Alex Clauff '12

Alex graduated with a B.S., May 2012 in Computer Information Systems/Business.

Alex ClauffDeciding to pursue a CIS/Business major

I chose to pursue the CIS/Business major after taking a general computer class my freshman year. I enjoy working with computers (and always have, even in middle school and high school).

Interesting and important things I’ve learned in my time at Edgewood

The most interesting thing I have learned over my college career is learning programming languages and finding out what you can do with them. For example, I developed Edgewood's School of Nursing website (before the College website remodel), using similar jQuery features Facebook implements.

Overall, the most important thing I have learned is to teach myself. The CIS department is structured in a "there are no boundaries" sort of way. If you want to find a different way around something, and add features to a project, you can.

In the first two years, it can feel like a lot of annoying book work, but it's worth the headaches. By junior year, you apply what you've learned, and create things. We have developed static websites, interactive calendar systems, and web-based databases—everything we create is for someone who will hopefully use it after we depart from the project. Whether it is for a non-profit organization, the school, or oneself, we go through the same process and apply everything that we have learned from our previous classes into the project.

I’m now able to take everything that I've learned and apply it to one project, which is what I'm currently working on. I am using PHP and MySQL as the server side code to connect to a database I have created. HTML, CSS, jQuery and JavaScript are being used as the front-end languages, delivering an elegant look for the end user. The finished product will be a CIS alumni database to track alumni contact information, where they currently work, etc.

Interesting internships

I really enjoyed my American Family Insurance internship last summer. I developed a part of the Application Development Team's website with a tutorial on how to code with jQuery. It was interesting because there I was, an intern at a Fortune 500 company, writing code to teach upper-level managers and associates which plugins were approved by the company, and how to properly code them into a page. My fellow intern and I had many tasks over the course of the three months, some of which were mundane while others were complex and took a few weeks to complete.

What really got me going in the computer science field was the summer between my sophomore and junior year, dealing with the School of Nursing website. Before that, I didn’t have the slightest clue how to program, other than the basic Java experience I picked up in a UW class. As I constructed the site over the course of the summer, I had to teach myself the appropriate languages. It became live six months later.

The CIS degree at Edgewood

One advantage of earning this degree at Edgewood is learning how to work with multiple personal relationships. We aren't “code monkeys” by any means. We are at Edgewood to learn how to develop projects (from start to finish, and everything in between). The degree at Edgewood does a phenomenal job at giving you the opportunity to work with many different types of individuals, from working with people you may not know, to those who do not even speak the same language as you. One of our recent graduates had Mandarin as the primary language installed on the computer. Although there was a communication barrier, we made it work.

About a broad liberal arts education

It has been helpful to learn how to communicate with people, whether they are your boss on a project, your subordinate, or your client. It is important to get an understanding of how to work with people from every angle. And, as a result of a fascinating guitar class I’ve taken from Edgewood’s Music Department, I want to continue learning how to play the guitar.

Kelly Doll '12

Kelly Doll, Psychology graduate, talks about her internship.

Kelly DollI chose to complete my internship while volunteering at DAIS, (Domestic Abuse Intervention Services of Dane County). I volunteer within the crisis-line advocacy program, where I manage the crisis-line and provide support and/ or referrals to anyone interested in DAIS’s services. Being a crisis-line advocate, I am the first contact many callers will have with the organization, making my job all the more important. In addition to providing callers with support and referrals, I am responsible for scheduling crisis-response appointments, and completing shelter screenings.

What I’ve learned through the internship

The top three things that I’ve learned, and which I feel have made the biggest impressions upon me while volunteering at DAIS, are: 1) the importance of listening is key and very significant in a role such as this. It’s not about offering advice, but instead, about simply being someone there who will listen and will not judge; 2) it is important to learn and to understand how to deal with a wide range of emotions, as well as to learn how to deal with silence; and 3) if at any time you start to feel overwhelmed or that your emotions are interfering with the task at hand, that it’s necessary to seek help and guidance before you can continue.

Connecting classroom learning with the internship

Learning each of these lessons has helped me to better understand, as well as relate to, certain concepts we talk about in our Psychology classes, specifically in reference to methods of therapy. This experience has helped me to broaden my understanding of the Psychology field, providing me with the opportunity to relate text and practice.

Connecting the internship with future career choices
I think the fact that I have been able to apply some of the concepts taught through class lecture and readings, to actual real-life experiences and situations, that I have an advantage career-wise that students from other schools might not have.

(February 2013)

Leah Sanson '12

Leah Sanson, Psychology graduate, talks about her internship.

About my internship

Leah SansonI fulfilled a 120-hour internship during the summer of 2012, at Connections Counseling (AODA/Mental Health counseling services) here in Madison. The focus was a combination of AODA (Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse) and mental health from ages 13 to late 50’s. During my internship, I was able to get an idea of how a clinic is run. I learned the code of conduct, rules and regulations, how client filing is performed, and how to perform an intake for clients. I also had the opportunity to sit in on many group therapy sessions and was able to learn the processes that take place. Eventually, I was able to help the other group therapist facilitate therapy sessions. I observed individual therapy sessions and was able to pick up on that process as well. I chose this internship because I really wanted to get hands-on experience, which I thought that this organization was capable of doing due to the multiple group and individual therapy sessions offered.

What I’ve learned through the internship

I learned that confidentiality is huge in this field of work, and it gave me a better idea of how to keep confidentiality. I learned many skills pertaining to group therapy, specifically Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which I found extremely interesting. Lastly, working with this clinic made me realize how much the counselors themselves communicate with one another in order to implement the best course of action possible for clients.

Connecting classroom learning with the internship

I was able to apply some of the methods that I had learned in Psychotherapies, Substance Abuse/Dependence Psychology and Abnormal Psychology. Connecting the internship with future career choices: I feel that this internship gave me a great hands-on, real-world experience in the field of Psychology (specifically counseling). It gave me an idea of what to expect when I begin my graduate studies, etc. I plan on doing a Doctor of Psychology Program (Psy. D).

(February 2013)

Louise Phelps '11

Edgewood graduate Louise Phelps received a B.A.
(Spanish; Studies in Education) in December 2011.

Louise PhelpsWhat I’m doing now

Currently, I serve as an AmeriCorps member with a Milwaukee non-profit organization called College Possible. College Possible supports students from low-income backgrounds in their pursuit of college admission and success. As a college coach, I am a mentor for current college students throughout the Midwest. I guide these inspiring students through the many financial, social, and academic challenges of college.

Deciding on my majors

Since high school, I have had a deep desire to learn about Spanish-speaking cultures and language. After taking several introductory courses at Edgewood during my first year, I became increasingly interested in issues of social justice, especially within the field of Education. As soon as I could, I declared my minor in Ethnic Studies, because I knew that examining race, ethnicity, culture and society was something about which I was deeply passionate.

I experienced a little bit more uncertainty when deciding on my major, because I knew that I wanted to study Education, but did not feel that classroom teaching was the right path for me. With much guidance from family, friends and several wonderful professors at Edgewood, I decided to declare a double major in Spanish and Studies in Education.

Important experiences at Edgewood that have helped me since graduating

I am extremely grateful for the impact that my international and intercultural experiences at Edgewood have had on my life. During my sophomore, junior and senior years, I was privileged to participate in two shortterm and one semester-long study abroad experiences to Guatemala and Mexico. From these experiences, I learned about the importance of expanding one’s world view, and gained a deep appreciation for cultures other than my own. I also came to discover myself and my own cultural identity. In a related way, I am grateful for the relationships that I built with several international students during my time at Edgewood. It was through these intercultural exchanges that I grew as a person and developed life-long friendships.

When I reflect on my academic experience at Edgewood, I realize my time in the classroom was always enriched with something deeper than textbooks and lectures. I developed compassionate relationships with my professors and classmates and learned about real-world issues that challenged me to make a difference in my community. With the Dominican values of truth, compassion, justice, community, and partnership to guide their teaching, professors and other staff at Edgewood inspired me to apply what I was learning to meaningful action. This is a practice that I continue to use in my workplace and beyond. I always try to look for the “now what?” factor when I read about current events or learn something new. I think to myself, “How can I draw on this new knowledge to bring about positive change?”

How a liberal arts education influenced my outlook

I believe the liberal arts education I received from Edgewood has allowed me to make important connections between disciplines, and to realize the interconnectedness of all fields.

I also feel that my education has greatly improved my problem-solving skills, because I am able to consider and value multiple points of view. Being part of the interdisciplinary Ethnic Studies minor program was especially influential in how I developed my world view. I grew to understand the importance of examining complex topics, such as race and ethnicity, from diverse perspectives.

Making the most of your educational opportunities

The advice I would give students is to never stop learning! Seek out experiences both in and outside of the classroom. Take advantage of the variety of academic and social opportunities that Edgewood has to offer; never be afraid to ask your professors for help or to “pick their brains” about a topic that interests you. Make friends with people who are different from you, and challenge yourself to confront injustice.

The Edgewood community can be a springboard for the change that you want to see in the world…Before you begin your life after college, take time to develop your passions and have fun!

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