Launch!

I am excited about coming to the Lefleur campus as the Dean. I’ve been involved in adult higher education for over 20 years, helping people just like you realize their dreams of a better life by earning a college degree.  I know what kind of effort and sacrifice it takes to push through to the goal of getting that diploma and I’m honored to be part of the team working with you. I want to do all I can to aid you in that process. In fact, our whole team of staff shares this same passion: your success in achieving your educational goals.

This blog is going to be part of our strategy in achieving that goal.  You will find posts on here that will give you helpful tips and ideas about how to work smarter and keep balance in your life. Some of the ideas you may use immediately, others may have a longer-term benefit. Regardless, I want you to know up front that we, all the staff at Belhaven University, are rooting for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact any of us and we will do our best to answer your questions as quickly as possible.

If you find that the information in this blog isn’t quite what you need or hoped for, let me know and I’ll work to make it more relevant.  You will also have the option, on the notification emails you receive, to unsubscribe to this blog, but I hope you’ll wait to do that until you’ve given me a chance to serve you through this venue.

Blessings,

Dr. Upchurch
Dean Belhaven Jackson/Madison
Associate V.P. Regional Campuses
Belhaven University
rupchurch@belhaven.edu

Change is Cheesy

There is a great book about change and how change can create fear in our lives. It seems appropriate to revisit since change is constant and will always be with us on earth.  Who Moved my Cheese? An A-Mazing Way to Deal With Change in your Work and In Your Life, written by Spencer Johnson, M.D., is an allegory about two mice named Sniff and Scurry and two people named Hem and Haw. The characters in this book deal with a serious problem: the of lack cheese, which is a symbol of livelihood.  In this blog I would like to focus on the character Haw “who learns to adapt in times when he sees changing can lead to something better” (1998, p.11).

One of the truisms discovered by Haw is “when you stop being afraid, you feel good” (1998 p.55). Fear can be paralyzing and counterproductive in our lives. It comes in many forms that are both healthy and not healthy: fear of things which keep us from danger and overcoming fears which can lead to freedom and new beginnings.  President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous saying the only thing we have to fear is fear itself that fear in the face of change only makes things worse.

When Moses revisited the law in Deuteronomy to the people of Israel they were on the precipice of change that would lead them to into their promised city. Fear was very present and he spoke saying. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (31:6).

I want to challenge you that when change happens and actions are needed, assess your fear factors, prioritize, show respect to the fears that could lead to harm, and sacrifice the ones that keep you from moving forward in your quest for CHEESE!

 

Johnson, S. (1998). Who moved my cheese? Abbotsford, British Columbia: The Braille Superstore.

 

Where Are You Headed? How Fast Are You Going?

 

Where are you going? Do you have a goal in mind? If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re in school at Belhaven or are considering starting. If so, then you must have an educational goal. What is it? To finish a degree that you started at some point? To start college for the first time as an adult?

After you determine your goal, the next step is to move forward! Take the step! How fast do you want to go? Are you thinking, “I need to do this in the shortest length of time possible. I need an accelerated program!” Or maybe you’re thinking, “I need to pace myself while taking classes. I have so many responsibilities already!” At Belhaven you have both of those options.

If you are a current Belhaven adult student, you may be thinking, “Yes, I’m in an accelerated program, and I feel the speed! My world is spinning with all the things I have to do. School. Work. Family. Church. Maybe I should slow down or take a break.” If that’s you, we understand. Life can become overwhelming at times. If that’s your situation, please talk to your Student Services staff and get their advice. We want to help you reach your goal. We’re here to serve you.

In the middle of it all, don’t forget your goal! Will a degree help your life? Will it help your family, your children? Keep your end goal in front of you. Keep moving forward. One step at a time. Remember the tortoise. Speed isn’t as important as reaching the finish line!!!

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” Phil. 3:13

The Confessions of a Professor

So often adult learners are hesitant to go to their professor for help for fear that they might appear uninformed.  After all, it has been so many years since being in school that the adult learner is unsure that they made the right decision to even return to school.  As a professor working with adult learners, here are a few things I wish students knew.

  1. We really want to help students.  Yes we have classroom standards and we expect you to do the work to get the grades.  But we long to help students who have questions or are struggling with the course material.
  2. The assigned reading in the text books is really important. So many students think they can go through a course without even opening the textbook and some even brag they didn’t bother to get the textbook for the class.  Only so much material can be covered in class.  The textbook is a rich source of information about the subject or focus of the course, we really want you to take the time to read the material.
  3. Please read instructions for the assignments before doing them wrong. So often adult learners fall prey to the tyranny of the urgent and skim through the instructions for assignments, ultimately doing them wrong.  They waste more time having to redo them. If only they had taken time to read the instructions before launching into the assignment and doing it wrong.  If there are questions about the assignment after reading the instructions, then ask questions.
  4. APA is a pain. Yes, even professors have to go back and review APA guidelines because every little detail is so important.  Learning to write scholarly papers is part of the learning process that adult learners need to embrace.
  5. We know you have many outside responsibilities and we do care. When an adult learner commits to their education, professors expect students to make their education a priority.  There is a time commitment to learning and school should not fit in around the edges as time permits.  School needs to be front and center on the priority list.  The course assignments are designed to maximize your learning and all have purpose.  The texts have been selected with care and should enhance your learning.

So, adult learners, please know that professors want to help you and are willing to answer your questions but you also need to make a commitment to your education to maximize your success in school.

Season of Celebration

Although all of our students are worth celebrating, the month of May provides the opportunity for us to celebrate three specific groups of our students – our graduates, our teachers, and our military personnel.

First, congratulations graduates! We are so proud of you! One of the greatest joys I have experienced in the past two months is the incredible ear to ear smile on the face of every one of our May graduates as they came by the site to pick up their regalia. It was wonderful to recap the heart-felt stories. The graduates were humbled and proud that they had stayed the course through good times and challenges to earn their degrees – many with honors. They are proud of their accomplishments. Many never thought it was possible to earn a degree. Although all of our graduates are unique and special, I would like to take this opportunity to share the stories of two of our Orlando Online graduates – John Murphy and Pamela Robinson.

John started his academic journey at Belhaven University pursuing his Associate degree on campus in Orlando. His dream didn’t stop there. John went on to earn his Bachelor in Biblical Studies. John always pushed himself, and held himself to a high standard. Some of his drive and discipline may have come from his military background. While pursuing his degree, John faced a personal tragedy – the death of his daughter. His life changed forever. John weathered the storm, and went on to complete his degree. John continued to push himself in order to care for his family. He took a break from Belhaven to pursue his dream of becoming a Florida State Trooper. He passed the exams and was accepted. Putting his family first, he had to make a tough decision. He had no guarantee of where he would be assigned in the State of Florida with the Highway Patrol. He had to turn down the academy, and pursue a different dream. He decided to come back to Belhaven and pursue his Master in Leadership online. Congratulations John! John was able to travel to our Atlanta Adult campus to walk in the ceremony and celebrate!

Pamela started her academic journey at our Memphis Adult campus. She was pursuing her Bachelor of Social Services degree. Pamela and her family relocated to Orlando, and she did not skip a beat. She transferred to the Orlando campus to continue her studies. With the business refocus in Orlando, Pamela switched to our Online campus to finish her degree. As a single mother, she constantly worked to balance the needs of her family, work, and school. She has a quiet and humble spirit. She appreciated the support she received from Belhaven. Congratulations Pamela!

Our second group of students worth celebrating is our teachers. The first full week in May is Teacher Appreciation Week. The first Tuesday is Teacher Appreciation Day. We celebrate all our students who are currently teaching, and/or pursuing advanced degrees in education.

The third group of students we honor and celebrate in May is our military. May is National Military Appreciation Month. We appreciate and celebrate those in service to protect our freedoms culminating in a celebration on Armed Forces Day – the third Saturday of May. We celebrate Memorial Day to honor our veterans who lost their lives protecting our freedoms.

To all of our May graduates, teachers, service men, women and veterans, enjoy your celebrations. You deserve the special recognition. We are proud of you!

 

The Storms of Life

The recent storms that ravaged our southern states have left damaged buildings and shattered lives.  Our sister school in Mississippi, William Cary, was heavily damaged in the storms that swept through Mississippi this past weekend.  David writes in Psalm 29 about the powerful storms that, even in biblical times, brought devastation. Storms and devastation in our lives is not new and I draw comfort from the last verse in Psalm 29.  It reads, “GOD makes his people strong. God gives his people peace”.

I think of many of our students who manage to juggle so much just to further their education.  Juggling school, family, church, and work is no easy task.  One sick child or unexpected repair bill can bring devastation and shatter that delicate balance our students try to maintain.   How do they do it?  I can only see one way and that is through total dependence of our Lord and Savior.

Take heart! God is still on the throne and cares about every detail of your life.  Don’t give up your educational goals when that storm of life brings devastation.  Through our weakness, we are made strong in Christ.

I love to read from “The Message”.  Here is the full transcript of Psalm 29:

Psalm 29The Message (MSG)

A David Psalm

29 1-2 Bravo, God, bravo!
Gods and all angels shout, “Encore!”
In awe before the glory,
in awe before God’s visible power.
Stand at attention!
Dress your best to honor him!

God thunders across the waters,
Brilliant, his voice and his face, streaming brightness—
God, across the flood waters.

God’s thunder tympanic,
God’s thunder symphonic.

God’s thunder smashes cedars,
God topples the northern cedars.

The mountain ranges skip like spring colts,
The high ridges jump like wild kid goats.

7-8 God’s thunder spits fire.
God thunders, the wilderness quakes;
He makes the desert of Kadesh shake.

God’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing
A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches.
We fall to our knees—we call out, “Glory!”

10 Above the floodwaters is God’s throne
from which his power flows,
from which he rules the world.

11 God makes his people strong.
God gives his people peace.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterso

 

 

Season of Joy

I love this time of year – the season of joy starting with Thanksgiving, and extending into the New Year. We start the season with a thankful heart. We continue the season filled with joy as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. We look forward to the adventures awaiting us in the New Year.

This time of year is extra special for an outstanding group of individuals – our Belhaven graduates. I know you are filled with joy as you anticipate commencement, and look forward to celebrating with your family and loved ones. Now the real work begins as you take this new found knowledge and experience into the world to continue to do great things! Congratulations graduates on your accomplishments!

Even with all of the joy, this season can sometimes get more stressful than joyful for some of us. When your holiday season becomes overwhelming, we need to remember that God wants us to be joyous this season.

I received a timely email with some great reminders of how to keep joy in your holiday. The author quotes from an article she read recently in Christian Today.

Six ways that you can make the most of your holidays…

Spend It With Family and Friends

Gifts, dinners and vacations are not to be the main reason for the celebration. Earthly possessions are great, but they are nothing compared to the joyous blessing of family and friends. God made us to be relational beings and even commands us to live a lifestyle of building relationships and loving one another (John 13:34).

Take Advantage of Focusing on Other’s Needs

The best part of the holidays isn’t the receiving, but the giving. Just like Acts 20:35 tells us “…It is more blessed to give than to receive…” Instead of focusing on what we’re going to get this season, why not set aside time and resources to give to the community and meet the needs of others?

Meditate on the Nativity Story

The true meaning of Christmas is Christ. It’s a great reminder of the wonderful news that our savior was born into this world to set us free from sin and iniquity. Taking time to meditate on the nativity story is a great idea to truly celebrate the reason for the season—Jesus. Celebrate the Intangibles Gifts are not the things that are of greatest value to us. Matthew 6:19 tells us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” The greatest gifts are things that money cannot buy, and those are what bring the most joy and happiness to us.

Invest Into Yourself

It’s not a sin to treat yourself. Think of the holidays as celebrating the win of holding fast to what God called you to do this year. God wants us to invest and take care of ourselves just as much as we love others (Mark 12:31).

Rest

Holidays are seasons of sabbatical rest that restores our souls and bodies as we approach God once more in worship and thanksgiving. Honoring the Sabbath is serious business to God, and the holiday season is a great way to experiencing God’s rest.

I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

christmas-tree

Want Success? Don’t Give Up!

SUCCESS.

Don’t we all want it? What does it take to succeed? Many people have tried and failed NUMEROUS times before they finally achieved success. What was their secret?

Thomas Edison: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”  

Winston Churchill:  “Never… never… never give up!”

Charlie Brown also gives us that very same advice: Never give up

Where are YOU in your journey to achieve your educational goals? Have you tried to get there before but just never were able to finish?  Are you right in the middle or near the end of your program? The past is where you learned the lesson. The future is where you apply the lesson. Don’t give up in the middle.

How are you feeling right now? Motivated? Tired? Excited? Determined? Discouraged? Your Belhaven faculty and staff are here to help you succeed! Let’s talk about it! We want to encourage you and see you reach your goal because OUR goal is YOUR success!


Be confident. Trust God every step of the way. He will give you the strength you need to complete your journey!

God will finish

“He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” (Phil.1:6) 

   

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Walking In

Two weeks ago, we were packing up our campus – preparing for the following day: moving day! I’ve never met anyone who likes to move. Given the choice between moving and having a root canal, I’ll take the root canal – gladly. However, the prospect that moving to a bright and shiny new facility would allow us to better serve our students was motivation enough. We were pumped and ready to pack. Just as we thought we couldn’t be more motivated, Joe walked in.

Joe is always walking in. Each evening when he walks into our campus, his hardy greetings seem to electrify the place. Joe walks into each office – into my office. Whatever is wrong with the day always gets a little better when Joe walks in.

As a non-traditional student, Joe is older than many of his millennial and Gen X classmates. As his instructor, I quickly found that Joe brought a lot of wisdom to the classroom and wasn’t shy to share it with us! Much has been written about generational differences these days. When Joe walked into my classroom, it became evident that there are more similarities than differences between us – that we’re all ultimately searching for the same things in life – confirmation that our lives matter: a sense of purpose.

We didn’t ask for student volunteers to help us prepare for the move, but, as I mentioned previously, Joe walked in – a May, 2016 graduate of Belhaven University (BS in Management) and newly enrolled graduate student (Master of Science in Leadership). We talked, laughed, packed, and all shared a meal together. A day that we had not looked forward to suddenly became a very good day.

The day after we packed for the move, Joe had a massive stroke. As of this writing, he is not doing well. Please pray for Joe. We don’t know if he will ever walk into our campus again – only God knows. A family member wrote the following: Joe was very proud of his work at Belhaven and learning with your organization gave him a great sense of purpose…thank you for that.

Of all the things that adult degree programs do for their students (better pay, opportunities for promotions, etc.), providing a student with “a great sense of purpose” represents our highest calling. Joe, and the adult students he represents, reminds us that amidst the discussion of career goals and academic planning, a much deeper longing motivates students when they walk through our doors.

I don’t think it’s an accident that adult students find purpose in programs like ours. The Christian worldview component has something to do with that for sure. There’s also the people component – the faculty, staff, and fellow students. We’re family, and its “family” that motivates a student to show up, to hang out, to walk into our offices –and ultimately into our lives. For this, we should be grateful.

 

 

Ed Pickel – Chattanooga/Dalton Campus

Keep Your Chin Up

 

Spring-Is-Sure-To-Follow

SPRING! It’s a new season. Beautiful colors are coming back into the landscape. Trees have green leaves again, and flowers are blooming. Soon the grass will need mowing again.   grass_border_3    Oh, maybe you didn’t want to be reminded of that!

Has it been a long winter for you? Have you faced more obstacles than opportunities lately? Are you tired? Is it hard to keep going to class and to complete your assignments each week?

Take a deep breath and remember why you are on this journey. You are in school to reach an educational goal you have set for yourself. You and many other students can get discouraged during the challenging times. Remind yourself of the reward at the end of the race.

Keep your focus on the finish line! diploma

KEEP YOUR CHIN UP!

“Let your eyes look directly ahead and

let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.”

Proverbs 4:25-26

Keep Your Chin Up