Friday, May 7, 2021

6 years, 2 degrees, 1 home away from home. Thank you, Bloom!

When I first stepped onto campus in 2015 as a first-year student I never would have imagined the impact Bloomsburg University would have on me.

As I went through my four years as an undergraduate, I got involved, made connections that will last a lifetime, and most importantly I found my true self, my passion. As I look back, it was because of those experiences I was given and the connections I made that I was able to find my passion in education.

Bloomsburg gave me the opportunities to succeed in whatever I may do and has taught me that finding your path is the best path. As I entered my final year of graduate school, my final year at Bloomsburg, I reflected on how this university shaped me into the person I am today.

When I first got here as an undergraduate, I was nervous and full of uncertainty. It was not long after that I realized this place is more than just a campus … it is my home. I am now full of memories, opportunities, and people I call my family.

I began my time at Bloomsburg as a finance major and began to get heavily involved in the orientation program where I found my true passion. Education. It was not until my senior year I decided to continue my master's degree in business education. When deciding to go back to grad school there was no hesitation that I would stay at the place that has helped me get to where I am today.

Throughout graduate school I had the opportunity to be the graduate assistant in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions where I continued to grow both personally and professionally. During my final semester as a Bloomsburg University student I completed a student teaching experience at a local high school. Student teaching in the middle of a pandemic is not what most students think of or expect, however, I've never felt more prepared to enter my first year of teaching.

My student teaching experience did not look like the norm, the first day there were no students in their seats and no teachers at their desk. No this was not because of COVID-19, this was due to a three-day snowstorm. My first few days were spent at my desk at home with only online interaction. Shortly after I was able to enter the classroom but students were still virtual most of the week. Our classrooms may have been empty but they were still full of knowledge.

The day came where students were fully in person everyday of the week. It was the biggest celebration of the whole year. The nerves kicked in again. I was meeting most students for the first time, it was like the first day of school jitters. I quickly was able to build rapport with my students and became more than just a student teacher. I got to know each of my students, my cooperating teacher, and other teachers in the building.

With their help and encouragement, I have been able to go above and beyond what I expected of myself.

As I continued my student teaching experience I was given the opportunity to be the school's assistant softball coach. This is the moment I was more than just a student teacher, I got to know my students but also others in the school. I got to know and become part of the community. By coaching I was able to enhance my experience and go above and beyond for my students.

I became an educator to inspire and impact my students, little did I know the impact and inspiration that they would have on me each and every day.

As I complete my final weeks at Bloomsburg University, I think back at all the strides I have made and the moments that will last forever. I started as a young first-year student and came out as a future business educator with a place to call my second home. These past six years were the greatest years of my life.

Through this journey I had the largest team of cheerleaders that stood by my side the entire time. I would like to thank the orientation team, admissions team, my family, and my roommates who became more than just someone I lived with, they became my family too. Without my support system I would not be where I am today. A special thank you to Bloomsburg University for giving me the opportunities to prepare me as I enter the next chapter of my life.
— Gianna Harris '19, a finance graduate who will soon earn a master's degree in business education. She is a native of Clifton Heights and was a student leader with the First Year Experience and Orientation office, as well as a graduate assistant with admissions.

#BloomOnward #HuskyUnleashed #HeyHOWLs

Monday, May 3, 2021

So many reasons

I think there’s always a reason that makes everyone’s experience here in Bloomsburg University unforgettable.

For me, that’s a number of reasons.

At the start of my junior year, I transferred to Bloomsburg University. I had attended West Virginia University for two years studying forensic science — where I found I wasn’t so suited for chemistry. I decided it was time to pack my bags and look for a new direction. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon BU that I found that direction.

I was a stranger to the town, the people, and campus itself — and despite only touring campus once during orientation, I was ready to start somewhere brand new to me. Although I was ambitious to get involved during my remaining time, I was unsure of what path awaited me. Now looking back, I can confidently say I’ve found my way. It’s crazy how in the constant turning of the world, one can occasionally find that state of calmness — the one where it feels as though all of your blocks are falling into place. For me, that happened during my time here in Bloomsburg.

I went on to pick up communication studies — a study I’m now passionate about and wish I’d found sooner. This program has allowed me to explore my creativity by equipping me with the skills to take up digital design, social media marketing, or really anything within this realm. The important thing to note is I’m not limited to just that. The communication studies program prepares you for a world of possibilities — it’s just up to you to find your path.

I went on to join Sigma Sigma Sigma national sorority and found friendships I will hold near and dear to my heart for the rest of my life. Not only that, but I also met Jaime North through our educational program for Greek life, who went on to later become my internship supervisor this semester. As eager as I was, I also went on to join the Frederick Douglass Debate Society where I met some amazing role figures: Robert Green, Erin Brummett, and Shavonne Shorter — all of which belong to the communication studies department. 

As someone who loved debates in high school, the Frederick Douglass Debate Society allowed me to continue my enthusiasm. My experience with this group was incredibly rewarding as it was constantly bettering my argumentation and research skills.

Then the pandemic hit, and my world flipped upside down.

All of those study sessions in the Harvey Andruss Library turned into at-home homework. Typical hangout sessions turned into group Facetimes, and free time transformed into finding new hobbies to take up the time, like trying new recipes or picking up scrapbooking. One of my favorite recipes that came out of the pandemic was something that was trending on TikTok: Fold-over wraps. These were something I was crazy about — always trying to brainstorm new takes on the wrap for different mealtimes.

Then in the fall, things changed again — but I argue for the better. We returned to campus (sort of) and found new ways to make our time in Bloomsburg remarkable.

All of that work I put into online classes paid off. I came back with better online study habits and a determination to work toward graduation despite the question of in-person or online classes. Those distant Facetime calls made me miss the friends I’d made — making seeing them again something I can appreciate so much more now. And those hobbies I picked up have gone on to spark “New Food” nights with my friends where we try out things we’ve never had before. Surprisingly, one of my best friends had never tried fish until this semester so of course this was a meal we had to cook up, among others. I also began my internship with the Office of Marketing and Communications this semester and I’ve found some passions I’d never known before — specifically, passions for content creation and marketing. Because of this, I started applying to marketing jobs and even had my first interview for a potential real-life job upon graduation.

Now looking back, I can’t imagine my time holding anything less than my countless study sessions in Andruss — the place I formed so many friendships in group study rooms — or those late nights with my best friends. I can’t imagine not meeting the people I have, or not finding myself as an individual and professional. My new reality is something I’ll never take for granted again, especially in light of all of the changes we’ve faced in the past year alone.

Little did I know I’d find so many reasons for why Bloomsburg was so special to me. We all have our reasons. I wonder what yours may be.

— Caprice Gillick, a senior communication studies major with an emphasis on leadership and public advocacy, is interning with the Office of Marketing and Communications this spring. She is a native of York County and a member of the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority.

#BloomOnward #HuskyLife

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Embracing moments of fresh air

In my time at Bloomsburg University, I’ve had my fair share of online work. This past year has taken it to an unprecedented level. Our classrooms, internships, and essentially our daily lives have been immersed in our screens due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I used to take for granted all the times we had to submit hard copies of our assignments or drudge to class in the wintertime, but now I’m finding myself buried in online assignments or admittedly, with my nose in my phone.

Screen fatigue is real. Trust me. There’s so much time spent sitting behind a screen — whether on it’s on my laptop, on my phone, or even focused on TV. I’ve made it a mission this semester to free myself from this and combat it head on.

Okay… that sounds great, but what are your secrets?

For starters, I’m not afraid to take breaks. This one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by the number of times I’ve gotten down on myself for not being able to power through my days like I used to. We don’t get those momentary breaks walking to our next class or grabbing a quick bite to eat from Husky, but instead sit fixed in front of a laptop for hours on end. No one knows yourself better than yourself. If my brain is telling me we’ve had enough, I’m okay with taking a step back and letting myself breathe for a while. I think this is one of the most important things for my sanity, because otherwise my brain is fried by the end of each day.

During these breaks I really like to catch up on things I genuinely enjoy, like cooking, painting, or even reorganizing my room to keep myself inspired. Having some ‘me time’ never hurt anyone and, honestly, it keeps me from losing sight of myself.

Another thing I’ve been doing is embracing my moments of fresh air. Whether it’s just sliding my window open to feel the cool, wintery breeze or going on a walk in our (numbered) warm weather days, I take in the freeing feeling the crisp air gives me. Being bound up inside in front of a screen can be exhausting, so it’s nice to have an escape from time to time.

Ever since the onset of the pandemic, I’ve noticed how my friends and I tend to do everything cooped up inside. We attend classes online, binge-watch the latest shows, and mindlessly scroll through TikToks — sometimes not even acknowledging each other or the world around us. After a while I just need a break from the screens, and I need to bring myself back to reality. Getting fresh air is one way for me to undoubtedly do just that.

But what about those times I can’t step away from my devices?

I pull out my handy-dandy blue light glasses. Some may say they’re gimmicky, but I think they’ve helped turn my fatigue and exhaustion around. I used to experience headaches after long days of being online that I could hardly see straight. Finally, I invested in a pair of inexpensive blue light glasses in an effort to bring these side effects to a halt, and sure enough — they did. Now anytime I’m feeling strained or ready to sign off, I throw on those glasses and I’m ready to tackle more work.

All of these coping methods make me wonder where our technology is going to take us. Will we ever return to face-to-face interaction? Will we stop our endless consumption of Netflix and Hulu shows? Or put our phones down to give us a break from time to time?

At the end of the day, I think the most important thing to do when it comes to screen fatigue is to simply listen to yourself. The pandemic has changed all of our lives so being able to adapt and make the best of our situation is critical for living in a time of uncertainty. I’ve learned to take on virtual life a day at a time, and I’m determined to make the best of whatever the future has in store.

— Caprice Gillick, a senior communication studies major with an emphasis on leadership and public advocacy, is interning with the Office of Marketing and Communications this spring. She is a native of York County and a member of the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority.

#BloomOnward #HuskyLife

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Appreciating the world around me more

When I was young I always wished to be older. I'd daydream about what my life had in store and try to plan out each step along the way. When I came to Bloomsburg University, I thought I had it all figured out. I was going to be involved on campus, live a normal college life, and go onto graduate alongside my BU family — or that’s what I thought.

While I partially checked some things off of my bucket list — that is, joined a sorority, landed an internship and experienced a mostly normal college life — some things got a little scrambled when the pandemic hit last spring, and we were sent packing our bags. Almost a year later we're still navigating unprecedented times. And we seniors, much like the Class of 2020, faced with uncertainty over how our graduation will be celebrated. 

A lot has changed in the past year. It's been extremely challenging to navigate what life as a college student might look like. Snow days are obsolete, and it’s hard to say when we can gather in groups of friends and peers again. I always imagined my senior year would be filled with tons of excitement, and while that’s true, it’s been very different amidst the pandemic. Snow days have turned into lounge-like kickbacks with roommates and charcuterie boards, and most of our social lives are quarantined to a select few.

All of my plans went out the window when life became virtual. For a while, I felt as though I was just treading water — unable to see those important to me and having to adjust to online classrooms. It wasn’t until this semester — my last semester — that I’ve come to the realization life isn’t about planning. It’s about cherishing your moments and being able to adjust in real time. It’s about being challenged and pushing back harder than you were hit.

Virtual life really pushed me to my limits both socially and academically, and frankly, now I feel like I’m better equipped online and am prepared for going out into the world of remote work. On top of that, I feel as though I appreciate the world around me more, and I’ve learned to savor every moment here because we truly never know when our world can be turned upside down. Even just looking around the town itself, I’ve come to have more appreciation to be at the heart of Bloomsburg. I breathe in the moments with friends and loved ones — thankful for each second I have. 

With these lessons in mind, I’ve come ready to start my final semester determined to make the best of what I can. No more wishing my life away — it’s time to live it.

— Caprice Gillick, a senior communication studies major with an emphasis on leadership and public advocacy, is interning with the Office of Marketing and Communications this spring. She is a native of York County and a member of the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority.

#BloomOnward #HuskyLife

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