Up close and personal

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been emailing and scheduling private interviews with professors, and consequently doing a lot of house calls.

In addition to the added cardio I’ve been getting from running around campus, I’ve been hearing a lot of new perspectives from some of IUP’s brightest and most distinguished faculty.

Throughout the duration of this process we’ve been trying to interview people as a group, enabling participants to feel more comfortable, bounce ideas off each other, and allowing us to knock out more than one person per facilitation.

Switching gears and doing more private interviews has definitely been an entirely different experience. I feel a more personalized connection, which has been both good and bad. In a one-on-one setting, I have noticed professors speak more candidly and freely, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s because they don’t have to worry about defending their ideas or positions to other participants.  This has resulted in some really honest answers, which is exactly what we’re looking for.

Doing all private interviews really isn’t feasible, and I think there are benefits to both methods. It really also depends on the person you’re talking to. Sometimes in group interviews certain people dominate the conversation while others don’t seem as eager to participate. One way that we’ve been able to still get results from those who are less eager to express ideas out loud is having them write down their thoughts on our question outline.

Being able to conduct interviews, whether privately or as a group, has given me a better perspective on the way people communicate. It has sharpened my people skills and thickened my skin, especially when conducting a private interview with anyone who is skeptical of our project.

The best way to silence the doubters is by asking for their opinion.  The only thing we can do is keep talking to people, and if you ask me, I think pretty soon they’ll be talking about us too.

–By Juliette Rapp

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Hailey Crowley, Brittany Madera and Melissa Esing on WIUP-FM 90.1

Radio Stardom, Here We Come!

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We were on WIUP-FM 90.1 again, and this time went much better.

You never realize how much energy it takes to talk by yourself for an hour until you do it. And then, once I had other people down in the radio station studio with me, I was eager to hand off a lot of the talking to them.

We learned how to play songs on their equipment as well, which helped out. It gave us a chance to shut our mics off, catch our breaths or have a drink of water, think about what we could be doing better and talk about what we should mention next.

The hour went by quickly, and I think we’re all excited. We have big plans in the works for our next time.

Remember, we’ll be on next Monday, July 8, from 3 – 4 p.m. on WIUP-FM 90.1. Be sure to listen in. We’ll be having a contest that involves our listeners calling into the radio station! Chat with us about what makes IUP special.

-Brittany Madera

Faculty Mambers

Today we realized it’s crunch time. With our thermometor chart depicting the number of faculty members we’ve reached at below freezing temperatures, the room felt extra chilly. With a limited amount of time and a limited amount of faculty members left on campus, it was clear that we needed to revise our methods.

We decided to divide the work, assigning each intern five or so departments that they would be in charge of getting in contact with. With my list in hand, it seemed like a good idea to write a template email and send it out to every professor in each of my assigned departments, adressing each professor by name, enabling for a personal touch.

After constructing a satisfactory draft, I checked over the final product, correcting typo’s (or so I thought) and checking for any punctuation errors. I then began copy and pasting the template into email after email, changing the name at the top and email address for each new recipient. My biggest concern was misspelling anyone’s name because I knew that taking the time to spell a persons name right could be the difference between a sloppy, generic email and a genuine, personalized one. I plowed through my assigned list so quickly that I took on another intern’s department, feeling confident that I was sending out warm and inviting emails that would generate a lot of responses.

Thinking I was done for the day I began to pack up my belongs when Michele told me she recieved a response to one of my emails. I thought it was odd considering I sent them from my personal account, but my emotions quickly turned from confusion to sheer embarassment as Michele read the email out loud. The professor sent the response to both myself and Michele, pointing out two spelling errors and telling me to be more careful next time.

I immediately considered the situation. I sent out 50+ emails misspelling the word members as mambers and the word convenience. I sent these emails to all faculty members, some of which I have had for class and most of which included the title “Dr.”. I imagined my copy-editing class from freshman year. I imagined Randy Jesick drawing a big red zero on my computer screen. I imagined changing my name and fleeing the country. I wondered if I would enjoy my new life traveling with the circus. I wondered where the nearest rock was and how fast I could climb under it. I even fought back a few tears. After a small emotional break-down and making Melissa check my email to see if all the other professors responded by highlighting my errors, I decided to get a grip. Running away from your mistakes will never make them disappear and beating yourself up will not solve anything. I’m embarassed by my mistakes because I hold myself to a higher standard than spelling errors in a professional email, but I made them. It happened. I was not careful enough and I have to deal with the consequences. I considered sending a follow up email with the two errors followed by an asterisk (half jokingly), but Michele pointed out that not every one will notice the mistakes and not to draw attention to them. The way I see it, as long as I secure some interviews I’ve done my job, so I’ll put my pride aside and hope that not all the faculty mambers will focus my mistakes and will instead notice I spelled their names correctly.

Juliette Rapp

What’s All the Buzz About?

RAPP

Juliette Rapp

Diversity. Integrity. Character. Excellence.

If you have ever applied to college, you have seen these words. They sound strong, reassuring, like the kind of words you would want other people to use when describing you, whether it be as an individual or an organization.

I personally feel that the description you give yourself is not nearly as credible as the description given to you by others. Although no one knows you better than yourself, it’s hard to remain an observer and create unbiased conclusions when so much of what we think and do is based off of our feelings and personal goals.

Today in the office, we were politely asked assigned  to research the mission and value statements from other Universities. I heard A LOT about diverse learning opportunities, upholding standards of excellence, and maintaining integrity. While all these things are good and well, nothing stuck. Each university’s statement felt interchangeable, and to be quite honest – like a load of B.S. I’m not saying they were dishonest, because they aren’t, I’m just saying that none of these values distinguished or set any school apart from each other because these are all the same values that any university aims to represent. Are these the values that the students, faculty, community members and alumni feel are an accurate portrayal of the school, or are these buzz words created by a PR team to sell students and parents?

I’m not saying that there’s a problem with a PR team using buzz words (because that’s what were about to do) but the exciting and awesome thing about this whole strategic visioning process is that we aren’t the ones who will be creating them. They will be a culmination of (hopefully) thousands of opinions from anyone with any relation to IUP. They will be the direct reflection of what we are, told by the people, to the people.

We aren’t going to sit and tell you why we think we’re special; we’re going to let you hear it from everyone who knows it from experience. Don’t just take the manufacturer’s word for it, because we’re here to show you the reviews.

-Juliette Rapp

Learning To Swim

Juliette Rapp

Juliette Rapp

When Michelle announced to our class that we would be working side by side with President Driscoll and be active participants in the strategic visioning process, I felt overwhelmed and excited at the same time. I knew it was going to be a huge opportunity for both myself and my fellow classmates but I also knew it wasn’t going to be a joke and would require dedication to the project.
Although I consider myself to be outgoing, when the time came for the first group facilitation I had butterflies in my stomach. Myself and two other classmates, like toddlers learning to swim, were tossed into the middle of The Rivers Club in Pittsburgh by Michelle to facilitate a group comprised of President Driscoll, his wife and a handful of distinguished alumni.
To combat my nerves I took a deep breath, and once I was immersed, instead of drowning like I expected to, suddenly I began swimming through the questions as if I had known how to ask them all my life. Speaking came naturally, and I realized that we would never have been put in this position if our professor didn’t think we were capable of not only rising to the challenge but also surpassing it.

-Juliette Rapp