Parents and Families  

eNewsletter: March 2012

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A Letter from President Juan Olivarez
Transitioning Home for the Summer
Home for the Summer: Tips for Parents Welcoming Their College Student Home
Summer Employment: What to Know
How Parents Can Help Students after Graduation: The Career Search
From the Desk of the Associate Dean of Student Affairs
Student Health Insurance Information
The Aquinas College Emergency Response Plan
Feedback: Parents & Families Website
A Letter from President Juan Olivarez

Dear Parents,


We are quickly approaching one of my favorite times of the academic year - graduation! I love the mix of excitement and nostalgia that surrounds this event. It is a perfect time for reflection on the years spent here at AQ and anticipation of what lies ahead.

I’m proud to announce that we have asked Fred Keller, Jr. to be our commencement speaker this year. Many of you know that Fred is the owner of Cascade Engineering here in Grand Rapids, and is nationally recognized for his firm’s commitment to environmental and social improvement. He founded the company, which provides plastics products for the automotive, industrial and solid waste industries, in 1973.

President Juan Olivarez

Fred’s impact in our community is significant and his actions affirm his devotion to education and sustainability - two issues close to the heart of Aquinas College. Fred is an innovator, an entrepreneur, and a fine role model for our students. I am looking forward to his commencement address, and I’m sure it will be inspiring for us all.

I hope to meet many of you in May, when you are on campus to celebrate your child’s accomplishments.



Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.


Transitioning Home for the Summer

By: Monica Rischiotto

Monica Rischiotto After nearly 4 months of flying solo my freshman year of college, returning home for the first time is something I distinctly remember. It was a long train ride from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Portland, Oregon. I saw more of the country than ever before, and what seemed to be enough snow to last me a lifetime as the train cruised through white covered fields of Wisconsin and serene forests of southern Montana. By the time I finally arrived in Portland, the combination of completing my first semester of college and now finishing this mini-epic journey of travelling home, I felt like I was on top of the world. I couldn’t wait to see my family, have a home cooked meal, and sleep in my own bed. My excitement was through the roof, I could hardly wait to get off that train.

This being said, however, and now looking back, the hardest part of transitioning home was accepting the reality that while no doubt my family and friends were excited to see me, it also hit me that once I left, everyone’s lives continued on. For example, even just driving home from the train station, I felt overwhelmed trying to play catch up with my three younger sisters. And while I was anticipating that my leaving the house would free up my parents’ lives to a certain degree - no more two hour rides to soccer games on the weekends or picking me up from practice - they still seemed busy as ever, if not more.

When we did arrive at the house, I will never forget noticing smells I had never taken in before. Something a person typically only notices when they are a visitor in someone else’s home. A visitor indeed is what it felt like. My sister Claire had completely taken over my room, and felt the need to throw all my things in the attic. My couple weeks at home then were spent essentially living out of a suitcase and sharing a room with my then eight year old sister Rachel.

There was no question that I eventually transitioned back into the swing of things, and by the end of break I felt like I had finally caught up, making it extremely difficult to leave home and return to school.

For me, coming home was not so much a struggle for establishing my independence that I gained while at college. My parents (luckily) were willing to let me use the car, curfew was not a huge issue as long as they knew where I was, and while I didn’t have my own room, I did have enough of my own space. In terms of chores, I was off the hook for the most part. Though I did find myself naturally picking up my old responsibilities of emptying the dishwasher and feeding the cat, honestly not so much because I felt obligated or was told to, but I had an inner desire to contribute in some way. To reestablish my role in this community, and if that meant waking up to feed Tinkerbelle the crying cat at 6a.m. in the morning then so be it (with some disgruntlement I should add).

Instead of feeling a loss of independence, I felt a loss of connectedness. I naively assumed that relationships that the first time being back would quickly pick right back up from where they left off. But I am learning that now in my senior year of college, it is truly a blessing to return home and almost immediately transition. And while it may take a couple tries to find that rhythm, bear with us parents, the calls will increase as we get older and realize how important you are in our lives. And sometimes it takes that distance, that time away from home, for the light to click.


Home for the Summer: Tips for Parents Welcoming Their College Student Home
By: Career & Counseling Services

Parents Welcoming Their College Student Home

The time is finally here! You and your student have been counting down the days until summer vacation and it has arrived. You are excited to finally spend time with your student for more than a few days here and there and maybe even squeeze some family time in! Your student is thrilled to be done with finals, homework assignments, and tests and to finally have a chance to kick back and relax.


The bliss of summer vacation lasts for all of about a week. Suddenly, you and your student are facing off in conflicts regarding curfew, chores, and rules and the summer isn’t looking so peachy anymore. How do you remedy this? Consider a few of these tips when preparing to welcome your student home from college.

  • Be realistic with the rules - Your student has most likely been living without many rules to think about, including phone, Internet, and TV usage, curfew, and chores to name a few. The same rules that may have been enforced while they were in high school are not going to go over so well this time around. Have a discussion with your student when they return home to discuss expectations and be prepared to compromise. It’s difficult, but try to let go of parenting patterns that wouldn’t work with a fellow adult. Help balance the freedom and responsibility by setting a few ground rules. Your student obviously can handle more responsibility if they survived the year away at school. Help reinforce what they have learned by making them continue doing things they did while at school, like their laundry.
  • Plan time together - Plan in advance to spend time with your student. They have likely been looking forward to reuniting with their high school and local friends and may not have considered your plans for their time home. When you plan advance with your student, you are demonstrating your respect for their time and showing them time spent together is a priority for you. Try taking your student to coffee, shopping, or making family dinners a priority. Everyone gets to hear about each family member's day and it is a good time for the student to feel connected to the family again.
  • Relax a little - You’re not only adjusting to having your student home for the summer, you’re both also adjusting to this new phase in your relationship. Suddenly, you can begin to relate to each other as adults. Share some stories from when you were their age and your student may share some of their own.
  • Try to encourage them to job hunt - A job will help keep your student’s mind occupied and their bank account full…well at least for a while. Having a job also is great for building your student’s resume and experience for the “real world” once they graduate. A job will enable you to rest assured that your student is not wasting the summer and your student will gain great experience (and some cash) in the meantime.
  • Remember to be gentle with your spouse - Sometimes the return of your student from school can cause some friction in your relationship with your spouse or partner. Take time to step back and admire the wonderful child you’ve raised!
>Article Reference

Summer Employment: What to Know

Summer is right around the corner!  Many students will be taking a break from classes and that means that some of them will be returning home.  However, it is not a time to take a break from developing skills, gaining career experience or earning income. >Read More



How Parents Can Help Students After Graduation: The Career Search

Your Aquinas student has just graduated. This is often a time of uncertainty. Here are some things you can do to help ease your graduate’s transition from the world of school to the career world. >Read More

The Career Search

From the Desk of the Associate Dean of Student Affairs
By: Jennifer Dawson, Ph.D.
Dr. Jennifer Dawson

As daffodils sprout and students in shorts soak up the sun, our thoughts are drawn toward imagining summer time.  While the summer months are often associated with trading books for beach towels, I want to encourage you to help your student see the summer as an opportunity to reflect upon his or her education and career plans beyond graduation.  During the school year, it can be hard for students to think about the future and actively investigate their options; however, the summer months are perfect for this type of planning.


Here are a few suggestions to inspire your student to use the summer months productively.  If your student already has a career path in mind, have him/her job shadow someone who is working in the field.  Professionals LOVE to talk about what they do. Have the professional recommend a good book related to his/her career could spark your student’s interest.  Second, if your student is undecided, set aside some time to talk about his/her course work from

the past year.  What classes were favorites?  Why?  Send your student to the library to search for a book that is related to his/her interests or for a book that a professor recommended for class.  Third, encourage your student to read widely over the summer on a variety of subjects including newspapers or magazines particularly those that are related to his/her academic interests. 


Finally, never underestimate the power of a good beach read or a family trip to a museum or historical site.  Ask your student what he/she is interested in and you may be surprised to hear that he/she would appreciate a going to see a play, visiting a botanical garden, or taking in a science or art museum.  For parents interested in a good summer read, I just finished My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student by Rebekah Nathan.  Although Nathan writes about a University experience that is different from living on the Aquinas campus, she provides an interesting and engaging perspective on the challenges facing our students during their undergraduate years. 
Enjoy the summer months ahead and know that we will be busily planning for an amazing fall semester.


Student Health Insurance Information

For many families, today’s cost of education may also include medical insurance coverage. Medical insurance and federal guidelines are changing and can be difficult to understand. Aquinas College has a long standing relationship with First Agency out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Students that find themselves in need of an affordable medical insurance policy can receive coverage from First Agency. First Agency has been providing student and athletic accident coverage to educational institutions since 1959.

To help aid parents in understanding the proposed guidelines, First Agency provided us with the following information.


Student Health Insurance Coverage Regulations

On February 11, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement with proposed rules and changes to Student Insurance Plans of Coverage offered by Colleges and Universities.  Some of the proposed changes included:

  • Provide a Minimum of $100,000 on Essential Benefits including RX
  • Preventative Services must be covered at 100% with no cost sharing
  • Emergency Services must cover out of network at same cost as in network


A final version of the regulations has yet to be issued and may be delayed for another academic year.


However, with the high cost of health care in the United States, we recognize the ultimate risk that students with no health insurance face.  The absence of adequate insurance coverage can result in temporary or permanent interruption of a student’s education. It is in a College’s best interest to be committed to offering student health insurance that provides access to quality health care and achieves a balance between premium cost and adequate coverage without overburdening students’ financial resources.


First Agency in conjunction with United Healthcare will be offering a student insurance plan of coverage for the 2012/2013 school year.  Please contact the Integrative Campus Health Services Department at (616) 632-2458 or visit the website for more information.


The Aquinas College Emergency Response Plan

The Aquinas College Emergency Response Plan was developed by the Emergency Response Team to ensure the safety of all students, staff, faculty and visitors in the event of an emergency situation occurring on or near Campus. The Emergency Response Plan works to ensure readiness for various emergency situations by:

  • Establishing a framework of decision-making, planning and response procedures to be implemented during emergency situations.
  • Establishing able leadership during emergencies, capable of providing direction consistent with College policies.
  • Promoting cooperation between Aquinas College and local, state and/or federal emergency response organizations.
  • Communicating crisis management information clearly to the campus community.


The plan includes who, when and why to contact emergency personnel. Events covered by the ERP include severe weather, fires, mental health, armed aggressor(s), hazardous chemical reactions, and other situations that may involve local emergency response.

Several departments from Aquinas would be involved including Campus Safety, Maintenance, Grounds, Housekeeping, Career and Counseling Services, and Residence Life. These departments would be in the forefront but other departments may be included. Campus Safety works closely with the Grand Rapids Police Department, Grand Rapids Fire Department, East Grand Rapids Fire/Police, and Grand Rapids Township Fire Response along with AMR and Life Ambulance Services.

To view the ERP please visit the ERP website and if you have further questions please contact Campus Safety at (616) 632-2462.



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