Life at SJCME

As told by Michaela '14

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What is Happiness?


There is one thing that almost all people strive for, and that is happiness. But what exactly is happiness? Is happiness something real? If it is real, can happiness be measured? Is happiness something attainable for everyone, and if so, what are the steps one must take to be happy? Some of these questions are philosophical in nature, some are psychological, and some are both.

This semester, spring 2014, I was able to discuss and explore some of these questions with the help of professors Dr. Joshua Schoenfeld (psychology) and Dr. Christopher Callaway (philosophy). These two professors, after discussing their fields with each other over the years, recognized the overlap between their domains of study and thought that it would be a great idea, instead of trying to separate the domains, to show how they intermingle. The class is one of the firsts of its kind and, “one of the things that precipitated it was the previous dean, Randy Krieg, mentioning that it would be good to offer some interdisciplinary team-taught courses,” says Dr. Callaway.

Dr. Christopher Callaway (philosophy)

Dr. Christopher Callaway (philosophy)

How Does the Class Work?

Each professor will teach a section from our reading and explain it while the other is in the room. In this way, the professors can point out the connections between the domains easier or raise questions to one another on how it can be viewed in a different light. Dr. Schoenfeld states, “One of the things that is really important to me in the field of psychology is that psychologists do not go beyond the bounds of their specific scientific process and make claims that outstrip their knowledge. This is really tempting, and most psychologists do it, and I really don’t like that. So, I really appreciate talking to a philosopher because he makes sure that there is sort of a touchstone to relate back to when making claims.” Dr. Callaway agrees with this reciprocity, stressing that sometimes philosophical theories should or need to be tested, and science is one way this can be done. Students are also encouraged to discuss and ask questions, so ideally there will be a deeper and richer understanding of happiness when the class ends.

Dr. Joshua Schoenfeld (psychology)

Dr. Joshua Schoenfeld (psychology)

I have only had this class for about a month, but here are a few things that I have learned about happiness that you may want to take away from this reading.

  1. The Stoics are just a little crazy when it comes to their approach of happiness. Essentially, they believe that everything is determined and so to be happy, we must simply accept our fate. We cannot control space or time but we can control how we REACT to something.

  2. Hedonism says we should satisfy our appetites and desires as often and intensely as possible. Happiness is also identified with pleasure.

  3. Plato thought that we had three parts to the soul: rational (reason), spirited (pursues honor, respect, recognition), and appetites (bodily needs/wants), and that we are happy when our rational part controls the other two parts.

  4. Happiness is important to your psychological wealth, which is essentially a bunch of different things that make you psychologically healthy in terms of your cognition, emotion, and behaviors.

  5. Happy people, on average, normally live longer lives than those that are unhappy. They also tend to be less likely to get sick or contract diseases. However, they also measured how long a person lives after they have been diagnosed with a disease, and happy people actually tend to fare worse than their unhappy peers. One explanation for this is unhappy people tend to feel more pain or be more likely to visit a doctor than those that are happy. Because of this more intense pain, doctors are more likely to diagnose and treat earlier than those who are happy and feel less pain or are optimistic that what they are experiencing is “nothing to be worried about.”

  6. Most importantly: HAPPINESS IS A PROCESS, NOT A PLACE! Sometimes, the process of getting to a goal can make you happier than reaching the goal itself. Often times if we become too focused on a goal, we may miss the things around us that can be rewarding and give us happiness now, in the present.

Recently, the class discussion was about happiness as it relates to social relationships and work. There are some psychologists who only study social relationships. We watched the video below, which I found to be rather interesting. Dr. Schoenfeld made sure to state that Jim Coan’s findings are only a piece to the puzzle of happiness in social relationships and that there are many other questions still to be answered. But with Coan’s findings, it lays a groundwork for further study. If you have 13 minutes to spare, the findings are pretty amazing to hear about.

As I mentioned earlier, I am only a month into class, but I have already learned so much about happiness and the theories and evidence of its existence and operation in our lives. I do not think that all classes can be combined in this way and that not all pairings of a team-taught class will be successful; but so far the class is operating smoothly, is engaging, and is a breath of fresh air because of its uniqueness.


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What Is “TAC”?

What Is “TAC”?

“The most important thing is just being there to help if needed. Sometimes it is not about the subject matter, it is about organization, note taking, or time management. This program helps students in all aspects.” – Shannon Simpson ’15

The Writing Center, an offering of The Academic Center, is located on the third floor of Harold Alfond Hall.

The Writing Center, an offering of The Academic Center, is located on the third floor of Harold Alfond Hall.

Have you ever been to the third floor of Alfond Hall and wondered what the room is to the right at the top of the stairs? What is that closet-sized little room with the pencil decal on that glass that says “The Writing Center (TAC)”? You continue to walk and notice another room to your right that says “ADA,” which has three more additional rooms inside. What are these places?

Like many other students, I had no idea what these places were until someone asked me to look into becoming a writing tutor as a sophomore. I came to learn that these rooms were all part of a larger entity known as The Academic Center. In order to gain some insight into what The Academic Center (TAC) truly is, I spoke with the assistant academic dean and TAC’s director, Mr. Vincent Kloskowski, and found out some of the following things.

A Brief History

The Academic Center started almost 10 years ago. The MELMAC Foundation gave Saint Joseph’s College a generous grant that would assist the college in putting together a formal center for student academic services. Prior to 2005, many of the available academic services were scattered across the campus. If a student needed help with writing, they had to see the English department. If a student needed help with science, they had to see the science department. With the grant from the MELMAC Foundation, which also coincided with the building of Alfond Hall, TAC was created.

Vincent Kloskowski, director of The Academic Center, is also the College's academic dean.

Vincent Kloskowski, director of The Academic Center, is also the College’s assistant academic dean.

What Is The Goal of TAC?

The primary goal is to see each student with their goals and aspirations and help them to persevere. The goal is to get each student to the finish line (graduation) and assist the student to ensure success. Mr. Kloskowski says, “Our goal is academic success for all students, whether they have a 2.0 or 4.0, so we want students to be successful in their majors, their programs, their careers, their futures…. We don’t want any student falling between the cracks.”

What Services Does TAC Offer?

The Academic Center offers peer tutoring, The Writing Center, ADA (learning disability) accommodations, time management and study skills, and the First-Year Experience Program (FYE). FYE is actually a new credit-bearing course that helps first-year students make the transition from high school to college. Incoming students of fall 2014 will complete the first cycle of students who have taken FYE. (The first class of FYE students will graduate in 2015.)

Deanna Barry is a a Writing Center tutor.

Deanna Barry is a a Writing Center tutor.

Peer Tutoring and the Writing Center

As a writing tutor, I wanted to take a moment to examine the tutoring program more closely and see what it means to be a peer tutor. Andrew Bonneau ’16, a history tutor, tells of the importance of the program. “The most important thing about tutoring for me is the opportu

nity to help others succeed. Student tutors are great help to others who

either can’t or are intimidated by asking their professors for help. I believe that tutoring benefits SJC because it helps build another level in the academic community here.” Others here would agree with Mr. Bonneau. Shannon Simpson ’15, a sociology tutor, states, “The most important thing is just being there to help if needed. Sometimes it is not about the subject matter, it is about organization, note-taking, or time management. This program helps students in all aspects. We are a close community, and this program makes people feel more comfortable asking for help. The people who tutor are students who have gone through the same things, so sometimes people can relate to them more than they can relate to their professors.”

Shanna Webster oversees the peer tutoring program and coordinates FYE programming and Study Away (formally Study Abroad).

Shanna Webster oversees the peer tutoring program and coordinates FYE programming and Study Away (formally Study Abroad).

What’s Next? Who Can I Talk to for More Information?

Another thing that will be happening in the fall will be a peer mentoring program. Sophomore- through senior-level students will basically be working with the faculty and the FYE program to be a student assistant, helping our first-year students’ transition properly into Saint Joe’s for the academic year. Advertising has begun and interviewing will begin shortly.

If you would like more information you can see Holly Sanborn, who primarily oversees ADA accommodations and  advises liberal studies students; Shanna Webster, who oversees the peer tutoring program and coordinates FYE programming and Study Away (formally Study Abroad); or Vincent Kloskowski, assistant dean of the college and the director of TAC.

In Summary

TAC provides a variety of services for students to help with their success. However, it was stressed to me by Mr. Kloskowski that you do not necessarily need to have a reason to stop by TAC. Come in, use the space, say hello to Shanna, Holly, or Vince. The space is for all students and all are welcome!

TAC staff member Holly Sanborn is in charge of ADA accommodations on campus.

TAC staff member Holly Sanborn is in charge of ADA accommodations on campus.

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Who am I, and What Is This Blog?

Hello, readers!

My name is Michaela, and I’m a 21-year-old student graduating from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in May 2014 with a degree in English and possibly a minor in philosophy. I love to observe, think abstractly, and try to see different points of view, so, naturally, these domains of study appealed to me.

Similar to many college students, every day is a balancing act between school, work, and play. I set daily goals, such as forcing myself to get out of bed when it feels like the hardest thing in the world to do, to remembering to eat breakfast, motivating myself to write that paper that really doesn’t interest me, prioritizing what bills I should pay first, and so on.

I commute to campus every day, which is about a 25-minute drive. Throughout my college career, I have worked from 30 to more than 40 hours a week. Some of these jobs included tutoring at the College’s writing center, working at a little café/catering company off campus, and stocking shelves in the frozen food and dairy sections at Walmart.

About This Blog

So, what is the point of this blog? I want prospective students and their parents to have an additional resource for information, through the eyes of a student who has spent four years here. I want current students to be able to read about some of the wonderful things offered here on campus that they either have attended or may want to attend in the future, and to smile because they have the option to be part of the SJC community. I want faculty and staff to see the inner workings of a college student’s mind, which can only help them help us.

I would love for the blog to continue on with students who can offer different perspectives from mine, to be something that shows how Saint Joseph’s College, an educational institution that has been open since 1912, has changed over time. The blog can help uncover some of the things that makes Saint Joseph’s College more than just a beautiful campus – it can shed light on the amazing faculty, staff, and students through interviews and profiles, answer questions students may have always wondered about Saint Joseph’s College – from the mundane to abstract – and open the public’s eye to more than just the campus scenery and the financial aspect of college.

To the bloggers who come after me, I hope you continue to show everyone what Saint Joseph’s College has to offer students and the community.

Thank you for reading,

Michaela Hotham ’14