While You Have Options, You Have Hope

While You Have Options, You Have Hope

There’s no easy way to put this, graduate school is hard. No one really advertised it as being simple but in the grand scheme of things us students wouldn’t mind if it was. You’re learning an abundance of useful material while simultaneously balancing homework, relationships, families, full time jobs, part time jobs, and if you are lucky a social life. With graduate school comes a lot of late night study sessions, a lot of missed events, and a whole lot of prioritization. But don’t panic, the work is so much more enjoyable than undergraduate because you’re able to take what you’ve learned and implement it in your daily life. With the discipline and hard work comes a lot of pressure. Pressure to succeed, to get the grade, and to simply be your best. Through all of this constant need to work and be balanced we have to hold onto our hope. To center myself (and let’s be honest simply stay sane) I have put the following quote in the reminders section of my phone:

“Hope is a central part of our life force. Never surrender your hope. We know life comes in cycles and an upturn can be just around the corner. Hope helps us struggle through the desperate times. It guides us through the dark. While you have options, you have hope” – Proverb

I read this quote every single day at 2:00 pm. Honestly, the point in the day when I’m most exhausted and shifting gears from employee to student. Sometimes at 2:00 I’m rushing to get my homework done, planning out my day, staying late at work, or simply taking a deep breathe. Sometimes I’m on a downturn and, stressed out or simply overwhelmed and other times I’m on top of the world. Regardless, no matter what is going on in my day I’m reminded that while I have options I have hope. And that’s why we’re in graduate school right? To expand our options and greet the doors that have been patiently waiting for us to open them? I’m hopeful every single day and I’m thankful that graduate school was an option. I’m glad that bettering myself was an option; one that I chose every single day.

By: Rachel Bediako


Adios, Canisius!

Adios, Canisius!

Hello, Canisius!

Wow! It’s hard to believe that I have officially completed my Masters degree! Two and half years of hard work and graduate school is a wrap!

That being said, this is also my very last blog post 🙁

Internship 1… So many great memories!

I don’t even know where to begin in talking about all of the things I truly love about Canisius.

I actually found Canisius pretty randomly. My high school counselor went here and when I decided to pursue a Masters in school counseling, I looked at her Facebook page and saw that she attended Canisius. I did very little research on the school and decided to apply about a week before I walked at my undergraduate commencement. I said my prayers and sent in my application, and about six weeks later I was accepted! My mother was the one to inform me of the news over the phone when she called and as soon as she read my acceptance letter, I said to myself: “You’re really moving to Buffalo.” Little did I know, this decision would be the most life changing choice I have made.

Internship 2… Many more great learning experiences and fun!

Over the past week, I have had the opportunity to speak to TWO students who are attending Canisius next year. One graduate student coming to the school counseling program and one high school student in one of the classes I coteach who is attending Canisius in the fall for business. The graduate student I saw seemed very excited and enthusiastic about starting her new experience. The high school student’s face lit up when he talked about starting at Canisius. I loved telling both incoming students how much I love Canisius and they seemed very appreciative of the fact that I spoke highly of the college. I found myself getting a little emotional at the thought of knowing that I will not be a student there anymore. I love having these experiences to share my love for learning, Buffalo, and Canisius with potential and incoming students. They have so much fire in their eyes and I know they want to be successful at Canisius.

At Canisius, I have had the opportunity to be in the presence of such inspirational people throughout the past few years. From positive professors and mentors to and encouraging college personnel, my life has been forever changed.

The Canisius counseling program has taught me to make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning and growing. This started in my practicum and internship experiences. As I was practicing my skills and actually making mistakes, that is how I was LEARNING.

Celebrating with my closest friends and a former student and friend!

This program has taught me to extend myself and step outside of my comfort zone to open myself to novel experiences. I have done this in professional, social, and personal aspects of my life. I understand the importance and the value in engaging in experiences that may make me feel a little uncomfortable. Throughout my time at Canisius, I have been a part of various experiences that I never ever would have had the courage or mind-set to do had it not been for my experiences at Canisius College.

My cap! This shouldn’t surprise anyone!

I have recently been offered a job in Florida, and I am considering making this my step in my career. I think I had a I not been through this program, I never would have grown in to the woman I am today. I am so very thankful for the many experiences that Canisius has offered me to grow and learn both as a student but as a person.

Being a student blogger for the program has allowed me to represent Canisius as a student and as an individual. I have reflected on myself, my counseling skills, and my positive (and negative) experiences through my blog. I have met people and read about their own students at Canisius that I never would have done if I hadn’t blogged for my program. I remember when I received an email asking me to join the team and I was so excited to represent my college.

If you’re reading this as a potential graduate student, this is me telling you to GO FOR IT! Whether it be counseling, education, or any other program, Canisius is a great environment to learn and grow. If you’re still a student, keep soaking up Canisius. Graduation will come and you will look back and realize WHO you are.

Be who you are becoming.

Peace and love.

Meditating Your Way Through Finals

Meditating Your Way Through Finals

Hey there Griffs!

Finals week is that magical time that happens at the end of every semester when we have to try and cram everything that we learned during the semester back into our brains so that we can try and pass a test. There’s long nights, lots of time spent with notes, and a high stress environment. But there are ways that I have personally learned to make it bearable. One of those ways is meditation. Research has proven that meditation can help to lower stress levels and in turn, help you to learn more information faster.

Some people don’t think that they can do it because they’ve never practiced it or it won’t work for them. But, I have learned that it is all about being open minded and you don’t even need to just sit cross legged in silence for a long period of time. There are multiple forms of mediation that allow you to listen to soothing music, or listen to directions to calm your mind, or there are even some active forms of meditation. I’m going to tell you some of the ways that I have personally used and I hope they help you through this tough time.


Music Meditation

Music alone is proven to help keep our focus and help productivity. It helps us to keep our brain on task. Sometimes the silence is even more stressful.  I find it useful to listen to soothing music if I am in high stress situations, such as finals. Plug in your headphones and feel instantly relaxed! There are playlists on Pandora and Spotify that will play soothing meditations and zen songs. I’ll link a few of my favorites below:



Zen Garden Radio: http://www.pandora.com/station/play/2637545201912427396

Calm Meditation: http://www.pandora.com/station/play/2637547151827579780

Soothing Sounds: http://www.pandora.com/station/play/2637548899879269252



Study Music for Concentration:  https://play.spotify.com/user/meditationrelaxclub/playlist/7bzY4YsfpErw3uTDQKk0Rs

Yoga and Meditation Music: https://play.spotify.com/user/meditationrelaxclub/playlist/7vlOdA2dBKMZ4i8RnLHQeX

Weekend Relaxation: https://play.spotify.com/user/meditationrelaxclub/playlist/0U2qp6ruC3IeQ6VtVotI42

Just pop these songs on when you’re studying or writing your final papers and feel instantly calmed. They typically won’t have any words so that rids the distraction of music that you would want to sing to. I find this really soothing and helpful.


Guided Meditation

Guided Meditation is a technique that you should do while you aren’t doing anything else. It should be a time to take a break from studying and give your brain a bit of rest. You need to either sit on a comfy chair, on the floor, or I find it most relaxing to lay on my bed. The audio will walk you through the deep breathing and directions and you just need to follow along. It is NOT a hypnosis. You are always in complete control of your mind and you can open your eyes at any time. I find this technique the most helpful for me. It may leave you tired when you are done for about 15 minutes, but then I always get a burst of energy as if I’ve taken a nap. I also like to use these to help me sleep at night when I have anxiety or stress. I’ll link some of my favorite ones below.

My most favorite Guided Meditation:


Deep Relaxation: 


Stress Relief: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o94tvFUttco

Anxiety Reliefhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_jcEpwKQXc

Guided Meditation for Sleephttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJjc4XreJSQ



I have also found that yoga is a great way to take a break and give your brain a rest. If you are more active, this might help you get up and move a little bit and stretch your body. I am in no way a yoga master. I am still in the stretching phases. I found some guided yoga practice videos for beginners that are great. They give you just a little bit of a break and it feels great on your body.





Beginners Class:


Fat Burning Yoga for Beginners:



I wish you all the best of luck during this stressful time! I hope you can find the time to try out some of these stress relievers so that you can get a little bit of a break. Remember that taking the extra time to relieve your stress will actually save you time in the long run because you will be more focused. Good luck on your tests, papers, and presentations!

Thanks for reading and Stay Golden!

Coming Full Circle: A reflection on Anthrozoology

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)


5 Things I learnt Shooting Guns for my College

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!

Jumping in with Both Feet as a Returning Student

Jumping in with Both Feet as a Returning Student

The inaugural Canisius College MS in Anthrozoology cohort.

Throughout college and my professional life in public health, a voice in the back of my mind nagged me about working with nonhuman animals. I was never interested in practicing animal medicine. I was more interested in the psychological and physical lives of nonhumans themselves and how we as humans relate. I could never articulate it very well – it wasn’t animal science; it wasn’t animal behavior; it wasn’t human psychology, and it wasn’t anthropology. I eventually discovered that the field I wanted to study had a name – Anthrozoology – and badly wanted to study it, but the programs at that time were only in Europe and Australia.


The Facebook post that changed my life.

In April 2011, I was perusing Facebook, and the Animals and Society Institute happened to post about a new Master of Science program – 90% online, 10% in-person – at Canisius. I could physically feel the excitement coursing through my body and felt my breath catch as I read the program’s website. My heart pounded as I wrote a passionate 2-page e-mail that I sent to my husband and my mother, telling them that despite having just graduated with a Master of Public Administration degree, I had found something that would change my life forever. I decided to apply to the program immediately. I’m a very cautious person who rarely jumps in with both feet without examining all ramifications of a situation, but I can truly say that doing so in pursuit of this degree has been one of the best decisions of my life.


Luckily, I had somebody to supervise my studying.

In his opening post, Paul discussed the diversity of students in the Anthrozoology program. I was one of those students who worked full-time and went to school part-time, two classes per term. The Anthrozoology faculty are remarkably accommodating and respectful of the fact that many of their students are returning to school and have responsibilities with employment, family, and other commitments. The ability to move at your own pace is one of the standout features of this program and allows a wide variety of talented and fascinating individuals to pursue this degree. Even if you have competing priorities, I’ve found that when you truly love the subject you’re studying, completing assignments is a joy rather than a burden – something that was foreign to me in my previous schooling. I entered this program at age 31 and never felt out of step with my fellow students; in fact, I’d estimate that my age was right around the average for my class. Returning to school is no doubt intimidating, but the environment of flexibility and camaraderie in the Anthrozoology Master of Science program is a perfect landing spot.