Adapting to Change: Dr. William B. Robison

The COVID-19 situation has permeated the world, but instead of succumbing to it, Americans have been banding together to overcome the threat it poses to both health and our way of life. This has been particularly evident within our Southeastern community, with faculty, staff, and students all working together and demonstrating their commitment to offering or pursuing a quality education.

Dr. William B. Robison, professor of history and department head of the Department of History and Political Sciences (HIPS), is one of the hundreds of faculty members who has adapted quickly to the situation in order to continue to meet students’ academic needs. “Although I would much prefer to teach my classes in person, particularly because they were very good classes this semester, adapting to online instruction and work from home has gone smoothly,” he said. “As Department Head of the Department of History and Political Science, I am very fortunate that most faculty in the department have taught online classes and that the few who have not done so were quick to seek assistance from the Center for Faculty Excellence or tech-savvy graduate students.”

In transitioning to fully remote instruction, William has been recording lectures using voiceover with Keynote slides and uploading them to YouTube along with posting their URLs in Moodle, hosting forum discussions on Moodle, and conducting meetings through GoogleMeet and Zoom. He also plans to begin occasionally incorporating GoogleMeet into his courses.

For William, who commented on the high level of participation in class discussion he had been able to enjoy until going remote, the lack of human contact has been his biggest obstacle to overcome. To help stay connected as best as possible, he has been keeping in touch with students and faculty by using email, messaging, the department’s Facebook page, and telephone.

Online courses may not be what students originally signed up, but William has noticed only strength, integrity, and dedication from students. “Contrary to the infuriating and inaccurate stereotype of contemporary university students as entitled ‘snowflakes,’ my students all have taken the situation in stride,” he said. “Of course they are not thrilled at the threat COVID-19 poses, and most of my students have told me they miss the face-to-face contact, but they have not complained or neglected their work.”

William also discussed how fellow faculty have been meeting this difficult time head-on. “The COVID-19 crisis has been a challenging mixture of devastation and uncertainty, but faculty are doing their jobs. We take a lot of pride in doing it right,” he said.

Reflecting on the situation, William commented that “Nothing much has surprised me. Our administration, faculty, staff, and students have responded well, as I would have expected. What I have learned is that we are a pretty resilient group of people. The experience has also reconfirmed for me that when the chips are down, Americans for the most part put aside their many divisions, political and otherwise, and do what needs to be done to survive and help others. That has been a great source of encouragement for me during this tough time.”

Adapting to Change: Erin Rode-Fiorello

During difficult times, one can either inactively wait for the situation to pass or adapt and overcome the challenges presented, creating a positive influence in not only their own life but in the lives of others. Across the board Southeastern faculty, staff, and students have been meeting the sweeping challenges created by COVID-19 head-on. One of these many members of our Southeastern community who has been adapting to the situation is Erin Rode-Fiorello, instructor and undergraduate coordinator for the General Studies Program.

Like others Erin is currently working from home, meshing the determination to work as hard as possible to meet the needs of students with taking care of two boys while her husband continues to work outside of the home as an essential employee. For Erin, who has online instruction experience and was already teaching some online courses, the most difficult part of needing to go remote has been the transition to working from home. “I enjoy being on campus and being in the community-like work environment that is Southeastern’s campus. Now my ‘co-workers’ are my two boys, Sawyer (five years old) and Parker (two years old), which makes for a totally different if not sometimes loud and distracting work environment,” she said.

ErinRode-Fiorellocr3To overcome this challenge that many parents now find themselves facing, Erin said that she created a new daily routine. “It includes things like a nature walk in the morning so we all can get some fresh air and a nap time for the boys so that I can work without being interrupted every five minutes. I also check my email throughout the day so I do not miss any important messages as well as wake up early and stay up late as needed to complete my work tasks.”

While creating a routine has been very helpful, Erin has found that incorporating some flexibility and remembering to focus on the bigger picture has also become an important part of achieving success during this difficult time. “To be honest, I’ve had a couple of truly overwhelming moments,” she explained. “That is hard for me to admit because my Type A personality doesn’t like anything less than perfection, but I keep reminding myself this is the perfect time to remember that we are not perfect and I need focus on what I can control instead of the things that are out of my control. I’ve also made a point to find the positive and treasured moments each day. My boys, at this young age, are so eager to learn and experience everything. Our world may be limited to our house and the yard around it, but the adventures are boundless and I’ve surprised myself with how flexible I can be when something comes up that wasn’t in the plan for the day. I’m learning more about how to let go and go with the flow while still maintaining a routine.”

Witnessing how others throughout our Lion Family have come together during this time has also particularly made an impact on Erin, who is additionally not only an alumna but has been a part of the Southeastern community since attending summer camp on campus as a child. “I have noticed students, faculty, and staff responding with grace, understanding, flexibility, and kindness. This is one of the many reasons I love Southeastern so much,” she said. “I’ve witnessed amazing changes and growth that all universities experience, but at the heart of our University is the community and family that is Southeastern. The support and help that is given to each other through whatever may come our way, be it 9/11, a hurricane, a flood, or Covid-19, we get through it together.”

Adapting to Change: Allie Gressaffa

Southeastern students have been adjusting to the necessary changes that have been set in place by the university and government leaders to help protect the health and safety of the people in our community during COVID-19.  Allie Gressaffa, a senior Elementary Education major for grades 1-5, shared her experience with these changes.

Allie started student teaching in the fall of 2019 and planned to continue it until May 2020. She is a student teacher at Bonne Ecole Elementary in Slidell, Louisiana.  Her student teaching has been “suspended until further notice” due to COVID-19.

During these unusual times, Allie’s supervisors and professors have been in regular contact with her through her Southeastern Email, Moodle, and Google Meet. The professors are using this as a teaching experience.  Allie said the student teachers are learning “how we can learn from this time to help our classroom and future students.”

IMG_12281Through this experience and being a student teacher, Allie has learned that “students of all ages are being affected by this.” On March 22, 2020, Allie had the opportunity to participate in a “BEE Superstar Car Parade” with teachers from Bonne Ecole Elementary. The teachers were each in their own cars and followed a neighborhood map. The teachers decorated their cars and waved to students and their parents. She said, “we were so excited just to see how much our students miss us; [it] was so moving. I am so excited to go back to school if that is in the works and able to happen.”

Allie was planning on graduating in the spring of 2020.  She said that “it is upsetting because [we] still want our moment and want to be recognized, because we put in so much work into this, but we are all doing the best that we can and being as flexible as possible.”

As part of Southeastern’s efforts to find a solution to this difficult situation, Allie received an email to participate in a survey from the Student Government Association (SGA) president, Karley Bordelon, about options regarding the time of graduation. The options included to graduate at the end of the summer of 2020, the end of the fall in 2020, not participate in graduation, and another option for students to add their own idea of a solution. Although it may not be in the exact manner they originally envisioned when embarking upon their academic journey, Southeastern and the SGA are committed to still helping these students celebrate their accomplishments in the best way possible, while ensuring the health and safety of them, their loved ones, and of everyone in our community.

Adapting to Change: Brooke Giaratano

Students across the country are adapting to changes due to COVID-19 and transitioning to remote classes for the remainder of the semester, and students at Southeastern Louisiana University are no exception.

Communication sciences and disorders graduate student Brooke Giaratano, of Ponchatoula, graduated from Southeastern in December 2019 with a bachelor of science degree in communication sciences and disorders. She is currently a graduate assistant for Southeastern’s Tutoring Center.

Brooke has experienced new modes of learning as well as ways to help other students through the challenges that COVID-19 has brought this semester.

She said that this experience has been a challenge in the sense of “keeping up with your assignments,” but she has overcome this challenge by “sticking to a healthy routine just as you would when having face-to-face classes.” Brooke is also using resources, such as Google Calendar, while adapting to online classes.

The professors in communication sciences and disorders have provided Brooke with support through Southeastern email, Moodle, Google Meet, and Google Classroom. Additionally, they have provided an opportunity to create student interaction online through discussion boards and have been in frequent contact with their students, continuing to be available during office hours to meet any educational needs.

Brooke expressed her gratitude for the support and being able to use Google Meet.

“This has been helpful in maintaining a form of community and normalcy,” she said. “Google Meet also gives us opportunities to ask questions during lectures, just as we would in a face-to-face format.”

She has not only used Google Meet for interaction and participation during classes, but she has also used it when meeting with classmates to complete group projects or to have study groups.

Brooke has taken an opportunity to use many resources Southeastern has provided to continue to support her education, as well as help bring educational experiences to others. As a graduate assistant for the Tutoring Center, she helps students attend tutoring sessions online through Google Meet.

She said Southeastern’s Tutoring Center is offering a valuable resource for undergraduate students who need tutoring through Google Meet for select courses. Students can find the calendar for drop-in tutoring sessions on Southeastern’s website.

“This is a great opportunity for students to stay connected with Southeastern, and it is available for all undergraduate students,” she said. “Students can access many resources for remote learning during this time.”

In the upcoming weeks, Brooke plans to continue to connect with her classmates, friends, and family through Google Meet. Additionally, she has enjoyed having this time to complete schoolwork outside and will continue to have a positive outlook on the situation, using this time to seek new educational opportunities through this experience.

“Overall, although this is not an ideal situation, I feel that I have adapted well to the changes that COVID-19 has brought,” Brooke said. “I plan to continue to work hard in my classes and make the best of this situation.”

Students Honored for Excellence in Written Works

Above Image: Jordan Goines, Marketing major, Junior; Dr. David Wyld, Management professor and creator of the WOWED! program

Southeastern’s College of Business held its inaugural Written Projects or Works of Excellence and Distinction (WOWED!) program awards ceremony Dec. 5.

The WOWED! program was created to recognize students who have created the “best of the best” written individual and group projects, works, or papers each semester under the guidance of a faculty mentor, said Merritt Professor of Management and Program Director David C. Wyld. Three students were selected by the awards committee to be honored for their written projects – Taylor Steele, a senior marketing major from Springfield, Jordan Goines, a junior marketing major from Slidell, and Celeste Knight, a senior general studies major from Franklinton.

The program was established by College of Business Dean Antoinette Phillips in an effort to advance the College of Business’ learning goal in regards to continually working to improve students’ written communication skills, said Wyld.

“The WOWED! program is significant for several reasons,” said Phillips. “It recognizes students for excellent academic written work, further encouraging and rewarding their efforts in this area. It also reinforces one of the college’s key learning goals and provides a venue for celebrating student success, and archiving the selections provides other students with current, peer-authored examples of excellent writing.”

Each student gave a brief overview of their work at the ceremony, having turned their papers into academic posters for the event. Steele presented her project on “Hometown Pharmacy,” which explored the challenges facing her own family’s business. Professor of Marketing Michael Budden nominated Steele for the program.

Goines presented his work titled “New Cable: The Obsolescence of Cable in the Age of Streaming,” which detailed the massive changes across the entertainment industry—and personal lives—with the rise of streaming services. Assistant Professor of Marketing Juliana White nominated Goines for the program.

Knight presented her work on “Wild Blu Boutique,” a women’s clothing store in Bogalusa. Budden also nominated her for the program.

Phillips said the students honored for their written works were nominated by their faculty mentors as exemplifying the excellence that all College of Business students should strive for in demonstrating their written communication skills. They competed with their peers and were judged as the best not only in their respective classes, but also among all other courses taught across the College of Business.

“These projects, works, and papers will have a lasting impact, as they will be featured on Moodle as examples for future students to follow in preparing high-quality and highly effective written works,” Wyld said. “In doing so, these students have done a great service to help their future peers to develop better written communication skills to aid them in their college careers, and more importantly, in their careers beyond Southeastern.”

Professional Sales Team Takes Home International Win

Above image, from left: From left: Tara’ Lopez, sales coach, and student team members India Williams, Karlie McDonald, and Paxton Page.

Southeastern’s Professional Sales Team won the Rookie Award at the 2019 International Collegiate Sales Competition (ICSC). Hosted each year in Orlando, Florida, by Florida State University, the ICSC is the largest and most prestigious university sales competition in the world.

Southeastern’s Professional Sales program has been named one of the top sales programs in the country for the past two years by the Sales Education Foundation. The winning team was comprised of Southeastern students India Williams of Baton Rouge, Karlie McDonald of Tickfaw, and Paxton Page of Prairieville.

“We are extremely proud of the sales team’s performance at the International Collegiate Sales Competition,” said Tara’ Lopez, associate professor of marketing and one of the sales coaches. “Having success in these competitions helps bring recognition to what we are doing at Southeastern to prepare students for successful and fulfilling careers in sales. They also provide a great opportunity for our students to network with their peers and interact with employers from around the country at career fairs.”

In addition to the team Rookie Award, Williams placed in the top 20, and McDonald placed in the top 40 out of 160 student competitors from other top U.S. schools. Sales competitions such as this one, said Lopez, allow students to test their selling skills against their peers through role-playing scenarios, cold calling, case competitions, and speed selling.

The competition also offered a career fair attended by over 40 national companies that were there to hire these outstanding students.

Annual Business Lecture Features Independent Consultant and Leadership Coach Jennifer Ledet

Jennifer Ledet, senior professional in human resources, independent consultant, and leadership coach, was the featured speaker at Southeastern’s annual College of Business Lecture.

Titled “Own It and AMP It! Amplify Your Influence to Accelerate Your Success,” the lecture was held Wednesday, March 4, in the Student Union Grand Ballroom. The presentation was supported by the Junghans family and was free and open to the public.

As an independent consultant and leadership coach, Ledet’s areas of expertise include leadership development, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and teambuilding.

Aside from working in human resources, Ledet uses her job as an independent consultant to work with executive-level leaders to help create leadership teams that work cohesively and effectively.

“Jennifer Ledet ‘facilileads’ leadership retreats for the C-suites of organizations in a wide variety of industries, as well as provides one-on-one leadership coaching,” said Dean of the College of Business Antoinette Phillips.

From designing a comprehensive leadership training facilitation program to using her certification of the behavioral assessment called “DiSC,” Ledet uses a variety of tactics to help participants improve their leadership skills. Most of the information taught through these tactics derive from her experience in leadership and human resource management.

“Using humor and fun, she is able to draw out audiences and participants and get them actively engaged,” said Phillips. “Participants report that they gained greater insight and learned more about themselves and their co-workers from one of her sessions than they did from other similar learning experiences.”

Ledet has also put her experience to pen, writing articles on leadership and management and monthly leadership columns, as well as creating her own e-newsletter and online blog.