Monday, October 27, 2014

Why I Love Nicholas Sparks

Finding time to read while I am at college is one of the hardest time management problems to figure out. Between class work, work work, and any other activities, I barely have enough time to sleep, never mind read.

Professors always say reading helps you in the long run… ok then give me less homework so I have time to read.

When I finally find the time to snuggle up into bed and read a good book it’s always a Nicholas Sparks book. For some reason I just gravitate to his readings. All of them are love sappy stories that have a guys and a girl and they fall in love and live happily ever after.

For instance; The Notebook, The Wedding, The Lucky One, Safe Haven, Dear John, The Last Song, and many more. But isn’t that what every girl wants, happily ever after. No girl wants to read a book where everyone dies at the end and then its over.

When I read a book I picture the story in my head. Making every little detail seem as real as it can get, and for that period of time I am reading I am taken into another place, into the place of the story, feeling what the characters feel, seeing what is written on the page, and for a moment you forget about the life you live.

Your boring life has turned into a fantasy where you are now in the 1960’s and you are in love with Noah, and he writes you letters for 365 days and climbs a Ferris wheel to sit ask you on a date. To the point where you are so wrapped up into the story you are rooting for fictional characters to kiss.

Nicholas Sparks is not just an author of many well-written books, but he is a storyteller that makes people believe in fantasies again. Taking people out of their day-to-day life and in a life they always wanted to live.

All books do the same thing. Just find a book you like, pick it up and start reading. It’s as simple as that!

— Samantha Gross, sophomore telecommunications major #HuskyUnleashed

Going over "board" for campus entertainment

Being a part of Program Board has opened so many doors and opportunities for me. I’ve met so many amazing people and have learned so much about our school and the people in it.

Program Board has given me skills and abilities that I will be able to take with me to future jobs and life in the future. Program Board has helped me grow as a person and will be one college experience I will never forget. We recently got to take our programming to the next level. Normally we have to rely on the Internet or word of mouth to find the talent and entertainment that we are looking for, but we recently got to sort through our options from watching live performances.

This weekend we went to the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) where talent from all over the country gets to show us what they are made of and why we should bring them to our school.

NACA was full of events and activities, there was never a dull moment. The event started on Thursday around 2 p.m., but I didn’t go until Friday due to midterms. When the other half of us came on Friday we went immediately to an education session.

Education sessions are session where students that are on programming committees from different schools create a presentation about anything from general member retention, late night events, and how they keep themselves organized and engaged.

These sessions are great to share ideas and insights with students from all different schools. One session was called, Class, Power, Privilege and How It Affects Your Leadership Role. Here we defined class, power, and privilege and talk about how important it is to know these terms no matter what organization you are a part of.

We also did an exercise where half the room was friendly and engaging and the other half of the room was very closed off and uninviting. This showed us how important it is to be engaging and kind to everyone that you encounter whether it’s with general members or any student on campus. The way you act might determine if they become a general member or even attend the events that we organize.

Another session I went to talked about how they quadrupled their attendance to events when they moved them one hour earlier. They only do events late at night on a Friday and Saturday but they have over 300 people coming to them. We learned their students like events where there isn’t just one thing they can do in a room, they like to be able to move around and participate in different things if they get bored.

We also learned that students love to do things that they will be able to take home with them (free stuff). So you might see some arts and crafts events starting next semester. Time to get my Pinterest on!

After the morning education session on Friday, we had lunch. During lunch we had an inspirational speaker who was 16 years old and had turrets. His story was inspiring and encouraged everyone to never judge someone before you get to know them and to treat people the way you want to be treated. This speech not only helped you on a personal level, but also helped all program boards around the mid-Atlantic with possible general member retention and recruitment.

After lunch we had a mixture of showcases and CAMPs throughout the day and into the late night. A showcase is where about eight performers and one MC performed a fifteen minute snapshot of what they had to offer. The MC would do a short five to ten minute act and then announce who the next performer would be. There were acts from comedians, hypnotists, magicians, musicians, slam poets, acrobatics, step teams, musical comedy, and more.

There was a lot of new talent compared to last year and it looked like we might be booking a few of them to come next semester. One of the MC’s called “Dakaboom” was my favorite and we hope to be bringing them here soon. And here, they do 50 theme songs in under five minutes!

Another one of my favorite acts which we had at our school a few years back was the comedian Eric O’Shae. He’s an older comedian but leaves you with a pain in your side from laughing so hard.

After the showcases we would go to what is called CAMP, which stands for Campus Activities Market Place where performers and agencies set up their booths to talk to students about what they have to offer and do small demonstrations.

 There were booths for showing films to students, inflatables, massage chairs (one of my favorites), stuff your own animal, spray paint, make your own goo, and pretty much anything you can think of that would be a cool activity to do.

My absolute favorite section of CAMP was where three main booths were set up next to each other and included Eric Mina (a hypnotist we brought last semester), Spidey (who did a mental show during orientation this semester), and a new magician that we are bringing next semester named Joel Meyers.

As I talked to them for a few hours, they showed me a bunch of magic tricks and a little bit of mentalism. This was a huge opportunity for me to network and broaden my horizons and open possible job opportunities. Since I made friends with these people that I keep in touch with on a personal level I have an open door to possibly help some performers on the marketing and advertising side of things.

All in all, this entire weekend was an amazing experience and it never would have happened if I didn’t go to a Program Board general meeting my sophomore year. If Program Board wasn’t part of my college experience, I have no idea where I would be today. I don’t think I would have had the confidence that I have today to accomplish the things that I have and continue to accomplish.

— Chelsea Underhill, senior marketing major #HuskyLife

Welcome to the Smith Olympics

It may have just been another beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon to everyone else but to me and my staff it was a big day!

We planned for this day for weeks and finally our first big program was about to happen, the “Smith Olympics.” The residence hall I oversee — of over 250 first year students — is called Smith hall which is located right next to a nice big grassy lawn.

My staff and I came up with having a day, just like the Olympics, of games for the residents and a prize at the end for the wining team! The games that we led included:
  • volleyball
  • tug of war
  • Frisbee
  • and a relay race
My RAs prepared wonderfully and also had music speakers set up so everyone was able to listen to music throughout the day.

The residents along with my staff were able to bond and get to know one another while having fun and jamming out to music. I was very proud to have such a successful event take place all because my RAs made it happen. To see the students smiling and getting along was great.

We hope that the “Smith Olympics,” can become a tradition at Susquehanna University and continue on for the years to come. I am just thankful that I was able to be a part of it and make a positive impact on this campus.

— Kami Skoloda, a Lancaster native, is a second year student in the Counseling and College Student Affairs (CSA) program. She received her bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal Communications from Bloomsburg University (BU) in 2013. Her senior year she interned in the ACT 101 office at working with academic probation students. As an intern, Kami worked alongside several CSA graduate students suggested she consider a career in college student affairs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My life in a nutshell: Hard at Play

I am currently a full time graduate student in the Student Affairs program at Bloomsburg University, a half-time (20 hours per week) graduate assistant in Bloomsburg’s Student Activities office and a part-time staff member (20 hours per week + overnight/weekend “duty”) at Penn State Hazelton’s Office of Residence Life.

A typical day begins around 8 a.m. and ends when I return home between 10 and 11 p.m. My weekends often consist of late-night student activities and weekend day trips and/or weekend duty responsibilities. Just so you have the whole picture, I also commute to and from Hazleton, about 30 minutes each way, usually 5-6 days per week to accommodate my various commitments.

When I explain my life and schedule, the response I usually receive is “When do you sleep?!” The way I choose to see it, I have been blessed with a very high energy level and a love of my work, so I don’t mind my 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. days, I actually thrive on them.

This thriving is the point of my post. When people respond to my schedule negatively, I always come back with a smile. Each time I explain my schedule to others, I use it as an opportunity to remind myself how very blessed I am to be in these positions! One of my learning points is that I have a difficult time staying on-task if my schedule is not laid out and stacked.

Instead of letting myself waste “down” time, I am making the conscious decision to take full advantage of my high energy level, my freedom as a single young professional and the unique opportunities provided to me through the College Student Affairs program and career path. I am choosing to stack my days (and my resume!) with awesome experiences.

Each day, I grow more thankful for the knowledge I am gaining, not only in College Student Affairs, but in schedule management, relationship building, leadership (on several levels), prioritizing and much more.

For the record, I DO sleep; 8 hours, every night (unless I get distracted by Pinterest, of course). As a footnote to my life-in-a-nutshell, I’d like to say that self-care is EXTREMELY important and a schedule like mine is definitely not for everyone! I take advantage of the few hours per week that I have to do things for myself (visit with family and friends, hike, run, travel, etc.).

I am a firm believer in the idea that, when someone is truly passionate about what they do, they never work a day in their life. This is why, when people question my decision to take on so many responsibilities at once, I am able to respond by saying I’m not overworked, I’m simply Hard at Play.

— 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.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Where am I living next year?

It’s time to start considering your living arrangements for next year. I know it seems like you just got here, how are you possibly expected to choose a place to live in this new town you’re just getting used to? I have a few pointers to hopefully help make this decision a little easier.

First, it’s important to explore all your options here in Bloomsburg. Nothing is worse than rushing into something and later regretting the location you have already signed for. I am assuming most of you have never signed a lease before and it can be scary, but I promise it feels a lot better to sign when you’re 100 percent happy with your new space. The first decision you have to make is deciding whether you want to live on or off campus.

Living On Campus

On-campus living can be broken down into two areas: the dorms and on- campus apartments. Most of you are already living in the dorms and have a grasp for what dorm-living is all about.

In most cases you are able to select your dorm and can choose your roommate(s). This option remains a possibility for every year up until graduation as long as you remain on campus. Keep in mind that once you move off campus, you cannot move back. This also holds true for upper campus apartments.

On upper campus there are three apartment buildings you can sign up for to live in, which are first come, first serve.
  • Montgomery Place Apartments (MPA) are the closest to campus and have 2 bedrooms per apartment, hold 4 students and have 1 bathroom to share. 
  • Mount Olympus Apartments (MOA) are further up the hill and are townhouse styled apartments. They hold 6 students, with each student having their own bedroom and 2 bathrooms to share. 
  • Jessica Kozloff Apartments (JKA) are the furthest uphill, right near the Blue Lot. This apartment complex holds 4 students, with each student having their own bedroom and they also have 2 bathrooms to share. 
Keep in mind that these apartments all have a shuttle that runs regularly between lower and upper campus. Because these apartments are on-campus, there are CA’s and it is still considered ‘dry’, meaning no alcohol is allowed no matter your age. I think these apartments are especially great for those who may be nervous to make the transition from the dorms to downtown right away. Of course they are also great for those who want to experience a different kind of on-campus living!
  • Kile Apartments, located right behind Schuykill dorm on Penn Street are also considered on-campus, but they are slightly different. 
These apartments have 2 CA’s as well as a landlord. It is a little more expensive than upper campus apartments however they are significantly closer to town. These apartments range from 2-6 students, with the larger apartments having two bathrooms and the smaller ones having one bathroom. In this complex everyone gets their own room. You can always contact Res-Life for more information as well as pricing on any of these locations.

Living Off Campus

When I was a sophomore I chose a different route and moved off campus. Off-campus living offers a variety of options as far as where you live, how many roommates you can have and what is all included. These options are generally always more expensive than on-campus living and requires a little more responsibility since your living is no longer affiliated with BU.

I moved into an apartment my sophomore year, which was slightly more expensive than the average off-campus apartment, however it came completely furnished and all utilities were included except electric. You can also elect to sign for an apartment that is cheaper however you may pay that money you save in rent by renting furniture or paying all of your utilities.

My junior year I signed for a furnished house where my utilities were not included and it was definitely a shock compared to barely paying any my sophomore year and no utilities in the dorms as a freshman.

With that in mind it is very important to shop around and stay informed of your decisions. There are a wide variety of landlords who rent to BU students so check them all out, as they all offer different benefits.

Consider your budget and talk with your families and future roommates about what is best for you.

Deciding on a place to live for next year can be seem overwhelming and sudden but it is important to start thinking about this sooner than later. I can’t tell you exactly when certain places with fill up, but I do know the best places obviously go first. I have always signed my leases by the end of October to make sure I could secure the apartment I wanted, but if you need more time to figure things out you can always contact Res-Life or desired landlords to see what their availability looks like.

Good luck on your housing hunt and enjoy the rest of your semester!

— Sierra Kern, Class of 2015 #HuskyLife

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Welcome to grad school ... a new life, a very exciting life

I took the summer after my college graduation off — no classes! — and started my master’s degree in August 2013. My first semester, I had a graduate assistantship position through the academic achievement office.

A graduate assistantship (GA) means you work on campus and get remunerated with a stipend and part of your tuition is paid for. In my role, I helped start a brand new program called the Sophomore Success Program at BU. This is a mentoring program designed to help undeclared sophomore status students raise their GPAs and declare a major.

I have been the GA for this program ever since and really enjoy working with this population of students. Through my experience as a GA for this program, I have strengthened many skills, such as:

  • counseling techniques
  • providing resources
  • mentoring
  • tutoring
  • leadership
  • building relationships
  • assessment

This semester I also am also serving as the Graduate Resident Director at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove. For this position I oversee a first year residence hall with around 250 students. I work closely with another head resident and eight resident assistants.

Working in residence life is new to me, but I find it to be very exciting.

As for my life outside of academics, I enjoy working out and playing basketball, volleyball, and ping pong. I was an intramural volleyball referee for around six semesters at BU throughout my schooling and also played for fun.

— Kami Skoloda, a Lancaster native, is a second year student in the Counseling and College Student Affairs (CSA) program. She received her bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal Communications from Bloomsburg University (BU) in 2013. Her senior year she interned in the ACT 101 office at working with academic probation students. As an intern, Kami worked alongside several CSA graduate students suggested she consider a career in college student affairs.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

3 ways student life helps you survive the semester

It’s week four moving into week five of classes, I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel the pressure. Classes are starting to move out of the review stage and into the new material stage, I started slacking on reading the chapter before every class, and started pushing off some homework for tomorrow…well, maybe I’ll do it Thursday.

In the beginning of the semester I would read ahead and maybe even get some assignments done early but not anymore. Every semester, I tell myself that I am going to read the chapter before every class and review my notes right after class…that lasted about two weeks. Now you are starting to realize that you have a test in three different classes which is coming up in a few days! You might have, like me, already had a test. How did the time go by so fast? This is starting to get stressful.

Now that you are shifting your focus on new or harder material in class, you are getting nervous about passing the first test, or even the course because your class has only two tests the entire semester. What are we going to do?! When I first walked into my Intro to Corporate Finance class, I thought I would have a leg up in this class since I took Personal Finance two semesters ago, I was wrong.

In this class I have to read the chapter before class in order to have a shot in answering bonus questions on it in the beginning of every class. So I opened the book with highlighter in hand and an open mind. As soon as I read the first paragraph, I dropped my highlighter and closed my eyes and took a deep breath. This was the most information packed, boring as can be, monotone writing style I have seen in a long time. I knew I was in for a challenge but I am determined. The first test was during the third week of classes and we have five tests during the semester. I wasn’t worried about having to drop the class because we have a free tutoring program on campus.

Network through tutoring

Tutors can be very helpful whether you are just trying to pass the class or you just want a little extra help to go from a B to an A. Tutors are students just like you but truly love and understand what they are going to be helping you with. Being a tutor is completely voluntary, no one is forcing them to help other students, so you can be sure that they will help you to the best of their abilities. If you don’t want to work one on one with someone, you can always get together with people that are in your class and make a study group.

You should always get to know people in your classes, you never know when you will see them again in another class. Working with other people in class is a mini preparation for the real world. You are always going to have to work with people, around people, or surrounded by people so you might as well get used to it now. You aren’t going to be comfortable with the material in every class that you take, so be prepared to seek extra help.

Utilizing the Writing Center

So maybe your math class doesn’t stress you out and your music class, well, you could pass that course with your eyes closed but your writing class is what’s really stressing you out. Well, you’re in luck, on campus we have what’s called the Writing Center. The coolest part of the Writing Center in my opinion, is that, it doesn’t matter what your major is or what you are writing about. If you have to type something up and hand it in class as a graded assignment, they can help you with it. Another cool thing, is that students just like you are the ones that work there, they completely understand what you are going through and are there to help with the process.

Now, they won’t write your paper for you so go in asking specific questions and bring all of the material you need to write the paper, so they can give you as much advise as possible. You’re probably wondering, “What is this going to cost me?” it’s free! Well, you already pay for it in your tuition, so why not utilize it as much as possible?

Most of my friends aren’t nearly as bombarded with work as much as I am, so they had a lot of free time. My roommate decided to join the Society of Human Resource Management which pertains to her major.

This will also boost her resume and increase her knowledge about her field of study. She looks forward to every meeting because she meets new people that can give her some insight or see different paths that she can take with her major that she never knew about.

Joining student organizations

If you know what direction you want to go into in life, I highly suggest that you join a club or organization that pertains to that. Other people in that club or organization are probably going to be in some or most of your classes, so therefore you have some people to sit with during that awkward first week of classes or people to form a group with for a group project. If you aren’t sure of a path to take, get to know students and your professors in your general education courses, go to as many general meetings for clubs as possible, and keep an open mind.

No matter how stressed out you are, there are people going through exactly what you are going through. In the beginning of this blog, I’m sure I had a few people or even you nodding their heads in agreement because they completely understood what I was going though. If you weren’t one of those people, you may go through this at some point in the future. If and/or when it does happen, take a deep breath and remember that you have people on this campus that are supporting you and want you to succeed, even if you don’t know who they are yet.

— Chelsea Underhill, senior marketing major #HuskyLife