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Monthly Archives: December 2015

Building Leaders Who Make a Better World

In September 2013, then senior Chelsea Naglic created Juniata’s chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), the nation’s largest leadership honor society. The mission of NSLS is to “build leaders who make a better world.” Since I was a sophomore in good academic standing at the time, I received an invitation to join the society. I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical at first, especially since NSLS requires an $85 membership fee. After doing some of my own research and talking with other students on campus, I decided that the membership fee would be money well-spent.

To become inducted into the society, students must first attend orientation, which provides a schedule of events for the semester. In addition to orientation, nominated students must also attend Leadership Training Day, which helps students to identify their true passions and leadership styles. Additionally, students must attend three speaker broadcasts throughout the semester and participate in Success Networking Teams, in which students gather to discuss their future goals. Finally, Juniata College holds an induction ceremony each spring for everyone who completes the necessary steps.

We’ve all heard the saying, “It is what you make of it.” Sure, you could easily go through the motions and become inducted into the society, or you could go one step further to make the experience truly worthwhile.

I chose the latter option. After becoming inducted, I decided to apply for the Better World Grant—one of the many grants and scholarships that are offered to inducted members. I spent most of my spring semester developing a proposal to build a raised garden in a rural community in the Dominican Republic. Thankfully, my hard work paid off, and I was awarded $4,000 to begin my project.

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The finished garden at Centro Cultural Guanin in the Dominican Republic.

In January 2015, I traveled to the Dominican Republic with 16 other students on Juniata’s Cultural Learning Tour. We built the garden alongside community members and have been able to watch it thrive over the past year. Instead of relying on government funding for food, the community members can now produce their own fruits and vegetables.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without funding from NSLS. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity, and I highly encourage all nominated students to apply for membership. Currently, NSLS has 537,370 members at 490 colleges nationwide. In just two short years, Juniata has inducted 263 of its own members. As a member of NSLS, you will be joining a large network of alumni and peers across the nation, and who knows, you might even be able to make the world a better place.

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Kirstin McKenzie (right) and I (left) at the 2015 NSLS Induction Ceremony

To learn more about NSLS, please contact the chapter’s president, Kirstin McKenzie, at mckenkx09@juniata.edu. Also, be on the lookout for Juniata’s third annual Glow Run, which is set to take place in the spring!

 

 

The Semester is ‘Final’ly Over

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Figure 1: Getting Ready for Madrigal

 

The end of the year at Juniata is a fun and exciting time that’s here and gone faster than you can say ‘finals’. One minute you’re picking out your Madrigal suit, the next you’re spending way too many hours awake studying for the final you’ve known about for three months but have been ignoring till two days before. The most fitting metaphor I can think of is that of a dance… and that’s not just because Madrigal was last weekend. When we got back from Thanksgiving break, the campus was abuzz with excitement about Madrigal, what dresses people were ordering, what tie was going to go with whose dress, and which professor would be serving you at the dinner. There is always a frenzy of activity the week leading up to the traditional dinner and dance because it is the last big event before the end of the year. As soon as we wake up the Sunday after the dance, we stop performing the excited happy dances of young people and start the exasperated stress induced dance of the overworked and under slept.

Finals week and the week leading up to it are not all that bad. They just sort of creep up on you. One minute you are going through RA training, the next you are living in some forgotten corner of an academic building trying to remember a semester’s worth of Inorganic chemistry in preparation for your upcoming test. Madrigal is rather well placed, because although it cuts a bit into study time before finals, it gives us one last opportunity to let loose with friends, to reminisce about the semester, and to hang out with some of the best people you will ever meet before you all go home for a month.

We go through the semester attending classes, completing homework, hanging out with friends on the weekends, procrastinating, procrastinating on the procrastinating, and before we know it another semester has come and gone, another year coming to a close. Similar to how I danced at Madrigal, I think as a school we go through the year in a very eclectic way. One minute you could be doing the hustle, the next dancing a slow waltz. One Thursday you are pulling an all-nighter to make up for your weeks of procrastination and Friday night you’re procrastinating again. And while this cycle may seem grueling at times, it really makes the time fly by.

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Figure 2: Ochem, Not even Once

 

The semester is almost over and that means the end of a lot of things. For me it’s the end of organic chemistry, a class that has reshaped how I think about science, and the first half of my sophomore year. There are those older than I that may be graduating and ending their time here at Juniata. The ending of anything brings with it a sense of melancholy. Even though I will be returning for RA training in only a few short weeks, another stage of my college career, however small, is over.

Thankfully with every ending there is a new beginning and I personally cannot wait to see what next semester has in store.

French-Giving: A Holiday like No Other!

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My friends offered my mother a basket of chocolate as a thank you! (photo credit: Yasmine Allaya)

 

After three months of school, it was time to return home for Thanksgiving. However, I did not go home alone; I invited my friends, all French speakers, to Germantown, Maryland, to spend time with my family.

My friends and I might appear to be an odd bunch to some people. However, although we speak French, we come from various parts of the world. Among those who came to my place were Joël from Burkina Faso, Élora who is half Turkish and half Algerian living in France, and Cécile who is French-Korean. We also have this particular habit, almost like a ritual—as Cécile would say—that involves mostly me preparing spicy ramen for everyone on Friday and Saturday nights. I don’t know how it started, but when we are out of energy and have nothing else to eat, “ramen seems to be life.”

Being back in Germantown and seeing my mother felt comforting. After my friends were settled, I took them out to see what the city had to offer. Our ultimate goal was to find a pistachio flavored ice-cream, which was Élora’s favorite. They had the opportunity to see both my middle and high school, and in 3 hours, we ate at a Chinese restaurant, had ice cream at Cold Stone, and, as if we hadn’t had enough to eat, Karl, my cousin, offered us two pepperoni and cheese stuffed crust pizzas; we were so full to the point that even my mother’s delicious peanut butter soup could not persuade us to eat another spoonful.

Finally, it was Thursday, Turkey-day, and my mother spoiled us to bits. In addition to the roasted and succulent turkey, we had jollof rice (West African fried rice), sweet potato and spicy tomato soup and alloko (Ivorian fried plantains). To my friends and I, the food seemed inexhaustible, for my mother kept refilling our plates! With our belly full, we went to the living room after dinner to watch Stomp the Yard.

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(photo credit: Yasmine Allaya)

 

After Turkey-day came time for a make-over, during which Yasmine took the initiative to twist my hair into Bantu knots in order to condition them for crochet braids. The other girls used the opportunity to do some shopping at the mall on Black Friday. With our break coming to an end on Sunday, we packed our bags, and of course, my mother included some food to eat on campus. It was a Thanksgiving like no other that I will always remember.

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(photo credit: Élora Kerboua and Yasmine Allaya)

 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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I saw this funny graphic online that said “trying to relax on Thanksgiving break knowing I have 3 papers, five finals, and the cure for cancer due when I get back.” It made me think about how after Thanksgiving break, there are only two weeks left of my first semester as a junior. I used to always laugh when adults would say that college flies by, especially because of the countless hours I spend on homework and assignments. I didn’t see how it could possibly go fast. But here I am, two weeks away from the end of the semester again, wondering where the time went.

I absolutely do not wish that the semesters were longer because I’m not going to lie, I am absolutely spent! However, I wish that it didn’t go faster than a blink. I was packing my bags to move in just yesterday. My dad dropped me off and hugged me goodbye. I barely feel like I’ve moved in yet. And here we are at the end of the semester: crunch time.

Homework is one thing. But preparing for finals week is one of my least favorite things to do. It comes up so fast! This year, I have even more on my plate than I did at Thanksgiving. And although a lot of it is just stuffing right now, the turkey is coming up quickly. 

Kind of like with Thanksgiving dinner, preparing for the end of the semester is pretty similar. If you take too much too fast, you’re bound to blow up. But that’s why pacing yourself is important. Like with anything in college, planning and strategy is key. It seems impossible at times, but if you persevere and hang in there, the end of your semester and an empty plate are in the near future.

The new year is coming. And with the new year, that means new things. So here’s to the successful end of the semester even if that means three papers, five finals, and the cure to cancer.

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