Volunteering at the Virginia Living Museum

Service is a huge component to the Captain experience and being a part of a service group previously, I knew I wanted to continue my work at university. At first, I felt like an outsider glancing in on the Newport News community. It felt too overwhelming to begin to look for where I could assist. Luckily, I knew about our Center for Community Engagement, which is an office that helps students get involved. I told them my interests and my passion to work with animals and they recommended I try volunteering at the Virginia Living Museum, which is right near campus.

When I applied online I was able to speak about my experiences with animals and the museum immediately placed me in animal care. I went through training which taught me how to interact with guests and animals around the museum. As animal care assistant, my specialty would be working with animals, cleaning their facilities and helping with meal prep. I am proud to say that I now know the diet of a wolf by heart, and can hold a kestrel with ease.

I missed my horses so much when I left from home, but I found comfort in the animals I work with every Sunday. My favorite animal is a crow that likes to speak to me. He taught me his impressive three-word vocabulary and actually responds to me if I reciprocate a call. I also befriended a screech owl who is small enough to fit in the palm of my hand and likes to perch on my finger to have a look around the room.

I am so grateful for the unique experiences I have been granted through volunteering. It seems strange that I can be donating my time to a cause and yet be receiving such amazing memories and relationships in return. The volunteer staff is spectacular at the Virginia Living Museum and I am so lucky to be a part of their team.

Captains Have a Soft Spot for Dogs

It was not until I came to Christopher Newport that I was exposed to a community that is so passionate about dogs. Sure, in my neighborhood back at home, there were plenty of pups around, but no one in my neighborhood has ever acted as nutty as Captains do when a dog is nearby. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about our enthusiasm for dogs, in fact, I love it! I am sure that any fellow Captains will agree that seeing a dog running around the Great Lawn with its ears flapping in the wind brings a smile to your face. For that, I am thankful.

Just today, the co-ed business and professional fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi, hosted the fundraising event: Paws and Relax. As a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, this is one of my favorite charitable events. It is both funny and amazing to see how excited students became as they neared the dogs brought from the local SPCA. Despite the chilly weather and the $1 donation to the SPCA, students could not have been happier to pet the adorable dogs!

With just one wag of its tail or a roll on its back, a dog will have a swarm of students admiring it within minutes. And when there is a dog on campus, word spreads quickly, especially through the power of social media. Maybe it is because we miss our pets from home or because we cannot resist their irresistible cuteness, but it seems like we, as Captains, are attracted to dogs like a magnet. I know that I certainly have a soft spot for dogs. When the dogs are out at Christopher Newport, so are the smiles.

Learning Leadership

It was a very interesting and engaging week in my Leadership Through the Ages class. We submitted our first essay before fall break, and so now we returned to class to receive our feedback and learn more about the great leaders from the past.

Throughout the semester, we have learned about Marcus Aurelius, Catherine the Great, George Washington and now Napoleon Bonaparte. Being a part of the President’s Leadership Program, I assumed I would learn plenty about leaders, but had no idea to what extent. As a student of leadership, everyday I learn more about what it takes to be a leader and how acclaimed leaders from history made their mark on the world. It’s always an exciting day in leadership class because every word taught has an immense historical value on the world we live in today.

Leadership is a difficult thing to teach. It’s an amalgamation of first-hand experiences, textbook theories and countless more little things that form a great leader. Christopher Newport’s Leadership Through the Ages course mainly focuses on the factual elements, emphasizing historical examples through lecture. I find the class so interesting because it directly applies to how we might be leaders in our everyday lives. I can personally attest to the importance of what is learned on a daily basis. It’s great to study the theory, but by researching examples from real life we’re able to directly examine the impact of leadership. It’s much more than your average by-the-books course, it encourages application of theory as well as simply learning the basics of the subject. Christopher Newport classes always go the extra mile, and leadership is no exception.

Staying Healthy at CNU

There are plenty of horror stories about the dreaded “freshmen 10.” If you’re unfamiliar with this term, it’s in reference to how students may gain weight or fall into unhealthy habits during their first year at college. This is because there’s so much great food at the dining halls and your schedule is very busy, so it’s easy to fall out of your healthy habits. However, at Christopher Newport, there are many opportunities to stay healthy.


  • Dining Halls: There is a lot of delicious food in our beautiful dining halls. Thankfully, a lot of it is actually very healthy for you. Firstly, there’s always a salad bar open with lots to choose from. If that’s not your fancy, then, at Regattas, there is a station called “Healthy Haven,” which has fresh, new options everyday that can be a great part of a healthy diet.
  • Freeman Center: This is where the gym and a lot of fitness classes are held. The gym is open everyday and is free for all students. The hours are incredibly flexible, so it’s incredibly easy to make time for the gym in your schedule. In addition, the Freeman Center is very close to all of the residence halls. If you’re living on campus, the gym is never more than a 10-minute walk away.
  • Healthy Foundations: This is a seminar series in which students can plan and create a fitness program for themselves. This program will hold you accountable and encourage you to stay healthy during your stay at Christopher Newport. These are great seminars to attend because they make you aware of the different areas you need to be paying attention to ensure your health.


Coming to college is a big change, but that doesn’t mean you have to fall into unhealthy habits. That’s why Christopher Newport works so hard to ensure its students have plenty of options to stay healthy.

Group Projects

In high school, group projects were a pain. Now that I’m at Christopher Newport, I actually look forward to them. At CNU, we all care deeply about our academics, and do not shirk our responsibilities. So it’s easy to put your mind at ease and have faith your partners will pull their weight! This week, I’ve been working on three different group projects.

The first was assigned a few weeks ago, and it’s for my theater class. My partner and I are working on blocking, designing and acting a scene. It’s been a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. Today, she and I finalized some design ideas and discussed our characters’ motivations. Our official performance is next week, and I’m very excited to finally present everything altogether!

In addition, for my argumentation class, we were put into random groups and told to form an argument either for or against standardized testing. We’ll then present our argument to a group of judges. I love assignments like those. It fosters creative and lively discussion, and the research feels like it has a real purpose, as opposed to just writing an essay for its own sake. Lastly, two of  my friends and I presented on the film “12 Years a Slave” and its connection to Walt Whitman’s poetry. We practiced for about an hour today, so when it finally came time to present, it was a breeze.

I’m so glad my week is filled with projects like these, and I know my fellow Christopher Newport peers are too. It’s great to not only learn from professors, but also each other. Collaboration and team-building skills are just as important as the actual learning, and Christopher Newport knows that.

Behind the Scenes of Fall Break

Fall break is that wonderful time of year when we get to take a few days to de-stress from all our classes and enjoy some extended time for ourselves. During fall break, we keep the residence halls open, because it is not a long enough break to close campus. That means that I worked for the weekend, but it was actually great.

Most people would groan at the idea of working over break, but for me, I enjoyed every second. I worked a bunch of hours and pretty much nobody was here! I love all my fellow Captains, but it was so refreshing to sit behind the desk for a few hours and chill, knowing that I might only see a few people per hour. Sometimes all you need is a change of pace to re-energize yourself.

With my free time, I was able to renew my Netflix addiction, have some peace and quiet to think about life, draw, listen to music, talk to some friends that I haven’t had the time to talk to in a while, laugh awkwardly by myself at memes, take some dramatic photos of simple objects simply because I thought it would be cool, take some great selfies, take some really bad selfies and eat chicken tenders with my other friends who worked during the break (life tip: always eat chicken tenders when the opportunity presents itself.)

Some people choose to take their breaks off campus and reunite with their families. For me, I like peace and quiet, which my family does not do. With campus nearly empty, I got to enjoy the fall weather all by myself, which, as an introvert, what could be better?

Midterms Are Over!

The student body of Christopher Newport has collectively just taken one huge sigh of relief because midterms are over. It was a stressful week, but we had fall break right after which allowed us to decompress.

I reached all my midterm grade goals and so I’m very pleased with how my academics are going right now. I owe it all to the resources on campus, namely the Center for Academic Success. The name is pretty self-explanatory, but, admittedly, I wasn’t quite sure exactly what their workshops were like until I started talking to friends about their experiences and also having my own. The writing center specifically was an immense help for my essays. They offer different types of sessions relative to what exactly you want help with. For example, you can visit the center and brainstorm a topic or you can have your essay reviewed and receive some incredible feedback.

I also owe a great debt to my friends, who encouraged me to study and put my academics first. It definitely paid off. I genuinely feel cared for by the Christopher Newport community. During a stressful week like midterms, the entire campus is on edge, and yet, help is still always there for you when you need it. The benefit of such a small campus is how close-knit we are.

Finals are a good six or seven weeks off, so I’m back to relaxing before I put myself into overdrive again. Though, when those pesky tests do turn up, I’ll be ready for them!

Safety at CNU

Going off to college can be scary and intimidating for a variety of reasons. Though, many of them fall under the umbrella of not feeling secure on campus. Thankfully, at Christopher Newport, our community is built upon ensuring we are all safe and healthy so we can pursue our educational passions.

Campus safety is a top priority at Christopher Newport, in fact, CNU is designated by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services as a Certified Crime Prevention Campus. In the freshmen residence halls, there is always a front desk assistant there to check IDs when we enter the building (after you have already scanned yourself in). As a student, it’s comforting to know that the only people allowed in residence halls are people who belong there. Even outside of the residence halls, the campus still feels very comfortable and relaxed. Personally, I have never felt uneasy walking around campus late at night. Though, if I did, it’s nice to know that Christopher Newport has its own police department that works 24 hours a day.

Christopher Newport is a part of the larger Newport News, Virginia area. It’s great to be able to explore the city, but it’s also very reassuring knowing that Christopher Newport is always a safe place – a place you can always rely on to be your home. Besides physical safety, Christopher Newport also offers counseling services to those who feel like they need it, for any reason. As a campus, we protect and care for one another. Everyone should feel comfortable at Christopher Newport, both physically and mentally. We work hard as a community to ensure we accomplish this.

Stroll to the Polls

It is the sixth year of Alpha Phi Alpha’s annual Stroll to the Polls. As a dance competition with an increasing amount of student participation, both on stage and in the audience, Stroll to the Polls is quickly becoming a must-see tradition on campus. In fact, the Christopher Newport University Ferguson Center for the Arts, the beautiful theatre where Stroll to the Polls is held, is packed with students excited to see the performance each year.

If your high school has a step dance team, then you might be familiar with strolling, the style of dance performed at Stroll to the Polls. It’s easiest to imagine strolling as a mixture of step, marching and hip-hop dance. This style of dance is commonly performed by multicultural Greek organizations. However, in Stroll to the Polls, all Greek organizations on campus are encouraged to form a stroll team to compete against other sororities and fraternities. May the best stroll routine win!

This year, each Greek organization participant, and for the first time, my hip-hop dance group, Hypnotic Control, really brought the energy and enthusiasm into each performance. My favorite part will always be watching Alpha Phi Alpha perform their own choreographed stroll routine.

Stroll to the Polls isn’t just an event for entertainment. In support the Alpha Phi Alpha’s national program, A Voteless People Is A Hopeless People, the purpose of Stroll to the Polls is to promote voter awareness for the upcoming midterm elections. Additionally, all proceeds from the event go to March of Dimes, which fights for the health of all moms and babies, and Beautiful Kids, a nonprofit that helps children with Alopecia. I had so much fun at this event, and it feels great to give to a good cause!

Advising Season

After fall break, teachers and students begin to collaborate and coordinate to ensure we’re all prepared for our next steps, whatever they may be. In other words, fall break signifies the “get serious” portion of the semester, which involves coming together to talk about our four-year plans, class schedules, post-graduation plans and more.

I am one of the rare few that enjoys advising season. With my type-A personality and love of planning I find myself looking forward to a time that may be stressful for others. Thankfully, this campus is well prepared for this daunting three-week period. With resources like the Center for Career Planning, core advisers, peer mentor programs and more, we have plenty of opportunities to establish ourselves on campus and set ourselves up for success down the road.

As a freshman I didn’t expect people to invest themselves in me at all, let alone with the passion and dedication that I did receive. Now, as a junior I have been given the correct tools to serve as a mentor to other students in my position and become a leader in my own right. I have made many a four-year plan, and I love that. Now I get the chance to give back to the campus that has given so much to me!