Alumni Blog Archive Traci Michaud

Traci MichaudTraci's Alumni Blog

Meet Traci Michaud, our latest Alumni blogger.

July 26, 2010

Back to School Shopping…Already?

As I was running my usual weekend errands today, I found myself stopping to groan at the “Back to School” section in Target. Moms and children were eyeing up their school supply lists, making sure to get “8 fine tip black pens,” as I heard one girl yell to her mom, while another informed her mother that she only wanted Five-Star notebooks. Ugh. Does this mean my summer is almost over? I feel like I just got out of school! Every year I go through the mundane task of purchasing a new calendar and a new binder for my lesson plans. The only stipulation: they must be inspiring in their colors and organizational features. I figure if I’m going to use the calendar and binder all year long, they have to entertain me somehow, right? I purchased one of those “new” 100% recyclable binders with flamboyant leaves and flowers and a light purple calendar with clear pockets. They match my already purchased “to-do” notebook (complete organization!), and their colors will send good vibes as I crack them all open at 6:30 a.m. to start my school day.

Calendars, binders, and “to-do” notebooks remind me of the First Year Programs at Northern. Weird connection, right? Well, for two semesters I taught a UN100 course, called freshman seminar, to incoming freshman with a counselor from the ACAC office named Lena Throlson. Once a week for an hour and forty minutes, we met with freshman and taught them study skills, time management, note-taking skills, and Lena advised them on career paths (since I wasn’t really qualified to do this). Every single week, we preached about our “to-do” notebooks. Lena’s was color coded while mine was a long list, written in colored pens in a purple and green butterfly mini-notebook. (I’m still obsessed with colored pens. My philosophy is that if I have a fun pen, I will enjoy grading papers; thus, time will fly by!) We really wanted the freshman students to know how important it was to keep track of assignments, appointments, social outings, meetings, etc. because in college, it’s easy to get overwhelmed! Oh, and while I’m on the topic of UN100, I highly advise any incoming freshman to take it. Even if you think you have time management under control, look into UN100. Many freshman seminar classes are geared towards specific majors, and you will learn a wealth of information on how to be successful in your field of study. Just ask an admissions or ACAC counselor (I’d recommend Lena, but sadly, she’s not at NMU anymore), and they’ll give you more information.

 Well, speaking of lists, I better sign off so I can check this week’s “to-do” list. I’ll be back soon to write more (it’s on my list!)

Take care,


July 15, 2010

Riding the Freeway of Memories

If you’ve ever been to Washington D.C. before, you know that it is always bustling with people and the driving here is far beyond insane. Luckily, anytime my husband and I go anywhere, he’s willing to drive. (Personally, it’s better that way. I cringe at the madness of the Capitol Beltway, and he cringes at my driving!) Anyway, lately I’ve found myself excited when I see a Michigan license plate. My reaction is somewhat like the following:

“A Michigan license plate! Drive faster so I can see who it is!” (Like I actually know every person who lives in Michigan.)

Then the disappointment sets in, “Oh, I guess I don’t know them.”

Even though I love what D.C. and its suburbs have to offer, I miss parts of home and parts of Northern. When I pass these cars, I secretly wish it is someone I may have gone to school with. Why? I don’t know. It’s not like I’m going to flag them down so we can talk about our experiences at NMU. (Although, that would be fun!) What would we even talk about? Dr. Hyslop’s mischievous smile he would always give us as we endlessly complained about something insignificant? (Speaking of which, Dr. Hyslop, are you OUT THERE?) Bookbinders eatery and the “cliques” that would form everyday around the same time? Cheering crowds at the Cats’ football games? Or the quietness of the library’s second floor where a sneeze or cough instantly disrupted anyone nearby?

I could reminisce for days, but what really sticks out in my mind at Northern are the professors who, in the classroom, are serious and scholarly, but outside of the classroom, are friendly, funny, and most importantly, they get to know you for you. In November of 2006, I found myself cramped into a school van with Dr. Mary Jane Tremethick,or MJ as we called her, and Dr. Patti Hogan (both professors from HPER) navigating our way through Kalamazoo, Michigan. These two fearless leaders took 6 or so of us Northern students to a health conference where we were expected to present either our “mini-thesis,” otherwise known as the HL367 program planning project, or another project related to the health field. This trip was especially meaningful to me as I was receiving the Outstanding Student in Health Education award along with Katy (Vross) Pollard (BS ’07).

The funniest part of the trip: driving through the parking garage. MJ, not amused at what lie ahead in terms of parking, drove through the garage anyway. I can’t scratch the surface about what happened next, but don’t be bummed out. There IS a reason why I’m giving you this snippet of information. Because of this trip I saw my professors in another light, and it made me appreciate them so much more and all they do for us. Patti, MJ, and Dr. Gary Ebrecht (Gary, you missed out on a fun trip), were the three professors in the HPER department who believed in me. They saw my potential when I didn’t even know I had any. Because of them, I grew into a hard working, put-forth-100%-in-everything teacher, and to them I owe a big thank you.

So, thank you, NMU professors for all you have done for me.

To you blog readers, let this be a lesson learned in not only the superb academics you will receive at Northern, but also the relationship you will build with your professors. Let them find your drive, and let them take you on a memorable journey.

Take care, and watch out for my next post.


July 5, 2010
Under the Virginia Sun

It’s close to 100 degrees plus humidity as I sit on the balcony (or deck, if you prefer to call it that, but I think balcony sounds fancier) of my Virginian apartment with a winter-themed cup of pink lemonade, writing my very first blog entry.  It’s so hot that my laptop, burning underneath the sun, practically scorches my fingers as I write.   Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but my point is that I’m in sweltering hot Virginia weather writing for NMU’s alumni blog.  What a treat!  Before I get way off track, though, let me tell you a little about myself.

Some of you, if you were at Northern between 2002 and 2007, might remember me as Traci Maki.  I married my high school sweetheart in July of 2007.  Growing up in Ishpeming, MI, I commuted to Northern for five, yes FIVE, years.  I lived at home to save money.  You may be thinking that I cheated myself out of a college experience, but I will tell you of my Northern adventures in future posts and how it really worked to my advantage.  Hopefully, by the end of my blogging experience, you will feel as though you were with me at Northern experiencing the fear of getting towed, the excitement of “class” trips, the joy of making new friends, and the pure happiness, and bliss, and delight, and…you get the point, that I felt earning a C in Chemistry 111. 

Oops, getting off track again...back to background information.  I graduated from Westwood High School, class of 2002, and had only applied to Northern.  Good thing they accepted me, because I didn’t have a back-up plan!  I originally declared myself as a nursing major, but a year and a half in, I knew it wasn’t for me.  I then became a student at the School of Education, Leadership and Public Service.  Loving every second of my journey as I became the Future Teacher of America (my friend, Heather, thinks that I’ll eventually win a trip to Disney World for my contributions to teaching and that I should take her with me on the trip.  I think she’s nuts.),

I am a May 2007 cum laude graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English/Health Secondary Education.  Call me crazy, but I double majored.  It was easier; trust me!  Throughout my college experience, I was involved with NMU’s Golden Key Honor Society, the Health Promotion Society, the Symphonic Band, and the First Year Programs (more on these later).  My first teaching job landed me in Schofield, Wisconsin, as a reading teacher to students in grades 10-12.  I was there for one year before my husband, Adam, landed a job in Washington D.C., hence, why I am now sweating as I blog from my balcony.  I now teach 7th and 8th grade English at Thoreau Middle School in Vienna, Virginia, which was ranked the top middle school in the state for the 2009-2010 school year. 

We’ll be in touch soon about my adventures and misadventures, and hopefully, if you are planning on attending Northern, I may be able to give you a few tips and tricks, too.

Back to the Virginia sun it is for me.  Say Yah to Da U.P. fer me der, eh?

Take Care,