Leaving an E360 Legacy

If you’ve ever walked into the Center for Student Professional Development office (CSPD) or had any questions about the E360 experiential learning program, chances are you met Darrah Mugrauer. Darrah served as the director of the E360 program for Delaware Valley University for three years and is leaving a legacy here at DelVal as she moves on to a new opportunity.

Darrah started working with the E360 program in 2013 but was at DelVal since 2010. She has been here since the start of the E360 program and has really helped it become what it is today.

“I feel a little bit of ownership with it because I’ve worked in the program since it started,” said Darrah.

The E360 program helps students to gain experience before entering their respective fields after college. Darrah believes that the E360 program is so important because it allows students to reflect and talk about those experiences before deciding what they want to do. It also allows students to create connections within their field. 

As the E360 program director, Darrah got to work closely with students to see how experiential learning prepares students for after college.

“I got to work with students and hear all the things they have done. I think the nature of a lot of our majors at DelVal are very different from the experiences that I had as a student,” said Darrah reflecting on her favorite part of working on the E360 program.

When she first started at DelVal the E360 program wasn’t as well known on campus, but Darrah made it her goal to increase understanding around the program and teach students what experiential learning really is. Thanks to Darrah and her team, E360 was not only known on campus, but known on the national level as well. After working to develop the program, E360 was recognized nationally earning the National Society of Experimental Education’s Program of the Year award in 2019.

“The whole institution is committed to helping students get this hands-on experience,” added Darrah when talking about how the program earned the national award.

So, what’s next for Darrah? She will be working at The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) as the Director of Initiatives for Higher Education. CAEL is a nonprofit that works to improve education-career pathways for adults. With this job, she will help experiential learning grow by working with campuses nationwide.

“I’m looking forward to that because I feel really strongly about how people’s experiences can help them be better in the workforce,” she said.

While DelVal is sad to see Darrah go, she has left a legacy of her own within the E360 program.

Darrah hopes that over her time at DelVal she has helped teach the campus a little bit more about experiential learning.

“I hope that I have made connections with people that have allowed them to step outside of their comfort zone,” she added.

Darrah has made a tremendous impact on the experiential learning program here at Delaware Valley University. From winning a national award with the program, to helping students and staff understand experiential learning, Darrah has accomplished so much in her 12 years at DelVal. We are sad to see her go, but excited for her new opportunity and continued mission to help others learn more about experiential learning.

Written by: Emma Monismith

Student Spotlight: Hailey Christman

When it comes to finding a silver lining, this senior Media and Communication major is one of the pros. After facing a career-ending injury and surgery on her hip, she was not cleared by medical professionals to join the women’s wrestling team. But she wasn’t going to let that stop her from being part of the team. Her love for photography and marketing and passion for women’s wrestling landed her an internship that still allowed her to be a part of the team without putting herself at risk for further injury.

Meet Hailey Rae Christman: Women’s Wrestling Media & Marketing Director.

After receiving the news that she would not be able to compete on the wrestling team, Hailey communicated with the coaches that she would still like to find a way to be a part of the team since it meant so much to her. They were able to discuss Hailey’s numerous strengths in the field of media and she got to work right away. Some of Hailey’s responsibilities as the Media and Marketing Director for the wrestling team include attending all practices, taking photos, creating video segments, and promoting events that the team will be hosting or attending.

“Another thing I do during a typical day is research to see how other DelVal sports teams advertise on their social media pages,” she said. “I want to see where we are compared to them and get ideas since this is my first time running a DelVal sports team social media page.”

That isn’t nearly all she has to juggle, however. Hailey is also a Resident Assistant in South Hall and a student in DelVal’s 4+1 program, meaning she is working toward getting a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in only five years (find out more about that here!).
On top of those, she’s also a member of the EBA Media club and the Vice President of DelVal’s FeelGood chapter. Hailey mentioned that her level of commitment, dedication, and determination to manage her time efficiently all contribute to her ability to handle doing so many extracurricular activities at once.

“I really enjoy what I do for my internship, and I know the positive impact it has on the team which is another reason why I can balance everything so well,” she said.

Hailey hopes to use this experience to get her foot in the door to work in marketing for clothing lines, as well as other companies someday. She will be finishing her undergraduate Media and Communication bachelor’s degree in the Spring of 2022 and officially graduating with her master’s degree in Management and Leadership Organization Skills in the Spring of 2023.

Written by: Brynn Miller

Student Spotlight: Brandon James

Meet Brandon James. Brandon is a senior biology major at Delaware Valley University and has enjoyed just about every minute of being on campus. He knew DelVal was the school for him before he even got here.

“What really attracted me to DelVal was the small class sizes and the overall feel of the campus,” James said. “It really felt like a warm community, where I knew I’d be safe and welcome”.  

As part of the E360 program, James completed both DelVal Experience I and II as a freshman and found it to be helpful in getting him adjusted to the university and in offering guidance and great tips and tricks for interviewing and building his resume.  In addition, his DelVal Experience class helped him take steps toward landing his first internship. 

As a biology major, James was interested in doing Independent Student Research projects in order to gain valuable experience in his field. “My E360 experience allowed me to get exposure to techniques that I wouldn’t have been able to learn in the classroom because of how research intensive it is.”

Some of the experience that James gained in his E360 experiences involved studying photosynthesis in plants and how global warming affects stress on plants possibly leading to extinction of certain species.  He also measured growth rates of cervical cancer cells in a laboratory and conducted important research regarding genetic editing.  Because DelVal offered James this lab experience through E360, he received a fellowship at Jackson Laboratories in Bar Harbor, Maine, during the Summer of 2021.  This experience not only furthered his knowledge and education, it also gave James the opportunity to broaden his network and meet professionals in his field. 

When asked what his views overall on the E360 program, James didn’t hesitate. “What’s really awesome about E360 is that I got credit for learning new techniques and getting experience in my field of Biology before I graduate.”

If that’s not a ringing endorsement of E360, I don’t know what is!

Written by: Brian Saglimben

Student Spotlight: Miranda Keefe

What are you passionate about? This is not really a question that is commonly asked, but more one that is more rhetorical. After speaking with senior Restaurant and Foodservice Management major and Business Administration minor, Miranda Keefe, she explained that you can be passionate about more than one concept or life skill. You can’t go through life without any experience, especially if you want to create a name for yourself. By adding in a little bit of personality, passion, and practice a person can get far, especially when it comes down to starting on your career path and Keefe is on the right trail!

Baking has always been a hobby and passion for Keefe. During her time in high school, she was enrolled in culinary school, which allowed her to complete high school as well as enjoy something that she likes participating in. From there she found herself applying to DelVal because of the merit scholarship she received as well as the fact that they had a well-known food science department and program. Keefe has learned numerous new key concepts from her classes like Food Distribution, Food, Culture, and Cuisine, and even Supervision and Management. What is truly amazing is that she can apply the skills she learned in classes and labs to the real world. However, on top of the knowledge gained from classes, one piece of advice that Keefe mentioned that should be taken into account is “the more hands-on experience the better”, which luckily is something every DelVal student will receive due to the Experience360 Program.

In her last year before graduating this coming May 2022, Keefe has completed two internships through the E360 program to fulfill her requirement. Her final internship at Le Macaron French Pastries in Doylestown is where she made a positive impact on the business and herself. She used her hardworking mindset, business knowledge, and determination to get her to where she is now; a manager for that specific location. She explained that her internship “started [her] career on the management side of the food industry”, and now she is thinking of potentially pursuing this path. Additionally, she learned professional communication skills through her internship, as well as being a member (Co-Food Executive) of the A-Day committee. A-Day is a three-day student run fair that takes place on DelVal’s campus. From her experience so far in A-Day, Keefe has communicated professionally with potential food vendors, DelVal staff and faculty, and has even learned how to format and send out professional contracts. Students can earn .5 credits for being involved with A-Day, which can be put towards E360. Being a member of the DelVal community gives students the chance to learn what they are passionate about and opportunities to establish who they are and want to be.

Besides her academics and professional experiences, Keefe is an extremely well-rounded individual. She is involved in numerous clubs and organizations on campus like A-Day, Food Industry Club, Impact Club, Delta Tau Alpha (a national agricultural honor society), and FeelGood. When she is not managing Le Macaron French Pastries in town or attending club meetings, she enjoys baking, kicking around a soccer ball, and just enjoying the outdoors. One of the many reasons she loves DelVal is because the campus is so green and the agriculture emphasis. It would be pretty impossible to create food without growing the ingredients… right? One tip that Keefe wants all students to know is that you need to create a balance between school and your social life. While keeping your grades up is important, if you don’t give yourself a break it can cause a negative effect on your schoolwork. With her time at DelVal, she has developed friendships that she sees lasting a lifetime and has made connections through networking with individuals in her department, DelVal alumni, and on LinkedIn that have helped her to get to where she is now and where she may want to go in the future.

People can change their minds about what they want to do in the future; Keefe certainly has. Through her experiences inside and outside of the classroom, she has figured out her strengths and weaknesses, her passions, and what she may want to do after graduating. Currently, she plans to work in food safety auditing, quality assurance, or conducting health inspections in food facilities. With her combined background knowledge and personal experience, Keefe has plenty of potential options for what she will do after her time at Delaware Valley University.

Written by: Brooke Farber

Blogging advice from “The Breakfast Club”

On Thursday, December 2, the Elements of Blogging I and II classes had their last full staff meeting of the year. This was a bittersweet time for all of the members because we knew it would be our last time in an official blogging class. Each student in the Elements of Blogging class II was an original founder and editor of the Full360 blog and have seen it grow since the very beginning with our ideas. We spent so much time together and worked so closely, we dubbed ourselves “The Breakfast Club”. This semester we saw the blog grow even more with our experience and ideas from the newest class of blogging students. In addition, each student in Elements of Blogging I creates and manages a personal blog with the topic of their choice. As we were all talking about the Full360 blog and just having a good time in our last class, Professor Katie Carnevale suggested that we go around and give some advice to future bloggers who will be taking Elements of Blogging in the upcoming semesters. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to take some notes and write a blog about it. So here is some advice from the founding Full360 bloggers to future bloggers at Delaware Valley University!

Founding members of the Full360 blog., AKA “The Breakfast Club”.

One of the first things we talked about, which came from Brian Saglimben, is how you should be writing about what you’re passionate about. This makes writing so much easier and more fun for the blogger. Writing within boundaries, like we did for the Full360 blog, is always hard because there are only so many things you can write about one topic. But we all discussed how our personal blogs were really able to balance the topics out because we had themes outside of DelVal to write about, but also themes that would benefit our DelVal community that we enjoyed writing for as well.

Eric Hitch then brought up how it really helped him to plan ahead when writing blogs. Things can really pile up when you have deadlines and topics to write about and it can easily get overwhelming when you’re writing for the Full360 blog, but also your personal blog as well. He always thought that having those deadlines for class and planning ahead helped in order to not procrastinate.

The Elements of Blogging class worked hard to launch the Full360 blog during the spring 2021 semester.

Izzy Gisondi mentioned a similar point that helped her as well. She said that she likes to keep self-imposed deadlines when working on her blog posts. Whether it’s for the Full360 blog or her personal blog, she likes to plan out chunks of writing to do in order to space out the assignments and not overwhelm herself. I think this would be really helpful if you want to keep up with your own personal blog when over summer break and even after the blogging class is over. Just because you don’t have anyone giving you set deadlines for posts, doesn’t mean you can’t continue writing! You’ll just have to create some kind of calendar in order to keep up with posting on a regular basis.

Another thing we talked about today was how the Elements of Blogging classes aren’t just for media majors and can be beneficial for so many more majors and people. Hannah Seltzer was the one to bring this up and she mentioned that blogging and just refining your writing style can be so helpful for so many different people. This class allows you to reach out to people and make connections that you may have not made before and increase your chances of meeting new and interesting people. Hannah suggested that anyone take this class and really keep an open mind when writing the posts. We all couldn’t agree more!

Another piece of advice I would give to blog writers is to rely on your classmates! They are there for you and you should also be there for them when you’re all doing a project in class. Don’t be afraid to give ideas to them or offer a contact or connection to them because they will likely have ideas and contacts for you in return. I’ve never been in a class before where I relied this heavily on my classmates or got along with them this well.

Being in the Elements of Blogging class has been so rewarding and so much fun. I got to know so many great people and made amazing connections in the class as well as outside the class. I hope this list of advice helps! Happy blogging!

Written by: Miller Huertgen (Full360 founding student editor)

“Your Greatest Weakness”: Answering One of the Toughest Interview Questions

The interview process can be terrifying and can easily lead to overthinking. You never know which questions you’ll be asked or how the interviewer expects you to respond. That said, there is one question I have been asked in every single interview I have ever been a part of, and it’s also one of the most difficult to answer: What would you say your greatest weakness is? You don’t want to come across as having a lack of confidence by describing things you aren’t good at, nor do you want to appear overconfident by not having an answer at all. So, how do you answer this?

Choose something that can be turned into a positive – but not in an insincere way.

Things like “I’m a perfectionist” or “I work too hard” are overused at this point and seem very forced and scripted. Think about something related to the position that you’re eager to learn more about, and mention that you’d like to gain more experience. This shows the interviewer that you’re not only self-aware but willing to learn.

Find a weakness that is not directly related.

For example, if you are interviewing for a social media management position, you wouldn’t want to say that you have never used a social media platform or that you aren’t familiar with certain content creation sites. You might want to say something pertaining to understanding the mathematical side of the analytics on social media instead. Then, you can add that you are taking courses or other measures that will help you to better understand these things. It’s important that the interviewer see the lengths you are willing to go to improve your skills, and there’s no better way to do that than being one step ahead.

Choose something that does not interfere with your ability to succeed at the position.

These weaknesses include organization skills, public speaking, patience, etc. Sure, it can be annoying, but having a messy desk is not going to make you the world’s worst architect. Not being able to deliver a perfect speech in front of a massive audience is not going to be detrimental to your chances of being a veterinarian technician. These are all things that can easily be improved upon. It also shows that you can be honest with the interviewer which is super important!

This can be one of the most intimidating interview questions you are ever asked. It’s vital to be honest with both yourself and the interviewer, without being so hard on yourself that you come across as not having the necessary skills to succeed in the position. Many students have been taught to use things like perfectionism or working too hard, but those responses have quickly become overused. Try not to overthink your response too much – find a skill you’d like to improve upon and run with it. Your interviewer will appreciate the honesty and self-awareness you display! Good luck!

Written by: Brynn Miller

The Winter Break Withdrawals

As I shut my laptop finishing up the last assignment for the semester, I am filled with relief. It won’t take much time to get comfortable laying in my sweatpants with a cup of hot chocolate by the fireplace. As the first week melts away, the feeling of wasted time has already sunk in. As any college student who has an extensive winter break knows it can be hard to manage that time wisely. I am here to help you deal with this feeling and advise you on how to stay on track.

The First Week of Break

I strongly recommend taking a whole solid week to intentionally relax. Whether that means taking less hours at work or sleeping until noon, taking this time will benefit you. Spending time with family and friends is important when you have been going strong for such a long time. Taking the time to mentally reset will benefit you much more in the long run. It may be interesting or helpful to you to grab a journal and write down some lessons learned from the semester or goals and objectives you may have moved forward. Having a physical list will help you begin to feel accomplished and that you are making progress.

Using Your Time Wisely

It is so helpful to set goals for yourself for break and the spring semester before it arrives. For some, taking a winter course is extremely useful to stay in the school-mode without wearing yourself out. This can help you feel less overwhelmed and not jump into panic mode when school starts again. Once you begin to get lost in your time and spend it hiding away it makes the process to go back so much more difficult. What I have found helpful is writing down assignments in my planner the second that the syllabus for each class is available. Looking ahead at expectations I have for myself helps prepare me for what is to come. If you are the type of person who needs an entire month to absolutely nothing, then do it. At the end of the day, you know what works best for you and your own personal work ethic.

First Week Back

Break always flies by and we find ourselves back in the classroom like we never left. The temptation is to do nothing during the first week back is real and strong. I am guilty of this myself but if you start small with assignments and looking ahead at projects you won’t be surprised when your professor announces that the due date is a week away. Trying to keep the fire ignited that you practiced burning over break will be so worth it when school starts. Rather than feeling rusty and overwhelmed, you’ll feel warmed up and ready to go!

Written by: Isabel Gisondi

Planning Not to Plan

As a college student you get sick of hearing the age-old question:

“What are your plans for after you graduate?”

And after answering this question an uncountable number of times over the years, sick is actually an understatement.

Most people that ask expect us to have an answer even before we’ve even stepped foot in our first college course and also expect that same answer when we step out of our last one. I can tell you as a college senior that as good as it is to have a plan, it can be just as good not to have one. Above that, it is totally fine not to have one.

This is not to say that having a plan isn’t helpful or sometimes important to certain scenarios. But the pressure of getting a job right out of school, getting a job in your field of study, or knowing exactly what you want to accomplish can hold much less power over you. How many people do you know have a job in a completely different field from what they studied are satisfied where they ended up? How many stories have you heard of students that get jobs right out of school and end up hating them? 

There is a give and take here but, in my experience, letting go of certain stressors where you can will only help you to accomplish the goals you’ve set for yourself. A job right out of school in your field of studied doesn’t have to be one of them. So, the next time someone asks about your after-school plans, remember it is okay if:

  • You want to pick-up part-time jobs for awhile
  • You don’t have a plan
  • You want to work a random job just to save enough to travel
  • You want to accept the first job offer you get
  • You want to turn down the first job offer you get
  • You want to go back to school
  • You are just excited to graduate

No matter how many times you may be asked, and how many times your answer changes, there is nothing wrong with changing your path. I think that because this pressure is all around, it can be hard to make decisions that benefit us. For example, you are two years into a biology degree when you decide your heart isn’t in it. The choice to switch career paths takes longer than it should because there is a fear surrounding realizing that what you had originally planned is not the plan anymore. Or perhaps you figure out that you have no idea what you want to do. The fear is there because you know how many times you’ll be asked about it and feel like you don’t have an answer.

It is okay not to have an answer.

It is okay if your plan is not to have a plan.

It is okay if you just don’t know.

When preparing for your next interview, or searching for jobs as a senior in college, remember that it is never too late to change your mind, make a change, turn down a job, or accept one. The only path that matters is the one that you make for yourself!

Written by: Hannah Seltzer

Student Spotlight: Natalie Ratzke

Here at Delaware Valley University, there are plenty of connections and resources available for students to utilize in order to find an internship. The Experience360 program requires all students to have some kind of hands-on experience that relates to their major and the career they want to pursue. I recently spoke to DelVal senior Natalie Ratzke about her experience as an intern at the local Elmwood Park Zoo.

As part of their E360 requirements, Zoo Science majors at DelVal participate in one animal care and one animal education experience. Though many of these students get internships at Elmwood Park Zoo, DelVal also has connections to the Adventure Aquarium, Lehigh Valley Zoo, Philadelphia Zoo, and the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel. Natalie was originally accepted into the Academy of Natural Science at Drexel, but that opportunity was ultimately canceled in the Summer of 2020 due to COVID. But lucky for her, she had a connection through her job at the Barn Nature Center, where her boss knew one of the hiring staff members at the Elmwood Park Zoo, Natalie was able to submit her resume and get an interview because of this connection. She was also able to secure the Elmwood Park Zoo internship in a different way than her classmates.

Natalie has been primarily working in the zoo’s ambassador education and conservation education departments. She works a lot with the show animals and is able to show them to the visitors who come through the zoo. She especially liked working in the “breakfast with the giraffes” area, where visitors can pay to have breakfast next to the giraffe enclosure and feed them as well.

Elmwood Park Zoo is one of DelVal’s most solid connections for zoo science students. They have been taking student interns for a long time and many of the interns get lined up for jobs right after they graduate. Natalie explained that other students in different majors at DelVal also have internships at Elmwood Park Zoo, as the zoo has a number of different departments including business and advertising. This allows for even more opportunities within DelVal’s community to gain experience and have fulfilling internships.

Written by Miller Huertgen