Tuesday, October 21, 2014

TTC's Annual Community Activities Fair

will be held Wednesday, October 29
from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
in the Student Center Lounge of Bldg. 410.
 
The purpose of the fair is to familiarize TTC students, faculty and staff
with services on campus, volunteer opportunities with community agencies,
and services available in the community.
 
Listed below are the agencies and organizations registered to attend:
Amedisys HospiceAmerican Red Cross
Berkeley Citizens, Inc.
Berkeley County School District
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Camp Rise Above
Center for Women
Charleston County First Steps
Charleston Wesley Foundation
Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry
City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Dept.
COBRA – Sickle Cell Program
Eagle Harbor Ranch
East Coast Migrant Head Start
East Cooper Community Outreach
Florence Crittenton Programs of SC
Footlight Players Theatre
Guardian Ad Litem
HALOS
Jersey Mike’s           
LifePoint/Donate Life South Carolina
Lowcountry Orphan Relief
Midland Park Community Ministries
MUSC Volunteer Services
Palmetto Medical Initiative
PRO-Parents of SC
Ralph H. Johnson VA Voluntary Service
Reading Partners
Regions Bank
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
South Carolina Federal Credit Union
South Carolina Legal Services
S.C. State Credit Union
Sumpter Free Health Clinic (Berkeley)
WINGS for Kids
 
As you can see, a variety of agencies will be on campus. Please take advantage of this opportunity to find out a little more about services available to you and your family.
 
********** FREE GIVEAWAYS WILL BE PLENTIFUL **********
 
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, CALL STUDENT ACTIVITIES AT 6012.

Black Cats

Written By: Levena Lindahl

                How did black cats come to be seen as bad luck, especially when cats come from a history of being worshiped as gods by the ancient Egyptians?  Traditionally speaking, black cats got a bad name from the Middle Ages by being associated with witches, witchcraft and the Devil.  This belief that the cats were dangerous and evil got so widespread that black cats still suffer from its echoes even today, especially in areas like Rome, where thousands of black cats are killed every year for no reason other than deep set fears.

                It wasn’t just black cats that were shunned during the Middle Ages, but any cat.  They were so associated with ‘evil’ things that during the Black Death they were all but wiped out in Europe.  Cats were thought to be working with witches and evil spirits to spread the plague.  This irrational fear and hatred towards cats actually made the plague worse for the continent by removing the main predator of the rats that carried the infected fleas.

                The thought that cats were familiars of witches was carried from Europe into North America and the new American colonies.  Black cats were also a part of the Salem Witch Trials, thanks to the Puritans who made up the colony.  Puritans were devout, religious Christians who had fears of anything Devil- related and sadly the lingering belief of cats being linked to witches and devilry made them targets during the Trials.

                In some cases, the act of the cat crossing your path was enough to give you bad luck or represented a bad omen coming your way.  Many people since the Middle Ages have gone out of their way to avoid having a black cat cross their path, for fear of being cursed by its presence.  The cat, meanwhile, probably wondered what was wrong with the human before deciding it didn’t care.

                Now, that old fear of black cats still affects pets today, especially around Halloween.  While black cat decorations are popular, there are people that go out of their way to hurt cats, especially black ones, around this time of year.  Please, if your cat has darker coloring and is an indoor/outdoor cat, keep them inside for Halloween.  Keep them safe from people who use an old fear tactic as a reason to harm pets who just want to go about their business and get home to their families.

Trident's Online Classes Changed Everything

Choosing the Online Study Program

 
Written By: Gregory Webb 
          I’m Gregory Webb, and if you would have asked me in 2012, when I started studying at Trident Technical College, where I would be in life right now, I would probably have some generic and rehearsed answer to give you—likely in the form of some four year plan regarding a career, the largest house I could finance, starting a family, or something along these lines. Although this lifestyle is very appealing and works great for most people, I would like to take a moment to explain the path I took, and more importantly how Trident Technical College’s online college options helped me along the way.
          My first two semesters at Trident Tech were in-person and although I enjoyed them very much, and felt comfortable with the setting, peers, and teachers—I quickly noticed myself becoming restless. This could have something to do with the amount that I had been traveling throughout the previous years or it could just be the age I was quicky approaching, demanding more excitement from me; either way, I decided to answer its call. 
          In the past, I had always idolized Europe and its ability to stay above the curve with laws, fashion, infrastructure, and other things that are simply not regarded as socially acceptable in the U.S. I decided that I wanted to get a taste of it for myself, but in my mind I was facing a dilemma because not only did I not have a plan, what would I possibly do about college? Could I finish when I come back? Oh no, that would never work—I would be at LEAST 26 by that time. How on earth would I explain this to future employers, friends, and family?

          After taking time to research and consider my options, I found a very exciting opportunity to work with an English speaking team in Marburg, Germany where I would help translate legal documents, sort through spelling and grammatical errors, and other busy work for a language technology company, which outsources its work to foreign expats. I applied eagerly, then waited for a response.
Me leaving for Marburg,
from Charleston International
          After being accepted, I realized there was one problem I had left to deal with that I had been avoiding all along; what would I do about college? After considering my few options, I browsed around on the college’s website and noticed the link leading to Distance Learning. 
          I was hesitant, of course, as I believe most people are with online courses, especially considering the somewhat less than respected reputation some schools across the country are receiving. Still, I spoke with my advisor about it anyway. Upon assuring me that every class would be accepted towards my degree in the same manner that an in-person class would, my mind was made up and I packed my bags the next day.
Flags from my apartment
in Marburg, Germany.
          After settling into my new culture, apartment, and social circle, my classes for the fall semester of 2013 began and I logged into the D2L portal. For many people, this portal could be somewhat over-whelming in the start of things, but after about a week of navigating through the tabs and watching the helpful how-to videos the teachers provide, I was practically an expert and nearly fell in love with the classes immediately.
          To give an overview of what a normal online course is like, it begins with a general introduction and syllabus week where somewhere within the forum you will be required to write a brief introduction of yourself and in most cases, take a quick syllabus quiz. This can be extremely useful, especially for students (like myself) that are new to Distance Learning and need time to adjust to the learning platform it provides. 
          Within the next few weeks, you will be facing approximately 3-4 hours of work (per class) if you include self-study and self-learning tasks. A normal week within one of the 8 classes that I have taken so far would be one discussion question which poses a question relative to the class or reading, a 50 question (give or take) quiz, and 15-30 pages of reading for each chapter. Along with these tasks that are due on a weekly basis, you will likely have a research paper to complete within the length of your course.
          For most of my online courses, the research paper is laid out in a very helpful way, that takes stepping stones in helping you to complete it in a timely manner.
          In the past year, I have had experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything and all because of the option to take my courses online with Trident Tech. This program and its teachers have provided me with not only the resources needed to complete my degree, but also the capacity to see the world while doing so. If you find yourself wondering what your next step is in life and feel like normal in-person classes will just prohibit you from doing the things you want to accomplish, take a look into Trident’s Distance Learning and I assure you that you won’t regret it. Trident Technical College is not only flexible and understanding, they also realize that we sometimes face struggles during our lives that can create obstacles and hold us back from taking a step to better ourselves. Let Distance Learning give you the chance to make that happen!


Inspirational Instructor: Professor Alicia Pica: Psychology

Written by: Kim Kovacich

"Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions." Author Unknown

As a student, I have been given the opportunity to sit under numerous teachers and become versed in a variety of subjects. Most, if not all, of the instructors were a joy to have, but if asked who inspired me uttermost, I would have to reply, "my psychology professor, Alicia Pica." She not only instructed, but further ignited a passion within me, solidifying my assurance in the fact that I have chosen the appropriate career field. As William Butler Yeats states, "Education is not the filling of the pail, but the lighting of a fire." The ardor was within me; her class re-kindled it.

Teaching is a noble profession. Instructors have been given a great gift; the power to change lives. Anyone can recite or relay information, but it takes a special individual with true passion to inspire others to take that knowledge and change themselves, and in turn, inspire others. William A. Ward summarizes this well. He states, "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."

To inspire, an individual needs to possess the capability to stimulate a person's mind or emotions to a higher level of feeling, or activity, and direct that person towards the path meant for them. Professor Pica did just that for me and countless others in our class. She is someone who helps her students realize their full potential and go on to make a positive difference in the lives of others. As Henry Brooks Adams says, "Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops." Trident instructors can change the way students feel about themselves, crucially molding the rest of their lives.

Professor Pica has forged her own authentic path in life and taken the unpaved road, going against the grain. When discussing creativity, most individuals will reply that they, "think outside the box," but as she states, "I have no box." She is creating a direction by living what she studies, researches, and transfers to us, the student. She doesn't just talk about what fascinates her, she is immersed in it. With her enthusiasm, passion, and genuine excitement about the subject of psychology and life itself, one cannot help but leave her class inspired to learn more, be more, do more.

Probably one of the greatest qualities an inspirational teacher can have is empathy:  an intellectual identification with or a vicarious experience of another's feelings, thoughts, or attitudes. She laughed with us and did a great job at making a connection between student and teacher. She has compassion, leading by example as a student herself, that we are all juggling many aspects of life. Some of us tend to stress out after a test or quiz; Professor Pica stays after class to grade them and ease our minds. She maintains a contagious, positive attitude and rarely comes to class without a smile. She is a great orator, which keeps us focused and interested, and always maintains a tone of respect. She treats us as if we are her friends, not merely a group of people sitting under her tutelage. Ironically enough, she is the epitome of one of her favorite teachers that she holds in high regard. She stated that her undergraduate professor was, "extremely knowledgeable, experienced in her field, supportive, and always willing to go out of her way to help others." This is proof all the more the impact that a teacher can have on their students. An unknown author states, "As a general rule, teachers teach more by what they are than by what they say," and I feel that, as students, we become a reflection of them.

Professor Alicia Pica possesses the art of giving good feedback that is constructive, welcoming questions and personal insight from her students. As with any subject, studying can be tedious and arduous, and can even sap the motivation right out of the students, but inspirational teachers intervene at the right point and know instinctively how to change the emphasis and direction of learning, bringing students back on track by motivating them to succeed. If ever her students were confused about any aspect of the subject matter, we all felt comfortable in contacting her and she always replied back to us in a timely matter. We were never made to feel that we were on our own in understanding the material; she has the ability to explain each lesson in a manner that each individual student can understand. Professor Pica states that, "Teaching any kind of subject is like teaching another language and other people have different educational backgrounds, or otherwise, languages. Therefore," she believes, "you have to know their language to teach another one, like teaching Psychology to someone with a background in engineering." She uses innovative, interactive teaching methods and creates lessons which are interesting and applicable to each student's life. 

Her class can be likened to that of a good movie which continues to play out lesson by lesson. There is a plot, instances that keep you on your toes, and laughter to break up any monotony of serious issues. I looked forward to her every class and was never forlorn about any test or assignment. It takes a special teacher to maintain a class that continues to be insightful, informative, and exciting. Professor Alicia Pica is a shining example of an educator who can do just that. We learned a great deal, laughed during every class, and completed the term with a sense of accomplishment and gratitude, but, as with any good movie, there is always disappointment when it ends, as well as, the hope for a sequel.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Coming Soon: TTC Talent Show!

Friday, November 14th

Cash Prizes:
$300 1st Place
$200 2nd Place
$100 3rd Place


 

Audition Dates:
Monday, October 27 - 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, October 30 - 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
(All auditions will be held in Bldg. 410, Room 212)


Here's your chance to showcase your talent!  For further information, contact Student Activities at 574-6012.

 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Join the 16th Annual James Island Connector Run


Written By: Levena Lindahl

The 16th annual James Island Connector Run (JICR) will take place on Saturday, November1st at 8:30 a.m. with races for runners, walkers and bikers in 10 and 5K distances.  Affectionately called the ‘other’ bridge run’, the JICR run was founded by the Gavalas Kolanko Foundation, with the goal of fundraising to help provide college scholarships to students with physical disabilities in the area.  This year, three Trident Technical College students joined the ranks of students to receive scholarships from the Foundation. Meagan Orton was one TTC student recipient this year, and is featured in this video that was aired September 29th on Live at 5 news. 

The Gavalas Kolanko Foundation started in 1999, after Nicholas Gavalas and Dr. Ronald Kolanko became aware of the issues that faced physically disabled youth in the Charleston area, especially in terms of paying for college.  Since the Foundation’s creation, they have given out 95 scholarships to students in six different area colleges, including Trident Technical College, and they have raised over $500,000.  The James Island Connector Run is their signature event, and is a major fundraising time for the Foundation.  To find out more about the Gavalas Kolanko Foundation and the work they do, please click here.


The James Island Connector Run is incredibly scenic while providing a challenge for runners, walkers and those riding bikes. The race itself will overlook the Ashley River and the historic downtown peninsula of Charleston. The 5K also has the distinction of being the only point to point race in South Carolina and goes directly over the James Island Connector that gives the run its name. After the race there will be a post-race festival held in Cannon Park.  This will include music, refreshments, food, and a Beer Garden.  There will also be cash awards for the top five male and female finishers for the 5 and 10Ks, with prizes for course records as well.

If you or your club is interested in participating, you can join the “Trident Technical College Student Organizations” Team!  The registration fee is $35 a person between from May 2nd
until October 31st and $40 on the day of the race.  However, there is a special promotion for TTC at $20 a person from September 29th until October 13th.   To get this promotional rate, enter the code “TTC14” when you register for the race. If racing isn’t your thing, perhaps you would like to volunteer!  Volunteers are needed for all aspects of the race, and any help is always welcome.  To see a promotional video on what you can do as a volunteer, please click here.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What If

Written By: Kim Kovavich

The air is filled with laughter and excitement and you think to yourself, "this is going to be the best vacation we have ever had; I'm so thankful we finally decided to do this." You're three hours outside of London and when you land, you have numerous adventures planned to show your family how much you truly love them. As the daydream begins to dissipate, you glance over at your daughter as she sleeps. You lay your hand gently on her shoulder, and in a blink of an eye, she is gone, disappearing into thin air.

Her clothes lie in a pile on her seat, her Hello Kitty stuffed animal atop them. You close your eyes, convinced this is just a repercussion of your college years. You count to ten, and slowly begin to peer around the plane. To your chagrin, all of the children are missing, including that obnoxious, holy roller lady that kept spouting bible verses.

The passengers are in a frenzy. Amidst the yelling and feverish panic, you look at your wife, begging for an explanation. Everyone is thinking it......."Aliens? Someone grabbed them and they are all stashed somewhere under the plane with the luggage. That last drink knocked me out and they all departed the plane in another city." You wrestle with the possibilities. Your wife says, "Maybe that bible thumper lady in the next seat wasn't so crazy after all; we have been left behind."

I typically don't write about movies; but, I found this one to be quite interesting and entertaining. It left me thinking and wondering, and did a beautiful job of addressing a subject that the majority of the human race chooses to ignore or reject completely. "Left Behind" will keep you on your toes and leave you asking yourself, "What if?"  

Paradise in Full Bloom at Horticulture Building

Written By: Christopher Williamson


      As a student at TTC, I’ve always felt a sense of pride when the start of the fall semester comes and the campus is filled with a flush of new students eager to learn and begin their college careers, a deep sense of excitement with the development of our new nursing building, and a deep respect for the faculty and staff that are always willing to share their knowledge and experience. But as any new student walking the campus for the first time or a curious visitor can tell you, there is always one building that stands out, a building that seems to capture the imagination and gives the viewer insight into the artistic brilliance of its creator.
If you didn’t bother to read the title or just haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about the horticulture building; a building that begs to be recognized by the senses with its year round appeal of color that is sure to delight your eyes, the sound of chirping birds that are sure to bring a sense of calm and satisfaction streaming through your ears and delicious edible fruit from figs to peaches which guarantee a pure taste of pleasure for any taste bud.
But as anyone knows, even the most established trees start out as little saplings that are eager to root themselves in a firm foundation, so I became curious and decided to ask the question “How did this building and the program get its start?”
Mack Fleming, founder of the horticulture program in 1966, has a long list of accomplishments ranging from a Master’s Degree in horticulture from Clemson to co-founding the only tea plantation in the United States and going on to start his own brand of tea called Carolina Select tea remarked “I have a long history; I came here for the first time in December, 1966 before you were born. I was here for eleven years as the founder of the horticulture program; we had a faculty of three people then, and the program was built up sufficiently well where we had about 150 students.” Fleming eventually left the program to join Lipton tea as their director of research, ultimately leaving to start the American Classic brand of tea.
But like the scattering roots of a ravenous tree searching for water, I decided to continue my search for information by interviewing Sharon Coke, an instructor who has been with the program since 1994 and is a graduate of North Carolina University with a degree in horticulture and years of experience in greenhouse production. Since her arrival 20 years ago, she has seen the addition of new plant material every year; she informed me that while most plants are bought primarily from local garden centers, there have been exceptions like the palm trees (that still continue to stand) donated by local business Palm Trees LTD. Another three-hundred and fifty trees and shrubs were donated by Clemson University, all of which seem to give a perfect example of the sharp contrast in plant material in the rolling hills of the upstate and the flat, even terrain of the Lowcountry.
When asked about the selection of plant material, she stated, “We plant as needed or design something as a class.” From the view point of a casual observer, it adds a sense of randomness that begs them to look around every corner and be absorbed by the ever changing addition of new plants, ponds and even a golf green. She’s even added a straw bale garden which she noted has brought considerably more attention to the island, saying “People walk right next to it wanting to know what we are doing” and “[People] typically walk past the island and come ask about it”.
As I dug deeper, I found myself becoming increasingly intrigued by the island and deepened in my resolve to find out how there could exist a place that within the confines of an acre seemed to have an orderly yet chaotic style, a random feel that existed in sharp contrast to the structured, organized atmosphere of the college which surrounded it. To continue in my search for answers I decided to ask Tony Bertauski.
After graduating from the University of Illinois, Bertauski got his dream job teaching students at TTC, something he envisioned doing as he spent four years learning the art of horticulture working on a golf course. As I talked with Bertauski, I began to realize that the students not only have a wealth of knowledge in the faculty of the horticulture program but they also are extremely luckily in the way they are able to learn their profession.
Bertauski explains, “The one thing we are fortunate to have here is that we have a workable budget with enough money so that we can buy what we need. What a lot of people don’t realize is that we have a lot of freedom. When I was at a university [as a student and as a teacher], the labor union did not want anyone doing their job. We weren’t even allowed to dig a hole. Our entire class was just theory and watching. That was not nearly as effective, so having the money and the freedom to build what we wanted,“ he went on to say, “is one of the better learning  environments to do so. It’s primarily because we have the opportunity to do so”.
As we continued to talk about the opportunities at this unique facility. Bertauski went on to explain his own personal philosophy in education. “The more senses you can engage, the better you learn something. If you can see it, hear it, feel it, even smell it…all of those senses integrate that as learning a lot more effectively”.  
     As I had now gained insight into the construction and history of the island from the perspective of the teachers, I decided to speak to the people whose lives and careers have been shaped by the time they have spent and experiences they have gained on the island: the students.
The first student I was able to talk with was Jessy Harper, who gained an interest in horticulture while he was a member of the FAA (Future Farmers of America) in a public high school in North Carolina. He not only attends TTC, but also has gained employment through TTC with a local golf course and plans to pursue a career in turf grass management once he graduates.
As our conversation progressed, I got to not only learn about Jessy’s personality as a free-spirited and outgoing personality that kept me on the edge of my seat as he played with his pet caterpillar nicknamed “Gary”. I also learned  about one of his favorite classes, Plant Pests. “You get to go out and look for bugs,” he said, “and even when you’re not in class, you’re still out looking for bugs. Out of the corner of your eye you’ll see a bug and say ‘Oh, I wonder what that is’ and look it up.”
He even went on to say “ It intrigues me to find the pest while in class, but even outside of class I want to know what they are and what they do”.
After I finished my conversation with Jessy, I talked to a good friend I’ve come to know in the program named William Barickman, who as we talked, played and passed around Gary the caterpillar with Jessy as he told me about how the program has not only helped his career as a landscaper by allowing him to receive a raise but also how the knowledge he has gained has given him the confidence to one day have his own company. I continued to talk to William; my thoughts went back to Gary the caterpillar who started to symbolize the path William and Jessy were on, a path that would take them through many trials and hardships that would shape and mold their character, eventually transforming them into men with the knowledge and confidence to spread their wings and take on new roles in their careers, a metamorphosis similar to the one of Gary the caterpillar would soon be taking. This opportunity  would give them the ability to transcend the limitations that were set upon them.
With one more interview to do, I decided to talk to Caroline Cox, who seemed to embody characteristics common to all the students of the program: drive, determination, persistence, and optimism. She explained that she planned to take over the administrative duties of her husband’s construction business once she graduates and to use her understanding of plants and landscape design to facilitate the development of plant installations their company plans to do in their future projects.
As I finished up my interviews, I began to see the island as something more than brick and mortar. I started to see it for what it really is, not what someone would see as they casually glanced at it on the way to class, or what the nonchalant observer would see as they walked the paved path and viewed Sharon’s straw bale garden or Tony’s golf green calmly listening to the majestic sounds of the song bird. I was finally able to see what many before me saw: that this island was all a dream, a dream that started with Mack and his first few students and continues to be passed down year after year with every new student that wishes to grow in their understanding of horticulture or pursue their career goals.
Yes, this island is a dream, a dream fulfilled by each individual who through their persistence and hard work continue to grow like our little island, a dream that is spread through the hearts and minds of everyone who has come in contact with it, a dream that with the start of each new season like our own individual potential, grows; a dream that will never die, a dream that in the horticulture building is in full bloom!
Dream on, I say.
And don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

HIGHLY EDUCATED, UNDER EMPLOYED

Where are all of the teaching jobs in New York?

Written By:  Levena Lindahl

JAMESTOWN, N.Y.-When meeting Genevieve Cooper for the first time, first impressions are of a confident and highly intelligent young woman.  Professionally dressed and well spoken, she is every bit the image of a young professional. However, Ms. Cooper is another statistic, a college graduate who cannot find a job in her field of Education.

 “I am twenty-eight and have a Master’s degree, and am basically unemployed.”  She stated wryly, face faintly resigned.
 
Ms. Coopers’ college education began in the fall of 2004 after she graduated as one of the top ten students in her class from Falconer Central School in New York.  She attended Jamestown Community College until 2006, where she graduated suma cum laude with an Associate’s degree in Social Sciences. 
 
To get her Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education, Ms. Cooper attended Fredonia State University in New York, and was awarded her degree in May of 2009, again graduating suma cum laude.  While at Fredonia Ms. Cooper was also a part of several prestigious honor societies; Kappa Delta Pi for history, Phi Theta Alpha for education and the Golden Key honor society. 
 
Finishing out her education with a Master’s of Science in Education in Differentiated Instruction, Ms. Cooper attended St. Bonaventure University and graduated with suma cum laude honors in 2011. 
 
With such distinguished honors, why hasn’t Ms. Cooper been able to find a job in the education field?  It certainly isn’t for lack of trying on her part.  She has been a substitute teacher for schools in the Western New York area since 2009, averaging between two and three days a week.  While her concentration is middle and high school social studies, Ms. Cooper will come in for any grade and seems to be most often in the third to fifth grade classrooms.
 
            She does all of her substitute work on top of applying to teaching openings and teaching swim lessons at the YMCA.   She also has a summer job at  Midway, a local state park.
 
“I apply for four or five teaching jobs a year.  It all depends on the cycle of teachers retiring and if the school plans on filling the position.  Social studies is not the best field for job openings.”  Ms. Cooper explained with a hint of frustration on her face.  “I interview less than I apply.  I have had…”  She trailed off, thinking.  “I have had four interviews, two in Brocton, one at Randolph and one at Frewsburg.”
 
            In addition to applying for teaching jobs, Ms. Cooper has also applied for a job as a rehabilitation aid and for the substitute position at Frewsburg. 
 
            “So, I have had one interview that got me a part time, per diem job.”  She has been working as a substitute for Frewsburg since 2010, and for Falconer since 2009.
 
            Not being able to find a job in her field is making finances difficult for Ms. Cooper, and she is not alone.  Hundreds of other college students are facing the same issues, especially when it comes to paying back student loans. 
 
            “About twenty percent of my monthly bills now are student loans.  I consolidated them into an income based repayment plan about a year ago which helped, because before that they were closer to eighty percent of my monthly bills.”  She looked over a small day planner, marked off with days she works and other notations.  “I worked out exactly how many days a month I needed to work just to pay my loans and bills.”
 
            Ms. Cooper uses her pay from her summer job to pay ahead on her loans, as she makes more in the summer and a substitute position isn’t steady work.  She also keeps her living expenses down by living with her younger sister in Jamestown.  Her sister, who has a doctorate in physical therapy, is another recent college graduate faced with massive student loan repayments.
 
            “It is incredibly frustrating, but I keep trying.”  Ms. Cooper will start applying for upcoming positions over the next few weeks, and the apply-interview cycle will start again.  Hopefully soon she will finally be able to use her degrees and begin teaching her own classes.

Fish Food for Thought

Written By:  Levena Lindahl

            As I get older, I find more and more of my childhood summer memories are fading out into a haze, a blur of pleasant memories peppered with snapshots of clarity.  This is one such snapshot from the summer when I was seven years old.
 
            It was my turn to spend a week with my Grandpa Jim and Grandma Sylvia at their little house by Chautauqua Lake in New York.  I had brought along my battered copy of ‘The Hobbit’, my bike and the fishing pole my grandpa had given me, feeling more than prepared for what would have to be the best visit ever.  It was so quiet and peaceful at their house.  I didn’t have any little brothers bothering me, but then again, I didn’t have anyone to bother and play with either.  What child expects to be bored at their grandparents’ house??
 
            Boredom is a dangerous thing when you are a young child; I had already helped my grandpa pick up all the pine cones and acorns from the yard and I had finished rereading my book.  I had even ridden my bike around the neighborhood a few times, before melting onto the sofa in a puddle of spiritless child.  I was so Bored.
 
            My grandpa came in, wearing his fishing fedora with the feathers on the band, a pair of worn jeans and his suspenders.  He gave me a grin, nodding his head towards the kitchen and the door outside.  “Nice day out.  Why don’t we go pick out some worms and go fishing?”
 
            I perked right up and eagerly nodded, following my grandpa out to his garage where he drew out his worm box.  It was a plastic box, full of little wadded up paper looking things and the loamy smell of dirt and something that had to be worms.  I dug through it, easily picking out what I declared to be ‘lucky’ worms, which grandpa put into a small Styrofoam container with a handful of the wet paper stuff. 
 
We headed out in grandpa’s old red pickup truck after carefully loading the worm container, fishing poles, and his old tackle box into the back.  I watched the scenery pass by, more than a bit confused as to where we were going.  The lake was the other way, and when I asked where we were going all I got was a smile and a mysterious, “You’ll see when we get there.”
 
I finally figured out where we were going when I saw the giant playground that marked the Bemus Point Park.  I was beyond excited as we parked, hopping out and running to the back of the truck, all but vibrating in my excitement.  Not only could we fish, but there was an amazing playground!  This was THE BEST. DAY. EVER.
 
Grandpa led the way down to the water, carrying the tackle box and his fishing pole as I carried mine and the worm container.  It was a beautiful day, though there was a breeze off the lake that carried with it the smell of rotting seaweed.  I wrinkled my nose, but sat down on the crumbling concrete and rocks that made up the wall area around the edge of the lake a little ways away from my grandpa.  He baited a hook for me and I was set to go.
 
I was not a patient child.  I was in love with the sound that the reel made when it was cast and reeled in, and I was also under the impression that the movement of the worm through the water would attract the fish thereby getting me more bites.  In about a half an hour I went through probably half of the worms that we had brought while grandpa was still on his first cast.
 
“Levena, you need to calm down.  I won’t be baiting anymore hooks for you.  You’ll have to do that yourself.”  I got a stern look and a bit of a sigh as my grandpa watched me.  “Just watch your fingers.”
 
I looked at the worms and at my empty hook with a sort of creeping dread.  I would have to pull a worm in half and then… stick it on there somehow.  I wasn’t exactly sure how grandpa did it.  There was some sort or wiggling, and looping motion involved and then the worm was on the hook like magic.  I managed to pull apart the worm and placed it gingerly on a nearby rock.  I raised the hook and proceeded to mash the worm onto the hook.  When I stopped, the worm was rather flat, but it was sticking to the hook.  I cast out and then sat, staring at the little blue and white bobber attached to the line.  I really didn’t want to bait the hook again, so I was inspired to wait for the fish to come to me.
 
My patience paid off, and I got a bite about ten minutes later.  I nearly dropped my fishing pole in my surprise, and was cheered on by grandpa as I slowly reeled in my fish.  It felt like it weighed at least a hundred pounds.  Surely, this was the biggest fish ever!  When the fish finally flopped up into the shallows, my grandpa grabbed the line to show to me my catch.  My fish was green, kind of tiger striped with a big spikey looking fin on its back, and was easily the size of my grandpas’ hand.  It spun on the line and I was horrified to see that the hook had gone through its eye!  That wasn’t supposed to happen; didn’t the fish know how to be caught?
 
“Hey now, don’t worry.”  My grandpa reassured me, working to unhook the fish without me seeing.  “Fish are tough little buggers, and this guy will be okay if he stays to the shallows.”  Letting the fish recover in the shallows, we watched it flop suddenly and then swim off like a shot into the dark water, surely cursing me in whatever language fish have.
 
Shaken but not deterred, I mashed another worm onto my hook and cast out.  I was more than surprised when not even five minutes later I got another bite, a strong one that had the line spooling from the reel pretty quickly.  I began the slow process of reeling it in, eyes watching the water below for my first glimpse of my fish.  Again, grandpa grabbed the line when the fish hit the shallows, pulling up a very familiar looking fish.  It was green with tiger stripes, and as the line spun, we both saw my hook had gone through the same eye.  My grandpa looked from the fish to me and back again, letting out an incredulous puff of laughter.
 
“Well.  Looks like this guy was bound and determined to be caught.  I have a bucket.  Why don’t we take him home and you can have him for lunch.”
 
I was staring in fascination at the fish, and nodded.  I was told to let the fish swim on the hook in the shallows while grandpa went to get the bucket and fill it before we put the fish in it.  We packed up after that, carrying all of our things back to the truck to head back.  I rode back with the fish in my lap, and I watched it swim around in endless circles, its green scales pretty against the red bucket.
 
When we got back, my grandpa left both the fish and me at the picnic table while he went inside to grab a few things.  He came back out with a board and a couple knives that he cautioned me away from, motioning for me to sit on the bench on the other side of the table from him.  I watched, fascinated, having no clue what was about to happen to the fish in the bucket.  He was pulled out, and my grandpa worked quickly with the small knife that he’d brought out to scrape the scales off the fish.  They fell down in glittering piles, and I loved how shiny they were, like tiny rainbows on the table in the sunlight.  I was too young to really understand what was happening to the fish, that it was like cutting off its skin, that it was ‘alive’.  When he was done, grandpa put the fish on the cutting board, picked up the bigger knife and quickly lopped off the fish’s head.  There was very little blood, and he sent me inside to tell my grandma to get out butter and a frying pan while he ‘deboned’ the fish.  I went off, happily oblivious to what was happening, and hungry for lunch.
 
When he came in in a few minutes, there were two little bits of stuff on the cutting board and no sign of the fish I had caught.  My grandma cooked it up for me with butter and mashed potatoes, and it was delicious.