Nyack Unfiltered: Delsie Carter

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 third interview in our series is Delsie Carter. Delsie is currently a Sophomore and is studying Psychology. In fact, my first encounter with Delsie was in an Introduction to Psychology course back in 2015. Delsie was one of my favorite people in that class because she was funny, interesting, asked good questions, and seemed to really love learning. Having a true desire to learn is a significant advantage not only in school, but in life, and Delsie’s desire will take her far.


Your major is Psychology. Why?

Delsie: Well, I’ve always been interested in the human mind and how it affects our behavior. Why people do what they do. I’ve always [been interested] since the time I was a kid. I [also] got into Psychology because I want to understand myself  better.

Has it helped you understand yourself better?

Delsie: Yes, yes, so much, so much.

What do you want to do with your degree?

Delsie: Well, right now I have an organization where I help young girls. I have a non-profit organization. I’ve had it for eight years now. I really want to open up a practice where I can actually offer psychological help to the children and their parents. I don’t know where else it will take me, but I also am a wellness coach. So [I am] helping people with their wellness by helping them understand why they do what they do, which is great. It helps them understand how their thoughts and their minds control their behavior and making certain decisions.

What’s your non-profit called?

Delsie: Higher Elevation Youth Enhancement Organization. heyeo.org.
If you could major in anything else, or even minor, what would it be?

Delsie: Well, right now I’m minoring in Business. That’s because I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve had a beauty salon for the last twenty years. So if I could minor in anything it would be Business Management, which I’m doing right now – to help me more successfully run my business. And ironically, this is my first semester of Business and I find that effectively running a business has a lot to do with psychology. Running a business is really about managing and getting people to do things, and you’re better at getting people to do things when you know what makes them do what they do. So it works hand in hand.

That’s true, I’ve never thought of that.
Why did you pick Nyack?

Delsie: Nyack was introduced to me a few years ago. I’ve always been like a leader in my church and I just wanted to be in an atmosphere where I felt like I might also learn more about God and my relationship with Him – and understand the Bible, not necessarily just from a pulpit point of view, but from a scholarly point of view and I had heard good things about Nyack.

So what’s your favorite thing [about Nyack]?

Delsie: I like the atmosphere. I like that no matter where you are in Nyack you cannot help but to overhear somebody’s conversation about God. I like to be around groups of people who are seeking a higher level of God – whether they’re doing it, whether they’re finding it or not, I just like the pursuit of it. It’s like a corporate pursuit of God. I like that.

I agree. So, since you’ve been in this environment for over a year now, do you feel like it has affected your [personal] pursuit of God at all?

Delsie: Being in this environment has actually changed the way I’m pursuing God.

How so?

Delsie: I’m not pursuing God religiously anymore. It’s not about how much I can do in the church. It’s not about what others say. My pursuit of God has changed in that I see God to be bigger than I had – I kind of put God in a box when I got to Nyack. God is this, He’s this, He’s that. But God can be and do whatever He wants to do. Sometimes we get locked into the perimeter of what we’ve been taught God is – from our parents, from our pastors, from our friends, from our cultures – this is what God is. So you deal with God on that basis, but you need to learn that God is… that’s what people have made Him to be. He’s much bigger than that! So I kind of unboxed God since I’ve been here and I said, “You know, God, be who you want to be to me and show me what you want to show me. It doesn’t have to be what I think you’re going to show me, I’m open to whatever you come to me with. Whatever it is, I’m open to it, Lord.” And even my prayer life has changed. I’m not asking God for anything. I’m not asking God and begging God because I’m realizing that there’s nothing that I really need to ask or beg Him for. My prayer has turned into a prayer of asking God to help me see what He’s already given me. Help me to line up what’s already been given to me. I don’t ask Him to open doors because I know that everything is open. Everything is already open for me, so it just changed me in a lot of ways.

Delsie’s final comments remind me of my first year at Nyack when I first caught wind of how heavily taught the New Covenant is in Nyack’s Bible and Theology classes. Once we have a firm grip on the concept of the New Covenant and completely understand that we are no longer living under the old covenant – true freedom is attained. We come to understand our authority under the Father and can start living our lives now equipped with a power and authority we didn’t even realize we had! It’s a great feeling that, as said best by Delsie, can change us in a lot of ways.

Thank you Delsie for letting me interview you!

Losing Your Grip

I’ve been thinking about what to write this week. I like ideas to sit in the back of my brain, marinate a while. That’s how I think through everything–lesson plans, major life decisions, and blog posts. I let my thoughts sit, marinate, deepen into what they need to be.

While those thoughts soaked in my brain, I realized that I have lost my grip.

Haven’t all writers and teachers? (That was a joke. Please, take yourself less seriously and laugh).

I realized that I have entirely lost my grip on my idea of what I thought Spring Semester of 2017 would look like.

“Laughing” I lost it all.

During this Spring Semester, the plan was to be a full-time graduate student. The paperwork was even signed for that.

During the Spring Semester, the plan was to continue working at my part-time job. I even had a to-do list of Spring projects recorded on sticky notes.

During the Spring Semester, I was supposed to spend 90% of my time in Nyack and start growing roots here. My schedule is now 80% of the time spent elsewhere, and I’d like to move closer to work.

During the Spring Semester, I was supposed to be asleep, blissful, and snoring at 5:30 a.m. Now, my alarm rings at the great tragedy of 5:20 a.m….

What happened was…an opportunity to teach in the city fell into my lap late last semester. Now, I’m here teaching an 8th Grade Reading class. I’m only taking one graduate class, and the place where I’m setting down roots is the city. It’s all incredibly bizarre to me. It’s also hilarious–in September I was stressing about ways to earn extra cash to pay rent. I even found a sketchy online tutoring place and was considering applying for a job. Honestly, it was all a little ridiculous.

During that entire process, God knew what I would be doing this semester, and I’m pretty sure one of the reasons I didn’t find out until late in the game is that God knows my natural tendency towards holding my grip. The Maker of Galaxies is insanely aware of our weaknesses. The Organizer of Galaxies knows that I try to organize, scheme and plan my way into success, grip a blue-printed life with white-knuckled hands.

The Artist of Galaxies, also knew I needed to learn to lose my grip on all of that–my plans, schedules, and blueprints, my idea for what I thought the next four months should be. It’s been wild ever since I was forced to do that. I’m still learning how to loosen my grip each day, learning to place the entirety of my being, the frailty of my soul, and anything regarding future days into His grip–after losing my own.

Friends, join me in the wildly bizarre and wildly beautiful process of losing your grip.

Finding Solid Study Habits

The sun brushes over the horizon, watching over the Hudson in the hush of a February morning on the Hillside. We are called into morning. I remember waking up to scenes like this my Junior Year of my time at Nyack. Junior Year was one of the most intense years of my college experience. Junior Year is like that for everyone. Classes and content are challenging every ounce of your being. Sometimes you don’t understand something until you’ve been challenged and forced into figuring it out for yourself. Junior Year was the year when I was forced to forge solid study habits to meet the challenges of that year. It took me a while to figure out a system, but here are some habits that worked for me.

I’d like to add a disclaimer, though. Everyone learns differently, it’s this extraordinary blessing called diversity that creates these differences, because God gave humanity diversity in order that we might enrich and renew one another. May these habits give you ideas to figure out your own systems as you cultivate solid study habits.

  1. Figure Out the Noise: You need to figure out what level of noise creates your best study environment. Some people are distracted by silence and need background noise, while others need silence that could be confused with prayer in church. If you need total quiet, the Silent Section in the Bailey Library is the best place on campus.
  1. Plan: Read that syllabus and chart out major due dates on a planner. Doing this for exams became a survival strategy for me. One semester I had a History exam that I realized would take 10 hours of study to pass. However, because I wrote down the date of the exam months in advance, I was able to plot out time 1-2 weeks before the test and pace my time spent studying. It might sound like a crazy idea, but I passed that test.                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  2. Find a Strategy to Focus In Class: Taking notes was a strategy I used to keep me focused in class. I had a reputation for intense focus, but that was only because I took notes. Otherwise, my mind would have wandered into the pros and cons of dog sledding in Florida in July.
  1. “It Is Better to Light a Candle Than to Curse the Darkness”: That’s a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, and it means that when faced with challenges it is better to work at fixing the problem and refuse to waste time complaining. We waste so much time moaning about the workload, professors, or our own inadequacies. Friends, I’ve been in all three of those places. I understand. Then I began to realize something. I began to realize that education was a gift offered into my own hands, and it was my task to strategize and fight for that gift. That meant figuring out how to manage my time, plan time to study, and try different strategies until I developed a system of solid study habits.

Friends, no matter what your experiences with study habits have been, you can do this. Start by adding one or two habits into your life a week. You’ll be amazed at how motivated you’ll feel, and how less stressed the middle and end of your semester will be. You completely, totally, and beautifully can do this.

Meet the Nyack College NYC Business Club!

Whether you’re a Business major or not, you probably know that business skills are an integral part of any career. As a Communications major, even I am taking Business Communications this semester. Well, for those at Nyack who have not selected Business as their official field of choice but still want to gain the knowledge and networking skills, there’s the Nyack College NYC Business Club!

The Business Club’s President Juliya Joseph says that, “The Business Club is mostly about networking and bringing Nyack students together. [We’re always thinking about] how we are going to do business as Christians? How are we going to be different?” The Business Club is the pride and joy of the school’s Business Department which in the words of Public Relations Officer Damali Cooper is a “quality degree with a Christian perspective.” They take great delight in being the go-to place for students to gain connections and insight about the business world. I recently attended the “Meet, Eat, and Greet” hosted by the Business Club and got to know their members and their mission a little bit better.
Upon first walking into the room, a cheery “Hey! Welcome!” was sent my way and instantly made me feel comfortable. The vibe of the room was all laughter and smiles (but, of course, that could have had something to do with the pizza and cookies that were promised.) After an icebreaker game, we went around the room saying our names and having the rest of the room respond, “Hey [insert name]. It was actually cute and helped build a camaraderie among the folks in the room.

After the ice breaker and introductions led by Vice President Yanick Dutes, the Club’s Secretary Franklin Zhumi said a few words about the Business Club, who they are, and what they do. He started off his segment by reading their mission statement, which states that: “The Nyack College Business Club is an opportunity for students to network and obtain organizational skills to receive jobs and internships and prepare for the business world in a Christ-centered environment.” He explained that both Business majors and non-Business majors are allowed to join the club regardless of race, gender, or class. The doors are open for anyone looking for internships, jobs, or help saving money. They are here to serve Nyack NYC’s needs, and they hold weekly meetings every Wednesday in the Pavilion from 5:15pm-6pm.

Front to Back: Public Relations Officer Damali Cooper, President Juliya Joseph, and Vice President Yanick Dutes

After Secretary Franklin, the Public Relations officer Damali Cooper took the microphone to explain the Business Club’s upcoming events. Damali began by asserting the ever-growing relevancy of business in the real world and subsequently the relevancy of the Business Club. In the words of Damali, “No matter how you plan to go out into the business world…it’s all business, and that’s why we’re here.” The Business Club recently hosted an event on Organization Structure in a Business with guest speaker Shawn Roseburgh. The engagement went into detail about levels of management in a business and what responsibilities each management position entails. More upcoming events include:

  1. Financial Aid Help and Information workshop
  2. Resume and Interview workshop
  3. Entrepreneurship and Networking workshop
  4. Financing, Budgeting, and Stock Market workshop

Students enjoying the pizza! (along with our Dean of Students, Dean Hammond)

After the meeting concluded, the “eat” part of “Meet, Eat, and Greet” commenced. Pizza, and cookies, and drinks! Oh, my! The pizza was being served by Vice President Yanick and Treasurer Omar Tlapanco. It was a great time of food and fellowship for the rest of the hour.

Nyack College Business Club is an opportunity for students to network and obtain organizational skills to receive jobs and internships and prepare for the business world in a Christ-centered environment. So if any Nyack NYC student feels the need to use any of the resources from the Business Club, feel free! It’s the perfect space to network with the right people and make beneficial connections. They’re positive, resourceful, have an open door policy, and are always here to help!

“Because We Are Not Alone In The Dark With Our Demons”

I had a comforting thought this week.

This week was the Mid-Winter Recess for the school I’m teaching at now. It’s been a time of breathing, of catching up on sleep, finishing online work for my grad class, and getting a chance to drink copious amounts of coffee and just sit and think.

One of the comforting thoughts I’ve had this week, is a thought that’s been tossing around in my brain for a few months. Sometimes these thoughts need time, time to find other ideas, and time to grow through experiences. This thought was like that. A couple months ago, I finished reading The Confessions of St. Augustine. I’m not telling you this to sound spiritual, actually, anyone who gains anything from reading Augustine’s Confessions is anything but spiritual. It’s a literal wade through the desert of the human soul, and the only way you gain anything from that text is if you find it relatable. The only way you find it relatable is if you are also a frail human, crossed with sins and mistakes, and wandering on this road of grace. Some people won’t get anything out of Augustine’s Confessions, because they’ll simply be beyond that point in their faith. As of yet, I haven’t reached that point, and the frailty of my own soul is rather apparent.

Why am I mentioning this? Let me explain. One of the major ideas in Augustine’s Confessions is that the Holy Spirit of God must change our very desires in order for us to follow Christ. I know that whole “transform your minds” thing, but Augustine showed that idea through the story of how Christ changed his own desires. This had to happen for Christ to heal Augustine’s diseases, diseases of self, lust, ambition, pride, shame, and everything else Augustine struggled with.

I found the idea that Christ must transform us in order to heal us rather profound.

This week, I came across another thought which gave Augustine’s idea more weight. I was in my kitchen listening to this folk band called the Oh Hellos. The Oh Hellos are a band of two siblings whose lyrics are often steeped in faith. They have an entire album inspired by a book by C.S. Lewis. They’re cool cats. Anyway, they have this song called “I Have Made Mistakes”. It’s gorgeous. Go listen to it. They understand this struggle of faith, this constant struggle with the sin of ourselves. They sing this line after they’ve mourned the intensity of this struggle, “Because we are not alone in the dark with our demons”.

This was a profound idea to me.

You know how people say God is always with you?  

“Because we are not alone in the dark with our demons”

Augustine’s idea is that for Christ to heal our diseases, He must heal our fallen desires. He must change the very core of our beings. He must heal our demons, and yet? We are not abandoned with those demons, as we are being redeemed. That thought radically comforted me, as I look at my own life and its often frail function of faith.


Take courageous heart. Be open to the work to the work of Christ within you. “Because we are not alone in the dark with our demons”.

Nyack Unfiltered: Ethan Hodge

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 next interview in our series is Ethan Hodge. Ethan is a Senior who has big plans and a big heart to match. He knows virtually everyone on campus and makes it a point to greet all of them. His infectious attitude and desire to strive for greatness will take him far.

You’re a Psychology major. Why?

Ethan: I’m a Psychology major because I have a passion for people. I have a passion for building relationships and also aiding people to see the damage that they have emotionally, physically, or even verbally that they never really noticed.

Do you know where that passion came from?

Ethan: Well, being that I have a really big heart and I’m really caring, I started to really look at my life and I’ve noticed that a lot of my peers and even strangers [have] come up to me asking for advice and aid in what they should do next in certain situations and I see that I’m able to give appropriate advice to [help them] overcome whatever trials and tribulations they’re going through. I believe it’s really a gift that God has given to me. Not everyone has that gift where people will just come to you and become vulnerable before you and just lay everything out and trust that you will be able to aid them.

You never took that as a burden?

Ethan: Never. I never took it as a burden because, like I said, I have a big heart and I love to see people smile, I love to see people grow. That’s just part of me.

Why are you studying at Nyack?

Ethan: It’s actually a funny story. After high school, I was not considering going to college, but I was in a relationship at the time and I had just given my life to Christ in the eleventh grade. So, you know that first fire is just like, “Oh my gosh.” I was going hard for God, I was doing my thing. My life started to come together, and a lot of people started noticing that I’m pretty smart. My lady at the time wanted to go to school, so she applied to Nyack. She was like, “Apply for schools,” and I was like, “Nah, I don’t think I’m gonna get in.” [But] I applied, and Nyack and various other schools accepted me. I went up to Nyack for my interview, got accepted, and got a full scholarship which is the HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program). From then on I just continued to strive because they had seen something in me. They invested in me. That just gave me the ability to see that I am worth it.

What’s your favorite class – if you have one?

Ethan: I actually do have a favorite class, and that is Experimental Psychology. My professor sets an atmosphere where you can be free to ask questions, stop her, give your opinion, speak, it’s like a mature environment. The way I learn, I’m very interactive, I have to speak to you, you have to answer me, I have to ask questions until I just really understand it. And she gives me that opportunity to be vocal.

If you could minor in something, what would it be?

Ethan: I would minor in Business because I believe an understanding of and knowledge of Business, and a background in Business can take you really far because you know how to advertise yourself. You basically know how to promote yourself and put yourself out there to get funded. I believe funding is needed in everything. You need somebody to sponsor you. So if I have the appropriate knowledge, I’ll be good.

Do you want a Masters?

Ethan: Totally. I want a Masters in Mental Health Psychology. I believe that a Bachelors – nowadays, the way things are looking – Bachelors are going to be worth nothing. I want to be a cut above the rest. And I want to actually go for my Doctorate. I ultimately want to have my own practice. So I believe this is a stepping stone for me to get my Doctorate.


Is there anything that has happened in the past two years (that you were on this campus) that stands out to you about either this campus, the people on this campus, or about something that you’ve learned here?

Ethan: I got into a situation that could have resulted in me getting kicked out of school. Like terminated. And the director of the HEOP program for the city campus pulled me aside and asked me, “What is this?” To me, I didn’t do anything wrong. But if you really think about it, it could [have been]. So he got me out of that situation and that was really an eye opener. I really appreciated that because it helped me to grow. It helped me become the man I am right now, and I see that people really do care. It’s not like when everybody says, “Oh, you’re in college? You’re by yourself. Nobody cares about you.” No. If you show that you’re interested in learning and interested in going further, yeah, you might make mistakes along the way because you’re growing, but they will give you opportunities. Also, being that it’s a Christian school, you have to take that into consideration. They’re going to help you. That’s what stood out to me my two years here.

You received Christ about a year before you applied to the Rockland campus? [Ethan: Yeah.] How have the past four or five years helped your walk? Or has it helped?

Ethan: To be honest, I entered college very vulnerable. I understood that I was a Christian. I had given my life to Christ and my perspective on Christians was that they were perfect, they don’t make any mistakes, they’re different. Then I also took into consideration that this is a Christian school, which they really advertise. So I was like, “Everybody’s gonna be on fire for God. Let me just go there” – and man, that was an eye opener! Alarm, alarm, alarm! No. The first month there I had seen many, many things. Not pointing any fingers, everybody sins, but the way they would act in chapel and then the way [they would act] right after that was just ridiculous. So then my walk with Christ just took a downer. Like rapid downer. I became very bitter after awhile because I started seeing how people were jealous because you’re doing good, you’re black, you’re favored, you have grace, and people will get close to you just to harm you. So my faith went down. [When I] came back to Nyack, the city campus, I started really seeking God for myself. [I was] not really feeling pressured to have to go to chapel, and I feel like the two years here have grown me tremendously because I’m on my own. I’m able to make these choices on my own, and that is what made me grow as a man of God.

In 3 words, who were you before Nyack? 

Ethan: Ambitious, confident, loving.

In 3 words, who are you now?

Ethan: Determined, resilient, focused.

What’s your hope for the future? 

Ethan: Hopefully, I am wealthy – not rich – wealthy in knowledge and financially. I hope I’m comfortable. I hope I’m able to help my family, my parents most importantly, so [they can] stop working, and I can send them back to their homeland or whatever country of their choice. And that all the time they put into my me and siblings, it was good because now I am the man that I am today because of them. I want to be married. I hope that my wife is a woman of God as well and that she’s focused. I hope to have a couple of degrees under my belt. I hope to be well rounded with knowledge. I hope to be a psychologist, also a public speaker. I’m very passionate about speaking to people. I hope to have my own business, my own practice, and I also want to travel and speak to a vast amount of people and encourage them. I just hope to be that man that can be an example to other youth who came from the struggle that I came from. I also just want to be really, really focused.

20 years from now, what would you want to tell yourself now?

Ethan: Wow, you didn’t know nothing. You really thought you knew it, you didn’t know nothing. You’ve come a long way, and I see the growth in you, Ethan. You’ve been through a lot and look who you are today. You’re strong. You have a great relationship with God. You can really be an example, and you didn’t let what people said about you break you down and create some type of stagnancy. You kept pursuing your dreams and your goals and you know the man of God that you are, and look at you today. Be proud of it! I know your mistakes may be in certain people’s minds’, but it doesn’t matter what they say – it’s about who God says you are… and now you’re walking in it, Ethan.

Thank you for letting me interview you, Ethan! This is only the beginning for you!

How to Survive a Snowstorm

On my birthday February 8, 2016, it was 61 degrees in New York City (I obviously took this as a Happy Birthday from the Lord Himself). However, on February 9, 2016, a snowstorm hit the city and shut it down. Schools were canceled, meet-ups were postponed, and children all across the tri-state area rejoiced. The next day, February 10, the city regained its strength. New Yorkers woke up, dug around in their closets for their snow boots and gloves, and braved the wind and slush. Honestly how the temperature could drop so drastically in a matter of hours is beyond me, but I’m not a meteorologist and I digress.

During the 24-hour snowstorm, unless you walked, it was nearly impossible to make it across the city. New Yorkers were trapped this way and that. They had nowhere to go. [Disclaimer: I’m about to make a very cliche and probably predictable comparison between the snowstorm and our lives, but just bear with me.] Watching everyone pick up their lives where they left off two days ago reminds me of when we are trying to find peace again after a tumultuous snowstorm in our lives. When we feel like the world has shut us in and we can’t go anywhere, it can be really scary. It’s easy to feel alone and helpless. Watching the news and hearing the latest horror stories (or regular stories that the media attempts to blow up into horror stories) did not help us get over our cabin fever during the snow storm, just as listening to negative friends or family will not help you get out of your situation any quicker. In fact, it will most likely put a dent in your faith. It will slow the healing process and keep your mind locked up even longer. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. So prepare yourself for that joy! You can even start reveling in it in the middle of the night if you so wish. No need to wait until morning. Otherwise, you won’t be able to come out of the snowstorm stronger than before because you were not mentally prepared. A good percentage of strength is mental.

So my advice to anyone having a personal snowstorm right now is this:

1. Learn to dance in the snow
-You’ve probably heard the saying ‘Learn to dance in the rain.” This is the same principle. Even if everything is coming down around you, find the beauty in it.
2. Don’t be afraid to venture outside after the snow is over.
– Don’t let fear rule your life. Get back into the groove and keep doing what you did before, but this time do it bigger and better.
3. Thank God
– He brought you out of it. Thank Him for it. And even if your deliverance has not manifested yet. Thank Him for it. Call peace into your life and demand all upheaval and distress to leave. He has given us a sound mind, not a confused one.

Tips on Passing the edTPA


Last semester I had the opportunity to graduate an Education Program at Nyack College. December 16th was the last day of my undergraduate career, and I remember walking home. I remember watching the sun fade into the Hudson, and I traveled home with memories of student teaching tucked neatly into my pocket.

One thing I’ll never forget about that semester?

I’ll never forget working on my edTPA. If you’re not an Education Major, you probably don’t know what that is (no worries). It’s this portfolio Ed. Majors do on a lesson segment of their student teaching. It includes videos of you teaching, research-based strategies you implemented, academic language, and you have to follow very, very, very specific guidelines to complete this project. It’s an extensive project. You’re also required to submit your edTPA in order to become a New York State Certified Teacher. Now for the Ed. Majors…

The project is intimidating. I remember feeling intimidated.

However, friends, all is not lost. You can pass the edTPA. Now, I’d like to give a few tips that will help you pass:

  1. Read the Handbook They Give You in Boot Camp: There’s a required “Student Teaching Boot Camp” put on by the college. In this Boot Camp, they will tell you to read the edTPA handbook. This is not a suggestion. Read the entire document. You’ll need a bird’s eye view of this project, in order to strategize the how’s and when’s of completing your edTPA. Otherwise, you’ll forget vital pieces of your video.        
  2. Do Not Wait Until The Last Minute: I cannot stress this enough. This is not a paper you can cram into an all nighter and some energy drinks. I did the math, and completing the edTPA took me at least 45-50 hours of focused work. I’m not saying this to scare anyone, but it’s just a reality. Space those 50 hours into weekly segments and you’ll be fine.
  3. Shoot Videos In Your First Placement: Plan to shoot your lesson segment in your first placement. If something goes wrong, you can shoot another in your second.
  4. Figure Out Your Class: This is especially crucial for Adolescent Ed. Majors who student teach in middle schools and high schools with periods filled with different groups of students. Figure out which group of students show you off as the fantastic teacher that you are. (In other words, don’t pick the class with the kid who interrupts every five seconds to declare that, “I really have to use the bathroom”). Pick an engaged class. You’ll feel more comfortable, and you’ll look more comfortable on video.

For now, those are all the tips I can think of, but if I think of more I will let you know.

Much Courage,

A Friend

The Challenge Student

There are many types of students in this world:

The Conscientious Student: This student can be found sitting in the front rows of classrooms, feverishly taking notes, and raising his or her hand in curiousity.

The Lord… Give Me…Student: For one reason or another, this student can be found testing your patience as a teacher every single day. You may find yourself uttering the, “Lord, Give me… [insert Fruit of the Spirit here] with this student”.

The Silent Storm Student: This student speaks little in class, but his or her written work is a whirlwind of thought, depth, wisdom, and is always above grade level.

The Funny Student: This student always has a joke on hand, and has the ability to either make learning fun or distract every student in your class.

The Helpful Student: This student can be found organizing the classroom library, throwing gum wrappers in the trash, and doing it all with a smile. Helpful Student, you’re making the world a better place one gum wrapper at a time.

The Challenge Student: This is the student who marches into your classroom with folded arms (usually on the first day) and announces that they hate the subject, hate the books, and hate the color of the walls. Today, in this post I’m going to briefly discuss how to deal with this particular breed of student.

In the last year I’ve had a couple of experiences with this interesting species called the Challenge Student. The Challenge Student’s goal is to make you believe that you have no room to move as a teacher. They want you to believe that learning will not happen in your class–just because they hate the subject. However, the Challenge Student doesn’t realize that enthusiasm is contagious like a viral disease.

During my student teaching, I had a Challenge Student who marched up to me and informed me of her hate for Shakespeare. We were going to be reading Shakespeare for the next two months…Challenge accepted. As a result, every class, I made sure to specifically speak with her, and explain the plot twists in the play in the craziest and most interesting way possible. 

Excitement is contagious. By the end of my student teaching placement, this girl had read ahead in the play. It wasn’t really my doing, she found the exciting parts of the play that were already there. She just needed a little help.

My friends,

The lesson here is that we must refuse to give up on our Challenge Students. We may not reach every Challenge Student, but with a little persistence…we might find some of those students reading ahead in class.

London, P.S. I Love You

Dear London,

In 10 days, you gave me an experience of a lifetime. I thank you for showing me a culture widely different from my own, bringing a new world to my fingertips. I’ve gained a better understanding of where I am from, who I am, and who I would like to be and where I would like to go. You’ve made me a new person.

I love your rich history, how it lives in the walls of every building as if it were cigarette smoke. I’ve been where legends of science, literature, and royalty walked, dined, and lived. On various street corners, I saw doors that said, “Here lived…” and each time I stopped, I gawked with wide eyes and my phone plastered to my hand to get the shot. I marveled at Westminster Abbey, standing on the graves and memorials of those who contributed to society beyond measure. I was inspired at Poets’ Corner, where I stood before my literary idols for longer than what I imagine is socially acceptable.

I’ve seen that language, literature, and the news is not dead but very much alive. Thank you for giving me the pleasure of hearing various languages and accents and learning a different vernacular. Seeing bookstores nearly every five minutes made my heart leap. You have given me hope as an aspiring journalist that people do read the newspaper, be it walking the street or on the Tube.

Thank you for giving me the experience of new foods from various cultures I would have never had otherwise. You have also shown me the good in people, and as I heard at the Royal Military Chapel before I left London, “We don’t see people as they are; we see people as we are.” Thank you for the adventure and teaching me about another culture. I have been to places I only dreamed I would see, and in a small way, I have seen and been a part of another country’s history. Thank you for the friends I made, and because of them, I have had some of my greatest memories.

Your breathtaking views, architecture, fashion, and history all have inspired me. Although it rained every day, your beauty is a watercolor painting, bright and vibrant. I’ll never forget running into museums for shelter from the rain or being poured on in Oxford. You are as beautiful at night as you are in the day. (Big Ben, you are one handsome clock tower.) Being on the Tube, squished between bodies and luggage, I couldn’t help but people watch, wanting to know their stories and where they came from. Whether I jumped on a train or ran in the rain, I was in for an adventure. You made it so easy for me to feel comfortable and at home here. London, you have given me a piece of the world, and for that, I am grateful.

I will never forget you.

The New Semester Brings New Changes

My usual “wait until the very last minute to register for the new semester” gig is starting to get old, and yet, I have done it again. I finished everything that needed to be finished and registered for my new classes on January 17th, and the first day of classes was January 18th. In fact, I procrastinated so badly that I completely forgot to buy any of my textbooks (this is where I would put the upside down smile emoji.)

So here I am: the first week of the Spring 2017 semester is halfway over and I have no books, got financially cleared by the Grace of God, and operating under obscene stress outside of school…and *in my best Maya Angelou voice*…still I rise. I rise because I am here. I rise because God is doing amazing things, whether I can see them or not. I rise because I woke up this morning. I rise because He gives me strength to rise. I strive to be somewhat transparent on this blog, and in an effort to do so I will can honesty say that I can do nothing without Him. I will never accomplish anything worth accomplishing without Him. Without Him I am nothing. I’m not even going to pretend that I have a plan for this semester because I don’t. I have no steps to have a great semester and no formula that is going to make everything turn out alright. All I have is Jesus, and He’s honestly all I need. I find it comforting to know that the only thing we really need is ours and He’s always right there beside us, chilling.

Because of Him, I have confidence that this semester will rock. Because of Him, I am not afraid of the future. Because of Him, everything is going to be alright. For you, too.

It’s an (for lack of a more comprehensive and accurate word) interesting time in America right now. Tensions are high and peace seems to be a distant illusion. Whether or not the election garnered the results you hoped for, it’s easy to feel off kilter in your personal life as a result of the chaos happening around you. Transitions and changes are hard. It’s a new semester, new year, new president, maybe even a new you with new friends and new habits (or the same old you who always makes New Year’s resolutions but always falls back into your old ways on January 2nd, but I digress.) This much change can be earth-rocking and hard to swallow. But this too shall pass, and come tomorrow morning you will be stronger than ever.

Nyack Unfiltered: Sherilyn Blake

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 second interview in our series is Sherilyn Blake. Sherilyn, a fellow Communications major, is currently the Vice President of the Student Government Association (SGA). She is always smiling, always has cute outfits, and is going to do great things after she graduates. It was an honor interviewing her. Thank you, Sherilyn!
So, you are the Vice President of SGA…which you have to get back to after this [Sherilyn laughs]… how do you like it?

Sherilyn: I like it. I think, for me, the best part is being able to see an event through. But the work before an event is challenging, and I’m grateful we have so many student leaders who are just hands-on. I mean whenever you call them they are just there to help you. I think that’s what makes my job easier and makes events go [smoother].

Do you think that’s a Nyack thing? Or just the type of people that are around?

Sherilyn: I think that it’s a Nyack thing because ever since I got to Nyack I’ve met friendly people – helpful people. Like, all you have to do is ask and they will help. Sometimes you don’t even have to ask, they just help. It’s good to have people on deck ready and willing to help you.

Why are you at Nyack? How did you get here?

Sherilyn: Well, crazy story. I took a year off from school after my freshman year in college. And one of my friends from high school – her sister graduated from Nyack. She was like, ‘Have you ever heard of Nyack?’ I was like, ‘What’s Nyack?’ She was like, ‘It’s a Christian school. They pray. They talk about God, talk about Jesus, and you don’t have to be scared.’ I was like *gasp* Really?’ So I googled it, because I had never heard of Nyack and I was like, ‘This is a good school.’

So I applied. It was literally like two weeks before the semester started. So, I got in, I got my schedule, and then everything just seemed so – I don’t want to say a coincidence, but everything started falling into place like literally at the last minute. I actually prayed about this…and it was probably one of the greatest prayers I’ve prayed because I’ve [made] so many friends, like lifelong friends. Like now my friends have become family and we’re so close. I think it’s a blessing because you don’t always find friends like that everywhere [you go]. In other colleges most people don’t even know your name, so I think it’s a tight-knit school [where you can] feel comfortable and confident to live out your faith.

Yeah, it feels like a family.

Sherilyn: It is.

That’s funny, that’s how I did mine too. Like literally two weeks before [the semester] started I did all the paperwork – I had Googled it beforehand and everything. I did the exact same thing.
So is the school what you thought it would be?

Sherilyn: As in the work? I didn’t expect the work to be so much. It’s not that it’s really difficult – it is challenging, some of the classes, it’s just so much work that I never catch a break. But when it comes to professors, the professors are so nice. All you have to do is ask. I think sometimes they get frustrated if you don’t ask for help [because] you feel like [you] got it on your own, but I learned the hard way that I do not know everything or I wouldn’t even be in school in the first place. So I think it’s good to have professors who are knowledgeable in their subject and they are willing to help you become knowledgeable in that subject.

Has SGA affected your spiritual life?

Sherilyn: I started SGA over the summer because we started planning for this [Fall] semester and next [Spring] semester over the summer, and I started questioning myself. I thought, ‘Why did I even sign up for this? What am I doing?’ And then in the first couple weeks of school I had so much work to do, I thought, ‘I should have never have done this. This is my Senior year… why would I add something else to my plate?’ So spiritually I was in, like, this weird place. [Then] stuff started happening, and I was like ok I’m going to start praying more, like faithfully. And I’m just going to – I had to build my trust in God again. I had trust in God, but I feel like not enough that I could leave everything that I was worrying about. I still had that little ‘Mmm I don’t know, I don’t really know.’ So I thought ok, this situation is challenging. Let me pray about it. I’m just going to step back. And then I let God do what He needs to do. And that turned out so much better than me going and doing something. But I feel like from the beginning of the semester to now – now being the end of the semester – I would say that I’ve grown spiritually because I’ve learned to face…. We’ve dealt with a lot – with losing two of our friends and other leaders that I’ve realized that God is so much greater than these things that happen. Though we may not understand things at the time, God always reveals things to His people. And I feel like that made us closer. I know that we appear close, but we weren’t really like we weren’t all in the same page. I feel like we needed this wake up call, and it was an unfortunate wake up call, but it woke people up to realize that we need to start appreciating the people around us and we need to start caring for people while they’re here today so people aren’t regretting it tomorrow. So spiritually – I realized that I need to start appreciating people and things today and not wait for tomorrow.

So after you graduate, what do you want to do?

Sherilyn: I want to be a film director.

Do you want to start working on that directly after [you graduate] or later on?

Sherilyn: Truth be told, I want to start working on that now, but I don’t have the time right now. So after graduation I want to move to California, I have this whole plan in my head – a five year plan. I’m going to start making short films. I might go to graduate school. I was looking at the University of Southern California because they have an amazing Cinematic Arts program. I guess I want to study more, but I also want to apply what I’ve studied. I don’t want to spend two years and I’m not doing any work. I want to experience and [also] get knowledge.

Experience is what is going to get you where you want to be…

Sherilyn: Exactly! Like you can know everything, but if you can’t do it then you have no chance.

So you’ve spent your last 3 years here at Nyack?

Sherilyn: Well, I’ve been at Nyack for two years, since 2014.

Oh, so how do you like it?

Sherilyn: I like it. I like that it’s in the city. I like that it’s only 40 minutes away. I don’t like… what don’t I like… it’s so expensive over here! Like when I buy lunch, I have to save this lunch because not only lunch but also dinner because it’s so expensive.

Exactly. You have to save money and buy a foot-long sandwich instead of a 6-inch and eat half.

Sherilyn: Exactly, exactly. But the neighborhood is beautiful. It’s in a prime location for where we want to grow and it’s in the heart of the city, and I love the city.

So if you had to minor in something what would it be?

Sherilyn: At Nyack?

No, anywhere.

Sherilyn: Business. International business or marketing. Like one of my biggest goals is – like if I had a billion dollars right now – I would open a children’s hospital. I would charter – I know I have crazy dreams but I would have a jet and I would charter medication and doctors all over the world. Because when I was younger I needed a blood transfusion because I was born premature, and somebody was kind enough to donate their blood and save my life. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that stranger. And I love children. I have nieces and nephews and my nephew was sick when he was born. So I would open a children’s hospital for those who cannot afford the medical care that they need. And say you couldn’t afford to come to America to [get] to the hospital, we’ll send a doctor with medication to you. So I would say Business because you need to know how to run a hospital, that’s like a business. Also, if I could take a language [class] so I could know all the languages of the world then I would totally do it.

Well, did you take one as an elective?

Sherilyn: Yeah, I took Spanish. Ask me how to say a word. Can’t say it.


Sherilyn:[She pauses and looks away for a second]…..la silla.

See! You know SOMETHING.

Sherilyn: [laughing] Yes! Thank you Professor Rodriguez! [editor’s note: Professor Rodriguez is one of the Spanish professors on the Manhattan campus.]

So after you graduate from here and go on to do major cinematic things, what do you think you will have taken from Nyack?

Sherilyn: One thing I learned from Nyack is that I need to chill out. When I first came here I was in this extreme place where [I was] like, ‘Say one bad thing about God. Watch me come after you. Say something that doesn’t match my doctrine. Watch me come after you.’ I remember one time I had an argument with my professor in Old Testament. For like twenty minutes we argued, and the whole class was sitting there like, ‘Please stop.’ I was just crazy. Then I was just like Sherilyn relax. It’s good to be strong in your faith, but don’t attack people. I learned the hard way that you don’t need to defend God because God is bigger than you. So I guess it challenged my beliefs, or what I thought was correct, and I learned to just listen before I react. That’s what I’m still learning!

That’s an important lesson to learn. How can we hope to impact this world as Christians if we don’t know how to listen? If we just lash out without thinking, what do we hope to accomplish?

Thank you again to Sherilyn for letting me interview her for this series!

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