It’s hard to pinpoint what the most important job in the world is. Brain surgeons, rocket scientists, physicists, intelligence agents and world leaders have very significant positions. But there is one job that many of us have that is immeasurably rewarding, despite its non-existent paycheck—being a parent. It’s not an easy job, especially when you have to juggle all of your other responsibilities with it. This Father’s Day, we’re celebrating one of our own students who is working especially hard, both at home and in school, to build a brighter future for his family.
Being a devoted family man has new meaning for Thomas Dekenipp ’19, a 30-year old Vaughn College engineering major who will be celebrating his first Father’s Day this month. Dekenipp and his girlfriend, Jaime, welcomed their daughter, Harper, last November and Dekenipp said being a dad is the greatest gift he could ever receive.
“I come from a large family,” Dekenipp said. “We all grew up in the same apartment building in Brooklyn, which kept us very close. So, it means so much to me to be starting my own family.”
After high school, Dekenipp enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he worked for six years as a helicopter mechanic in the 82nd Airborne Division. “I didn’t realize I had an interest in engineering until I joined the Army,” Dekenipp explained. “The Army opened doors for me and sparked an interest to seek a degree when I returned stateside.” Dekenipp completed two tours in Afghanistan and was honorably discharged in 2011. Soon after, he decided to return to Afghanistan to work for the next 18 months as a contractor. Upon returning, Dekenipp wanted to pursue his degree under the GI Bill, but realized he needed to find a school that offered the Yellow Ribbon Program―a provision of the GI Bill that can help students attend private colleges at little or no cost―to help cover the additional tuition expenses. That’s how he found Vaughn College. Dekenipp is now a junior at Vaughn, where he is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering technology and computer-aided design, and feels grateful to have the opportunity to further his career. “Attending Vaughn was a nice transition from the military,” said Dekenipp. “There’s a good number of vets who attend Vaughn so I feel right at home. The faculty is welcoming and is extremely supportive in helping their students further their success.”
With his first Father’s Day around the corner, Dekenipp said he’s been reflecting on past Father’s Day’s with his own dad. Dekenipp recalls how his dad loved to cook and can remember the wonderful aromas emanating from the kitchen while music played in the background. “It was a very warm and welcoming feeling,” Dekenipp recalls. “I’m excited to recreate those memories for Harper. I only want the best for my family,” Dekenipp said humbly. “I’m confident my degree from Vaughn will set me on a path to success to give them a beautiful life. It’s important to me to set a good example for my daughter,” he continued.
When asked what his plans are for Father’s Day, Dekenipp laughed and said Jaimie is keeping it a surprise. “Whatever we do, I know I’ll be surrounded by my amazing family. I’m blessed to be a dad and Harper is the reason I can celebrate. She’s ‘Daddy’s Little Girl.’”
Happy Father’s Day!
College students are taking a break from the traditional concept of summer vacation to obtain a brighter future. Instead of lying on a beach or traveling, the new trend is for students to forfeit their time off for resume boosting summer internships and activities.
A summer internship is a valuable way to gain hands-on experience in your field of study. And internships aren’t just for juniors and seniors anymore. Getting involved at the freshmen and sophomore levels keeps students engaged. It not only looks great on their resume, but offers students an opportunity to explore their field of study outside of the classroom. Remember, it’s important to apply early since there may be limited positions available.
“Don’t be discouraged if the internship isn’t paid,” said Jessica Caron, director of career services at Vaughn College. “The hands-on experience can be just as valuable as a paid internship—if not more.” No one is saying not to enjoy some fun in the sun this summer, but keeping the momentum going during this time off can give you the edge you’ll need to land a job after graduation. “Employers expect students to have experience when they graduate,” said Caron. “They will hire a candidate with a strong resume with no time gaps over someone who looks like they didn’t make the best use of their time.”
Caron explained how Vaughn students are landing summer volunteer positions at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Arrivals―Terminal 4. “The program at JFK is perfect for students who were unable to find an internship or may be working other jobs but are still looking for the hands-on experience,” Caron said. “The program offers a flexible schedule and is open to all students of all majors.”
Any volunteer work, even if it’s not related to your field, can boost your resume. “We encourage our students to visit our office and use the resources we have available to find job opportunities,” Caron said. “It’s important for students to keep busy over the summer.”
Join the club
Joining clubs and various student chapters of professional organizations on campus early in the school year can open doors for summer internships. Caron said getting involved with professional organizations can lead to full-time jobs after graduation. “Being well-rounded keeps students engaged and increases their academic success,” Caron explained. “It’s a win-win for both sides. A strong resume represents the student’s hard work and dedication, and that information is equally valuable to the employer when looking to hire the right candidate for the position.”
Give me a break
It’s important to carve out some “me” time over the summer and enjoy special times with family and friends. Remember, whether you’re working as an intern or in a volunteer position, think of the time you’re spending as a stepping stone to your future. And most of these jobs won’t last the entire summer, so you’ll still have time for summer fun.
A message from the director
“It’s important for our students to get involved with career services at Vaughn,” Caron stated. “Even if they aren’t looking for a job at that time, we want them to know we are here to help them prepare for their future. Whether it’s learning how to write a powerful resume to enhancing their interviewing skills, our job is to help our students find the best career options for their future.”
Positive thinking may be more powerful than you realize. A positive outlook has many benefits. It can help you keep a clear mind, as well as staying energized and organized. Positive thinking can also impact others around you. If you’re happy and exuding confidence, your positivity can become contagious. You’ll start to see things fall into place.
As a student, it can be hard to keep a positive outlook, especially when you’re studying for exams and thinking about your grade point average or GPA. Learning the best ways to stay positive through it all can help keep you on the track for success and ensure you have an even more successful year when the fall semester begins.
Here are some of the effective ways students are using the power of positive thinking to reach their goals and enjoy the best college experience:
Grow where you’re planted—Having a positive attitude helps you make the most of where you are. Joining clubs, volunteering, and helping friends are great ways to build positive relationships and put down roots for the future.
Don’t get discouraged—To err is human, so don’t be so hard on yourself. Brush it off and try to find ways to do better next time. When you think positively, you’re more motivated to find different ways to improve as opposed to giving up or getting discouraged.
It’s OK to ask for help—It’s impossible to know everything. That’s why you’re in college. Reaching out to professors and peers can help you keep a positive attitude. Learning from others with different experiences and knowledge helps to give you a new perspective and offers a fresh way of looking at things.
Avoid unnecessary conflicts—At some point, it’s bound to happen. Roommate battles or disagreements are a part of the college experience, so you’re not alone. It’s important to remember that no two people are the same. Staying positive can help diffuse roommate or friend conflicts by openly communicating and accepting and respecting the opinions of others. Welcoming open discussions in a positive/non-judgmental way is a great way to keep the peace.
Don’t let your grades define you—Most students would agree that their grades are a direct reflection of who they are―which couldn’t be further from the truth. Every student, at one time or another, has received a grade they’re not happy with. But it doesn’t mean you give up. Staying positive can help improve your focus by not dwelling on negative or discouraging thoughts. Instead, it helps you to keep your eye on your goals and reminds you why you’re in college in the first place – to keep learning and growing.
Manage your time wisely —Time. Once it’s gone, you can’t get it back, so it’s important to make the best of every minute. Of course, your studies are a priority but it’s also important to learn to balance your social and class schedules to succeed. Plan study schedules to keep yourself organized, but be sure to make time for yourself. Taking a mental health break can be the most important one of all. Plan for some “me” time.
Be patient—It may not be easy at times, but it’s important to be patient with yourself and others. Although your friends and classmates are all at the same college, everyone is in a different place (emotionally, academically, or just in general) so it’s important to be mindful and respectful of where others are in their own lives.
When it comes down to it, the power of positive thinking is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. So, take a deep breath and remember positive thoughts reap positive results. You’ve got this.