For students and some faculty, academics is balanced with also having a job

Norwich University, jobs, Corps of Cadets

Geraldo Mercado is both a student and Norwich employee, working as a senior enlisted advisor for the Corps of Cadets.

Many Norwich students find academics can be challenging. Adding a job to the mix can make life as a student even more stressful. However, students who work while at Norwich say having a job during the academic year can also have beneficial aspects.

Having a job and earning money is appealing to many students, and it also offers an opportunity to gain more knowledge and experience in their major field.

“I’m working with wireless microphones, set-ups and scenes so I think I’m ready for the work force, and ready for the press box if I get there,” said Kerry Gaspard, 23, a senior majoring in communications from Miami, Fla.

Gaspard works for Northeast Sports Network (NSN), a company hired by NU to record all live National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) division III games. He is the camera operator for men’s and women’s hockey and basketball games, as well as football games.

Jennifer Passalacqua, 20, is a junior majoring in communications from Geneva, N.Y., who is also working in her field. She finds her job as a layout editor for the Norwich Guidon newspaper beneficial in gaining experience,

“Prof. (Ken) Bush thought it would be a good job for me because I enjoyed journalism and doing the work for it and it’s what I want to do,” she said.

While Gaspard and Passalacqua both cite the benefits of learning first-hand about their field of studies, others find their job betters their social skills and allows them to meet new people.

Alexandria Miller, 21, a junior majoring in political science and secondary education from Manhattan, N,Y., works for the Residence Life Department at NU as a resident advisor. “I came here spring semester in 2011 and the transition into the college was really tough for me. Everyone had their friends and were in their cliques, so I decided to do the job to try and help with that,” she said.

Although Miller keeps busy as a resident advisor, she is also is a work-study employee at the academic affairs office.

“I stay pretty busy, but the most important thing is time management to get everything done,” she said.

Balancing academics and free time can be difficult for some working students when there are conflicts with their hours of work. “Some weekends, it’s like Parents Weekend, or Homecoming Weekend and I would obviously rather be doing other things,” Passalacqua said. But she adds about her job, “I like how it’s every other weekend, and not very time-consuming.”

Miller also finds herself consumed by her job at times, especially during the school day.

“If anything, it has made it a little bit harder and challenging. Sometimes I’ll sit in class and be thinking and looking at emails of things I need to take care of for students and running around, so it actually serves as a distraction sometimes,” Miller said.

Though Miller finds thinking about her job can lead her mind to wander at times, she still finds having work to be well worth the effort “It can feel like you are doing way too much, but you make good connections and it’s worth it,” she said.

Students who work say they need to keep their priorities straight and remember why they are at Norwich. Gaspard always makes sure to put his academics first. “Being a students always comes first,” he said.

Students who work all have different schedules they must organize and cope with. Gaspard, for example, mostly works during the weekends filming sporting events, but he has also worked a couple times during the weekday for the Todd lecture series.

Though Gaspard doesn’t have work conflicting with the school week, Yolinda Logan, 20, a junior majoring in communications from McHenry, Md., must balance the two on a daily basis. Logan works for Sodexo in the dish room, as well as at the Dunkin Donuts on campus. She works Monday through Thursday, and has classes Monday through Friday.

Even so, like Gaspard, Logan agrees that school always comes first in his mind. “I have to have priorities straight. Work comes second,” she said.

For some students, like Logan, having a job is nothing new. “I had my first job when I was 13, so I have always worked in the food industry,” she said. Miller has also had a job since her teens. “I’ve been working since I was 14,” Miller said.

Though students at NU don’t typically go to the school to get a job and then take classes, some do. Robert Berkey is a instructional developer at NU, building online content for graduates, specializing in multimedia.

Berkey was a Cadet at NU in 2001 majoring in communications. He was here for four years, but did not finish his degree. “I went out into the world and got a job in IT, and did that for about five or six years,” he said. However, when Berkey saw the stock market was heading for a crash back in 2008, he decided education would be a good idea for stability in his job.

“I came back and got a job at Norwich about five years ago, and one of the benefits is free classes so I decided to finish my degree because I spent a lot of money on it many years ago,” Berkey said.

Like Berkey, Geraldo Mercado, 46, is an employee, with a job as senior enlisted advisor for NU and is working towards a degree, majoring in criminal justice.

Mercado mentors and advices the Corps of Cadets in his job, “However, I view it as mentoring and advising all students,” he said. “It’s funny, I always thought ‘well I don’t need school, I have enough experience and character,’ that if I did get an interview I would have a good chance. It sounds a little bit egotistical,” he said

Before getting the job, Mercado had previously worked at the school until 2007 when he retired from the Marine Corps. He decided to look for another job, but was having a difficult time finding one. “All the jobs I applied for were asking for a degree. They appreciated my service but I realized then how important an education was,” he said.

He added, “I do think that education and my experience is a plus, but the fact is an education is very important for now and for the future.”

When Mercado got his job as advisor, he made a promise to a friend to finish school. “Although I wanted to go to school I was afraid of it, but because I made a promise, I’m going to uphold it,” he explained.

Mercado chose his criminal justice major with the idea of a possible future job in homeland security, and it’s turned out to be stimulating to be in school again. “For me classes are fun, it breaks up the monotony, and I like to learn in the classes,” he said. Mercado cites one class in particular, which was forensics, as being helpful for future skills in investigating, critical thinking, and engaging with other people.

Like other working students, Mercado has a difficult time balancing classes and his job, which is made even harder because of the fact he is also a single dad.

“I will admit last semester I ended up taking four classes and I was about to quit, I really was feeling it and I still am,” he said.

Although Mercado finds that he handles stress well overall, juggling his many responsibilities can be difficult. Even so, he still keeps a positive outlook.

“I count the blessings, at least I have a job, my kids are safe they have food on their plates, and what actually keeps me going is family,” he said.

For Berkey, accomplishing the task itself by getting a degree is all the motivation he needs. “I want to finish what I started. The problem is I’m in a job right now that requires a degree or higher. I got hired in a job that was looking for someone with a master’s degree, and my degree really isn’t going to help me with the career field I’m in,” he said.

Mercado finds his motivation also touches on dedication to his job, family and getting better educated. “I look at my family and the goal of providing better chances for (them) and it keeps me going,” he said.

Mercado, who expects to get his degree in May, says helping other students balance everything and succeed is also a plus. “Personally I like when a student succeeds, but the fact that they are doing something for themselves and for the country in a sense makes me proud,” he said.

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