Apr 22

This is Anthrozoology

Our Sunday morning study routine was always the same. It was the only day my husband and I could get up in a more leisurely fashion, so we took advantage of that. At the same time, we wanted to finish work so we might have some time to play. After we peeled ourselves out of bed and away from the cats, we ate breakfast at the diner around the corner, then settled in at a coffee shop for a few hours to work on schoolwork. A few months after I started my coursework at Canisius, we went to a small café near our apartment, one we’d only visited a handful of times. This is where we met Indigo.

Indigo, a Hyacinth Macaw

Indigo is a 14-year-old, captive-bred Hyacinth Macaw, the largest flying parrot, and the largest macaw. From the top of their heads to the tip of their tails, they can be over three feet long. Indigo was sitting at a table with her humans in all her bright blue and yellow glory, rushing to the edge of the table to greet my husband and I when we came near. After talking with her guardians for quite some time, we settled into a nearby table to ostensibly begin working. What came next was an informal education in anthrozoology.

While it is unusual to see a dog in a coffee shop, it does happen. Service animals, or those in training, are not terribly uncommon. Exotic birds, however, are a different story – especially birds who are not caged, who are sitting with their humans, either perched on the table or cradled in their arms, just as a toddler would be. Indigo even ate lunch, snacking on macadamia nuts and bread. She strutted around the table, perched on her human’s shoulder, and got a bit groggy, ready for a nap. And she had no shortage of admirers.

There was the mother with two boys, aged 11 and 12, one of whom exclaimed “whoa!” when they walked in the door. They stopped to talk about Indigo, excitedly drawing comparisons between her and their friend’s parakeet. There was the couple who walked in and greeted Indigo by name; apparently, she is a regular. There was the retired gentleman who stopped by the table no less than three times to introduce himself, chat, and swap stories about animals and life in general. Another couple greeted Indigo, noting that they were worried, as they hadn’t seen her in about a month. They talked with Indigo’s humans for an extended period of time, watched YouTube videos about dogs on an iPad, and interacted with Indigo herself, talking and gazing at the bird with absolute enchantment. At one point, I noticed that two complete strangers at different tables had begun talking about their dogs to one another.

Animals and coffee...what better way to start a Sunday?

Nonhumans bring humans together. They are an easy connection point and are an enjoyable topic – who wants to talk about their boring job when they can talk about their cat’s goofy antics or their dog’s agility training? They inspire sharing with one another when we think we don’t have any common ground. They liven up a room, and they make us smile, sometimes despite ourselves. For that moment, Indigo belonged to the community, and we appreciated her, not just for herself, but for the gregarious selves we became in her presence.

Apr 21

The end is near! :)

So there are only a few weeks left in the semester!  It feels awesome to have completed so much work and to be weeks from summer vacation. 


I think that completing my masters in one year has been difficult but well worth it.  The classes were tough in a way that I have not experienced before while also being so full of information that I didn’t even care about the work I had to do.  Each class in this program is amazing.  They have each taught me so many things that I can take with me when I am graced with my own classroom.  If you are reading this and have any doubts about getting into this program, don’t, because whatever you learn will help you no matter what grade level you teach.  I think getting the degree in DI is so beneficial to anyone as a teacher, and if you pursue the certification in gifted education based on the degree, it benefits you even more!


Summer is going to be an exciting time.  I will have the chance to work with other people in my major to create the theme for this years summer camp.  We will have the chance to create it, and be a part of it.  I think this is a great opportunity because it will give me that chance to put to work everything that my teachers have taught me.  Plus, it is giving me a chance to work with children on an informal basis, something that I think all teachers should experience.  It’s amazing how different students can be in schools versus summer camp.


If I haven’t mentioned this before, I will now (and if I have mentioned it, here it is again).  On top of getting my masters in Differentiated Instruction, I have been working to get an extension in special education to further my certification areas.  Taking these extension classes at Canisius has been perfect because it has given me more experiences and strategies for my future classroom.  I advise you to truly consider adding an extension on top of your major, whether it be early childhood, special education, middle school extension, or secondary education.  More times than not, it’s only a few classes and it will really help to make you more marketable.  Imagine going into into an interview saying “I have a certification in childhood education as well as special education and gifted education.”  Those additional certification areas mean a lot these days, especially with the tough job market.


So as I near the finish line of the Spring 2015 semester, I just want to say that as much as graduate school can be stressful, just know that it is all completely worth it.

Apr 20

Why counselors in-training seek counseling

As counselors in training, all of my colleagues have been told to seek counseling for themselves at some point or another. Most of us have taken our professors up on that offer.

One of the reasons for this recommendation from our professors is so that we can empathize with our clients. Going to a complete stranger and pouring out all of our problems takes a lot of courage. Allowing this specially trained individual into the darkest parts of our mind puts any client in a place of immense emotional vulnerability. Since we have been clients ourselves, we know how this vulnerability feels and how much courage we need to be able to take our interpersonal defenses down.

Individual Counseling

individual counseling

Another reason that many of us choose to go to counseling is because we should only ask our clients to do as much as we would be willing to do. If we are unwilling to allow ourselves to be vulnerable with a stranger, then we cannot expect our clients to do this either. This same line of thinking goes with other suggestions that we might make to our clients. For instance, right now I am struggling to both meditate and exercise daily, despite knowing all of the mental and physical benefits of each. Since I know how difficult developing new habits is for me, I know that expecting a client to do this is unrealistic.

An additional reason that counselors in-training often seek out counseling is because we know the value of counseling. We are going to be counselors ourselves, so we believe that counseling can change lives. We may disagree about how lives are changed through the counseling process, but we all agree that somehow, the relationship changes people, and we want that change for ourselves. We want to become more functional, more genuine, more open, more confident human beings and we see counseling as the on-ramp onto the faster-moving highway of life, more free of the potholes and pitfalls of the beaten paths.



Finally, we seek counseling here at Canisius because it is free. Of course this in itself is not unique to Canisius. I know that my undergrad university, Ball State University, as well as the University of Buffalo, each offer free counseling, or rather, counseling that is paid for by the student’s tuition. However, I also know that at Ball State, the counseling was mostly done through the graduate students in their program. The Counseling Center at Canisius is done only with professional counselors who are licensed. This fact sets Canisius ahead of other universities since our students are in the best hands that they possibly can be.

Counseling is simply a relationship in which one person is professionally trained in how to encourage growth in the other person. If you are thinking of entering into one of these relationships, try it out. Especially if you are thinking about, or actually are pursuing mental health as a professional career.

Apr 17

Another Great Canisius Experience

About 6 months ago, I received an email about retreats through campus ministries. As I was looking at the dates, I realized that the only date that worked for my schedule was my 25th birthday weekend. Ohhh what the heck? SIGN ME UP!

As the date drew closer, I realized that it has been many years since I’ve gone on a retreat and I would be going with women I had never met before.

As my 25th birthday came, I was in denial that I was 5 years away from 30. I was simply “not having this” for various personal reasons. BUT I was hopeful that this mini-vacation to Erie, PA would change my outlook on life. AND boy it sure did!

I stepped so far outside of my comfort zone both in my faith and in my personal life. I am familiar with the Catholic faith and have participated in many Catholic activities over the years. But like back then, I still found myself being uncomfortable since I am not Catholic and do not engage in the same practices in my own faith. I am a firm believer that my higher power is present regardless and I can learn about faith from any perspective.

Oh, did I mention that I stayed the night in the convent? In a room like the nuns stay in? As I gathered with the rest of the Canisius women for “evening prayer” with the nuns. I couldn’t help but think “What am I doing here?” There were so many songs, readings and things to remember!

It was a little uncomfortable eating dinner with a bunch of nuns too! But after the first meal it turned out to be my favorite part! It was so inspiring to hear the stories of these women including how they got to the convent, what their families were like, and the ministries that they serve in Erie.

One of the women even talked about her ministry as a counselor servicing those with PTSD and military families. She talked in depth about her experiences and opened up many new areas of knowledge for myself as an emerging counselor.

I wish I could say that my spirit was lifted through a particular event of this retreat, but it wasn’t. I was lifted through the work, the spirit and the faith of other women. I was touched by each woman’s story during this retreat weekend.

So where does CANISIUS play a role in this experience? I seriously love Canisius and everything that it has to offer. I almost regret not having been involved in campus ministries sooner. I loved seeing the bond between the women that knew each other and experiencing love from those women although I did not know them prior to this retreat. I loved the way that they spoke about Canisius College with such passion and love. A few were even retired from working at Canisius and came back for this retreat. THAT is how special this experience and Canisius is to them!

Peace and love.

Apr 16

The Perks of Being Positive!

Hey there Griffs!

Have you every found yourself grumpy and unable to get out of the mood? Do you find yourself thinking negative thoughts instead of being positive? Do you ever want to be one of those people who are happy all the time? Well you’re in luck! Today I’m here to talk about how you can start journey to positivity and how it can help you in school, at work, and with your general well being.

First, I have a disclaimer. Positive people aren’t always happy. Everyone makes mistake, everybody has those days (Hannah Montana fans finish that line for me). It takes a lot of brain training and work to become positive. Personally, it’s taken me 8 years of dedicated changes to my life to get where I am today, and of course, I can still improve. The process may be slow, but you have to stick with it and strive to make yourself better each and everyday.

So what do we do?

The goal isn’t to overlook the bad things in life. We need to remember that not everything smells like roses. What we can do, is change our mindset to pull the positive out of the negative and try and find ways to make situations better. We need to work to make ourselves feel good in our own skin and in our own mind. I think its also important to spread this positivity onto others.

For example, in school we are often bogged down with that huge research paper, a test, and a project due all at the same time. This can be a stressful situation for anyone. We could get caught up in our negative emotions and decide to procrastinate the work. Or, we can decide to be positive and power through all the work and try to get something positive out of it, like a good grade. Its all really about the way you react to situations.

The thing that really encouraged me to start being more positive is the movie called The Secret. It gives tips and tricks about what to do in your everyday life to be a more positive person. I highly reccommend watching the movie. They currently have it on Netflix. There is also a book if you choose to go that route. It is written by Rhonda Byrne. It’s really a great message and anyone can get something out of it.



What are the benefits of positivity? 

1. Coping with Stress: People who are positive are going to be able to handle stress much easier than those who are pessimistic. Optimists are going to go into situations happier and with a lighter attitude about things. They will also be able to see the positives in bad situations, which will help them get over the stressful situation.

2. Improves your health: Research studies have shown that people with negative emotions have a weaker immune system because of differences in brain activation. Think about a time that you’ve been stressed. It may cause you to have a headache or even catch a cold. Happier minds lead to happier bodies. Positive people have less of a chance to have cardiovascular problems, less depression, and a longer life according to research.

3. Better relationships: It is our human nature that we want to be around happy, positive things. If we are happier, it will attract people around us and the quality of our friendships will be higher. When we have a positive mind, we often decide to ignore people’s defaults or weaknesses and care more about what we like about that person.

4. Turning problems into opportunities: Just like the example I gave before, positive people can take a bad situation and pull the good out of it. We can turn a glass half empty into a glass half full depending on how we look at situations. This takes a lot of brain training, but deciding to take our bad situations and turn them into a chance to grow can really benefit us in the long run.

5. Seeing the good things in life: Once you start to change your mindset, you will start to see all of the great things we have in our lives instead of what we are lacking. It will help us to appreciate our life and everything in it. We will have a better sense of gratitude and be thankful for our blessings.


How to get started:

Positive Thinking Meditation: I really love meditations and I have found that guided meditations have really helped me become more positive and refresh my mind when I need it. Just click on the link, put your headphones in and listen. You could be doing homework, laying in bed, or just browsing the internet. The only think that is important is that you listen to the message and take it in. Some of the videos may tell you to close your eyes and take deep breaths. You do not have to do this, but it will help you, especially if you are stressed.


Here are a few that I find helpful:

Guided Meditation for Healing: Experience the Pure Loving Energy of the Universe



50 Positive Thoughts to Live an Awesome Life



Positive Thinking Meditation Music



How to Reprogram Your Mind for Positive Thinking



I hope you guys can work towards a more positive life! It is really worth the hard work and dedication. You will start to see yourself change and become happier, become more productive, and spread it onto others around you.





Thanks for reading and Stay Golden!

Apr 14

Humans or puppies? (It’s not what you think.)

There’s this thought experiment in ethics called “the trolley problem” where you’re asked to imagine that there is an uncontrollable trolley racing down the tracks toward a group of people who are tied up and unable to move. You’re standing in front of a switch that you can pull to cause the trolley to change tracks and head in a different direction where only one person is standing on the tracks. What do you do? Stay out of it and let the trolley kill several people or pull the switch and sacrifice one person for the sake of the rest?

Imagining which decision to make in this scenario might be easy for you or it might be exhausting. But what if I asked you to go back and read it again and instead of a group of people on the first track, there’s a group of puppies…?


Again, this decision might be easy for you to make but I’m here to tell you that there’s a group of students at Canisius who would likely jump in front of the train themselves rather than make the decision about saving puppies or people. Meet the ANZOs (Canisius’ anthrozoology graduate students).

Just like students studying mathematics don’t all walk around with pocket protectors, students studying anthrozoology aren’t all more inclined to spend their evenings with wine and cats. However, we are all (perhaps born, perhaps trained) to try to value all life equally or, at the very least, value all life carefully.

Is it right to sacrifice one human life for several? One human life for several animal lives? What if the puppies on the track were the last puppies on Earth?

This type of debate plays a big role in the anthrozoology program. Canisius students are juggling impossible questions like these so that when they finally step away from classrooms and online discussion boards, they can confidently make real-world decisions that might change the future of our planet for people and animals. Pretty big deal, huh?


Apr 10

Coming Full Circle: A reflection on Anthrozoology

Expanding our concept of 'community'

“But when the mind opens, and reveals the laws which traverse the universe, and make things what they are, then shrinks the great world at once into a mere illustration and fable of this mind. What am I? And what is? asks the human spirit with a curiosity new-kindled, but never to be quenched. Behold these outrunning laws, which our imperfect apprehension can see tend this way and that, but not come full circle.”


It came to me in a recent reflection that my time in this graduate program has shaped not only my understanding of Anthrozoology as a field of scientific inquiry but also my view of the world and place within it.  There must be, I thought, a way to integrate health and wellness into a broader paradigm of ‘community’, one that acknowledges the rightful place of other animals in policy discussions that affect not only our own ability to flourish but that of our greater-than-human community to do so as well.

Early in the program, courses in animal law, ethics and public policy illuminated the foundational themes of anthropocentrism & human exceptionalism, creating an opportunity to view challenges through a new lens. The interdisciplinary nature of this program has satisfied my own search for a more holistic framework for science, founded on the interconnectedness of all things, including spirit.  This program has served to quell a dissonance that persisted throughout my previous studies: that no matter how much we seek to categorize or group them by anatomy, physiology or cognition, non-human animals are individuals, experiencing their own realities which we can only begin to understand.

Unlearning old, reductionist ways of doing science (and some of its biases and preconceptions) has been liberating and emerging areas of inquiry are endless as people become more curious about the others, not just in terms of their value to us but in the context of their own intrinsic value.

There is so much more to learn, but I feel as though the experience in Canisius’ Anthrozoology program has been a transformative one for me.  I often tell people that I wish I had found this program as an undergraduate studying biology (almost 30 years ago), but the world apparently wasn’t ready for “ANZOs” then…and likely, I hadn’t yet seen enough to be ready to be one either.

One of my many nonhuman teachers

“…I look for the new Teacher that shall follow so far those shining laws that he shall see them come full circle; shall see their rounding complete grace; shall see the world to be the mirror of the soul; shall see the identity of the law of gravitation with purity of the heart; and shall show that the Ought, that Duty, is one thing with Science, with Beauty, and with Joy. ”  

~Ralph Waldo Emerson (Harvard Divinity School    Address)


Apr 10

5 Things I learnt Shooting Guns for my College

This week’s blog comes following a momentous event. This past weekend, I had the good fortune of spending my time shooting for Canisius in my last tournament as a member of the Canisius College Rifle Team. After a delightfully upbeat drive down after an evening departure from Buffalo we arrived in Waltham for the meet next morning at MIT. We spent the night at a hotel and drove down to the MIT campus the next morning and after taking second place, we returned next morning to the now warm and welcoming Buffalo weather in the early evening.

My two assigned rifles, Huey and Rosie

I spent the rest of the evening pondering the fact that shooting was a real source of relaxation for me and likely something that I wouldn’t be able to do for a while. It made sense to write down my thoughts about something that had given me the chance to travel and meet new people and form friendships that I hold dear. I do however feel that there are greater lessons to learn here.To be precise, there were 5 major ones:


  1. Make the most of your time: If I were 4 years younger, I’d think of nothing further than my next assignment and my next break where I’d spend my time doing nothing. In the last few years, I’ve grown to realize that there are often opportunities that you might miss and College happens to be a big one. In many ways, I think Grad School gave me a chance to do a few things that I should have done in my Undergrad years (back in the day when I actually had time to do nothing and get 8 hours of sleep a night). While I’ve lost plenty of sleep and a few points on a few assignments, I think what I’ve gained from my time shooting was immeasurable. TL/DR
    (Too Long/Didn’t read): Go the extra mile.

  2. Meet new people: While I was reticent at first to sign up and shoot for the team, what really convinced me were the people I would be shooting with. I think my openness to new experiences was what really guided me to the club and, as a consequence, to the new friends I’ve now made. As a member of the team I’ve felt like I had support and encouragement to be the best marksman that I could and I can only hope I’ve been as supportive to my team.

  3. It isn’t always about the score: I think that while having a spectacular score at the end of the day is a good reward for hard work, I also think that there’s more to it than the ends. The jibes on the long trips, the inside jokes, the nicknames, the impromptu singing and movie quotation, and above all the enduring eccentricities of the team really did make the whole journey worthwhile. Smell the roses and enjoy the journey.

  4. Success is a fantastic rush: This weekend I made the single best shot I could hope to. I honestly believe that it would take an incredible feat of luck and hard training for me to be able to replicate this singular shot. Despite shooting the tournament with broken glasses and some degree of discomfort and mishaps, that single shot made the whole effort worthwhile. That feeling of accomplishment for my effort is a rush that I don’t know I’ve ever had. A moment where intentionality, skill and luck converged to make that single shot land at the exact right spot fifty feet away felt spectacular.

    My Best Shot Yet: Taken with a .22 Rifle at 50 Feet

  5. Shake it off: While we’ve all had bad practices, mishaps that affected our scores and scores that have shaken our confidence in our skill, we all learnt to shake it off and move on to the next goal. We’ve learnt to focus on our successes and our strengths and moved from one tourney to the next and kept moving. My hope is that the team stays strong and ever moving and focused on the next goal and that I continue to do so as well, learning from my failures and moving forward.


On a personal note to my dear friends on the team (some of whom may well part ways soon): It’s been a hell of a ride. Thanks for the good advice and the great times!

The proud members of the Canisius College Rifle Team at the MA meet!


P.s. The next big update will come from Florida where I intend to spend my time at the American Counseling Association’s Annual Convention. A time of learning and exciting opportunity awaits and I hope to capture some of it with my next blog post. Stay Tuned!

Apr 07

Networking and Reconnecting at Conferences


Explaining my poster.

One of the great opportunities graduate students have is to present their work at a conference. I was honored to have my poster accepted for presentation at the 2nd Living with Animals conference, hosted by Eastern Kentucky University, in Richmond, KY. This was extremely convenient for me, as I live in Lexington, about 40 minutes from EKU. My poster was basically on my thesis work – a proposal for an Intro to Anthrozoology (ANZO) class for veterinary technology programs. The chance to present my ideas to such a diverse audience before actually writing the meat of my thesis provided me with so much feedback and inspiration. Of course, the conference brings like minded people together, so I was sort of preaching to the choir, but many people, particularly professors, were intrigued and impressed with my proposal. They also offered helpful suggestions and opportunities for networking. I have so many follow up emails to send out!


Jessica Austin, ANZO alum, delivering a panel talk.

As I mentioned, I live in KY, but I am still a full time student at Canisus. The Anthrozoology graduate program at Canisius is a “blended” format. What this means is that while most of our class work is conducted online via GoToMeetings and discussion boards on D2L, we do spend several days at the beginning of each a semester on campus, meeting in person.Those few days we spend together are crammed with classes, seminars, and a bit of socialization. So, normally, this means we go several months between actually seeing most of our classmates in person.



ANZO Mini Reunion

For me, the real highlight of the conference, then, was getting to see so fellow Canisius ANZOs in action. Miranda Workman, a professor and alum of the ANZO program, did a fantastic talk and a wonderful poster. Jessica Austin, also a recent alum, presented her thesis work during a session panel talk. It was so fascinating to get to see the professional side of these women, as I have previously only seen the student side (and the bed-bug-detecting-dog wrangling side of Miranda, a topic for another post). We really are an impressive group of scholars, and I am so privileged to be able to call these ANZOs my classmates and colleagues!





Apr 06

Indiana in the news

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I am from Indiana. As anyone who isn’t living under a rock knows, Indiana and our esteemed governor Mike Pence, have passed a new law called the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. This new law is very controversial and because of that, the facts have been muddled. So, since I’m not a political or legal expert I’m not going to talk the specifics of this law. Instead, I’m going to discuss about what I do know, my experience.

Hoosiers against the RFRA

Hoosiers against the RFRA

Most of the country has perceived the citizens of the humble state of Indiana to be as discriminatory as their new law. In fact, the Governor of New York has announced a ban on non-essential public travel to my home state. I believe that this is a bit extreme, however, as any good politician would do, I believe Governor Andrew Cuomo is playing off the political climate for his own benefit. I must of course say that not everyone in Indiana thinks this way. I know this from both personal experience and from my own beliefs and thoughts as an Indiana resident. In fact many residents opposed the creation of this new law, but our law makers, who we elected, decided that we needed this law. My Facebook feed has been filled with my friends arguing in both directions of the law. Even in our local government, views of this law are not unanimous. The mayor of Indianapolis has publicly opposed this law. Personally I find the law unnecessary, intentionally controversial, and divisive. I believe politicians have hijacked the Christian faith to further their career and that Christians should stop emulating them and instead emulate the more open and Chist-like people I have met here at Canisius.

The people here have been accepting and loving. I have never felt more welcome than here at Canisius. I have spoken to a couple Jesuits and people of other faiths about my personal beliefs which are not in agreement with theirs. However instead of trying to convert me, defensively arguing with me, or just leaving the conversation, these wonderful people have engaged me in conversation out of genuine curiosity and left their contact information for further conversations. We all have a great deal to learn from each other and this new law shuts down the conversation by allowing businesses to keep those they interact with to mirrors of themselves.

Hoosiers for the RFRA

Hoosiers for the RFRA

My personal experience leads me to believe that not all people of Indiana are close-minded or bigoted. On the contrary, many of my friends from back home are loving and accepting people. However I should mention that the conservative Christians that I met in New York are nearly identical to those in Indiana. They made me feel that I needed to live and believe like them to be completely accepted. This similarity between those of the same faith in different states leads me to logically conclude that the teachings of conservative Christianity either attracts already close-minded people or slowly molds previously open people into the kind of people who would refuse to help or even hinder two people of the same gender in their marriage. However, I must also assert that conservative Christians whom I have spent a great deal of time with in both states are also greatly loving. One gave me an extra bed he had. Once we went to a member’s house to help him pave his gravel driveway. Conservative Christians are not unloving, but in my experience and from my time as a conservative Christian, we can be resistant to accepting people and ideas that stretch our view of the world.

What have been your experiences with conservative Christianity or with the people of Canisius?

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