Highlights

The Graduate School at Hood College
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Graduate Alumni Highlight — Dr. Ronnie Ursin

Dr. Ronnie Ursin, DNP, MBA, NEA-BC, FACHE, has been named President and CEO of Jennersville Hospital in West Grove, Pennsylvania. He began his duties January 2nd. Dr. Ursin received his Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Hood College in 2012, and holds other degrees that include; a Doctor of Nursing Practice with a focus in Executive Leadership, a Master of Science with a focus in Health Services Leadership and Management, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Bachelor of Science with a focus in Public Health – Administration. When asked “Why Hood College?,” Dr. Ursin pointed out that Hood’s MBA program offered exactly what he desired; “The program was offered in a traditional manner, the location was suitable for my travels to and from work, the faculty were highly regarded professionals with a vast array of experience in practice, Hood College had a very good reputation, and tuition was affordable.”

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Adding Up To A Great Teacher

Posted by | Graduate School Highlights, Mathematics Education and Leadership | No Comments

ThereaultFor Christine Thereault, teaching is all about being relevant, whether teaching elementary school students or other teachers. With 26 years of teaching experience in elementary and middle schools, she has been a classroom teacher, a special education teacher and a mathematics specialist. Christine works as the teacher specialist for mathematics at Windsor Knolls Middle School.

Thereault recently presented at the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) conference, where her ‘Helping Students to Persevere When All They Want to do is Throw in the Towel’ was one of the most popular sessions. She is also an instructor in graduate program at Hood College, teaching courses in the M.S. in Mathematics Education and M.S. in Mathematics Instructional Leadership programs. That Hood has an instructional leadership program is key to Thereault, who is thrilled that “Hood has both these certifications, so teachers can develop their content knowledge and their leadership.” Her own certification is an M.S. in Math Education from Western Maryland (now McDaniel) College and Educational Leadership Certification from Hood.  Thereault 2

 

Thereault was asked to teach at Hood after attending a workshop with several professors, including Christy Graybeal, Director of the Math Education Graduate Program. With Graybeal on maternity leave, Thereault substituted for her, and subsequently was recruited. As a professor, she thinks it is key for her students to not only learn about the latest research, but to be able to apply it. She also wants them to understand that “the best thing is that nothing has to be original, but you have to decipher if things are worthwhile or fluff”. There are so many resources available for teachers, and it’s great to use them, but they must be meaningful. That’s why Christine enjoys Hood’s emphasis on “the content knowledge, the depth and understanding of the math standards so teachers realize what they are building and where they are going.” She looks forward to co-teaching EDMA 530, Math Educational Leadership, with Dr. Graybeal and thinks that they can really help students by capitalizing on their “different areas of expertise”.

Lizzy Terrell’s Journey – From exemplary student to a great career

Posted by | Biomedical Science, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

picLizzy’s Journey

Elizabeth ‘Lizzy’ Terrell started her Hood College journey in the fall of 2013 in the Biomedical Science Program, and was an exemplary student and classroom leader. Lizzy graduated in 2017 and is now working at the National Institute of Health (NIH), where she started working in 2012 in the Cancer Research Training Award (CRTA) and Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) program. The Post-Baccalaureate IRTA/CRTA program is designed to provide recent college graduates an opportunity to spend a year doing biomedical research in the resource-rich environment of the NIH. Lizzy has worked in Dr. Deborah Morrison’s lab for five years and has focused on studying proteins involved in cancer-related cell-signaling.

 

Lizzy’s Perspective on Hood

Lizzy feels that “coming from a larger undergraduate institution, the best thing about Hood was the smaller class size.” She also loved the fact that she was able to take classes at night/after work, and that those classes were directly applicable to her current job. The entire process of drafting, writing, and defending her thesis was invaluable. “The classwork helped to shape my writing skills, and the faculty on my thesis committee were incredibly supportive, encouraging, and helpful in refining the (very) rough drafts into the final product.” Although the thesis track/writing process is a long and labor intensive process, it has proven to be the most valuable part of her degree by developing a wide range of skills for independent research and writing. Lizzy mentions how successfully defending her thesis was by far the best and most memorable moment! Among her other notable accomplishments were receiving Hood’s “Outstanding Student in Biomedical Science” award and winning the school’s “3-Minute Thesis” competition.

Advice for Other Students

If Lizzy were to do one thing different from the beginning, it would be to explore more job options. “I was pretty lucky to end up in a job I love, but it could have turned out a lot different!” In retrospect, she believes it would have been best to sit down and think through what was most important for her in a job, then actively seek it out, and be more assertive in obtaining it.

When asked what she would like to share with other students in similar programs, Lizzie instantly mentions the importance of a goalpost. “Think about where you want your degree to take you and what you want out of the program; what skills you hope to gain or what career are you aiming for. Enroll in classes specifically tailored towards your individual goals.” Lizzy also believes it is important to have a timeline. When do you want your degree to be finished? Work backward from there and set smaller, short-term goals to stay on track. “The faculty want you to succeed, and are incredibly useful resources for both career advice and timeline guidance.”

The Specter and Meltdown Vulnerabilities: a CPU/Architecture Perspective

Posted by | Computer Science, Cybersecurity, Information Technology, Management of Information Technology | No Comments

SpecterMeltdown-Pierce-HoodCSSpecter and Meltdown, names given to a recently discovered vulnerability that affects almost every computer chip manufactured in the last 20 years. If exploited, attackers could gain access to data previously considered completely protected. The Specter and Meltdown flaws work by exploiting two important techniques used to make CPU chips execute faster, called speculative execution and caching.

Speculative execution allows a CPU to attempt to predict the future to work faster. For example, if the chip determines that a program contains multiple logical branches, it will start calculating the values for all of the branches before the program decides which branch to take. When the correct branch is determined, the CPU has already produced the values for that branch. If the CPU sees that the same function is frequently used, it might use idle time to compute that function so it has what it thinks the answer will be ready if needed.

Caching is used to speed up memory access. Random access memory (RAM) is located on separate chips and it takes a relatively long time for the CPU to access data in the RAM. There is a special small amount of memory storage called CPU cache that is built on the CPU chip itself that can be accessed very quickly. This cache memory gets filled with data that the CPU will need soon or often. Data that is produced by such speculative execution is often stored in the cache, which contributes to making it a speed booster. The problem arises when caching and speculative execution start circumventing protected memory.

Protected memory is a foundational concept underlying computer security. It allows a program to keep some of its data private from some of its users, and allows the operating system to prevent one program from seeing data belonging to another. In order to access data, a process needs to undergo a privilege check, which determines whether or not it’s allowed to see that data.

A privilege check can take a relatively long time. Due to speculative execution, while the CPU is waiting to find out if a process is allowed to access that data, it starts working with that data even before it receives permission to do so. The problem arises because the protected data is stored in CPU cache even if the process never receives permission to access it. Because CPU cache memory can be accessed more quickly than regular memory and due to the long latency associated with privilege checks, the process can potentially access certain memory locations that it shouldn’t be allowed to access. As this problem exists in the hardware there is no direct way to correct it. Software patches have been offered to mitigate the exposure but have led to some degradation in performance of the CPU. In many cases, the software patch is targeted at a specific product and installing the wrong patch can severely impact system operation.

The most immediate action security teams and users can take to protect computer systems is to prevent execution of unauthorized software and avoid access to untrusted websites. Security policies must be are in place to prevent unauthorized access to systems and the introduction of unapproved software or software updates.

Bill Pierce

*Prof. Bill Pierce, the author of this article, is an Assistant Professor of computer science at the Department of Computer Science & Information Technology at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Computer Architecture, Digital Logic and Switching Theory, Digital Signal Processing and Musical Computing.*

Hood College Alum named President and CEO of Jennersville Hospital

Posted by | Business Administration, Financial Management, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

Ursin-RonnieDr. Ronnie Ursin, DNP, MBA, NEA-BC, FACHE, has been named President and CEO of Jennersville Hospital in West Grove, Pennsylvania. He began his duties January 2nd. Dr. Ursin received his Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Hood College in 2012, and holds other degrees that include; a Doctor of Nursing Practice with a focus in Executive Leadership, a Master of Science with a focus in Health Services Leadership and Management, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Bachelor of Science with a focus in Public Health – Administration. When asked “Why Hood College?,” Dr. Ursin pointed out that Hood’s MBA program offered exactly what he desired; “The program was offered in a traditional manner, the location was suitable for my travels to and from work, the faculty were highly regarded professionals with a vast array of experience in practice, Hood College had a very good reputation, and tuition was affordable.”

Dr. Ursin says all of his programs were exceptional and invaluable to his growth in the nursing and healthcare industry, but Hood’s MBA helped him to truly become well-rounded in healthcare leadership. “The MBA gave me a much broader perspective of business knowledge related to management, economies of scale, marketing, leadership, finance, investments, and more. I have been able to utilize the knowledge gained in the MBA program as a nurse leader, non-profit board member, and now a CEO.” Dr. Ursin has also been able to capitalize on his financial expertise to leverage growth and financial stability in his responsibilities as a hospital executive. For instance, he managed to reduce labor cost related to contracted labor by more than 90% in one year.

Dr. Ursin’s advice to current MBA students is to stay focused and never take any MBA lesson for granted. “Most of the concepts, including financial analysis, valuation, reporting, market analysis, project evaluation and risk-management, will be valuable to you in any role you acquire as an expert in business administration.” For example, Dr. Ursin did not fully understand the fundamentals of investments until he completed the program’s investment course. Today, he has multiple investment accounts and the knowledge to manage those accounts without paying others to do it for him. Professors are also a great resource every student should utilize. He gave special mention to Dr. Anita Jose, Professor of Management, who he described as instrumental in his academic success. “Lastly, I encourage each MBA student to market and tell someone else of the quality of education received at Hood College and the MBA program.”

Reading is the Key

Posted by | Graduate School Highlights, Reading Specialization | No Comments

HelineAraceli Henline’s journey is all about how to help her students. An English Language Learner (ELL) teacher with 22 years of experience, working with students with all levels of English is her passion. From newcomers with almost no English to those who are learning to expand their grasp of English grammar and vocabulary, Araceli is there for them all. Born in Texas and raised in Colorado and part of a Spanish speaking family, she feels that “being an ELL student myself, (students) need teachers who are like them to empathize with them. They need to be challenged by someone who understands yet can show rising above the barriers of language to become a positive contributor to our community is possible.” Outside of teaching, she loves the outdoors, which she learned to appreciate growing up in Denver. Along with hiking, camping, and fishing, she runs half marathons and is considering running a full marathon in the future. She is happily married with 2 children and enjoys the support that her family gives her.

Henline is enrolled in Hood College’s M.S. in Reading Specialization program, which certifies teachers to become reading/literacy specialists, a position which works with students, teachers, and administration to help students learn to read, write, and comprehend. Araceli is already certified as elementary and ELL teacher but wants more for herself and her students. Now in her 6th year teaching at Frederick County Public Schools’ Hillcrest Elementary, a Title I school with a high ELL population, she doesn’t have any plans to leave the classroom soon, but “would consider becoming a reading interventionist with a similar population of ELLs because that is where my heart is.” More important for her is to “prepare my students to become better readers as I become more knowledgeable with this specialization. Reading is so important. I realize the success of my ELL students greatly depends on their ability to not only speak the English language, but to be strong readers and writers. They come to us 5-7 years behind and we need to catch them up with their peers and level the playing field. I realize that reading is a vehicle to my students’ success in the future. It’s exciting to implement the reading strategies I learn at Hood with my students now.”

Araceli is enjoying her time at Hood. While teaching full time, having a family, and being in classes is challenging, she enjoys the small classes and knowledgeable professors. As she gets ready to do her clinical experience this summer, working with elementary and secondary students over the break, she is using everything she learned through the program. She will earn her certification next year but is already using what she has learned to help her students. We wish her all the best!

An Environmental Biology student in action

Posted by | Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

IMG_8423Mia Zimnik, a Hood College Environmental Biology student, says she chose this path because she was “tired of working with animals in captivity, and would rather work in preserving wild populations of those same animals.” Mia spent the spring, summer and fall of 2017 working as an avian research technician for Patuxent Wildlife Research Center under the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and Dr. Diann Prosser. The project was focusing on the breeding population of common and least terns on Poplar Island in the Chesapeake Bay. “It was an incredible experience, and despite being the hardest job I’ve ever had, I would do it again in a heartbeat.” Mia is using data she gathered for her Master’s independent research project, which is measuring egg survivability of the common tern in relation to proximity to nearest nest.

Currently employed as an Environmental Specialist for Angler Environmental/Resource Environmental Solutions, Mia surveys local construction sites, making sure there is no sediment-laden water leaving the site and washing into the waterways, which would eventually get to the Chesapeake Bay. Mia learned about her current job from her department’s professors. “This program has been incredible for my professional development. I really value how the professors here have such rich real-world experience, and want the students to do as well as we can.” Mia also points out she has never felt as if she is “annoying” professors by asking for professional help outside of school, and that she has always had great relationship with her peers. For Mia, Hood is a really supportive community that only wants success for everyone who is a part of it.

Mia’s tips for the current graduate students? Always be organized and to push for what you want. She also mentions that it is crucial not to burn bridges, as well as to make lasting personal and professional connections while you are in the graduate school. “Nobody will work as hard for your future as you will, so put yourself and your dreams first.”

Looking to the Future of the Humanities

Posted by | Graduate School Highlights, Humanities | No Comments

DSC_9453-croppedFor Dr. Corey Campion, teaching is a “passion and privilege” and interdisciplinary learning is key. As the head of Hood College’s Master of Arts in Humanities program, he feels strongly about the role of the humanities in higher education. In fact, he feels so strongly that he has just published “Whither the Humanities – Reinventing the Relevance of an Essential and Embattled Field.” Published in the journal Arts & Humanities in Higher Education, the article looks at some of the struggles of many humanities programs along with why they are still incredibly valuable along with ways to help strengthen them.

Dr. Campion himself has a diverse background which he carries into his teaching and writing. In his own education, he trained as a student of language and culture before turning to foreign affairs and then history in graduate school. He says “along the way, I have enjoyed drawing on my training in various fields to explore a variety of topics from European history, to the history of food, the meaning of vacations, and the current crisis in honeybee populations.” He lives what he teaches, from sharing his experiences living in France and Germany (he speaks French, German, and Spanish) to being a beekeeper with his own apiary. He gives his students real background to their theoretical knowledge. He wants those students to know “how interdisciplinary work can enhance their own learning in a given discipline and to understand better the world in which they live”.

In his article, Campion explains his thoughts on many current humanities programs, and lays out many of the struggles that humanities programs in higher education are experiencing. These include the perceptions of many people that the humanities are “nice, but not necessary” since they don’t teach specific skills aimed at a certain career as a math or science degree might. Humanities teaches not only analytical and critical thinking skills, but empathy and communication, which are key for many careers. Campion believes that one of the stumbling blocks for these programs is stagnation – that many are still doing things the same way, and may be “committed to teaching models that support faculty rather than student needs.” For many graduate students, whose careers may not be in academia, but in other fields where an understanding of people as well as content is key, an interdisciplinary approach which teaches how to be a humanist along with the content may be the best approach.

Campion’s article sets out his ideas for how humanities programs can best serve colleges, students, and communities. “While humanities faculty should not abandon their traditional mission to attain and impart a deeper understanding of the human condition through the study of history, literature, and art, they should also establish their classrooms as a place where all students engage those questions of politics, economics, medicine, and the environment that are so relevant to contemporary society.” He sees the opportunities for interdisciplinary teaching and learning at Hood as “exciting, and I share the College’s convictions with respect to the value of the liberal arts in the twenty-first century.” The college is also excited about his contributions to Hood and the higher education community at large!

How a “Whim” Led to a Job and Degree

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

YountWhitney Yount is a native of Frederick, and after earning her degree in Strategic Communication and Marketing from High Point University in North Carolina, she wasn’t planning on coming back. She applied for – and received – a position as an Admissions Counselor at Hood College “on a whim,” but quickly fell in love with the Hood community. She knew that she wanted a job that was “education-adjacent,” working with education but not actually teaching. She feels that Hood chose her, and not the other way around.

Whitney loved her undergraduate time at High Point, but wishes the school had emphasized community and traditions more. “Luckily, Hood has those things!” Hood’s small size gives “a lot of great opportunities to get involved – as a student and a staff member. I feel like I’ve really been able to pursue my interests and do things that wouldn’t be possible if I was at a larger school.”

While working here, Whitney decided to work toward a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior (ISHB). She explains, “The ISHB program focuses primarily on Psychology, but in the interest of being well-rounded, students are required to take a few outside classes. I took Economics and Statistics for my ‘outside’ classes because they’re both subjects that I wasn’t able to take during undergrad, but I feel like they’re important to know.” She is thrilled to be getting her degree in something that interests her and will help her career, as “I think coming out of a program that focused so heavily on human behavior and interaction will help me in any career path that I pursue, particularly because I feel like even if I eventually change careers, I’ll definitely still be working where interacting with people is an essential part of my job.” That blend of psychology and business options in one degree is what intrigued Whitney and others in the program. We are thrilled that Whitney is both student and staff at Hood, and can’t wait to see what her future holds!

My Hood Experience – from Undergraduate to Faculty

Posted by | Biomedical Science, Graduate School Highlights | No Comments

Jose-S-in-lab-560x359 (1)Jose Sanchez Hernandez, a 2012 Hood graduate (B.S., Chemistry) is currently enrolled in Hood’s Biomedical Science thesis-track program. While embarking on his graduate journey, Jose looks back on fond memories of his undergraduate time. Moments that stick out the most include participating in the alternative spring breaks, running his first half marathon in Annapolis, MD, attending his first BioBeers event, and most importantly, meeting his wife Stephanie E. Perkins (class of 2013) in Dr. Bennett’s Instrumental Methods of Analysis course. “If you guessed that our wedding was chemistry themed, you are right!”, says Jose.

After graduation from Hood, Jose worked for three years in Texas as a science teacher in the Dallas Independent School District, where he taught high school chemistry, physics, and AP Physics. More recently, he spent a year working as a graduate research assistant for the biology department at Hood College and taught BIOL 110, Food and Nutrition.

Jose was also awarded a Cancer Research Training Award (CRTA) by the National Institutes of Health to complete a fellowship during the fall of 2017 with the human papillomavirus (HPV) serology lab (HSL) at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research. During the fellowship, Jose was optimizing in-vitro assays to help in the development of standardized HPV serology assays to be used in vaccine trials world-wide. Currently, he is employed by Leidos Biomedical Inc. as a protein expression associate. His job involves molecular cloning, microbial fermentation, and protein purification to help support the many goals of the RAS initiative at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.

If Jose could go back to the beginning of his graduate journey, he would have started utilizing Hood’s Health and Wellness Center sooner, as every Hood College student has a free access to counseling. Jose says that the graduate school required giving up a lot of time to classes, teaching, and especially research, which in the end resulted in developing his coping mechanisms. They allowed him to remain mindful and focused on the present despite being under enormous stress. “Additionally, I would have started making more use of the Meditation Room in the Chapel Basement to help manage stress on a weekly basis instead of only during finals. I am eternally grateful for these resources and I am sure that using them sooner would have greatly helped me navigate my first year of graduate school more purposefully.”

 

Who Teaches the Teachers?

Posted by | Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, Graduate School Highlights, Multidisciplinary Studies in Education, Reading Specialization, STEM Education, Uncategorized | No Comments

 

Hanna editHarry Hanna, one of many exceptional adjunct professors in Hood College’s education programs, has multiple connections to Hood, from being caught by college security toilet papering cars on campus in his much younger days, to marrying a Hood graduate, to working at a summer program hosted at Hood and staying in the dorms before men were allowed to live on campus. He later earned his M.S. in Educational Leadership from Hood, and now teaches as an adjunct professor.

 

As a young man in California, he worked various jobs while finishing high school and then attended community college while working. At 20, he joined the United States Army, and after basic training in Kentucky and advanced training as a medic in Texas, was assigned to Fort Detrick in Frederick, MD, where he first heard about Hood College. Hanna explains; “at the time, Hood was primarily a women’s college and someone at Fort Detrick told me that I was going to love the post and that there was a women’s college a mile from the base.” While stationed at Detrick, he took classes at Frederick Community College and finished his A.A. degree while working in the Virology Division at the United States Army Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). He became friends with some of the Hood College students who were interning at the base and learned more about the college and its programs.

 

After finishing his enlistment, Harry decided to pursue a degree in elementary education at Towson University, where he became the first member of his family to graduate from college. At the same time, he continued to make friends with Hood students, and ending up dating Hood student Barbara Wood, ’97, whom he married a year after she graduated. They moved to California for a few years where Harry taught middle school and Barbara elementary. In 2002, they returned to Frederick and both began working for Frederick County Public Schools at Twin Ridge Elementary. They’ve now been married for almost 20 years, have four wonderful children, and still get together with her best friend from Hood at least once a year!

 

Harry has worked for FCPS in various positions, and then finally made it to Hood as student, earning his Master’s in Educational Leadership in 2007. While working at Centerville Elementary as a Technology Staff Developer and Reading Intervention Teacher, he was recruited by a Hood adjunct to teach EDUC 502, Technology for Literacy, Leadership and Learning, a core course for the Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, Reading Specialization, and STEM certificate graduate programs. The course looks at instructional technology and “discusses how technology fits within the modern and traditional classrooms.” He has taught many graduate students, who describe him as “motivating.” One current student explains that his class gave her “not just real things I can use, but the ways and means and comfort to use them”.

 

See a clip of Harry teaching a class HERE

 

Why Hood? Harry explains; “I truly have been blessed by Hood in many ways and I have spent the better part of a decade now teaching teachers how to incorporate technology in their classrooms, whether they are educators in Maryland, West Virginia or even Saudi Arabia, (where two current students are from). I love teaching this course because the content is dynamic since the changes in technology keep it fresh and engaging. We ask our students to take risks when it comes to incorporating technology in their teaching, and we can model it ourselves. I always hope that my students take away from the course a shift in mindset in the way they look and view technology. It is a tool to help students be successful, to think critically and not just be consumers of technology and information, but creators of it. I really want teachers to know that, even if they aren’t totally comfortable with a particular program, app or piece of technology, that it is OK if students might know more about it than they do. Teachers shouldn’t use technology just for technology’s sake, but to develop those higher order thinking skills through creativity, collaboration, content creation and connection. These are some of my goals for my graduate students.  Hood has been a big part of my life and I am #Hoodproud!”