Rice, Grains, and More Rice

Rice and grains

I am relieving the pain

Of hunger.

Third world countries suffer

And I serve as the buffer

This short poem describes the following: On September 10, 2016, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the downstairs B-C atrium, the Stockton students and I were able to provide hundreds of food packages to individuals and families in need. The package included vitamins, protein grains, and rice grains. There were three different stations: one packaged the vitamins and grains, the next poured in rice and weighed the bag to a certain amount of grams, and the last sealed the bag. This drill was repeated again and again and successfully completed. After a checkpoint number of bags, a bell was rung to remind the volunteer of how many bags were completed and how many were left. This lasted for approximately one hour before the groups of volunteers shifted onto the next rotation; however, since my friends and I enjoyed this activity so much, we chose to come back to the rice packages for round two. We were able to bond and serve a practical purpose for the community with this encouraging activity. The event was well organized and many others seemed to appreciate donating their time early on Saturday morning as much as I did. Often, volunteering carries a negative connotation and causes people to stray away from it; nonetheless, the impact it creates is large and just on that one day, the Stockton students and faculty were able to donate such a large amount with a minimal amount of time.

Rather than any particular clubs or organizations establish such an event, the university itself took a large role in organizing the activity and encouraging a large turnout. For the almost 8 hours of service, there was the given incentive of a Stockton lunch which, as always, consisted of sandwiches and wraps, accommodating all food needs. For attending the event, students also received a t-shirt and I still see some of my friends wearing it today. I hope that this event encouraged my fellow students as much as it did to spend their time for someone other than themselves. I would recommend this event to any student, regardless of their class or age. The chance to socialize over a useful event was advantageous for all the participants.

In summation, the Day of Service highlighted that the school which we attend looks out for the best intentions of its students as well as other persons. The liberal arts college has its own real life applications and events like these may only occur every once in a while making it all more essential to attend the activities. If anything, these hours can be collected and added to a resume which will boost a student’s chances of being hired to a professional job or being accepted to graduate school. Volunteering has so many added benefits, so one might as well try it out.

Just Do It

Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. As the well-known rapper, Eminem, would quote, running takes quite the toll on an individual’s physical as well as mental and emotional states. For the first two miles, everything hurts and every step is painstaking, then suddenly, a barrier is broken and one’s legs continue moving without their asking and the body begins to carry them, at least for me. Then, as I look down at my phone, I realize that one hour has passed and although my body encourages me to keep running, my brain deters me from continuing by reminding me about my calculus homework…

So, why do it? This tends to be the most prevalent question which my friends and family members ask me as I explain my running adventures and I attempt my best to explain the runner’s high and feeling of accomplishment as I complete new feats. Regardless, I still sound insane as I round upon the conclusion, “It is fun.” The feeling is indescribable and the journey itself was a great personal milestone.  The running began the end of my sophomore year when I had to reduce my mile time for lacrosse and it continued from there where I would run a mile a day in the summer; I ended up reducing my time down by 2 whole minutes.  Often, I was encouraged not to run, “The idea is futile, you’ll never get anywhere with it”, “You’re not capable so why try?”, and “Just focus on school, there’s no point in running.” Ironically enough, my grades improved with this activity and my focus was sharpened so there really are no disadvantages.

I carried running into college and started my runs at 1 mile, then I realized that I was capable of running even more and raised my threshold to 3 miles a day and moreover onto 5 miles a day. Now, as I continue training, I am working towards running a half-marathon. The limits that the body can push are incredible; just a couple years back, I could not imagine running more than a mile and soon I will be at 13.1. After beginning this activity, I realized how much my lifestyle had transformed from my healthy eating alternatives to my increased productivity from day to day. So, maybe this is why I run.

Although the mental prep before actually beginning the run may be heavy and the first steps may be burdening, after a while, you begin to appreciate the surrounding nature: the temperature of the air, the green on the trees, and the wind that pushes on your back encouraging you to keep going. After finishing, often, I want to go back and do it all again. For those individuals who need a group or partner to run with, there is the Stockton Run Club that meets every couple weeks or so for runs around Lake Fred and usually designates times in the evening. These runs take place often, although it is always possible to complete these runs on one’s own time.

For any individual of any age, size, or physical stature, running is a great option. Especially when it is controlled at a desired pace, running serves as a stress relieving method. So, go ahead, take advantage of that sunny day and go for a run, a jog, even a friendly stroll. I guarantee you will be satisfied with your decision.

My Life in Madagascar- Sort of

As I blew out the candles to celebrate my eighteenth birthday, fear suddenly gripped my eyes and I ran to my room to scramble for my laptop. I completely forgot about my first day of “class”. An online class was new to me; however, knowing myself, I would not want to miss out on earning college credits before officially beginning my first semester. So, here I was with a piece of cake on one side of me and a classroom on the other. This course was the only cost-free course which Stockton would offer to incoming freshman and although the course did not seem all too appealing, I later found it to be extremely insightful. Without further stalling, on June 29th, I began the course, “GoGlobal: GSS 1236 393” with Professor Rodriguez who later turned out to be my instructor for my freshman seminar. This online class focused on instructing the class on the world and discussed different aspects of it from economics to population to information.  The class was split into three different classrooms with a different professor to monitor each one to look over the assignments and discussion board. The course was approximately one month and a half long and assignments were due daily from Monday to Friday.

The topics covered were: Introduction, Population, Resources, Technology, Information, Economies, Conflict, Governance, Globally Citizenship, and Summary/ Integration. The purpose was to transform the students into globally informed and moreover globally involved citizens; a goal which I am positive was achieved based on my education from the course. For each topic, there was a lecture with videos and articles to supplement the information and three types of assignments: New York Times Blog Posts, Discussion Posts, and Global Villager Blogs. Following each topic was a quiz and after five topics, there was an examination that consisted of all open-ended questions. My favorite assignment was the Global Villager Blog since it involved researching a particular area of the globe and seeing how certain economic or health factors would affect an imaginary character which was created by you. The perspective was added when this character was compared to other characters or even the average college student. The assignment truly helped build on research skills and writing performance in my opinion, since a well-constructed response reflected on both the character and the writer.

All in all, the course was very informational and useful to take, although this was only a one-time opportunity since incoming freshman are the only ones who have a chance to enroll. Best of all, in the comfort of one’s home and in their own manageable time, an individual was able to complete their assignments with no worry. I would recommend this to anyone, regardless of their major, since it expands their mind on ongoing global issues and allows them the chance to contribute with political action; this begins with writing a letter to the senator. Finally, since my villager was from Madagascar, I even felt like I was able to visit the country by stepping in her shoes.

Election Party

On November 8th, from 7:00p.m. to 12:00a.m. there was an Election Party in the board of trustees room in the Stockton University Campus Center. This event was open to all students, and showed live feed of the election results, while providing friendly competitions to win prizes and refreshments. At the party they had cake, pizza, popcorn, and drinks for students to snack on while watching the votes come in. In the meantime, students were also given the opportunity to guess the Electoral College results, in hopes of winning a cardboard cutout of one of the candidates. I had also attended the previous debate parties, and the turnout for this event was enormous compared to the previous events. I showed up a little late because I had a class right before and when I got to the board of trustees room it was hard to even find a seat!
At the event overall there was a very good energy. People were very invested in what history was being made right before their eyes. Donald Trump did much better in states that he was not projected to do as well in, such as Ohio. Hillary Clinton kept Virginia for the Democratic party, which was a big win for her, as well as winning California, which carries a staggering 55 electoral votes. Other states like Florida and Pennsylvania took a very long time to reveal the winners for, but Donald Trump ended up winning both of those states.
The whole results progress of the election was nail-biting for everyone in the room, no matter who they were there supporting. It went back and forth for hours, finally resulting in the victory of Donald Trump. The swing states gave him the victory that most people did not expect him to have. This came to the shock of many people, especially since the media made it seem like Hillary Clinton had an almost guaranteed victory. Going to this event was very worthwhile, because of the excitement it added to watching the results come in.

Soar Not What I Expected

The anticipation nearly killed me as I waited for the email from the T.A.L.O.N.s. (The Activity Leaders of New Students). The decision would either allow me to embark upon the 3-day, 2-night trip or simply remain at home and anticipate the upcoming days of school. Although I sent in my application only two weeks after the portal opened, I was already placed on the wait list for simply the girls’ cabins and number eleven on the list. Therefore, the email which confirmed that I had been taken off the wait list was a great relief; the opportunity to bond with prospective Stockton students and indulge myself in outdoors activities was already exciting an idea in itself. As I was packing the night before, I shoved clothes upon clothes into my suitcase without thinking twice; throwing in apparel which I was aware would serve no purpose, just an idiosyncrasy. The next day, Tuesday, August 30th arrived and check-in time was 11:30 a.m. for the commuters at least. Upon reaching there, I was already lost by the campus center parking lot and much to my relief; I was able to meet up with my best friend, Krysten, and her family. The day began with sign-in and the placement into a “tribe” as designated by a color. Purple.

After the lunch, we were allowed to meet with our tribes, a quick goodbye to my honors friends and a warm hello to new ones. The buses quickly began to load and the last goodbyes were given off to our families. During the wait between the loading of the camping bags and the humans, a few icebreakers were played, the usual game of “ships and sailors”, “memory games”, and so much more. As interesting as they were, when the cue was finally given to load the bus, we all breathed some relief and of course, there were more riddles on the bus-ride to our destination, Camp Ockanickon in Medford, New Jersey. Although they were all equally fascinating, the one which stuck out the most was the Stick Game. Spoiler: Listen to the directions of the game as they explain, this will save you SO much frustration, oh trust me. A girl/ boy scouts will fare well in this event with these mind-toggling games and activities. Upon arrival at the camp, there was unpacking and assembly into the tribes. The cabins were either indoors and equipped with central air as well as personal showers or outdoors with the typical camping features; I was blessed with the former. Outside of the 8-10 cabins or so, there was a large pit where all members could collect and rejoice over bonding songs and the distinguished clap. I will spare you the detailed instructions on how to do this clap and let you imagine a large group of college students unanimously creating music with their hands and simultaneously ending with a “hiyah”.

Onwards, the food was simply amazing despite the complaints from those who expected five-star meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Personally, the dessert was always great to look forward to. The system which was set up by the group was established with great organization in which one tribe would set up, serve, and clean up a meal for an assigned number of students for one meal of the day. Each tribe would cover one meal and therefore, each group would go once; there were 7 tribes in total. The night ended early for an even earlier morning and a day full of group activities, personal feats, as well as a free recreational period to swim, canoe, nap, etc. The liberty with this program truly astounded me and reminded me of the independence which everyday college students are provided.  The activities were both outdoors and indoors and the night ended with more free time to explore the area or remain inside the activities building and partake in  board games or pool. The following day, also the last, the day followed a similar routine and included outdoors ropes as well the activity of performing a skit with the tribe. There was a bonfire to end the camping adventure and the air was filled with great memories, amazing relationships with friends, and a mutual feeling of appreciation for one another. The buses were loaded and we arrived around 10 p.m. on Thursday, September 1st; yet, there was simply a different feel to the group than had been originally when beginning the trip.

Without a blink, I would recommend any friend to join S.O.A.R. and do so as soon as applications open. Even with the details of the adventure from start to finish, there are some experiences which simply cannot be explained.

A Look Back on Honors Orientation: Where I Met My Best Friend Destiny

The first opportunity to truly immerse myself into the college culture, make connections, and maintain independency: these were some of the thoughts that raced through my mind as I walked through the doors of my future. The common room was vast and friendly; despite arriving 10 minutes prior to the scheduled check-in time; there was already a line which had formed. Oh yes, these were definitely honors kids, without a doubt. I remember waving goodbye to my parents after signing in and receiving my nametag, the details still vivid in my mind. On Sunday, June 26th, in the upperclassmen housing, there we were, the fresh kids, attending the program hosted by the Honors Group.

There was a brief seminar, which being honest, was quite vague in my mind and then the highlight of the day, the instruction of the Irish Jig. The place I would least expect to was where I met my best friend, Destiny Foster. Of course, we began with name jokes as we were instructed on the Irish dance, “Oh, another Destiny’s child joke, I love hearing those,” she repeated to me. And, now as I reflect back, I realize that that I had practically found another me: late-night studying, a love-hate relationship for running, and the slight (maybe not-so-slight) obsession for trap music. This was beginning to turn into the ideal experience as I discovered more friends who shared my love for ice-cream and practically anything sweet.  A few hours later after the volunteering event where the importance of volunteering and service was demonstrated in rotations, the honors students were allowed to venture off and either stay in the common room or play a game of volleyball. No matter how tired I was or in need for a rest, I would never pass up a game and so immediately Destiny and I jumped in. The clock rolled on and the hours passed to almost two in the morning, before we realized and we had to be up by seven the next day. This would leave less than six hours for the night, what a great prediction for the upcoming semester. Some things just don’t change from high school.

The following day was more informational and followed the format of an actual orientation. Although the honors kids were given the first look at the college the day before, more and more Stockton students began to pile in and it was like the first day again. Regardless, the look of familiar faces among the crowd was comforting. The day was certainly eventful and after its brief ending at approximately four in the afternoon, it served as a beneficial jump into the summer season.

Again and again, I had the chance to meet these honors kids from the S.O.A.R. program to Welcome Week events, and now through class. The overnight orientation, indubitably, was a great event to explore the school, social life and new friends. I would recommend this to any incoming freshman who wishes to meet some amazing friends and truly enjoy that college experience. Commonly, the issue with prospective high schoolers refusing to join the honors program arises from the requirement of honors courses; yet, in my opinion, these courses function more as a relief rather than a burden. Often, students, like myself, are so caught up in our visions of their desired professions, a computer scientist, chemical engineer, doctor, etc., that we forget to learn about the world through different lens, quite past our course requirements. This newly found perspective from a myriad of courses divides society into educated individuals and the typical book worms.All in all, the program is exceptional and defined by the students which embody it; the experience is what you can make of it.


Stockton Delegation Panel

On the evening of September 15th, 2016, I attended a discussion panel held by Stockton’s Political Science Department.  The Stockton Delegation is comprised of nine students who were acquired internships for either the Democratic National Convention or the Republican National Convention for a 12 day seminar.  Seven students were in attendance at the DNC leaving the remaining two at the RNC.   Overall, each convention discussed policy issues and highlighted the heightened emotions that have been and are continued to be brought up about this year’s cacophonous election.

The discussion began with students expressing their designated roles appointed at the convention.  The internships and experiences each student encountered differed from one another which made this discussion board worthwhile as well as educational for me.  Myriam, the President of the Student Senate, had a role in the DNC that stood out to me the most.  Her internship was through Free Speech TV where she acted as a media intern.  Not only did she work on the convention floor, she was able to go out in the streets and have interviews with people for and against the party.  Myriam interviewed many people in opposition to the Democratic Party such as those who participated in protests and walkouts.  I find this take on the election to be thought-provoking because I do not find that protests are covered as much by media outlets.  Yes, demonstrations are shown on the TV but the viewer is not exposed to the individual beliefs and reasons why the protestors are in opposition to the candidates.

As the discussion was concluding, questions were offered to the panelist by both Professor Rodriguez and Professor Abernathy.  One questions posed asked what the reason for the convention is in general and with regards to this election in specific.  For those who attended the DNC, they found that the convention served as an advertising ground for platforms and policies of both candidates, Sanders and Clinton.  Some spoke of the heightened tensions between Sanders and Clinton supporters such as pushing and cursing.  However, the students who attended the RNC felt as if the convention unified the party.  Similar to the DNC, the RNC experienced tension, yet there was ultimate realization and backing for the party as a whole despite different candidate beliefs.  A question was also posed by a student in the audience with regards to the chance of a third-party candidate being elected.  In this particular election, many people do not wish for either party nominee to be chosen, so, they cast their vote to the third-party candidate.  However, it was suggested that it was highly unlikely for a third-party candidate to receive enough votes to win the election.  They did stress that some votes cast in favor of the third-party could affect the votes of one of the third-party candidates, as evident in Florida.

Overall, I believed this discussion panel to be educational with regards to politics and this election as a whole.  Events such as this lead me towards being more politically engaged in my community and at Stockton.

You’ve Got Fish!

Do you suffer from homesickness? Are you leaving behind a beloved pet upon coming to college? No worries! Stockton University has decided that a miniscule goldfish is the proper replacement for a dog or a cat, and hundreds of students came to pick up their new dorm fish in the Campus Center!
All sarcasm aside, Stockton had to utilize a significant amount of consideration in order to even think of giving us this opportunity. Having a dorm pet made college living less lonely. It gave us simultaneous responsibility and partnership with an animal that – though it’s no dog – we have the opportunity to love. The event itself involved a massive tank filled with hundreds – maybe a thousand – goldfish. We got to catch the goldfish ourselves in a small net, and we were able to design the tanks however we wanted.
Through this we gained responsibility that only owning a pet would entail.

Honors Philly Trip

The Stockton Honors College took a day trip to Philadelphia early in the 2016 school year to see a political satire. We loaded the bus at an ungodly hour for a weekend morning, and we set off.
Upon arriving at the theater, we noticed a two main things: the interior design was quaint enough to have been put together by my grandparents, and we were the only attendants under the age of 65 by the looks of the audience. By these observations, we initially concluded that this time would be interesting at the least.
Despite our preconceived notions, the political satire was enjoyable for our age group as well as the older age group. The actors and actresses showcased the possibilities of each candidate taking the presidential election, and they incorporated impersonations of modern public figures. They made a point to engage the audience and used dry humor and sarcasm to keep us interested. Traveling to Philadelphia was a small price to pay for a good quality political satire.

The Suicide Walk

In October of 2016, Stockton held a suicide awareness walk, during which participants walked from Lakeside Lodge to the Campus Center. Though it was a phenomenal event, and it served its purpose at raising awareness, I’m not writing about the walk itself, because I did not attend.
The walk started at 6 o’clock, and I was just returning from a Philly trip with the honors college. At around 6:40, I received a call from my close friend, Michelle. Unable to decipher her words in between her sobs, I asked for her location and ran to that point. She had been attending the suicide walk, and her memories had flooded in to haunt her at the worst time possible. In the middle of the suicide walk, Michelle broke down in my arms and shared a story about her cousin who, at a young age, took his own life.
The festivities the walk entailed were no match for Michelle’s emotional breakdown, and why should they be? No amount of activity and loud noises can remedy the heartbreak caused by losing a loved one, especially by such means.
The suicide walk benefited me even though I didn’t attend. It gave me insight into the mind of someone who is now one of my best friends. I would not have achieved that level of our friendship by any other means. Stockton University’s main goal of the suicide walk was to raise awareness of a global problem that is too often overlooked. Well, it surely affected me in the best way possible.