Journey of a Lifelong Student

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” –John Dewey

Smaller Circles — August 16, 2017

Smaller Circles

"When my circle got smaller, my vision got clearer" -Trent Shelton

Friends are important. There is no argument there. They provide us with support, tough love, laughs, cries, and they unconditionally accept us. I would love to say that I still have the same friends I started college with. Some have stayed, some have left, but I really have no hard feelings. It happens. Life happens. We grow because we need it at that point in time.

Today I realized how close my circles are. When I mean circles I mean the people I tell everything to. I realized that if you are my friend and I am comfortable with you–you are my family and that is that. I realized during training that my circles have significantly shrank since the beginning of my college experience. They have even gotten smaller in the past 6 months. Regardless, I had this pivotal moment where I realized that my circle is my circle and no one can take that from me. That knowledge, and assurance that my friends are my friends makes my support the way I need it to be. And if in two months or two years my circle changes that is okay because we grow. We are supposed to grow. That is just what it is.

Whiteboards For Dayzz — August 13, 2017

Whiteboards For Dayzz

Today I spent my day taking care of myself. After going for seven weeks at Cambridge to coming back to Stevenson for a week of training, the self-care was much needed. Aside from finally getting able to sleep in (thank goodness), the other SRAs of the UCS (Upperclass Suites–not Unconditioned Stimulus) and our amazing RD went and got the finishing touches for our goodie bags. Going through two weeks of training is tough, and we as SRAs understand it as we have gone through it before. I have learned that it is the little recognition throughout the process that makes a greater difference.

The title is what it is because at the Dollar Store, there were so many whiteboards. Anyone who is Residence Life, or does anything with college students knows the importance of whiteboards. They provide that little insight that people need whether it is a positive quote, a large and colorful welcome sign (like mine is now), or just something that is going on the community–again it is the little things that make a greater difference. As Tom Rath puts it, the small wins achieve a greater outcome!

Today also consisted of catching up with a friend. I will be the first one to admit that when I am busy, I tend to withdraw and isolate myself a little bit, but the good thing about my friends is that they understand it and acknowledge it. It was absolutely fantastic being able to catch up with her today, as it was much needed for the both of us.

I am so excited for RA training. From presentations to just bonding time, I am so ecstatic and pumped for all the opportunities that will be coming our way in the next two weeks. I have lots of hope for this staff and what we will accomplish this year, so here is to an amazing year!!

Expect lots of pictures through training!!


The Final Week — July 31, 2017

The Final Week

Six weeks ago, if you told me that this experience would go by as quickly as it did, I would not believe you. For me, this experience has been one of the most transformative of my life. I learned so much about myself, and so much about what I want to do within Higher Education and Student Affairs.

I will post a longer synopsis of my whole experience when the internship itself is over, but I learned three major things while I was here. They are truly things that I need to remember throughout the course of the rest of my professional and student-bound career.

  1. Self-care. No matter what. I know self-care is important, but I guess I did not know how much it was important. Perhaps, I am just comfortable enough at SU to recharge whenever I want, but here it was a challenge, and I had to actively remind myself that I needed to take care of myself before I could take care of 15 gifted high schoolers.
  2. Just be present. Again, another common sense rule, but in all honesty, I felt like there was a large portion of my time spent trying to fit into this expectation that I had for myself without really giving it much thought. I did not know what to expect from this experience. Many of the other Proctors knew people and worked with alums of the program. I lost myself for a bit, but found myself–it just took some time.
  3. Know yourself. Self-explanatory. Know what irritates you, and what gives you headaches. Know what gets you pumped up. The support and guidance you want is only established once you establish it yourself.

I would not change the past 6 weeks for anything. The ups, downs, highs, and lows all made it the experience that I needed it to be. The next question is: What comes after Harvard?

Making Your Day Positive — July 29, 2017

Making Your Day Positive

This past week has been nothing but excitement! As Session 3 is officially half way done, all 40 Proctors are 500 residents are coming to the end of their Harvard experiences. With one week left, and the weekend activities here, my week is nothing short of packed to the top!

This past Thursday, I had my last and final formal program: Cand(y)id Cards! This program was different from the other two I put on in previous sessions, as it was community service based. I teamed up with a local family shelter, and myself and all of my residents made cards to give to the kids on their first day of school, as well as general uplifting and motivational cards for the families! It was an event I had not thought to do in the past, and it turned out being absolutely fantastic. The family shelter I worked with was the Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center, a Cambridge-based family organization that not only provides fantastic clinical care, but also has 11 permanent housing complexes, and hopes to acquire more!

Cambridge is such a unique city in that it has two prodigal schools on either side of the Charles River: Harvard and MIT. Just from that alone, real estate and the cost of living within Cambridge is disproportionate to the rest of eastern Massachusetts. Even with the two schools, homelessness is still a rampant issue within Cambridge. Every day while walking to the Yard I see it before my eyes. People of all backgrounds struggling to find a safe place to sleep, their next meal, and how will they support themselves and their loved ones.

In total, we made 153 cards for the center. It was great to be able to do something positive with my residents, but also bond with them on a more personal level. Working with the shelter was absolutely fantastic, and I could not thank them more for being supportive, energetic, accommodating in what we specifically wanted to do!

They are always looking for support, so please help out if you can!! They are a great organization working with a great population!

Weekend activities include a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, and a Canobie Lake, an amusement park in Salem, NH. I am so thankful for what this experience has taught me, but I cannot wait to be back in Baltimore starting my Senior Year!!

Moving Backwards — July 26, 2017

Moving Backwards

Today, President Trump issued a statement that people who identify as transgender will not be able to serve in the United States Military. What exactly does this mean?

15,000 patriotic individuals are left without a job and declared ineligible for service.

I am no expert in military science, but I am fairly decent when it comes to numbers. I know that almost 15,000 people will not be able to serve in the military, which regardless of if you are fighting on the front-lines or doing work here stateside, losing 15,000 dedicated, courageous, and amazing people is a lot.

I also know that calling their medical care disruptive and unmanageable is a crime of humanity. We live in a world where the federal government pays for old men to get care for the penises, yet the hormone injections are too much. It is unbelievable for me that a man who claims he is a President for the people would stoop to such egregious lows as to discriminate a whole population from doing something they should be able to do? Oh wait, he has spent his whole presidency thus far doing exactly that.

Transgender individuals choosing to join the United States Military are making the same conscious decision that every other cisgender individual makes. They know that there could be a chance they will not come home, but they make that choice anyway because they feel compelled to better the country that they live in.

The United States Military is often regarded as one of the world’s biggest families. They look out for their own. Whether we see it in person, or in the news, military looks out for military. Sure there are competitions between each branch, but the support is still often unwavering. Telling almost 15,000 people that they do not get to be a part of that family for living their lives the way they want to is despicable. Justifying the move by saying medical treatment is too expensive is just plain false.

By telling 15,000 people they are not good enough to serve in the nation’s military is a move that undermines the very foundation of this country: a sense of family and connection. Sure, not everyone feels that way with each other, but this country was started on the grounds of freedom both religious and personal. These dedicated men, women, and people who choose to serve in their respective capacities are not looking for the limelight; they are looking for a world that treats them with respect and dignity, something that the Executive Branch is horrifically failing at, and has been since January.

We as a country are not new to reform and change. We will make this world a better place, and we will do so with the pride in our souls and the sweat on our hands. Radical decisions like these put our country in a state of rapid disarray. An idiotic move by well, someone who does not understand the very meaning of our country as a normal person living in America would.

A Blissful Journey — July 18, 2017

A Blissful Journey

As the second week of Session 2 is in full gear, yesterday was an amazing day to reflect on all the wonderful things this internship has given me.

For one, I will leave here having 48 new people to call my friends, mentors, and supporters. All 39 other Proctors have been absolutely amazing. Our personalities, learning styles, leadership styles, and everything that makes us all unique all blend together and allow us to accomplish so much together. The RDs have been absolutely amazing as well! Both Nada and Kevin, my two supervisors have always been there for endless support and have pushed me to become a better Proctor, person, and friend! The Activity Coordinators have been such an integral part of my experience as a Proctor. I ventured into this experience not sure what I wanted to do within Student Affairs and Higher Education. It turns out that large-scale programs, and doing logistics within programming is something I really enjoy. Working with the ACs has been something that I really am grateful for. Not only do I get to see the hard work they do, but I get to venture into a new area of HESA I really did not have much experience in. Lastly, the two full-time professional staff members have been amazing. They have supported us in everything we do since the day we got here. Our Assistant Director, Bes has been someone who always tries to help us better ourselves. I am so thankful for her, and this program.

The more time I spend in this program, the more self-reflection I find myself involved in. This has been a wild ride for sure, but every single memory, laugh, and smile has been all worth it. Yesterday was a great day. It was Nada’s birthday, and was a great day to just be in the now, and be present.

Small Town Troubles: My Take On Riverdale — July 17, 2017

Small Town Troubles: My Take On Riverdale

This week I have completely binged on Riverdale, a teen-drama aimed at exploring the small town of Riverdale and its plentiful bouts of drama, angst, and murder (all in that order). The truth of the matter is that for some small towns, that is the environment that kids, teens, and adult grow up in.

As someone who grew up in both a city and a small-town, I cannot fathom the amount of drama that occurs in this series. Between the murders, lying, secrets, and everything in between, it is both exciting to watch as an outsider and sad to watch as someone who knows the small-town experience firsthand.

Riverdale, as a series bring to light the very troubles teens face in our time. Although hyperbolized at times, the family, friends, and life drama are all very real aspects of the existence of young adults in today’s society.

In the very last episode of Season 1, Betty Cooper, one of the leads asks the question “Who is Riverdale?” in an attempt to shed the facade that only those who belong should exist within the town. In a very ugly reality, the truth is revealed that every single person–good or bad–is a part of the town.

The show does an excellent job at highlighting the very real issues that young adults face in high school. From bullying, sexual harassment, finding your identities, and even dealing with the dissolution of your typical “family”. the show creates that connection to the real-life high school student experience. Obviously, the murder, secrets, and drugs are not a part of the typical high school experience, it is a reality certain populations of students face.

Does it always make sense at times? No. Is it thrilling to watch? It sure is! Does it call to attention certain key issues facing our teens? In some regards. Overall, Riverdale is a great show with entertainment value, suspense, and humor to guide us across the very windy road of the characters’ coming of age.