BGSU's first Winter Session a huge success

Students have a chance to catch up, make up or get ahead during January term

By Hannah Cubberly

In spring 2018, Freddie Falcon, clad in a cozy orange scarf and matching hat, appeared on sidewalks and posters across Bowling Green's campus encouraging students to pursue unique Winter Session opportunities and register for classes during the inaugural three-week January term. 

Taking advantage of the chance to "catch up, make up or get ahead," more than 1,000 graduate and undergraduate students took classes either online, on campus, or abroad with one of eight different education abroad experiences available through International Programs and Partnerships

As an education major without a specialization in a world language, junior Nichole Katzenstein thought studying abroad would not be possible during her time at BGSU. 

“When I found out about Winter Session, I searched the Education Abroad site to see if there were any trips to Spain," she said. "I was thrilled to find that a trip to Spain geared towards education majors existed. I signed up as quickly as I could.” 

Katzenstein and 10 other students from the College of Education and Human Development began their study abroad journey in the Spanish capital, Madrid, and were introduced to key elements of Spanish culture by experiencing the city-wide parade celebrating the Three Kings, visiting the Prado Museum of Art and attending a Real Madrid soccer match. 

Designed to equip students with intercultural skills and knowledge to be successful global citizens, the majority of the January semester was spent in Oviedo, a town in the northwest region of Spain. Here, Katzenstein and her classmates had the opportunity to spend a week teaching English grammar and vocabulary at Colegio Internacional Meres. The group also visited multiple other northern towns including the historic city of Covodonga, the beautiful coastal town of Luarca, and the popular city of Gijón and even spent some time in the more centrally located city of Toledo (from which Toledo, Ohio gets its name). 

The Spanish Wonderment trip was a study abroad opportunity that Katzenstein and her classmates will not soon forget.  

“What I will remember most are the connections I made there, not only with the students and teachers we interacted with but with the people of Asturias and the BGSU students that came with me,” she said “I love Spain and am so happy this Winter Session trip brought me there!” 

With seven countries — Australia, China, Curaçao, France, New Zealand, Peru, and Spain — and eight different BGSU affiliated trips to choose from, 116 students from a wide variety of disciplines studied abroad during the three-week January term while others perused exciting non-academic opportunities available a little closer to home. 

Numerous campus departments and offices — including the Career Center, Center for Community and Civic Engagement, Center for Leadership, Center for Undergraduate Research and Graduate College — presented students with unique and engaging experiential learning opportunities on and off campus. 

Career Center

The Career Center hosted Backpack to Briefcase Boot Camp, an intensive, skill building workshop that featured presentations on a variety of career-related topics including how to write a strong cover letter and resume, enhancing social media presence and negotiating job offers. Those who attended this four-day boot camp also had the opportunity to participate in mock interviews and attend an etiquette luncheon with potential employers. 

One boot camp attendee, senior Max Seeley said “As someone who is preparing to graduate in May and plans on entering a full-time position after graduation, I found the workshop as a whole extremely beneficial. In particular, I believe the ‘Preparing for Your Job Search’ presentation was especially helpful.” 

As spring commencement quickly approaches, the time has come for many graduating falcons to leverage an education from BGSU into a career. 

Programs such as Backpack to Briefcase provide students with resources and tools they need to navigate the job market and jump start their careers. Seeley hopes that in the future, there is more emphasis on workshops like Backpack to Briefcase Boot Camp in order to teach students valuable professional skills that are not always covered in the classroom. 

Center for Community and Civic Engagement

Each year, students and community members look forward to participating in MLK Day of Service organized by the Center for Community and Civic Engagement (CCCE) to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and commemorate his legacy through service. Because of Winter Session however, MLK Day of Service 2019 looked different than years past due to most students being absent from campus on January 21. 

However, that didn’t stop community members and the students who remained in Bowling Green from coming together for “a day on, not a day off” to commemorate Dr. King’s legacy. CCCE partnered with the Brown Bag Food Project to collect and distribute canned food donations to food pantries in Bowling Green and Wood County. 

With values rooted in community-based learning and civic development, CCCE is also home to Bowling Green Alternative Breaks (bGAB), a program that empowers students to become active global citizens and strives to address community-identified needs. Over Winter Session, three week-long bGAB trips took place in Illinois, Virginia, and Louisiana and included the first-ever graduate student trip as well as the first-ever flying trip. 

A group of 10 graduate students journeyed to the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago to complete service with Su Casa Catholic Worker, which included helping prepare and serve breakfast at a local soup kitchen. The participants also had the opportunity to network with other graduate students across programs and make progress on academic goals. 

In spite of the mammoth winter storm that buried Bowling Green along with most of the Midwest in snow, two bGAB trips traveled south to Richmond, Virginia, and New Orleans to work with International Rescue Committee and St. Bernard Project, respectively. 

The Richmond trip focused on refugee resettlement and also enjoyed the opportunity to meet and have dinner with BGSU alumni hosted by alumna Shelly Poole ’80 in her Richmond home. 

The other group of undergraduate students flew to New Orleans to help rebuild homes in communities still recovering from the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. While serving throughout the week, the group learned about a variety of social issues that contributed to the lasting physical, social and environmental devastation of the 2005 hurricane. The students also met with alumnus Joe Peiffer ’96 at a local New Orleans restaurant and spent some time exploring the city. 

Megan Faulkner, a graduate student who works in CCCE as bGAB Coordinator and was on the New Orleans trip, expressed her excitement about the future of bGAB and the opportunity to grow student participation. 

“Winter session enabled bGAB the opportunity to provide more week-long service opportunities,” Faulkner said. “These trips allow students to learn about a social issue in a new community while connecting with students across programs and networking with alumni from across the country.” 

In total, bGAB sent 38 students on winter trips completing more than 960 hours of community service during Winter Session. 

Center for Leadership 

The Center for Leadership seized the opportunity to host LeaderShape Institute, an intensive and energizing leadership development experience. Students had to apply to be part of the six-day program that was held at Heartland Retreat Center during the final week of Winter Session. The participants came from a wide range of majors and many were in their sophomore or junior year at BGSU. 

The LeaderShape experience is designed to cultivate student leaders and help them build their vision for how to improve BGSU and the larger campus community. 

“LeaderShape is a truly eye-opening experience no matter where you are on the leadership spectrum,” said LeaderShape participant Liz Massien, a sophomore biochemistry major. 

“Initially, I thought that I knew a lot about leadership, so I was skeptical about how much more I was going to get out of it," Massien said. "In the end, I was honestly blown away with how much I took away from that experience.” 

Overall, participants agreed that because of LeaderShape, they made lasting connections with other student leaders and were excited to learn how to put their vision and passion into action in order to create positive change at BGSU.

Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship

With a drive to encourage students from all disciplines to engage in meaningful research and a desire to foster the research culture amongst students, faculty, administrators, alumni, and members of the greater BGSU community, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (CURS) provided students the opportunity to apply for Winter CURS Grants to help fund research projects. 

During late fall semester, my research team completed one of the 16 research project proposals that were submitted to CURS be considered for a Winter CURS Grant. 

As a CURS Winter Grant Recipient, I was afforded the opportunity to continue to work on a larger research project that began during fall semester 2018 and will continue through spring semester 2019. My research team is comprised of faculty and fellow undergraduate students and we used the three-week session to code newspaper articles. After our team has finished collecting qualitative data, we will test our hypotheses to determine if the female gubernatorial candidates, received disproportionate coverage compared to their male counterparts leading up to the 2018 election. 

Thanks to the additional time we dedicated to the research project during Winter Session, we aim to finish this project and present our research at the spring Center for Undergraduate Research Symposium. If our team uncovers statistically significant findings about the prevalence of disproportionate media coverage of female candidates in the 2018 gubernatorial election in Ohio, we will be contributing to a robust body of existing literature and research that has documented the transformation of political media coverage towards women over the last half a century. 

Graduate College 

The Graduate College and Learning Commons teamed up to sponsor a Dissertation Boot Camp that provided students with access to writing consultants from around campus, including two current Ph.D students from the Rhetoric and Writing program, to work on different aspects of the dissertation. 

The six students who participated in the Boot Camp found the experience beneficial and provided positive feedback to Graduate Outreach and Student Success Coordinator, Dr. Jennifer Sayre. One of the participants, Andrea Hauser, enjoyed having two days over winter session to completely dedicate to working on her dissertation and hopes that a similar event is offered again next year.