Monthly Archives: April 2018

Congratulations Dr. Rudel!


KUDOS to Dr. Becky Rudel from the RN-BSN program. Two of her courses (NURS 301 – Transitions and NURS 342 – Nursing Care of Diverse Populations) have just earned prestigious certification by @QMProgram #QMRecognizedCourse.  Quality Matters certification is based on a rigorous expert team review/analysis against the QM’s eight standards and 43 specific sub-standards. The impact of Quality Matters on certified courses is undeniable, from anything to course design, easier student navigation, less barriers for students, to better student outcomes and much more. In her commitment to online learning quality, Dr. Becky puts learners first. Congrats !

Earth Day 2018!

Earth Day 2018.jpgSunday, April 22nd, is Earth Day! Earth Day was created in 1970 to protest the negative impact of over 150 years of industrial development, which includes smog and other airborne pollution, as well as a decrease in biodiversity due to pesticide run-off and other pollutants. Earth Day is a day of political action and civic participation, and over 1 billion people in around 192 countries participate each year. People protest, march, sign petitions, plant trees, collect trash, and even meet with their public officials. This year’s Earth Day has been dedicated to ending plastic pollution. This post will detail what is currently negatively impacting our environment, and what you can do to help- both on Earth Day and in your day to day life.

What is Global Warming? 

According to NASA, most scientists agree that the current climate change is caused by human expansion of the greenhouse effect. Life on earth depends on energy from the sun. The greenhouse gases in our atmosphere trap and reflect back a portion of this energy, and as a result the Earth is warmed to a temperature that can sustain life. Currently, human actions such as the burning off fossil fuels add additional greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This results in less energy from the sun escaping through the atmosphere. It is then reflected back to Earth, further warming the surface.

Why Should We Care?

There are many negative impacts to the increase of the greenhouse effect. These include, but are not limited to…

  • Increased Ocean Levels
    • This is one of the biggest worries of global warming. The added reflected heat melts large patches of glaciers, which not only robs animals like polar bears of their homes, but also increases the overall ocean levels. This, combined with the expansion of water as it gets warmer puts many costal areas at increased risk.
  • Wildfires
    • There has been longer and more dangerous wildfire seasons than before. This is a result of hotter, drier climates in the American West due to climate change. The western wildfire season has increased from 5 months in 1970 to 7 months today.
  • Tree Death
    • Tens of millions of trees have died in the Rocky Mountains as a result of a triple-threat of wildfires, tree-killing insects, and dry spells/ drought.
  • Disruptions to Food Supplies
    • As a result of rising temperatures and the domino effect this puts in place (such as heat waves, heavier precipitation in some areas compared to more severe drought in others) that has repercussions on cattle, coffee, staple ground crops, and even your backyard garden.
  • Dying Coral
    • The coral reefs are rapidly dying. As surface temperatures rise, so do ocean temperatures. This increased heat along with the multiple chemicals being dumped into the ocean cause the death of multiple coral reefs and the biodiverse habitat they foster.

What Can You Do?

There are multiple things you can do to reduce your effect on climate change. Below we have listed a few steps you can take to make your life and the Earth a little bit greener.

  1. Power Your Home With Renewable Energy
    • If you have the ability to choose your energy provider, try to find one who sources half their energy from eco-friendly, renewable resources such as solar or wind.
  2. Reduce Water Waste
    • It takes a lot of energy to pump, heat, and treat your water. Try taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet as you brush your teeth, and try switching your appliances to those with a WaterSense label. The EPA estimates that if just one out of 100 American homes were outfitted with water saving appliances, the result could be 80,000 tons less of global warming pollution.
  3. Eat the Food You Buy
    • Around 10% of US energy goes into growing, processing, and packaging the food you buy- of which over 40% ends up in landfills. Additionally, livestock are the most resource-intensive type of food to produce, so eating less meat will help contribute to the reduction of pollution as well.
  4. Try Living Waste-Free
    • Living zero waste is a lofty goal, and for many it may seem out of reach. Instead, try implementing tips and tricks gradually to reduce your waste over-all. Own a refillable water bottle (and use it). Make your own coffee instead of buying 6$ lattes. Compost your food instead of wasting it (It doesn’t have to be that gross). Living zero-waste not only helps the environment, but also helps the economy and your health. Give it a try!

Events at MSUM

On Friday, April 20th, MSUM’s Sustainable Student Association is holding an Earth Day Festival! Weather permitting, the Festival will take place on the Campus Mall from 1 to 5 PM. There will be tie-dying, a trivia booth, and other campus organizations will have booths as well. Come and learn about different renewable resources, and play some yard games.

Sources Used


Autism Awareness Month

autism acceptance monthApril is Autism Awareness Month. The designation of the month to bring awareness to autism is very controversial, as the organizations that participate in this month are rife with ableism. If you are unfamiliar with the term, ableism is the discrimination and social prejudice of society against people with disabilities. Many people with autism would rather the month be focused on acceptance more so than awareness. Autism Speaks, a widely known non-profit, is closely affiliated with Autism Awareness Month. It is disliked by the autistic community for multiple reasons, mainly that it does not accurately represent or serve the majority of autistic people, therefore failing in its purpose as a non-profit. It targets caretakers and parents of autistic people, and as a result treats actual autistic people as unable to contribute to conversations about their disorder. In order to combat some of the misinformation spread during Autism Awareness Month, we have complied information about what autism is, and how to avoid being ableist it your everyday interactions.

What is Autism?

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, meaning it effects how a person’s nervous system develops. Because their neurology is different, autistic people experience the world differently, and this is part of the reason many people see being autistic as an indivisible part of who they are. An important part of autism diagnosis is the idea of a “spectrum”, with one side representing a person traditionally considered “low-functioning”, meaning that they have severe trouble communicating, issues with social interaction, and a low IQ (which does not necessarily correlate to intelligence), and the other side representing someone considered “high-functioning”, meaning someone who speaks “acceptably”, can “pass” while socializing, and has a high IQ. Many autistic people have issues with the terminology associated with the spectrum, specifically labeling people as high or low functioning.  It is considered oversimplified, and contributes to stigma around autistic people.

There are many characteristics of autism, however as everyone is different, these characteristics may present differently or not at all. Below we have listed some of the characteristics an autistic person may present with.

  • Problems Understanding Tone/Inflection 
    • People on the spectrum may have trouble picking up nuances in a person’s tone while speaking. This, combined with the tendency to take everything literally, can cause mixed messages to be communicated.
  • Sensory Processing Differences
    • Due to the neurological aspect of autism, autistic people interpret the world differently than someone without autism. This can effect all senses, but most commonly affects sight and sound. Things that may not seem all that loud and bright to a non-autistic person can be very overwhelming to someone with autism due to their neurological differences.
  • Stimming 
    • Stimming, or self-stimulating, is the process of repeating motions or vocalizations in order to self-regulate or self-soothe. There is some discussion as to whether stimming should be trained out of people with controversial therapy methods such as ABA (applied behavioral analysis), but since stimming can be extremely beneficial and is not shown to be harmful, many autistic people see this as an attempt to force people to hide their autism, therefore hiding and being ashamed of a part of themselves.
  • Following a Routine
    • Many people who fall on the spectrum are also diagnosed with anxiety. Maintaining a routine is a way to add order and structure to an otherwise uncontrollable world. Every person’s flexibility with their routine is different, as no two people are identical.
  • Eye Contact
    • Generally, autistic people have trouble making eye contact. It can feel unnatural, uncomfortable, and in some cases aggressive. Many people come up with coping methods to appear as though they are making eye contact, such as looking at someone’s eyebrows. There is debate around forcing autistic people to make eye contact, as it is less about helping the autistic person and more about making them acceptable for society.
  • Navigating Unspoken Rules
    • This falls along the same vein as problems with picking up tone and inflection. There are many unspoken rules about social interaction, such as personal space and acceptable topic conversations, that non-autistic people pick up subconsciously. However, for an autistic person, they may not recognize the rules and unconsciously break them.

Common Myths About Autism

There is a lot of misinformation about autistic people, and what is means to be autistic. Below is a list of common myths about autism.

  • Autistic People Have No Empathy
    • This is a multifaceted accusation, and does not look at all sides of what it means to be autistic. First of all, empathy is not the ability to care about people. Simply, empathy is the ability to “step in someone else’s shoes” and understand what they are feeling. The inability of an autistic person to do this harks back to their struggle to accurately look at a person and understand what they are thinking or feeling through body language or tone of voice. In fact, newer theories speculate that autistic people are overly empathetic, meaning that the issue they have is not relating to others, but instead being unable to place exactly what a person is feeling through body language and tone of voice. Like everyone, empathy levels vary regardless of a person’s placement on the spectrum, making their inability to feel empathy a myth.
  • Autistic People are Violent
    • Very simply, there is no evidence to suggest that an autistic person is more prone to premeditated violence that anyone else. In fact, autistic people are far more likely to be the victim of bullying and emotional/ physical abuse by parents or caregivers than other children.
  • There is an Autism Epidemic
    • While there is an increase in the amount of people being diagnosed, this is considered a result of an improvement in diagnosis as opposed to an increase in the autistic population. The term autism has only been around for a short time, and for the majority of its existence, the criteria for being diagnosed was very strict. As you have learned from this post, no two people present the characteristics of autism in the same way, making many autistic people fall outside of the antiquated criteria for diagnosis. In addition, when looking at the overall population of autistic people, there is around the same number of autistic adults as there are children, meaning there has not been an increase in the overall rate of autism, just improved diagnosis.
  • Vaccines Cause Autism
    • This is a very controversial issue, not just in the autism community but in mainstream media as well. It is an issue that many parents (not so much autistic adults or medical professionals) in the autism community are very passionate about. However, it is not true. Vaccines do not cause autism, and not vaccinating your child can leave them susceptible to many dangerous diseases.
  • All Autistic People Want to be Cured
    • This is incorrect, and a highly offensive statement to many members of the autistic community. As their most basic neurodevelopment is different than a non-autistic person’s, people with autism often see their disorder as being an indivisible part of themselves, and not something that needs curing or fixing.

How to Avoid Being Ableist

If you are someone who is unfamiliar with the autism community, or generally uneducated on autism or other disorders and disabilities, you may be participating in ableist language. We have included some common phrases people say to autistic or disabled people, and why they are ableist.

  • “You’re so Inspirational”
    • This implies to autistic and disabled people they are inspiring for living, as if being disabled or autistic is so bad it is a miracle they can continue to go on with their lives. This sends really negative messages about what you think of their lives.
  • “You Don’t Look Disabled/Autistic”
    • This is often said to people with “invisible disabilities”, such as neurological differences or chronic pain. This invalidates the person’s experience, and insinuates that the only real disabilities are ones you can see.
  • “Stop Complaining, Other People Have It Worse”
    • Just because there are things that are worse doesn’t mean that what someone is going through isn’t bad, painful, or hard. One person’s pain does not invalidate someone else’s. This is like saying “Stop being happy, other people have it better”. Just because other people are happy doesn’t mean someone else can’t be as well.
  • If You Just Tried Harder, You’d Get Better”
    • First of all, autism isn’t something to “get better” from. It is apart of someone, and not something that needs to be cured or fixed. Secondly, there is not a magic cure for things like depression or anxiety, two common comorbid disorders. It is incredibly insulting to insinuate that what someone is going through is completely in their control, and that they are not trying hard enough to get better.
  • “Try To Act More Normal”
    • This implies that there is something wrong with the way an autistic or disabled person is. Some things autistic people do may make others uncomfortable, like stimming in public or needing to wear earplugs or sunglasses inside, but there is nothing wrong about it, and there is no reason to need to change to act mo9re “normal”
  • “You’re Not a Disabled Person, You’re a Person With a Disability”
    • There are a few things wrong with this statement. First of all, telling somewhat how to identify is called tone-policing. It is not for anyone other that the person themselves to decide what they are or are not. Many people prefer identity-first language such as “autistic person”, as they feel it conveys that being autistic is an important part of who they are and their identity . The other option, which is still widely used, is called person-first language, and signals that the person and the disability or disorder are separate.

Sources Used

Below are a list of sources used to write this post. This blog is only the tip of the iceberg, and if you feel the desire to learn more about autism and ableism feel free to check out the links below. A special thank you to sisters Caley and Creigh of Autism Spectrum Explained. This website is a great resource to educate yourself about multiple facets of autism and the community.


Click to access MedicalComorbiditiesinASD2013.pdf


Stress Awareness Day, April 16th

Stress Awareness DayWhile April is dedicated as Stress Awareness Month, April 16th (the day after taxes are due) is set aside as a day to reflect on how stressed you have become. Stress has many negative effects on both physical and mental health, so to help you cope with both tax and finals season we have compiled two lists: one to help you identify if you are stressed, and another to help you reduce and deal with stress.

Common Signs of Stress

While many people identify being stressed with mental symptoms, there are multiple physical and behavioral signs that may also indicate you are stressed.

  • Physical
    • Headache
    • Muscle Pain/Tension
    • Chest Pain
    • Fatigue
    • Stomach Upset
    • Sleep Problems
  • Mental
    • Anxiety
    • Restlessness
    • Lack of Motivation or Focus
    • Feeling Overwhelmed
    • Irritability or Anger
    • Sadness or Depression
  • Behavioral
    • Overeating or Under-eating
    • Angry Outbursts
    • Drug or Alcohol Use
    • Tobacco Use
    • Social Withdrawal

How to Manage Stress

Chronic stress has been linked to numerous health risks, including but not limited to cardiovascular diseases, obesity, gastrointestinal issues such as GERD, and mental health problems. Because long term stress can be so dangerous, we have included strategies for managing stress.

  • Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine

Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants, meaning that they will mimic and increase the feeling of stress. Alcohol is a depressant in large quantities, but can act as a stimulant in larger quantities, making in ineffective for managing stress.

  • Participate in Physical Activity

When you are stressed, your body increases specific hormones in your body- adrenaline and cortisol included. These hormones contribute to your bodies fight or flight response, and can leave you feeling jittery and anxious. Since modern problems are not often remedied by a flight or fight response, physical exercise can act as a surrogate in order to metabolize excess hormones and make you feel calmer.

  • Try Relaxation Techniques

Meditation or repeating a self-affirming mantra are both techniques that have been shown to help reduce stress. A part of why relaxation techniques are so useful is that they focus on slowing down and clearing your mind. Try sitting comfortably in a dark room and focusing on your breathing for a few minutes each day.

  • Talk to Someone

Talking can help distract you from the object of your stress, or help you reduce tension by venting about what is bothering you. Additionally, stress can cloud your judgement, so getting a second opinion from an unbiased person can help put things in perspective.

  • Take Control

Stress can be trigged by seemingly impossible problems. A technique that may help is writing down the problem and any possible solutions you can come up with- no matter how silly or improbable. Determine your best solution and write down the steps necessary to make it happen. Breaking down a problem and making it more manageable can make it seem not so stressful.

  • Learn to say “No”

Many people feel overwhelmed when they don’t have enough time to complete everything they need to do. Instead of taking on additional responsibility, learn to say “No” when you have reached your limit. It may be helpful to practice in a mirror or with friends or family. Another solution if you are uncomfortable with rejecting people is to come up with some preprepared phrases to let people down easily.

Sources Used

National Student Employment Week

National Student Employment WeekAs of 2015, 43% of full-time college students and 78% of part-time college students had employment. Reasons for student employment range from needing to pay tuition and rent to wanting some extra spending money. Whatever your reason, we have included some tips and tricks to pump up your resume and nail your interview. These tips should help you with employment both in and out of college.

Resume Tips

  • Format Wisely
    • Use a logical format and wide margins
    • Apply bold and italic typeface selectively to guide the readers eye
    • Use bullets to call attention to achievements
  • Identify Accomplishments, Not Just Job Descriptions
    • Focus on what you did on the job, not just what the job was
    • Include 1 or 2 lines of description, and then list your achievements
    • Accomplishments should be unique to you
    • Avoid generic descriptions
  • Quantify Accomplishments
    • Don’t be overly general regarding your achievements
    • Quantify your achievements, whether through dollar amounts, number of employee’s, etc.
  • Cater Your Resume to the Industry
    • Change language or jargon related to the industry you are applying for
    • Know stylistically what is appropriate for the industry you are applying for

Interview Tips

  • Do Research
    • Research the company and industry you are applying for. Your interviewer may ask you questions related to the current state of the industry or the companies competitors
  • Ask Questions
    • Prepare questions ahead of time for your interviewer. It shows you are interested and thoughtful
  • Practice
    • If you are nervous, ask a friend to read you common interview questions. It will get you used to thinking up answers and prepare you for potential questions that the interviewer may ask.
  • Send a Thank You Note
    • Make sure to thank your interviewer after, whether that be through email or a written note. Make it personal to your interview and make sure to send it within 48 hours of the interview.

For MSUM students, the DragonJobs website has just been updated. DragonJobs connects students and alumni to employers. MSUM now uses a site called Handshake to run DragonJobs, increasing user-friendliness and accessibility.


Sources Used

Click to access coe_ssa.pdf