Greg Alexander

Baltimore Sun

It’s never too late for medical school

Baltimore Sun, February 2005

Few undergraduates have a firm grasp when they begin college on what career path they will choose. Hence, many undergraduates change majors a few times until they find the right fit. However, medicine seems to have a calling for those who are dedicated enough to survive the rigorous coursework of a premedical major, and these individuals have a vision early in life for their career path. But what happens if you graduate with a bachelor’s degree in history, English, economics or political science and then realize that medicine is your passion? Will you be required to return to college and tackle another undergraduate degree – this time in premed – that could take two years?

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Paradise awaits you in Tahiti

Baltimore Sun, August 2004

Different couples have different agendas when planning a honeymoon. Some what adventure, while others strive for quiet and relaxation. Some couples want the excitement of big cities like Paris, Rome or Tokyo, while others want to explore exotic cultures in Thailand, Hawaii or South Africa. However, most couples will agree on one important element in a honeymoon – romance. And if you’re able to get away for at least a week and have a few coins in the honeymoon piggy bank, there’s simply nothing more romantic than Tahiti.

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School and hospitals team up to battle nursing shortage

Baltimore Sun, August 2003

“We need to focus our collective attention — both academic faculty and health care institutions — on the nursing shortage crisis; otherwise, we face a public health disaster,” says Barbara Heller, Ed.D., R.N., executive director of the University of Maryland Center for Health Workforce Development. Strong words indeed, but the statistics support Heller’s statement.

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Pleasant Days at Spancil Hill

Baltimore Sun, September 2004

“Last night as I lay dreaming of pleasant days gone by My mind being bent on rambling to Ireland I did fly I stepped on board a vision and I followed with my will And I shortly came to anchor at the cross of Spancil Hill”
—“Spancil Hill” by Michael Considine

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Opportunities abound in the dental field

Baltimore Sun, October 2004

There are several professions in health care – nursing in particular – whose staffing shortages have made their way into newspaper headlines and on television news broadcasts. As critical as these shortages are, their prominence in the media has possibly overshadowed other fields that face similar crucial shortages in the workforce. The dental field, for example, faces critical shortages in many areas, so for those looking for a new career with flexible schedules, good pay and opportunities for advancement, look no further than your family dentist office.

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Games people play

Baltimore Sun, May 2003

Unfortunately, not many people have the wonderful opportunity to go to work every day and do something they love — something they enjoy doing at work as well during their personal free time. However, due to innovative programs at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and through a partnership between The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) and the University of Baltimore, game enthusiasts are making a career out of a hobby they love.

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Illustrating the beauty of the human body

Baltimore Sun, April 2004

In order to become physicians and surgeons, medical school students endure stringent exams, hands-on learning and endless hours of reading and studying volumes upon volumes of thick textbooks. These enormous books are filled with foreign terminology and detailed illustrations and figures detailing the human anatomy and complex surgical procedures that can mean the difference between life and death in the operating room.

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Medical lab techs in high demand

Baltimore Sun, March 2004

“There’s a severe national shortage of medical laboratory technicians. The demand for laboratory testing is great, and it will only increase as Americans continue to live longer and the Baby Boomer generation transitions to the age when increased medical attention is necessary,” warns Vivi-Anne Griffey, program director of the medical laboratory technology program at Villa Julie College. Griffey notes that a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics study revealed the need for an average of 13,000 medical lab techs (MLTs) to enter the workforce each year through 2010 for health care facilities to keep pace.

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Discovering ancient dynasties

Baltimore Sun, February 2004

One of the many benefits of a college education is the opportunity to transport oneself to far away lands through the magic of books, films, slideshows and lectures. Reading and hearing about exotic lands allows you to close your eyes and visualize yourself walking on the Great Wall of China or taking part in an African Safari. However, a few lucky Johns Hopkins University students will do more than just visualize traveling to an exotic location — they will actually be there.

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Addressing the needs of a growing field

Baltimore Sun, February 2004

Maryland is home to many booming industries; however, few have exploded as much as the field of biotechnology, a field that has experienced tremendous growth nationally and particularly here in Maryland where the influx of new businesses has catapulted the state into one of the top five concentrations of biotech companies. Graduates in the various areas of biotechnology are in high demand with many new graduates fielding multiple job offers as they near commencement.

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Training wheels for area businesses

Baltimore Sun, November 2004

In these economic times, businesses are looking for new ways to increase employee productivity while still trying to reduce costs. Some businesses are restructuring due to economic woes or simply a need to “shake things up.” Some companies may look to their current employees to increase their skill sets, obtain new knowledge of technology and become more productive. Conversely, many employees are looking for new ways to market themselves as indispensable to their current employers or obtain new skills to look for a better job. In all of these scenarios, community colleges play a key role as the source for continuing education and training.

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Cuba: so close, yet so far

Baltimore Sun, September 2004

Cuba. A mysterious island nation just 90 miles off the coast of Key West, Fla., that has captivated and challenged Americans for decades. A country for years that has been “off limits” for American tourists, sans for limited access for Cuban-Americans visiting relatives in Cuba and academic/cultural excursions for college students and cultural groups. American college students majoring in anything from political science to history to Spanish have ventured to Cuba through university exchange programs to learn more about our neighbor. However, newly imposed travel restrictions by the Bush Administration have left many of these programs in jeopardy and have local colleges scrambling for alternatives.

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New treatment advances help fight prostate cancer

Baltimore Sun, October 2004

The statistics can be frightening. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for men and is the second leading cause of male cancer deaths, exceeded only by lung cancer. In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 230,900 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States in 2004 and that one in six men will get prostate cancer during his lifetime. Thankfully, there is good news: only one in 32 men will die from the disease and the death rate is going down, thanks in part by early detection and new advances in treatment options.

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A looming health danger

Baltimore Sun, May 2004

As one grows older, there are a host of common side effects as your body ages. Many mature adults experience fatigue, frequent urination, hunger, dehydration, sexual dysfunction and vision issues. Since these conditions are commonplace with your peers, it’s easy to dismiss them and say, “I guess I’m just getting older and slowing down a bit.” However, ignoring these conditions — as most Americans do — can be harmful because for some adults, these conditions are not just another downfall of aging; they may be symptoms of a common, yet serious disease — Type 2 diabetes.

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Making room for the chef to create

Baltimore Sun, March 2004

To most of us, the kitchen is more than simply a place to prepare food. It’s a place we start our day at the coffeepot trying to wake up and the place where everyone seems to be at the end of a party. To homeowners who have aspirations to be the next Emeril, the kitchen is their studio — a place where they create culinary works of art.

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Chasing the semi-retirement dream

Baltimore Sun, November 2004

Anyone who watched television in the 1980s probably saw the CBS hit shot, Newhart, in which the show’s star, Bob Newhart, played an author who bought a Vermont inn with his wife. For eight years, the show focused on the eccentric townspeople and the varied guests that stayed at the charming inn. Running an inn on the show was never boring and always full of laughter, and while the show didn’t focus much on the hard work involved in running an inn, it inevitably inspired some viewers to follow the dream of running a B&B. So, what’s life like with continuous strangers in your home dropping in from all over the country or even all over the world?

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Long-term care is expensive and must be planned for properly

Baltimore Sun, November 2003

“As you get older, proper planning is vital for asset protection and to plan for medical assistance eligibility. I always say that mature people put everything in writing,” says Bernard Pollock, an attorney who specializes in elder care law. This advice may sound easy and a commonsense approach; however, surprisingly, most Americans do not even have a simple will outlining where they want their assets to go upon death, and few have the foresight to incorporate long-term care into estate planning.

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Fixer-uppers: Great potential or money pits?

Baltimore Sun, March 2004

Original woodwork. Victorian-era details. Pocket doors, hardwood floors, plaster moldings and operational transoms. Formal parlor and European-style kitchen. Sounds like a dream home, doesn’t it? So who cares if the basement is flooded, the roof is caving in and the floors are rotten, right?

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HUD homes defy stereotypes to offer quality living

Baltimore Sun, October 2003

Ask people what comes to mind when they hear the term “HUD home,” and you’re likely to hear such responses as, “run down,” “bad neighborhoods,” “crack houses” and “no thanks.” However, subscribing to these misconceptions can result in missing an incredible opportunity to buy a great house at an even better price.

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Cruising today offers more than just shuffleboard

Baltimore Sun, October 2004

Ask someone who hasn’t taken a cruise in a while or someone who has never embarked on a cruise what first comes to mind regarding cruising and you’ll likely hear the same answers — relaxing by the pool, huge meals where you’re forced to sit with a group of strangers and, of course, shuffleboard. And while shuffleboard and relaxing are still found on today’s cruise ships, an array of intense fitness activities and a dizzying amount of dining options geared toward a younger demographic are commonplace.

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Romance in the Near East

Baltimore Sun, May 2005

When people think of honeymoon spots, many consider the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico or even Europe. However, couples planning that special romantic getaway would be wise not to overlook the U.S. East Coast – from seaside resorts to quaint inns perched in the mountains, the East Coast has it all. Although your choices are endless, here are 10 of the best destinations – up the coast from Florida all the way to Maine.

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Cruise your way closer to nature

Baltimore Sun, January 2004

Cruises have something for everyone. On board they have Las Vegas-style shows, countless restaurants and bars, dance and exercise classes, gambling and fun for the kids, while onshore excursions allow you to visit exciting ports. However, some cruise travelers are looking to discover things a little more exotic in their travels, most of which have four legs or wings.

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Celebrate romance

Baltimore Sun, January 2005

Obviously, planning a wedding is stressful. Despite following all the proper planning advice from friends, families and wedding planners, there are always stressful moments, and most brides and grooms feel a sense of relief when the wedding day draws to a close. Not only are they happy that every item on the “to-do list” is checked, but the couple also has a honeymoon to enjoy. So, after all the rushing around and bickering with each other on the wedding details, the happy couple gets to enjoy some time alone to begin their life together and embark on the most romantic time of their marriage. Just about anywhere will be romantic, but travel agents seem to agree that most couples still want to find romance on the islands. With that in mind, here are some especially romantic places to honeymoon on the beach, as well as stateside locales:

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Las Vegas: a sure bet for a fun vacation

Baltimore Sun, December 2002

Billed as “The Entertainment Capital of the World,” Las Vegas has fought for years to counter the common stereotype that Las Vegas is a city primarily of vices — gambling, drinking and partying. While most nightclubs are still open 24 hours a day and gambling is still big business, a new, aggressive advertising campaign by the city illustrates what over 35 million visitors discover each year — there’s more to Las Vegas than slots, blackjack and roulette.

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Cruising the Pacific

Baltimore Sun, February 2005

When people think of cruising, flying south to Miami or Fort Lauderdale to catch a boat comes to mind. Cruisers traditionally have flown south to Florida for trips to the Caribbean, Key West, New Orleans and west toward the Panama Canal. However, the “left” coast also presents opportunities for cruising. The ports of San Diego, Los Angeles and Vancouver allow West Coast residents to enjoy cruising; however, East Coast residents, too, can combine a California vacation with a cruise to such exciting southern destinations as the Mexican Riviera, Costa Rica and Chile, as well as short cruises along the U.S. coastline.

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Fighting for rights of all Americans

Baltimore Sun, September 2004

Its members range from lawyers to college students and past clients have included everyone from John Waters to public housing residents to Baltimore City schoolchildren. For over 70 years, the ACLU of Maryland has fought for the rights granted to every United States citizen by the Constitution through litigation, letter writing, lobbying and marches, and its work has affected nearly every minority group, as well as the American people in general.

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Let freedom – to shop – ring

Baltimore Sun, September 2005

Philadelphia – a town synonymous with Benjamin Franklin, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Betsy Ross and even Rocky Balboa. However, there’s more to the City of Brotherly Love than American and cinematic history. Not merely the birthplace of much of American history, Philadelphia also is the birthplace of other important names – Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Lagos, a high-end jewelry line, all of which were founded in Philadelphia. Yes, Philadelphia is a shopaholic’s dream, offering everything from “Big Box” chain stores and high-end department stores to quaint boutiques, brand-name retail stores and antiques galore. And, in case you needed any more excuses to shop, remember – there is no sales tax on clothing in Pennsylvania.

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Time to hit the beach!

Baltimore Sun, September 2005

Looking to head to the beach and enjoy sitting in a beach chair, soaking up some rays and maybe even tiptoe into the surf? Well, if you aren’t willing – or able – to fly south to the Caribbean, you may think your choices are limited. Think again. Just a short, half-day car drive away lies Virginia Beach, offering warm temperatures, attractions galore and enough recreational activities and special events to keep you busy for days.

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What are the new hot 'hoods?

Baltimore Sun, February 2006

The real estate market in the Baltimore metropolitan area may have shown some signs of slowing down in recent months; however, considering how hot the market has been for years in the area, there is still a large demand for both sellers and buyers alike. And, if you’re looking for a new home, the choices are endless. Do you want a rowhouse situated in a historic neighborhood in Baltimore City, close to great restaurants, clubs, entertainment venues and cultural centers? Or, would you rather reside in the suburbs for a quieter lifestyle? Once you’ve narrowed your choices based on location, which neighborhoods are the up-and-coming ones that are creating the buzz around town?

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Personal training is for everyone

Baltimore Sun, December 2005

We’ve all done it. You flip through the latest issue of People magazine or watch the pre-Oscars “Red Carpet” show and say, “I want to have a body like Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox – or Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel or Reese Witherspoon … even after she’s had two babies. What’s their secret?” Well, besides some clever airbrushing in magazines, many celebrities rely on the expertise and dedication of a personal trainer to stay fit. However, personal trainers are not only for celebrities and professional athletes. Whether you find one in your health club or seek out a personal trainer on your own, the benefits are endless.

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Hit the slopes – on a board

Baltimore Sun, November 2005

Long portrayed as a sport for the 20-something, skateboarding types, snowboarders used to be considered those crazy people who get in the way of the serious skiers on the slopes. However, snowboarding continues to soar, and in 1998, it became an Olympic sport (although its Olympic history got off to a bumpy start when the first gold medal recipient, Canadian Ross Rebagliati, tested positive for marijuana and had his gold medal stripped away; courts later reversed the decision and returned the medal). The Americans’ dominance at the 2002 Olympics garnered further attention to the sport, one that combines skill, athleticism and a little courage.

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Hunting for sunken treasures

Baltimore Sun, July 9, 2006

When you’ve lived in the Mid-Atlantic for a while, it’s easy to take the Chesapeake Bay for granted. Sans for an occasional trip to Annapolis or St. Michaels or a look down while crossing the Bay Bridge on the way to one of the beach resorts, it’s possible to forget about the Bay and not realize its enormous influence on our area – not to mention its intriguing history. However, for those who are captivated by the past and don’t mind getting a little wet, there’s a growing, interesting field for you.

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Personal touches add to glorious Guilford home

Baltimore Sun, June 11, 2006

Ask anyone who has bought a home, and you’re likely to hear that the search was exciting, nerve-racking and possibly exhausting. Finding just the right house can take a while … especially if you don’t know what you are looking for exactly.

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A Surprising Move

Baltimore Sun, October 15, 2006

Reaching a milestone birthday can elicit myriad emotions and actions. Sometimes, turning 40 or 50 can cause you to do impulsive things (some good, some bad), throw a big party or take time to reflect on your life. For one Baltimore City homeowner, however, turning 40 had a different effect.

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Breath of fresh air for job seekers

Baltimore Sun, February 12, 2006

Job opportunities in healthcare abound in an array of fields – nursing, medical technology, pharmacy, biotechnology, radiology, among others. However, there’s another healthcare field that may not garner as much press as others, but insiders say is a hot field that job seekers should definitely consider – respiratory therapy.

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Honeymoons in your element

Baltimore Sun, February 19, 2006

Remember in junior high science class when you learned about the four basic elements? Well, in case junior high was more years ago than you’d like to admit, here’s a refresher course: The Greek philosopher Empedocles asserted that matter consists of four elements – earth, air, fire and water – a theory that was later supported and embellished upon by the famous philosopher, Aristotle. So, what’s this have to do with wedding planning? Well, actually most – if not all – travel destinations can fall into one of these categories, including your honeymoon destination, so when you’re trying to decide on the type of honeymoon you want, let you junior high science teacher help you out.

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Winter can be a SAD time

Baltimore Sun, February 26, 2006

With winter winding down and spring just around the corner, most Americans – especially those who live in areas with harsh winters – are anxiously awaiting the onset of warmer temperatures. While most in the mid-Atlantic are simply a little stir crazy, tired of shoveling snow and ready for spring’s more pleasant weather and the arrival of baseball; for others, winter’s shorter days result in more than just the “winter blues.” Instead, these individual suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that can cause irritability, disinterest, loss of energy, weight gain and possibly even suicidal thoughts.

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Moving fast to land the perfect house

Baltimore Sun, January 29, 2006

Much has been written about the rising home costs in Baltimore City and how homebuyers are discovering the advantages to city living – well-built historic homes, endless entertainment opportunities and a short commute to downtown’s business centers. However, as more homebuyers made this discovery, prices continuously climbed – especially in desirable neighborhoods such as Canton, Fell’s Point, Federal Hill, Hampden, among others – to a point where being able to afford a home in Baltimore City was becoming increasingly difficult. On a positive note, this trend also encouraged those “on the fence” about buying a home to make a move … and fast.

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Finding a home in an unlikely color

Baltimore Sun, January 8, 2006

When Maureen Mooney visited Baltimore in 2002 to scout out apartments to rent, she met an interesting woman who showed her an apartment that was painted purple. When she declared that it was “Purple … for the Ravens,” Mooney wondered if moving from New York City to Baltimore was such a good idea. Little did she know that two years later she would be buying a beautiful stucco home on Hampden’s “Pastel Row” that is painted, yes, purple, a color she now loves.

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Double the space, double the fun

Baltimore Sun, January 15, 2006

One of the more interesting aspects of Baltimore City is the incredible sense of pride that neighborhoods have for their community. Newcomers to Baltimore immediately recognize the fact that many of their neighbors are third- or fourth-generation Baltimoreans, unlike many other major metropolitan cities. Patterson Park homeowner Laureen Brunelli was born in Baltimore but moved away as a child; however, the charms of Baltimore brought her back to Charm City … with a little urging of her parents.

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Face your fears in the Poconos

Baltimore Sun, January 7, 2007

“Snowplow! Snowplow! Snowplow!” As a kid learning how to ski, I remember having that screamed at me the first time I tried snow skiing on a icy mountain in North Carolina, not known for its excellent skiing, especially for beginners. And while learning how to properly snowplow will hopefully keep you from breaking a leg – or worse – there’s more to learning how to ski than simply turning your skis inward to slow your forward momentum.

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Gettysburg – Beyond the Battlefield

Baltimore Sun, September 10, 2006

Gettysburg. The word alone can send chills up your spine, as you close your eyes and visualize the three-day battle that resulted in over 50,000 casualties. Gettysburg was the turning point in the Civil War, and it was here that more men fought – and died – than in any other battle before or since on American soil. This three-day bloody battle is one of the major reasons that the Gettysburg National Military Park is one of America’s most frequently visited sites; however, there is more to Gettysburg than the battlefield.

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Credit unions help members in the long run

Baltimore Sun, October 27, 2006

As any credit union member can attest, there are myriad advantages of joining a credit union – low loan rates, personalized service and a competitive portfolio of products and services. However, one of the most important advantages, say members in regular surveys, is a certain level of trust; members trust that their credit union has their best interest in mind. With this in mind, it’s only natural that members would want to entrust their credit union with the assistance of planning complicated, serious issues such as long-term care insurance, which is becoming more and more important as Americans continue to live longer and longer. Luckily, some credit union members can obtain this valuable insurance right through their neighborhood credit union.

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National defense fuels high-tech job growth

Baltimore Sun, September 17, 2006

The high-tech sector has been a leading outlet nationally for those seeking new employment or a career shift for many years, and job opportunities abound for those in the high-tech field here in the mid-Atlantic, too, especially with companies with government defense contracts.

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Providing comfort in difficult times

Baltimore Sun, July 16, 2006

In many areas of health care today, nurses and allied health professionals are not able to spend a great deal of quality time with patients due to the hectic environment and staff shortages, a frustrating fact of life for those who chose these career paths because they wanted to provide a healing touch and treasured the opportunity to bond with their patients. Luckily, there still is one facet of health care where the opportunity still presents itself to really take the time to get to know the patients and provide that personal touch.

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The next generation of journalists

Baltimore Sun, September 19, 2006

It seems as though that each quarter some disheartening news comes from the newspaper industry about declining revenue and circulation numbers due to increased competition from online and cable news outlets and the realization that some Americans simply think that they do not have enough time to read a newspaper every day. Luckily, there still remains a need for print journalism, and pursuing a career in the field is still a wise choice for college students. Competition for these jobs after graduation is increasingly tough, and those with experience working on a college newspaper staff and with real “clips” to showcase their work definitely have a leg up on the competition.

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A Matter of Taste: debunking the airport food myth

Baltimore Sun, March 18, 2006

Airport food has been the brunt of jokes for years – just how many times have you heard someone joke (and oftentimes exaggerate) about how much they paid for a hot dog while traveling? Thankfully, times have changed for airport dining, and the new Terminal A/B at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) is giving Marylanders a taste of the changing face of airport fare.

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A Whole New Digital World

Baltimore Sun, July 8, 2007

Inevitably, in most students’ collegiate experience, they will take a class where the same syllabus, textbook and coursework has been used for years and the subject matter is based on well-tested theories. However, with the advent of an ever-changing digital world, some innovative programs at area schools present the opportunity to take courses where the subject matter changes daily and coursework is decided in “real time,” many times in a collaborative manner between faculty and students. Programs focused on interactive media, digital media arts and digital entertainment allow students – and faculty – to be pioneers in these areas of education, while discovering new career paths.

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Back to the Beach!

Baltimore Sun, March 25, 2007

They say that a bad day at the beach is still better than a good day at the office (although I still have a hard time figuring out how you can have a bad time at the beach). In any event, there’s nothing like spending the day at the beach, allowing the pounding of the surf to hypnotize you into a deep sleep. The only question is: Which beach to choose? Ocean City, Md., and Rehoboth, Del., lie just over the Bay Bridge; however, this year, head south and discover the beaches of the Southeast, each one distinctly beautiful.

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Family Fun at The Cape!

Baltimore Sun, March 11, 2007

With spring just around the corner, the temperatures will be rising, making for perfect weather to head to the beach. Marylanders are fortunate to have several resort towns to choose from in the mid-Atlantic, and there’s no need to wait until summer to head to the shore. Spring is an excellent time of year to go, and with the array of events, great dining and fun activities, New Jersey’s Cape May and The Wildwoods – rated by the readers of FamilyFun magazine, published by the Walt Disney Publications, as the top tourist area in the Northeast – are the perfect destination for families. Whether your family’s interests are fishing, camping, amusement rides, music or simply strolling along the famed boardwalks, these two resort areas are the places to be.

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Four Fabulous Dream Vacations

Baltimore Sun, April 8, 2007

GREENLAND – A QUICK TRIP TO A WORLD AWAY

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Filling a critical need

Baltimore Sun, April 15, 2007

It’s amazing how much the math and science lessons we’re taught in middle and high school affect us well after graduation. From determining the appropriate tip to leave a restaurant server to adjusting your diet to incorporate the basic food groups, math and science are permanent fixtures in our lives. However, studies show that the United States is lagging behind other world powers in producing top-notch graduates in these subjects, decreasing the country’s competitive stance. Buoyed by a national educational initiative – the National Science Board Commission on 21st Century Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) – local universities are tackling these concerns by focusing on producing exceptional teachers in these areas, as well as partnering with local middle and high schools to better prepare students before they reach college.

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Psychometricians pass the test

Baltimore Sun, April 15, 2007

Tests. Whether it was a simple “pop quiz” in a junior high school history class or a crucial SAT exam that would greatly influence your future, tests have always been a source of anxiety, stress and nervousness. Tests are used in every facet of our lives – from early education to standardized placement testing to qualification tests used in the workplace – and while we’ve all been aware of the importance of doing well on these tests, few have actually considered the methodology and thought process behind the structure and content of tests. And most people may be surprised to learn that there is an entire branch of science dedicated to the study of the makeup of tests.

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Shoppers enjoy a variety of options in Virginia

Baltimore Sun, May 6, 2007

The Commonwealth of Virginia is known for a lot of things –Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown’s 400th birthday celebration this year, small college towns, Busch Gardens and fine seafood on the Chesapeake Bay. However, a tourism component that may get overlooked amidst all of Virginia’s rich history is the commonwealth’s varied shopping opportunities – everything from mega-outlets, shopping malls and quaint historic towns lined with antique shops and boutiques.

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Backyard resort

Baltimore Sun, May 6, 2007

Each year, my friends and I escape Maryland’s sometimes rough winter and rent a house in the Caribbean or Central America, and, although we usually rent a house on the beach a couple of steps from the surf, we always book a house that has a fabulous pool. Not a simple round pool to cool off in, but rather a pool that exudes relaxation, one that goes on endlessly, a pool that is so wonderful that guests end up spending most of their time poolside instead of on the beach.

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Enjoy the Great Outdoors in Virginia Beach

Baltimore Sun, July 15, 2007

Virginia Beach. Myrtle Beach. Rehoboth Beach. What do these all have in common? Obviously, the “beach,” but what if you are not a “sit-and-read-a-book” type of beach person? Well, then head to Virginia Beach where outdoor activities go well beyond the beach, and there is bound to be something for everyone to enjoy in your group. Yes, Virginia Beach – which attracts three million annual overnight visitors – is famous for its historic Boardwalk, but the resort town is also home to more than 18,600 acres of state parks and wildlife refuges, offering outdoor activities galore.

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Balancing work with school earns dividends

Baltimore Sun, September 16, 2007

The job market has been increasingly tough over the years, mandating that college students position and market themselves to help land that dream job after graduation. Whereas good grades and a resume outlining some extra-curricular activities performed during four years on campus used to be adequate material to ensure garnering a good job – and avoid the dreaded move back home with the folks – times have changed. Employers are looking for more from job seekers than just performing well in the classroom, and colleges can help in this area by providing real world experience through on-campus jobs, internships and co-op jobs.

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Gaming on the Gulf

Baltimore Sun, March 23, 2008

In 2005, we all witnessed the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and the slow response by the federal government, which just added to the anguish for the people of the Gulf regions of Louisiana and Mississippi. However, one positive outcome of Katrina did shine through – the stalwart determination of the people there to proclaim that the region would bounce back. And while some viewed parts of the rebuilding effort a gamble, there is one sure bet in these two states – warm hospitality, wonderful local cuisine and endless fun, including the many gaming institutions.

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Job seekers have endless opportunities in health care

Baltimore Sun, February 17, 2008

In these uncertain economic times, it may be frightening to consider switching careers or going to college to begin a new career; however, there are certain jobs that insiders say are “recession proof,” most of which are in health care. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost half the 30 fastest growing occupations are concentrated in health services. And while the critical nursing shortage garners a lot of headlines – and rightfully so – there are other fields that are experiencing significant shortages and, hence, provide great opportunities for job growth.

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What jobs are in special demand?

Baltimore Sun, January 13, 2008

Whether you’re looking to change careers, are graduating high school or college or re-entering the workforce after raising a family, everyone always wants to know where the jobs are. While some fields are a multi-year string of being in demand – nursing, information technology and pharmacy, to name a few – there are some other areas where those with the right education and experience can land jobs quickly.

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Bold colors team up with black and white in 2008

Baltimore Sun, March 30, 2008

Whenever you’re redecorating or furnishing your home, everyone wants to know what’s “in” for this year. Whether combing through the elegant – yet unrealistic at times – ideas from the pages of Metropolitan Home or gaining inspiration from Oprah’s more practical home décor guru Nate Berkus, we’re all looking for ideas to transform our home into a showpiece that’s sure to be included on the next neighborhood home tour.

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Schools helping schools

Baltimore Sun, November 25, 2007

The college experience offers many ways to learn beyond the classroom, many of which can be found on campus. However, sometimes college students may need to leave the ivy-covered walls of campus and explore the “real world.” Many local college students have done just that and – through different means – are tackling one of the greatest challenges in Baltimore: the public school system.

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Taking time out to expand horizons

Baltimore Sun, February 17, 2008

In today’s competitive job market, many college curriculums are being shaped with students’ career goals in mind, in that courses are being developed to respond to workplace needs, increasing students’ odds of landing a great job immediately following graduation. However, the benefits of encouraging students to expand their horizons by taking unorthodox classes and those with no relation to their major has not been lost on area schools. In fact, many schools have a specific academic term for such classes – the intersession.

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Old-Fashioned Fun in PA Dutch Country

Baltimore Sun, April 13, 2008

In today’s hectic world, Americans always seem to be on the go, and even when we are standing still, we’re connected to the world via Blackberries, iPhones, e-mail, cell phones … you name it. Wouldn’t it be nice to escape for a few days and return to an old-fashioned way of life, where you’re encouraged to slow down a bit? Well, you can, and the good news is that this magical place is only a short drive away from Baltimore – the Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

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Hong Kong: A Shopper's Paradise

Baltimore Sun, March 2007

When it comes to shopping, there’s nothing quite like finding a bargain. Whether it’s via a clip-out coupon from the newspaper, a holiday sale or an annual sale, there’s a certain rush about finding something you want for less (how else can you explain the throngs of people who head out at 6 a.m., the day after Thanksgiving?). However, after you get home, take a look at the “Made In” label on your clothes. Chances are, many of them will say China. So, if you want to experience real savings, why not cut out the middleman and head to the Far East for a once-in-a-lifetime shopping experience?

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Zen at Home

Baltimore Sun, June 11, 2008

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Don’t Be Afraid – Hit the Slopes

Baltimore Sun, November 9, 2008

Swooshing down the slopes, the wind in your hair, darting back and forth while admiring the picturesque mountains and the powdery snow … skiing and snowboarding can be relaxing, therapeutic and exhilarating – all at the same time. However, if you are a first-timer or someone who hasn’t hit the slopes in a few years, it can also be a terrifying and nerve-rattling experience.

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The pen’s mightier than the sword

Baltimore Sun, July 2008

Although I knew I wanted to be a writer since the second grade, when I formally declared my major in newspaper journalism, it was meant with some skepticism, as friends and family feared I would be a desolate person on the street trying to sell my writing. Even today, when asked what I do for a living, the common response is, “You can make a living off that?” While journalism may be a tough field to make it in, the obstacles facing those in the creative writing and creative nonfiction world may be even greater. However, the Baltimore area is home to some of the finest undergraduate and master’s level programs in these fields, teaching students not only how to become great writers, but also published writers.

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Diverse hospitality industry leads to varied management tracks

Baltimore Sun, April 13, 2008

Almost daily, everybody has contact with those employed in the hospitality industry. Going through everyday tasks, you’re bound to order lunch from a waitress in a restaurant or a tall latte from a barista at Starbucks, receive a bill from the registration desk employee at a hotel or coordinate a working lunch by relying on a catering company. And, the economic impact of the hospitality industry on Maryland is significant. According to a 2007 report by the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board Hospitality and Tourism Industry Initiative, the hospitality and tourism industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the state. The industry had a 7.2 percent employment increase between 2001 and 2004, more than four times the rate for total private sector employment, and the report showed that the industry will experience an estimated 1,068,525 openings through 2012. Like many other industries, there is a projected shortfall of employees to fill these positions, but luckily, several local colleges offer hospitality management programs, leading to myriad career tracks.

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Combining interests, passions

Baltimore Sun, September 14, 2008

Choosing a major can be tough for many students, not to mention meeting all the requirements of that degree curriculum. But what if you can’t find your exact program tract or you discover your senior year that you don’t want to be an accounting major anymore? In these cases, for some it meant either transferring schools or switching majors and losing lots of credits, meaning that your four-year college plan was out the window, and you were looking at a six- or seven-year plan. Luckily, many schools offer a solution – interdisciplinary studies, a program where student can in essence create their own major or simply combine two disciplines – say business and psychology – to create a hybrid degree, one that not only allows them to explore two academic passions but also create a degree that utilizes prior courses taken to stay on path to graduation.

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Mondawmin: Rebirth in the City

Baltimore Sun, July 23, 2008

All throughout Baltimore City, about every neighborhood has experienced countless ups and downs – periods of massive residential expansion, followed by periods of decline and urban flight and then periods of renaissance and rebirth. The reasons for a turnaround can vary – sometimes it’s the result of a proactive neighborhood association, other times it’s the involvement and cooperation of religious and business leaders, while in some cases, it’s the result of a burgeoning commercial district that draws visitors from other parts of the City, who in turn discover the benefits of living in an up-and-coming area. In the case of Mondawmin, a diverse neighborhood located in northwest Baltimore, all of these factors have combined to contribute to the neighborhood’s rebirth and revitalization.

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Hit the Trail and Celebrate Winter

Baltimore Sun, December 7, 2008

Winter. When some people hear the word, they think of the headaches – rising heating bills, shoveling snow, walking the dog in icy conditions, tough driving conditions and unfashionable bulky coats. However, winter is an amazingly beautiful season, a white-capped winter wonderland when even the City gets quiet and the sky crystal clear.

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Opening doors for women in science

Baltimore Sun, November 23, 2008

There are many benefits of attending a small, liberal arts college – small class size, one-on-one interaction with faculty, a litany of interesting and though-provoking courses and an intimate, leafy campus, to name a few. Laboratory science majors at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, however, have a unique opportunity to combine these small school benefits with world-class research work through a new partnership with the school and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, a partnership that also encourages more women to look to the sciences as enticing career paths.

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