How to Turn off the Worries

How to Turn off the Worries

Everyone feels anxious now and then. But there are things you can do to minimize those feelings. Mayo Clinic Health System staff suggests trying the exercise below the next time your mind is stuck on the worry setting.

Sit quietly. Look around you and notice:

  • 5 things you can see: Your hands, the sky, a plant on your colleague’s desk
  • 4 things you can physically feel: Your feet on the ground, a ball, your friend’s hand
  • 3 things you can hear: The wind blowing, children’s laughter, your breath
  • 2 things you can smell: Fresh-cut grass, coffee, soap
  • 1 thing you can taste: A mint, gum, the fresh air

This exercise helps you shift your focus to your surroundings in the present moment and away from what is causing you to feel anxious. It can help interrupt unhealthy thought patterns.

source: https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/5-4-3-2-1-countdown-to-make-anxiety-blast-off

For tips on boosting your brain’s happiness, watch this fun video from Mayo Clinic’s Complementary and Integrative Medicine program:

Meet Edward Martinez.

Meet Edward Martinez.

Edward Martinez’s first experience with college is a familiar one. Eager to pursue a degree, he arrived on campus with high expectations. However, as is often the case at large schools, Edward was scheduled for classes that didn’t make sense for him academically, he felt lost among the crowds of students and didn’t get the individual attention he needed from his instructors. Like most adults, Edward also needed a class schedule that enabled him to both work and attend school.

Disappointed and assuming all colleges would be the same, Edward chose not to continue but remained in the field of education and began working at his former high school. While there, he learned about the ACE program from a previous staff member who graduated two years prior.

Unlike Edward’s former college instructors, his ACE program coordinator was very accessible. He came to recognize that his prior experience did not mean he didn’t fit at college, but rather that his former college program didn’t fit him. “Right off the bat I could feel the sense of caring and understanding that I heard so much about. She helped me gain a better understanding of what I wanted to do and what was the best path to take in order to ensure I was making the best decisions for myself.”

“I transitioned from being a student engaged in the enrollment process to an employee who helps with the enrollment process. It’s exciting to see students motivated to attend school and graduate because you are helping them create a better future for themselves.”

Having gained a clearer sense of the path to the Ph.D. he’s dreamed about, Edward is taking it “one degree at a time” and graduated with an Associate Degree in Business Management.

“It’s never too late. This is a program for everyone.”

Leadership Training

Leadership Training

We celebrated the first cohort of Community Scholar Leadership Training graduates and welcomed the 2021-22 cohort in the same weekend! It was delightful to meet in person even though we had developed a solid sense of community via the zoom workshops last year. We missed those who were unable to join. Those who were present expressed gratitude for the space the workshops created in their lives for personal growth and support with like-minded people. Last fall, we journeyed together first to simply show up – on zoom, for ourselves and for one another, and began to strengthen our skills in self-awareness and stress management. We then progressed forward to personal vision building and learned a technique to maintain daily focus upon our respective visions. We anticipate maintaining our connection and commitment to growing as leaders through monthly teaching and sharing sessions. Congratulations to all!

Camilla Allen
Bryan Arroyo
Steve Austin
Tiffany I. Burgos-Rivera
Silvia Colon
Ambrion Farris
Ada Garcia
Gerome Gray
Shelia Green
Keesha Hampton
Lakeya Harris
Porsha Harris
Amanda Hicks
Sheila Lee
Jacquilynn McClurkin
Michelle Moore
Nichet Nunez-Foster
Comfort Nyanue
Judith Rivera
Madlyne Santiago
Lincoln Stevens
Natosha Williams
Eugene Williford

The Leadership Program combined with the degree have given me the key to open the next door. Because I had the leadership certificate behind me in addition to the business administration degree, I was offered a promotion at my job. It added value to my education that  didn’t come from a book or a lecture, but from life experiences and being part of a group of individuals who were willing to share that vision and drive and grow together. When I came across a challenge, I used the practices we learned such as deep breathing and intentionally taking care of yourself in order to do the next thing. I’ve incorporated the practices not only into my work experience, but my day to day life.”

— Madlyne Santiago, Associate Degree in Business Administration, 2020

Remarks from David Castro, President of I-LEAD and guide for the 2020-21 Community Scholar Leadership Training journey can be found here.

Limited space remains for the 2021-22 cohort! Please reach out to [email protected]  as soon as possible to express interest and schedule an introductory call.

Obstacle or Opportunity?

Obstacle or Opportunity?

Life is constantly surprising us with obstacles – there’s not much we can do about that. What we can do, however, is optimize how we deal with those challenges when they do come along.

  • Keep your energy positive. When things get tough, it’s important to stay as positive and good-humored as possible. Your emotions directly affect your thinking – freaking out will muddle your mind and make it more difficult to look for solutions. Think of it this way: a problem is here and you have to deal with it. Would you rather do it feeling good or stressed out? By staying positive, you can approach obstacles with a clear mind, curiosity, and lack of judgment. You’ll be able to find a solution more quickly and feel good in the process.
  • Graciously ask for help. Do not be afraid to ask for help and more importantly, be gracious to everyone regardless of whether they are the cause or solution to your obstacle. Your difficult situation is probably not their fault – and even if it is, you don’t want anyone feeling resistant towards helping you solve it. You are as strong as your support system, so create an environment where people want to help you.
  • Become ruthlessly solutions-oriented. Most problems have more than one solution, and the more we train ourselves to actively look for them, the quicker we become at finding them. If you train yourself to look for solutions, that is what you will find.

While you can’t avoid obstacles, you can transform them into opportunities to become more resilient, skilled, and resourceful. 


Meet Madlyne Santiago.

Meet Madlyne Santiago.

The hero of her own journey, Madlyne Santiago demonstrates the determination and commitment ACE students have to their own success. 

Madlyne first went to try college right after high school graduation and was accepted into the Harcum nursing program on main campus, but did not have transportation to get there. Second, she began with a local community college, but life at the time was just too chaotic to continue. Third, she unknowingly enrolled in a non-accredited school and discovered after a year of hard work and tuition payments that the credits would not transfer. The fourth time, with her supervisor’s words echoing in her mind,“if you want to get ahead in life, you’re going to need that piece of paper,” Madlyne enrolled in ACE. This time the program fit her work and life schedule as a single mother of a young daughter. “I couldn’t stop working, I couldn’t stop being a mother and needed to find a program that worked for me.” 

Madlyne researched local colleges, found the partnership site program, and recognized that one site was in very familiar territory – down the street from her parents’ house! Eager to learn more and with her mind swirling with questions, Madlyne met with the site coordinator. At this introductory meeting alone, she found support, guidance and patience to answer all her questions from financial aid and projected student debt to an honest description of how her daily life and time needed to change to accommodate school. “She met me where I was, and provided the clarity and assurance I needed to take this step.” 

Excited, nervous, and not knowing what to expect on the first day of class, Madlyne walked into the site and found a community of strong support that she credits with her degree completion. “That was why I didn’t give up this time. They made you feel so welcome and important and encouraged me the entire way.” Even when covid hit and classes went virtual, Madlyne found support among a community of peers in the Community Scholars Leadership Program. She recognized a beautiful fact of the ACE program, “As an adult, a parent, and employee, I knew that this was a part of my life that I’m not going to do by myself.” 

Madlyne earned her associate degree in December 2020. Reflecting on the impact the associate degree program has had on her life, she says, “It not only prepared me academically for my bachelor’s degree, I feel accomplished and confident. It’s given me motivation to continue to go forward, I know that I can do it. It’s not just a piece of paper. The journey that’s attached to that piece of paper is where the real value stands.” 

On the journey alongside Madlyne is her biggest supporter, her daughter, who had to adjust to having a lot less time together since Mom began college. “I’d thank her all the time. When I did receive the physical degree, I told my daughter, ‘I did it for us,’ and that she deserves to hold it too.” 

Upon completion of the associate degree program, Madlyne gained a promotion at work and is just one year away from earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Organizational Leadership. 

Life Lessons from Football

Life Lessons from Football

It may sound silly at first, but there are insights to be gained from watching and playing football. It’s not just fun and games. 

For example, in football, you win and lose as a team; no one person carries or defeats the team by himself. Football helps you understand that win or lose, you do it as a team. You don’t take all the credit when a group project succeeds, nor do you take all the blame if the project fails. You might have the best game you’ve ever played, but the team still loses. In life, you become part of many teams, from family units to groups of co-workers. These people rely on you, and you on them, to meet certain goals which requires collaboration. This team process entails building strong communication skills, so that plans, roles, and expectations are clear to all teammates (or co-workers).

Taking risks, such as a 75 yard pass attempt, can lead to failure, but can also end in an amazing victory. This is true in life as well. Learning to take risks means you open the door to new ideas and interesting ventures, even if they might fail. Taking risks that don’t work out helps you handle mistakes, learning from them and making changes to improve future decisions. This also means learning to deal with other people’s mistakes, whether that person is a referee who makes an incorrect call or a family member who exercised poor judgment.

Even the best football teams lose occasionally, which is an important lesson for life. A loss in football can energize the team, who then band together to improve skills through extra practices. The same is true in life, use the loss to help refocus your energies on how to win next time.

Football helps you build other valuable skills as well. It teaches the importance of attitude, how a good attitude can invigorate others as well as yourself. And that you can always be better, with practice and hard work. And whether you win or lose a game, do so with dignity and respect for the other teams’ players. Roles and teammates continually change, and you may find yourselves in the same huddle in the near future. 


Join Community Scholars Leadership Training!

Join Community Scholars Leadership Training!

We want to invite you to register for the Community Scholar Leadership Development Program beginning this Fall. It is offered by I-LEAD, founder of ACE and the Partnership Site program, which has been training grassroots community leaders for more than 20 years. The Leadership program consists of eight, 90-minute workshops, delivered via zoom on a monthly basis. We will talk about familiar leadership skills such as goal setting and team building, but approach these topics through a unique lens of personal growth. The workshops focus on strengthening participants’ skills in the leadership arenas of mindfulness, compassion, visioning, willpower and resilience. 

Workshop time will be used to introduce a practice(s) that corresponds to these leadership arenas for participants to try out during the month. Prior to the next session, participants will meet 1:1 (via zoom) with a program coach from I-LEAD staff to review the practices and together discuss observations, reflections, and questions to date. The subsequent workshop will begin with a facilitated period of sharing and reflection about participants’ experiences with the practice for that month.

I-LEAD is providing a full scholarship for this program to all Harcum Community Scholars and a copy of the associated guidebook The Inward Sun by David Castro. With full participation, students will earn a Leadership Certificate from Harcum. While not credit bearing, the Leadership Certificate is a valuable credential to add to your professional profile.  

Given the Monday-Thursday evening class schedules of ACE students, we will plan to meet on Fridays from 6-7:30 pm. Please register here for the Leadership Program. An I-LEAD team member will reach out to each person who signs up to discuss the program further and answer any questions you may have. In the meantime, please reach out to [email protected] We look forward to meeting you! 

Meet Joan Majors.

Meet Joan Majors.

Joan majors is a current student, enrolled in the business management program at the Delaware County Partnership Site. Like many students, Ms. Majors had a unique pathway into the program. She wasn’t looking for another career or an associate degree after retiring from her 26 year tenure at Temple University. She was caring for her mother and grateful for the additional time to devote to that relationship. And while providing this care, Joan developed a new hobby to help her focus and relieve stress – the therapeutic art of jewelry making. Initiated as a personal wellness practice, friends began asking if any of the pieces were for sale, and the idea of a home-based business sparked in her mind. 

About the same time, Joan made a presentation about a ministry she began to a local community group. The group’s organizer, Ms. Veronica Norris, earned a degree through the ACE Partnership Site program, and thought the program would be of benefit to Joan as she builds both her ministry and new jewelry making business. “The program sounded doable – a two year commitment, two evenings per week. Ms. V encouraged me to give it a try. What did I have to lose!” 

Now beginning her second semester, Ms. Majors is thoroughly enjoying the experience. She appreciates that the structure of the program is geared toward working adults with only two evenings per week of class time. She’s been impressed by instructors who facilitate class members getting to know one another, even in a virtual zoom-based environment. She notes that instructors also recognize that adult learners may have been out of the classroom for (some time) and skillfully incorporate instruction in writing and grammar into class content. She learned, for example, that the language one uses when writing for a professional audience is not the same as everyday speech. Joan speaks particularly highly of a professor who uses a very interactive teaching style that involves students in instruction while affirming the value of their personal and professional experiences as adult learners. He inspired discussion by presenting scenarios related to the course subject and asking students, “what would you do? How would you handle this?” Overall, Ms. Majors appreciates the person-centered and supportive atmosphere of the program. “Professors are available before class. When I call the school, someone picks up the phone. Partnership Site staff communicate that they’re here to help. I like having my hand held!” 

Perhaps most importantly, Joan is experiencing the program as a safe place to learn and grow. While revealing what one doesn’t know to class members and instructors has not been comfortable in the moment, it has resulted in openness of mind to new information, perspectives, and possibilities. It has also promoted Joan’s curiosity and courage as future questions arise. 

Ms. Majors looks forward to continuing her educational journey and earning an associate Degree in business management, acquiring skills to grow not only her home-based business but her self as well.

For more information about Ms. Majors jewelry creations, click here.

In Case You Missed It…

In Case You Missed It…

The following remarks were shared by David Castro, Co-Founder and President of I-LEAD, Inc. and the ACE Program, welcoming new students for Fall 2021. 

We’re on a journey together… we are on a quest together. Right now I want you to visualize yourself completing our quest– within the next three years. It will be a bright sunny day in May. This virus that has disrupted so much will be less of a threat because or broad uptake of the vaccines. The economy will be back. The job market will be back. Travel will be back. And Harcum’s campus will be alive with activity. It will be graduation day. The trees will be in bloom and your family and friends will have gathered to be with you. You will be walking across that graduation stage and Dr. DeTemple will hand you the degree that you have earned.

But the you that’s here today will not be the same as the one who completes the quest. The one who completes the quest will be a new you. A new version of yourself that has grown in so many ways
–Increased Powers of Analysis
–Increased Powers of Communication, Better Speaker, Better Writer
–Increased Understanding of the World
–Powerful Marketable Skills
–A powerfully expanded social network of support to help you the rest of your life
–Strong leadership skills, allowing you to accomplish what you set your mind to.

How will this transformation happen? It will happen because of your journey in this program as one of Harcum’s Community Scholars. This journey offers you extraordinary benefits. Here are some the highlights:

–The scholarship itself is very important, which helps to fund your educational journey. Without that generous investment from Harcum, most could not afford to participate in this program.

–Next, you have the vital support of your community partner–I mean the site coordinator and the community-based organization that introduced you to Harcum and helped you get here today. Together with your team at Harcum, these important guides are dedicated to helping you reach your goal of graduating from college.

–Also, your community scholarship will allow you to participate in I-LEAD’s leadership development program, beginning in September. This is a life transforming experience that will help you develop interpersonal skills and leadership abilities you will rely upon for the rest of your life. And as a community scholar, you’ll also be building a powerful social network, that network of support that includes your friends, your teachers, and the larger community of Harcum Alumni. This team of people will be your allies in confronting life’s challenges. This social strength that you gain from Harcum is just as important as the knowledge and skills that you will gain.

And all of these benefits and others will come together, and will increase your grit, resilience, ability and determination.  We know you have those qualities because you are here today. 

You will be on that stage receiving your degree before you know it! Congratulations on making this investment in yourself, in your family and community.

We recognize that this is a stressful time in America. Many people think stress is bad for your health. But I’m going to tell you a secret, let you in on something very important. It’s not necessarily true that stress is bad for you. Stress can actually be very good for your health. 

In our leadership program, we look at the work of Kelly McGonigal, a famous Stanford University psychologist. McGonigal’s research shows us how people can thrive under stress… how they can actually become stronger. You’re going to master that ability of becoming stronger under stress.

Stress in life can be just like the vaccine against the virus that threatens us. The vaccine puts some stress on our immune systems, and that stress wakes up and strengthens the immunity we need to defeat the virus. In the same way, exercise stresses your body, you break down but you build back muscle and endurance, you get stronger. Stronger in the places that were weak before.

And I think this is one of the reasons that employers value a college degree. Because they know that taking on the stress of going to college builds your strength, makes you more capable of contributing to an organization.

College is a life transforming experience. People who graduate from college
–double their lifetime incomes
–stay employed during times of economic upheaval like the one we are experiencing right now
–are happier, healthier, live longer, and become leaders 
–and best of all, when you graduate, your children are more likely to succeed in their lives.

This educational journey is all about you and your success. It’s about helping you to avoid the problems that arise from not reaching your full potential.

This whole initiative, this movement we call ACE, Achieve College Education, requires a whole community. And we want to thank them. We want to thank Harcum, Dr. DeTemple, Evelyn Santana, and all of the program directors and leaders here for making this possible. We also want to recognize and thank our community partners. So many people here are passionately engaged to help you achieve success. 

I want you to know that this year we celebrated having more than 1,300 learners earn degrees from this program. Today you join a vibrant community of hundreds of other learners in this partnership initiative. They are thriving and you will be also. 

I want to leave you with two short quotes to think about during this orientation.

First, from Nelson Mandela. A man who thrived under stress, who led the entire nation of South Africa from inside a small prison cell. He said, “Education is the most powerful tool to change the world. Armed with education, you will lead the change that this world needs.” 

Second, Mahatma Gandhi, liberator of India, who inspired Dr. King. Gandhi said, “Live today as if you would die tomorrow. Learn today as if you would live forever.”


Don’t “Should” on Yourself

Don’t “Should” on Yourself

Ever heard the phrase, “Don’t should on yourself?” It refers to automatic negative thoughts like  I should do that…I should have already done that…I should be more like them.. For those of us familiar with these phrases, recognize them as forms of subtle aggression toward ourselves. That tape of self-judgment that plays in our minds actually does harm to our own being. Author, researcher and professor Brene Brown has made it her life’s work to help people not ‘should’ on themselves. In a series of podcasts based on her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are you may find some freedom and fresh space to let go of those ‘shoulds’ that can unconsciously hold us back. The series is called “Unlocking Us” and can be found on Spotify and via this link: https://brenebrown.com/unlockingus/.