Friday, May 8, 2020

Thank you for being exactly what I needed

Looking at my graduation cap and gown hanging in the closet in front of me, I feel a lot of things.

There’s a slideshow in my head of the past four years. Of how my freshman year self feels like a different life time, yet my college career flew by in a blink of an eye. Can’t say I loved every minute of college. I’m not sure anyone can, but I wouldn’t change any of it to become who I am and where I am.

The best friends who were strangers from all over the place are now like family. My boyfriend who I met the very first day of sophomore year in that algebra class has stuck by me to this day. They’ve been my best friends, my roommates, my rock, my shoulder to cry on, and my happiest memories.

To them — thank you for being exactly what I needed and for helping me become who I am.

Every part of this town turned into home for me. From living in Montour Hall to living by the downtown fountain, to living in my sorority chapter house. The coworkers at Steph's Subs and Aramark who I shared dreadful shifts with, yet loved where we were. The peers in my major who started as someone to ask a question turned to someone to call a friend.

Home isn’t a place but a feeling, and Bloomsburg has that feeling. I’m sad to leave, but I can begin to grow a life based off of what it gave me.

Looking at my cap and gown, I think of my high school graduation — the girl I was then, starting out in the world not knowing where I’d end up.

Now I think of the girl I am now. Completing my biggest accomplishment in life thus far. Making my family proud as a first-generation college student.

I can say confidently now I'm the girl who knows exactly what she wants and has what it takes to see it through. Looking at that cap and gown, I’m proud of myself. It’s bittersweet; I’m sad, I’m happy, but most of all I’m excited for what the next stage of my life is going to bring me.

And I can thank Bloomsburg for that.

— Drew Hess, a graduating senior communication studies major and emergent media minor, interned with the Office of Marketing and Communications this spring. She is a native of Stowe, Vt., a town of 4,472 people in northern Vermont known for its trails and ski slopes.

#BloomOnward #HuskyLife

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

This is the future of higher education and student affairs

My heart hurts. It hurts for all the people who have been negatively affected by Covid-19 and the long-term impacts of this pandemic. My heart hurts for the Bloomsburg University faculty who have worked very hard to convert from in-person to on-line teaching in a matter of 14 days. My heart hurts for the undergraduate students whose lives have been upended and dramatically changed. But mostly, my heart hurts for the College Student Affairs graduate students whose lives are also disrupted and who are squeezed by additional pressures.

CSA students still have their academic responsibilities. For most, this is three courses but a few are enrolled in four courses. All are online…all have new approaches to learning, perhaps new assignments or replacements for class time, very different dynamics. But the learning work remains.

All CSA students now have “remote” graduate assistantships, which means they can complete their responsibilities (perhaps somewhat adjusted) without being on campus. Some are in apartments in Bloomsburg; some have returned home…to Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. We are fortunate that the university is providing this option, that the financial support continues.

And who are undergraduate students turning to? Why, the CSA students who have graduate assistantships in 25 different departments across the university. Having developed relationships with undergraduate students since August 2019, CSA students are an integral part of the service network at Bloomsburg. Yet, this is another pull on their emotional state as undergraduate—as never before—need CSA students, need their support and insight, their guidance and expertise.

In addition, each CSA student has a life. They have family and friends who are affected by the pandemic. Take the student who is at home in the Pittsburgh area with three family members who are essential personnel. She is alone all day. When they come home, are they infected? Will someone get sick? Will she get sick? Or the student whose mother has been laid off. Will they lose their house? Or the student who is here in Bloomsburg while mother and grandmother are in NYC. Mom is essential personnel and grandmother is vulnerable to any infection. What happens if she is ill? Or if mom gets ill?

And yet…and yet…. My heart and my spirit are uplifted by their positive attitudes. Their drive to aid undergraduate students. Their concern for their faculty members. Their interest in assisting their GA supervisors as they collaboratively develop new ways of supporting and interacting with undergraduate students. They have not yet finished with their graduate education but are confronting challenges most seasoned professionals are not prepared for. But CSA students’ goals remain the same—regardless of location or technology or their own very pressing and difficult circumstances—to help students succeed in college.

I am humbled by Bloomsburg’s CSA students and the contributions they will make to higher education, student affairs, and college students’ experiences. This is the future of higher education and student affairs, and my heart sings.

— Denise L. Davidson, Ph.D., associate professor and program coordinator, Educational Leadership and College Student Affairs, #SAPro

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Live every day as a Husky like it's your last

One minute I was in South Beach, Miami, with my best friends. We’d been waiting for this trip all semester counting down the days. In my head it was the start of a fun rest of my final semester. I knew warmer weather was coming to Bloomsburg, and it’s always my favorite part of the year when everyone is outside the last couple months.

I spent that week with some of my very best friends from my college career, and we spent that whole week so happy and living life to the fullest. We had no clue that our time as college seniors was over.

That all took a turn as the week progressed. We found out spring break was extended and at that point like any college student we were happy. But as we found out how serious this all is and the news that we would not be returning, it felt unreal. If someone were to ever tell us, “Hey your senior year is going to end in early March.”

We probably would have done a lot of things different. We would’ve taken advantage of the times we were together more. We would’ve said yes to dinners, drives, living room hangouts- really anything, if we had known it was over.

As awesome as the technology we’re all lucky to have is, it doesn’t make up for the lost memories. I'm happy I still get to text, Facetime, and Snapchat, my best friends in a time where we're unable to spend the time together.

As a senior there were so many things I thought I had more time to do. I wasn’t at the point where I was thinking I was doing my “lasts.” I wish we all could have known that our end was about to be cut short.

If there's anything I could say to my younger friends who are coming back to Bloomsburg in the fall; I would say don’t fail to take advantage of any time you have with your best friends in this town.

Go to commons as a group, stay up all night binge watching that show with your roommates, don’t be annoyed you have to attend that chapter meeting, walk around campus and take in the beauty of the trees and the people you’re surrounded by.

Appreciate every day you have left, and use this as a reminder that not everything is going to go as planned. They say you should live every day like your last — so make sure you live every day as a Husky like it's your last, because it might be. For many of us it is.

We will find a way to give Bloomsburg a proper goodbye, but for now all we can do is be thankful for the memories we have that make this so hard, and overall be thankful for our health.

— Drew Hess, a senior communication studies major and emergent media minor, is interning with the Office of Marketing and Communications. She is a native of Stowe, Vt., a town of 4,472 people in northern Vermont known for its trails and ski slopes.

#BloomOnward #HuskyLife

Friday, March 27, 2020

A no right now, isn’t a no forever

It's that time once again in student affairs — interview season. Whether it be for graduate assistantships or for admission into a program, this time can be extremely stressful. As I write this, I'm sitting at my desk at a school that I was not planning to attend with a position I absolutely adore.

This time last year, I was set on one stipulation regarding graduate school: I wanted to get out of Pennsylvania. My other two choices were located out of state, and I applied to Bloomsburg University solely to soften the blow about wanting to move so far from home. I visited Bloomsburg before and thought it was a cute little place. However, as someone who has grown up in Pennsylvania, I wanted a break from bitter winters and all the snow.

When I was offered an interview at my top choice, I was elated. I was walking back to my apartment when I got the email and I audibly squealed, scaring the poor young man walking past me at the time. I felt like everything was falling into place. The time came for my on-campus interviews and while I was excited to be there, in the back of my mind I knew that this was not the place for me. To this day, I am still very thankful I didn't get an initial offer, because I would've gone simply because I was offered a position.

At the time of my on-campus interview for a graduate hall director position at Bloomsburg, I already been accepted into the College Student Affairs (M.Ed.) program. I didn't think there was anything wrong with Bloomsburg, I just didn’t want to live in Pennsylvania. I was completely blown away by Bloomsburg residence life and the campus, and even during my interview, I ran into the chair of the CSA program. I left campus completely in love and confused. I hadn't heard back from the other school I applied to, but I felt like Bloomsburg was such an amazing fit.

I was offered the GHD position roughly a week later, and I hesitated. I asked for more time to decide since I was waiting to hear from one other school. I called my parents. I talked to my friends. I prayed. I then called back roughly 20 minutes later and accepted the position and confirmed I would be attending the program.

I say all of this to say, that no matter how daunting and overwhelming interview season is, what's meant for you will not miss you. Sometimes a no is a blessing in disguise, because greater is coming. You can prepare for interviews as much as you want, but if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn’t. Regardless of where you are in the interview process, remember to breathe. That a no right now, isn’t a no forever.

Every journey into higher education is different, so take time to breathe and don’t sweat the little stuff. Life has a funny way of working itself out.

— Danielle Jones, #ProfessionalU #SAPro

Jones is pursuing her Master's in Educational Leadership through Bloomsburg University's College Student Affairs (M.Ed.) program.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A virtual senior send-off

The recent turn of events with the COVID-19 virus that has taken the world and the students here at Bloomsburg by storm has led to classes being moved online for the rest of the semester. For many students this is sad and frustrating, but especially for those of us who are seniors.

I transferred to Bloomsburg in August 2018 after completing my associate degree at Luzerne County Community College. After two years of online classes, I was ready to experience college campus for the first time as a commuter. Since then, I’ve made many connections and taken advantage of the great opportunities Bloomsburg had to offer.

I’ve attended two Husky Leadership Summits, the Career Intensive Boot Camp, and numerous presentations on campus. I’ve presented at the College of Liberal Arts Symposium, won the Howard Schreier Award for Top Scholarship in Communication Studies, and have been inducted in the Lambda Phi Eta Honors Society. I’ve written for our student publications, The Voice and BUnow and now BU's Office of Marketing and Communications. And I’ve had a good amount of Chic-fil-A.

Bloomsburg University is another victim of coronavirus. This early closing feels like premature finish to my college career. As a commuter, I left campus shortly after the beginning of spring break and didn’t have a chance to bid farewell to anyone. Scrolling through social media feed is also disheartening, as many seniors bid farewell and university accounts congratulate seniors.

It is still to be determined if there will be a graduation ceremony. At this moment a large gathering of people in one area is what a virus would thrive on. It’s an all-around tragic turn of events but given recent reports of current cases of coronavirus victims in PA, could have been more tragic. Perhaps many of this year’s seniors will return as alumni sooner rather than later, due to the virus robbing us of our last few months on campus. I know for myself I would like to return for at least a brief visit. Thankfully, I’m also a local commuter, and it will be easier for me. Hopefully there will be some more silver linings to these bleak, unprecedented times.

— Gabriel Miller, senior communication studies major

Friday, March 6, 2020

Leap Day was quite the leap

Both the Husky Leadership Summit and the Career Intensive Boot Camp (CIBC) were happening, and I was attending both in some capacity. I spent the majority of the day at the Husky Leadership Summit, as I previously attended the CIBC last semester and was invited back for an alumni reception.

This year’s summit was different than the one I attended last year. The Summit this year was kicked off by two keynote speakers, Shavonne Shorter, assistant professor of communication studies and Albra Wheeler, of the Women’s Resource Center. Shorter talked about communication and leadership styles, teaching almost mini-lecture from one of her courses. Wheeler told her story about how she was bitten by a brown recluse spider and still lives with the pain every day. She used her life as an example to teach students that self-care is vitally important.

The rest of the day was comprised of sessions that students picked before arriving to the event. I attended one of the new sessions, a jungle themed escape room. It was fun, and the members of Quest put a lot of time and effort into constructing it. I hope they get more support in continuing to construct escape rooms for future summits.

My favorite session was the one given by members of the Forensics Team about speech and debate. They gave a very thorough and concise lecture on argumentation basics. They explained that in debate, people will judge more confident speakers to be winner, compared to more nervous speakers. Even if the speaker is the most intelligent and qualified person in the room, if they deliver an unconfident presentation, they won’t be seen as a competent speaker. I found it to be the most useful and enjoyable. Although, I didn’t agree with their argument that truth was relative and history is written by the winners.

I had to leave the summit early to attend the Alumni Reception at the Greenly Center downtown. The walk down in the freezing cold was not fun, but I’m glad I wore a heavy coat and hat. I had some spare time before the reception, and was hoping the Cats in Bloom was near Greenly. It is not, and I was sad, so I stopped at the tiny bookstore nearby before I went to the reception.

Several alumni were in the alumni room and exclaimed how beautiful the space was. One even said they wanted to have an office in the building. I felt a little out of place being the only current student (soon to be alumni), at the event. Then we were served light refreshments, and I networked with a few people. Two alumni, a recent graduate working at SEKISUI, and a criminal justice grad, gave brief presentations expressing thanks and admiration for BU and the Career Intensive Boot Camp.

I had to leave the reception early as well, because I had to hike back to Kehr Union to receive an award with the Lambda Phi Eta Communication Studies Honor Society.

Before I left, I had to borrow some more professional attire from the Career Closet for the event, as I came prepared in the casual attire the summit recommended. When I got to the awards ceremony, I realized the coat I had picked was a little too big, but it did the job. I would like to get it tailored, its quite nice. They also served us fancy food at the banquet, which was fun.

Along with the award Lambda Phi Eta received for the Year’s Outstanding Organization, David Magolis, professor of mass communications, and an outstanding student received awards for their hard work. Then the organization got some additional photos, and we were dismissed.

Then I went home after a long leap day.

— Gabriel Miller, senior communication studies major

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Not everything plays out like the movies

Expectations of college are high for everyone going in. More often than not the expectations versus reality are very different. That was the case for me. I pictured myself a month in with my best friends for life, plenty of things to do, a place to go after classes aside from my dorm room — a sense of belonging.

That isn’t what happened.

Although I have that now, freshman me did not. I made some close friends, but I didn’t feel I fit into a big fun friend group. There wasn’t a lot holding me to Bloomsburg. I wasn’t quite set in my major. I was eight hours away from my family. I didn’t feel I had a place in this town.

I spent the majority of my first year of college with my best friend, Amanda. Who to this day I’m ending senior year with by my side. Amanda and I met by chance that first weekend at “football palooza."

My first impression of Amanda was that she was so straight forward about everything she was talking about and I always thought it was funny because I was so shy. Because of the way Amanda was, she really brought me out of my shell to become a person who didn’t always care what everyone thought. We had very different personalities that happened to match together well.

From then on we remained close, and I have to say if I didn’t have her as a constant go-to I don’t know if I would be attending BU anymore. She was different than anyone I met because we both were in a place where we weren’t sure if BU was for us. So we leaned on each other a lot because we didn’t have a big friend group.

Amanda would bring me home with her to New York when everyone was leaving, because I wasn’t making the trek eight hours home. I bonded with her family and friends, and I got to explore NYC. We spent on spring break together visiting her family in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Amanda became my family away from home, and I’ll always be thankful for her in my life.

So, I stuck around and found myself.

I became more confident in who I was. In high school I overthought everything I did from what I wore to how I spoke. Since then I’ve grown to not second guess myself because it doesn’t matter who thinks what. That part of me grew in freshman year and since then has continued to bloom.

I realized not everything plays out like the movies or what you’ve planned in your head, and sometimes it can turn out even better. I learned it was okay for life to not be perfect. I’m thankful I didn’t give up on Bloomsburg when I hadn’t quite found the happiness here yet — because if I didn’t have everything and everyone I have now, I can’t imagine where I'd be.

— Drew Hess, a senior communication studies major and emergent media minor, is interning with the Office of Marketing and Communications. She is a native of Stowe, Vt., a town of 4,472 people in northern Vermont known for its trails and ski slopes.

#BloomOnward #HuskyLife