adult learner, Advice, nursing, Parents, self care

2020 Goals: Self-Care in the New Year

By Stacey Beaver, NU Scholar (October 2019 Cohort)
Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Smiling young white woman with brown hair in professional attire
Stacey Beaver, NU Scholar

My life as an adult learner is filled with a seemingly endless to-do list.  Day-to-day responsibilities extend well beyond reading assignments, projects, tests and clinical hours for my nursing program. Even with the help of my supportive and understanding husband Scott, between childcare drop-offs, home maintenance, laundry, and other housework, I don’t have a minute to spare.

With all of this busyness, it’s no surprise that I have not made enough time for self-care.  Self-care is emphasized over and over in my nursing program as a vital tool for managing stress, achieving a sense of calm, and re-energizing one’s self.  Between having a daughter and starting my nursing program, I had let many of my previous self-care habits fall to the wayside.  My daughter is almost two years old, so it’s been a while: Almost two years of driving by the gym I pay too much for, eating an embarrassing amount of fast food, and taking no time to indulge in the things I love most like warm baths or the sauna.  So, I am making a commitment now to treating myself better. I encourage you to join me in my first self-care change: ditching my fast food habit.

Here is how I plan to do it:

Eat Real Food:

I will try to incorporate as many unprocessed and unrefined foods into my diet as possible.  Examples include fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains.

variety of vegetables on display
Step 1: More fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

Meal Prep:

Too often, I have used the excuse that I don’t have time to pack a lunch before I head to clinical or lecture.  Meal prepping will allow me to spend less time every day worrying about what to eat, and instead dedicate a specific time to planning and preparing meals for an entire week.

flat lay photography of three tray of foods
Step 2: Prep multiple healthy meals at once

Drink Water:

I know it’s time to ditch the super sweet coffee and soda.  It’s so easy to take in unnecessary calories and added sugar in drinks, not to mention the cost!  I have a tough time drinking plain water so I will try to dress it up with lots of ice and a sprig of fresh mint or slices of cucumber.

sliced lemon fruit in glass picher
Step 3: Get fancy to drink more water and less soda and coffee

I hope that building this habit of making my own nutritious meals will nourish my body and mind, not to mention help my pocketbook. I hope this post inspires you to join me in making this change, or to commit to your own self-care goal. While it can be hard to justice the time at first, I promise that taking care of yourself will recharge your batteries and ultimately give you more strength and time as you move through your academic program at NU.

 

 

 

 

adult learner, Advice, self care, Undergraduate

Loving Yourself in the New Year

JD 3

J.D. Melendez

B.A. Pre-Law Studies

NU Scholar – October 2019 Cohort

close up of christmas decorations hanging
Exploring Love as a single person during the Holiday Season

Regarding that four-letter-word… LOVE

Here we are. Another holiday season, and the New Year is fast approaching. I gave up the whole “New Years’ resolution” thing a while back. Instead, I wanted to reflect on what I feel like I got right in 2019, which is LOVE. In November, I turned 38 years old, making it more than four years since I was in a committed relationship. If someone were to tell me five years ago that I’d be single and living alone with my dog Tita today, I probably would have laughed.

To be single at 38 was never my plan. More and more of my friends and family members are having children, getting married, building families, or adjusting to life with their new partners. As for me, I am instead learning the art of falling in love with who I am. I’m proud of my decision to separate from the person I am not, to move away from old behaviors that no longer honor the man I want to be. I have finalized my divorce from toxicity- both toxicity that was self-created, and the type of toxicity that I was welcoming into my life, ignoring the red flags that kept popping up everywhere. I had developed a habit of looking at those red flags, and then just painting them green. Sound familiar?

Being single by choice is not an easy thing, especially in one’s late 30s. Throughout my singleness, I continue to challenge myself to fight for my own happiness, without using another person as a crutch. By trial and by many, many errors, I have learned how to be self-sufficient, starting with something as simple as walking to the pharmacy on my own to buy flu medicine when I needed it. I forced myself to go to a movie theater by myself, to enjoy a solo steak and lobster dinner. I’ve traveled all over the world by myself (or sometimes with my dog). Through all of this, by learning how to love myself I became better equipped to love my friends for who they were, and I found myself spending time with and getting to know family members that I had rarely engaged with. I pushed myself to find a meaningful cause in my immediate area and volunteered my time and my resources to others, with no expectations or reservations. More than anything else, I started to live an authentic life; in turn, I found that others were more and more showing me who they genuinely were, with no pretense or masquerade. Traveling the world enabled me to connect with others and experience the joy of the universal language of humanity: A smile, a polite “thank you,” a nod of acknowledgment to complete strangers in the London subway, hugs from both Palestinians and Jews while in Israel, and a humble interchange of life experiences with students in China. Each time I get to experience another slice of life in a different part of the world, I come back home completely in love with humanity as a whole.

If you’re dreading the fact that you are not in an intimate relationship with someone this holiday season, please know that there are many others like us who choose to give ourselves the most valuable thing in life: Our time. You can’t get time back, you can’t promise anyone your tomorrow because there is truly no day but today. So, today, please take the time to vote for YOU, to be YOUR best advocate, and love and accept yourself unconditionally. You cannot read a book or take a course on love because it’s a spiritual journey that’s uniquely yours. You’re the author, and you have complete control of the narrative.

Perhaps you and I will meet as we travel this journey together. Work towards love, it is there for the taking. I promise you that LOVE NEVER FAILS and that it will ALWAYS be the answer!

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Excited to continue this path in 2020!
adult learner, Military, Navy, Parents, Undergraduate, Veteran

Going Back to School as a Veteran

Kevin Matzke headshot

Kevin Matzke, Bachelor of Science, Biology

San Diego Region

U.S. Navy Veteran

https://portfolium.com/Kmatzke88

The decision to go back to school as a veteran was not a difficult decision. The military always pushed education and the need to better oneself. Knowing the large veteran population attending National University helped in making my mind up to attend. The challenges that came with working full time, studying full-time, and maintaining a family were not what I expected. When I first started at National University, I was married but had no children. The transition into becoming a student was fairly streamlined, and because of the way the military uses intensive training, the 1 month compressed format of National Universities classes seemed natural to me. As a veteran it is sometimes hard to find common ground with people who haven’t had the shared experience of military service. I have often found myself feeling alienated or uncomfortable because my time in the military had changed my way of viewing things. This sense of alienation was one of my biggest fears going into starting up as a college student. I quickly found that a large portion of my classmates were also prior service, or active duty, and shared the same struggles as I did. The veteran community at National definitely helped in smoothing the transition from being fresh out of the military, to being a successful student, while supporting my family.

As I progressed in my education I also was growing my family.  My first daughter was born in 2016, and my second in 2018.

The addition of children definitely adds new stressors and time demands on top of the already busy work/ school schedule I was maintaining. There are days where it can be overwhelming, and on those days I remind myself that completing my education will help to provide a better future for my children. It has not always been easy, but the faculty has been very accommodating and understanding of the fact that many of us attending are parents, working to support our families while attending school. The smaller class sizes allow me more interaction with the instructors, and a makes learning and understanding the material easier, when everything outside of class is trying to distract me from my studies.

adult learner, Graduate Student, Military, Navy, Parents, Study Abroad

Studying Abroad as a Parent

Brent Harris headshot

Brent Harris

https://portfolium.com/baharris123

Creative Writing MFA

29 Palms Region

“Freeeedddooooommm!”

Shout that in your best Braveheart voice, for that’s the euphoria I felt as I stepped onto the curb, kissed the wife and kids goodbye, and sauntered into the Palm Springs departure terminal.

In January, my Navy wife went away on deployment – for seven months – leaving me at home with two kids, a Master’s program, community volunteer projects, and a perpetually empty cup of coffee. Those months were challenging. My daughter had ballet twice a week and a residency in Anaheim, my son had Toddler Tumbling and was not yet in school. I was teaching on Tuesdays, in between two back-to-back scripts for school.

A break loomed.

The NU Scholar’s program offered a study abroad opportunity to Tijuana. A weekend away from the kids, a break when there was none, to go down South of the Border? Sign me up! I dutifully did the repeat photography assignments, finding pictures of the past to compare with pictures from today. I was all set. And then my son got pink-eye.

I couldn’t go.

The joys of parenthood.

Flash forward several months, and I was afforded an opportunity to visit Vancouver to study abroad. And I’m so very glad I did. Vancouver is a beautiful place with beautiful people. It’s not an old city, but it is rich with culture and vibrant nature. Had I gone to the city by myself, as a tourist, I would have failed to see the splendor beyond the tourist traps. Going as part of the NU study abroad program, travelling with others, allowed me to see parts of the city most would have passed. An amazing coastline, foggy bridges, strange statues, a shower of autumn-red maple leaves, and buildings with a history all their own. The food was great, the people better, and at the end of each day, our phone cameras were full, and our feet were worn.

While there, my first feelings of Freedom! slipped away as the greatness of the experience enveloped me. It was no longer a trip to escape, but the forging of a new friendship. Vancouver will be with me forever.

adult learner, nursing, Parents

Returning to school after a hiatus

Deborah Chambers_DSC07346

By Deborah Nabubwaya Chambers, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)
Master’s in Public Healthcare Administration

I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya and did my undergraduate program in Psychology at Daystar University. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2007, I wanted to continue with my education, but unfortunately, due to life events and other family responsibilities, I could not return to school as soon as I had planned.

After relocating to the United States in 2011, I finally enrolled in some prerequisites to complete courses that would make it possible for me to pursue a nursing degree. One of those classes was an epidemiology class, and I instantly had an epiphany that public health was exactly what I wanted to pursue. I had finally found a field that connected all of my interests in nursing, healthcare in general, and community development. My desire to help others, work in healthcare, and support underserved communities would still be supported by pursuing public health. I searched for graduate programs that I could pursue online while I continued working night shifts at a hospital in West Texas.

A little over 8 years later, I was back in school as an adult learner. I started my first class just before my family and I relocated to Illinois for work. Subsequently, I decided to be a stay-at-home mother and pursue my graduate degree in public health.

Returning to school in 2015 after a hiatus was certainly not an easy decision. It meant giving up a lot of free time and balancing everything to meet my educational goals. I did my assignments whenever I got a chance, at odd hours like during my children’s nap times and after they went to bed at night. No matter how busy I was, I made sure that I did school work every day so that I would not fall behind. Pursuing an accelerated program meant giving it my all right from the beginning, and I took classes almost every month for two years. My oldest child knows how to do a good impression of me using the computer to scale the mountains of assignments and research papers. One of my proudest moments of being an adult learner was taking my entire family to my graduation in San Diego.

Throughout my program, my family kept cheering me on, and gave me wings to fly. My oldest son tells me daily that he is so proud of me and that he wants to be like me. He says he wants to go to school and type on the computer like mama and help sick people. I know that I am positively impacting my family members’ lives, as well as the lives of many others in my community who will benefit from the global and community health research that I am actively participating in. This is all thanks to the knowledge and opportunities that I have received while attending school at National University.

After graduating in 2017, I still desired to advance my career and learn more, returning to school to pursue National University’s healthcare administration program. Even though I have been successful in an accelerated program before, I continue learning every day about how to balance my work, family, and school responsibilities. It has not always been easy but every challenge has made it a growth experience that is nothing short of marvelous. Who knew I would absolutely enjoy school this much?

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adult learner, Community College, Parents, Transfer

The Transfer Experience

By Jiaunna Arnell, NU Scholar (July 2018 Cohort)
Bachelor of Arts, Early Childhood Education

I was lucky that my transfer experience from Miramar College (a community college) to National University was fairly smooth.  As a student who has successfully completed this transition, I wanted to share a little bit about what I think helped me.

Someone once told me that “C’s get degrees.” However, my mother, along with folks from institutions that I was engaged with in my youth, made it clear that I needed to always do my very best. I been never been the type of student who can comfortably rest on just getting by, and I think that this commitment to going the extra mile has helped me to succeed. While I was a community college student, I also took advantage of EOPS and CalWORKs, two state-funded programs that helped me to create personalized education plans based on my goals, progress, and major.

My counselor at Miramar College was a huge source of support. From the moment I set foot in her office, she made me feel appreciated and valuable to the Miramar College student family. She also reminded me about events like transfer fairs, where various institutions come out to present for their respective universities. Especially if you have an idea of the university that you plan to attend, keeping in the know regarding changes or opportunities at your university of choice is very important, and deciding which one you want to attend long before you plan to transfer is really helpful.

Researching the university of your choice, taking tours, and visiting the campus are all good ways to decide whether or not it is right for you. Once you have chosen a university, this makes the rest of the process fairly simple, because you know exactly what you need to get into that particular university.

My mother is an alumnus of National University, and has a bachelor’s degree in a similar field, so I knew that National University was going to be my four-year university from the start.

Once all of these elements—determination, support, and a target university—are in place, the real work comes in maintaining your grades, building good relationships with faculty (who can help you by writing letters of reference and by offering support), looking into grants and scholarships to lighten the financial load, and, above all, making the commitment to focus on school first: School has to be your top priority in every way possible. I love Miramar College and I am so glad that I was a student there, and I am also so excited to be at National University. For people who have to balance being parents and students with working full time, National University is a god-send for expanding our academic horizons in relation to our lifestyles, responsibilities, and career goals. I love being a part of the National University family, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of this experience brings to my academic and professional growth.