December 31, 2008

Happy New Year: 2009

The best part of a new year is that it gives one time to reflect on the previous three-hundred-and-something days, then figure out how to use that experience to make the next 12 months better.

Thank you to: Marshall University students, graduate assistants, interns and professors, valued colleagues, visitors and prospective students for making 2008 all that it was. And thank you for providing information and making suggestions that will help 2009 be even better.

Happy New Year.

December 8, 2008

Professors Who Make A Difference: Mr. Julio Alves

When asked about the most effective way to support college students diagnosed with ASDs, I'm often reminded of the movie Rain Man.

More specifically I'm reminded of the character Charlie, played masterfully by Tom Cruise. A world-wide audience loved that film, I believe, because it understood that through his interactions with Raymond, Charlie’s own life was improved. The relationship, which started off as awkward, evolved into a mutual understanding and respect between the two that, while never verbalized, was clear and obvious at the film’s end. By getting to know intimately a brother with whom he initially had little in common, Charlie grew as an individual and improved as a person.

It's relationship, then--and the trust, bonding, rapport and commitment that occurs when it's done right-- that may be most integral to the success of college students with ASD.

Professor Júlio Ribeiro Alves understands that well.

A native of Brazil, Professor Alves earned a B.M. in Guitar Performance from the University of Brasilia, and obtained a Masters of Music Performance Degree from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Guitar Performance and Music Literature at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

A teacher and performer of classical guitar, Professor Alves was recipient of the “Prominent Guitarist Award” in the 16th International Guitar Seminar of Pôrto Alegre in 1996. He has performed in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and in the USA as a soloist, in chamber groups, and with choir and orchestra.

Professor Alves has taught at Marshall University as an Assistant Professor of Music since 2006. For several semesters, a few Music majors who also receive support through the ATC's college program have been part of his classroom. Professor Alves is well respected for his dedication, his commitment to excellence and for his ability to teach students who have ASDs through understanding and the development of a natural rapport.

He expects and demands excellence, and provides the professional relationship through which his students are able to achieve success.

Reflecting on his teaching of one particular student during the Fall, 2008 semester, Professor Alves states:

"I am very optimistic about this semester, and for feeling that I was also able to reach him a little further at the personal level."

The student "opened himself a little bit to me this semester, and I could even talk to him about his plans, ambitions with his music, and I was able to help him to realize that he does not need to carry the world on his shoulders when he plays the guitar."

"I look forward to the day I will see him in graduation. It will be a very special moment for me when that day comes."

Thank you, Professor Alves, for your patience, expertise and dedication. But most of all, thank you for making a difference!