April is “Stress Awareness Month.” This is a time when we are reminded to pay closer attention to both our mental and physical health. Everyone will experience some level of stress at one time or another. It’s part of life. So, what then are the best ways to manage the challenges related to stress?

We had the opportunity to chat with the Director of Counseling and Wellness Dr. Stacey Dutil to learn about the stressors that students are facing today and the support programs Vaughn offers to help them find comfort and a happy balance between college, work and family obligations.

Finding your balance at Vaughn

From your first day of class right up until graduation day, Vaughn is there every step of the way to ensure you have the emotional support you need—when you need it. “Vaughn offers a robust offering of programs and activities for students looking for a solid support system in a healthy social environment,” explained Dutil.

Here are some of the programs and activities that aim to help Vaughn students maintain a healthy college-life balance:

  • First-year initiative class—The “First Year Initiative Class” is part of Vaughn’s curriculum and a requirement for all incoming freshmen. The course is designed to educate students on ways in which they may take a proactive approach to wellness while pursuing their degrees. Some topics include maintaining positive mental and physical health and healthy eating and sleeping and study habits.
  • Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP)—This academic and financial support program helps students enroll in—and succeed—through graduation. Support services include—but are not limited to—workshops, supplemental financial assistance, counseling and tutoring in certain areas. Learn more about HEOP here.
  • College Possible Mentorship Program (Catalyze)—College mentoring and opportunity programs, such as College Possible® Catalyze, help underserved, low-income and first-generation college students prepare for success. For the past two years, Catalyze coaches have been instrumental in guiding eligible Vaughn students to graduation by empowering them with tools and resources to achieve their goals. Learn more about the College Possible Mentorship Program here.
  • Residence assistants (RAs)—Students living on-campus can gain a sense of community and build a strong support system with help from their residence assistants (or RAs). In addition to their other residence duties, RAs organize a calendar of activities to keep students engaged.
  • Athletics and wellness—The athletics and wellness department offer mood-boosting classes and activities to promote positive mental and physical health. Some of these activities include yoga, Zumba and a variety of sports programs.
  • Speaker series—Vaughn invites industry leaders to speak on subjects that are most important to the mental and physical health of today’s college students. You can check out our calendar of upcoming events to see what’s coming up.

Here are some other helpful ways that you can nurture self-care:

  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get enough sleep
  • Keep a journal

Read our blog, “Activities, Programs and Tips to Stay Mentally Fit in College,” to learn more great ways Vaughn helps support its students.

A message from Dr. Dutil

“We all—not just students—need to keep in mind that it’s important to take time for ourselves. Self-care is the first step toward recharging your body and mind for success and avoiding burn out. The office of counseling and wellness provides something for everyone. Self-care and wellness are not a ‘one size fits all.’ We are all unique. And at Vaughn, our diverse community is testament to proving that no matter what we are up against, we are all working toward a common goal—to live a healthy, balanced life.”

Are you feeling stressed or burned out? If you need someone to talk to or want more information on staying mentally healthy, we encourage you to make an appointment at the office of counseling and wellness.

Vaughn students and industry leaders are enjoying a new engagement opportunity through Employer Engagement Days, an exciting career development program which was created to streamline the student engagement process with Employers after returning to campus during the pandemic.

This month, we sat down with the Director of Career Services Chaundra Daniels and developer of Employer Engagement Days, to learn how her decades of experience and insight into the value of internships led her to her new position at Vaughn and the creation of this new engagement opportunity.

Daniels’ path to Vaughn

Chaundra DanielsFor over 20 years, Daniels has devoted her career to helping others develop their career paths and employer relations skills. Over the years, she’s held several positions as a vocational counselor and job coach and developer, which included helping adults with learning disabilities. Daniels’ experience as a seasoned professional expands beyond higher education. She worked in patient relations in the healthcare industry and in project management in corporate America. After scaling back her hours in the workforce to care for her father, Daniels decided it was time to return to work full-time. Last November, she joined Vaughn as director of career services. “I’m excited about my role at Vaughn,” she said. “I believe my experience helped build the solid foundation I needed to bring me to where I am today. I feel like this is my calling—my passion.”

Employer Engagement Days

Last month, Daniels kicked off Employer Engagement Days as a new initiative to streamline the employer engagement process for Vaughn students and industry leaders looking to hire. “I developed Employer Engagement Days in response to both employer and student requests for a more efficient and convenient way for students and industry leaders to meet by accommodating both their schedules,” she explained. The program is designed to emulate the hybrid classroom style that is currently in place at Vaughn. The process is more casual and less stressful, thus allowing representatives from corporations to interview students on an individual basis, without the pressure and time constraints of traditional large networking events and career fairs.

Employer Engagement Days are offered both in-person—and virtually via Zoom—on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. “We have had a great response to Employer Engagement Days,” Daniels said. “Work is about building relationships. This program helps to level the playing field, removing the competition and giving both the student and employer the time they need to determine if they’re a good fit for each other.”

Where the jobs are

Daniels is thrilled to say that jobs are in demand. She explained how industry giants such as Delta and American Airlines—along with Republic Airways and Lufthansa—are “knocking on our doors” to fill positions. LaGuardia Gateway Partners recently approached Vaughn to set up an internship program for students which will likely roll out by fall 2022. The aviation and engineering job markets are booming—with management openings not far behind. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to see our students’ dreams become reality,” said Daniels. “Vaughn students are disciplined, motivated and committed. They know what they want and can see beyond current challenges. There’s nothing better than seeing a student overcome obstacles and live their own passions. Internships are an instrumental way to make that happen.”

Adjusting to the “new normal”

The pandemic may have brought several challenges to the world, but it has also presented the College with opportunities for a brighter future. Daniels said she’s proud to see how resilient Vaughn students are when it comes to adaptability. “The trend is a new normal,” she said. “Our students are creating ‘the new’ by thinking outside the box and having these unprecedented job opportunities resulting from the pandemic. Today, the employers are coming to us.”

The A-team

With years of career services experience to her name, Chaundra Daniels knows the value that students can bring to the table when it comes to facilitating the best career services experience. Shortly after accepting her position at Vaughn, she added two valuable members to her career services team. The first is Assistant Director of Career Services Rosario Sutton, HSI-STEM internship coordinator. The second is Assistant Director of Career Services for the Aviation Training Institute and Aviation Bryan Arias. “Students are our greatest resource,” Daniels said. “Our three-person team works wonderfully together and with students. Bryan and Rosario bring a fresh perspective to our department. We strive to work appropriately and effectively by bringing our A-game each day.”

Are you looking for an internship? The career services department at Vaughn offers valuable resources to ensure you will land a futureproof career.

Discover the possibilities of a Vaughn degree. We offer futureproof programs in engineering and technology, management and aviation. Apply today!

The excitement is building at Vaughn as the College’s robotics team gears up for the 2022 VEX Robotics World Championship after having won several awards at qualifying matches held earlier this year. The 15-member team is hard at work with hopes to regain the World Championship title from their 2016 win. With only weeks to go, it’s sure to be a fun and action-packed competition which is being held from May 3-12 in Dallas, Texas.

Challenge accepted

This year, the name of the game is VEX Robotics Competition Tipping Point—an exciting challenge based on the elements of football. The game will be played on a 12′ x 12′ square field. Two alliances (one “red” and one “blue”)— each composed of two teams—will compete in matches consisting of a 15-second (0:15) “Autonomous Period,” followed by a one-minute-and-forty-five second (1:45) “Driver Controlled Period.” The object of the game is to score rings, moving mobile goals to alliance zones and by elevating them on platforms at the end of a match. The team to score the highest number of points is declared the winner.

Building the robot

VCAT robot for robotics competitionDriving the excitement is team president and mechatronic engineering major, Misael Marquez ’22. Entering his fourth year on the team—and first year as acting president of the club—Marquez explains how the team began building their robot last July. “The first design took one month to plan and one week to build,” he said. “We are now on our fifth design and built a twin to our robot as a backup.” He said the diverse talents of the team members—which range from mechanical engineering and mechatronic engineering majors to management—was the winning combination to delegate the tasks required to build the robot. “Everyone has a valuable role on our team,” Marquez said. “From those who are tasked with designing the robot to others who focus on the rebuild, we all work together as a team. It’s rewarding to watch the classroom come to life as we use our knowledge of mechanical theories, moments and statics, and apply to it to the robot’s design for the competition.”

Winning tournament awards

The team participated in three qualifying tournaments earlier this year, where they placed first in two of the three matches. At the first VEX U tournament, which was held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worchester, MA at the end of January, the team won the Robot Skills Championship Award and the Excellence Award. At the second tournament, the team placed first; and at the third tournament, they won a second Robot Skills Championship Award and Excellence Award.

Planning for competition

When it comes to gaining field advantage, Marquez said it’s all about strategy and design. He explained that a major advantage of competing in the qualifying matches is having the opportunity to see the opponent’s robots and how they react. This insight, he said, helps the team build accordingly. “Robots get a little beat up during the qualifying rounds,” he explained. “Seeing our competition gives us an inside edge to upgrading our robot to make it more competitive—faster and more efficient.”

Silver lining to the pandemic

VCAT Robotics TeamAlthough it’s no surprise that the pandemic was a challenging time for students, Marquez said his team used that time to hone their skills. “We all worked remotely but that didn’t stop us from improving our designs.” This year, he said the team is able to work together without any restrictions, which makes the process more exciting. “COVID empowered the team to prepare for this year’s competition,” Marquez said proudly. “We are excited to be competing against larger colleges and even more excited to go for the win. Everyone at the competition is friendly, but when it comes to the team to beat—all bets are off on the field!”

Winning spirit

Marquez shares his leadership with Christopher Walker ’24, vice president of the robotics team. Walker, who is studying mechatronic engineering, said the team’s spirit is soaring. “This is an exciting time for our team,” Walker said. “We are confident in our abilities. We believe in our robots, and we believe in ourselves. Our amazing teamwork work has us ready for the win!”

Leaving his legacy

With graduation quickly approaching, Marquez reflects on his years at Vaughn as well as his time spent on the robotics team. “I’ve always had a passion for robots,” he expressed. “So, choosing Vaughn to study mechatronic engineering was an easy choice for me.” Marquez plans to work in robotics after graduation with the hope to someday build robots to be used on the International Space Station. “Vaughn has been instrumental is giving me the foundation I need to pursue my dreams in robotics,” said Marquez. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead the robotics team this year as president.” When asked about leaving a legacy at Vaughn, Marquez replied: “I hoped my time and dedication to the team would be my legacy but winning the championship and regaining the title would be the ultimate way to leave my mark at Vaughn. We are dedicated to the competition and are preparing for the win!”

Are you interested in building robotics or simply figuring out how things work? Consider coming to Vaughn to earn a valuable degree in engineering and technology at Vaughn. See what the VCAT robotics team is up to by following them on Twitch, Instagram and Facebook. Stay tuned for recap of the results from the VEX Robotics World Championship at the end of May.