Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Your Volunteer Hours

Christopher Newport places a huge emphasis on service and community engagement. The university is very committed to engaging with the Newport News community.

In programs such as PLP and the Bonner Scholars, community engagement through volunteering is required. Outside of these programs, CNU has many more service organizations that highly encourage volunteering, such as Green Team and SPCA. For a freshman or transfer student, this can be overwhelming. “Why do so many volunteer?” “Where are they volunteering?” “How do they find the time?” These are all questions that are relatively common.

CNU students volunteer because we care about our community, both in and outside of CNU. To name just a few, we are volunteering all over Newport News, at food banks, museums, elementary schools and youth centers. In addition, students also spend a lot of time volunteering on campus. Typically, this involves tabling in the DSU, but there are plenty of other ways to volunteer on campus too. CNU’s weekly emails offer tons of opportunities. The biggest question is “How do they find the time?”

Time is where a lot of the worry stems from. Well, it’s a lot easier than you’d think to get hours done. The amount of time spent in class in college is typically a lot shorter than the time spent in class in high school. With the extra free time, you are able to explore the community around you. And if you so choose, volunteer in it. The biggest hurdle is actually getting out there and doing it.

A common mistake is waiting until the last minute. Don’t wait. Commit to 1-3 hours of volunteering a week, a small percentage of the 168 hours that are in a week, and you’ll be done with plenty of time to spare. Continue on that path and you’ll also be on your way to possibly graduating with a service distinction!

Difficult Classes

We all have that one subject that we just can’t stand. For me, it’s always been math. Ever since I had my first long division worksheet in fourth grade, I knew it wasn’t for me. With that said, it’s unavoidable when you’re seeking higher education. I took math throughout elementary, middle and high school; college is no different.

As a result of Christopher Newport’s liberal learning curriculum, we have to dip our toes into just about every field. As such, we all have to take at least one class in that subject we can’t stand, whatever it may be. It isn’t all bad though, and it definitely shouldn’t be anything to be afraid of. CNU wants academic excellence from its students, but this doesn’t mean the university has unrealistic expectations. At the end of the day, their goal is to help you succeed. To earn success, you have to challenge yourself.

When you leave college after four years, whether you enter the workforce or continue your education at a higher level, the general expectation is that you are a well-rounded student. A liberal learning curriculum ensures this is the case. You are the given the opportunity to explore your passions through your majors/minors, but fulfilling the areas of interest and liberal learning requirements offer an entirely different benefit. This is that you are able to grow and learn from completely new fields.

Now, this all sounds great, but a difficult class is still difficult. So, what can you do? Consider going to CNU’s Center for Academic Success to get extra help, talk to your professor, and always be sure to study!

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Finals

Coming back from Thanksgiving break can be seen as a chore for some or as a motivating and rejuvenating feeling. For me, I come back from break with a clear mind. I feel ready to take on the last few weeks. I have found the most success in working extra hard before break so that all that I need to focus on after is final projects, papers and exams. This allows for a focused and determined mind.

I know it is easy to take those few days at home and come back feeling like all you want to do is turn around and go home. But, my advice to you is bask in the success of finishing a semester strong. Visit, the Center for Academic Success, go talk to your professors, spend this time making sure you are doing your best to secure those good grades.

My all time favorite thing about coming back from break is coming back to the holiday feeling in the air. The students are decorating their room doors with wreaths and wrapping paper. Every academic building has a real, fully decorated and enormous tree standing center stage right when you walk in. I enjoyed decorating my room this year for the holiday and it gives me a great atmosphere to start studying for those approaching finals.

The Importance of Sleep

Everyone sleeps. And I think everyone can agree, aside from a few characters in “Nightmare on Elm Street,” that it’s pretty great. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, we don’t get enough. Late nights are almost a staple of college life. Every once in a while, it’s OK (not good, but you’ll live). Though, if you begin to fall into a pattern of late nights, then you’ll find yourself suffering from some major consequences.

Firstly, if you consistently are having sleepless nights, you’ll create a “sleep debt.” This is sleep that your body needs to function properly, and it must be acquired one way or another. This can lead to you falling asleep in class, or falling asleep at inopportune times in general. While a midday nap is awesome, it’s not so good if it means you’re missing time that you could be using to finish schoolwork. If you don’t finish it in the day, then you’ll have to finish it at night, and the cycle repeats.

It’s recommended that a college student gets, at least, eight hours of sleep every night. I bet you’re wondering “How?” Well, don’t worry, it’s a lot easier than you think. The best way to tackle this issue is planning. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to live your life according to a schedule, but a few guidelines could certainly help. Set times to get your work and prior obligations done during the day, allotting time for you to get eight or more hours of sleep before your earliest class in the morning.

It’s never too late to make the change. If you’re struggling with academics, consider changing your sleep schedule. A good night’s sleep could be all it takes to get you in the right state of mind for success!

Friendsgiving

If you’re unfamiliar with Friendsgiving, it’s an annual tradition among a lot of friend groups. You gather with your friends to share a delicious Thanksgiving-style meal. Though, unlike true Thanksgiving, the food is usually microwaveable and a heck of a lot cheaper. What’s important isn’t the food, but the camaraderie and company. Fortunately, I was able to take part in my very first Friendsgiving right here at CNU.

I’ve never been much of a cook, so, all I contributed was six cups of mac n’ cheese that I microwaved and then dropped into a big bowl. Though, you’d be surprised at how much college kids love that stuff. There were burgers, fries, chicken nuggets, noodles, donuts and cookies, all courtesy of fast food restaurants. All the best food groups represented, am I right? We dug in and reminisced over all that had happened these past months. Suffice it to say, a lot has happened.

I’ve had a whirlwind of a first few months at Christopher Newport, and I’ve made some amazing friends along the way. Whether I met them during welcome week, leadership adventure, in my hall or just from around campus, we all had something in common. This was that we love being here. Friendsgiving felt like the culmination of all of these bonds I had formed. And as we shared our meal, I know we all were just excited to keep on going and imagine what the next Friendsgiving will be like.

Moonball!

One of the sororities here at CNU, Gamma Phi Beta (GPhi), recently held its moonball fundraiser event. It was a great experience that attracted a lot of teams and raised tons of money. Most all of the sisters were in attendance and were all very excited to host. Similarly, all the teams participating and audience members had a great time at the event.

Most of you will be unfamiliar with the term “moonball,” but this is one of GPhi’s signature fundraisers. Essentially, it’s a volleyball tournament. It’s called moonball because one of Gamma Phi’s emblems is a crescent moon. The fundraiser went on without a hitch, thanks to the sisters. Every team had to pay a small fee to enter, which went toward GPhi’s philanthropy. GPhi’s philanthropy is to empower and strengthen young women across the nation. The funds raised will be donated to Girls on the Run. It was a tough tournament, but Sigma Phi Epsilon ended up placing first.

Dancing Through College

My freshman year at Christopher Newport, I decided to sign up for Ballroom Dance Society. I wanted a challenge, something to push me to the edge of my comfort zone. My initial idea of ballroom dancing involved glamour, dramatic tangos and skirts that would fly around me in a perfect circle as I spun. My first lesson involved dancing in jeans, a T-shirt and polka-dot socks to an upbeat swing, surrounded by 20 or so students. The instructor who came to teach once a week would teach us a move and then have us dance it in pairs.

I was initially terrified, having no dance experience and being exceptionally good at face-planting. But the older students encouraged me to have fun regardless, and coaxed me out of my shell. I began to open up to my new family, thanks to their guidance, silliness and ardent love for dancing. Jump to today, and I am still an active member of the club, and now one of the more experienced dancers. I love getting the opportunity to encourage new students and help them find their passion for ballroom. I love going to dance competitions in other states, and bonding with the CNU club while meeting new ones. And more than anything, I love that one day our newest, shyest freshmen will one day be leading the club, teaching people to love dance. The circle never ends. And even when I graduate, leaving my beautiful school and ballroom family behind, I will never stop dancing.

Sewing the Stress Away

As a theater minor, I was required to take either scene design or costume design. Both classes are beneficial and highly enjoyable, but I chose to take costuming because it seemed more interesting to me. We’re nearing the end of the semester, and I thought it would be fun to reflect on my experience in this incredibly rewarding class.

Professor Kathy Jaremski is a wonderfully talented, caring, hardworking individual who really cares about her students and their success. She taught us that no matter what position you hold in the theatrical world (actor, director, scene designer, etc.) it is important to have at least a general understanding of all the other cogs in the machine. This allows for a broader understanding of theater as a whole, and makes the whole production process run a lot smoother.

Not only has this class helped me to understand the work that goes into costuming a production, but it has helped me gain life skills such as sewing on buttons and zippers, ironing/pressing garments, and making a garment based on a commercial pattern. Because of this, this class is beneficial to all students, not just those interested in pursuing a career in theater.

As part of this class, students are required to participate in about three lab hours per week. During these hours, we come into the costume shop and work on projects. This allows us to learn in a hands-on way with more one-on-one time with the professor than we would otherwise receive. This time is highly beneficial and is a fun, relaxing way to take your mind off the stress of other courses.

I would recommend this class to anyone looking to gain real-life skills and have fun doing it!

The Dramatic Impulse

My favorite class this semester is The Dramatic Impulse. It’s an introductory course to all things theater, which is right up my alley. While the subject matter is important, it’s not the only reason why I love the class. The main reason I love the class is the way the curriculum is presented. Rather than traditional lectures, the class is entirely group based. Professor Ishee prompts the class, and then promptly waits for the discussion to begin. He does not egg on students; he lets the class take as long as they please to begin discussion. This forces class participation, and everyone benefits from this.

Similarly, rather than traditional tests and homework, grades are made up, almost exclusively, of group presentations. These vary from assignment to assignment, including all aspects of theater (acting, sound, design, scenery, directing, thematic elements, etc). The class is very much what you make of it. Everyone is free to interpret the assignments as they wish, and this has made for some very interesting decisions creatively. They’re fun to watch and even more fun to participate in.

CNU facilitates this sort of learning environment. The University allows and encourages faculty to be unorthodox and experimental. College is a time to try new things, and with thoughtful and creative professors, students are exposed to just as many new things in the classroom as out.

Beach Trips While in School

There is a lot more to Christopher Newport University than just laying on the Great Lawn or watching the sunset at the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Because of its location on the Peninsula, we Captains have access to several beaches nearby. Some of you may be thinking our only option is Virginia Beach. Nope, there is much more than that! Some smaller beaches nearby are Buckroe Beach, located in Hampton, Yorktown Beach and Huntington Beach in Newport News.

The one that most CNU students choose to go to is Buckroe Beach. Personally, I have gone to some of these beaches just to spend a day out in the sun and relax. I have also gone to get out of the norm and study with a nice view. If you are someone who loves history and small historic towns, Yorktown Beach is your best bet.

There are so many fun places to go to that we sometimes do not know about. Now that finals week is approaching, I suggest grabbing your study materials and heading to the beach to study on one of the warm days that is coming up. Enjoy it while the somewhat warm weather lasts!