Arts for All

As you may know, I am in the President’s Leadership Program, and one component of the program is to fulfill a service requirement each year with a specific service track. There are a bunch of service tracks, so there are a bunch of service sites available, and something for everyone! I was struggling for a while to find a service site, but one day I found the Arts For All Program and am super happy volunteering with them.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and my time volunteering, for now, has come to an end. I’ve enjoyed volunteering a lot this year, but I need to dedicate some more time to myself, and as I have taken on some more responsibilities on campus as an RA, I could use the extra time. Don’t fret though, this isn’t my last time ever volunteering with them, I’ll be back next year!

When I came to Christopher Newport, I wasn’t too keen on volunteering, because I haven’t had the most lucrative life, so volunteering to me seemed like just working for no pay, but since coming to this university, I’ve realized that volunteering is about way more than money. With Arts for All, I help fundraise to provide accessibility equipment for people who come to see our shows in the Ferguson Center for the Arts. I have gotten to see the impact of my volunteering this semester, and it is so fulfilling.

Volunteering is one of the most important aspects of being a Captain. I am so glad to have had the opportunity to work with such an amazing organization. I am very thankful for Christopher Newport for turning me on to volunteering. I’m not sure that I would have had this revelation anywhere else, and that’s just one more reason that I’m so glad to be a Captain!

My Favorite Places on Campus

At many other colleges, it’s typical for students to move off campus after their freshman year. Christopher Newport, with some exceptions, requires us to remain on campus for the first three years. To some, this might sound like an issue, but you should definitely check out my other blog about housing before you jump to any conclusions. (Spoiler: The on-campus apartments are amazing.) I feel like the benefits of living on campus for three years definitely outweigh the issues because it brings our community closer together and garners a greater sense of appreciation for the wonderful school we have chosen.

Captains love to hang out in the library, but don’t judge us just yet. (Please come visit and see how beautiful our newly renovated library is. You’ll want to spend all day in there too.) For a small school, our library is huge with tons of study space including desks, tables, computers, as well as individual and group study rooms. I’ve never once walked into the library and not seen anyone I know. Often times, I head into the library and start studying with a friend of mine who is working somewhere, even though we didn’t plan to! The exact same can be said of the dining halls. Sometimes, I go in and grab a to-go box, but I quickly run into a friend. So, I put my box away and instead sit down to have a meal. The Christopher Newport community is no joke; we really are as close as we say.

Of course, sometimes I’m not always up to be a social butterfly. So, I’ll relax outside in the Ferguson garden, or take a walk through campus and admire all of the architecture. After all, just because we’re a small campus doesn’t mean you don’t have your individual space. It’s good to have a balance, and that’s what Christopher Newport offers.

Our Donor Patient

When I was in my high school anatomy class, we were given the opportunity to dissect several small animals, but never in much depth and very rarely. As a college junior I am so excited to be spending two hours of my week to examine a human donor with my peers and a former medical doctor. The best part? I am getting credit to conduct these studies! As a hopeful pre-health care student, this opportunity is incredibly rare at many universities and is a unique chance for students to gain surgical skills, and to develop dissection and professional skills.

Weekly, our professor meets with several small groups of students (about four of us or less) and we convene in a small room with our “patient.” Prior to this, we have communicated our goals for the week, what we plan to accomplish, as well as updates on our individual research projects. As we walk into the chilly room, all of us wash our hands, grab our respective lab coats, pull on our gloves, and grab our tools. While I consider this time to be my most enjoyable part of my week, I can never forget how lucky and humbling it is to participate in this course with my peers.

Our “patient” has given over 23 students a uniquely special opportunity to study techniques and skills that most don’t gain until graduate school or beyond. We have been challenged to academically push ourselves, take initiative and demonstrate our prowess in a field all of us are passionate about. Our instructor has illustrated his passion and compassion as a medical professional and academic professor and this love for learning has spread amongst us. After this semester, I am more excited than ever to see what Christopher Newport offers next!

Why So Close to Home?

There are many reasons why I chose Christopher Newport to be my home-away home. The small class sizes, well-educated professors, gorgeous campus, meaningful education and the friendliness of the student body are all factors that continue to draw me to this institution. Another benefit is a close proximity to my home in Virginia Beach, an asset that some but not all can appreciate.

I am a family-oriented person and have always enjoyed the time set aside to spend with my parents, my sister and my cat. When I was touring colleges three years ago, I was looking for a campus close to home so that if I am ever feeling homesick, my family can come grab lunch with me or I can drive home for the weekend. Here, I get exactly what I have always wanted in a college. I have the great education, the wonderful friends and the perfect distance from my family where I feel as if I am an independent adult living on my own, but still close enough to home that I can pop by when needed. For me, Christopher Newport is the ideal location for college.

It’s funny to me that so many Captains are from Northern Virginia and prefer to be farther away from home. But that is what is great about college! You have the choice to find the college that best suits your desires and expectations. There are pros and cons for every university, and everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions about the factors they consider to be desirable. Christopher Newport meets all my expectations for what I want to get out of my college experience and have never felt otherwise. In my opinion, being close to home has been a blessing and really makes Christopher Newport that much more important and comfortable for me.

Fraternal Value Awards

After attending the Fraternal Value Awards for the second time, I find myself reflecting on my three years on this campus and the many events I have attended, service hours completed and leadership positions completed. Once a year our Greek community joins together to share in their shared achievements in the year prior, with awards distributed such as the sorority and fraternity of the year, excellence in leadership, and individual awards for students who have demonstrated excellence in community impact, membership development and service. All the Greek organizations are in attendance and together fill the Concert Hall of the Ferguson center to the brim. It is such an awesome experience seeing the sheer number of students involved on campus and make the decision to commit themselves to not simply their development, but the growth of their peers and community as well.

I love being given the opportunity to not only celebrate my own chapter’s achievements, but every organizations accomplishments collectively! Together our community raises thousands of dollars for various philanthropic efforts, completes hundreds of service hours in a multitude of ways and creates lasting changes not only on the Christopher Newport campus, but the Newport News area as well, and that’s only this past year!

With the support of our administration, my fellow Greek leaders are able to create a lasting and significant impact in a community of fellowship and encouragement on this campus. I cannot imagine my college experience without the opportunity to join Greek life.

The Meal I Was Waiting For

So after being at Christopher Newport for a while, I can let you in on a little secret: The dining halls have certain foods they keep on rotation. Trust me, I keep my eyes on my favorites, one of which happens to be the AMAZING fried chicken breast with creamy sun-dried tomato sauce. Yes, I DID memorize the exact name of it, because yes, it IS that good. My spring break was pretty great, and I enjoyed some food at home, but man, I did miss some of the dining hall’s specialties.

While I do really love that sundried tomato chicken, some other highlights include burrito Mondays, the new quesadilla Wednesdays, General Tso’s chicken Thursdays and Philly steak Fridays.

There are some great hits, too, other than my favorite chicken on the planet. We have slushies, and more importantly, there’s breakfast every day, and the best made-to-order omelets out there. The only thing better than omelets is the person who makes them. Every captain knows Miss Virginia in Commons, and every Captain knows she is one of the nicest people ever, and she makes AMAZING omelets. Every time I get breakfast she is there with a smile and some great conversation, and she knows almost everyone by name, and she’s even memorized our orders! Not only is she the omelet expert, but you can occasionally find her on nugget Mondays giving everyone big ole’ baskets of nugs and fries!

Christopher Newport dining halls are the buffets that I’ve been looking for my whole life, and the staff there are always so nice and love having conversations with us and getting to know us, and we love them too! Now look, mom, I still love your cooking, but there’s almost nothing that can beat a Miss Virginia omelet or my favorite sundried-tomato chicken.

Alternative Breaks

Spring break is my favorite period because it provides me time to regroup and prepare for the homestretch of the concluding academic year. During this time in the past I would find myself feeling compelled to sit back, relax and really just become one with my couch. It wasn’t until my friend approached me about a seemingly crazy adventure that would entail making new friendships, helping strangers, and branching out into the community that I started to see break in a new light.

There is a certain program on campus called Raising Educational Awareness through Compassion and Humanity (REACH), which specializes with helping students connect to volunteer missions that extend over a period of their break. Rather than having the traditional return home and glorious Netflix binge, it allows students an opportunity to create memories that will last a lifetime and create an impact for the better.

This year my friend traveled to Charleston, South Carolina and spent a week volunteering at the Lowcountry Orphan Relief. She was able to meet so many amazing kids who were ecstatic to visit with CNU students everyday. Our students completed so many tasks that helped the center and allowed everyone time to bond with the children throughout their visit. Afterwards my friend admitted that while the goodbyes were challenging, she cherishes every second she spent with the community.

It can be easy to allow the lure of a relaxed break equate to something of little substance, but I know if wisely spent it can provide a much needed moment of rest. Personally, I find rejuvenation in sharing laughter with new friends and finding moments to assist others along the way. Regardless of how one decides to spend their time on break, I hope it leaves everyone feeling a little happiness in their heart and courage in their feet to finish the year out strong.

RA: Resident Assistant, or Really Anxious

Christopher Newport’s Department of Residence Life has helped me figure out who I am and what I want to be in life, and since joining the ResLife team, I have strived to be better every day. I applied to be a resident assistant last year, but unfortunately, I didn’t make it through to the end. This year I reapplied and made it to the final boss. The Resident Assistant In Training Series (TRAITS). From here it was either get hired, get offered alternate status or be cut off.

I knew I was ready to take on the job as a resident assistant, and I felt confident in my resume and my skills. I had developed amazing relationships with the professional staff and had a great reputation for my work ethic. I was confident but needless to say I was also healthily skeptical of my chances.

We were to be notified of our job placement status the second Friday after the last TRAITS session. That was the longest week of my life. I needed to know. I also had friends in the process who were nervous, and we comforted each other through the week. That Friday at noon, I was astonished that the letters still hadn’t come. I asked my supervisor, and she said they’d be out at around 3:30 p.m. I’ll have you know I counted every second between noon and 3:30 that day. I got my email in the middle of my leadership class. I started sweating. I almost couldn’t open it. I felt bad, because I was in class, and I probably shouldn’t have been looking at my phone, but I think the stakes of this situation offer a good explanation as to why I was.

I looked at the email, and the waterworks started. Picture me, silently crying in the front of my leadership class looking at an email, trying to not draw attention to myself. I was crying because I was so proud of myself for receiving my placement as a resident assistant in James River Hall for the 2019-20 academic year! This has been a journey spanning two years and has prompted a heck of a lot of personal growth and learning about myself, but I did it. And I’m gosh darn proud of me. My friends, my family, and my Captains have helped me get here, and for that, I’ll be forever thankful. I look forward to the adventure that awaits me next year!

Crushing My Staff in Mario Kart

So a few times per semester, the resident assistants and the front desk assistants on my staff get together for a staff social, and we just hang out together having fun and bonding. This time around, my co-workers and good friends made the terrible mistake of bringing a Nintendo Switch and playing Mario Kart. There are very few universal truths in life, but one of them is that you don’t cross Eddie in Mario Kart unless you are prepared to lose. Needless to say, I destroyed my friends that night, and I am definitely OK with that.

All jokes aside, it’s nice to have these kinds of fun times with friends and come together as a staff. The bonds that I have made working with Christopher Newport residence life are all amazing, and I feel so fortunate to know so many amazing people. I recently had to relinquish my position as a front desk assistant, as I received the amazing opportunity to be a resident assistant, filling an immediate opening.

When I announced to my now former staff that I had been called up to be a resident assistant and would no longer be working in their building, I was met with a rush of bittersweet feelings. Everyone was really happy for me and said that I definitely deserved the opportunity, however, they were sad that I would be leaving. It made me feel really proud to have made such a great group of friends and to have established a good reputation among my peers.

The day I told them I would be leaving was really melodramatic, because we acted as if we’d never see each other again, but I’m only going to be halfway across campus, which is maybe a five-minute walk.

Bring the Talent

Everybody loves a good talent show, and from what I’ve seen, Captains certainly know how to bring the talent. Unleash the Talent, the annual signature event of Hypnotic Control, is the perfect opportunity for us to showcase our creative abilities. The audience in Gaines Theatre was as excited as I was to see what the various acts had in store for us.

Hypnotic Control is a hip-hop dance group on campus open to all students, regardless of dancing experience, who want to have fun dancing surrounded by a great group of people. I have been a member for three years now. I absolutely love being a part of such a well-known group on campus and I have made great friends through the organization.

This year’s Unleash the Talent had a fantastic turnout of students, friends and parents of the performers. The talent varied from singing and contemporary dancing to stand-up comedy. Two of the acts performed for the first on the stage and both did so great! One of these debut acts, KPC, a group who dances to K-Pop, actually won the judges’ vote! Liesl Mattar was the other winner of the night as the recipient of the audience’s choice for her strong vocal performance! I was very impressed with the talent overall this year, even for those acts who did not win.

It was also a special night for me as it was my last Unleash the Talent performance. We work extremely hard on creating a dance routine to showcase at Unleash the Talent, and I am so proud of my Hypnotic Control family for how well we did! Unleash the Talent was very successful this year and the night was filled with laughter and smiles from start to finish! Christopher Newport Captains truly have talent like no other!