Teaching: A Calling vs. Profession

So, you’ve made it this far, to college. By this point you probably have a fairly good idea of what you want to do with your life. (Well, at least I hope you do.)

Now that you know what you would like to pursue as a profession, do you know your calling?

They might be the same thing, and they frequently are. But it is certainly worth taking a step back to check.

A profession can be anything, genuinely anything. People get paid for the craziest things. For instance, there is a hotel in Finland that has a ‘professional sleeper’ to test the quality of their beds (I am currently working on my application for that position, in case you were wondering).

A calling, on the other hand, is more than just a job. It is a conviction from God for a particular purpose, to a particular thing. My personal calling is to become a teacher, specifically to become a missionary in Africa. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance your calling is teaching as well. You and I might have similar callings, and yet each calling is unique, specifically created for you by God Himself.

There is something very important that I want you to understand: Whatever your profession, whatever your calling, it is a ministry. And there is no ministry without sacrifice.

Teachers sacrifice more than most people realize for their students, be it their time after school or their own money to provide supplies for their classroom. Speaking of money, the lowest salaries are often offered in areas in which amazing teachers are needed the most.

The best career advice I have ever received was from my eighth-grade science teacher, and that was to choose a career based off of what I love to do and not based off salary. He is agnostic, so he missed the part where you should choose also based off of what you feel that God is calling you to do, but he still had a very valid point.  You can live off of $50,000 or $500,000, but know that your happiness is not linked to the number of zeroes in your paycheck.

If you’re only going into education for the money or because you think it will be an easy job with summers off, I suggest you change your major right now. I say this partially because you are wrong in that way of thinking. There are far easier jobs and there are jobs with far better pay. Some careers combine both of those things. If education is your calling, you will soon realize that neither of those things matter.

Teaching is not just a profession, not an easy paycheck. It is stressful and taxing, not for the faint of heart. Teaching is also not for those who just randomly decided on it one day or chose it as a last resort. It is for those who make the deliberate decision to answer the call to become an educator, a mentor, a friend. Being an educator is so much more than just a profession. It is a call to ministry.

Is Nyack the Place for You?

To everyone questioning whether or not they should call Nyack College their home next semester:

I can’t answer that question for you, though I wish I could. It would make things a lot simpler for both of us. Knowing the answers to tough questions would also make my finals a lot easier. Alas, I do not have that ability and am forced to stay up late cramming the night before and wing it, just like everyone else. (Yes, even the Ed. major doesn’t always practice the best study habits. It’s okay. Just don’t tell my mom.) Even though I can’t tell you exactly where you should go, I can tell you that I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all college. If it were that easy, no one would be panicking towards the end of high school every time someone asked them where they would be continuing their education. Luckily for me, God let me know relatively early on that Nyack was the place for me. Crazy, I know.

My college decision was easy for me the minute I first set foot on campus, and it was one that I was fully confident in after time spent in prayer. For me, Nyack felt like home as soon as I arrived, though my journey getting there wasn’t all that smooth.

If I’m being honest, I initially wasn’t too keen on the idea of coming to Nyack. For starters, it was impossibly far from home (my mother wasn’t a big fan of that bit, either). Additionally, it wasn’t one of the colleges I had considered or heard of before God spoke to me. Since I was in elementary school, my family and teachers had been telling me that I would be famous one day because of my intellect, and that I was to remember them when I was a CEO or running the UN. That was a lot to put on a kid, but I took it on anyway. In essence, I was being prepped for a prominent, pompous college so that I could make a lot of money, not so that I could grow in my faith and become a teacher, and a missionary no less. But none of that grooming mattered to me when I first visited Nyack.

I found a sense of peace and serenity, a sense of belonging, when I arrived on campus. Although I am sure that being surrounded by the beauty of Rockland County and the Hudson River helped, I know that that is not the only contributing factor. The love and joy that radiates from the staff and student body is something that I have never experienced at another college or university. The levels of care and commitment that our professors exhibit are truly remarkable, and they make me proud and feel privileged to call Nyack College my home.

Nyack is not going to be found on a “Top 5 Ivy League Schools” list, but it is on my list of “My Top 5 Favorite Places” list, as well as “Places that Feel Like Home.” Nyack helps me grow as an individual and as a Daughter of God, and those are things that I value more highly than anything else in a college. Nyack makes me proud to be a Warrior, not only for the college, but for the Kingdom.

So, dear student, I don’t know where you belong. But I never doubt where I do.

Warm regards,
Your favorite dinosaur

How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter

Most companies ask you to submit a cover letter along with your resume. A cover letter is your formal pitch to the hiring manager, and it highlights your skills and experiences relevant to the position. I have devised a guideline based on a cover letter I have submitted to a company and then received the position. It follows the standard format for cover letters. I wish you the best of luck!

Cover Letter Guideline

Your contact information (center or align left)

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address

Date (align left)

Employer Contact information (align left; include all information you have)

  • Name
  • Title
  • Company
  • Address
  • Email address

Salutation (align left)

  • Dear (employer’s full name)
  • Do not write “To Whom It May Concern” because it shows that you haven’t done your research or know who will receive your letter. So, if you don’t know, research. If you still do not know, write, “Dear Hiring Manager”.

The Body (align left)

(Do not indent paragraphs, but do leave a space between each paragraph.)

First Paragraph

  • Say the position to which you are applying.
  • Mention where you found or how you heard about the position and express your interest in the position.
  • If this is for an internship, describe what you hope to gain from the internship, i.e. strengthen your skills and grow professionally.

Middle Paragraphs

  • Describe what you offer the employer and your qualifications that match the position.
  • As you mention your various qualifications, explain the unique experiences and knowledge you have gained from your experiences. Do not repeat your resume. Think of yourself as a salesman. Show how your qualifications connect with the position.


  • Restate why you are a good fit for the position. If this is for an internship, express you are confident that your qualifications and experiences have prepared you for the position.
  • Write that you have attached or enclosed your resume and any other resources (list them) the employer requested.
  • Write that you look forward to discussing your qualifications, and thank the employer for considering you for the position.

Sign off (align left)


  • Sincerely
  • Best regards
  • Thank you
  • Thank you for your consideration

Keep a space between your sign off and signature.

Signature (handwritten or typed)

Email Subject Line

If emailing your cover letter, include a subject line that lets the employer know the purpose of your email, that you are applying for a position.

  • Write the position’s name, and it is a good idea to include your name.
  • Keep it simple and professional.

I hope this blog post has helped and been useful to you. Feel free to review various cover letter samples and tips for formatting and writing your letter.

Top 5 Community Service Options for Teacher Candidates

In my last post, I talked about the requirements regarding admittance into Nyack’s School of Education. This week I would like to expound upon that a little more and give you some ideas regarding your community service hours.

Each teacher candidate must complete at least 30 hours of community service with the given age group for their specific certification. I, for instance, am an Adolescence Education major, so I will be spending my time with 7th-12th graders. I know that I specifically wish to teach middle school, but I do not have to stick with middle schoolers for my community service. In fact, the group that I’m serving doesn’t have to be comprised of only those within my certification age group; there can be some elementary schoolers and other ages in the mix as well. There real focus is on spending time with my certification group.

If you aren’t sure what ages/grades your certification covers, check out my last post.

After speaking with the Dean of Education, Dr. Looney, I comprised a list of some common community service activities that Nyack’s education students have done, as well as adding a few suggestions of my own.

1. Go to Church!
As a Nyack student and child of God, I’m hoping that you are an active member in a church. Serving in the body is one of the most common ways that Nyack students serve their community. Depending on your major, serving in the nursery or Sunday school can be an amazing way to complete your 30 hours. Some opportunities within the church include:
-Sunday school teacher
-Youth group helper
-Kids ministry volunteer

2. Help with VBS
Many churches have Vacation Bible School (VBS), and this would be an excellent opportunity to gain experience. If you are not yet comfortable enough to be responsible for a group of small humans, this might be your best bet. Since this environment is filled with men and women who are experienced children’s ministers, you can look after and teach children while being looked after and taught yourself.

3. Become a Camp Counselor
There is undoubtedly a camp near you that is in need of counselors this summer. Bonus: You get to be filled with nostalgia and relive those amazing summer camp days while helping kids create their own! (I didn’t really go to camp, but I’ve heard stories about the amazing memories and nostalgia thing).

4. Become a Coach
I have been volunteering with Ambassadors Football for several years now. They are an international soccer organization that uses soccer to share the Gospel. I have joined them both as a summer camp coach and an intern, and I recommend the experience to all of my fellow footballers. They are still taking applications for summer soccer coaches. The kids range from age 6-16, so it’s the perfect fit for nearly every major. For more information, check out their website.

5. Become a Tutor
There are students everywhere in need of help, and you are the perfect person for the job. After all, that is going to be your future job. You can find a tutoring center near you this summer, or you can be a tutor at the Nyack Center, a community center with an after-school program for local students.

Whatever experience you choose, go into it with an open mind. Throughout my years as a coach, VBS teacher, miscellaneous volunteer, etc., I have found that I learn as much from my students as they learn from me.

Being Twenty-Something

A few years ago, I researched poet William Butler Yeats for an English assignment. I countlessly read and reread his poem “The Second Coming”, and since then I have not given his poem much thought until I read Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem is a collection of Didion’s most famous essays, many of which are set in 1960s California, her native state. The title is taken from a verse from Yeats’ poem: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” Didion chose her title to capture the grand scope of how she feels about the era and her life, a time in which “things fall apart”.

As a twenty-year-old still finding herself, Didion’s writing widens my eyes to the world – its beauty, ugliness, and character. I not only discover parts of myself but see how people, places, history and the era we live in affect our spirit.

Didion writes in her essay “Goodbye to All That” about her time in New York, “One of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before.”

It is true. Everything seems heightened in my twenties, whether it is the stakes of the future, my own or the world’s, or my experiences. I am entering adulthood and learning about the world more than ever before.

While Didion wrote her essays in the 1960s, many of their truths are timeless. Sometimes moments appear idyllic, and other times things fall apart. So, we write. We write to process, remember and move on.

In Didion’s essay “On Keeping a Notebook”, she explains why we must write things down to help us “remember what it was to us”, the moment, the people, the experience. She says that when she writes, for example something at seventeen, it helps her remember herself at seventeen. It helps her “keep in touch” with who she was, and that is “what notebooks are all about”.

Keeping a notebook has helped me isolate what it is that inspires me and remember the moments, albeit the seemingly perfect ones or those amid chaos. I admire that as Didion dissects her life and history, her criticism and praise are neither in contempt or disillusion but in truth.

Didion writes in “On Keeping a Notebook”, “I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive or not.” Perhaps that is why in another essay called “On Going Home” she writes about a time she returned home and looked through her drawers and found remnants of her childhood.

Didion says: “Paralyzed by the neurotic lassitude engendered by meeting one’s past at every turn, around every corner, inside every cupboard, I go aimlessly room to room. I decide to meet it head-on and clean out a drawer, and I spread its contents on the bed.”

While home for the summer, I emptied my drawers, dumping their contents on my bedroom carpet. I found a collection of ticket stubs from the theater, a bracelet my roommate gave me, and just like Didion, a bathing suit I wore the summer I was seventeen. The belongings remind me of the people I have been, and some I’ve kept as memorabilia whereas others I’ve let go.

There is a time for everything, and each moment reveals something not only about ourselves but our generation and ultimately what it means to be human.

After reading Didion’s essays in Slouching Towards Bethlehem, I have a new understanding of Yeats’ poem. If we can look on the world and on ourselves with eyes that can see the good and the bad, see their worth, we can understand the spirit of humanity.

Class of 2017 Mortarboards

We asked 2017 graduates from the Rockland and New York City Campus about why they decorated their mortarboard. Here is what they said.

Caitlyn Thomas – Business 

“I think I am quite ready for another adventure.”

And for me, I’m all about having adventure in my life. College was definitely one. It was a scary, messy, amazing adventure and I just feel that I’m ready to move to the next one now that I’m graduating.


Rachel Parker – Youth and Family Studies

“In waves of change we find our way.”

So first of all, I love the beach/ocean so I wanted my cap to be something along those lines if possible. When I found this idea I loved it! You can ask anyone who knows me and knows that this cap idea is very much me. But I also picked it because no matter what we go through in life, we find our way. You can take that in a Christian way… no matter what Jesus is our way, or you can take that in [the] sense [that] a lot happens in college but in the end we go in the direction that we wanted to from the start. It can be looked at in many ways! But I love it because it reminds me of things I love and what I love to do.

Yahveh N. Calderón – Pastoral Ministry

“Para Ti…” which translated means “For you…”

On the cap, I have images of family and friends who have greatly impacted my life, but sadly [I] was not able to fit everyone. My island of Puerto Rico is also on there to symbolize that I also did it for them!  It means that I did not just do this for myself, but for all of those who have invested in my life in big and small ways. This was for them.


Momoko Black – Interdisciplinary studies in Business and Intercultural Studies       &   Lillie Sakura Van Houten – B.S/M.S childhood special education

Momoko: The image on the cap represents 2 things for me. 1) my love for Dr. Seuss (as I quoted him from “oh the places you’ll go” [during] my senior year in high school and so I found it fitting to do another my last year of college. 2) I had the privilege of graduating alongside my sister who happens to love Dr. Seuss and quoted him also her senior year of high school. So we knew we had to do it again.  We came up with the idea to use Thing 1 & 2 to represent all the things we love about each other and Dr. Seuss.

Lillie: [I’m] graduating with my younger sister and we wanted to do a theme. Dr. Seuss is … our favorite author and we frequently use and live by quotes from his stories.


Conor Halcott –  History

I picked Adventure Time for my cap.

The reason I picked it was because I watched it during stressful points in college and it feels like I’m now going on my own adventure. Plus my amazing girlfriend painted it for me.


Carly Heinbaugh – Interdisciplinary Studies: Bible and ICS

“Great is his faithfulness”

My time at Nyack required the faithfulness of God and it stretched my own. I formed a few incredible friendships, learned from the wisest and experienced a lot of devastation at the same time. In a lot of ways my faith was destroyed and built up, destroyed and built up again. If it weren’t for God’s faithfulness in various ways, I wouldn’t have finished college both encouraged and ready to work. Through best friends and a couple outstanding professors, God exhibited his faithfulness and I’m grateful for it.

Daniel Kiernan (DK) –  Youth and Family Studies

“Loud Mouths” “Dk-47” “Mom & Dad” “Jer 31:3-4” “Ps 138:8”

The first two quotes refer to a huge portion of my friend group, the Loud Mouth Gang, who I get to create alongside under the artist name Dk-47. I love them. The next is just a shout-out to my parents because they’ve always held it down for me throughout my college experience. The verses are two passages that have helped remind my heart of who God is to me and what He’s up to in my life.


Clarissa Orozco – Social Work

“Grace carried me here and by grace I will go”

The moment I stepped out of high school I thought I had it all figured out, until a year into college when I saw my life in shambles. I found Nyack and I knew that was God’s grace upon my life. I didn’t have it all together.  I wasn’t the best student but my heart desired something better. The last 4 years have been filled with endless grace and every time I felt I was undeserving of it it wrapped itself even more. Grace broke the barriers and the fears in my life. It unveiled my worth, who I am and who I belong to. I’m not just another graduate in the world. I’m a graduate with style and grace.


Sara Donado – Music–Instrumental Performance

Sarah Donado (Left) & Clarissa Orozoco (Right)

“The Lord holds my future”

The message on my cap is what I believe defines my life at the moment. I don’t know exactly what my future will look like but I have entrusted it to the Lord and I believe he will lead me always.


Deanna Lindsay – Interdisciplinary Studies: Early Childhood Education & Music

Hi! I’m Deanna Lindsay, I recently graduated with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies: Early Childhood Education and Music. This leads to the image on my cap! I wanted something that incorporated my passions. I love teaching I have been providing child care for different families since I was 12. Music has also been a part for my life for as long as I can remember. I joined my church’s children’s choir when I was 5! The scripture on the chalkboard on my cap is Isaiah 42 and the beginning of this chapter talks about how God is pleased with (me) his servant. It encourages me not to lose heart or crush the weak ones around me.  It also confirms that I am called to other nations and people groups. It states that distant lands will await my instruction. It goes on to talk about how worthy of praise and worship God is!

This is my life scripture! I also have a tattoo to represent how important it means to me my tattoo also reminds me of my calling.

Daniel Rivera is also an alumni of Nyack College ’16! He is an amazing artist and brought my vision to life!


Sarah Scheidt –  Social work &  Dailyn Davila – English

Sarah Scheidt (Left) and Dailyn Davila (Right)

Sarah: “Thanks mom and dad.” 

I actually wanted to make my cap funny, and planned to write “oh Scheidt, I graduated.” But then, last minute, I started to get really sentimental and grateful. I wouldn’t have been able to get my degree without my parents and their financial support and love.  So I wanted to thank them. The symbol is a Celtic symbol for eternal love. That’s special to me because I’m Irish and even though my parents got divorced when I was young, they both love me in their own special way a lot, and I think that’s special. It took both of their love and strengths to help make this degree happen … and I’m really grateful for all I’ve learned and all I can become in this world because of this degree.

Dailyn: I chose 1 Peter 1:6 because I wanted scripture that portrayed the JOY AND HAPPINESS that will come out of this transitional season. Although graduating is a SUPER SCARY concept to me, I believe that with God there IS WONDERFUL JOY AHEAD!!! I also threw some flowers on it because WHO DOESNT LIKE FLOWERSSSSS?! I wanted to be the real life Snapchat filter.


Isha Fuentes – Music In Worship

I wanted to incorporate my major onto my cap being that music and worship  is also a huge part of my life. It was a very challenging major but the reward was worth it. I used one of the songs from my jury that I performed and also incorporated it onto my cap. [That way] when I look at it, I’ll always remember my hard work and dedication …  Lastly, it was always my father’s dream to see me graduate from college. He passed away a few weeks after my high school graduation. I used the color red on my cap because it was his favorite color and I wanted to have a part of his memory on my cap.



 Rifka Simmons –  Psychology

“Just Keep Swimmin”

It symbolizes persistence to me and it’s a pun from the movie Finding Dory. I thought it was pretty clever and it’ll serve as a reminder for me when I think of my college experience.



Coffee Shop Creates a Global Community on Campus Part 2

Student-run coffee shop on campus, Cultivate Coffee, bridges the gap between cultures by purchasing fair and direct trade coffee and teas and being missions-driven.

Cultivate Coffee purchases their coffee from Coffee Labs Roasters, a roasting company in Tarrytown. The family-based company sources their coffee from fair and direct trade, which means it buys directly from the growers and seeks equity in international trade.

Co-founder, business major Benjamin Tse says that purchasing fair and direct trade coffee not only benefits the student body but creates a global impact for farmers.

Tse says: “It’s a sustainable business and missions. We want to provide quality coffee to the student body and at the same time engage in a market where the farmers will benefit.”

While Cultivate Coffee is based in New York and not directly involved with the international farmers, it impacts the farmers’ lives by supporting a transparent market.

“By buying fair trade, we are improving lives from West Africa and South Africa,” says co-founder, business major Wiktor Lasota.

The money Cultivate Coffee earns buys coffee and teas and equipment, and whenever there is a surplus, it is donated to missions.

Co-founder, intercultural studies major Peter Nehlsen says that studying other religions has helped him understand the diverse cultures and backgrounds of people groups, and it has inspired him to create a missions-driven coffee shop.

Nehlsen says: “Having the chance to grow up in Africa, I know there are families at the poverty line and those just above. There is a difference between a few dollars. We knew it was okay to sacrifice a few dollars for profit to help out the farmers.”

Though the owners do not earn money for themselves, their reward is serving the campus community, international farmers and mission organizations.

“It’s a cool way to bless someone,” says co-founder, intercultural studies major Joseph Girard.

Lasota says that their mission fulfills their ultimate goal to develop a community on campus.

Lasota says: “[We want to] create a place where people can share their testimonies and even for international students to share where they’re from. It’s all about growing the community and seeing each other grow.”

In valuing missions and supporting fair and direct trade, Cultivate Coffee creates a community beyond the college campus. The coffee shop connects the small campus community to a larger, global community.

“[By] building a community, serving people, we discover the meaning of serving,” says Lasota.

6 Steps for Admittance into the School of Education

Whether you’re a senior or an incoming freshman, planning for and navigating through deadlines and prerequisites can seem daunting. I would know, because that’s how I felt going into my freshman year. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t still seem that way at times. With that in mind, I spoke to a few Nyack veterans regarding admittance to Nyack’s School of Education (SoE) in an attempt to make the process a little more clear for those of you wanting to join the SoE community. Here is a basic guideline of what you will need to do for admittance:

1. Declare Your Major
Your first step in becoming a teacher is deciding who and what you wish to teach. Everyone seems to think I’m crazy, but my favorite group to teach is middle schoolers, so I chose Adolescence Education. I commend those of you who have the patience and energy to teach the wee little ones. You are a special breed.
In case you aren’t sure of the degree breakdown, here it is:
Early Childhood Education: birth-grade 2
Childhood Education: grades 1-6
Early Childhood/Childhood: birth- grade 6
Adolescence Education: grades 7-12

2. Help Out
Every teacher candidate is required to complete 30 hours of community service to students in their certification age group. The community service is going to look differently for everyone depending on the specific major, and I will have a few ideas for you in a future post. For instance, I will be coaching and teaching at church camps this summer, but the possibilities are endless.

3. Get Good Grades
In order to be a part of the SoE at Nyack, you need to have an overall cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, a cumulative 3.0 GPA in your concentration, and a cumulative education GPA of 3.0, earning a C or better in any education course taken. If you earn less than a C in any given education course, you will need to retake the course.

4. Pass the School of Education Admissions Test (SEAT)
Students used to be required by NYS to take the ALST, but things have since changed. Nyack has now created their own exam, the SEAT. Talk to your advisor and sign up to the exam.

5. Be A Decent Human Being
You must pass a faculty review of dispositions, passing being 80% and higher.

6.Apply to the School of Education
This application also includes an essay. Don’t freak out about it. Completing the coursework and exams were the hard part, and they prepared you well.

Any forms you need can be found on Nyack’s School of Education’s website.

If you have any questions regarding admission to the School of Education, feel free to contact Nyack Admissions

Nyack Unfiltered: Joel Pompa

Nyack College has a plethora of personalities. Nyackers come from all different backgrounds and bring their stories with them. Each one has a passion, a gift, and a desire to see God’s plan for their life be fulfilled. Nyack Unfiltered is a series of interviews I am conducting featuring students on the Manhattan campus who not only I, but others, believe will do (and currently are doing) great things for God.

The last interview in the series is with Joel Pompa. He is an impeccably-dressed Senior who loves writing and teaching. We met in the Writing Center my first semester at Nyack and we’ve been friends ever since. His presence at Nyack will be missed, but he will definitely go on to do amazing things!

So, you’re an English major. How’d you get into that?

Joel: Since I was a kid I knew I loved writing. So naturally, I just knew I had to go into something with writing. It started off with a dream of being a children’s book author/novelist, as a kid, because I loved reading novels and whatnot. Then I started growing a passion for teaching. One reason why I didn’t end up going into Education instead is because I wanted to maximize my opportunities in the fields that I want to work in. I’m thinking about broadcasting as well and maybe law. So I know that one of my passions right now, and what I’ve been doing for the last 6 years with kids is teaching – specifically teaching English.

When you’re an English teacher, are you going to be a grammar nazi of a teacher, or be all about literature, or what? What’s going to be your niche?

Joel: Well, a thing that has always resonated with me is a quote that says: every good writer is a good reader. So I feel that it is important to expose children to literature at a young age. [But] you have to do those little technical things to make sure that students are at the level of writing they should be at. But I think by middle school and high school, that’s already something that you’ve cultivated and worked on. Then, in class, you can work on literature, you can work on plays, you can work on different kinds of poetry. And what I love about writing is that I feel everyone is a writer. If you have a voice, you can write. Writing is just written expression, and what you pull out of yourself is what brings a message to people when you write. If you write a beautifully-worded sentence, [or] a grammatically-perfect, artistic essay, but it has no message, then it’s not worth it. So my hope in teaching English would be to inspire students to know that voice, to see the voices in the readings that they have. If I assign a reading, I like them to feel that world that the writer puts them in. So the idea is more of how they can become writers, how they can fall in love with literature, and not just a thing you have to do for high school. [It would be] more of an open discussion type of class.

Do you like creative writing?

Joel: I wouldn’t necessarily focus on that because I think the whole writing process in itself is creative, you know what I mean? When you go into understanding creative writing, it’s more about having open eyes to the world, looking around, and seeing those little details you never see. Noticing the little specks on the wall. Noticing the voices, the dialogue you hear on the train. You create these characters. Every writer does that. They listen and they create these characters through real people. So I guess, yes, I would like for the kids to be engaged in creative writing, but as a whole. Not just as a genre or as a subject, but that the whole class itself is [creative writing] – with literature as a helping tool.
If you could minor in anything what would it be?

Joel: I’d probably minor in Communications just because I like that field, and I’d probably say History. I’m a historian. As an English major you kind of learn that history’s important.

Why do you want to be a broadcaster?

Joel: Broadcasting stems from my self-confidence. I’ve always been very okay with public speaking. So me being able to engage an audience – I’ve always been comfortable with it. But my grandmother – so, I was born here, but I have a Cuban and Dominican heritage. My father’s Cuban and my mother’s Dominican – my grandmother from the Cuban side, in Cuba she wanted to be a broadcaster. She wanted to be a reporter, but there were a lot of restrictions 1. in her family and 2. politically, in the government. They didn’t allow her to continue with that dream. As I started growing older in high school, she kept bringing it up like, “Oh, you know, my life’s dream would be if you were to live my life’s dream out.” She kept saying it and perpetuating it, but I never really said like, “Ok, I’m going to do this for you.” I was just like, “Ok, ok.” But as time went on I was like, “Wow.” All of these attributes that I feel I have really align with the idea of broadcasting. You know, the idea that you want to impact other’s lives and influence them positively, and I just thought [that] one major way to do that was to broadcast myself.

Do you want to be in the public school system when you teach?

Joel: Of course. That’s where I was brought up, and I feel that there is a need for compassionate teachers in our system. I know my calling is to teach, so I want to go into the school system first as a paraprofessional which is, in a sense, almost like a preliminary teacher. It’s not so much a substitute teacher, but it’s on that level. It’s like being in a classroom, seeing what your class is like, and seeing what a teacher does.

So what has been your favorite part about Nyack? Not necessarily academically.

Joel: I would say that Nyack gives you the opportunity to be free. You don’t have to be considered a number. I think that’s one thing that’s different when I was in the CUNY system. There’s not just so many other students, but there’s this kind of distant interaction between the student body and the school. You’re not a student of the body, you’re an attendant of the school. [Nyack’s] very welcoming. You can live out your faith shamelessly.

When you graduate, do you have an idea of your trajectory?

Joel: Yes. Graduate, and my first goal is to come back to my old school as a para[professional], and then maybe as a teacher once I’m ready. The idea of giving back to my community in that way is big. I have kids that used to be in my program that see me every now and then, and all these parents loved when I was having my program there. Just the impact would be great for me because I’m doing something I love, something I have a passion for. It’s not easy because sometimes kids can be crazy – sometimes parents can be crazy. But what you get out of it is more. I feel that it is important to give more than what you expect to receive, but through [doing] that, you get more.

So when you’re 41, where do you see yourself?

Joel: Well, hopefully I see myself doing what God has called me to do. If that evolves into anything else, then amen. But I know right now it’s my passion for teaching and impacting others through the form of teaching. 20 years from now? Maybe I’ll be a dad, hopefully. I have the ideals of family. Maybe I’ll have my own school if I stay in the DOE [Department of Education] – be a principal or something. Maybe I’ll have written a few books by then. Maybe have my own channel. But those goals – I will just take them as they come. Just keep putting the work in, hustle a bit more, and then we’ll see from there.
Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Joel!

Why I Chose Teaching as a Profession

People have been asking me what I want to do with my life since I came out of the womb, and even more frequently since I graduated high school. I’m sure that you know how that goes.

I knew what I wanted to do, at least in part, since I was a small child, and that passion hasn’t changed. I have always wanted to become a teacher, and I cannot imagine doing anything else, nor do I think that anything else would bring me as much joy as the classroom does.

Even though I knew teaching to be my calling, I had tried to convince myself otherwise, convince myself to pursue another career path, but it was to no avail. When I was in elementary school, I tried to convince myself that I wanted to be a chef. I would get to be around food all day, and that seemed amazing! I even went to a cooking school that summer. (I now make an amazing cavatelli and Bolognese from scratch, in case you were wondering.) I learned from an amazing woman, and I will never forget her. The reason I will never forget her is for her teaching, for her passion and ability to teach that to others. My desire to become a teacher was reaffirmed with her.

Years passed before I had truly given extensive thought to my career path again. Sitting in Mrs. Durieux’s 9th grade English class, I was assigned to choose the top three careers that I would be interested in pursuing. Naturally, my first choice was teaching. Second was Cytotechnology, something in the medical field to appease my mother. The third was pediatrics, which I didn’t even remember I chose until I looked up the paper right now. (Are you amazed that I can still find the file? Because I certainly am.)

I chose the other two careers to appease others and their hopes for me, not because they were things I truly wanted. Sure, I love the science that was required for the other careers, but that love in no way compares to my love of the classroom and students.

I’m not going into education to make the kind of money a doctor does. (But if anyone knows how to make that kind of salary happen, feel free to contact me.) I’m going into education for my future students, to shape and guide them the way my teachers have shaped and guided me. I can say without a doubt that I would not be the woman I am today without my educators, those who taught me not only about their subject matter, but about life and what it means to be a decent human being.

I chose teaching primarily because I believe it to be the calling that God has placed on my life, but also because of how highly I esteem it. Furthermore, few things bring me more joy than watching the light go on in a student’s head when they finally grasp a concept- not even my first cup of coffee in the morning. Although perhaps an even better feeling would be when a student doesn’t look at your classroom like it’s a prison, but like it’s a home. And that is my main aim as a future educator.

Coffee Shop Creates a Global Community on Campus

This past school year, four Nyack College roommates opened a coffee shop on campus. Cultivate Coffee founders Wiktor Lasota and Benjamin Tse, business majors, and Peter Nehlsen and Joseph Girard, intercultural studies majors, have created a global community and personal experience for students.

Following Nyack College’s mission as an intentionally diverse school with global perspectives, Cultivate Coffee is a people and culture focused coffee shop. Students try free and direct trade coffees and teas from various countries, form friendships with students from different cultures, and connect with their own culture.

When choosing a name for their coffee shop, Tse says, “We were conscious about the word cultivate. It’s like cultivating a plan, relationships, and as a community – growing and nurturing it.”

Cultivate Coffee has hosted Global Grounds, sponsored by the International Student Union, with nights of free coffee, snacks, and board games. In a comfortable atmosphere, students engage in fellowship, developing and deepening their friendships.

Girard says: “We want to cultivate an apparent community… There is an ‘l’, ‘i’, ‘v’, ‘e’ all in Cultivate, and we just want to live our lives to the fullest and to encourage others.”

As a Christ-centered business, Cultivate Coffee is a place on campus where students grow in their personal and spiritual journeys.

“…coffee shops are a good place to grow. Jesus did life with his disciples and just talked and listened to people,” says Nehlsen.

Nehlsen’s future plans are to become a missionary and open his own coffee shop.

Nehlsen says: “It gives me a small idea of what my passion is. … What’s the point of being a missionary if I can’t do it at my own home? It’s been really cool to see the impact and the fruit.”

Cultivate Coffee hopes to make an impact in students’ lives, and before work each day, the team prays for God to work through them.

Girard says: “Because of the love God has put inside me, I can wake up early and go with those guys and put the work in. … I’ve already seen it help develop a community at Nyack.”

Lasota hopes that the longer the coffee shop operates and serves the campus as a business from students to students, it will become the campus’ new hang out location.

“Coffee is like a conversation – you go and get coffee,” says Lasota.

From first crafting a plan to finally seeing their vision become a reality, the team at Cultivate Coffee has developed an apparent community on campus, as well as become a tool for personal transformation.

New Education Blogger Debut

Welcome! I’m so glad you’ve joined me.

My name is Alexis, and I am the new blogger for the School of Education here at the Rockland Campus.

My birth certificate says Alexis Mazey, but you probably know me as Rex, as I am affectionately called that by friends. And no, it is not because I have short arms.

I grew up in a small town in Northeast Ohio. Now when I say small, I mean a two-stoplight town, a my-backyard-is-a-cornfield town.  (I’m not kidding. My sister once invited her friends over to watch Children of the Corn and then got some other friends to jump out of our cornfield and scare people. Even my dad was in on the prank. Honestly hysterical.)

Growing up in such a rural town has given me a deep appreciation for nature. My family and I used to hike at a local park when I was younger, and hiking is still one of my favorite things to do. I find running on a treadmill to be an impossibly boring form of exercise, but kudos to those of you who can last for more than five minutes without your lungs wanting to explode. I cannot. Better than me having to run, I could hike for ages and not grow weary of it. Well, at least not mentally. I have yet to reach John Muir’s stamina.

Anyway, moving on.

Besides hiking or simply being outside, my passions include reading, drinking coffee, and eating. My favorite combination of these passions was backpacking through part of the Appalachian Trail last May. The trip was impossibly arduous and taxing, and it made me realize that I need to work-out more (confession: I need to start doing the working out thing), but the overall experience was amazing, despite my pained knees and tired feet. There is something magnificently beautiful and rewarding about hiking to the top of a mountain and seeing God’s creation in bloom. If you ever need to be reminded about how truly amazing our God is, just look around you.

In fact, I would recommend that you look around you right now for that reminder. I went to a STEMM high school, so I am constantly reminded by science how God created such complexities and intricate organisms simply by speaking. I am also a musician and marvel about how He created sounds such that certain waves go together to create such beautiful harmonies.

Those are just some creations that make me reflect and stand in awe of our Creator. What about yours?

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