Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dwarfed by the beauty of the natural world

After 10 days in the field, we had our first day off from digging and had an opportunity to venture to a different part of Ohio. We packed up some hiking gear, plenty of trail mix and piled into the vans to see Ash Cave and Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park.

It was refreshing to see the forests and waterfalls, a stark contrast to the open fields and hot sun that we’d grown accustom to. At Ash Cave, there were audible gasps of amazement as we wandered into the immense rock shelter. It was shocking to see something so large and beautiful. For eons, water and wind carved the soft rock and left this 700-foot-long cave.

The human influence, little trails and names carved into the stone walls, were dwarfed by the beauty of the natural world. It was strangely freeing to feel so small in the shadow of that cave. I realized that if I’m so tiny in the grand scheme, my worries are even smaller and it felt like a burden was lifted.

That carefree feeling set the tone for the rest of the day as we explored more of the park land. We ventured to Old Man’s Cave, which proved to be an excellent hiking and climbing spot. We spent the day clambering over rocks and wading through streams.

As the entire field school group stood knee-deep in a plunge pool and skipped rocks into a waterfall, I forgot that we had just met each other a mere two weeks ago. Laughter and jokes rang out across the water, and we all agreed that the hiking trip was exactly what we needed to recharge. We snapped plenty of pictures and were pleasantly exhausted by the end of the afternoon.

I returned to camp ready to dig again the following day, hoping that some cool artifacts would surface from the new units we had opened.
    — Keelan McDonald, is a junior mass communications major and anthropology minor.
#CollaborativeLearning #HuskyUnleashed

DeeAnne Wymer, professor of anthropology, and a group of Bloomsburg University students hit the road each spring in mid-May to spend four weeks in southern Ohio digging at a Hopewell habitation site. The archeological field school experience enables student teams to rely on new imaging technologies to uncover another living site of the Mound Builders from 2,000 years ago.

Monday, June 1, 2015

What lies beneath!

When we first arrived at the Balthaser Home site in Ohio, it looked like any other farm field, the remains of soybean stubble covering the rolling hills. Now, the field is covered with tripods and sifters and tarps and shovels.

From the road, it’s nearly impossible to tell what is occurring in the southwest corner of Balthaser. What are we doing here? Spearheaded by Dr. DeeAnne Wymer and Dr. Paul Pacheco of SUNY-Geneseo, students from Bloomsburg and SUNY Geneseo are collaborating to dig up the remains of a domestic Hopewell site. The Hopewell are an indigenous American people known for their earthworks and ritual sites, but little is known about their daily lives.

Out in the hot sun, we dig and sift. Occasionally, someone will yell out “bladelet” when they find a small, thin flint blade, still sharp enough to cut your fingers 2,000 years later, and Doc Wymer does her famous bladelet dance.

The best part of field school is the shared enthusiasm among the students, professors and the occasional amateur archaeologist visitor. You’ve never seen a group of people so excited about different colors of dirt. Students are broken into different teams composed of Geneseo and Bloomsburg students to excavate specific unit. Because of the generosity of Dr. Jarrod Burks, we are able to have a sense of where to dig based on the magnetic readings at the site.

My team is in the process of excavating a pit feature, which is very exciting because we have no idea what we may find.

(DeeAnne Wymer) - I am pleased to note that Keelan's team recovered a large number of very large fragments of pottery from their fire pit/earth oven! All their hard work paid off and they have every right to be very excited.

Some groups are meticulously excavating post molds, which may indicate the location of a Hopewell house, while others find projectile points, ceramics and paper-thin sheets of glittering mica. Centimeter by centimeter, we begin to get a clearer picture of the ancient lifeways of the fascinating Hopewell.
    — Keelan McDonald, is a junior mass communications major and anthropology minor.
#CollaborativeLearning #HuskyUnleashed

DeeAnne Wymer, professor of anthropology, and a group of Bloomsburg University students hit the road each spring in mid-May to spend four weeks in southern Ohio digging at a Hopewell habitation site. The archeological field school experience enables student teams to rely on new imaging technologies to uncover another living site of the Mound Builders from 2,000 years ago.

Fear and Loathing ... over summer

In the realm of weird and wacky books, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson is definitely out there. The novel virtually has no real plot, bumbling back and forth between reality and surreal, drug-induced delusions, which sometimes makes things hard to follow.

However, that doesn’t make this any less than one of my favorite novels.

In a quest for the American Dream among other things, Raoul Duke and his attorney Dr. Gonzo, charge down to Las Vegas and spend several days causing mayhem and contemplating what all of it means, all the while taking enough drugs to make Woodstock look tame.

With such a loose plot and rambling prose writing style, one would think that Thompson’s tale would fall flat, but it keeps your attention, almost for that very reason. The lack of plot and zany antics of Duke and Gonzo keep you wanting more and Duke’s first-person descriptions of the madness going on around him never seems to get old.

More than 100 suggested books to read

The novel also has thought invoking points, commentary almost, on the counter-culture movement of the 1960’s and how the different ideologies and drugs used by the hippies left a generation of burnt-out drug addicts. Thompson uses Duke’s flashbacks and moments between acid trips, to show how ideas of the 1960’s American dream differ from what Duke is surrounded by in the novel.

The novel is also rather short, only around 250 pages, which makes it a perfect read to pick up on a hot summer day by a pool or on the beach.

— Anthony Ferrentino, senior communication studies major  #HuskySummer

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Best of luck Class of 2015 ... it’s been a wild ride!

It’s May, and that end of the year feeling is overtaking me as I walk by students sun-bathing on the Quad and try to find a cubby in the overpopulated construction site that is the library. As each day passes and I cross off another completed assignment on my agenda, the reality of graduating is still not sinking in.

Every day I wake up I go through the same routine: open my graduation countdown app on my phone. I feel a mixture of anxiety and excitement as the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until Saturday, May 9, continue to tick on by. And still, even with the countdown, picking up my cap and gown, and leaving my last college class…I cannot fathom the realization that this is all coming to an end.

It is so cliché to say four years have come and gone, but really, they have. I remember as if it were yesterday so nervously moving into Lycoming Hall freshman year. I remember actually getting lost trying to find my classes. And crying because I could not picture having to go through seven more semesters of exams, all of those dreaded group projects, and the hell week that is finals.

But I would honestly do it all over again if I could. Seniors… we will never again have the chance to live with all of our best friends and experience our crazy times side by side. None of my roommates are moving out or graduating, just me. So it’s been extra emotional as I start to see my room slowly emptying and theirs staying the same.

I don’t think I appreciated the small town atmosphere of Bloomsburg as much as I will when I move. Being able to go out on a run by myself late at night is a luxury we should be thankful for. And not having to worry about walking home alone after night class is something we all take for granted. This is such a great area with so much to offer.

But what I will miss the most about BU is the people. From my professors, my advisor, my internship supervisor, my friends, my classmates…. I’m truly in denial that we won’t be together anymore. As graduation approaches, I’ve really discovered whom I have been able to impact and those who have impacted me over the years. I’ve received so many small gestures of thanks and goodbyes from those who care about me, which of course, immediately turned me into a puddle of tears.

We remember kindness. And never forget meanness. I can definitely say that I have come across more people on the “kind” spectrum here. Being a good person will serve us all in the long run, both on a professional and personal level.

Reflecting back to high school graduation, this feels so different. I was so carefree and excited to leave high school and get away to college, meet new people, and have a fresh start. But now, this period of my life is so overwhelming. Every five seconds I feel like someone asks me, “So what are your plans after graduation?” as I try not to roll my eyes and scream I DON’T KNOW.

I’m trying my best to stay calm and have fun in this awkward stage by slowing down and enjoying these last few weeks of not knowing what’s to come.

Seniors - we really need to stop trying to put it all together, or we will never feel truly satisfied. After sitting down with my advisor one last time, I expressed to her my panic about not having a job lined up. She simply told me, “Take your time."

We shouldn’t settle for any kind of position that doesn’t make us happy or isn’t suited for us.

Because of the amazing internship I experienced during this final semester, I realized one thing about the job hunt: I should not EVER settle for anything that doesn’t make me as excited and happy as I was going to my internship.

Seniors, we need to search for a position and company we truly love to work for, because if you love what you do, you’ll be thinking about it all the time and constantly striving to be your best.

— Rachael Scicchitano, senior communication studies major #HuskyLife #ProfessionalU

Monday, April 27, 2015

Don’t stress the test

Classes can be stressful, especially at the end of a semester. Great timing for finals, huh?

As a sophomore now I feel better knowing more through experience how to conquer the stress of tests … well that’s what I think. When it comes down to it I do the same thing every time. I procrastinate.

Procrastination is the worst enemy to any student. We all do it, because we know that once we start studying there are two options … we understand the concept and pass the test or we FREAK OUT because we have NO CLUE what is going on and have a MENTAL BREAK DOWN and nothing good comes out of it.

Let me be the first to say don’t freak out!

We all have to go through the same thing. So first step, get a buddy to study with and things will run a lot smoother, they will be able to explain to you what you don’t understand and you could do the same for them.

The second step is finding a place to study… either the library, Monty’s, JKA, or your bed. But sometimes you need a different place, a new atmosphere to get the ball rolling.

Some spots that you would never think of is going to:
  • Dunkin Donuts on Route 11
  • Flog and Flame on Main Street
  • Panera Bread by Wal-Mart
This will give you new scenery to look at and maybe get more work done.

The last thing to do is to actually study. You need to make sure no distractions are around. So if you are easily distracted don’t go out side, because you might see a butterfly and go… “Oh look there’s a butterfly.”

Turn off your phone or put it on silent and make sure all social media is disconnected from its notifications. Make sure you are comfortable in your environment and get going.

Now, go out and conquer the stress of the test!

— Samantha Gross, sophomore telecommunications major #HuskyUnleashed

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

One idea can go a long way

LADIES - Are you aware that there is an entire month dedicated solely to us?

Over the past three decades, the month of March has been devoted to empowering women of all ages through a month long celebration of recognizing the most dominant and influential women in history. Since 1980, National Women’s History Month has been committed to highlighting their contributions and how they continue to affect our present-day society.

It’s hard not to feel a huge wave of compassion and respect for these historical female figures who have opened up doors and possibilities for all young women today. Their stories and successes continue to motivate females to be individualistic in a leading male culture.

There’s Nancy Reagan, former first lady, who taught us that, “A woman is like a teabag - only in hot water do you realize how strong she is”. And Helen Keller, prominent educator and internationally respected humanitarian, who proclaimed that, “No effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost”. And then there’s Oprah Winfrey, the first black female host of a nationally syndicated daily talk show, who showed women that, “There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born/"

By challenging humanities assumptions that women are not socially, politically, or economically equal to males, these legendary figures in history have been able to overcome adversity and achieve their dreams while continuing to empower females of all ages beyond their years.

Every March, Women’s History Month recognizes the brilliant women who continue to influence present day females in their own personal and distinctive ways. For me, my leading role model is a woman who was able to overcome the hardship and adversity she faced as a single mother who dreamed of pursuing a career as a writer.

In 1990 on a crowded train to London’s Kings Cross Station with her young daughter at her side, an exciting idea for a story fell into Joanne “Jo” Rowling’s mind. There was a young boy with messy black hair and round shaped glasses, who had unknowing knowledge that he was a wizard. By continuing to pursue this story idea, Rowling went from living a simple life as an eager writer living on state benefits to creating the multi-million dollar bestselling franchise that is known as Harry Potter.

Rowling, formerly known as Joanne, wanted to use initials instead of her full name on the cover of the Harry Potter books in order to target both genders. Her publisher agreed on her theory that a group of young boys would be reluctant to buy a story written by an obvious female name like Joanne. Since Rowling did not have a middle name, she decided to adopt her paternal grandmother’s name, Kathleen, for the middle initial. The creation of her famous pen name, J.K. Rowling, makes me appreciate her as an artist all the more. For a previously unknown writer who worked her way to the top, she did not care about the glitz and glory of fame. What she cared about was attracting readers to her stories.

My admiration for Rowling as an artist has never stemmed from her fortune and fame. What I adore about her as a person is my knowledge of her journey through failure and rejection.

Rowling has proved that one idea can go a long way if you have the knack and determination. Since the release of the beloved Harry Potter series, her stories have been translated into 73 languages, selling millions of copies and accumulating over 20 billion dollars through movie adaptations.

But despite her achievements, Rowling stated that at one point in time, “By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew”. Back in 1995 when Rowling finished her manuscript for the first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, she submitted the final copy to over twelve publishing houses, all of which rejected the manuscript (I’m sure this has become the biggest regret of their lives). A year later, she was finally given the go by an editor from a publishing house in London.

For a young and aspiring professional about to graduate with an unsure future ahead of me, it is so symbolic to know that someone as lucrative and well known as Rowling was once a college graduate in my questionable shoes. At this point in my life, I’m not sure where I will be a year from now. But I hope to be journeying down a career path that makes me as happy as storytelling does for Rowling.

To me, Rowling’s real life story is more incredible than any work of fiction. By following her rocky journey, I have learned that you must push through the difficult times in life. Within every challenge there are great doses of life to be lived.

When I look back at my childhood, reading the Harry Potter series and watching the films was a huge bonding experience for my siblings and me who have always shared a love for Rowling’s storytelling. By doing what she loves, Rowling has been able to touch the lives of millions, inspiring boys and girls across the world to follow their wildest dreams no matter the defeat or failure they may face along the way.

Some of my favorite and most profound quotes by Rowling I have grown to feel a connection to over the lifespan of the fantasy world that is Harry Potter include but are not limited to:
  • “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”
  • “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
  • “It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
  • “In dreams, we enter a world that’s entirely our own.”
With a chance to give recognition to a brilliant female in history who has impacted my life, Women’s History Month lives on to continue telling the tales of symbolic women like Rowling.

This year’s Women’s History month theme, “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives”, really relates to how Rowling has inspired me to continue in her legacy of overcoming challenges and journeying on to reach happiness and one’s full potential.

This coming June, Bloomsburg University will be sponsoring the 25th Annual International Conference on female author Virginia Woolf, one of the leading modernists of the twentieth century. This year’s theme, “Virginia Woolf and Her Female Contemporaries”, seeks to recognize Woolf’s writing along with the work of her contemporaries and how today’s society of young artists compare to that of Woolf and her colleagues.

With the 2015 Women’s History Month under wraps, it is vital for our small population of unique undergraduates and graduates here at Bloomsburg University to recognize inspiring females who have contributed to the gender equality that exists in our university community today.

— Rachael Scicchitano, senior communication studies major #HuskyLife #ProfessionalU

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Carpe College ... don't get stuck in a 4-year routine

We all get those emails from our professors, advisers and department heads about "upcoming opportunities" and "volunteer position availabilities." But let's be honest, how many of these messages go unread and/or unopened?

Most of them.

We students have far too much going on, right? Between waking up on time for class, making time for meals, studying and sometimes even working, where could we POSSIBLY find time to add anything to our schedules?

Yes, I realize that it would look good on my resume, but what is the concrete value of any of these experiences? What am I getting out of it? Is it worth getting out of bed on a Saturday morning to volunteer at a campus program or community event?

Probably not.

This is the way I thought throughout most of my undergraduate career. Don't get me wrong, during those four years, I maintained an above-average GPA, became captain of the women's basketball team, tutored for the disability center and held a part-time job (about 10 hours per week). It may seem like a lot, but now that I've begun to actually read the emails being sent by my mentors, I am realizing how much more I could have done with that time and how many connections I probably missed.

When I graduated with my undergraduate degree, I knew nothing about what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I enjoyed writing. I knew that I enjoyed working with people. That's about it. I did my senior internship and didn't completely despise it, so that's where I ended up after graduation. It wasn't until I finally began embracing and seeking out new opportunities that I found my real passions and could start pursuing the life that I wanted rather than the one I fell into.

Regardless of the specific opportunity we choose to pass up, we are potentially denying ourselves personal and professional connections. College is a time to discover strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes and passions. By getting stuck in a 4-year routine consisting of the same types of jobs, classes and social networks, we are being exposed to a very limited set of experiences and therefore, simultaneously prolonging the process of discovering what type of career, lifestyle and education is worth pursuing.

Here are a few of the advantages I've found to seizing opportunities, even if you aren't sure if they're "for you" or if you think you can handle the addition to your schedule:
  • Connections: Meeting people is everything! I cannot place any monetary value on the friendships and mentors i've gained through my volunteer experiences. I have connections across the country with people who can, not only help me professionally, but who have been wonderful personal supports and networks.
  • Compensation: While volunteer opportunities never offer big bucks for your participation, they do often provide things like travel costs, meal expenses and hotel accommodations. Don't be afraid to ask if any out-of-pocket costs are covered by the organization or institution before you travel too far and break your bank.
  • Experience different types of jobs: If you have an idea of what field you want to work in, use this as a chance to observe it on different levels and on various levels. You might find that you're more into the production side of things rather than being the front-(wo)man or vice versa. See what other people do in order to get a better idea of where you can see yourself.
  • Sorting through the garbage: the more you know and understand, the more you can discard what's NOT for you.
  • New places: Even if the position or job title isn't something you see yourself doing long-term, take advantage of opportunities that will allow you to travel. You might find that you really enjoy (or really don't want to end up in) certain places that you had never thought of before! Volunteer programs are great chances to experience different countries, states, cities and venues.
  • Respect: Professors, advisers and peers usually admire the fact that you're willing to take chances, which makes them more likely to throw more opportunities your way in the future! You may miss some classes or need to ask for extensions, but I've found that 95% of the time, faculty values the experience you're gaining and are more than willing to work with you as long as you communicate your plans appropriately.
  • Set yourself apart: While steady positions, degrees and long-term experience are definitely important, I am finding more and more that potential employers like to hear about my "unique" experiences and excursions even more than my schooling or day-to-day routines in my full-time positions. Those stories could be what helps them remember your interview after a day full of qualified candidates!
  • Open up future opportunities: There is real value in relationships. Others can offer support, advice and direction based on their own unique experiences. The more you volunteer for, the more people you meet. The more people you meet, the more opportunities they can present you with as you move forward!
  • Even if you hate the actual "job" you end up doing, most of these positions are part-time and temporary. Really, there's not much to lose. You never know what you'll discover when you stop ignoring those emails! Maybe even your future... Just go for it!
Social media: @_alyssameyers

— Alyssa Meyers is obtaining a graduate degree in Counseling and College Student Affairs (CSA) at Bloomsburg University, where she holds a graduate assistantship in the Student Activities Office. There, she assists in overseeing Bloomsburg's Program Board, Concert Committee and other groups and committees related to campus-wide event and activity planning.

Alyssa also holds a part-time position at Penn State University's Hazleton campus, where she is the Assistant Coordinator in the Office of Residence Life. In this position, she oversees a 10-person student Resident Assistant staff, works with the full-time residence life staff and participates in on-call or "Duty" responsibilities.

Prior to starting her career in student affairs, worked as a caseworked at Columbia County Children and Youth Services. She gained experience in crisis management, community health, and strength-based intervention strategies. Last summer, Alyssa moved to the Los Angeles area and worked with the Student Life and Engagement staff at Marymount California University. The focal point of her summer was designing an LGBT Safe Zone training manual and additional programming for the upcoming academic year.