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Sammie Maitland and Seana Logsdon Speak About SUNY Empire Connects

Updated: Jun 29, 2020


The Buffalo Project recently spoke with two of the collaborators of SUNY Empire Connects: Seana Logsdon, who is the Senior Director for Academic Success at SUNY Empire, and Sammie Maitland, a student leader currently working toward her degree in business, management and economics, in regards of their involvement and perspective of SUNY Empire Connects as a new online connectivity platform at the college.


The talks were motivated by the success of SUNY Empire Connects, a collection of live, virtual events created to provide students with distance learning tools and help them manage isolation in the uncertain times of the COVID-19 lockdown. The interviews were also a part of the launch of the new Buffalo Project YouTube channel, which went live on April 20, 2020.



SUNY Empire Connects was born out of “need for connection”, said Ms. Logsdon, whose work within the college has been focused on student readiness, particularly by developing interactive Open Educational Resources (OERs), utilizing what she calls a “just-in-time” approach. “We wanted to look at ways in which we could still maintain connectivity […] in that just-in-time concept”.


View full interview with Seana Logsdon here:


Around mid March, a team composed by Ms. Logsdon, Dr. Rhianna Rogers, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, and Ashley Mason, the Assistant Director of Student Success Initiatives, set out to bring “under one umbrella” the ideas that sparked from the different conversations regarding connectivity that were occurring around the college. Ms. Logsdon particularly recalls the leadership of student Sammie Maitland stating: “Sammie was a really innovative student who said: ‘I want to work with other students’”.


Ms. Maitland had become inspired to help students who were struggling with social isolation, stress and anxiety. She recalls her shelter-in-place experience being “a major turning point”. She expresses that being a member of the Student Affairs Committee (SAC), a member of the Student Leadership Institute (SLI) and a certified yoga instructor, gave her the momentum to ask herself “who do I want to be when this is over?”, and to take action to reach out to college administration and other SUNY Empire organizations, with ideas to host online casual student conversations and teach online yoga classes.


View full interview with Sammie Maitland here:


Currently, SUNY Empire Connects offers 20 to 30 programs per week in a variety of tracks, with a new schedule available every Sunday. Ms. Logsdon points out “stress management” programming as being “very popular” within the mental health track, which incorporates activities like meditation and breathing. Students can also find programming around physical movement, financial readiness, building an employment portfolio, time management, coffee talks for informal conversation, among other options. Students also have access to a number of drop-in hours available that can be used to get real-time help in the face of challenges presented by COVID-19, may it be a diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, or any other circumstance. If needed, students can also make separate, confidential appointments if they require a specific type of help.


Ms. Maitland added that her participation in SUNY Empire Connects had been limited for a while, as she herself had fallen ill, most likely with COVID-19. However, she is currently working to be able to host her casual conversations very soon, which she envisions as “a really fun time” and an opportunity to "solidify our culture as SUNY Empire students“. She believes that “it is in times of crisis when leadership most needs to emerge”.


Referring to her perspective of SUNY Empire Connects, Ms. Logsdon says this program “is a really nice match for something that hopefully might build a different level of student-to-student relationship”, which she points out hasn’t occurred out of lack of interest, but because students “didn’t feel they could make [that] space”. That space is now SUNY Empire Connects and in order to move forward and evolve, Ms. Logsdon and the rest of the committee deem important for the program to maintain a sense of nimbleness and for students to participate and provide feedback.


All interested in joining the coffee talks or any other of the program options of SUNY Empire Connects, can type www.esc.edu/escconnects, right on their browser, for direct access to the schedule.


 

A note from Sammie

"Hi all. I want thank you for taking the time to watch the interview and/or read this write-up. I don’t see myself as a special or unique individual, to me I’m human - and that’s it. Stepping up to advocate for the things we believe in and in turn inspiring change is something we can all do. For SUNY Empire students we have the opportunity to work with faculty, staff, and administrators who are incredibly open to collaboration and feedback. The resources and mechanisms are in place for us to be able to bring forth initiatives that add to the campus community and quality of educational experience - and also present are the mechanisms and educational experiences for us to be able to initiate change in the communities local to us.


The Student Affairs Committee (SAC) gives students the opportunity to collaborate with college administration on decisions of broad policy - the Dean’s List came from the workings of SAC. Applying to become a regional representative or getting in contact with your local rep is great way to influence the polices of ESC. The Student Leadership Institute (SLI) gives one access to some of the foundational resources in leadership education. In the SLI you have the opportunity to absorb a variety of leadership learnings such as professional development (including workshops on networking skills), personal development (assessments to help learn your leadership and collaboration style), and the opportunity to engage in a social action project - where you get to work with a team of your peers in creating a change making initiative. The Buffalo Project, as you can see from this site, is an amazing way to bring leadership and policy together and also to build and strengthen the bridges of community - bridges that together we cross into a brighter future"


To connect directly with Sammie Maitland, you may write to StudentRep@esc.edu.

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