professors. Interested in the “social issues” of developing cities, she wanted to study urban planning in a historic setting. “I’m interested in affordable, urban housing and how to make the urban fabric more cohesive and fluid in order to create a more diverse community.”

In between classes, research, and waiting tables, Eliza works as an intern at the Office of Sustainability, where she is researching different modes of transportation within the college community. Her Master’s thesis will examine the infrastructure for college commuters, and the development of systems that allow for safer biking and walking, and easier commutes to campus.

The college’s seventh annual Sustainability Week kicks off on Monday, April 9, and culminates with a street fair on Friday the 13. Eliza is working to build an “upcycled” outdoor living space on George street for the street fair in order to “give the street back to the students and community.” A variety of activities and events will take place throughout the week including a social justice coffee hour with a panel of experts, food trucks, and performances in the Cistern featuring music, poetry, and art. Eliza has been slowly collecting materials for her project including discarded packing pallets and industrial materials. “I’ve been dumpster diving,” she laughs.

Halfway through her first year in the CPAD program, Eliza has enjoyed getting feedback from experts in the field including Allen Davis, the Director of Civic Design for the city of Charleston. In February, Eliza traveled to Florida with her colleagues and CPAD Director, Dr. R. Grant Gilmore III, to the Seaside Prize conference, which honors leaders in contemporary urban development and education. Looking ahead, Eliza says she is looking forward to continuing her research and completing her Masters in the spring of 2019.

(Article provided by: Amy Mercer, Program Administrator/Intern Coordinator, HPCP and CPAD Programs)

           

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Spring 2018 Graduate Alumni Panel and Networking Reception

Posted by: Michelle McGrew | April 9, 2018 | No Comment |

A big round of thanks to the local alumni that participated in last Friday’s second Alumni Panel and Networking Reception!

  • Erin Aylor, MA Communication (’15)
  • Shelley Dearhart, MS Environmental Studies (’14)
  • Sarah Fichera, MPA (’17)
  • Betsey Geier, MA English (’14)
  • Jamie Mansbridge, MA History (’17)
  • Caitlyn Mayer, MS Environmental Studies (’17)
  • Michael Owens, MA English (’12)

Students were able to hear firsthand how to make the most of their graduate career and jump-start into the job market post-graduation. Email gradstud@cofc.edu if interested in serving as a panelist for future events!

      

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12th Annual Graduate Student Poster Session Winners

Posted by: Michelle McGrew | March 12, 2018 | No Comment |

Every year our graduate students participate in the Annual Graduate Student Poster Session, highlighting their impressive research activities, internship experiences, and creative portfolios from the academic year.

Please join us in congratulating the winners of the 2018 competition!

First Place – Zachary Lane (MS Marine Biology): Feeding Behavior, Cirral Morphology, and Filtration Limits of the Sea Turtle Commensal, Chelonibia testudinaria

Second Place – Rachel Wiser (MS Environmental Studies): Willingness to Pay for Wedding Flowers

People’s Choice Award – Ellie Smith (MA Communication): “Living Out Loud is Not Easy:” A Reproductive Justice Approach to Health Disparities Across the Lifespan

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Since 1994, the Graduate School of the University of Charleston, SC and the Université de Versailles-Saint Quentin have fostered an exchange program for graduate students to teach in Paris for a year while completing independent research for their respective programs. Check out the most recent blog post below from current Master’s of Public Administration and Versailles Fellowship student, Emma Cregg, as she rounds out her first semester in France!

The first month or so was definitely an adjustment with a steep learning curve, but I am loving the experience of navigating daily life in a foreign country. So many aspects of my daily routine have changed to adjust with Parisian culture, and I have realized how many of our habits aren’t right or wrong… just cultural. This experience is allowing me to think critically about what in my routine is important and healthy, and what is simply a learned action. Some things are simple, like buying less (and therefore wasting less) food because rather than carrying it from my car to the kitchen, I carry it from the store, across town, and up 7 flights of stairs. Others have been more complex, such as my views on capitalism or the validity of worker’s unions after living in a city that goes on strike for something every other week (ok, that’s not precisely accurate, but pretty close). This has been a way to expand my own world view, and sort of discover my personal “best practices.” As an MPA student interested in pursuing a public service career in local planning and/or administration, I’m really enjoying the process of seeing how my new sense of “place” is impacting my daily life, and learning from those around me. On a lighter note, I mean, its Paris! Beautiful places, people, food (and the lack of guilt from trying it ALL, as I’ve never walked more in my life). On the best day, Paris is magical and makes you feel like its all going to happen, whatever “it” is 🙂

Teaching English to French college students at the Université de Versailles has kept me on my toes! Being the “sole” representative of American culture, media, and politics has been a challenge, and made for great dialogue and thought-provoking conversation. This experience is also valuable to me, with future aspirations in academia. Although I do not plan to teach English, learning to navigate lesson-planning, grading, class schedules, and students, all while conducting my independent thesis research, is proving challenging but rewarding. 

My research combines my interest in local governance with my passion for refugee relief work. My thesis research focuses on the question: what challenges do local administrators face when translating national refugee policy into a framework for facilitating refugee integration within their own host communities, and does their level of proprietorship throughout the process impact integrative efficacy? I am actually comparing U.S. refugee policy with that of the United Kingdom, an easy train ride from my home here in Paris. I am headed to the UK in a week to conduct my first round of interviews with local administrators in Preston and Sheffield, leading “Sanctuary Cities” in the UK, regarding their experience translating national refugee policy into practical plans of implementation within their own communities. I will then be comparing their responses with those from local administrators back in my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. 

As I am wrapping up my first semester of teaching, I am grateful to be here, and looking forward to another semester of teaching, researching, and further expanding my world view… not to mention continuing to live off of great cheese, bread, and wine!

 

 

 

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Alumni Spotlight: Caitlyn Mayer, M.S. Environmental Studies ’16

Posted by: Michelle McGrew | November 22, 2017 | No Comment |

Caitlyn Mayer (EVSS ’16) knows a thing or two about quality – most notably, water quality.

So it’s no surprise she is one of the contributing founders to one of the few local oyster farms within the Charleston peninsula, Charleston Oyster Farm. After finishing her research on enhancing water quality in the ACE Basin, SC through the M.S. Environmental Studies program, Caitlyn decided to apply those skills to break into the lucrative and renowned Charleston hospitality industry.

Similar to the popular “farm-to-table”  concept cultivated by several local restaurants, Charleston Oyster Farm abides by the “marsh-to-table” approach, delivering fresh oysters to your dock, doorstep, or establishment. Their mission centers around promoting ecosystem awareness and decreasing harsh environmental stressors, while continuing to distribute a quality product fundamental to culture of the Lowcountry. Caitlyn and her crew use off-bottom cages, allowing oysters to brine at low tide for maximum flavor and preventing little unmentionables (i.e. barnacles or algae) from attaching to their shells – thus creating a cleaner and easier cut for oyster shuckers. These cages simultaneously provide a protective haven for small aquatic species; the plentiful ecosystem and the abundance of fare to choose from encourages larger animals to relocate to the area as a direct result.

You can get your first taste of their salty Stono Selects and Mosquito Fleet Petites this Friday, November 24th, from 5-7pm at the Holy City Shuck Fest, located at Holy City Brewing. Oyster singles/select beer parings will be available as you learn about the local mariculture industry and oyster farming in the Lowcountry. Family, friends, little ones, and furry pals are welcome! Additional event information can be found through Facebook of the Charleston Oyster Farm website.

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Global Entrepreneurship Week Comes to CofC

Posted by: McCrayCC | November 14, 2017 | No Comment |

They may be self-starters, trailblazers and pioneers in their respective industries, but just because entrepreneurs are forging their own paths doesn’t mean they have to do it alone. Especially not during Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW).

Nov. 13 through Nov. 19, 2017,  millions of entrepreneurs from 160 countries across the world connect through the spirit of entrepreneurship to celebrate innovators and job creators who bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. With activities on the local, national and global scale, GEW creates opportunities for entrepreneurs to connect and collaborate with one another – and with potential mentors and investors – giving them a sense of support and guidance as they take that next step in their entrepreneurial journeys.

For many entrepreneurs, that journey starts at the College of Charleston. And, this year, the Center for Entrepreneurship in the College’s School of Business is joining the GEW initiative with a week of networking events for students, faculty and the community at large. With events featuring CofC economics faculty, the School of Business’ social entrepreneur-in-residence, as well as experts in the real estate, water and development fields, GEW at the College is packed full of opportunities for entrepreneurs at any stage of their journey.

Here is rundown of the GEW events at the College of Charleston:

“Regional Economic Development in Charleston” – Tuesday, Nov. 14, 5:30–6:30 p.m. in Room 207 of the Tate Center, 5 Liberty St. 

This panel discussion on the regional economic development of the peninsula and the greater Charleston area features economics professor and director of the Office of Economic Analysis Frank Hefner, economics professor and founding director of the Center for Public Choice and Market Process Peter Calcagno and executive director of Charleston County Economic Development Steve Dykes. The Center for Public Choice and Market Process is a co-sponsor of this event. A light reception will follow. More info and RSVP here.

“Skin in the Game: A Discussion Race and Entrepreneurship in America” – Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2–3:15 p.m. in the Wells Fargo Auditorium, Beatty Center, 5 Liberty St.

This year’s George G. Spaulding Series Distinguished Speaker Stephen Gilchrist, chairman of the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce, will lead a discussion on race and entrepreneurship. Gilchrist has long worked in public policy, economic reform and educational choice, and he is also the president and CEO of GSL Distributors, a logistics and distribution company. Highlighting the obstacles facing many minority small business owners, Gilchrist’s talk will include his personal journey as a minority entrepreneur and small business advocate. Part of the College of Charleston Center for Entrepreneurship’s George G. Spaulding Distinguished Executive Speaker Seriesthis event does require an RSVP.

Business of Water Special Guest Luncheon – Friday, Nov. 17, 12–1:30 p.m.

South Carolina Ports Authority permit manager Mark Messersmith, impact investing expert and School of Business social entrepreneur-in-residence, Stuart Williams and chief of the Vessel Security Division at the United States Coast Guard, Marine Safety Center, Lt. J.B. Zorn will come together for a lively discussion on water and its impact on local, national and international communities from an economic and social perspective. This event is by invitation only.

under: Charleston, Diversity, Events, Graduate Student Association, Jobs & Careers, Networking, Professional Development

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