Good Grammar Matters

Using good grammar matters in your writing, and it matters in your speech.  Poor grammar will have a limiting effect on your career, and do so in a way that you may never know why you are not progressing.  Being able to communicate effectively requires you to understand and use good grammar in all forms of communication.

For more on this check out the video below:

Tasks Which Define Success (TWDS)

There are some tasks which will make the difference between success and failure at home, work, and life in general.  These are the Tasks Which Define Success.  Do those tasks well and success is assured, fail to do these tasks or do them poorly and you may be very busy, but not very successful.

Check out the short video below for more on this:

Team Projects

Team Projects are often the most dreaded part of a course. While not all our courses include a Team Project, there are still several which do. So, the question is, “What can I do, personally, to make the team experience a positive one (and also get a good grade)?”  I’m glad you asked. Here are several ideas for improving the outcome of your team project:

  1. Make sure you complete the Team Covenant the first meeting of your team. This can be found on Blazenet under StudentLife/Services in the Documents. While completing this may take a few minutes, the value comes in having everyone on the same page – especially when it seems like some in the group are dropping the ball. Calling out those who aren’t complying with the Covenant expectations may be necessary, but it is much easier if the Covenant exists
  2. Make sure everyone has a copy of the Team Evaluation rubric. This can be found in the same place on Blazenet. The important thing here is to make clear to everyone up front that you are going to be brutally honest in completing this form at the end of the project.
  3. Do your best to stay engaged in the Project, completing the expectations assigned to you. Don’t hesitate to check in with other team members on their progress.
  4. I HIGHLY recommend you use either a Google Doc and/or Google Slides for your project and include the Instructor.  Both of these are free, and it can easily be determined who contributed and how much they contributed.  The team leader should start the Document/Slides and then share it with the rest of the team members.  That way you can all work from different locations at the same time on the same presentation or document. Both also have chat capabilities built in so you can “talk” in real time about the project.
  5. You may not have tried it before, but Canvas has a Zoom link on the left panel which can be used for video conferencing and screen sharing. This means you don’t have to set up another time to get together, you can video conference. This is a simple product and it works great – you can also record the session to further prove who participated and who didn’t. Just identify who will be setting up the meetings.

Team projects, when done effectively, can enhance your knowledge and skills. If you incorporate group software like I describe above it can also make you more valuable at work.

Handshake – Career Search Tool – free to Belhaven Students

How can students benefit from Handshake?
by Dr. Mark Hunter

All Belhaven students, traditional, adult, and online, can benefit from Handshake because it provides jobs and internships for every student, regardless of major. Based upon your student profile, Handshake provides customized recommendations of jobs and internships based on your interests. Handshake has access to over 326.000 employers, including all of the Fortune 500 companies. A great feature of Handshake is employers can directly contact students who want to have their profile available to employers. Students who complete their profile are five times more likely to be messaged by employers interested in hiring them. Handshake also connects Belhaven students with over 14 million other Handshake users across the country to ask career-related questions about job searches and specific employers. Handshake is also the one-stop shop to connect all Belhaven students with the Center for Career and Calling for a list of upcoming events, resume evaluation, and mock interviews. Our online and adult students can access the Career and Calling staff through video conferencing.

How can students utilize the Handshake app to help them?

The Handshake app is available for both Apple and Android devices and is found in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, free of charge. Unlike Indeed and other job-posting websites, Handshake only provides job and internship postings for current and recently graduated college students. Rather than sifting through hundreds of or thousands of job postings, Handshake provides Belhaven students listings of job and internships that are customized for them and do not require years of previous experience to secure the job.

What are some misconceptions about job hunting after college that students need to know?

A misconception is underestimating how important a good cover letter and resume can be in getting a candidate an interview for a job. Hiring managers often take between 10-30 seconds to read a resume before deciding whether to pursue the candidate further or to proceed to the next candidate. The Center for Calling and Career can assist students with resumes, cover letters, and mock interviews to help them land that new job.

Things are rarely as they seem to be . . .

Things are rarely as they seem to be, in fact, sometimes they are RADICALLY different! So, when confronted by challenging circumstances, or people, Avoid knee-jerk reactions and snap decisions until you have a better understanding of the situation.   When you make a knee-jerk reaction or decision (emergencies excepted) it will almost always have some negative ramifications.  Take a few moments to breathe; if necessary disengage or dampen your emotions so you can think.  See the video below for more…

The Importance of Having Life Principles

This is part of a series of short videos I’ve recorded under the general title: Proverbs for Living a Fulfilling Life.  Most are less than 2 minutes in length, although this first one is approximately 4 minutes.  My purpose in recording them is to provide some mentoring thoughts for you to reflect upon and, hopefully, contribute to you having a more fulfilling life. This is the first of the series and begins on the foundation of the importance of having life principles.


Comfort Zones

Great accomplishments and achievements do not come by chance. You must work hard, you must work smart… but whatever the task at hand may be… whether it’s an individual assignment / project, a course, or an entire degree… to achieve great results you must focus, you must commit, and you must ultimately get out of your comfort zone.

Staying the course and staying on track can be difficult with all of life’s distractions, specifically for adult learners. Finding your “why” and remembering your “why”… can help you stay focused on completing your next task, and ultimately getting to the finish line- graduation! Often times, when students become distracted their focus is distorted and they forget their “why” or motivation for earning their degree in the first place.  It is when they refocus and revert back to the compelling reason that brought them on this journey, to the point of thinking about how their lives will not change if they do not finish their degree…that they will re-commit and consider doing things differently to achieve their desired results.

Comfort Zones are just that, comfortable. It has been said that “Great things never came from comfort zones”.  When people are comfortable and content, they usually do not move out of that position or expand their capabilities. However, when people are out of options, pushed to their limits, and become totally lost in their future plans, often- there is no other choice, but to make a drastic change and try something new and out of the norm.  For many adult learners, going back to school and while balancing their life and career is something totally outside of their comfort zone.  Carving out personal time, in general for many working parents, can be a challenge in itself… but making changes and improving ones quality of life through higher education is worth the intermediate discomfort.  Leaving your comfort zone allows you to look beyond what you think you are capable of and allows you to see how you can do more than you imagined.  When you take the risk and leave your comfort zone and just go “all- in” to reach your goals… you will totally succeed! The only thing that is limiting your success, is you!

Philippians 4:13  says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

So, just remember… You can do this! You can finish your degree! Remember your “why” and be ready to get outside your comfort zone. God has given you the will to be successful and with the finish line, just on the horizon, just keep going until you finish!

My Final Good Advice


I have been working in adult education for almost 30 years. I am planning to retire in a few months, so this will be my final blog post. As I think back through the years, I have seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of success stories of adults completing their degrees! However, on the journey to this achievement, many students have faced discouraging times, with multiple reasons including personal, financial, job-related, health, etc.

Based on my past experience, I would like to give you some good advice. If you are having problems and are discouraged, I want to encourage you. Don’t give up! This too shall pass. It may pass “like a kidney stone,” but it will pass! In Galatians 6:9 we read, “At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

Many people have claimed to be the author of this inspirational poem which speaks to this topic, but the true author is unknown. I hope it will have positive meaning for you. God bless you all.

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.



Image result for thankful

I will be honest and say my thankfulness comes a bit more readily this time of the year. It is the season to be thankful, after all. There are daily-post challenges on social media, get-togethers with family, and holiday well wishing to make the season bright. I suppose our minds are more focused on it. But, what would our daily lives look like the other 11 months of the year if we recognized all we have to be thankful for a little more often?

In a recent Harvard Health study, positive psychology research reveals “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships” (“Giving thanks can”, 2017). Wow, that’s reason enough for me!

Now, if I put this into practice what would it look like?

Thankfulness Journal

I once heard my Pastor say he had kept a prayer journal and wrote all his concerns, then later, wrote down all the times those prayers were answered. It can become commonplace to forget how present God is in our lives. By writing down the ways we see Him working, we can be reminded and thankful for all He is doing. 1 Chronicles 29:13 (NIV) Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.

Appreciate the Little Things

I can be more intentional to notice and appreciate the little things. This could be as simple as writing down 3-5 things each week I am thankful for. When we are intentional to recognize the little things, the bigger things can seem not-so-big after all. It would be really neat to look back this time next year at all the things I was thankful for each week. If I jotted down just three each week, it would add up quickly! Psalm 7:17 (NIV) I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.

Verbalize my Gratitude

Telling others how much we appreciate them not only brightens their day, but allows us to recognize how important others are to us. We’re all in this life together, whether we work together, attend class together, or sit next to each other in traffic each day, a little bit of gratitude goes a long way to spreading happiness. Let’s pay it forward! 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV) Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.



Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier. (2017). Retrieved November 10, 2017, from


I Need a Break!

Earlier this week, I received an urgent message from a student asking me to call her ASAP. A number of concerns came to mind as I pondered what may have been her state of emergency.

As soon as I was able to call the student back, she immediately asked if it was too late to drop her current class. Before I answered, I grew eager to know why she needed to drop her class, especially considering this was her very last class and she was scheduled to graduate in a few weeks. If she dropped this course, it would change her completion date. All I kept pondering was: “What was going on with her?”

When I asked the student what was wrong, she said: “This class is too much and I am tired and need a break.” She recognized that dropping the class would mean she no longer qualified for December’s graduation, but in that moment, she did not care. She wanted and needed to take a break.

Because I once found myself feeling the same way when I was taking classes, my response to her was quite clear. To her I said: “You are burned out. That is what is wrong with you. I know what exhaustion feels and looks like, because almost four years ago, I was in the same position. I was in my very last graduate class and just could not find the strength to see the end through. As your fellow sister in Christ, I cannot and will not let you drop this class. You have come too far to give up now. You will be fine. You WILL finish this class and finish strong. After you are done, then you can take all the time you need.”

This situation reminded me of when my brother ran track in high school. As I watched him run long-distance, I noticed that most of the runners began the race further back than others. This was interesting to me. As the race continued, my brother would move up a little towards the middle lanes. Then as time went by and he realized that he only had a few more laps to run, my brother would suddenly take off and sprint as he took the lead over the other runners. Nervously, I sat in uncertainty wondering if he would win the race or would someone beat him. To my disappointment, as he made his last few laps, my brother seemed to have just lost wind and given up, because before I realized it, the other runners had bypassed him and he eventually gave out, coming in last place. What started out promising ended in conquest.

Oftentimes, we as believers find ourselves right at the end of a race, but then, we quit. God wants us to understand that the Christian race is one that has to be run until the end.  Paul, in 1 Corinthians, writes, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24). This was Paul’s farewell address to the Church at Ephesus and he said, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy . . . ” (Acts 20:24).

So, just as I attempted to convey to the student the other day, as God’s children, we must keep running the race to win the prize. The iniquity is not in getting tired while running the race; rather, it is in giving up.