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Posts Tagged professors

R. Kelly had it Right!

seanna-85Last summer, I found love and excitement amidst 90+ kids in a youth program that focused on high achieving first-generation, low income students who wanted and deserved to attend college after graduating high school.  My heart’s still with the program, but this summer, I’m one of those kids…and my focus is graduate school.  I was accepted as a McNair Scholar student through Claremont Graduate University, so I’ve been taking classes and preparing for my GRE for the past four weeks.  I’ll be doing research on the influence of stereotype threat among African-American female college students, and I actually took the GRE this afternoon (one more thing off my plate)! 

This past week had its ups and downs as I anxiously awaited another standardized test that would be influential for my future.  Words that I’d never seen before, like peccadillo and burnish, were on the verbal section…and the math questions weren’t hard but DANG you’ll pick the wrong answer if you don’t pay attention!  In the middle of the week, I found out that an OBSA Staff member will be leaving the school because he was accepted into graduate school.  Although it made my own ambitions more of a reality, I was really shaken up that night.  This graduate-school prep program has seriously made me start thinking about the next step.  Where will I be two years from now?  My blogging days will be over for CSO, but hopefully I’ll still be able to give back in other ways!

When I look back on my days at Pomona, I know the overall experience will have been amazing.  The professors…students…classmates…I’ll never find another atmosphere where there are so many creative and brilliant personalities in one place.  I’ve learned so much about myself in my time here, and truly found a direction that I’d like to head in the future.  However, the years have sped by and I know the next two will be even faster; hence, one of the reasons behind my sadness over hearing that the Staff member was leaving.  He’d been a part of my campus experience since I started at Pomona…and he’ll no longer be here to praise me for my grades or provide encouragement when exam times near.  He reminded me that change happens, even when we aren’t ready for it.  This program has made me consider my future, and acknowledge that it’s already upon me.  In addition to balancing school work and personal time, I also have to maintain thinking about five years from now, while also appreciating every moment of each day.

Enjoy the people in your life and moments that you share.  Never get so caught up in thoughts of tomorrow that you forget about today…but also…never feel so lost or drowned in present adversity that you lose sight of future aspirations.  When things get rough, I tell myself… “This too shall pass”…and when I catch myself thinking about months and years down the line, I tell myself… “Slow down, you’ll never get to relive today.”

This summer has been a time of reflection and hard work.  I’m finding out more about who I am, what I’d like to pursue in upcoming years, and how to successfully achieve those goals.  Whatever you may be doing this summer…whether it’s working or relaxing or traveling all over the world…keep in mind that things are about to change very soon…school starts up in the fall, and since you can’t turn back the hands of time…make every moment worth it!

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”
Gail Sheehy

Summer

irvin-85

After endless papers, countless pages written and read, I finished freshman year. Exhausted, sleep deprived, eager and most importantly proud of what I have achieved during my first year of college, I turned in my last paper, went through the odyssey of moving out and began my journey home. The stress of finals made home appear like a an oasis in the middle of the desert. After being away for six months and after being under the most intense academic pressure I had ever experienced, home was a necessary stop for I needed to “recharge” my batteries, and as many of my professors suggested, reflect on the successes and downfalls of the year that had just ended. I thank them for their advice for I was considering taking summer courses but after some thought, I realized that that would not have been the best idea since I was mentally exhausted from six months of intense academic expectations.

College tires you out, as high school has done to those who are seniors now. You can only write so many papers and read so many books until you stop enjoying what you are doing and begin to see it as a burden and a hassle. I experienced this at one point during spring term where, when it was sunny and really nice outside, I found myself in the library doing readings for my comparative politics class. Had it been earlier in the term (and less sunny outside) I would not have been complaining about the work that I had to do. After talking to some of my friends about this issue, we came to the conclusion that at the end of the day, we are still kids (although we are older than 18) and that there is a need for us to have fun and put aside the academic pressure that piles on us. Also, we arrived at the conclusion that we need to match our determination to succeed with an approach that assures that we are healthy psychologically. If our minds are tired or stressed, we will not perform our best and thus, a bit of fun from time to time is necessary.

I know that some of us fall under the category of those hard workers that are always looking for something to do. There is nothing wrong with that since it is that work ethic that has gotten you to the position in which you are right now. But remember that you are not a machine (a fact that I tend to forget a lot of times) and that you need rest and time to relax. It is a proven fact that you learn more and are able to assimilate more material when you are not under stress and thus, there is a need for study breaks.

And so, my message in this short blog is that those who are seniors (and now high school graduates), enjoy your summer after what I am sure has been a stressful year. For those who are rising seniors, enjoy your summer as well because you are going to need to be well rested for what will be a really intense year, full of applications and essays. Have a great summer guys!

Tadpoles in the Sea

seanna-85I got my first camera when I was around twelve, but I’d been fascinated with photography and “capturing life” long before unwrapping that Kodak Easy Share.  My mom threatened to stop making Walgreens’ trips to develop the photos if I didn’t stop snapping shots of trees, dirt, spiders, and the left side of her nose.  I loved taking the ordinary and flip-flopping it every which way until it couldn’t be recognized.   Change interested me.  Variation caught my eye.  Transformations were absolutely captivating.

Sophomore year flashed by.  There was actually very little that remained similar to my first year, besides the best friend.  Classes and professors were different (obviously), the friend circle widened and fluctuated, the clubs & organizations that I was involved in narrowed and solidified.  This was my Round 2, and because I’d managed to firmly plant my feet during Round 1, I was able to look beyond myself and take more notice of the Pomona community.  I started critically thinking about campus climate & diversity, problems that impede residential life, and adjustments that might help facilitate improvements for future years.  But back to the idea of transformations.  Butterflies seem too cliché, so let’s assume that I’m in the process of becoming a frog.  Last year, I was a larvae.  I managed to overcome the dangers of bigger fish, sickness, and weather catastrophes (also known as bad grades, homesickness, and earthquakes), and I made it to tadpole stage. 

As a tadpole, I helped mentor larvae throughout the year, serving as a resource during confusion or hard times.  I learned more about our environment (lake or Pomona…wherever you’d like to go with this analogy) in order to answer questions and help avoid disasters.  I monitored my behaviors, while still being myself, to help set a positive and thriving example.  As junior year approaches, I’m moving into the awkward pre-frog, huge-tadpole phase.  I’m one of the Head Sponsors for the Pomona College Sponsor Program (first-year academic & mentor support program), and I’ll have an entire group of larvae & tadpoles in my building.   Together, we’ll set a tone and establish a smaller residential community that will aim towards having an exciting, safe, and productive year.  Looking back, this year has helped me realize how much college is truly about new experiences & change.  Every year, a group of frogs leave & a horde of larvae arrive.  Each class has its own personality just as each academic year is drastically unique, and yet, the four years will accrue into “MY COLLEGE EXPERIENCE”.  Whether you end up a butterfly, frog, newt, or crustacean, this metamorphosis is life-altering.  Pay attention to the details and appreciate the people and opportunities that happen your way. 

I can drive myself to Walgreens now, and I’ve moved on to a Nikon Digital Camera, but nature still astounds me and I still prefer a little switching up every now and then.  And just to keep the tradition, I send Mama images of snails and lizards through picture messages. 

Change is the essence of life.  Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.”—Unknown

The Thrill Of It

lot-85

Greetings CSO family,

I know it has been awhile since my last post but trust me when I say that it was not due to apathy. The first half of this semester has been packed with pledging for my fraternity (Beta Theta Pi) and a rigorous course load. Nevertheless I am still committed to delivering some insightful pieces of knowledge to all of you who are in the midst of finalizing any college decisions.

Now that acceptance letters have been sent out, I constantly see parents and students walking throughout the campus. As they pass by I see them gaze and admire Miami’s Georgian architecture while a tour guide gives context on the rich history of our institution. With every group, I can’t help but smile because I see a bit of myself in all of those students. There is a sense of anticipation for what is yet to come, but at the same time there is also fear of what is yet to come. When I was a senior I was looking forward to something new outside the rigid structure of high school, even though that very setting gave me a comforting sense of consistency. I knew in high school how each day would unfold. My entire high school career was typical and to some extent I became accustomed to this repetition. The idea of being thrown into a whole new environment with new friends, professors and coursework is daunting yet in retrospect I am glad to have had the experience without any preconceived notions.

I knew I enjoyed politics and government. I knew I had a passion for my community. Therefore I started from there and I explored what this campus could do to help me fulfill my passions. Fast forward a semester and half what was the result? I joined greek life, I made a whole host of diverse friends who share my values and I have made significant moves towards my career objective.

Sometimes when I speak with students it’s hard to articulate everything in my Miami experience because I can’t transfer an entire semester and half of experiences upon an individual. No matter what I say, you will not be able to predict what your college experience will be like. You might think that business is your field of interest today but come next spring you might be a political science major. Who knows?! It is the thrill of the unknown that makes the experience all the more gratifying.

Gunned down by Cupid

seanna-85This is a love story.  The happy ending hasn’t occurred yet, but we’re in the middle of the honeymoon stage.  A few fights have occurred, but we’ve managed to overcome the issues & have positive expectations for the future.  In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to express my adoration for Pomona College in a paragraphed poem…before you start reading…let me warn you.  This love declaration does not rhyme. 

Choices—College is an overabundance of choices.  Oftentimes, students may find themselves in trouble for the types of choices they make.  Although you have to attend school or receive education until you’re 18 or graduate from 12th grade, college isn’t mandated by law.  You choose to succeed.  Every class you attend, every assignment you turn in, every party, event, or club that you’re involved in…will primarily be your choice.  I’d tell you to make only the best choices, but then I might set you up for later guilt…a few mistakes won’t jeopardize your experience…just make sure you choose the “right” ones to make…

Classes—Hopefully, you’ll attend a school with classes that spark your creativity, challenge your thinking, and provide healthy frustration.  Pomona boasts great classes and faculty with PhD’s and vast student involvement with research, but I didn’t understand the significance of having such great professors & course material until I was attending as a student.  Now, don’t get me wrong…I have classes that make me groan and I’ve taken a few that I was overjoyed to be done with…but the GREAT definitely outweighs the bad.  College is about academic growth…classes are an integral component of that academic facilitation.  So even if you took Basket Weaving in high school to earn that “A”, step outside that comfort zone in college…

Involvement—As mentioned before, college is full of choices.  You can get involved in a variety of activities…or…you can opt out of campus or service-related involvement.  Personally, I love to remain active, often, overwhelmingly so.  One great thing about my college is that there are so many options available that allow me to get involved in exactly the ways that I’d like.  I’m interested in educational improvement & success.  There are so many mentoring and tutoring programs at the school that I’ve had to limit my scope…but that’s an AMAZING thing to be able to say.  This also applies to student-run organizations and other activities around campus.  With every event that I choose to attend…there’s something else that I’m missing…

My Bed—With all that running around, between choices and classes and extracurricular involvement, I’m often exhausted by the end of the week.  Scratch that, I’m tired every night by the time I make it back to my room.  This has developed into a new love for my bed.  If you get to college & have the urge to go and go and go (similar to the Energizer Bunny), make sure that you allocate time to recharge your batteries.  Running on an empty tank is dangerous for your health, as well as your outlook on your experience.  Between you and me, sometimes I even hug my bed (we’re just that close).

 

I Hate Being Broke

jenny-85You can’t do a lot of things without money. You can’t go out to eat with your friends. You can’t enjoy that green tea latte while relaxing at a local Starbucks. You can’t buy your Chemistry textbooks (They cost A LOT). And you can’t pay for the laundry because each time you use the washer or the dryer it costs you a buck and twenty-five cents (That builds up, you know.)  So what are you going to do? Wear your old clothes and hope they don’t smell?

These are just some of the potential problems of a broke college student. How do I know? I have spent a Saturday night NOT going out because my student card didn’t have enough money for the dryer. I ran back to my room to look for change but didn’t find any. Then I realized that I couldn’t ask my dorm mates for change because they were out partying. So I was just standing in the laundry room, staring stupidly at my pile of wet clothes. Not fun.

Most of us start to feel some freedom once we’re in college. “Yes! Mom and Dad can’t control how I spend my money anymore!” Well, don’t go mad shopping, you’ll regret it very soon. You’re going to be broke and unhappy. There’s going to be too much stuff in your already small dorm room. Besides, come summer to those who are abroad, where are you going to store your stuff when you go home? Storage space isn’t always free…

Hints: When you see piles of coupons in your post office, TAKE THEM! TAKE ALL OF THEM! (No, not really, save some for other people, too.) And do research. Ask your professors before the semester starts about which books to get. See if you can buy them earlier or if there’s a secondhand book store. Amherst College has a student run program called The Option where students sell and buy used books.  Research! Save money! And then treat yourself to some wings occasionally. It’s good to enjoy life, but be responsible.

One Semester Down, Seven More to Go

sophia-85It’s almost time for school to start up again and I have to admit, I’m excited. Being back in Whittier during the break made me realize I love being home, but I feel productive when I’m back at school.

It’s tough, but you get a sense of accomplishment when attending various meetings or simply turning in a paper.

So, now that I’m going back, I’m looking forward to the new classes, professors, and time I’m going to spend with friends.

During the break, I met with Matt Rubinoff, who is the executive director of Center for Student Opportunity. We had lunch and he asked me a question that seemed simple, but it took me a surprisingly long time to actually come up with my answer.

He asked me, “What do you plan to do differently for your second semester?”

Easy question, right? Not so much.

After going back home, I thought about how exactly I want to change my time at Chico State and what I can do to make that happen.

I realized that there were various things I can do, but the main change I stuck on is planning to organize myself more. There are so many different activities going on and I plan on prioritizing the things I need to do.

The reason I chose to go to college was to get an education so I can accomplish my goal of becoming a sports journalist; however, I’ve realized it is extremely easy to get caught up in college life.

I’ve seen a majority of my friends stressed about their grades for first semester because their social life took a toll on their academics, and that is a scary idea.

But if you plan your time out, it’s simple to have a fun time in school and outside of school. Just remember what you’re in school for and take fun pit stops along the way.

Thanks for reading!

New Year, New Me!

khadijah-85Hey CSO,

It’s New Year’s Day, and you know what that means- New Year’s Resolutions! Notice that revolution and resolution only differ by one letter (the most productive typo ever!). Thus, New Year’s Day is that time to revolutionize your thinking and behavior in order to accomplish your full potential! I had started wording my resolutions as “I will stop this, I will stop that,” but it is easier to keep a resolution if it’s in positive form. So I have worded all my resolutions as “I will do this” or “I will do that.” Resolutions are important to make because you are making a commitment to yourself to improve yourself, and you are telling yourself that you deserve to be the best you can be and are committed to reaching your goals. I am making resolutions to myself because like you all, I want to better myself and my life. If you are with me, you’ll think of some resolutions as well.

Now, I am enlisting CSO’s help to help me change my behavior. Research has shown that you’re more likely to keep your New Year’s resolutions if you tell people about them, so I am telling all of CSO, my friends, supporters, and everyone who reads the CSO blog my resolutions for the New Year so I can stick to them. Gulp…

I could have a very long list but here are my top 9 resolutions for the New Year:

1. I will keep up with my CSO blog. Okay, that was an easy one, but why not start with the obvious?

2. I will start an assignment the week I receive the prompt. Starting early gives me time to really think about the assignment and all its possibilities instead of just going through the motions (or losing valuable sleep with all nighters).

3. I will use office hours as a means to get to know my professors and get their input on my work. Office hours are not only for work or sucking up, they are also for getting to know scholars who are experts and leaders in their field, but who are also human and were where you are now.

4. I will work out at least 4 times a week. Research shows that regular exercise helps lessen stress and frustration, as well as keep off the dreaded “freshman fifteen” (and “sophomore 10….”) Whether it’s yoga, strength training, cardio, or just power walking, I will commit to regular exercise as part of my routine. And I’ll allow myself some time to rest – no overdoing. I am no longer an athlete (sad face) and will stop setting the treadmill at 8:45 when I know I now run an 11(.45…) min mile (true story).

5. I will meditate at least 2 times a week. Although the pace and stress of college make it seem like the last thing I need to do is sit still and do what looks like nothing, quieting my mind and focusing on mindfulness is precisely what I need. It allows me to reflect on what’s going on and just check in on myself.

6. I will plan ahead and organize myself so that I get my important tasks done and done first. I waste so much time on pointless, non-immediate, or mindless activities.

7. I will eat right. No more ramen noodles and 1200 calorie Chipotle burritos, and no more eating out of boredom or stress. Even though Cherry Garcia tastes that much more amazing at 3am…

8. I will get enough sleep every night. Not getting enough sleep makes for a cranky, lethargic Khadijah, so I’ll be in bed by midnight from now on. Ok… 1am, but no later, and 8am wakeup. Waking up and sleeping at a consistent time helps me organize my days and give my body consistency, which helps me perform better.

9. I will hold myself accountable to meeting my resolutions and goals, and I will treat myself once a month if I accomplish all my goals. It is very important to treat yourself in order to encourage and reward good behavior. I find that I do not need to punish myself for not accomplishing my goals because the stress, anxiety, and disappointment are punishment enough.

These are my resolutions, and now that I have published them to CSO, I have to keep them!

Wishing you a happy and healthy holidays and a wonderful New Year.

Your friend from CSO,

Khadijah

Yeah, it’s corny, but do what makes you happy. Seriously.

khadijah-85

Major choices- I didn’t really think it was terribly important; after all, the most important thing is doing what you love and being comfortable. But that’s exactly why choosing a major, or department, is so important. I had been decided on Social Studies since freshman year. As an honors major, it’s challenging, it’s prestigious, it’s interesting, all my friends were doing it, so of course I’d do Social Studies, right? I thought I picked a major for the subject matter and the interdisciplinary design, the readings – the most defining theorists of our time, you know, the ones that those annoying know-it-alls like to slip into conversation? Anyway, I was completely set on Social Studies. But then, during sophomore year, I realized I didn’t feel quite comfortable in Social Studies. I realized that it didn’t meet my personal and academic needs. I realized that I was in Social Studies just for the prestige, but in my heart, I was a Sociology major.

It was hard at first to give up the allure of Social Studies. I moved back and forth- I felt I needed to prove I can do this major, the hardest social science major at Harvard. Will I still talk to my friends, who are staying in Social Studies? After much deliberation and conversation, I declared Sociology, knowing it was the right place for me, but my love affair with Social Studies wasn’t over. I wanted to take the 2nd semester of Social Studies 10, the introductory required class for Social Studies concentrators. I couldn’t take it unless I was a concentrator. Rules are rules. So I tiptoed, quietly, into the office of the undergraduate director of Sociology, within the tall white imposing building, 6th floor. I rode the elevator in nervousness, replaying my spiel- I believe this course will help forward me in Sociology. That’s what I’d say… I was worried that he would think that I wasn’t set on Sociology, that I was considering staying in Social Studies. The director knows my name, greets me with sincere enthusiasm. I feel worse. “So, I would like to take Social Studies 10b, spring semester, but I need to be a concentrator, so I would need to switch from Sociology to Social Studies- But, I wanted to hear your perspective, if it’ll mess up anything, like taking classes next semester, I won’t do it. I asked to take it but the Social Studies undergrad director said I must be a concentrator to take 2nd semester.” Would he grill me why?

His reply, I didn’t expect. “Sure, just remember to switch back to Sociology by the end of your sophomore year so you can take the junior tutorials.” Was it really that easy? “Really, you don’t mind?” “Doesn’t bother me, you should be able to take whatever classes you want. Now, you wanted to talk to me about your research paper?” We then spent the remainder of the appointment talking excitedly about my research project, with him totally getting what I wanted to do and asking challenging, but helpful questions and providing lots of resources.

I realized then that I wasn’t just picking a disciplinary major- I was picking a department. I was picking my peers, my advisors, my professors, the undergraduate director- this major choice wasn’t in a vacuum. The ease of conversation, his desire to help me figure out my desires and mold them to what classes I would take, I didn’t feel I had that in Social Studies. In Sociology, I was supported, I was challenged. It was only then that I was comfortable with my choice. I have finally broken up with Social Studies, and will not try to take their tutorial next semester, but will move forward wholeheartedly in Sociology.

Remember, CSO readers, whatever you do, make sure you do it because you truly want to, and do it because you know you’ll thrive. Prestige can be a seductive thing and can blind you from what really matters. I found an academic home in Sociology and I can honestly say, I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

Plus, it turns out the Sociology department at Harvard is the top 5 in the country, so who cares! :D