By their own definition, graduate students in the college student development program are close-knit and they strive to maintain that connection after graduation. Through the 'CSD Tsunami,' the program's bi-annual newsletter, they celebrate each other's accomplishments, promote scholarly achievement and share insightful career perspectives.
"The newsletter is a great place to share what's happening in the career field and also what's happening on a personal level," said J.W. Lazzari, a student in the eighth cohort and 'Tsunami' editor.
Lazzari was in the midst of overseeing his third issue when Lazzari suffered the loss of his first grandparent. Harry Pete Bengochea died unexpectedly the week of spring break. "Papa," as his grandchildren called him, was retired from the Nevada Air National Guard in 1983 as a Lt. Col. and chief of maintenance.
Lazzari channeled his grief into a learning opportunity. He wrote "Struggling with Loss," as a tribute to Papa's life and to describe feelings that accompany the loss of a family member.
"The newsletter is a place where students and alumni can express themselves about different subjects," Lazzari said. "I wanted to share my experience about my grandfather because the professionals who work with college students should be prepared for these types of experiences."
Lazzari found it difficult to focus on coursework for the first few weeks after he returned from break.
"It was an emotional time for our whole family, and I really appreciate the kindness and sensitivity that my professors, the staff, and my friends showed to me."
Alumni and other graduate students find the newsletter a valuable communication and recognition tool.
"The volume of submissions we receive keeps information fresh. In the same issue that I published the story about my grandfather, we covered the American College Counseling Association conference and featured a first-person account of one graduate's dream job - she's the University of Redlands director of student life in Salzburg, Germany."
There are fewer than a dozen college student development programs across the country. Maintaining a support network engages alumni and inspires graduate students who are preparing for future careers.
"One of the most important things that educators will do is to help students to strive for educational success," said William Sparkman, dean of the College of Education. "The college student development program identifies individuals who inspire others to realize their academic and career goals. They are among the College's best ambassadors for higher education."
Lazzari earned a bachelor's in business administration in May 2005. He enrolled in the college student development graduate program the following semester. He is looking forward to beginning his college student development career working with a diverse population of students. Lazzari anticipates graduation in December 2008.
Serving as editor of the 'Tsunami' has helped me to put into practice the organization, communication and graphic design skills that I learned in my University studies," Lazzari said. "But, Dr. [Mary] Maples is really the backbone of the program and the publication."
Mary Maples, program director, first launched the 'Tsunami' in 2004, hoping to unify program cohorts and strengthen the support network of professionals working in higher education.