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The degree I didn’t finish

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University 489 Capstone Experience

Spring 2006

Jacqueline M. Dotzenrod

Statement of Goals

I grew up in rural North Dakota.  My parents farmed and Mom made sure we kids were involved with 4-H.  Being one of the older club members, I was often put into leadership roles.  This meant holding a variety of club offices, helping other club members learn a variety of projects, and volunteering my time to help where help was needed.  One of my favorite projects was photography.  Whenever my family would attend a 4-H event, I usually brought a camera along.  What started as a hobby grew into more as I took photos and wrote short articles about 4-H events and submitted them to the county newspaper.

My volunteer reporting caught the attention of the editor.  They needed a sportswriter/photographer and called me for the job.  As a high school sophomore, I was thrilled to take on my first job “off the farm”.  I felt I was a shy awkward teenager but having my spot on the sidelines, taking notes and snapping shots, gave me my place to fit in.  I didn’t see myself as a people person, but as I gained experience, interviewing coaches and interacting with my editor, it gave me a sense of confidence I hadn’t had before.

That confidence fed my other talents and abilities.  I enjoy being on stage as a performer.  Whether speaking, acting, singing, or playing, I relish the appreciation of an audience.  Putting in hours of practice to earn that appreciation was and is always worth it.  I performed in every talent show I could enter.  I competed in every speech meet I could attend.  I even went to the NDSU speech camp for three summers in a row.  I dedicated myself to drama club.  I played in the band.  I sang in the choir.  I did everything I could to get myself up in front of an audience.

Toward the end of my high school career, I felt ready to take on new challenges.  I took the CLEP tests for Algebra, English, and Chemistry.  After only passing the Math 103 exam, I felt frustrated, but it made me realize that I still had a lot to learn and added to the anticipation of enhancing my knowledge in college.  My senior year, I decided to finish high school by taking several dual-credit courses through the nearby North Dakota State College of Science.  My teachers and fellow students on the small campus of NDSCS allowed me to grow out of the socially-awkward mold I saw myself in.

As I approached high school graduation, I was faced with a multitude of decisions.  I had been accepted with distinction to the MIS program at NDSU, but already felt like I belonged at NDSCS.  I decided to register for classes at both schools to allow myself more time to make a decision. That summer, I took a class at NDSU.  Ultimately, I chose to return to NDSCS for another year to earn an Associate of Arts degree.  I wanted the experience of living on the NDSCS campus as well as touring with their music group the Wildcat Singers.  After another year in Wahpeton, it was my intention to transfer to NDSU.  I had my plan set.

The fall of 2002, I moved into my dorm at NDSCS.  My schedule was full both semesters with over twenty credits in each.  I had the opportunity to tutor at the Academic Service Center and also performed in a college band, choir, and touring group as well as acting in a couple of NDSCS drama productions; opportunities I would not have had as an MIS major at NDSU.  While living in the small town of Wahpeton, I also started teaching guitar lessons.  Finding students was easy.  From a variety of stage performances, I had built up a reputation in the area and on campus.

I graduated from NDSCS with honors in May of 2003. I decided not to pursue an MIS degree, but to continue my education at NDSU as a Business Major with a Music Minor.  I took 2 business classes and Microeconomics that summer. I also put in a few hours a week with Plant Science department.  The farm girl in me was nostalgic about pulling weeds. I did alright in school that summer, but I enjoyed my time at work and practicing music, more than I did doing the coursework.

I continued my education at NDSU that fall as a Business Major and Music Minor.  I had hoped to teach guitar lessons at NDSU as well, but after smacking a poster on every billboard on campus and not getting a single call, I took on a part-time job with NDSU Calls from Campus and focused on my classes.  I aced all of my courses except the ones that started with BUSN.  It was difficult for me to find motivation in something for which I had so little appreciation.  Up until this point in my life, I had very little experience in the world of business.  My part-time job as a student caller gave me an introduction to sales.  I decided to try a sales internship the following semester.

I missed teaching very much, so I decided to return to Wahpeton where I was hired as an instructor for the NDSCS Outreach program.  I taught several group classes and took on individual students as well.  The local radio station, KBMW, allowed me to study with their sales team as an intern where I sat in on sales meetings, followed along on sales calls, and even wrote some radio ads.  While I was in town, I also took a few more classes at NDSCS that interested me including Real Estate and Child Development.  I took voice and piano lessons and was involved with another drama production.  My life was busy, but I enjoyed everything I was involved with.

Although I completed my internship, I stayed in Wahpeton that summer, working at a small family-owned and operated pharmacy.  My responsibilities there included data entry of prescription and insurance information, execution of customer confidentiality procedures, delivery of prescriptions to area residences and nursing homes, as well as managing inventory.  The job was a crash course in customer service and multi-tasking.  It kept me busy, but at the end of my day at the pharmacy, I would grab a quick supper and make house calls throughout the week to the dozen guitar students I was still instructing.

I returned to NDSU in the fall, but this time as a Music Major with a Business Minor.  I learned a lot in the classroom that year, but I also learned a lot on the job.  During the fall semester, I worked part-time as a telephone sales representative at Strategic, a tele-fundraising company just a few blocks south of campus.  As a tele-fundraiser, I learned to overcome rejections while negotiating with prospects.  This job allowed me to fine tune my active listening skills.  However, due to the repetition involved with the job, it was difficult for me to maintain enthusiasm for my work.  Over Christmas break, I changed jobs to try something new.  I worked as a teacher for Atonement’s school age program in south Fargo.  It was my job to plan and supervise lessons and activities to entertain the children after school.  I stayed at Atonement through the summer but had to return to Strategic this past fall for financial reasons.

The experiences I had while working at Atonement are invaluable.  It showed me a lot about myself.  I learned that I deeply enjoy working with children because of the creativity and spontaneity the work requires.  It is also very satisfying to me to share ideas with young ones and watch them take the idea and turn it into their own.  It was the same sort of satisfaction I would get from teaching guitar lessons to individuals.  However, when faced with large groups of kids, I often become overwhelmed.  It is difficult for me to balance my attention among several children at once.  Being put in such a situation made me realize I do not want to be a school teacher with a full classroom (or band room) of students; which is what a degree in Music would probably lead to.

Although I was registered for more music classes the fall 2005 semester, I withdrew from school in early September.  The following months were spent reflecting, researching, and planning what I wanted to do next.  I thought about the types of qualifications that I already have gained from my education, employment, and volunteering.  As I looked over job descriptions, I also thought about the qualifications that I did not have.  Although I already hold an Associates degree, I don’t want the fact that I do not hold a Bachelors degree to ever be a stumbling block in my future.  The classes I chose in my proposed plan of study I believe, based on my experiences, would make me more marketable in my various areas of interest.  It is important to me to earn a Bachelors degree and I believe a Bachelor of University Studies degree is the best course for me.

Reflective Experience

My education between the two North Dakota campuses of NDSU and NDSCS has been varied and valuable.  The course work I have completed in the following areas has enhanced my knowledge through instruction and my competency through practice.

Communication

I have always seen communication as vital aspect of existing in society.  It is a mean of sharing thoughts and ideas to reach understanding among people.  This mode may be verbal, nonverbal, or written.  Communication is also a two-way curriculum.  For communication to be effective there must be a clear message sent by the correspondent as well as proper interpretation of that message by the recipient.  My coursework in this area has enhanced awareness and practice of both ends of communication.

Even while in high school, I had a high interest in this area of study.  I attended NDSU’s Speech Camp (SPCM 195, SPCM 196, COMM 150) for three consecutive summers while a high school student.  The two most valuable skills I learned here were how to logically organize my ideas as well as being aware of the nonverbal cues I project while speaking.  These skills did not only sharpen my ability as a competitive speaker, but also laid the foundation for future coursework.

In my college composition courses (ENGL 110 & ENGL 120), my ability to organize my thoughts proved invaluable.  Because I had a firm grasp on how to structure a paper or speech, I was able to focus on learning the more creative aspects of writing such as vibrant description, analogy, and allegory.  I grew from knowing how to structure a story to making it interesting to a reader.

I had the benefit of taking COMM 110 at NDSCS.  The instructor made the course interesting and fun.  As a class, we learned how to structure a speech.  Being that I already have a firm grasp on the concepts, my mind was left to wander.  Rather than focusing on the content, I was watching my instructor’s delivery, how the material was presented, and how the course was structured.

Putting a speech together and presenting it to the class was our focused objective.  I appreciated the straightforwardness and clarity of the course.  Each of our speeches was based on either ourselves, or a topic we were familiar with and this allowed us as students to focus on improving or public speaking skills.  Our instructor made time to set up one-on-one conferences with every student.  I noticed how he made a point to not only remember each student’s name but also what type of activities they were involved with and what interested each individual.  I think this made students feel more involved with the class.  For the first time, the thought passed through my mind that maybe teaching is something I would like to do someday.

In the academic world, I tested out my teaching wings as a tutor for the NDSCS Academic Service Center (ASC 293).  The ASC has tutors for nearly every subject.  Students could walk in or make an appointment with a specific tutor and get help in any area they need.  I felt I had strong writing skills, so I signed up to tutor English.  I worked with a variety of students I probably would not have interacted with any other way.  Several of the students I worked with were foreign and still learning the English language.  There were students who were struggling with the concept of structure.  Some students just needed help with grammar.  The experience made me aware of the variety of needs that can arise in a single classroom.  It also helped me to refine my explanation skills.  Having a student simply change or rearrange what they wrote wasn’t good enough.  To be an effective tutor, I felt the student had to understand why the change was recommended.

Practical Writing (ENGL 320) helped me develop my explanation skills further.  The course’s focus seemed to be on workplace communication.  This course brought me to realize that the most effective groups of people, whether it’s a business or church group, are effective because they communicate well.  In communicating, it is important to assume to role of your audience when reviewing what you write; be it a full-length letter, or short memo.  If you want your point to get across, use terms your audience will understand, focus on the information your audience will be looking for, and be concise.  A significant marketable skill gained from this class was how to write a quality resume.  Between this course and the Career Center, I am able to develop and tailor a top-notch resume and cover letter for any job posting that grabs my interest.

Just as it is important to be able to express one self through written communication, it is also important to be aware of the nonverbal communicative cues we project.  Listening and Nonverbal Communication (COMM 271) made me aware of many aspects of nonverbal cues such as clothing, hair, gestures, vocal inflection, touch, proxemics, and much more.  Through this class, I learned to be more aware of social and cultural differences in communication.  As our world becomes smaller through travel and technology, this becomes increasingly important in everyday life.

Social & Behavioral Sciences

As you may have picked up by now, I am a person with a heavy interest in how people behave and interact with one another.  Communication, verbal, nonverbal, or written, is how people relate thoughts, ideas, and feelings to one another.  The social and behavioral sciences segment analyzes how various societies and cultures function.  It also looks at how individuals are shaped by their socio-cultural environment as well as how one fits into their given society.

Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 111), Introduction to Sociology (SOC 110), and Ethics (PHIL 210) laid the foundation for further understanding in these areas.  I had not taken these courses in high school, so the material presented was entirely new to me.  These courses broadened my world view.  I became familiar with new terminology, key people in the field, as well as several case studies.  I was not only introduced to new ways of thinking, but also given concrete examples to help make these foreign ideas more tangible.  Through journaling and individual study, these are areas I still explore today.

These introductory courses led me to realize that in communication, written, verbal or nonverbal, the sender and receiver may encounter interference due to differences in communicative style.  These differences could be due to philosophical divergence, psychological or personality traits of each person, or socio-cultural background.  My eyes were opened to the fact that communication is much more complicated than sending and receiving messages.  Good communicators are aware of their audience and some factors that will be affecting how they communicate.  They are also aware of how their own communicative style is affected by their beliefs, their personality, and their background.  I looked around my day-to-day life.  At work, at school, with friends and family, communicative messages are constantly being sent and received.  I noticed that often conflict and difficulty would arise in spite of the fact that the individuals would be working toward the same goal whether it be making a sale, mastery of a lesson, or simply enjoying each other’s company.  I wanted to learn more about theses differences and how they can be overcome.

The instructor I had for Introduction to Teaching (EDUC 321) emphasized awareness of learning styles as well as teaching styles.  Other courses I took included Child Development (PSYC 210) at NDSCS and Educational Psychology (EDUC 322) at NDSU.  I have a great interest in how individuals change as they grow, how early development affects future learning, and what motivates or inhibits learning.  Both classes acknowledged four areas of development; physical, cognitive, social, and personal/emotional.  I think it’s interesting that two separate classes from two different departments taken on two different campuses encompassed similar material.  As my education has progressed, I become more and more aware of how all subjects are interrelated.

One area of study that is known for encompassing several subjects is Anthropology.  Anthropology can be defined as the study of all people in all places at all times.  I signed up for Introduction to Anthropology (ANTH 111) in my final semester because I wanted to be introduced to the concepts, terms, and landmark discoveries of this field.  A basic understanding in this field, I believe, will enhance my comprehension in other areas as well.

Quantitative Reasoning/ Science & Technology

While I do enjoy challenges of the mind, I have always preferred more subjective modes of reasoning.  Quantitative challenges, though fascinating, require concrete understanding with less room for the creativity on which I thrive.  I do acknowledge that concrete understanding of our world is important to allow for a frame of reference when delving into the creative world; however these subject areas are not my prime arenas.  I took the courses I needed to fulfill the general education requirements but my curiosity was not piqued much beyond that.

Quantitative Reasoning Courses Taken               Science & Technology Courses Taken

MATH 103  COLLEGE ALGEBRA                      CHEM 115 & 115L  INTRO TO CHEMISTRY & LAB

MATH 146  APPLIED CALCULUS I                    MIS 370  MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS

MATH 210  ELEMENTARY STATISTICS                       CIS 292 BUSINESS USE OF COMPUTERS

STAT 331  REGRESSION ANALYSIS

Business

The courses I took in the College of Business I am sure will prove valuable to me someday.

BUSN 350               FOUNDATIONS OF MANAGEMENT

BUSN 360               FOUNDATIONS OF MARKETING

ECON 201 & 202     PRINCIPLES OF MICROECONOMICS & MACROECONOMICS

ACCT 200 &201      ELEMENTS OF ACCOUNTING I & II

BUSN 252               REAL ESTATE FINANCE/APPRAISAL

BUSN 340               PRINCIPLES OF FINANCE

BUSN 430               LEGAL/SOCIAL ENVORINMENT

BUSN 413               BUSINESS INTERNSHIP

BUSN 431               BUSN LAW I – CONTRACTS, PROP/TORTS

Humanities & Fine Arts

My involvement in the fine arts has been extensive throughout my life.  I have been involved with choir and band from elementary school into college.  My proficiencies lie primarily as a singer, but I have also learned to play a variety of instruments as well.  I know how to play the full range of clarinets from soprano to bass.  I have practiced as a percussionist in a few ensembles.  I also have learned skills on guitar and piano well enough where I am not only proficient, but also feel competent to teach others.

My education in the fine arts extends beyond the practice room.  Several semesters in performance attendance (MUSC 180) have exposed me to a variety of musical works for a variety of arrangements.  Classes in Music History (MUSC 340/341) as well as Music Appreciation (MUSC 105) have enhanced my awareness of the rich history of western music.  These classes have not only shown me the background of music in and of itself but also the surrounding context of society and other art forms throughout history.

Other classes I have taken have helped me to understand more completely the rich musical works I experience.  Courses in musical theory (MUSC 130/131) have enhanced my understanding in the structure and arrangement of music as well as opened my mind to the possibility of composing my own works.  Aural skills (MUSC 132/133) training has given me the ability to hear more clearly and more critically.  Overall my education as a musician has improved both my ability to perform as well as to create through practice and understanding.

Wellness

The wellness courses I have chosen throughout my educational career are, for the most part, reflective of activities that I simply enjoy.  Growing up with cold North Dakota winters, I enjoy indoor games such as bowing, billiards, and darts.  I took these classes not only for the sake of the activity itself, but also to feed my competitive spirit with the hope of becoming a more effective player at these games.  However, the class I refer to most in my current life would be the skills I learned in Introduction to Social Dance.  In the Fargo area, ballroom and swing dance is becoming more and more a social outlet.  I enjoy it because it is can be a very intense activity and is an experience that can be shared simultaneously.  I have also taken First Aid & CPR (HPER 210) and plan to maintain my certified status throughout my life.

Application of Education

All the employment and educational experiences I have had throughout my life have enhanced my knowledge and competency in a variety of areas.  The biggest obstacle I have to overcome in following a vocation is to find a career that I will find fulfilling.

Currently, I am working at the Fargo Public Library as a part-time employee.  Even though I’m only part-time, the job involves a variety of tasks.  These include helping patrons find materials, checking books out to patrons, checking books in, shelving materials, handling patron fees, organizing and creating displays, making new cards, repairing damaged materials, answering a variety of patron questions, and assisting the head librarians with programs.

There is a sense of independence with this job.  I am entrusted to do my work without direct supervision.  I value that very much.  I also value the fact that most of the time I know what is expected of me.  Unlike the daycare, where I often felt chaos ensued, this job has structure and clear objectives.

I enjoy the variety and spontaneity involved with working at the library.  The first thing I do when I get to work is take a look around.  There is usually a variety of things to be done and I can choose which tasks I would like to tackle first.  Also, because there is always something to do, I never find myself stuck watching the clock.

The job is also people oriented; the patrons come first.  However, unlike my experience in customer service at the pharmacy, patrons at the library are generally more patient and optimistic.  This makes the job far more enjoyable.  I actually enjoy having a patron approach me with a question rather than begrudgingly drop what I was doing to address their needs.

Sometimes I wonder if finances are a factor in why patrons are more patient with librarians than with customer service reps.  Aside from the occasional late fee, having a library card is completely free to area residents.  Reflecting on my internship with KBMW, I liked the interaction with business owners, but I didn’t particularly like the fact that the goal was to get sponsorship from them.  To me, it felt like the role of sales rep cheapened the conversation even when no direct mention of money was made.  At the library, our intentions are laid out in our mission statement;  “We provide efficient and effective library services to meet our customer’s personal, professional and life-long learning needs.”  These are values I am proud to uphold.

I also appreciate the strong system of communication that exists among the employees at the Fargo Public Library.  Everyone is invited to attend monthly staff meetings as well as staff development functions, not only the full-time staff.  Also, every city employee is issued a city e-mail address.  This has proven to be an effective mode of communication.  It is a fast way to get a message out to all employees and my supervisors use it to its best advantage.  We are filled in with what goes on at board meetings and city council meetings in regards to the library.  Each department also submits weekly updates to as to what is going on in their particular sector.  It is a great way to keep everyone connected.

Another way employees remain connected across departments is through cross-training.  Although I am primarily a children’s services associate, I have also been trained to work on the adult side of the library as well as at the Southpointe branch.  The experiences I have had at other locations help me feel connected to a wider segment of the staff at the library and also gives me an understanding of the unique demands one finds at different locations.

Even within our own department, communication is strong.  The supervisors are kind, yet assertive with constructive criticism.  Procedures are standard so that if one employee leaves in the middle of a task, another can pick up where they left off without a hitch.  Notes are posted with dates and initials to make them clearer and to give direction if there is a question.  Librarians also consult with one another before taking action that is not standard so that everyone knows how the situation is being handled should a different employee be confronted with the same or similar situation in the future.

I think I have finally found my calling.  It has been a combination of work experience and education that has brought me here.  I observe my supervisors and it is apparent they enjoy their jobs.  I imagine myself in their positions and feel very positive about the prospect.  After this semester, I anticipate to continue working part-time at the library.  I will also find another part-time job to supplement my income, though I am not sure yet what this will be.  There are a few other jobs I would like to try out before making a full-time commitment to a career.  I have been researching various graduate programs for Library and Media Science from accredited colleges listed on the American Library Association’s website (www.ala.org).  If I find that librarianship is my calling, I anticipate pursuing my Master’s degree.  The courses involved with the programs I have examined will enhance my competency and skill as a librarian.  Having that degree will also help me either advance as an employee with the City of Fargo or find employment in a different library should I choose to relocate.  However, with the growth in the Fargo Public Library system in coming years, I anticipate advancement as a strong and favorable possibility.

According to Robert H. Keiserman, MBA and member of ALA; “Because many librarians are retiring, there is a new demand of librarians to take their place. Depending on what type of librarianship you choose, you can command a nice starting salary with much room to advance, and jobs are plentiful. … School librarians are very much in demand, as are public librarians, corporate librarians, and academic librarians.”  (http://experts.about.com/q/Librarians-2905/job-market.htm)

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