Well, all good things come to those who wait, and Mark waited long enough. He started WIU's College Student Personnel graduate program in August 1995, graduated May 1998, and is now employed in the Transfer Admissions Office at the University of California, Berkeley. "Having just gone through the job process, I have much respect for people job searching. I applied for over 170 jobs, went on ten job interviews and, when interviewing at Berkeley in Late May, was offered the job on the spot. What a thrill! Berkeley, my dream school." Dora was pleased too. Ever since living in Riverside in the mid-1980s, Mark and Dora dreamed of coming back to California. Mark's job in Admissions entails setting up and maintaining articulation agreements between Berkeley and California's 107 community colleges, so transfer students entering Berkeley will know which courses they've taken will transfer to Berkeley. In addition to maintaining a large data base, the position involves extensive coordination with Berkeley faculty and community college counselors. "What more could I ask for?" To get a taste of California, check out this makeshift (yet ever-expanding) California Photo Album, with photos of Berkeley and Mark's colleagues.
Mark's three years as a graduate student was a dream come true, both because he attended college full-time again and studied College Student Personnel. Here's a summary of his graduate school days…
During academic year 1996-97, he worked in both the Admissions and Financial Aid offices. In Admissions, he talked to prospective students and their parents, traveled to area high schools and community colleges on recruiting trips, wrote several publications, and assisted with open house and conference programs. In Financial Aid he learned that there's much to learn about the gazillion different federal financial aid regulations. Mark learned the basics of federal and state aid, staffed the Financial Aid table at several fairs and open houses, and wrote the infamous "Questions and Answers About Financial Aid" brochure.
During the summer of '96, Mark worked as an intern in the Office of Student Development and Orientation (SDO) at Western. There he assisted with many orientation/registration programs; coordinated the Fall Convocation picnic; talked to students contemplating university withdrawal; and coordinated/planned two very large Fall Orientation programs. Mark worked in SDO again during the Fall semester and was heavily involved in Fall Orientation; wrote/redesigned publications; created a number of web sites (which can all be found on this site-the page entitled "The Net" and evaluated the Fall Orientation programs. The Spring '97 semester was busy as well--Mark assisted in the recruitment/selection/training of approximately 150 student orientation leaders; created/planned/revised Fall Orientation programs; put together the Fall Orientation calendar (a "mega-publication"), and oversaw the planning of "College Daze", a fall orientation "game" in which hundreds of students experience the trials and tribulations of an entire academic year in less than an hour.
Mark continued his work in the Orientation office during the 1996-97 year and loved every minute of it. He coordinated/wrote several publications, created new orientation programs which were implemented the following year, and counseled students contemplating university withdrawal. "The best part of my job in that office were the people. Cari, Kim, Jan, Pete, Alia, and Tammy were wonderful colleagues, much like a family. Those were 'golden' times."
During summer '97, Mark hit the "Big Apple." He landed a job as a summer intern at Columbia University in New York City and had a ball! His internship was in the Office of Housing and Residence Life. There, he helped make housing assignments, wrote publications and web pages, planned orientation programs, and, in general, answered a hundred different questions per day from current and prospective students. During his off hours, Mark enjoyed the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of America's largest city. He saw most of the standard tourist attractions plus many others. Dora came to visit for ten days and they had a wonderful vacation together, seeing four broadway shows and walking (probably) over 10 miles per day. Mark always wanted to spend a substantial amount of time in New York-he got his wish and then some.
During the 1997-98 academic year, Mark worked in the Orientation office again, and also in the Office of Occupational Information and Placement. "Placement was a wonderful experience-I had a lot of contact with students-that's was the best part." Mark counseled students on job opportunities, critiqued resumes, conducted career workshops, performed mock interviews with students, designed web pages (of course), and taught two sections of a Career Planning course. "That was a trip, my first experience in front of a class-made me respect faculty even more. What an opportunity for a ham like me-having the undivided attention of twenty-five students. Loved it!"
In addition to work and study, Mark served as Scholarship Advisor for Western Illinois University's chapter of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority and as Chair of the President's Task Force to End Homophobia. His association with Alpha Sigma Alpha was rewarding and fun... "a fantastic group of professional young women who made me very proud by earning the highest grade point average of any Greek organization on campus for Fall 1996!" Mark's work with the President's Task Force to End Homophobia was rewarding as well. "After seeing so much hatred directed toward gays and lesbians (both in the military and otherwise) reminded me of the hateful feelings revolving around race relations during the 1960s, so I decided to put my convictions into action. Presenting anti-homophobia educational sessions to classes and organizations was a very enlightening and satisfying experience. Like racism, this problem [of homophobia] will only grow if we continue to deny its existence. Even seemingly "tolerant" attitudes such as...' I have no problems with gays if they just keep to themselves' are no longer acceptable to me--we need to move beyond basic tolerance to appreciation of those with different sexual/affectional orientations. Check out Mark's creation--the WIU Task Force to End Homophobia Web Site.
To better explain Mark's new career field, he wrote a short paper at the end of his first semester that explains it well. Here it is, it's entitled "What We Do"