(Note: The following testimonials were made as part of the Inauguration Ceremony of Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, who was installed as the 10th President of Siena Heights University Nov. 3, 2006.)
It is not always easy for a student to leave his country and travel to another to study, practically alone. Nor is it easy to move from a big city to a small town. And add to that the difficulty of studying in a second language. However when the ideals are high, the hardships are easier to manage.
None of the three difficulties just mentioned were of a big consequence to me, because from the moment I arrived at Siena I was welcomed with open arms and respect.
Siena might be in a small town, but it is a world anchored on present realities, full of opportunities, and focused on creating a better future. It is a hidden treasure that many of us have discovered, and take every occasion to share it with others.
When I represent Siena in the different college fairs, I take pride in what I have experienced here and I try to share that with every student I talk to.
Many of us have also discovered that our Siena offers much more than the environment to become more competent, purposeful and ethical students. It also offers the great advantage to interact with the Adrian Dominican Sisters from the motherhouse next door.
Their dedication to prayer and living the gospel, working for peace and justice, Earth ecology, and the promotion of education is obvious and inspiring. They have also welcomed me with a lot of affection, and I feel they are a big part of me and my learning process here at Siena.
The commitment of the professors is invaluable. Each one of us receives personal and very special attention. The programs they offer have helped me to know more about myself as a person and as a future professional.
Siena will always be a major experience in my life. It is my school; it is my Siena.
I had been working at Jackson Community College, and was familiar with the degree completion center Siena Heights had on our campus, but it was hard for me to pick up the phone and make the connection to start the ball rolling toward finishing my degree. I had been out of college nearly 20 years, and felt a bit intimidated at the idea of working full-time, juggling responsibilities with family and going to school.
And then, when I actually did make the call, the staff at Siena Heights made me feel like I had made the best decision! They were my best cheerleaders – helping me develop a plan to complete my degree, keeping me on track and always offering encouragement and support.
While I finished my degree, one thing was very clear to me about Siena – they cater to working adults. The blended format classes, all-day Saturday format – Siena provided opportunities for students to take the coursed they need in order to complete their degree, while working and juggling family responsibilities.
I was also impressed with faculty – they were student focused, and all were well versed in their subjects, many times acting as facilitators, carefully weaving the subject matter into real life work experiences. I knew I was being taught material I would use in my career … many topics were relevant in my day-to-day work activities as I was taking the class! I always walked away feeling like, “Hey I get it, this is part of my life, which also made it relevant for the traditional students in class … hearing how the subject was being used in business, not something the student would forget in three months.
I’m proud to have finished my degree with Siena, and am now enrolled in the graduate program in Organizational Leadership. For me, Siena has challenged me, encouraged and enriched me. This is my school, my Siena.
As a junior in high school, I had my very first encounter with the theatre department here at Siena Heights. I wandered into the theatre office, in a somewhat confused, “I’m slightly uncomfortable” haze. By the time I’d left though, I was not only comfortable, but I was also enrolled in Siena’s COPS program. This started a wondrous beginning for me at Siena Heights.
I enrolled in my very first, full-time semester here only after developing very strong relationships with the faculty with who I would be studying, and I remain confident in my decision to stay here.
I am currently part of the accelerated bachelors completion program, and will finish my degree in a somewhat hectic three years instead of the typical four. Despite the fact that Siena is a small school, there are many opportunities to be creatively involved in the programs that are offered here. This fall I am directing a one-act with nine of my fellow classmates. I have acted in a mainstage production, and I am part of the touring children’s theatre troupe that travels to elementary schools in the area.
This opportunity is certainly a learning experience. Siena has exposed me to mentors that will guide and assist me as I make my goals and life decisions for the future, and I will treasure them and what they have done for me for life.
I am intrigued by the kind of people that I find here at Siena. In the theatre department I find relationships with the students and faculty that are irreplaceable. All of the students come from diverse backgrounds and bring varying experiences that they can share with our close knot community. We are a family. No matter how competitive our craft becomes I am confident that if I truly needed something I could go to any one of them, and they would assist me in any way that they could, which is exactly how I would react to them.
I am certain that this is not only true in my area of study, but across campus this has proven to be true. We all share a common theme, we are family. We operate with a solid support system, and this is why this is my school, my Siena.
For me, Siena is a little different.
I have more than 18 years of service with the Michigan State Police and have taken classes at three different colleges in attempts to complete my bachelor’s degree. Every time I changed schools, it was like starting all over again. I’ll be the first to say that going to school while working full-time is very challenging and sometimes seems like an endless journey. However, I’ve found that the faculty members at Siena are committed to doing what is necessary to help me attain my educational goals.
After a friend encouraged me to check out the programs at Siena, I met with the director of Distance Learning Programs at Siena’s College for Professional Studies. I was impressed with the friendly and professional assistance I received in assessing my credits and developing my personal educational plan, which is currently underway and going very well.
With my previous college credits, work experience, and in-service professional training, Siena’s Totally On-line Program will allow me to attain a bachelor’s of applied science degree with a major in public service less than 18 months from now. This is an ambitious plan for me that has already proven to be very demanding. However, the structure of the on-line program and the quality of Siena’s instructors and faculty make me confident that I can succeed.
I initially thought that taking all my courses online would make my educational experience more disconnected than that of other Siena students, but I was wrong. I’ve learned that Siena’s instructors are excellent at steering students to engage in online discussions and critical thinking that allow us to get the most out of the course content. The structure of the on-line discussions allows each student to express complete thoughts and opinions, which fosters a learning environment and on-line community that every student in the course benefits from. As a community of students at various stages in our respective careers, we are able to share real life stories as they apply to the course lessons, which makes the material actually come alive and increase our comprehension of the lesson.
I am thankful that Siena provides a program for me and people in my situation to complete my degree while living my life, working in a full-time career, and supporting my family. There’s no comparison to any other school out there. For me, Siena means success, and I am proud to call it my school, my Siena.
I’m a basketball player – and to me Siena is about people. The other students, the coaches, the faculty, I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Every single one of the coaches would do anything they could to help out one of the student athletes. They help us with class work, they work with us to improve on the playing field, they listen when there’s problems with roommates or at home. The coaches are phenomenal – and so are my professors. In class I’m challenged, put into situations where I interact with other students and we all end up learning more.
At first, it was hard to be a full time student, and an athlete. I was stressed for awhile. But I learned a lot about time management, I found a quiet place to be in the art studio, and I grew up. I became an adult at Siena. I spent my time here with people who believed in me, who appreciated my work ethic and my desire to be here. That’s made a big difference. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and from the first time I came to Siena I felt this is where I was meant to be, and that it would be a good experience for me. It hasn’t disappointed. I’ve met the right people at Siena. I found a place where people support each other every day, and I’ve learned something new every day, that’s my success, my school, my Siena.
My home is in Roseville, Michigan, and when I came to Siena in the fall of my freshman year, I had never been on campus. I had graduated from a big all boys high school, so on my first day, to me Siena seemed so small. But I moved in, started walking the hallways and meeting people and it just became clear, that Siena is where I’m supposed to be.
At Siena I’ve found a community that promotes growth and understanding. Everyone here is about helping students get into a career, or to get into graduate school. I’m studying theatre, and criminal justice – and I love the idea of being a cop, of being a part of a community. That’s just what its like at Siena. Every department working together to better every student, we are all one community. And the education I’m getting is well rounded – I get to see all aspects of both the theatre and the criminal justice world. It’s helped me learn a lot about what I can do, what I can be, the difference I can make when I graduate.
I’ve gotten to know all the faculty one-to-one. They support me, come to see me in shows, it’s a lot like a close knit family. It’s like in my job as an RA, with the guys on my floor, we may not always see eye to eye, but we do try to find the things we have in common, and we try to challenge each other to be open, try new ways of looking at things. I learned a lot of that at home, but I also learned a lot of that here. It just seems like Siena becomes you – it grows around you, through you and in you – this is my success, my school, my Siena.
SISTER ROSEMARY ABRAMOVICH, OP
My Siena experience, in many ways spanned two generations.
I entered the Adrian Dominican Sisters in the early 60s and immediately began my college studies with summer school. The fall semester found me attending class with women my own age but choosing different life journeys. They lived in Archangelus dorms and I lived next door at the Motherhouse. We didn’t have much socializing outside of class. As I entered the Novitiate the Siena classes were taught at the Motherhouse. After Profession, as was the case for many sisters, I was sent out to teach and of course I continued my college studies. You might call it today, long distance learning!!! We took classes during the school year and returned each summer to Adrian and Siena.
During the 1960s and 70s many changes were happening at Siena and in the Congregation. Vatican II and renewal opened many windows and doors for the sisters. In the fall/winter of 1970, several sisters and I were released from teaching so we could complete our degrees. What a change!! We moved into Archangelus dorms, shared life and studies with women several years younger than us. We learned together, studied hard and had fun along the way. To this day, some of us still keep in touch. And we graduated.
I have always appreciated my education from Siena. Yes, it was at times disjointed and not routine, but hundreds of Adrian Dominican Sisters can attest that we were well prepared for life, and ministry. As a Dominican I can truly say that Siena encouraged and fostered a passion for lifelong study and the pursuit of truth.
This is my school, my Siena.
Do you have a past, present or future experience involving Siena Heights you would like to share in My Siena? If so, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will choose one each month for this space. The best submissions are those written with a personal touch (in Microsoft Word, please) and no more than 500 words in length.