End of the Semester Reflection 


As a college professor I am constantly amazed at the lack of knowledge my students seem to have about the natural world or basic geography. They know very little about nutrition and how it affects health both mental and physical. Most of my students, as I teach in an open enrollment, community college show up because the classes are cheap and they have heard that they need a college education. They often lack tech skills, the basis for professional communication and they really don’t have experience working with others to accomplish a large task. To many, science and math isn’t a way to understand the world, as much as they are abstract subjects in school that seem boring and difficult. 

In this environment, I teach courses in leadership and career development but mainly I teach a course called “Introduction to the College Experience” where I teach them the skills to be college students. Every semester I struggle to have them practice behaviors they need to be successful. During the course, they will tell me how the course is “common sense” but in the following semesters, they come back and tell me that they now know what I am teaching and why it was important. In one sense that is rewarding and in another I feel like Sysiphus rolling the rock uphill only to watch it fall back. 

Most of my students have grown up in urban environments with limited access to the natural world and a school system that is addicted to standardized testing. I want to see them connect with learning beyond a simple assignment or a course with a grade. So I have been organizing activities to create a campus garden which is edible. I want them to have fruit from their labors quite literally. I want them to learn the skills associated with work and time and delayed gratification. I want them to connect to science and math. I want learning to have a purpose. I want them to feel empowered to set the course of their own lives that they can be leaders and business owners not just employable. I see so many benefits to that kind of thinking. 

We often tell people with no boots to pull themselves up by the straps. I see it as more insidious than telling those with no boots to pull themselves up. I see us telling people to borrow money to pay for boots of dubious quality and years to put together only to find that they don’t fit or they are the wrong shoes, but we’re still going to make young people finance those boots. 
Students should have skills and feel empowered by their learning. They should know how to make or build or communicate or promote or sell what they have done. They should learn to create value. But they don’t and it frustrates me. 


Mentor Interview: Regional Biologist

My name is Santiago Z, I am an Environmental Science technology student, and far more than being an environment student I consider myself an environmental activist because of the help I put into my everyday habits of life, so that my footprint isn’t so much that effective to harm our world’s environment.

My mentor is Mr. Ricardo Zambrano, he is a Regional Biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, he is a wonderful professional who is
perfect for being my mentor because of his experience in the field of the environment and specifically his work with endangered species. Some of Ricardo’s experience is to have worked at the Yellowstone National Park from 1990-1991which I find outstanding, he radio-tracked coyotes and studied their behavior. He also worked as a sea turtle biologist in Mexico’s Yucatan
Peninsula from 1991 to 1994, there he researched and conserved endangered sea turtles.
Currently working with non hunted endangered species he focuses primarily on wildlife ranging from butterflies, birds, mammals, and herpetofauna, he researches, monitors and conserves wildlife. He has Bachelors in biology education from the University of California and a Masters degree in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution from Florida Atlantic University. His internship was studying the behavior of California Sea Lions and as a County Park Ranger. He did many volunteering jobs before he started to earn money in the field, one was as a wildlife rehabilitator in Sea World in Orlando, Florida. Another volunteer job was researching chimpanzees in Africa also using the GIS (Geographic Information System) tool. Below is our conversation about this exciting profession:
What are the biggest challenges that you overcame in this position?
Some of the biggest challenges are definitely first of all the pay range in this field, its not easy to start in this field, and of course having to deal with people that don’t care at all about the environment and its wildlife some of them include politicians and owners of huge companies.Another challenge is trying to convince people of what is right to save wildlife.

What skills do you use every day and how did you acquire them?
Some of the skills that you need for this career is to have good writing skills, good
communication skills, public speaking, knowledge of the habitats and the wildlife species, knowledge of the GIS tool, statistic software, genetics, botany and also recommended to know how to drive 4 wheelers, 4×4 trucks and boats.
What makes for a perfect day in your field/job/profession?
A perfect day in my profession is a day out doing field work, going out to different reserves to research, collect data and help species survive in their habitats.
What keeps you doing this job every day?
Definitely my awareness for the environment and my fight to keep helping to save the endangered species in Florida.
How do you maintain your professional skills or certifications? What professional association do you belong to and how do you interact with them?
This profession, for the most part, does not require certification although the Wildlife Society does have a Certified Biologist program. However, few institutions or employers require that. But in this career it is important to maintain your professional skills by keeping up with current research, techniques, software and hardware. Subscribing to scientific journals or reading the latest scientific literature on the subjects relevant to my work is one way. I will go through some
of the articles to see if there are any new research methods or techniques or equipment useful for that work.

For example, radio-tracking animals has changed quite a bit over the years. It used to be that all radio-tracking was done with VHF transmitter signals (similar to walkie-talkies). Now transmitters use satellite receivers or GPS receivers or even cell phone towers to track wildlife.

I belong to the Waterbird Society, The Wildlife Society, Audubon, and the Sierra Club but there are many more. I attend their conferences or meetings regularly and I am on the Board of Directors for a couple.
How has your opinion of this field changes since you started or since you were a student?
My opinion has not really changed. It is still an exciting field but as I mentioned quite challenging. It has gotten more difficult in one sense since there is always more development/construction but it has also gotten better since more and more people are becoming concerned with the environment.
What led you to pick this field?
I liked working outdoors and working with animals. As a kid my family took us camping a lot and that helped me appreciate nature and wildlife. Growing up in southern California I was able to regularly go to the mountains, beaches, deserts, and forests.

Mentor Interview: Lawyer

My name is Allison S, and I am interested in becoming a lawyer when I graduate college.  David Klein is the right person for me to interview because he is a working lawyer, and a successful one at that.

David Klein is a lawyer at Rabideau Law practicing in the areas of Real Estate Transactions and Land Use. He graduated first in his law school class and was a Senior Staff member of Nova Law Review. While in law school, David interned for several Florida law firms, enabling him to gain experience in a wide range of areas. Prior to law school, he obtained extensive experience in the real estate industry, working as an Analyst/Asset Manager for one of Florida’s largest commercial real estate investment firms.

Q: What made you decide to go into the legal field?
A: I used to work for a real estate investment firm as an analyst.  I enjoyed it a lot; however, I wanted to expand my knowledge and growth ability in the real estate field.  I felt that becoming a real estate attorney would be a great way to excel within the industry.

Q: What made you choose real estate law?
A: In addition to the above, I chose real estate law because it is different than most types of law.  I am a transactional attorney; therefore, I do not litigate.  Real estate is different because it is tangible.  You can physically see what you are working on, whether it be a house, a shopping center, or a vacant piece of land.  In addition, it is an area of law that is not as stressful as others.

Q: What was the strangest case you’ve worked on?
A: Because I am a transactional attorney (i.e. I don’t litigate), I don’t have too many “strange” matters.  Nevertheless, when dealing with real estate, especially someone’s home, people can get very emotional.  So I have seen people behave in ways that are somewhat startling, but I think it often has to do with the stress of buying or selling a house or dealing with a matter concerning their home.  It may not be a true reflection of how that face problems in their everyday lives.

Q: Have there ever been times where you’ve regretted going into law?
A: Definitely not.  I think a lot people who graduate from law school have an unrealistic expectation of what the work life will be.  Those are the people who often regret getting into law.  However, prior to law school I worked in the corporate world for a while, so I fairly good understanding of what my daily routine would consist of.

Q: What’s the most challenging part of real estate law ?
A: Like most types of law, I think the most challenging part, especially as a fairly new lawyer, is making sure that you have the knowledge to adequately represent your clients.  And no matter how experienced you are, almost all lawyers face the challenge of managing their clients expectations and explaining the facts and law to them in a way that helps them fully understand the matter at hand.

Mentor Interview: Computer Programmer and Photographer

Hello, my name is Jacob F.. I am currently enrolled at Palm Beach State tending to my Associate in Arts degree and continuing from here to a university for completing a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with a minor in Photography.

My mentor’s name is Travis and he went to Palm Beach Atlantic College for his Computer Information Systems degree in 1997, and then earned a masters in Computer Systems from the University of Phoenix in 2003. He began his professional career as a Perl programmer and I have since been doing software development as well as fulfilling the role of Production Support Manager for the past fifteen years. I am currently employed by Revelex.

I believe that Travis F. will be a very good source of information for the field of computer programming, as well as the areas surrounding that career choice, and this is why I chose him as my mentor.

What made you realize you wanted to get into this career?

I took a BASIC programming course during my high school education, did extremely well during that course, and then I decided to pursue a degree in the field, and as a professional career.

If you had to do it again, would you enter this field? Why or why not?

Yes, I would continue a very similar course to what I did. The reason why I would is that the software development field is in very high demand, offers many challenges and is to me a very satisfying experience over all.

How do you see this profession changing or developing over time?

The software field is a very diverse career path and it offers many opportunities and challenges in a wide range of fields, from graphical interfaces to web programming and embedded development, and many other career choices.

Each one of these areas is constantly changing and improving on itself. As long as there is a demand for computer / internet applications, there will be a demand for software developers.

How do you stay current in the field and develop yourself professionally?

I stay current by attending PHP conferences, and following well-known developers in the PHP community on both Twitter as well as their personal blogs. I also stay current with the advances in my chosen language on their Wiki and their official websites.

What advice about the benefits or cautions about the difficulties

/ Hazards would you give to someone who is considering entering this field?

Software development is a very broad field and its easy to try to do everything. That is a trap. Find the niche that you like and that you’re good in and pursue it.

Every career has its aggravating moments, what are the main frustrations you encounter, and how do you deal with them?

The main challenge in developing software is working with people. That can range from other developers, project managers, customers and everyone in between. In order to succeed in software development you need to be as skilled in working with others as well as knowing how to program.

Mentor Interview: Nurse Anesthetist

Catalina E.

Palm Beach State College

Since my early childhood, I have been enamored with technology and medicine. I was given a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff from an uncle of mine who is a General Physician and because I wore my stethoscope everywhere I gained the nickname “doctora” (doctor in Spanish). Throughout high school I volunteered for a foundation that fed the homeless and cared for their injuries. After I graduated from high school I pursued the degree of Surgical Nurse. While I was seeking my degree I practiced in multiple hospitals which gave me the opportunity to see multiple procedures and their protocols. I always also dreamed of getting a degree abroad and so I moved to the United States and decided I wanted to pursue an internationally recognized degree. I am currently finishing my A.A. and will be attending Nursing School at F.A.U.  In search for a mentor, I found a great professional in the field of Nurse Anesthetists that answered a couple questions about the biggest challenges in her career and how she became a very educated nurse throughout her life which gave me an idea of what my professional career will look like.

Nurse Anesthetists have been working on patients for more than 150 years, assisting them with painless, stress-free surgical procedures.

The first nurse to administer anesthesia was Catherine Lawrence, during the American Civil War assisting soldiers during their recovery from major wounds, although the first recognized nurse anesthetist was a catholic nun who practiced anesthesia at a local hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania.

In 1909, St. Vincent’s Hospital, in Portland, Oregon, offered the first education program for nurse anesthetists and this is how more academic institutions started offering training for nurses in this field.

Lynn Reede started a long path of education in Canton, Ohio in 1976 and she did not realize what a lengthy journey she was about to encounter. She then got her Nurse Anesthesia certificate in 1983 and soon after that, even before she finished her Bachelor of Arts in Allied Health, she got accepted into the program of Anesthesia (back when you did not need a BSN to practice this profession). At this point, Lynn thought it was the end of her education and that she could soon start practicing this amazing bit of science she had learnt in school, but she never stopped learning and gained a lot of experience in a multiphasic career.

Q: Thank you for giving me the chance to perform this interview, I am very honored to talk to you. Looking at your CV I can tell you took years going to school and giving your best to become a nurse anesthetist, how did you encourage yourself to continue with the lengthy education path you choose?

A: I would say the trick is to live a day at a time and to enjoy what you do at the maximum. I never thought I would go from one career to another, it just happened! and I love what I do. I can’t imagine doing something different than what I chose. I come from a family of very hardworking people and I was always asked to give the best of me from my parents.

Q: How did you choose the career of nursing? Does anyone in your family have medical background?

A: I had no idea I wanted to be a nurse. When I was in high school, one of the career counsellors introduced me to a secretary experience which I thought was definitely not what I wanted to do. By the time I was a sophomore, I knew I had to find something I would like to do in college. So one day, my mother took me to this Hospital University of Nursing and I learned what they did, saw the campus and next thing I know I got accepted into their program. That was my first experience with nursing. Once I was in the program I got to love the versatility of being a nurse. During my practices I had the opportunity to work with Nurse Anesthetists and they asked me how I would like to be one of them but I wasn’t really sure. They told me the hospital was going to start doing interviews for a nurse anesthetist and it would be the last chance I would have to get in without a BSN. The staff was very interested in having me work with them and I got accepted that time, it was a Monday, and that’s how I became a CRNA. My family always said: “whatever you do, do it well” and I think that’s what’s important in life. Appreciate what you do, respect the people you work with and do your job right.

Q: How would you recommend I continue the path of education and how can I make myself a better professional everyday?

A: I would live one day at a time. You should finish your Arts Associate in nursing (if that’s the path you have chosen) and after that you should get a certification through the board of nurses in Florida. After that you need to finish your Bachelor of Science in Nursing to become a Registered Nurse. In order to continue with the specialization in anesthesia, you are required to have at least one year of experience working in a ICU. Then you can easily apply for a Doctorate of Nursing in Anesthesia. This will help you improve your skills to be able to practice as a Nurse Anesthetist with or without the supervision of an anesthesiologist. Remember that it’s always important to keep your GPA as high as you can and get very good grades throughout your college experience.

Q: How do you keep yourself informed and updated in the nursing field and what do you recommend I do to be able to get myself involved with the professionals in the area?

A: I have always been involved in all that has to do with anesthesia. I am a member of multiple professional associations such as the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists where I am currently working as the Senior Director of Professional Practice since 2013, International Anesthesia Research Society, the Association of Perioperative Nurses and a couple more. This helped me stay in touch with a wide group of nurses and professionals in the field. I suggest you start joining some of these associations, especially this one I will recommend and it’s called DIVERSITY CRNA. This association meets with students pursuing the CRNA career a couple times a year and they talk about what it is like to be a Nurse Anesthetist, what the challenges are and they even perform an anesthesia simulation session the last day of the information meeting. They are there to inform and mentor diverse population and minorities like you to prepare you for this career. I can introduce you to the president of this association, his name is John and you can attend the next information session, you would really like it!

Q: How has been the experience of working for AANA and what are your responsibilities there? Do you miss the OR?

A: No, I don’t miss the OR (operating room). I have been working for AANA for two years as the Senior Director of Professional Practice. I work with a group of professionals, between doctors and nurses, and what we do is a wide review of medical literature in an attempt to develop resources of different matters for our members to have access to through our association. I also work taking members’ inquiries to answer their questions about the practice of anesthesia. I also respond calls from patients, professional nurses and doctors from all over the country. This is sort of a new chapter of my life. I had the opportunity to work with patients before, which I also loved. I had the opportunity to manage and lead anesthesia services with a staff of 60+ professionals, but that chapter is in the past and what I am doing now requires a lot of work, traveling and time which makes it impossible to be able to practice in the OR at the time. I am very happy where I am now because I think from this position I can still help a lot of people but from different perspectives. I can help a professional as much as I can help students and patients that call for help.

Q: Thank you very much for taking the time to finish the interview.

A: Thanks to you Catalina, I wish you the best and lots of success.