Parents and Families  

eNewsletter: August 2012

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A Letter from President Juan Olivarez
From the Desk of the Dean of Student Services
Campus Safety Information and Reminders
A Student's Career Advice
A Parent's Career Advice
Fall Break Service-Learning Trips 2012
Hockey and Bowling Now on the Saints Athletic Menu
A Letter from President Juan Olivarez

Dear Parents,


It is hard to believe the 2012-2013 academic year is upon us! I hope you have had time for fun, family, reflection and relaxation during these past few months.  The campus staff and faculty have been busy preparing for this exciting time and are eager to greet our AQ students.


Each fall, as the campus comes alive with the energy generated by our students, I am reminded of my freshman year at Aquinas.  My emotions were a mixture of excitement and anxiety. I know those feelings are not limited to new students - as parents, you may be feeling a bit of that as well.


President Juan Olivarez

We are pleased and honored to have your young adult at Aquinas College. We promise to provide an atmosphere where they can grow in mind, body and spirit!  There will be opportunities for students to develop skills necessary to compete and to make a difference in today’s ever changing world.


We invite you to stay connected by checking our Aquinas College website frequently and “liking” us on Facebook.


Here’s to a great year!



Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.


From the Desk of the Dean of Student Services
Brian Matzke

After a short, hot summer, we are greatly looking forward to students returning to our campus.  This year we look forward to matching the energy of your student with the results of lots of energy that we have spent planning for their arrival.  As we developed our strategic plan for the year, our mantra quickly became that we strive to be an integrated seven day campus.  We spent lots of time comprehensively developing programs that span our campus all seven days from August 27, 2012 through May 4. 2013.  When your student arrives on campus, they will be given the official "Aquinas College Student Planner and Handbook."  This planner contains tips for them and over 970 organized activities that have been planned for the year.  Additionally, our Resident Assistants will be putting on numerous programs in the residence halls (commuters be sure to check in with our staff) on a more impromptu bases depending on the needs of the students.  There will certainly be a lot to keep the students busy.

With all of the activities, we wanted to highlight a few of Aquinas College's "Signature" events.  At these events, students that attend will not only have a great time, but also have the opportunity to register for a drawing for $1,000.  There will be a drawing at the final signature event each semester.  I thought I would share a sampling of some of our first semester signature events with you.  Our first signature event will be held at 4:30 p.m. during the afternoon of August 29 with our Campus Ministry team putting on the Mass of the Holy Spirit.  On September 5, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., Campus Life will be hosting our annual "Saint Stock" event where students go through a fair like atmosphere and learn about many happenings on campus and in the Grand Rapids community.  On September 8, our Residence Life team will "Rock the Block" in East Campus.  Campus Safety Awareness Week will start the week of September 17.  Hypnotist Tom DeLucia will be coming to campus during homecoming week on September 27 to work his magic.  St. Joe's Hall will be hosting a "Haunted Hall" for Halloween and faculty, staff and administrators will be serving an exam breakfast on December 17.  Here we plan on drawing out the winner of the $1,000 award.


As you can see with this small sample of things to do, students can get easily distracted.  If your student is having a hard time achieving balance, we have help available from a variety of sources. We have an excellent Career and Counseling Center located in lower Donnelly Center.  We also have writing help, tutoring services and great people available in our Academic and Learning Services department located in lower Wege Center.  We are pleased to have recently started a Center for Diversity and Inclusion that is located above the Campus Life Office in the Carriage House.  And, as always, students can always stop by and seek us out in the Dean of Students Office located in the heart of the Academic Building, Room 107.


- Brian Matzke, Dean of Student Services, Aquinas College, (616) 632-2073


Campus Safety Information and Reminders

Fall is rapidly approaching and Aquinas College students are either returning to continue their adventure in education, or just beginning their journey.  The Aquinas College Department of Campus Safety would like to offer parents some general information about our department and safety tips that you can use to assist your student to be aware of their personal safety.

Our department is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and employs over 25 staff and student employees. We are centrally located on campus on the west end of the Wege Student Center parking lot, by the Academic Building. The department can be accessed at any time on a walk in basis, by telephone, and via live web chat.

Our department officers receive a variety of training to assist our students. In addition, they work closely with the Grand Rapids Police Department, East Grand Rapids Public Safety, the Grand Rapids Fire Department, and Grand Rapids Township Fire Department. 

Again this year the department continues to upgrade and enhance our camera and security systems on campus. This will assist our officers by being able to provide them with firsthand information based on dispatcher monitoring.

In the event of an emergency, our department implements a variety of ways to notify the Aquinas community, which includes; a Public Address System, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, the Aquinas College website, email, and The Moose website. We have over 30 outside emergency phones strategically placed throughout campus, which once activated, tell us the exact location of the phone. We also strongly suggest that all students program our phone number in their cell phones. That number is (616) 632-2462.

Our recommendation to all students is that they never walk around campus, or the surrounding areas, alone, and to always be aware of their surroundings.  We strongly suggest they utilize our escort service which we offer on campus, and within a limited radius of campus, from dusk until dawn, 365 days per year.

On August 25, 2012 an incident occurred on Fulton Street, where a 21 year old female was sexually assaulted, and 30 minutes later another female was assaulted, possibly by the same suspect. These crimes should be a strong reminder that, though Aquinas College is a safe campus, crimes occur anywhere.  We wish for all students to remain as safe as possible and we have implemented more security patrols as has the Grand Rapids Police Department.

Here at Aquinas College Department of Campus Safety, all of us extend a warm welcome back, and remind you and your student to take advantage of any or all of our services. Please be assured that our department is committed to providing a safe and secure campus for your student this year. If you have any questions about our services or need assistance, please visit our department in person or contact us at (616) 632-2462 at any time.


A Student's Career Advice
By: Rachel Bartels '13
Rachel Bartels

Why do kids go to college?


If you ask parents of a student, the answer is usually something along the lines of “to get an education and find a job (and move out of my house).”


When asking a student why he or she is going to college, you are bound to get a laundry list of reasons, and it is doubtful “learning job related skills” will crack the top five. Even if you were to cite the “getting a job” logic to a student, he or she would probably give a vague “I have four years to work on that…”

As an Aquinas senior on my victory lap, I can tell you those four years, or in my case five, fly by. College is packed with opportunities to learn job related skills, but those activities never sound as fun as the volleyball tournament taking place in the Regina bowl or the movie marathon happening in the St. Joes lounge. However, pushing your student to be a mini-tycoon, attending career fairs, or networking events, as a freshman is not the best approach. Instead, encourage your student to take steps to build a foundation of skills and carve out a path that will eventually lead to his or her desired career.


Freshman and sophomore years for a student are all about discovering strengths, interests, and values. Knowing these fundamental things are crucial in choosing a major. The academic field your student chooses will dictate the direction of his or her college and career path, so finding the best fit is very important.


After choosing a major, students should start obtaining skills for the job search. Being able to write a concise resume, nail an interview, or knowing proper business etiquette are valuable skills to have on hand. To help build these skills, Aquinas College Career and Counseling Services (CCS) offers resume reviews, career counseling sessions with staff members, and Class to Career seminars that help students transition from life in the classroom to life in the office.


When senior year rolls around, the real search begins. CCS also offers numerous events to help upcoming grads look for jobs. Career fairs, employer site visits, alumni networking dinners, and recruiting interviews are great events for seniors that help them cultivate their own contacts and job leads. To make the most out of these opportunities, seniors will need to call on the skills they developed in their sophomore and junior years.


Going to a career fair as a freshman with very little to tell an employer is a waste of time, for both the student and the businessperson. However, meeting a potential business contact at a networking event as a senior without an elevator speech or a working resume is also detrimental.  As a parent, encourage your new student to explore different career fields and his or her own skill set. If your student is partway through his or her college journey, developing job related skills is key. Senior parents: it is time for your student to start reaching out towards new people and the next step. Support your student in this long process, and help them to take baby steps starting early on. Finding a great job after graduation doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen. Make sure you student is prepared for it.


A Parent’s Career Advice

By: Anna Marie Bartels ‘80

Anna Marie Bartels

Another summer gone by, another fall around the corner, and your student is off to school, maybe for the first time or maybe for the last.  As you know all too well, college kids need money - money for tuition, books, room and board, and late night snacks. As often as you tell your student that money doesn’t grow on trees, it doesn’t change the fact that they still need some sort of income. So where should they go to find employment?

Aquinas has many opportunities for your student to earn some money.  Even if the job isn’t related to their chosen field, employers like seeing that prospective applicants had a variety of working experiences in college.  On-campus jobs are especially good for students who don’t have access to a car.

For many young adults, college employment may be their first job experience.  This may be their first time to write a résumé, or go to an interview and present their skills.  Remind your student that skills are not limited to education in classroom.  Experiences like being the captain of a sports team or an officer in a school organization demonstrate leadership and organizational skills.

If your student is a junior or a senior, it is time for them to start broadening their horizon beyond the campus. Cultivating and maintaining a network is one of the best ways to find a job after graduation; and as a parent, you can help greatly with this.  Reach out to your friends and contacts and keep your ears open for job or internship leads.  Know what your student is interested in, their skill set, and set up an introduction if the connection looks promising. Companies are more apt to hire a young person if they come with a recommendation of someone already on their staff.

Don’t forget that volunteer organizations are another way for your student to gain experience.  While they usually aren’t paid, volunteering offers the valuable benefits of experience and contacts. It shows employers that a prospective hire is continuing to hone his or her skills. 
There are jobs out there.  By fully utilizing the resources available to them, especially the Career Services Center on campus, students can find a job - whether it be a few hours a week to help pay for expenses, or the first job in their new career.

Don’t forget, “It’s Great to be a Saint!”


Fall Break Service-Learning Trips 2012

By: Eric Bridge, Coordinator of Service-Learning

What is Service-Learning?
Service-Learning is a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development.  Service-Learning offers opportunities to participate in organized service activities that meet identified community needs while reflecting on the service to gain further understanding.  At Aquinas, Service-learning trips allow students to work with others and to put their faith into action. 


What student participants say about Service-Learning programs:
“One of my best decisions at Aquinas!”
“Great! Loved working with everyone, learning about the area, and helping with the needs of the people.”
“I loved it! I loved getting to know the people of the area as well as my group! It was one of the most rewarding things I have done in a long time.”


Service Learning

What Fall Break Service-Learning Trips are Offered?

  • Nazareth Farm and Bethlehem Farm - Two sister programs where students work and live among the people in West Virginia.  Community, simplicity, prayer and service characterize the Farm.  Learn more about local foods, solar initiatives and simple living.  Work includes home rehabilitation (roofing, painting, carpentry) and serving with area non-profits.  Retreat atmosphere includes group reflection to learn about Catholic Social Teaching and living in community.
  • Acadia Maine - Travel to Maine and participate in rugged outdoor work while living at Acadia National Park for a week.  Service includes work with rangers at the National Park to complete a variety of outdoor environmental projects.  Free time offers hiking opportunities and spectacular views. 
  • Pine Ridge, South Dakota - An opportunity to experience life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  Learn about and demonstrate solidarity with the Oglala Lakota through site visits, cultural immersion, learning and service.  Projects include energy efficiency work on the Reservation. 
  • Philadelphia - Travel to Philly, meet the Vincentian community and learn about urban issues.  Serve in the community with a variety of non-profit organizations such as a homeless shelter, school, adult care center, and thrift store. 
  • Dominican Republic - Work with a doctor, an AQ alumna and the local community to assist children and medical clinics with those living just across the border in the mountainous area of the Dominican Republic. 

Fall Break Service-Learning programs are scheduled between October 19-28, 2012. Space is limited and trips fill up quickly so encourage students to apply early!


For more information, encourage AQ students to contact: Eric Bridge, email: or Gabriella Ciccantelli

Applications & info available on CourseConnect (requires ELM log in), under Service Learning. One-Time Password key is:  aquinas 


Hockey and Bowling Now on the Saints Athletic Menu
AQ Hockey

Aquinas College is pleased to announce expanded athletic opportunities for current and future students as the College will begin to offer Men’s Ice Hockey and Men’s & Women’s Bowling starting in the 2012-13 school year.


The men’s ACHA Division III hockey program will be led by Mark VanVliet, who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position.  Coach VanVliet has been involved with the West Michigan hockey community for over 35 years as a player, official, and coach. Most recently VanVliet served as an Assistant Coach at Davenport University.  Duane Ambrose, a professor in the Kinesiology department, will assume the assistant coaching duties.


The Saints will join the likes of Calvin, Hope, Davenport, and Grand Valley State in the (MCHC) Michigan Collegiate Hockey Conference and will play in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). 


Aquinas College Athletic Director Terry Bocian comments, “Hockey is an area with a lot of interest from prospective students to the College.  We are excited to expand the program and offer more athletic opportunities at Aquinas.”


Frank Rogers has been named the Director of Bowling/Head Bowling Coach for Aquinas College's newest varsity sport.  Rogers has built the schools women's lacrosse program into a national power and now looks forward to doing the same with the Aquinas men's and women's bowling programs. 


The Saints will be affiliated with the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) and join current WHAC members (Davenport, Indiana Tech, Siena Heights and Northwestern Ohio) who offer bowling at the varsity level.


Aquinas College Athletic Director Terry Bocian comments, “Bowling is the fastest growing sport at the high school level as well as at the small college level.  It will be a nice addition to our program.”


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