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July, 2010

I’m alive!!!

duylam-85This what you should do in your summer before starting college: have a freaking blast!

And while you have a freaking blast, make sure you do all of your tedious college stuff. Like enrolling in a payment plan, getting your health insurance straight (Massachusetts has some odd requirements about student health insurance), and adding your roommates on Facebook.

Okay that last one is optional, but if you want a good transition to college, I recommend it. You could get a feel for them. However, take this advice with the caveat that the internet does not always serve as an accurate translation of who a person really is.  You can’t get a feel for a person’s tone, body language, etc.

Ambition is a great thing. Many students will be stars in their schools. And you’ll sacrifice a lot in your pursuit (but when you’re in pursuit sacrifice never seems to feel like sacrifice…it feels more like balance).

As any admissions officer will tell you about any college’s culture, it’s about the balance between work and play.

You’ll have your sleepless nights, days filled with Red Bull and Monster, and getting lost in the stacks because you slept there and woke up not knowing where you are. Seriously, the last one has happened to students everywhere. Okay not seriously, but I feel like it could happen.

Any who, enjoy the summer and maybe try something new so you can have something to tell your roommates in the fall!

New Orleans Heat, Summer Heat…

angelica-85Hi everyone, sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while. Working two jobs is not  fun at all and I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone.  But I am also blessed to have my job because many people in the country are fighting to get hired.

In addition to working two jobs this summer, I am also taking a summer course at Dillard University. So my days are steamy, hot and stuffed to capacity. Contrary to my prior beliefs, taking summer classes are awesome. Although the walk to class is exhausting and sticky, it’s worth it because it feels good to know that I am getting my Elementary Spanish II course out of the way.

My first semester at Dillard University (DU) I took my Elementary Spanish I course and it was treacherous. It was highly difficult to keep up with my other five classes, the piles of Spanish homework, and a part-time job. Unfortunately, I barely passed with a D+, but I learned from that experience and I decided to take Spanish II in the summer. Choosing to take a foreign language in the summer makes a ton sense. You get the opportunity to pour yourself into your assignments. My Spanish class begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 10 a.m. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not advising anyone to take an 8 a.m. class, actually that was a bit silly on my part, but you should definitely consider taking your foreign languages during the summer.

Summer classes are very intense, so you’re not going to get bored and you won’t have time to slack or fall behind, I am quite sure of that. They are rigorous because you have to cram about three months of work into about a month, but it’s worth it because you’ll definitely learn and get your money’s worth. Learning a foreign language isn’t a simple task, but taking the course in the summer will allow you to quickly to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses. Before you register for a foreign language during the fall or spring, you should definitely consider taking those classes during the summer.

Best wishes!!! Enjoy the remainder of the summer!!!

Eat, Sleep, Pack and Prepare

lysa-85Wow! I can’t believe that it’s already July! This summer seems to be passing by even faster than freshman year. I remember last summer and the anticipation I felt while anxiously awaiting the last week of summer and the first week of college.

This summer has been a bit different for me. Although I have been catching up on some much-needed rest and relaxation, I have also taken on an interning position at a pediatrics office, assisting a doctor twice a week and a job at a local store.

Last summer I didn’t have any of these things, and looking back on it, I wish I would have spent my summer much more wisely. I didn’t have a job last summer mostly because I wanted to enjoy my last summer home with my friends. Although I do not regret that decision, having a part-time job may have been helpful once school started due to the heavy expense of going to school out of state. Being out of state means that anytime you go home, you’re most likely having to get on a bus, train, car, or a plane, which can be very expensive! So my advice to any of you who are attending an out of state college far from you’re home, is to save up some money for travel. I also made the mistake of not booking my flights home far enough in advance which proved to be a very expensive mistake that I could’ve avoided. So trust me, summertime is NOT TOO EARLY to begin looking into purchasing flights home for thanksgiving, winter break, and maybe even spring break!

This summer would also be a great time to throw out all of that stuff you’ve been hoarding for years and start deciding what you can part with as you leave for college and what you can’t. DO NOT PACK LAST MINUTE AND DO NOT OVER PACK! I remember all the things I thought I would need for college. Then, when I got there, it turned out that no, I didn’t need to supply my own toilet paper and yes, I probably packed too much clothes and stuff to decorate my room than I actually needed. Just remember that you can always buy stuff that you need once you get to your school! I drove 21 hours to Williams in Massachusetts from South Florida, with way more stuff than I could ever need for my first year, and when I got to campus I realized how much I could’ve left at home and bought new at a nearby Walmart. Plus, my dad might’ve been much happier if all the things I had crammed into the back of our car wasn’t blocking his view as he drove up the east coast.

I know that many of you probably have no clue about what you’re going to need to bring with you. I know I was a little lost and stressed with what to bring and what not to bring. So if you have any questions on what you’re going to need don’t be afraid to ask me or any of the other bloggers. I personally wish I would’ve asked someone beforehand!

So you may be asking yourself, what else can you do this summer to get ready for college? Besides saving up some money and starting to pack and prepare, you can give yourself a well deserved break! After all, that’s what the summertime is for and you’ve clearly earned it! You’ve successfully completed high school, gotten accepted into college, and sorted out all of your financial aid. Now it’s time to relax…at least until you start getting a million emails from your college reminding you to set up your online account, sort through your financial aid plan, pick your housing, and most importantly what you’re  going to study!  So sit back, relax, eat some home cooked meals, pack up your things and prepare for an amazing first year away from home!

Home Alone

seanna-85So, here’s one thing they might not mention at the beginning of freshman year…it’ll be over before you know it…and then summertime hits…and there are three open months…free for you to fill however you like.  Ideally, you’ll have a summer job, or even better…an internship lined up.

Which is where my summer plans come in!  This summer, I’m working as a TA (Teacher’s Assistant) for the program PAYS—Pomona College Academy for Youth Success.  It’s a four week intensive program for high school students—rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors—to help them improve math, writing, and study skills.  As a TA for rising sophomores, I attend their math and critical inquiry classes, help them with the assigned homework, and serve as a mentor.  In addition, I’m also teaching my own class that I personally designed—I chose to do a course on Psychology, with an overview of perception, intelligence, and abnormal.  So, those are the logistics of the course.  But here’s the amazing part…

The kids.  I wake up around 7:30 AM and work with my group until about 11 PM…Monday through Thursday.  Alongside helping them with assignments and attending classes, they have free time from 6 to 10:45 PM…which for me, generally means volleyball games, soccer, or trips to the gym. 

Before the program started, I was extremely nervous.  Would they like me?  Would I do an okay job teaching the class?  What would I do when someone had a problem?  What if they couldn’t relate to the other students?  WHAT WOULD I DO??

So the first week flew by…and all of those issues came up.  I had a few students who weren’t relating well to others.  What did I do?  My Co-TA (fellow staff member) and I got them outside playing soccer, made extra efforts to sit them next to new people at lunch, and we paid closer attention to their moods.  The students in my class seemed nervous and unable to engage in discussion.  What did I do?  I asked them to do Icebreakers and diagrams until everyone was laughing.  Did the kids like me?  Well…I’m not sure about that one, but they do invite me to sit with them at lunch, and join their volleyball games…so I’ll take that as a good sign.

Friday night, after the kids went home for the weekend, I was in my bed, exhausted…thinking about the past week.  I started to cry…not a small trickle of tears…not a little gulp…a complete sobbing break down.  It wasn’t due to my state of extreme fatigue…it wasn’t that I was upset because the apple juice that I wanted was downstairs in the lounge…it was something else entirely.  I realized that for the first time in a long time, I was completely happy and at peace with where I was.  Traveling between Arkansas and California has had its up and downs…I often feel as though I’m torn between two worlds…no matter where I am—there’s always somewhere else that holds my heart…and that’s been very difficult to handle.  Even with so many places to call “home” this past year, I’ve sometimes felt lost, confused, and alone…as some of you may next year during the college transition.

So much has been brought from within me after only one week in the program.  The kids.  The staff.  The work.  The play.  The people.  In case you were wondering, the tears were of joy and fulfillment.  So…in conclusion, this summer…I’m a TA for the PAYS Program.  This summer, as a TA for this program, I’m doing my best to give the kids a great experience and perhaps a little guidance.  This summer, I’ve found my way home.

JULY already???

tereza-85I hope everyone is having an amazing summer so far! Summer has been flying by. I cannot believe that it is already July.

I decided to take a class this summer and it starts on July 13th. I’m taking Statistics because math never has been easy for me. I am hoping that if I take this one class and it is the only thing I am focusing on I will do great.

Other than school starting soon, I have also picked up another job over the summer to try to save up as much money as possible so that I do not have to take out as many loans. Plus the summer class that I am taking is not cheap. I wish I would have started saving more when I was in high school because it definitely would have helped me out now.

To all the high school students reading this I highly recommed saving up at least a little money for college because between tuiton, books, supplies, food and everything else you need, you go through money like crazy!

Also this summer for all the newly graduated students going into your first year of college in the fall, do not wait until the last minute to get all of your things together. Try to buy your things little by little (or even all at once) so that when it is time for you to go off to school you are not rushing around the day before to a million stores trying to find/buy everything that you need. It will make things so much less stressful if you are just already ready when the day comes where you have to leave.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their summer and have fun getting ready for college. It is one of the best experiences.

No such thing as impossible

khadijah-85I completed my freshman year at Harvard! It was an incredible year, full of challenges, achievements, and lots of coffee! I survived Introductory Economics, Expository Writing, pre-punch, and numerous New England snowstorms (really tough for a California girl like me).

One of my favorite academic experiences deals with my freshman seminar- Communication, Advocacy, and Public Affairs. Our project has moved past the classroom level, like the other projects, and we plan to continue with it during our time here – convince Harvard to implement more public speaking classes and resources. This was also an eye-opening experience for me because as I am interested in policy and advocacy, I get to learn at what it is like to deal with large bureaucracies in real time. This is invaluable experience for me.

Another wonderful part of the past year has been the expanding of my sense of what is possible. There is no such thing as “impossible” at Harvard, and for someone who has lived for years in an environment where “can’t” was the norm, this is an amazing and stimulating environment to be a part of. It continues to be a challenge on so many levels – academically, socially, and emotionally. To be sure, this can be at times intimidating, but as I love challenges, this is the perfect environment to create the me I’ve always imagined but until now, wasn’t sure I could become. It is an awesome experience.

This summer, I am interning at an education technology company in NYC. I am an intern to the CEO, another challenging position, albeit not as challenging as mastering the NYC subway system!

In reflecting back on the last year, I am amazed at the support and encouragement I received from people like you. When times were tough, your belief in me was a tremendous source of encouragement. I am looking forward to my sophomore year and to pursuing a concentration in Social Studies, (Harvardspeaks for major).

I will be profiled in the August edition of Essence magazine. I hope that you will read it and that my gratitude for your support shines through in that article! Again, thank you so much for your continued support. I look forward to fulfilling your hopes for my future.