Reflecting on College

Remember when your parents, high school teachers and guidance counselors would assure to you that college would be the best four years of your life? It was hard for me to believe then, as I assumed that college would be more stressful than it would be exciting. Now as a soon-to-be graduate, it is my turn to be the adult guaranteeing to younger students how wonderful college really is.

It seems like just yesterday my parents took a day off in the middle of the week to tour a school called Christopher Newport University with me. I have never heard of the school before, but had high expectations because it was the first campus I ever toured. Four years later, here I am witnessing our tour guides showing a new group of incoming freshman around our beautiful campus and wishing that I could do this whole experience all over again.

The past four years of my life have been more challenging, straining and thought-provoking than I could have planned for. However, the past four years have also been the most memorable and the most rewarding part of my life. I came into college with an undeclared major and relied on the liberal learning curriculum at Christopher Newport to help me find my way. And it did! I fell in love with business marketing and am so grateful to be earning my bachelors of science in business administration from CNU.

My knowledge has greatly developed from the high-level of education provided by our caring professors. Aside from schooling, I became involved in four organizations, a business fraternity and two honor societies whom all welcomed me and became part of my family here at Christopher Newport. I have met so many wonderful friends here and (to my surprise) became close with many of my professors and the friendly staff who say “good morning” or “have a nice day” to me each time I pass by. The Christopher Newport community is so supportive and close-knit, and I could not ask for a better school to call my alma mater. I am proud to say that I am a Christopher Newport Captain and soon-to-be alumna for life!

Springfest!

The Campus Activities Board, also known as CAB, holds an annual festival wherein the Christopher Newport community can gather and have a great time together with free gifts, food and activities. There’s one for every season we’re in school: fall, winter and spring. Spring Fest was today and I had a great time with all of my friends. This event was held by a different committee than the one I’m a part of, so I didn’t have a hand in planning in it. Instead, I could just walk around and enjoy all the sights.

My friends and I immediately got in line for a free shirt within two minutes of walking in. From there, we grabbed a “bingo” card which you could use to win a to-go cup if all of the spaces were filled with a stamp you could receive from the different stations at the event. We went around playing with moon boots, obstacle courses and trivia, earning different stamps along the way. Though, we definitely had the most fun when we got on the various inflatable carnival games. After a lot of exercise, we canceled it all out with some free fries and popcorn.

It was the perfect way to start off the weekend and coast into exam week. After a long semester, it felt great to unwind and spend some quality time with my friends. CAB’s festival events are by far one of my favorite part of being a Captain and they just keep getting better and better!

Requiem

University Chorale held a concert recently. We sang the 50-minute long “Requiem” by Mozart, and it turned out so much better than I could’ve hoped! I absolutely love being a member of the University Chorale.I have made such amazing friendships and I feel like I can unapologetically be myself around this group of people. In my other involvements, I get great experience, have lots of fun and focus on personal growth, which is very future-oriented. Don’t get me wrong, I love that, but University Chorale is different. I get to live in the moment, which is something I have struggled with throughout my life.

This semester in UC, our director challenged us. Usually, we would learn a few different pieces of music and perform two different concerts per semester, but this semester was very different from that. Mozart’s “Requiem” is one piece of music, about 80 pages long, almost 20 different movements, and 50 minutes of singing. It took us all semester to perfect it, and the end result was amazing. I absolutely love performing with my peers and showing off all of the hard work that we put into this piece.

This work was really special because it was the last spring concert I would have with my section leader. He’s one of those ‘tough love’ people, and as such, we had a dynamic friendship, sometimes we worked perfectly together, and sometimes we butted heads. Usually, we roast each other. When we were standing offstage, about to go on, I realized that this was my last spring concert with him, and we had a mushy moment, and he said: “you know I pick on you because you’re cool, right?” Any hard feelings we had for each other from butting heads disappeared and we hugged and then we went on stage and sang the heck out of some Mozart. Yes, it’s cheesy, but yes, I loved every second of that. You know why? Because it’s really cool having those dorky moments that you would see in a movie, it means a lot to me to have friendships like these, and it makes me happy to be a Captain.

WCNU Radio

The other day, I was scrolling through Instagram, wasting time as usual, when something interesting caught my eye. On someone’s story, I saw an application for WCNU Radio’s executive board. The student radio station is a relatively new organization to our campus that was defunct for several years. Thankfully, a handful of proactive students resurrected it this semester to some great results. The organization has done a great job of re-establishing itself and becoming a vibrant part of our community, so I knew I wanted to apply.

I sent in my application and also began doing some research on the organization. A couple of things that really excited me was the weekly program that they do with Currents, Christopher Newport’s literary arts magazine. They also put on a “masquerave” which really intrigued me. Since the organization is newly reborn, there is plenty of opportunity for ingenuity and creativity. I just finished my interview for a position on e-board and loved speaking to the current and former president about our goals and vision for the organization; there was a great flow of ideas.

I’m hopeful I’ll get a position on the team, but, if not, I’m definitely going to have a great time checking out the programs and events during next year. They are very open to new shows and so it’s easy to submit an application to be featured in their weekly programming. Definitely excited to see this organization grow on our campus and I hope to be a part of it!

Off Campus Birthday

Christopher Newport may be a relatively small school, but there’s big fun to be had around town, and don’t worry, it won’t break your budget, either. My birthday is April 25, but I have a final on that day, so instead, I decided to celebrate early! My friends from home are usually the people I spend my birthday with, and they’re only about 45 minutes away from Christopher Newport, so they had no problem coming here to visit. One of my best friends’ birthdays is on April 17, so we decided that this would be a joint-birthday celebration, and let me tell you, that was a crazy fun day.

The original plan was for us to have a whole day of fun, and while that part didn’t change, the weather, unfortunately, got in the way. The plan was to go to Busch Gardens in the morning (we all have season passes, so that’s technically free), next, we would grab some lunch and head back to campus, play Dungeons and Dragons (it’s not as nerdy as it sounds – don’t knock it till you try it!), then go to Rebounderz, which is a place where they have entire rooms with trampolines on the floor and walls, and it was really cool. We were able to do everything except the Busch Gardens part, but that’s OK! We still had a blast!

Rebounderz is only about 15 minutes away from campus, and they had a deal for three hours of play for $20 per person, which is definitely a lot of fun for cheap, if you ask me! We were thinking of other things that we could do off-campus, and in the end, we decided that there were too many options to just choose one thing, so we are going to have another fun day coming up soon! Some of the highlights will include movies, bowling, ice skating and who knows what else!

There are literally so many things to do within a short radius of our campus that I think anyone can find their favorite spot. My friends and I learned that Rebounderz isn’t our thing, ha-ha. That was our first time going, and, apparently, being on a trampoline at 20 years old is a lot more taxing than when we were 10. But that’s OK! Because we stepped out of our comfort zone and still had fun laughing at each other when we got winded on a trampoline! I think we might just stick to bowling, now that I think about it, last time we went ice skating, I almost broke my ankles! If I’ve learned anything at Christopher Newport, it’s that challenging yourself is always great, but don’t break anything trying to push yourself!

Mocktails!

In my building, the RAs hosted a building-wide event which we called “Mocktails,” short for “Mock Cocktails,” where we focused on alcohol safety. We set up tables in the lobby and had information about how to safely engage with alcohol, with the attempt of giving students some guidance on how to make good decisions in the future.

We made a bunch of non-alcoholic versions of cocktails, let residents try to pour their own drink, to see if they can accurately judge how much of one drink equates to another, and they also put on a pair of “drunk goggles” and tried to do math problems! We had a bunch of different types of mocktails, including piña coladas and many more! It was a really fun event because residents got to ‘drink with their RA,’ but aside from that, we also showed them that alcohol has its fair share of negatives as well, and, when not consumed responsibly, bad things can happen.

The drunk goggles are just a normal pair of goggles, but the screen is distorted so that everything looks wacky, to simulate intoxication. I put them on for a second and definitely felt a little dizzy. We let the residents try them on and then had them try and do math problems, and let’s just say it was very entertaining.

I think events like these are incredibly important to college-age people because they get to experience the effects of bad decisions without having to actually live through it and suffer the consequences. Having this event hosted by the RAs shows that we aren’t here to police our residents and invade their lives, but instead, we are here to help them grow and make better decisions. Overall, this event was really fun, and although we know our efforts can only do so much, we hope that our event helps them be smarter, safer, and more responsible with their decision making going forward.

Connecting My Community

As an RA, one of the many aspects of my job is to create a sense of community on my hall, and as I am new, I was really excited to come in strong and have a really fun event for my residents. In ResLife, we call hall events ‘community connections,’ and the goal is to bring the hall together, strengthen bonds between the RA and their residents, as well as foster new friendships among the hall by presenting information to residents in a fun way.

For my community connection, I decided that I was going to host a “Mario Kart” tournament on my hall. In order to enter in the tournament, my residents had to show me that they were prepared for registration, meaning they have contacted their adviser and have not just one plan for registration, but at least one backup plan, too. Registration can be super stressful if you don’t have backup plans, and it’s really important for residents to know that they have more than just one option, especially as first-year students.

In addition to having a fun tournament, I also added some other incentives for attending the program. The grand prize for the tournament was $25 in Captain’s Cash, which at this point in the semester is such a great incentive because it will cover laundry for the rest of the semester and even some coffee during finals week. The tournament was really fun, I found out my residents are super competitive. We all had a blast. I made up a bracket, and we all celebrated for the winner. I also had Chick-fil-A cater the event, so even though all my residents weren’t able to win the money, they definitely ate their fair share of chicken nuggets.

Being an RA is awesome. I get to hang out with so many different types of people, and I get to have an impact on all of their lives. Whether big or small, it makes me really happy to know that I can help other Captains navigate their college experience, and pay forward the great experience that I had with my previous RAs.

Checking Things Off, One by One

With the semester drawing to a close, one by one, my schedule clears up a little bit more. Today, I finished the last day of classes and I was able to breathe a big sigh of relief. (Only one more week of exams and then I’m a junior!) I also finished my last public performance for the semester with the Director’s Showcase. In addition, I attended my last CAB meeting and Psi Upsilon chapter for the semester. (I haven’t written my last blog yet, but that’s coming up quickly on the horizon!) It’s a tiny bit melancholy as the year wraps up, but it’s also good to get things off my plate.

Finishing the Director’s Showcase was a big one, I had spent so much time rehearsing this week with rehearsals scheduled from 6-10 p.m. on top of all my classes and other commitments. Though, finally I can be left to just focus on studying for my five finals. Yes, finals can definitely be stressful, but I actually like how they come and go very quickly. There’s no time to procrastinate. You take an exam about each day for five days, but then, it’s all over and you can relax as much as you like.

Pretty soon it’ll be summer and I cannot express how excited I am to just sit around my house watching “Game of Thrones” all day (there’s a lot I have to catch up on). Tonight, my friends and I are all gathered around the TV, watching the Tom Hanks classic: “Cast Away.” I’ll definitely miss moments like these over summer, but we’ll all be back soon enough. For now, there’s still a couple of things left to check off the list, so I better get to it!

A Relay for the Community

I can fully say that, after attending Relay for Life for the third year in a row, I felt the impact this year more than ever before. As the relay leadership team stood on the stage and asked for caregivers and survivors to begin their initial kickoff lap for the night, I realized how many students are affected on campus. I felt humbled with the strength and courage many of them had to take this walk. I saw friends, coworkers, sorority sisters and strangers bare their experience in front of hundreds of Christopher Newport students and the local community and be completely supported by attendees.

This event had so many incredible activities to offer. From the walk itself, to the spikeball setups, booths with free candy and beads, and dance floor. I never felt bored or unwelcome, nor did I feel that the purpose of the evening was lost at any point. Many student organizations participate and fundraise and I saw so many sororities, clubs, fraternities and organizations passing out symbolic beads, showing welcoming smiles, and supplying snacks!

I attend this event every year. I have never participated in its planning, although I love to attend and fundraise leading up to the event. Each year I am reminded of the experiences that each cancer survivor, family member or friend undergoes in their journey with cancer. I am so grateful to attend a school that supports such an incredible event on our campus.

Advisers as Friends

When I tell people I’m studying leadership they tend to scoff and somewhat underestimate the complicated facets that go into the concept. Truthfully, I’m somewhat biased because I love being a part of the President’s Leadership Program (PLP) and attending classes for my leadership minor. I’ve met so many wonderful people through the experience and have defined certain aspects of my identity along the way. However, my favorite part of the entire program happens to be my PLP coordinator.

She was the first person I met on campus last year who challenged me to think of myself with more complexity as a freshman. Even though I had just begun my journey, she told me to start thinking of ways I can impact the community around me. At first, I had no idea where to start, but she helped to organize goals for me that would be completed each year.

Service is a major part of the goals my coordinator and I set out to accomplish. I loved animals and knew I wanted to help an organization involved with that service track. She helped me find a place in the community to start volunteering with and even connected me with another student so we could drive there together. Each semester when we meet she still asks about my job there and keeps up to date with how many hours I’ve earned.

Studying abroad is also a major goal I knew I had coming to college and when I joined PLP I quickly learned this was an important element for the program too. I had earned some scholarship money from the program in order to study here in Italy. When I told my coordinator about my plans to journey abroad she was so proud of me for pushing past my comfort zone. She made the scholarship process run smoothly and helped connect me to contacts I needed. In our last meeting she even suggested her favorite gelato store in Florence!

I love talking with my coordinator because I recognize her genuine goal to see me succeed and her passion toward her work. I’m so grateful and honored to have such an amazing person in my life and feel comforted to have such a friendly face at Christopher Newport. Overall, the program has helped me grow so much as a person and I can’t wait to see what comes next.