Pet Peeves

Christopher Newport is a pretty great school, if I do say so myself (though admittedly, I’m a little biased!). But, even great schools lack certain things. What do I think would make my university better?

PETS ON CAMPUS!

Now, before you rise up in arms, declaring your cat allergies and the noisiness of dogs – hear me out. What if we had an area dedicated to a couple of campus pets? Think about it. Perhaps we change one of those office spaces in the David Student Union into a mini animal zone (not miniature animals, just minimal space). A couple of campus pups, a few cool cats, and maybe even a sweet iguana or two.

We could provide more campus jobs by allowing some students to become caretakers, and studies have proven over and over again that petting furry, friendly animals reduces people’s stress levels.

Most of this post is in light-hearted jest, but I do love when pets make campus visits. So, on the next sunny day, you’ll find me out on the Great Lawn making friends with the fraternity brother’s new pug or petting the giant bunny that visits during the Farmer’s Market.

And, if you keep your eyes peeled at night, you just might spot one of the elusive cats that has made Christopher Newport its home. Perhaps we already have all the animals here we need!

All in the Details

Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s the little things that count?”

That statement is very true here at Christopher Newport!

One day last week, I was not in a good mood because I had been up studying for my first exam of the semester. I was super tired and really didn’t want to be bothered until after I had finished taking my exam. As I was going through my day around campus, it seemed as if everyone had tried their hardest to make sure I was happy, even if they didn’t know me.

It started that morning as I was on my way to lunch. Every person I passed and made eye contact with made sure to smile at me. As usual here at Christopher Newport, the door was held for me multiple times as I went through buildings to get lunch and hurry to the library to slip in a last-minute study session. After my studying, I stopped by Einstein’s, our coffee shop, to grab a frappe. As I grabbed the cup from the barista, I noticed a bit of writing that was more than just my name and the code used to tell them what drink I wanted. I looked at the writing and there I saw a small inspirational scribble that said, “Be happy. Be bright. Be you.” A smile crept across my face as soon as I read that and I knew that I had to be happy.

As I continued my day, I made a stop at the restroom before my exam. After closing the stall door, I notice a yellow sticky note on the back that said, “Just keep swimming!” with a picture of a fish. Seeing that sticky note literally made my day because that quote is from the movie “Finding Nemo,” which is one of my favorite childhood movies. From that point on, I tried my hardest to have a good day and I even got an A on the exam that I was stressing myself out so much about! The motivation I felt from the small things that happened to me that day was great and it showed me that we Captains really care about each other, even if we don’t know each other personally.

The small things that happen everyday here is what makes the Christopher Newport campus and community come alive!

Unbreakable Bonds

I made the best decision of my life in April of 2015 by joining Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority (AKA). Since that date, I have seen how much AKA has helped me grow as a leader here at school and in the community. I have had the opportunity to make significant impacts on the life of my sisters as well as people in the surrounding community by providing backpacks and school supplies for elementary school children, feeding the homeless, helping Christopher Newport freshmen move into their new homes, spreading awareness about mental health and heart health, and cleaning up the streets of Newport News and Hampton.

The best thing I have received from AKA is the opportunity to form unbreakable bonds with some wonderful women. I honestly believe that by being one of the smallest sororities on campus, AKA has the upper hand. Each sister gets to really know each and every sister in the organization. The entire chapter has a meaningful bond rather than having many close groups of sisters within the organization. The sisters I have made through AKA are some of the best people I have ever met. They can tell when something is wrong before I even have to tell them, and they know how to fix it. They give amazing advice. They are comforting, and we all genuinely care about each other. We push and motivate each other to do better in school and in life. We strive together for closer relationships in our faith. We celebrate each other when one of us does something that is worth the celebration, like making dean’s list or graduating. We never push each other down or think we are better than any other person. We lift up each other and every member of the Christopher Newport community.

I could honestly write a book about what joining AKA has done for me, but this is just a small post to show my appreciation to the best sorority in the land!

Take Care of Yourself

Throughout your time at college you will discover many things about yourself. Along your path of self enlightenment, you will also learn exactly what your body needs and when it needs it. My junior year, I finally figured a few things out that I would like to share in hopes that others will figure these things out sooner.

  1. Know when your body needs a nap.

When entering college I had heard of the college nap phenomenon. I’m sure it can be statistically shown that college kids take more naps than any other age group. This is partly because most of our sleeping schedules are extremely disrupted but also sometimes just because we can. When I first came to Christopher Newport, I used naps as a reward. If everything on my extensive to-do list was done (including a clean room and all my homework) I would allow myself to take a glorious nap. Let me tell you friends: this is totally the wrong nap philosophy. Naps should be used and respected when you need them, not as a reward and not as part of procrastination. I take a nap when my body tells me I need to. If I am attempting to do homework and just can’t seem to stay focused or get the hang of it or my eyes keep drooping while I’m reading, I know I need a nap. I pack up, excuse myself from the library, retreat to my haven of a bed and sleep for at least 30 minutes. After I wake up, I feel refreshed, focused and ready to go. Let your body tell you when to nap and don’t fight it.

2. You deserve those French fries.

You don’t deserve them all the time or every day – but, sometimes your body needs some French fries. Gaining weight in college is extremely likely and will probably happen to you. I’m not trying to scare you, I’m being real with you. In college you’re not sleeping regularly, you stay up at unnatural hours and you often don’t eat exactly as you should. I’m not saying you are going to turn into a balloon, but your jeans might get a little tighter. Some days you just really, really, really want those French fries. Eat them. Don’t regret eating them. They were delicious. You had a hard day, those fries needed you as much as you needed them. So take care of yourself, eat healthy and don’t punish yourself for splurging every once in a while.

3. If you get sick, don’t forget to ask for help.

The first time you ever get sick at school is the absolute worst because it’s the first time you are sick without mom. You feel awful and very alone. Even though you are surrounded by people, without your mom there to take care of you everything seems much more stressful and complicated. All of a sudden you have to go get your own medicine, make your own soup, buy your own tissues and attempt to still keep up with all your school work. When you get sick, you need to know how to ask for help. It may seem like you against the world, but you have friends, roommates and other comrades who will be more than happy to help you get better. That’s one of the things that is so magical about college. You might not have mom, but you have a different army of support that is more than willing to run errands and make sure you have everything you need. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help. This also includes your psychological state! College is hard, so if you ever start to have feelings or thoughts that you have never felt which begin to affect your life negatively, you can always ask for help. You’re not weak; it’s a sign of strength to ask for what you need.

Long story short: college is difficult. It takes time to get used to. As you fall into routines, remember to pay close attention to what your body needs. Take care of yourself, and college will be the best thing you have ever experienced!

 

Procrastination Station

I wouldn’t say I have a procrastination problem … I just find creative ways to spend my time. Examples? I know I need to look over notes for a quiz in my English class, but right now I’m looking up the music videos for a band I discovered last semester at a random concert at The NorVa – a theater just a short drive away from campus.

Or, what about the time I knew I needed to finish my application to the Master of Arts in Teaching program but decided to spend a solid three hours deep-cleaning my room on East Campus. That was a win-win situation because I was accepted to the program, and my bathroom floor was sparkling by the time I put the sponge down.

Or, there was one weekend I stayed in bed and watched half a season of “The Office” before even giving a thought to the paper I needed to peer-review from psychology class.

All things in moderation, right? That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned here at school: if you want to relax hard, you need to work hard first. Get some of that “boring” stuff done and then reward yourself with a nap, Netflix session or room-cleaning. You’ll thank me later.

Now, back to my YouTube browsing.

High School vs. College Snow Days

 

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Christopher Newport University’s first snow day of the year.

When I was in high school, getting a snow day was one of the greatest things ever. My mom, an elementary school teacher at the time, would teach me all these weird rituals to make the snow come. We’d wear our pajamas inside out, and put spoons under our pillows. It’s safe to assume that we really liked getting out of school. When it did snow, we’d make snow ice cream (also known as snow cream) and go sledding. All the kids in the neighborhood would come over, and we’d play without a care in the world. When we had to go back to school, all my friends and I would talk about how much sleep we got and all the fun we had. In fact, my senior year it snowed so much that mid-terms were canceled! It was great.

In college, snow days mean a different thing. A little bit of snow isn’t going to cut it for our lovely university to stop running. It takes a lot, so a snow day for a high school might be another day in the life of a college student. When it does snow a lot and class is canceled, we’ve still got plenty of work due when we come back to school. We have these nifty little things called syllabuses, and they make it so even if a day of class is missed, you don’t have to wait on the professor to tell you what to move on to. All your reading assignments are on there, too. Even if you don’t have class on the day your big paper is due, your big paper is still due. So really, it’s like you’re taking your class online because class doesn’t stop outside of the classroom for us.

We do have fun, though. When the snow piles form, we climb them. We also have snowball fights on occasion. However, the cold weather mostly just keeps us from our much-needed trips to the Trible Library, and makes it more slippery when walking to the dining hall for food.

Friends and family, don’t be mad at us college students for not sharing your enthusiasm for the snow. We’re happy for you, really. It’s just different for us.

Stereotypes are real.

Not to get deep or anything, but it is the truth. As much as we encourage people not to judge by appearance – we all fall victim to taking part in stereotypes. The reality is that there is a lot of truth to stereotypes. I may categorize someone by the way that they act, the way they dress and who they hang out with, but in my mind that isn’t a negative thing. At Christopher Newport every student has a stereotype. It’s unavoidable. The stereotypes we gain on campus are our traits that stand out the most to others. In society, stereotypes are seen as negative because they are seen as a judgement of another person. In film and literature, stereotypes are often used to alienate or humiliate someone who is different from the majority.

But, here at Christopher Newport, stereotypes take on a new form. Most of us embrace the stereotypes that fall upon us. We accept them because we identify with them as a part of who we are. Everyone knows that a person cannot be defined by just one description so while we all have stereotypes we also know that is not where a person’s personality ends. Because we choose to embrace these stereotypes, they are not used in a negative fashion. I have never felt left out or alienated by anyone here based on who they thought I was. The Christopher Newport community is one that is indescribable. We blur the lines of stereotypes. At Christopher Newport, we will not limit you to one description. At Christopher Newport, students identify themselves in many different ways.

I am an athlete. I am a sorority girl. I am a business student. I am a leadership dork. I am campus leader. I am active volunteer in the community. I am a youth development advocate. I am an intellectual. I am all of these things together. Christopher Newport has given me the opportunity to be all of these things – just as it will give anyone the opportunity to be anything they want to be.

The Sorority Recruitment Experience

Let’s talk about recruitment.

Going into it, I had a lot of preconceived ideas regarding what each sorority was about. I tell you this because it’s true: you need to go in with an open mind. Formal recruitment into Christopher Newport’s thriving Greek life involves hours of socializing with sisters, learning about philanthropy work and getting an idea of what sisterhood is all about. Going into it with various rumors floating in your head really messes with your experience, and can make you say no to the sorority that’s perfect for you. Luckily, I was given this advice prior to the second round, and, sure enough, it helped me make the right decision in joining my sorority.

Day one starts with learning about the philanthropy, then day two is all about sisterhood and what it means to be in each organization. On day three, also known as bid day, you visit your preferences and later on in the day get a bid to a sorority. One thing I also saw a lot of during that final day was a lot of people being upset they got their second choice and walking away. My advice for that is trust the system. Trust that these women know what they’re doing, and are matching you up with the people who are going to bring out the best in you and love you for who you are. Perhaps that’s not the sorority you thought it was, but you know what? All seven of the Panhellenic sororities are amazing and full of dedicated sisters who love what they do. Being able to join one is a privilege, even if it wasn’t the one you thought it would be.

Though recruitment was stressful, and some tears were involved, I had a wonderful time and encourage any other female Captains to seriously consider going through. And if you don’t like it, you can drop! But give it a chance, because this weekend I was impressed by hundreds of classy, hardworking, fun-loving women of Christopher Newport University. You could be, too.

Waiting for our bid cards!