January 18, 2017
Graduate Student and Alumna Vashti Ma'at '13 Selected for Applied Learning Panel
Graduate student Vashti Ma'at ‘13 was selected to participate in SUNY’s third annual Applied Learning Conference student panel and workshop held in Binghamton, N.Y., last fall.
Applied learning, most often associated with traditional internships and work-study programs, has garnered greater focus for the SUNY system as a way of helping undergraduate students more effectively participate in the state workforce and, after completing their degrees, more easily move on to the job market, earn a promotion and/or change their careers.
The panel and workshop addressed barriers to student engagement, as well as equity of access for nontraditional students, students from underrepresented minorities and others.
Ma’at, who completed her Bachelor of Arts in Social Science and is currently enrolled in the college’s School for Graduate Studies’ Master of Arts in Adult Learning Program, participated in the college’s work-study program with the Office of Veteran and Military Education.
“As a work-study student, I was able to use my prior experiences and practical knowledge, in tandem with my undergraduate studies and theoretical knowledge, to refine my current skills, while developing new ones,” said Ma’at.
Like so many other nontraditional undergraduate students who come to SUNY Empire, Ma’at chose the college because of her ability to participate in the college’s individual prior learning assessment program, where she was able to earn college credit for the college-level learning she acquired in nontraditional settings.
"Within the Social Science area of study, I had the flexibility to choose, develop and design a program based on my academic interest, which was sociocultural anthropology, with a focus on human sexuality relationship choices,” said Ma’at.
Ma’at also shared that the conference was a good learning experience, “Some of the highlights were the workshops and participants who recognized the need for traditional educational systems to adjust their pedagogy to meet the needs of the 21st-century global market.”
Ma’at added that discussion also looked at the need to recognize and included nontraditional, diverse and other changing learning populations around the globe.
Joining Ma’at on the panel were:
- Marc Cohen, president of the SUNY Student Assembly
- Pat Gareau, SUNY Student Assembly treasurer
- Clare Gilroy, Binghamton University’s youth engagement coordinator
- Nick Simons, chief of staff for the SUNY Student Assembly.
The SUNY conference followed the college’s Fall Academic Conference, Inspiring Innovative Learning, where applied learning was among the concurrent sessions.
Associate Professor Patricia Isaac, Mentor and Human Development Associate Professor Gina Torino, Executive Director for Institutional Effectiveness Eileen McDonnell and Associate Director of Enterprise Architecture and Applications Bob Perilli described many of the nontraditional learning opportunities the college employs, which meet SUNY’s criteria for applied learning.
According to Torino, applied learning is most often associated with a traditional credit- and noncredit-bearing internship, which, while effective and appropriate in any number of situations, is only one of many paths students may take.
Definitions of applied learning also include:
- community service
- civic engagement
- creative works
- research at the graduate and undergraduate levels
- service learning
- cooperative education
- clinical placement
- field study
- international and domestic travel and/or student exchange.
Isaac shared with faculty in attendance that students engaged with learning in the “field,” whether it is collecting samples for biology or making site visits as part of social work, would very likely meet the approved activities delineated by SUNY for applied learning.