Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

High Performance Living course covers life with passion, purpose

Here’s a topic that students can get into: How to live life with passion and purpose.

It’s more than just a topic for one University College course — it’s the bottom line of the syllabus for the 3-credit Applied Communication course, aptly called High Performance Living. 

“That’s the academic title of the class, but it covers all the topics of how we manage all that we face every day and still feel like we’re living a balanced and stress-free life,” says course instructor Maureen Entrup, who has taught at University College for 10 years. 

“We talk a lot about how to stay balanced mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually in today’s fast-paced environment.”

Entrup (MSS ’96) isn’t afraid to have the course move into the realm of the personal. In fact, she encourages it. “We discuss goals and support each other to reach those goals,” she says. 

An example she offers is the time a student began to talk about her recovery from breast cancer. 

“Her courage to speak about it led another student to go for an exam — which uncovered breast cancer,” Entrup says.

During that course, the first woman learned she had a recurrence of breast cancer. 

“So we just wrapped our minds and hearts around projects that supported these women and breast cancer awareness,” Entrup says. “Despite the multiple challenges we all face, we come together to recognize and honor each individual’s strengths and support them in creating the ideal future.”

Shannon Piserchio of Lakewood, a graduate student in applied communications, says that at the beginning of the course, Entrup asked students to introduce themselves.

“Of course that’s when the bonding experience began to develop,” Piserchio says. “With each exercise, we seemed to delve more deeply into our life experiences. By the end of the course, I think we knew we had been a part of something special.”

Homework includes starting a journal, and students must read and report on a self-improvement book. They also have to try something new — for example, Pilates, yoga, health food or a sport — and then write a paper on three lessons they learned from the experience.

The workbook is divvied up and each student presents a chapter. Discussions cover spirituality; the importance of sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet; and challenges such as money, elder care, child care, changes in the workplace and managing careers.

“It’s very stressful for them trying to manage a career, family and graduate school,” Entrup says. 

Entrup, a former corporate trainer who conducted workshops in stress management for Johnson & Johnson, says she approached DU several years ago with her concerns for the “students’ lack of focus, balance, passion and purpose.”

She designed the course and Entrup says she’s witnessed tremendous changes in her students.

“I’m very passionate about these topics and it’s my way to re-ignite passion and purpose in these students,” she says.

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