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ClayManiacs.com  |  Archive  |  Media & Appearance Archive  |  12/10/03 UNCC OFFICIALS SAY AIKEN RECEIVED NO SPECIAL TREATMENT
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Author Topic: 12/10/03 UNCC OFFICIALS SAY AIKEN RECEIVED NO SPECIAL TREATMENT  (Read 1710 times)

Marilyn

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UNCC OFFICIALS SAY AIKEN RECEIVED NO SPECIAL TREATMENT
« on: December 10, 2003, 12:19:33 AM »   

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UNCC officials say Aiken received no special treatment
by Justin Vick
UT News Editor
December 09, 2003

Administration receives permission to talk about 'American Idol' singer's coursework

As Clay Aiken waits on stage to sing during a rehearsal with the cast of "American Idol", he gets a call on his cell phone from UNC Charlotte professor Nancy Cooke.
"Here let me let you talk to Ruben [Studdard]," the pressed-for-time Aiken tells Cooke, as he hands his phone to the Idol finalist who narrowly beat him out on the FOX television show this summer.

While Aiken has been very busy pursuing his singing career, Cooke insists communication has existed between Aiken, who is set to graduate from UNCC this month, and his professors.

Much discussion and skepticism about Aiken's coursework has circulated amongst UNC Charlotte students after it was announced two weeks ago the "American Idol" star would be participating at the University's December commencement ceremony. The University issued each afternoon graduate an allotment of seven tickets as a precaution to prevent Aiken fans from taking seats away from graduates' family and friends.

Some students have even called into question how Aiken, who has toured the country promoting his debut album, could finish his academic work at UNCC without getting special treatment.

According to Cooke, special programs coordinator for the College of Education, Aiken has given the college special permission to talk about his coursework to clear up such rumors.

She and other UNCC officials deny that Aiken has received any special treatment.

Aiken intended to graduate last spring, but because of his participation in the "American Idol" competition, it would delay his degree to the winter.

Heading into the spring semester last year, he completed all his required coursework in his special education major, but only lacked a few hours to meet UNCC's 120-hour minimum graduation requirement.

Wendy Wood, Aiken's academic advisor, remembers when he told her about trying out for "American Idol" and having to go to Hollywood. At that point, Aiken believed his student teaching would need to be postponed.

Wood was initially cynical of her student, but wished him well. "I think it's important for students to go after their dreams, even when I think they might be crazy," she said. "I guess I learned pretty quickly that in Clay's case, his potential to accomplish his dream was well within his grasp, even if he didn't know."

Cooke was not aware of what "American Idol" was when Aiken asked her last fall if he could leave class to travel to the competition to sing. At that time, she wasn't aware of his passion for performing either.

But as Aiken began advancing through the competition each week, it became more apparent that school would have to be put on hold.

"That became apparent because he was going to be obligated through as many weeks that would certainly end up cutting into his student teaching opportunity," said Cooke.

But Aiken decided to finish up his degree by working with the College of Education faculty over the summer in creating an independent study that would put him over the minimum hours requirement and still allow him to pursue his singing career.

According to Barbara Edwards, assistant dean of the college of education, independent study courses in education are student-initiated, in that students must submit a proposal, obtain written permission from an instructor followed by approval from a program coordinator, chair and dean of the college. Such courses can not substitute degree requirements but may count towards credit hours toward one's degree.

Aiken's independent study was formed so he could further pursue his interest in helping children with disabilities.

It involved conceptualizing, researching and planning a charitable foundation to help such children.

"Clay had a clear vision of what changes he would like to see with regard to services for and acceptance of individuals with developmental disabilities in schools and communities," said Wood. "But there was a great deal of work that he needed to do to determine if there was a niche for his idea for a foundation, to determine its mission, and to plan how the foundation would go about accomplishing its mission and objectives."

Edwards said the process taken by Aiken and the college in coming up with the independent study was the ideal way it should happen.

"It's where one or more faculty sets standards that enable students to study something they are passionate about and get recourse for it," said Edwards.

To his instructors' surprise, Aiken would take the knowledge gained from the independent study and apply it to real life. He created the Bubel/Aiken Foundation to help children with autism.

Never was it required Aiken had to start his own agency, thus doing more than was ever expected by instructors.

The independent study allowed Aiken to perform on the road and release his debut album.

Though he was hardly ever on campus, Cooke said appropriate supervision was conducted by UNCC faculty in overseeing his project.

"Independent studies actually have to be something which can be carried out without the regular contact that a course would have," said Cooke.

Aiken communicated with Wood several times over the course of the summer through phone and email to set up the independent study, including the project's timetable for completion and requirements. They met once over the summer for him to finalize those plans and sign his independent study plan document.

Since the summer, Aiken has been on campus once, but Wood said the bulk of their interaction has been via phone and email.

"This is similar to other independent study arrangements although, in many cases, the students are in the area, and can, if necessary, meet face-to-face more often with their instructors," said Wood, emphasizing that email is the rule of thumb rather than exception for students pursuing independent study opportunities.

With the completion of his independent study, Aiken will meet all requirements to graduate. He will not receive his teaching license, however, because he has not completed student teaching.

"Most people finishing their degree, are also finishing student teaching and are also applying for their license," said Cooke. "He will not be applying for a license. Maybe some day he will, and I know he's going to be wonderful teaching."

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Marilyn

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Re: 12/10/03 UNCC OFFICIALS SAY AIKEN RECEIVED NO SPECIAL TREATMENT
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2010, 03:46:13 AM »
playingclay
UNCC OFFICIALS SAY AIKEN RECEIVED NO SPECIAL TREATMENT
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2003, 01:16:36 AM »   

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Well, it is pretty obvious that he did a very good job with his special studies course.  His web site and foundation is very well thought out and knowledgable.

Well done, Clay.  Congratulations!:D

I can see that he probably does have mixed emotions about not getting his teaching licence. 
It also shows that he really wanted AI.  He was so close to his teaching goal that he could have not bothered.  It also makes me feel better.  I know that there are pros and cons with his fame and singing career but he really wants it and gave it a lot of thought.  I think that makes it a bit easier for him to put up with the negatives.  For me, selfishly, it doesn't look like he will say easily to heck with this and leave the business.  Good I want Clay!!! :D

As I have seen him say in interviews, if he is just a flash in the pan, fine he will go back to teaching and be quite happy (as long as his foundation succeeds.)   I don't see that to be the case, though.  I think he has future as long as he wants one in the business.  It sounds like he really wanted a future in the music business.

He must smile when he sings the line about making God laugh by telling him your plans. :D

It is also quite a lesson on believing in yourself and taking chances even if you have a road mapped out for yourself doing something else that you want to do.
ALWAYS AND FOREVER-UNCONDITIONALLY!!!

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