Conquering Finals

Well guys, the time has come. Finals week is upon us. As a junior, I feel a lot less stressed about taking on my finals, but at times it can still be difficult. I am going to share with you some tips I use to help me stay on top and keep me from drowning in this sea of chaos.

Tip #1: Create a Schedule

One of the most important things when it comes to finals, is actually knowing when your finals are! Make sure you know what day and time they are and what classroom you are supposed to meet in.

Tip #2: Prioritize

After this, you can start to make a study schedule. The more detailed this is, the better. Focus on the finals you have first, even if you are more worried about one at the end of the week. Don’t get ahead of yourself, because that can keep you from doing your best.

Tip #3: Study, Study, Study!

Create a place where you won’t have any distractions – like a study room in your dorm, an empty classroom or your common room. Even though the library seems like the ideal place to hunker down and tackle your work, I avoid the library at all costs during big exam periods.

I say this because everyone has the same mindset of locking himself or herself in the library. This means it will be crowded and a lot noisier than you would want to deal with. If you are lucky enough to procure a study room in the library, then go for it – but be mindful of how much work you will be able to get done.

Tip #4: Separate or Group?

I prefer to study alone for exams, but I don’t mind being around other people who are studying for a different test. It’s a good idea to know how you work best, so you aren’t hindering yourself.

Tip #5: Take A Break!

Yes, studying is very important but so is taking a break! Whether it is reading a favorite book, taking a nap or watching your guilty pleasure on TV, it is completely acceptable to let yourself recharge during one of the busiest times of the semester. This is especially important in between exams, too.

Tip #6: Let It Go

No, I am not referring to the hit “Frozen” song, no matter how catchy it is. When I say, “Let it Go,” I am referring to your mindset. Putting forth your best effort is essential to succeeding at anything in life, but getting hung up on every little thing isn’t good. Some pressure is helpful – you may be required to focus more and actually get work done, but too much pressure is not healthy. After you take your exam, don’t worry about what you may or may not have gotten right, but rather be confident in your work and prepare yourself for your next task.

I hope these tips were helpful! Don’t stress too much over exams and have an amazing (and safe) winter break!

Closing a Show

As TheaterCNU’s production of “Pericles, Prince of Tyre” comes to a close all I can think of is how lucky I am to have been a part of it. I honestly could not have asked for a better show with which to start my theater career here at CNU. It has been a remarkable journey, and it will be really hard to let go. But, I know this incredible story will remain with me for a long time to come.

Seeing this show come to an end is a little easier because I know the work we have done has been unique to us. I am absolutely sure no one has done a production of “Pericles” the way we have done it, and I’m sure no one will ever be able to replicate it either. We truly created a work of art combining the joys of acting, dancing and music.

We have worked on “Pericles” all semester, and I would not have changed a single second of it. We came together to put on a great production, and the outcome far exceeded our expectations. I am so happy to say that I was a part of this show, because we put everything we had into making it come to life.

I know when this production closes it will stay with us. When you work on a show like this and dedicate so much of yourself to it, it never really leaves you. The cast I had the privilege of working with has been so amazing. Witnessing the way everyone worked made me want to excel and push myself to do the best I could.

I am very aware that I will never be in a show quite like this again and that is what makes it so special. I can’t even begin to describe the ways I am thankful to have been a part of this production. I know that TheaterCNU’s production of “Pericles, Prince of Tyre” has been a once in a lifetime experience.

 

Hang In There

The end of the semester is nearing and I, for one, can’t wait! I feel like this semester has flown by, but at the same time each day is longer than the one preceding it. Even though we are almost done, there is still so much more to do in preparation of finals. Finals … I can’t even imagine taking them right now, especially with Thanksgiving break right around the corner.

I know it is hard to muster up the strength to last until then, but I have faith that we all can do it!! Plus, Thanksgiving break will be so much more rewarding if you can push through this week of classes.

I have made a list of all my last big tests, projects and assignments to help me stay focused on what I need to get done. Something helpful to do is to write this all out on a sticky note, take a picture of it and set it as your phone background. We all check our cell phones a million times a day, so each time you check it, you will be reminded to stay on track.

Even though we are going to have to buckle down, don’t forget to take a break! Netflix is always waiting for me after a long day or when I get stressed out. So guys, it isn’t too long until break, so wrap up those assignments and enjoy your turkey day!

Opening a Show

This truly has been one of the most exhausting and fulfilling weeks of this semester for me. TheaterCNU opened the production of “Pericles, Prince of Tyre,” which I am in. We have been working on this show for months now and we couldn’t have been more excited to bring it to an audience. The process of creating a show is one that takes a while, but is extremely worth it.

Now, this play by William Shakespeare already comes with certain challenges when it comes to the language. Then, when you add Afro-Caribbean dance and music to it, it becomes a party. I don’t think anyone in the cast was prepared for what this show actually would entail, but I know we are all extremely proud and happy with the result.

This show is being done in the round, which means that the actors are in the center while the audience is all around us. Being in the studio theatre, it is a very intimate show. The audience is right there beside the actors and can really feel like they are a part of the show. The audience can even choose to sit on a cushion and be up close and personal to the actors.

This production is a very actor-driven show, so all we have is a wedge that gets used differently in each scene. Since this is a big ensemble production where we all play several characters, we get amazing costume pieces that help suggest when we become someone else. Also, all the sound effects made in the show are done by the actors.

Working on this show has been so incredible. This has been my first production here at CNU, and I could not have asked for a better show on which to work. It’s been a labor of love, patience and more love, and we had an amazing director, Professor Denise Gillman, leading the entire thing. Without her, none of this would be what it is.

If you are saying to yourself, “I missed the opening weekend!” don’t worry! We have another weekend of performances: November 21 and 22 at 8 p.m. and the 23 at 2 p.m. We can’t wait for you to see it!

Service

As the cold penetrated my jacket, a shiver went down my spine. I glanced around the dimly lit shelter crowded with people shuffling into a line. The line inched toward a table where a few of my friends were handing out food. I stood back a ways collecting their trash in a large black bag. Every so often, someone would come up and ask the same question. Their tired eyes would look into mine and ask somewhat frantically, “When will the sleeping bags be handed out?” I would tell them soon, even though I had no idea and they would nod and walk off. Finally, the much-anticipated bags were handed out. The line again formed as the 70 or so sleeping bags were distributed one at a time. It was hard to wrap my brain around the fact that many of these people had nowhere to go after we finished. My seemingly small campus housing now seemed like a palace compared to the place they called home. After we had concluded, one man remained behind. He came up to our table and thanked us sincerely for our help.

Service to our community and our campus is a huge part of what CNU is about. Opportunities to serve are as easy to find as columns around here. Every organization I have been a part of, whether a sports team or a club, has conducted service projects outside of campus. Serving the city’s homeless, volunteering at some of the local elementary schools and donating to canned food drives are a couple of the projects students can regularly be a part of. Although service hours are often required for certain scholarships and programs, the thanks of a person you have truly helped is always enough reward.

Bring Honor to Us All

There are many things that come to my mind when I think of honor. One thing that comes to my mind is one of my favorite Disney movies: “Mulan.” The first musical number is titled “Bring Honor to Us All,” in which Mulan, as well as the other young women of her community, must prepare to meet with the matchmaker, who matches them with a young man to marry.

This is an essential part of their culture, because a woman’s status comes from her husband. The verses represent the promise that Mulan’s future life will have if her meeting with the matchmaker goes well, proving she is an acceptable woman in their society and bringing honor to her family.

Mulan unfortunately did not have a successful meeting with the matchmaker, but forged her own path by pretending to be a soldier and fighting against the attacking Huns. Her family was terrified after learning of her decision, but her actions brought honor not only to her family but to her country as well.

Although in our society we don’t have to worry about the pressures of arranged marriages, honor still holds emphasis in our culture. The dictionary defines honor as respect that is given to someone who is admired; good reputation: good quality or character as judged by other people. It is hard to talk about honor without talking about integrity and self-respect.

I was just accepted into Student Honor Council and I cannot wait to have a voice in shaping the way my fellow students view honor. We sign the honor code at the top of our tests, but do we really think about what it means? About exactly what we are writing? Probably not.

CNU fosters narrative around these topics through organizations like the Center for Honor Enrichment and Community Standards, Hall Council and Student Honor Council, just to name a few. Opportunities like this allow students to actively be a part of the CNU community by upholding the values in our honor code, which reads as follows:

“On my honor, I will maintain the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and personal responsibility. This means I will not lie, cheat, or steal and as a member of this academic community, I am committed to creating an environment of respect and mutual trust.”

To me, honor isn’t about always making the right decision or being a cookie-cutter version of a “perfect student,” “perfect friend,” etc. To me, honor is about striving for the highest level of success through your beliefs, personal values and morals. Not everyone may agree with your choices, but being able to stand behind what you believe in is honorable. Making choices that benefit you and your community is honorable. Standing apart from the crowd is honorable.

Don’t be afraid to live an honorable life. It may not always be the popular decision, but it is a rewarding decision. Just ask Mulan.

Raising Your Hand

It’s that thing we’ve been taught to do since we first started our educational journeys. However, we have all sat in classes where no one seemed able or willing to raise their hands. While it’s easy to keep our hands down and stare at the clock until we’re able to escape from class, think how much faster class would go by if we actually participated.

I know how hard it can be to raise your hand. I mean, it requires a lot of effort. I too am guilty of averting my gaze from professors when they ask a question. Fear can overcome you when you think they might call on you, and you’re still trying to wrap your head around what the class was even talking about in the first place. You sit there hoping someone would raise his or her hand and distract the professor’s attention away from you. Why is it never you who raises a hand?

I was tasked to write about leadership this week, and I know what you’re thinking, “What does raising your hand have to do with leadership?” Well, I’m going to tell you. While it’s easy to think about leadership in broad and grand ways, I thought it might be refreshing to see the ways in which we can possess the qualities of being a leader every day. I think you know where I’m going with this … that’s right, raising your hand.

While this common occurrence might not be deemed worthy of being applied to leadership, if we look closely at the simple act of raising our hands, we might change our view. When we raise our hand, we are telling the professor that we have something to offer to the conversation. By raising our hands, we show that we are willing to put ourselves out there, even if we might be wrong. Raising our hands allows us to lead the class in a discussion.

There are so many ways in which raising our hands can apply to leadership. So, the next time you are sitting in class and counting down the time until you leave, why don’t you try raising your hand and asking a question? You might just learn something useful, and isn’t that what being a Captain is all about?

Friendships in Unexpected Places

Hitting that acceptance button and sending in that first deposit, I knew I had officially signed myself to Christopher Newport University. Ever since I was little I had gone to the same schools with the same people, so everyone ventured together from elementary school to middle and high school. During my senior year, the teachers posted a bulletin board that had little hot air balloons with various colleges. Only 10 students from my entire high school were going to CNU. I knew I was going on my own adventure, and even though I was floating away from everything I’d ever known, I was ready for the journey.

When you first enter campus, there is no blueprint for what’s going to happen or who you’re going to meet. Going to a different university than all my friends was the best thing I could have done. I had to get as involved as possible to meet people, and through my experiences I made some of my most cherished friendships. But, not all friendships are the ones we most expect. I am very fortunate to have so many wonderful friends on my rowing team, in my sorority and from my residence hall. However, some of my closest friends and role models actually work for the University. One of the first people to impact my CNU experience was the special assistant to the president. Even though she is constantly busy, she always makes time for me. We met my freshman year when I was forming the rowing club. She has been my number one supporter from the beginning and not a day goes by at this university that I don’t feel her love or support. Being able to have a role model and a close friend at this university has meant the world to me. I know that if I had gone anywhere else I would not have this wonderful relationship.

I have also been fortunate enough to get to know a CNU alum, who was also in my sorority but graduated years before me. She works in the Center for Career Planning, and throughout my journey of applying for jobs, she has been my number one supporter. We met just this year, but her constant support has brought our relationship so close. I feel comfortable dropping by her office anytime and sitting with her to talk. One of the ways CNU has changed me into a better person is through my job. I have learned so much from working in the Office of Communications and Public Relations, but most importantly, I have loved working with the people in the office. I never would have thought I could come to work and have genuine conversations with my bosses and feel as though I have gained true friendships and role models. When I first hit that acceptance button four years ago, I would never have believed I would be such close friends with the president’s assistant and CNU faculty. Being able to have these close friendships has made me into a better person. I am able to understand the University in a whole different way because of the opportunities I have had and the relationships I’ve made. Being a Captain has allowed me to grow into the person I always wanted to be. I may not have known anyone before I came to CNU but now, as a senior, I’ll graduate with lifelong bonds and mentors. I will forever be a proud Captain.

“What’s Your Major?”

That dreaded question. I always find it amusing, the reactions I get from telling people I’m a theater major. The range of responses from “Well, what do you want to do with that?” to looks of sympathy or little chuckles like I’ve just told some funny joke. I often think about how grateful I am to have realized what I wanted to do with my life, and terrified because wanting to be an actor isn’t the most practical career. However, I wouldn’t change my major for anything. How many other people can say that?

When you are a part of TheaterCNU, you often have the chance to attend workshops. Sometimes, those workshops are led by TheaterCNU alumni who can teach on a wide range of subjects from fighting on film to auditioning to learning what you can do with your degree. So, obviously, I went to that last one in hopes of getting sage advice that would just make everything click. I was hoping to learn from the alumni, and they didn’t disappoint.

The alumni gave us so much useful advice. They made me think about how the things I’m learning here can be translated into so many different other things. They reassured us that even if we don’t choose to continue on with theater we have gained many valuable skills that can be used in a variety of ways. Theater majors usually have excellent communication and public-speaking skills, and are also great at making themselves look as good as possible to potential employers.

Let’s face it: we are pretty awesome. But, this post was not meant to be “100 Reasons Why You Should Be A Theater Major.” The point of my first post was to let you know that it’s OK to have doubts. It’s fine if you need to be undecided until you find the right major that suits you. It’s also fine if you realize your senior year that the major you are in is not what you want to do with your life. The reason CNU is so amazing is that by the time you’re almost done here, you feel like you are ready to take on the world no matter what comes your way.

My Very Own Adventure

“Oh the places you’ll go,” they all told me. Growing up I would read all the time. The library was one of my favorite places to visit. Mystery was always my favorite genre because I got to read about grand adventures. I never wanted to know the ending because I loved figuring it out all on my own. However, when I was about to leave for college, I knew I was embarking on my biggest adventure. This wasn’t a story I could put down and save for later. This was going to be a four-year journey that would challenge me mentally and physically. There was no predicting the outcome like in my books; I had to write my own unpredictable stories. When people say college will be the fastest four years of your life, I did not believe them at first. I thought I had all the time in the world, but it’s true these four years will fly by. As I write the final chapter of my college journey I am proud of myself for accomplishing so much during my time here, but there is still so much I want to do. Looking back on the last three years, I can honestly say I’ve changed into a whole other person. I wish I could take a mirror, see my freshman-year reflection looking back at me and see how much I’ve transformed. For the next few weeks, I’m going to post about what I’ve learned over the past three years and how they tie into CNU’s core values scholarship, leadership, service and honor.

One of the main things I’ve learned is to branch out of your shell.

In high school I tended to be more shy than outgoing. I was always very talkative with my close friends but would get nervous around people I did not know well. However, when you enter college, you have to leave your comfort zone behind. Freshman year is the best time to meet so many wonderful people and to come out of your shell. Freshman year I did what I thought was the impossible:  I started the rowing club on campus. Through the process of forming the club I had to push myself more than I ever had before. One of the reasons the formation was so essential to me was because it made me into a leader. Through my long journey of forming the club, I learned the importance of leadership and that in order to be a positive role model in someone’s life there has to be a purpose and drive when leading an organization. An inspirational leader is someone who lives a life of significance. A leader is a support system to others and understands the meaning of being a part of something that is bigger then oneself. I have learned how to be a leader because of my experiences at CNU and as I continue to write my story here, I am so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had during the last three years.