“I don’t necessarily teach a subject,” says Outschool.com instructor, Dacara Seward, a 2016 Nyack College alumna, who majored in psychology and graduated magna cum laude.
No “subject” for the instructor? Here’s the twist.
“All my classes focus on cultivating emotional intelligence and self-confidence through the use of music and creative arts to facilitate the discussion of emotions,” she explains. “By asking my learners specific questions, I am helping them learn how to express or acknowledge their emotional experiences as it pertains to the song. I’m basically providing them with tools to help cope with their emotions.”
Her success as an online instructor can be credited to her innate quality of “always being the person people confide in” and the fact that she has “a gift for building rapport with people and making them feel loved and safe.” Outschool.com is a learning platform that facilitates such an environment and allows teachers to organize, promote and deliver online classes in a variety of subjects for learners up to 18 years of age.
Asked how Nyack prepared her for this unique position, Dacara says, “What I loved about my psych courses at Nyack was the constant acknowledgment of God as a counselor. I began to recognize the similarities between our relationship with God and the unconditional positive regard therapists have for their clients. It mirrors the unconditional love God has for us. God has provided me with a special opportunity to combine my musical gifts, my therapeutic gifts, and my spiritual gifts in order to help others. Nyack really helped me see the connection between all three.”
During a time when online learning has become a primary delivery model, Dacara is familiar with its pros and cons. “Unique challenges are obviously network connectivity issues,” she says. “Sometimes we run into technical difficulties, but it happens rarely. The advantages of teaching online include convenience and flexibility. I make my own schedule and it allows me to reach more students.”
Nyack alumni are known for serving across our nation and around the globe. Outlook.com gives Dacara the opportunity to do just that without even living her home. “I have had the opportunity to teach children from all over the world, which is such a unique experience that only comes with teaching online.”
Born and raised in California, Dacara received her “on the ground” college experience after her dad, a videographer, worked on a promotional video for Nyack. He inquired about the school’s psychology department, which led to Dacara heading to the East Coast to earn her undergraduate degree. She later went on to earn her master’s degree at Alliant International University back in San Diego where she currently lives.
Reflecting on her New York alma mater, Dacara fondly recalls how choosing into community with her peers made her Nyack experience a special one. “I joined the gospel choir during my freshman year. I also sang on a worship team up until my junior year. In my senior year, I led two small groups. The first one was created to help facilitate creativity in the community by writing and composing music. The second was a worship small group where we would encourage students to worship through art, dance and prayer. I was also a student worker in the Admissions Office and Bailey Library. I was a busy girl!”
Nyack—the place, has a way of making a lasting impression on students. What really reaches out and grabs hearts is Nyack—the people. One person who tops Dacara’s list of influential Nyack people is Associate Director of Admissions for Online Programs, Margie Jennings.
“She hired me as a front desk worker in Admissions,” says Dacara. “I learned just how powerful a woman with a servant’s heart can be. She held me while I cried and prayed over me during my toughest times. She encouraged me to be my true self and always told me how proud she was of me. Hearing her words of encouragement helped me accept love from my Heavenly Father.”
Memories of Dacara are still vivid for Margie Jennings. “I greatly enjoyed having Dacara as a student worker. She was trustworthy and very organized. As the first point of contact for visitors to the Admissions Office, she welcomed them with such enthusiasm. In addition to being a pro at multi-tasking—juggling classes, campus activities and work—she managed to earn excellent grades.”
After benefiting so much from her Nyack experience, Dacara offers this bit of wisdom for Nyack students and prospective ones as well: “Question everything. Explore your relationship with Christ beyond chapel services or a “Deeper Life Series.” Examine the Word so that you can know His heart. When you graduate, it’s up to you to continue to choose Him every day. Learn that now to create a firm foundation.”