A Review of CAS 145: Navigating the Academy

CAS 145: Navigating the Academy is a class hosted by the David T. Kearns Center at the University of Rochester. The objective of the course is to “provide an opportunity for first-generation college students to build skills, academic, leadership, social, within this community of scholars.” This spring, I decided to take this seminar as part of the Kearns Scholar program at the University of Rochester. For nine weeks, a group of first-generation students participated in discussions regarding various topics like time management, transitioning to college, going back home, and career building led by Kearns center faculty. Here were some of the highlights for me:


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1. The faculty panel

For week eight of CAS 145, the entire cohort of Kearns Scholar’s joined together with faculty from various disciplines and positions at Rochester to discuss questions that students had regarding anything career related. The room had a generous amount of students interested in graduate school and pursuing a PhD so panelists were able to share some of their experiences and memories of graduate school. I was surprised to learn that when pursuing a PhD, there is a teaching-oriented track and a research-oriented track. One panelist described always having an interest in engaging with the student body at the University but was on the research-oriented track which limited his interactions with students so he had to rethink his career plans to get to where he wanted to be. The biggest takeaway was that it is okay to not have it all figured out but keep going for what you are interested in and good at and the path will reveal itself. If all else fails, remember that you are not in this alone and the University as resources for you!

2. Resume and cover letter-building session

For week eight, the Kearns Center organized for staff from the career center to give a presentation on resumes and cover letters to the Kearns cohort. The main focus of this was to make sure that everyone at least walked out with a started resume that could be improved over time. This workshop was especially helpful because it helped students transition from a high school resume to a college resume (yes, they are different!). This workshop was great for students to learns the general dos and don’ts of resumes and have any of their questions answered by staff from the career center.

3. Time management

This class discussion forced students to come to terms with their procrastination in college. With the newly awarded free time that we have, it is sometimes difficult to keep track of where your time is going. I realized that I have too much time left over that I am not utilizing for studying or personal development. Because of this workshop, I was able to budget my time out so that I can work efficiently throughout the day and be well rested.

4. Workshops!

The great thing about the Kearns Center is that they frequently host workshops that are usually about an hour regarding a variety of topics. The two workshops that I attended were “How to build your LinkedIn Profile” and “Financial Literacy: Sallie Mae and Loans.” Similar to resume building, a LinkedIn page can be a good tool to utilize to help transform you from high school to college. It is important to start building your professional network and expand your online presence. This workshop taught me how to create a strong profile and how to reach out to our alumni network. The financial literacy workshop was especially helpful for students like me who are taking out loans for the first time. This workshop helped me become familiar with loan terminology and helped me find the resources to begin thinking about a repayment plan.

About the author

Sharifa Sharfeldden

Hello! I am a member of the Class of 2021, majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering. I am from Brooklyn, New York and I am involved in a variety of on-campus organizations and offices like the Gwen M. Greene Career Center as a Peer Career Advisor (PCA), the National Society of Black Engineers, and the Society of Women Engineers.

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