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Senior Natasha Lane Publishes First Novel

Publishing a novel is something that many people dream of accomplishing throughout their lifetimes, but for senior, Natasha Lane, she is already well on her way to becoming a successful, published novelist. As a Campus Correspondent for Her Campus Juniata, I had the opportunity to interview Natasha to find out more about her accomplishments.

Her love for writing first started when she was a young girl. She said, “I had a love for reading, and that love for reading just changed into a love for writing. I started off writing just poetry, which was good because it was a way to get my emotions out. I guess I was an angry kid for various reasons, so I wrote poetry to get my feelings out.”

In 8th grade, Natasha had to write a short-story for class, and she told her teacher that she wanted to make it into a full-length novel. Her teacher responded, “Well, then why don’t you do it?” So at the age of 13, Natasha wrote her first novel and got into the habit of scribbling down ideas for future novels in a little notebook.

Although she has had previous works published in the past, A Meeting at the Grocery Store was the first novel that she had had published.

Natasha Lane holding her 1st published novel and a newspaper article featuring her work.

“I originally submitted a fantasy novel to Books to Go Now, but they rejected it. They said that they prefer to publish e-books versus print copies, but they said, ‘We can tell you can write, so would you come back on as romance writer for us?’”

“I am one of those people who used to look down on romance novels because sometimes it can just be so cliché with a damsel in distress and perfect cookie-cutter characters. You see people like Fabio and shirtless cowboys, but I thought that maybe I could write my novel in a way that wasn’t so cliché.”

Natasha then wrote A Meeting at the Grocery Store for the next several months, which is now available for purchase on Amazon. She is also working on a second novel titled, Waiting for Mistletoe, which should be available for purchase sometime this month. Additionally, she is writing a sequel for A Meeting at the Grocery Store.

When asked about where she finds inspiration for her novels, she said, “I daydream all the time. I am like the queen of daydreaming. I don’t really force myself to daydream, but if something isn’t really interesting to me in class, I let my mind just go. And sometimes, I’m inspired by things that have happened in my life. Sometimes, I reflect on past events, and I think, ‘I wish I could have handled that event differently, or I wish I was the person I am now so that I would have known how to handle that better.’”

In the future, Natasha hopes to find a bigger publishing company and also focus on entrepreneurship. She has an individualized POE of Entrepreneurial Journalism and hopes to one day work as either the communications or marketing director in a non-profit sector, while also continuing her love for creative writing.

“I love business, and I love creative writing. I can’t really see myself choosing one over the other, so I pray that I won’t ever have to choose,” said Natasha.

When asked which author she emulated the most, she responded, “I don’t really follow too many authors. I mainly just read the titles of books and decide if I would like them or not, but I do know that I want to be an original. One time when I was younger, my uncle was talking with me about what I wanted to do with my life. He said, ‘You could be the next Oprah Winfrey,’ and I said, ‘I don’t want to be the next Oprah Winfrey. I want to be the first Natasha Lane.’ And that’s the truth. I don’t want to be a copy of someone else. I want to be an original.”

Natasha is truly an inspiration for all writers, and I wish her the very best in all of her future endeavors!

To purchase A Meeting at the Grocery, check it out on Amazon!

The cover of “A Meeting at the Grocery Store” by Natasha Lane

The International Fashion & Food Show

After being inspired by a fundraiser held at Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), I conceived the idea of having an International Fashion & Food Show at Juniata College to help raise money for students traveling on the January 2015 Cultural Learning Tour to the Dominican Republic. This event was sponsored by my club, Amigos de Guanin, and also by Nourish International and the International Cooking Club.

I originally wanted to do this event with only my club, but I quickly realized that I would need expertise from other areas, especially if we wanted to make food at our event, since I’m not very skilled in the kitchen. The other club presidents and I started planning the event in September and met every Monday evening for an hour. After two months of planning, we finally held our event on Saturday, Nov. 22 in Baker Refectory.

Since I was an MC for the night, I decided to wear a beautiful multi-colored sari from India that was left in the Unity House by a previous Juniata student.

Since I was an MC for the night, I decided to wear a beautiful multi-colored sari from India that was left in the Unity House by a previous Juniata student.

The collaboration for the International Fashion & Food Show is what amazed me the most. We advertised in the daily announcements that we would be needing models, and we quickly found over 20 people who were interested in helping us represent 15 countries from around the world. Many of the models also prepared a dish from the country that they were representing. In addition, several clubs on campus, such as the Korean and Japanese clubs, prepared massive amounts of food!

With so many different components, you may be wondering how we even made a profit. And to be honest, we wouldn’t have made a profit at all if it weren’t for the $1,380 allocation from Student Government. This allocation covered all expenses, so all money that we raised from ticket sales was considered to be profit.

Not only was this event a huge success in the fact that we raised close to $1,200 that would be split among the three clubs, but also because I was able to meet and work closely with some truly incredible people from around the world.

The best part is that I didn’t even have to spend thousands of dollars traveling the globe to find them! Juniata College has this uncanny ability to bring people together, no matter what their cultural backgrounds might be, and for this, I am truly grateful!

Four of our models rambunctiously represented Germany by dancing onto the runway!

Four of our models rambunctiously represented Germany by dancing onto the runway!

OXFAM Hunger Banquet: Seeing World Poverty from a Different Perspective

“What class do you belong to?” asked Andrea Morillo of Nourish International, referring to the random ticket that we received upon entering Ellis Ballroom for the OXFAM Hunger Banquet.

“Low-income class,” I answered humbly.

“Please take a seat on the floor,” she replied.

As I sat down on the hard, wooden floor, I talked with the growing population of lower-class citizens that started to surround me, and I looked around at the middle-class citizens, who were sitting comfortably in chairs, and at the upper-class citizens, who were starting to eat fresh salads with shiny cutlery.

I was jealous that they had forks… Never in my life did I ever think I would yearn so strongly for a fork. My food finally came. It was a tiny bowl of rice, yet I still wasn’t sure how I was going to eat it without a fork. My hands had been touching the floor, so I was concerned that I would catch some type of disease if I ate off my dirty fingers. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

The tiny bowl of rice that I received due to my low-class status.

The tiny bowl of rice that I received due to my low-class status.

It wasn’t until this event that I truly realized how much of the world lives in poverty. I’ve helped serve food in areas where poverty is prevalent, such as in the Dominican Republic, but I never knew what it would feel like being the one sitting on the floor waiting for my food to arrive.

When one of the middle-class citizens, Anh Ha, was asked how she felt about the upper-class citizens, she said, “Not one of them offered any food to the people sitting on the floor. They say that they feel guilty, but they don’t do anything about it.”

The low-class citizens eating our small bowls of rice while sitting on the floor.

The low-class citizens eating our small bowls of rice while sitting on the floor.

She makes a really good point. Most of us come from middle to upper-class backgrounds. Sure, we may go on community service trips where we serve the poor, but then we return to our homes and eat nutritious and oftentimes, overly-filling meals.

I’m not sure that I have a grand solution to these inequalities quite yet, but I do encourage you to be more aware of the economic situations of others. At Juniata College, we have several clubs that focus on minimizing these inequalities. To name a few, Nourish International, Power Up Gambia, and Amigos de Guanin are all currently fundraising for communities in Uganda, Africa, and the Dominican Republic, respectively.

Although I don’t expect everyone to immediately join a club and serve in third-world countries, we can start with small steps, such as serving at local soup kitchens, donating to homeless shelters, offering food to people who can’t afford it, etc. It may not seem like much, but little by little, we can and WILL make a difference.

Cultural Learning Tour Leads Me Home

Life-changing experiences don’t happen very often. If they did, they wouldn’t have such a profound impact on the person experiencing them. When they happen, you know they happen. You’ll look back at your previous life in disbelief, wondering how you could have ever been so unaware of this whole other realm that you now call home. For me, my life was changed when I stepped out of the plane in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

This volunteer house was built by Hillel in March 2013, painted by the Cultural Learning Tour students in January 2014, and was where my friend Taylor and I stayed on our summer vacation trip in June 2014.

This volunteer house was built by Hillel in March 2013, painted by the Cultural Learning Tour students in January 2014, and was where my friend Taylor and I stayed on our summer vacation trip in June 2014.

I had been anticipating this trip for a while. After studying abroad in Orizaba, Mexico for a month during the summer after my freshman year of college, I was more than excited to enhance my Spanish-speaking skills and to do some volunteer work in the Dominican Republic for the January 2014 Cultural Learning Tour sponsored by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the Community Service/Service Learning Office at Juniata College.

What I had not been anticipating, however, was that I would come home from this trip with a much larger and more culturally diverse extended family. Over our two-week stay in the Dominican Republic, we lived with host families in Santo Domingo and traveled 45 minutes to El Centro Cultural Guanin, an after-school program located in the rural, impoverished community of La Piedra, meaning “The Rock.”

During our first week, we went on some touristy adventures, which included a boat ride on the Atlantic Ocean to Los Haitises National Park, a day-trip to Juan Dolio beach, and a horseback ride to a beautiful waterfall known as el Salto del Limón. When I first learned about the trip to the Dominican Republic, the touristy things were honestly what I was most looking forward to, since I had never been to too many places outside of the United States, but I quickly realized that it would be the people who would have the most remarkable effect on my life. During the second week of our trip, we worked closely with the community of La Piedra where we painted houses, cemented floors, taught English, helped cook food, and played with the kids. Despite the many hardships that these people were going through, their smiles sparkled and their laughter loomed day-in and day-out.

My friend Taylor and I (left) posing with the cutest little girls at Centro Cultural Guanin.

My friend Taylor and I (left) posing with the cutest little girls at Centro Cultural Guanin.

I went on this trip hoping to make a difference in the lives of others, but I came home with a whole new perspective on my own life. I immediately started a club on campus called Amigos de Guanin, which would fundraise so that more students could travel to the Dominican Republic on the annual Cultural Learning Tour. For the next four months, I worked vigorously on a grant application through the National Society of Leadership and Success. Fortunately, I was awarded $4,000 to work on an agricultural development project in January 2015 and to travel back in March 2015 to see that the project continues.

Thankfully, I have been able to keep in close contact with my new Dominican family, and when I travel to this beautiful island, I don’t think of myself as going away anymore, but rather as going home.

 

 

 

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