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.

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!

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.

My New Friends at the CCP

The Center for Career Planning is a resource I never saw myself using as a freshman in college. At the time, I knew I wanted to become a physician’s assistant so I saw no reason to go! Now, as a junior applying to graduate programs, I finally see the value and incredible opportunity that is the Center For Career Planning. While I have used them for personal statement and resume reviews, they also offers assistance from graduate school searches, organizing mock interviews, planning potential career paths and much more! While they can assist with helping you find your potential career path options, this department does so much more.

I was extremely nervous to bring my personal statement to this department and receive feedback for many reasons. However, the individual I worked with was not only competent, but also his witty humor helped immediately put me at ease. When I was rereading my personal statement with him, he asked me difficult questions regarding my motivation and “why.” He helped me see that I was hiding the real reason I feel so passionate about my career path and the health care profession when this essay is supposed to be me revealing this quality. I realized that I wasn’t pushing myself to make myself the most attractive applicant I could.

Since then, I have gone back several times and I feel so lucky to be able to use the scheduling system provided by Christopher Newport which allows me to work consistently with the same individual and establish a strong relationship with this person. I am much more receptive to constructive criticism and am able to use this system in order to work with someone I am more at ease around or even someone I am not depending on the professional guidance I am seeking.

As an only child I sought mentors and guidance as a freshman in clubs, Greek life, and in professional settings. Over time, I have found new and inventive ways to use the numerous opportunities provided for the student body on campus to secure these relationships and provide me with opportunities to help my professional development as a student.

Free Fitness Classes

After being told I could no longer play contact sports post-concussion in my sophomore year of college, I lost a huge part of my identity. Exercising through soccer and intramural sports were hallmarks of my college experience, and I felt completely insecure in my fitness journey from then on. While I could go to the gym and stay somewhat active, I wanted a sense of community similar to participating in a team sport.

Finally, I caved and decided to try one of the Freeman Center’s free Friday fitness classes. The first I tried was “Mindfulness and Yoga” and now that it has come back in rotation I have found myself reflecting on my fitness journey so far. I now am active in the pilates and yoga courses offered on campus and have found that sense of “team” that I thought was forever lost to me.

Being able to have classes offered around my classes has allowed me to stay active and hold myself accountable in college! I’m not scared to try new classes and doing something completely out of my comfort zone anymore. From T.A.B.S to Zumba, I am amazed by the variety of classes, times and instructors the Freeman Center has organized for our campus and can’t wait to see what else they come up with!

My First Manuscript

At Christopher Newport, we are encouraged to participate in undergraduate research with our professors. With these experiences comes many opportunities to establish professional skills such as presenting at international conferences, gaining authorship on posters and even becoming a primary author on an article published in a scholarly journal.

Manuscript writing is no joke. With anywhere from two to three students and an additional two to three professors all collaborating, critiquing and editing not only the writing, but also the references and supporting research used in the manuscript, it can be a bit daunting to take on such a monumental task. Being able to manage your time, organize your space and being able to work alongside individuals who are experts in their fields are skills that I will be able to carry with me throughout the rest of my academic journey and into the professional world. While my journey is young I am so excited to see how this process helps me grow!

The professional skills I see myself gaining through my active participation in undergraduate research are some of the most incredible gifts Christopher Newport has given me. As a freshman, I was hopeful to even be a contributor to some form of research. Christopher Newport didn’t allow me to settle for being involved, but instead pushed me to become a leader and dive deeper into the relationships that were waiting for me.

Our Panhellenic Community

Formal sorority and fraternity recruitment just happened, and the campus was visibly excited in anticipation. Women, men and even professors love to discuss these festivities.

I remember distinctly the joy and nervousness I experienced as a freshman.. I wasn’t totally sure if taking this Greek leap of faith would be the right decision for me but thankfully, with the support of not only my friends, but also my RA, professors and sisters I had met throughout the year, I came to realize that there were so many incredible opportunities to get involved on campus and this was the best way for me to kick-start that journey.

Every year during formal recruitment season I am reminded of the decision I made to become involved more fully on this campus. Soon after joining my organization, I became involved with undergraduate research, intramurals, different volunteer opportunities – and became more successful academically.

Christopher Newport is unique for many reasons, one being the sense of community and camaraderie felt throughout the Greek organizations here. When I was a senior in high school completing a tour on this campus, I fell in love with the endless, kind smiles and promise of a home away from home. Now, each semester, each new leap of faith taken, I find yet another reason to fall in love with CNU, and I hope each of you reading will as well.

Campus Dining and Food Allergies

As a freshman, my gluten intolerance was a little bit daunting. I had no idea if I would be able to eat at every restaurant and dining hall or whether I would need an accommodation.

Looking back as a junior, I have no idea why I was even nervous! Being a student on campus with a food allergy has been a bit of a learning curve, but the Christopher Newport community  made everything much easier on me. Each station in the dining hall is clearly labeled with gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options. Plus, the navigator app allows me the ability to see what is going to be the best option for me in each dining hall with their menu tabs.

Now, I am able to grab my weekly (gluten free) custom Chick-fil-A sandwich from the staff who know me by name! I know exactly who to talk to when I have questions. I feel so blessed to have the freedom to eat in dining halls and restaurants on campus whenever I please and know that there will be options for me.

Some of you may not think this is a largely important concept, being able to have allergy friendly options. For those of you with allergies, you know better than most how stressful it can be to travel or live somewhere where you can’t eat what everyone else can. It can be extremely isolating and embarrassing. I feel normal on this campus in this way and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Neuroscience Conference

The Society for Neuroscience meets annually to share ideas, latest research and technology, communicate their goals and most recent discoveries, and allow undergraduates an inside look at the professional world. The Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience offers a spot annually for sponsored students to present their research in the form of a social and poster presentation. I, along with five other Christopher Newport students were among those selected to travel to San Diego in order to share our finding with the professional neuroscience community.

Being able to discuss neuroscience with esteemed professionals, attend speakers, grad fairs and finish with presenting my own research taught me so much more than I ever would have expected prior to attending. We were surrounded by peers as well as potential mentors with much more experience than us who were prepared to help educate and guide us through these upper level discussions.

More than these professional opportunities, my fellow presenters and I gleaned an even more valuable perspective from this conference. Our passion for neuroscience, the research process, the phenomena seen in science and the everyday world is not singular, but shared by thousands of other individuals! Moving forward I am more eager than ever to learn as much as possible in my courses so that one day I can join these pioneers of neuroscience as a peer rather than a student.

The World of Fish Lab

Many prospective students, freshmen or even upperclassmen may be curious about undergraduate research. Well, let me be the first to say that if you are at all interested or even curious, ask around and be curious! (When you visit campus, be sure to ask our student ambassadors and they can answer any and all questions regarding the matter.) It’s one of the many qualities professors look for in their student researchers.

I am involved in two separate research labs, but I thought I would share my experience in Fish Lab because I have been involved since freshman year and have the most knowledge. This lab, run by psychology and neuroscience professor Dr. Andrew Velkey, contains anywhere from 20-35 students and numerous projects! We have dubbed this lab the “Fish Lab” since all of our various projects encompass fish studies.

The students in this lab have naturally formed a little group for ourselves. We have mentors and mentees, a fish lab manager,  weekly “moments with Velkey,” “Fish Lab” T-shirts and a semesterly party! Some of these traditions have borne the most memorable moments of my college career thus far in addition to the numerous academically enlightening ones found through working on my specific project. Looking back on freshman year, I can’t imagine my college experience without undergraduate research and I am so grateful for the time I have spent participating.