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Recently graduated with an AAS in Educational Paraprofessional has now re-enrolled to earn a Bachelors in Science in Communications
Kendrick “Neville” Ross recently earned an Associate of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a concentration in Educational Paraprofessional in February, 2011. But one degree wasn'tt good enough for Kendrick. He re-enrolled to continue his education in the Advanced Start Bachelor of Science in Communication program. Kendrick’s a great example of how students can get involved in the online world. Kendrick stated, “I have had nothing but wonderful experiences since I have been enrolled at Kaplan. I love being actively involved as the President of the Educators Club, a community within Kaplan University.” The Educators Club is a wonderful opportunity for anyone interested in working with students to network with other similar-minded students. You can get more information about joining the Educators Club at AHS_Clubs@kaplan.edu or by visiting our Student Life page. In addition to his roles as a student and club president at Kaplan, Kendrick is also the founder and Artistic Director of Youth Inspiration & Development. Youth Inspiration & Development (YID) is a nonprofit youth creative arts organization based in Memphis, TN. The mission of this organization is to create a learning environment that will inspire youth to identify and develop their artistic abilities through performing, visual, and literacy art programs. YID provides the educational tools to aid young people in openly expressing themselves through positive outlets such as music, drama, photography, and technical media design. Since 2003, YID has provided a forum for celebrating the unique talents and vehement ambition of youth participants. Kendrick is proud to be an instrumental part of an organization that is dedicated to serving the youth of today and preparing them to become creative and innovative leaders of tomorrow. Kendrick takes his commitment to serve and support young people seriously and says, “"Remember, there's nothing too hard that we can't achieve together."Thanks Kendrick, for serving as another example of how Kaplan University students are making a difference in the lives of others.
Recognized as a model teacher and published in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers
Jay Rodriguez is passionate and dedicated, both as a student and an educator. If you told him 11 years ago, as he was recovering from brain surgery due to a traumatic car accident, that he would one day be fulfilling his goal of earning his college degree, he might have been more than a little surprised. Not only did he achieve that goal, but he was also recognized as a model teacher and published in “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.” As Jay points out, “For those who think they can’t achieve a goal, there’s hope, there’s faith, there’s always a door for another chance—it’s all up to you.”
When Jay began his associate’s degree program back in February of 2010, he was nervous because it had been 14 years since he was in school. However, his drive to contribute to his family’s Montessori School, Forever Young, was strong, and with the support of his academic advisors, financial aid officers and instructors, he remained motivated. As a result of his dedication, he earned recognition on Kaplan's President's List 4 times in a row and graduated in February of 2011 with honors.
Jay immediately explored his options for continuing on to his bachelor's degree. He was disappointed to learn that Kaplan did not offer a program in early childhood development at that time, but soon enough Kaplan did offer that program due to high demand.
Jay’s interest in the education of young children is no happenstance. Both of his parents were involved in Forever Young, the family’s Montessori School operating in Virginia Beach. Jay knew in order to fully serve as an educator he would need to have the credentials and knowledge to support his students and help them rise to their fullest potential. The Montessori approach to education is dedicated to the intellectual, social, physical, and emotional growth of each child based on his/her individual needs and relies heavily on hands-on, self-directed learning. Jay is able to use his education in child development and teaching to support this intensive environment and has been instrumental in creating some incredible learning experiences with his students.
In fact, his dedication to helping his students made a dramatic impact on one little boy. Six –year-old Khalen came to Forever Young with a history of behavioral issues that resulted in his termination from several other school programs. His parents were anxious to find a program that could capture his intellectual curiosity while also helping him develop the internal discipline to be a successful student. Jay’s patience and knowledge of child development helped him recognize that Khalen’s was bored academically. With Jay's help, Khalen become a successful student.
Jay’s accomplishments and accolades are numerous. He has earned two associate's degrees, is working on his bachelor's degree, and looks forward to continuing on to earn his master's degree. He has attained honors status numerous times during his program and graduated Summa Cum Laude in February, 2011. He also has earned several professional development certificates. He is instrumental in supporting many community parent programs through his school, Forever Young, and also coordinates projects for the students such as the annual school yearbook and graduation events.
While it seems that Jay’s exceptional accomplishments and dedication might be exhausting, he reminds us that each accomplishment begins with just a few small steps. Overcoming a traumatic brain injury is no small feat, but with dedication and perseverance, one can accomplish the greatest of goals. Jay hopes to continue his lifelong commitment to education and one day join the ranks of those that inspired him—he’d love to be an online college professor. With the support of his family at home and his “family” here at Kaplan, there’s no doubt he can do it.
Valda Garcia-Baron is excelling academically at Kaplan, but life has not always been easy for her. Valda began her studies at Kaplan University with the hope and expectations of a better life for herself and her family. When she learned that she qualified for honors courses, but would need to complete service requirements volunteering in her community, she decided to join "Hands On Miami" and "Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami".
With “Hands on Miami” Valda work on a team helping to restore Barnacle Historic State Park. She helped to clean up the shorelines of this great historical site which features the first and oldest home in South Florida dating back to the 1800's. Valda was charged with cleaning the hammock areas and removing non-native plants and weeds that were harmful to the ecosystem. This experience inspired Valda to do more. She also volunteered at a retirement home called "Hebrew Homes of South Beach" where she provided manicures and chatted with the elderly.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami has allowed her to gain knowledge in areas of carpentry and landscaping. On her first day volunteering, she was painting and detailing the inside of homes. On her second day of volunteer services she was taught how to install shingles on the roof. On her third day, she learned how to frame the inside of a home. By the end of the day, she was able to cut enough wood to frame two entire houses. Not bad for a day’s work.
An education paraprofessional for special education students who is an advocate, an activist, and now earning her Bachelor of Science in Human Services after having earned her associate's degree with a 4.0 GPA.
Tamu Nyasha is an educational paraprofessional for special education students and she is also an advocate and an activist. After earning her educational paraprofessional associate's degree, Tamu was determined to continue the line of activism that runs in her family and set out to earn her Bachelor of Science in Human Services degree. She plans to use her education to be an advocate for children living in homeless shelters or in transitional programs. She was once told that she had “too high a sense of justice” when she stood up to discrimination against her special needs students, but she realizes that she can have an impact on the lives of her students.
Tamu’s professional experiences include supporting special needs students, working with children with autism, and working in a before/after school program as the lead teacher. She now works with 5th-7th graders with special needs. A big part of her educational philosophy includes promoting a sense of integrity and leading by example. She wants her students to relish their unique talents and individuality and encourages them to find their own voice, be an advocate for themselves, and use their resources to make changes in their own lives. She facilitates respect for others, a feeling of community within the classroom, and the appreciation of diversity.
Her passion for being an advocate started early in her life when she stood up for her older brother when he was being bullied in kindergarten. She was about four years old and told the other kids to leave her brother alone. Good thing, too, since her brother would grow up to become the Deputy Mayor of Seattle.
Tamu’s activist roots stem from the strong impressions her mother instilled in her and her brother as they grew up. Her mother was very active on political campaigns, helping to elect the first African-American mayor in her town and founding the local county chapter of the activist organization Women Against Rape. These powerful events influenced her when she decided to work as a Red Cross Volunteer during the San Francisco earthquakes and fires in 1989, and when she helped negotiate an agreement between non-profit staff and management for a community radio station. It was then that she realized she could be an effective voice for others. More recently she’s been involved in coordinating volunteers for the YWCA’s Dress for Success program that helps women escaping domestic violence by providing them with a wardrobe for interviews. She’s also been involved in Seattle’s Black Pride program, a nonprofit organization that encouraged tolerance and harmony across all affiliations and diversity.
Clearly, Tamu has some big plans. While her journey towards earning her degrees has not always been easy, she recalled her excitement when she was able to complete her associate's degree in only one year because she was able to use the Experiential Learning program to write off three of her required classes. Now, she’s continuing to use her previous knowledge and experience to jump into the advanced start bachelor's program.
Tamu’s goal is to teach by example. She says, “I always look to myself first.” Now is her chance to “pay it forward” as she strives to be an example for her students. Says Tamu, “I don’t want to ‘save’ a child. I want them to learn how to save themselves.” By showing her students how her voice can make a difference, she is doing just this in providing them with the resources and inner confidence and motivation to rise to their own potential.
In 2009, Barbara began a horse camp for children with pediatric cancer.
Barbara is a model student working towards her associate's degree in early childhood education, but her passion is running Camp Centaur, a horse camp for children with pediatric cancer. Barbara’s taught children from ages 3 to 18 how to ride and work around horses for over 30 years, but when she realized what a therapeutic effect (both physically and emotionally) participating in the horse camp had on young children (and their families) who are coping with cancer, she felt compelled to throw herself into establishing a permanent, expenses-paid camp exclusively for pediatric cancer children and their families. Barbara is an inspiration in many ways. She impresses her instructors as a thoughtful and dedicated student with strong academic skills and work ethic, but her dedication to the camp comes from a deeper place. Barbara learned firsthand the therapeutic effect of working with horses. As a cancer survivor, herself, she noticed that when she returned from a significant treatment she felt a sense of peace and improved physical and emotional health just from being around her horses and seeing the smiles and laughter from her students. The positive effects were no coincidence—a friend of hers who was researching alternative approaches to cancer treatment led her to investigate how a strong immune system is a key factor in fighting cancer and keeping it in remission after treatment.
In 2009, Barbara decided to take action and piloted some camp sessions for pediatric cancer patients in Michigan. The results were so positive not only in helping the cancer patients themselves, but in uplifting their families too. Children participating in the camps learn to ride in formal lessons and on trail rides. They participate in outdoor activities, circle-time peer-talk therapy, and conventional arts and crafts in a woodsy, peaceful setting that includes pond fishing and nature walks. The children who participate in the camp have improved physical and emotional health that strengthens their immune systems and helps make them stronger and more resistant to health issues. It was important to Barbara that all children who participated in her camps be able to do so without financial burden and as a result both of her camps are not-for-profit organizations with 100% scholarships offered to all who attend.
Barbara knew that although she had a tremendous amount of practical experience, she could enhance her credibility with formal professional credentials. Her role as director of Camp Centaur requires her to deal with professionals in the medical field, develop the curriculum of the camp programs, and solicit donations through grant applications and fund raising efforts. Says Barbara, “Kaplan’s courses have helped me become a better public speaker, a better critical thinker, and I have honed my writing abilities so that I can apply for grants more successfully. I’ve learned about structuring a learning environment and educational philosophies which have allowed me to improve the structure and management of Camp Centaur.”
You can learn more about Camp Centaur or make a donation to this not-for-profit organization by visiting their website at http://www.campcentaur.org.
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