Entries in "The College Experience"


G(r)eek

Rush is awesome. Not only do we get to spend $4000 on random people, but for the first two weeks of every semester, you get to indulge on free food and free events with pretty awesome people. Everyone becomes surprisingly social and the campus seems to grow livelier despite the 10 degree weather. However, being a nursing major while working two jobs, you kind of have to stay in when everyone goes out. It’s not the best feeling in the world when you are responsible for being enthusiastic about all the events in your Facebook messages (that’s my job as Public Relation’s Chair) when you know that you’ll have to spend the rest of the night reading about the immune system. Yes, I live a sad, sad life, but the thing that I took from this situation is the importance of priorities. Of course different people have different priorities, but I always focus on my grades. I’m attending (and not to mention paying for) one of the top universities in the nation, so I better make the most of it. My fraternity is important to me, but not as important as my grades, which is why I plan on staying in when my other fraternity brothers will be passing out bids to the men that we want in our fraternity. There will always be more rushes, but there will always be one GPA. Call me a party pooper, but I definitely value my education at Case.

On the flip-side, there will be people who will choose social events over academics. There will be people who go out clubbing on Thursday nights at Barroom, and there will be people pulling all-nighters in the study rooms. My point is Case is a place where you will find your niche no matter what the situation. You can set your own priorities and find people who have similar view and values.


Rock the Vote!

Yes, folks, it's that time again. All the drama, all the excitement, all the people rushing to the polls: Election Day!

Okay, so maybe it's not quite that dramatic. But it certainly is an important time of year. And this weekend, the goings-on in Cleveland definitely reflected the pre-election atmosphere. Some of my friends made it down to Washington, D.C. this Saturday for John Stewart and Stephen Colbert's Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear. In addition to seeing a number of guest speakers, musical performances, and funny signs, students went to show support and to promote the idea of decency to one another, in light of the amount of sensationalist media coverage surrounding the political arena.

Sunday I had an opportunity to see President Obama speak downtown at the Cleveland State University Wolstein Center. I took the Cleveland RTA straight there (students at CWRU get an RTA pass as part of tuition, and seriously, I could not live without that thing) and stood in line for around half an hour to see a number of political figures, candidates, and community leaders speak. The crowd may not have been big (CNN, MSNBC, and Fox kindly pointed that out all over the news), but the opportunity to hear from the leaders of our country was one I wouldn't pass up, regardless of ideology. I may not have heard anything that dramatically altered my political perspective, but it was still really cool.

And tonight, the Political Science department is holding an election returns party. All sorts of fun will be had as the drama unfolds. Will Democrats lose the House? The Senate? Will the Libertarian party miraculously comes from behind and upset them all? It's all part of the excitement in an event that will be part social, part educational, and part civic duty. I'm excited.

I'd also like to point out something I think a lot of people overlook; there's absolutely no reason to skip out on voting just because you're at college! CWRU provides transportation for students to the Board of Elections if you're registered to vote in the area, and your state probably has early or absentee voting as well. It's been great to see friends and classmates making use of their right to vote, and I would definitely take advantage of all resources available to participate in the election, no matter where you are or what your political views may be.

May you all have a wonderful Election Day, and here's to hoping that voter turnout is high and that people's voices are heard!


Zombies Hit Case Western!

Yes I said it, zombies. No thankfully not the real variety. Yes, the concept was quite hard for me to grasp at first, I still don’t completely understand. However, a large portion of the Case Western student population spends a week every semester convincing themselves they are indeed “zombies” on the hunt for other “humans” participating in the game. Essentially, students who decide to sign up for this campus-wide game all start as “humans,” which is signified by a bright green band worn around their arm. “Zombies” are other students that have already been tagged by another zombie. Humans can protect themselves from zombies by shooting them with a Nerf gun. The end result is a bunch of students running around in between class chasing and shooting each other on their way across the quad. My impression is the inner child of these students took fun playground games, such as tag, from our childhood and evolved them into a game that is justifiable for college kids.
To answer your question, no I have never participated in “Humans vs. Zombies.” However I do find a lot of enjoyment in watching kids wearing headbands chasing each other around the quad, toting Nerf guns. One thing I have noticed from watching these weeks unfold is that everyone that plays takes it extremely seriously; some students even took a circuits class (one of the more difficult engineering core classes at Case) as an elective, just to learn how to rig their Nerf gun into shooting farther/better. Another interesting thing that I have noticed is that complete strangers meet and interact through this game and they talk and act like they’ve known each other forever. I guess “intense” situations like these create a common ground building friendships. The intelligence of students participating makes for some interesting strategy as well. In buildings like Nord (a common hangout place on the quad between classes), groups will assemble and plan out their courses of action just to get from class to class.
The cool thing about this week long event that takes place every semester is that it is open and free to everyone that wants to play. It can be taken as seriously as you want to. For those that don’t play, it makes for an entertaining show in between classes and throughout the evening on campus. No I don’t think I will ever be convinced into playing. It’s nothing against those that play the game; it’s just that I don’t want to have to run for my life from class to class for an entire week. I do that enough just trying to make it to my classes on time. However, if this interests you, it is something to definitely look forward to when you come to Case Western!


A Major Decision

Of all the things people told me I'd do my freshman year of college, the one thing I never believed was that I'd change my major. I knew people who changed their major five times between Tuesday and Saturday, people who were in the midst of having an existential crisis, and people who just had no clue which way was up, much less what major they were. I, on the other hand, was convinced that my life plan was set. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I knew exactly how to get there.

Well...almost anyway. The first semester, I realized that even though I still wanted to get an Education degree, that maybe French and Francophone Studies wasn't for me and that I wanted to study History instead. I threw myself into my new major, taking classes with weekly papers, planning courses three or four semesters in advance, and convincing myself that nineteen credit hours for the rest of my undergraduate career was not only physically possible, but also sane and rational.

And then, after figuring my schedule out, buying all my books, and confidently reading the first couple of chapters for my brand new history classes this semester, I had an epiphany. As I sat in one of my classes on the very first day, my mind drifted. A bizarre train of thought, combined with not enough sleep, and a general malaise about the course material resulted in a moment of clarity in which I realized that things didn't have to be the way I'd planned. Just because I'd had the same life plan for the past couple of years didn't mean that I couldn't change what I wanted whenever I wanted, and I suddenly found that I wanted to. So I went home and promptly dropped all my history courses and picked up some Psych courses.

Psychology was, to be honest, kind of one of those obvious ideas that I didn't see until I ran right into it. I love my classes now; studying doesn't feel like work, I go on dorky little tangents to my friends about what I'm learning in class (which I'm sure they love), and I am genuinely excited about the courses that I'm looking at for next semester. I have a whole new idea of what I want to do with my life, but what's most liberating about it is that I'm not entirely sure. And I'm okay with that.

I never thought that I'd change my major. But here I am, after hemming and hawing for two and a half semesters, finally ready to declare my major in Psychology, something I had never considered studying before a month or so ago. I guess that the lesson that I learned is that it's okay to change your mind. Whether you change your major every five minutes or you never change it in five years, it's perfectly fine. You're not the same person from one moment to the next, and if you wake up one day and find that you want to be different, nothing's stopping you but yourself. And I've got to say, I think that's kind of awesome.


Grad School Already...Wait What!?

So if you consistently read my blog, you may be getting to the point where you’re saying to yourself, “This kid always talks about Case as one of the best choices he has made and blah, blah, blah.” Well although it may be annoying it is the truth. Currently as I am writing this, I am in Austin, Texas hanging out in a hotel lobby, enjoying the complementary services provided by the hotel. You may be wondering how I ended up in Texas when I go to school in Cleveland, Ohio and still call my hometown Buffalo, New York. Well to answer your question, I am here because I have a poster presentation at the BMES annual meeting this weekend. If you do not know what BMES is, that is okay; I had not a clue coming into college. BMES stands for the Biomedical Engineering Society, I will not go into too much detail, but look it up its some cool stuff. It is a way of networking between other biomedical engineers and yearly they have a meeting at some exotic location (thus Austin, Texas. I believe next year’s is in Connecticut). The best part of the entire thing is that I am here for “free” and everything about this trip is a learning and personally growing experience for myself.

So at this point, you may be wondering, “Why of all people is Alex there?” and “How do you manage something like that?” Well it is pretty simple, as a freshman I took advantage of a lab opening that was offered through one of my classes, BME 105 and with that, I was able to get involved in a lab setting and even do some of my own research over the summer and get paid! Yes I know this doesn’t happen to everybody, but I’m really nothing all that different than average. All I really did was take advantage of the opportunities laid out in front of me.

I started writing this blog halfway through my trip, and I am now finishing it on the plane ride home, and I have to say that was a very rewarding trip. I arrived in Austin on Wednesday night and am now on my way back to Cleveland on Saturday. This morning was my poster presentation that I have been working on over the last month or so. This picture shows me standing next to my poster in the exhibit hall.


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As you can see, I blurred the poster for privacy reasons; if you are interested I can email you my abstract


On purpose I set my expectations very low, I mean who wants to listen to an inexperienced sophomore talk about his summer research project? As it turns out, my expectations were shattered and my poster was visited by 10-12 people who were legitimately interested in what I had to say (I was expecting 1-2, I was warned about having a low turnout just because it was the last day of the conference). It is very cool when you are able to have an intelligent conversation with an MIT graduate student about the research that I have been doing.

One last thing I noticed about this conference was the name recognition Case Western brings to an event like that. It was pretty standard that all introductions at the event involved an exchange of names, schools and what your research was about. One thing that was consistent across the board was that every time I mentioned I went to Case Western, whoever I was talking to either gave a nod of approval or recognized the caliber school Case was verbally. They immediately took whatever I had to say that much more seriously because Case Western has a reputation for great research and students.

I really have to thank my lab director as well as the grad student I have been working with over these months for getting me all the way to Austin, Texas this weekend. Honestly these things are possible if you take on a few challenges at a place like Case that leaves opportunity on the table for everyone (even undergraduates) to have a shot at. I cannot wait to attend my next BMES.


About Home

There's something that I've noticed in the past couple of months that I wasn't quite ready for when I headed off to college. Something that I knew was inevitable, but still surprised me a little once I fully realized it. My hometown doesn't feel like my hometown any more.

Granted, I still love going home. My house is probably going to feel like MY house for a while longer; I have so many positive memories from being a little kid to starting my first year of high school to that final golden summer before college. But I no longer get that feeling of being at home while walking around my hometown.

I think I noticed this most when I went home this weekend to see my high school's Homecoming game and to watch my high school marching band play their new Journey show. I walked into the band hallway of my high school, greeting some of the seniors who I am still friends with from my time there. But I no longer felt at home, I no longer felt inherently welcome. Instead, I felt like an outsider. The band wasn't my band anymore. I was an alumna who happened to be in town, and I got a few hellos from good friends and old acquaintances. But for the most part, it was clear that as I left to start a new chapter, life had continued at home, and it has left me behind.

I won't say that this didn't make me a little bit sad. I watched the band on the field and was itching to put on my old uniform and have just one last game and one last performance. Staying at home that night, I had twinge of nostalgia for fall at home and all of the fun things that meant.

But by the time I got back to CWRU on Saturday, I fully appreciated why this sudden development is okay, and even a good thing. When I got home, I was greeted by a number of my sisters. When I got home, I got to hear about all the awesome Homecoming highlights, see the pictures, and congratulate my sister Emily on her making it to Homecoming Court. When I got home, I got to spend an amazing evening with my boyfriend and the brothers of Sigma Nu. Most importantly, when I got home to CWRU, I felt like I was home.

I guess the lesson in all of this is that it's okay to move on from your life in high school. The fact that you don't keep in touch with 100% of your friends, that you don't participate in all the activities that you once did, or that you don't spend as much time at home as you once did doesn't make you a totally different person. You'll still have all of the great memories you made in high school. But college will give you so many opportunities to become an even better person, to make amazing friends, and to make fantastic memories. Remembering the past fondly should never hold you back from all that the future can offer.


On Growing Up and Responsibility

The realization that I will be a teenager for only another four short months really sank in with coming back to Case this fall. Having the opportunity to watch the new incoming freshman get settled and acclimated to college life, created quite the feeling of nostalgia. The adjustment to life away from home, combined with a new arsenal of friends and a course load to die for (hopefully not literally) creates memories that will be with you for the rest of your life.

Round two, or sophomore year, is very similar, yet much different at the same time. Similar to the extent that I still keep the busy from sunrise to sunset schedule I carried last year. Maybe this isn’t everyone, but generally that’s how I conduct my everyday life here at Case. My friends from the year haven’t changed, if you don’t count the new acquaintances from this year. However, there is a lot that has changed. For example, responsibility comes with age, and well, I’m now older. I’m not saying it’s necessary to give up fun, however balancing everything is more important than ever. It’s a challenge and I’m embracing it. It’s a pretty cool feeling knowing you’re growing up.

I strongly believe Case facilitates maturity to a whole new level. I have little to compare to, Case is the only university I have ever attended, but I’ve kept up with many friends from high school. I am not taking away from the work that they do, but I strongly feel that Case Western challenges you to the limit. This process brings the best out of you as a student. So yes, even on the bad days, you can convince yourself it’s worth the effort. I also think by being challenged to the extent that we are, it forms stronger relationships with friends because you are sharing the same tough experiences.

In no way shape or form am I trying to turn anybody off of going to Case Western. Rather I look at it as a challenge to you as a prospective student. I say this as a student who has experienced Case for over a year. If your future is important to you (it sounds obvious, but I know many people that live for only the present), I highly recommend coming here; the challenge might just make you exceptional.


Advice for the Class of 2014

What I have for everyone this week is a little advice about what to do after deciding on going to Case. I figure at this point, the majority, if not everyone has made up their mind on what they are doing next year and where they are going to school. My goal for this blog is to try and give some advice and insights from personal experience.

My first piece of advice is regarding what to do this summer. Assuming things haven't changed dramatically over the past year, every new student has to complete a new student checklist of sorts. In my opinion, it is very important to jump on doing that as soon as possible and not put it off. The reason I say this is a lot of the items on the list have deadlines, and if you wait too long you might not be happy with what you get. It also helped a ton that my dad motivated me by saying I could get my laptop for school as soon as I completed my part of the checklist. Obviously I did everything as fast as possible.

One of the more important ones to get out of the way early is signing up for your orientation session. For my class, there was a total of four orientation sessions. Three took place during the summer at separate times and the fourth takes place the three days before the official move-in. The fourth one usually fills up the fastest, as it is the most convenient for many of the people that do not live close to Cleveland. Therefore if you want a say in what session you get, I recommend signing up as soon as possible. Now a little bit about my orientation experience. I think of orientation as a great time to get to know Case Western Reserve University's campus and develop some navigation skills from Leutner to Fribley (the two dining halls on campus). My orientation experience did not start nearly as well as I was hoping. My family and I were late on getting here for check-in so I was late for meeting up with my assigned group. Therefore, they left without me and I had the pleasure of being placed in a group with 15 girls, no guys. Not what I was planning on at all, but it worked out okay. At this point now, I haven’t kept up with many of the people I've met during orientation. It's not that they are bad people;, we just went our separate ways with friends when we arrived on campus. My suggestions for orientation are try your best to build some friendships up for when you come to Case in the fall, but don’t be upset if things do not work out the way you planned. I didn’t have a very good orientation experience, and some of my friends here loved orientation. Now after being here for a year, I feel it hasn’t hindered my college experience at all. So what to take from this is, don’t worry about it if you don’t meet anyone you like during orientation, you only are interacting within a very small part of the incoming freshman class. You will find people you like at a later date.

The next big, and probably most important, freshman experience at Case is Welcome Days. I say this because it is the first big step in officially moving away from home and becoming independent. It's the first time you will probably meet your roommate face-to-face and get to know the people living around you. Case does a great job facilitating programs in order to allow all freshman to get to know each other and get used to living away from home. For me this was hard because I've never been overly outgoing, and it was hard not knowing anybody from the get go. But I was lucky and got an awesome roommate that I still get along with very well.He helped me expand my horizons and meet new people. I think one thing you should remember when your trying to meet people in an environment like that is that everyone is just as confused/lost/scared as you are. They want to meet new people and build relationships, so do not be afraid to take a risk and be outgoing. Coming to a new place allows you to start over completely and remake yourself in anyway you wish. All you have to do is take advantage of the opportunity.

Other than that, just do your best to make the most of these experiences to meet people before actual classes start. Once everything gets going, social time definitely gets reduced. If for some reason this doesn't work out, don't worry, you will meet somebody, or they will meet you. Most importantly, get excited for a life changing experience!!!

I love questions, so if anything is confusing about the whole transition process, comment and I can give you my email.

Have a good summer!


Lets Walk Around the Track for 18 Hours?

This past weekend I had the pleasure (and dismay) of captaining Sigma Phi Epsilon and Alpha Phi's Relay for Life team. Prior to about three-four months ago, I had very little idea of what Relay for Life entailed; therefore, I will explain briefly.

Essentially, Relay for Life is a campus wide philanthropy event where teams raise money for the American Cancer Society. The donations "sponsor" a specific team to walk for 18 straight hours around the track. The idea is cancer never sleeps or takes a break; therefore, a team should not either for the entirety of the event.

Basically, with the help of the philanthropy chair of Alpha Phi, my job was to coordinate fundraising and other logistics in order to reach our goal of $1,500. Through hard work by both teams and a little extra stress, our team met our goal. Trust me, not easy. So obviously I was relieved by the time the event was underway.

Of course the event was not only a walk around the track, but rather it contained various events to keep participants occupied. These ranged from a cancer survivors lap to a "Miss Relay Pageant" where brave guy volunteers put on a dress in order to "impress" the crowd. And to answer your question, I did not participate in the pageant, way too much for me.

As great of an experience this event was for me, I am more than relieved that it is finally over. I tend to do this thing where I want everything to go "perfectly" and end up overworking myself. But thats just how I am about everything. I had a great time and I really learned alot from doing Relay. I had the opportunity to be in charge of over 100 people, in an event that requires team work and cooperation by all.

But to better show my experience, I included some pictures below:

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This was our fundraising table at the actual Relay. We sold baked goods made by the sisters of Alpha Phi. Throughout the entire fundraiser we were battling the wind as it tried to destroy our entire set up (if you couldn’t notice by the disarray of the treats).

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This was the view from walking the track. The small white bags that lined the track are "Luminarias." Each bag represents a donation made on behalf of someone who lost their life to cancer. They have a ceremony at 10 pm to honor every person remembered.

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The view from our fundraising table (at 2 AM). The fundraising tables were set-up to the side of the track where participants could take a break and "shop" for various items such as baked goods, grilled cheese and root beer floats.


A Visual Tour of a Week in My Life

Personally I don’t think my last week can be described without some type of visual aid... So here i go!

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Last Wednesday was the kick-off of the actual Greek Week competitions. The first event we participated in was Greek Sing. Personally, I don’t take pride in having a serenading singing voice, neither does the majority of my chapter. So what better way to conquer that then to rewrite "Party in the USA," by Miley Cyrus, as "Party on the Quad Today." by us. We put forth our best efforts to keep in tune and keep the audience laughing. We at least succeeded in the latter. Unfortunately, I'm convinced the judges did not like the original version of the song or ours, so we just received our participation points and a good time.

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Friday was the banner competition that took place in the middle of the Main Quad. The theme of this year's Greek Week was "Peace, Love and Greek Week." As a group we decided to build what you see above, a stage set-up representing our chapter's symbols and virtues upon the instruments. In the back, each fraternity and sorority on campus is represented in a rendition of a '60s or '70s album cover. If only I was particularly artistic enough to hand paint all the album covers. Thankfully, we have brothers who are creative and artistic enough to create the masterpiece this banner was.

SigEp Pyramid 2010

Saturday's events were capped off with the annual pyramid competition...an event our fraternity has managed to dominate this event over the past 10 or so years. The link above takes you to the video of our performance. Our time was an easy 10 seconds faster then the next fastest group. The completion of this event capped off a 32-point comeback throughout the day to gain a tie for the lead in Greek Week scoring (We won by edging Sig Nu in rope pull the next day).

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Later that night, I along with the help of 15 other SigEp's, volunteered as security for UPB's (University Program Board) winter concert of "HelloGoodbye." It’s easy to see we took the part of being security very seriously (see sunglasses, earplugs). It was a great time and we got to stand closest to the stage. Luckily there were no crowd goers that needed any security attention.


And that about wraps up the photos I have from this week. Personally, I'm very excited that with the onset of April. It is suddenly gorgeous weather outside! So gorgeous that I am constantly reminded by the sunburn I received while hanging outside today.

Another thing I've noticed is all the prospective students wandering the campus with their parents. If I can give one tip of advice when it comes to choosing where to go to school next year, don’t be afraid to go away from home. Yes, it is a life-changing experience, but if being away from home is the only thing holding you back, try it. If for some reason it isn’t for you, home will always take you back. Good luck with the entire experience!


When Were Interviews Fun?

I know the other bloggers are all talking about Greek life, but there's no way I can not mention how awesome it is. As I mentioned sometime before in one of my posts, I pledged for Phi Kappa Psi this semester. I had to interview all the brothers (59 to be exact) in the fraternity as a requirement to initiate… which just so happens to be tomorrow. At first, this requirement seemed like an assignment more than anything else, and so that’s how I approached it… by procrastinating. Before I knew it, Spring break came and went, and I was left with 27 more brothers left to interview with only a week before initiation. I basically neglected my homework, lived in the fraternity house, and got to know those that I soon may have the privilege to call my brothers.

Through these interviews, I met so many amazing people. I was able to interview the former CFO of Cedar point, the owner of a private airline company, an artist, a computer programmer, and people from pretty much all the majors Case has to offer. My point is, through pledging for a fraternity, I was able to discover all these amazing things from ordinary people that, a few months ago, I would’ve passed by without giving them a second thought.

That’s the beauty of meeting new people, and precisely why I love doing it so much. To be able to sit down and listen to people’s stories (why they decided to come to Case, why they chose their major, what made them they way they are) and grow from their experiences. So if anything, (I’m talking to you other Freshmen and incoming freshmen next year… by the way congrats) I encourage you to throw yourself out there and get to know those that walk to class with you every day, those that eat next to you in Leutner and Fribley, and start by joining clubs and organizations such as Fraternities and Sororities (and in my case AAA) because you’ll love it. From what I hear, friends that you make in college last forever.

Continue reading "When Were Interviews Fun?"


Have a Break, Have a KitKat®

Breaks are a lot different in college than in high school. In high school breaks aren't usually breaks… they're more of an extended period of time consisting of sleeping-in and studying for one or more standardized tests. In college, however, breaks are a period of rest for your body and mind for another two months of academic punishment, which usually equates to a decrease in your physical health. Seriously… after experiencing the first few semesters of college, you'll realize that, come mid-term week, everyone will suddenly develop this mysterious cough. What does that mean? College sucks the life-force out of you (I wouldn't have it any other way… staying up till 4AM with your friends studying is definitely a fun experience), and break is one of the few ways to recover from it.

One thing that you get from break that you don't get in high school is the feeling of absolute relief that you're DONE, with absolutely NOTHING to worry about for a full week. Trust me, it's like paradise… especially if you go somewhere like Las Vegas, which is where I am right now. The game plan today? Finish watching Mythbusters, head over downstairs to the Blue Man Group (I'm staying at the Venetian right now), and head to bed! Tomorrow? Wake up bright and early, haul the family down to a nice Vegas dinner, maybe get in some shopping, and then drive that 5 hours back to Los Angeles. Awesome way to start spring break? I think so.


Road Trip to Pittsburgh? I think so!

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So at this point you’re probably wondering why a road trip to Pittsburgh could possibly have anything to do with Case Western Reserve University. I don’t blame you, but that’s what I’m here for! To sum things up for you, my fraternity, SigEp or Sigma Phi Epsilon (whatever is more convenient), has the opportunity to send a portion of our chapter to the regional Carlson Leadership Academy. Why would I want to spend my weekend in a conference setting; attending lectures, meetings and discussions instead of relaxing in my dorm room? That’s a very good question… But look at it this way, turning down a campus-subsidized trip where I could learn things from other SigEps, hailing from New York all the way down to Virginia, would be crazy. The goal of the conference is to recognize the specific chapters that are doing well (See Picture), while gathering the leaders of every group to compare what works well and what doesn’t work so well.

I started the night off right by choosing the “Importance of Volunteers” breakout session. I thought this would be a perfect choice for me considering I’m the service/philanthropy chair for my chapter. Of course me being the smart person I am, I didn’t read the description and the session was about the importance of volunteering alumni. Of course I didn’t know a single thing about the how alumni play a role in my chapter, I’m only a freshman. However I took a lot from this session, I learned a lot about how things work and I met a few alumni SigEps interested in being more involved with my chapter.

Saturday consisted of a tightly packed schedule starting with a well- equipped breakfast at 8AM, and ending at 930PM with the conclusion of dinner and the awards ceremony. Our chapter was awarded with the Excelsior Award for greatest improvement with recruitment. With the combination of the fall and spring classes, we had 24 new members sign SigEp. When they announced as winners, we were surprised and caught off guard…our group didn’t even realize in time enough to stand up and be recognized. The picture included with this entry is of the entire group from CWRU, with our president holding our award in the middle.

I think the highlight of the weekend for me was meeting guys just like me from chapters all across the northeastern United States. I took several useful ideas and programs I plan on incorporating into my work as service chair and hopefully an executive position in the future. As much as I would have wanted to go, I don’t think it would have been possible for me to go if the travel costs and registration fee had not been subsidized down by CWRU. I could’ve gone even if I had not held any position in my chapter. As many of the older guys and alums say, the skills and processes learn at SigEp translate to their everyday life in the working world.


The NUMBER ONE Way How to Make the Most Out of Your College Experience

Well my first seminar SAGEs teacher would be a little upset over the use of an “absolute” in my title but here I think it’s fitting. I’m sure someone you know has told you something along the lines of “When you go to college you should do this…” or “Make sure you try this…” As relevant or crazy as the idea or statement may have seemed it may have some merit. The point I’m trying to get at is to get the most out of college it’s absolutely necessary to travel outside of your own personal comfort zone. I may sound like a broken record, especially to someone that’s considering Case Western. But whether we are talking about academics or extracurricular you’re going to have to try something new. I actually refute that statement, you’re going to have to try something new if you’re going to enjoy yourself and/or be successful. I have four personal examples from my experience so far that really stick out when I look back on the last semester and a half.

The first one is quite basic. Coming into Case Western I can safely say I rarely or maybe never studied or prepared for anything outside of the classroom. And no, I’m not saying it even because I think I’m more intelligent than everyone else, far from that. The pace of high school and the recitation of concepts was enough for me to handle myself just fine. College is different. In order to be successful you either have to be an absolute genius (not me) or you have to really put in the effort to learn outside of lecture. I’m not trying to scare anybody; if you don’t plan on doing any extra work then you’re not planning on doing well. Therefore I taught/am teaching myself how to actually study.

The second example that I have done was deciding to take a chair position in SigEp. It didn’t take long for me to know I wanted to give back to the chapter in some way; it’s pretty natural when you really take a liking to something. I really wanted a position with visibility, and a position that involved a lot of work and planning. Throughout high school, I had never really held much of any position with responsibility. I’m not saying I have no responsibility; I just spent most of my time on school and sports. I thought taking the position of service chair was perfect for me. To sum things up, I’m responsible for getting our chapter out for at least a certain number of service hours for the year. That involves planning events with charities and documenting every member’s specific hour count. It’s not an easy job, especially when it comes to getting everyone out to events, but I have been enjoying it the whole way.

The third way I’ve ventured out of my basic comfort zone is funny to write about, especially here. About halfway through my fall semester I got an email asking if I was interested in blogging for undergraduate admissions. See the thing is I never ever, ever, enjoyed English class in high school. It just wasn’t my thing. Just writing for no reason was never appealing. But don’t take offense if you like it, I just never did! Anyway, this position just seemed different and something more I could enjoy. At the same time, I viewed it as expanding my horizons and taking advantage of another opportunity thrown my way. It’s been everything I thought it would be and just another example trying something I never would in high school.

Lastly, I stepped into something completely new to me last semester when I applied for a volunteer lab position in one of many of Case Western’s research labs. When I applied, I figured I would have little to no chance of ever getting chosen. Mostly because I’ve never worked in a real lab before; it was just something unheard of from where I came from. The only thing I had ever done was complete the labs for AP chemistry; which I figured didn’t translate very well under the category of “experience.” Long story short I must have interviewed well or something but I was chosen from a pool of 10 or so applicants. Naturally, I was very excited and quite nervous on what I had to actually do. I’m usually in the lab 10 or so hours a week, which may seem like a lot, but in lab time that’s nothing. I barely know what I’m doing yet; I’m pretty much learning everything on the fly, but I’m loving it. I feel like I could go on and on about this but I don’t know where to start. So as a prospective student, or just a curious reader, feel free to leave any questions or comments. I would love to answer them.

I feel like Case has opened up doors for me to try new things in all facets of life. The tour guides really mean it when they say there is a way to get involved in pretty much anything, even as a freshman. It only takes a little risk taking, and obviously a willingness to learn (something you should have if you’re coming to Case). And it all comes back to my original point; try something you’re not used to doing. The first one I did was chose to come here.


The Job Jungle

You hear about all the economic woes in our country. The stimulus package that really isn't stimulating. The layoffs, the closures, the downturns. The reality is, there aren’t a lot of jobs out in the nebulous "real world." Yet, the fact that I'm posting on this very blog says something about Case and the amount of jobs offered to students. The fact is, a lot of students are in need of money to cover tuition and other learning expenses. Getting a campus job is a perfect way to close that gap.

I never thought about job availability when I applied here. All I worried about was my tuition and how much money from scholarships I would get. Yet, towards the end of the first semester, I found myself staring at a poster in the common room advertising this very job. An email later, I dug out my resume from high school, threw together a writing sample, went for a quick informal interview, and got the job. For a lot of jobs on campus, it's really that easy. Wages are extremely generous too, often ranging from $9.50 to upwards of $10.00. Unlike a typical job; however, campus jobs offer more than just a paycheck.

With a meeting I had with the other bloggers and our bosses the other day, I realized that this job meant a lot more to me than turning a few hours of free time into money. This job was a way for me to acclimate myself to the professional world. You can be late to class, but you can't be late to a job meeting. You can fall asleep in class without any outstanding consequences, but to do that in a job meeting? You're just asking to get fired. A job differs from class in that you can't get away with those things any more. Yet, at the same time, jobs connect you with people and resources that are extremely valuable as your concentration moves from getting good grades to developing a good resume.

I remember walking out of that meeting feeling really happy with myself… happy that I knew that my work and time went to accomplish something in the real world instead of a letter on my transcript.

In somewhat related news: Browsing jobbss.case.edu, I found yet another job that I was interested in-- one regarding using Adobe InDesign (a graphic layout software) to design a annual program book for the Office of Research and Technology Management. In my case, it's not whether I can find a job or not, it's whether I have the time to balance all my commitments… something that you'll rarely hear nowadays.


[HARLD] You've received a package!

One of the best email subjects I ever read. No that does not mean I live an uninteresting life nor does it mean I don’t get a lot of emails. I just really enjoy getting a package when I’m away at college. It doesn’t matter if it’s a surprise or not, nothing can clean up a long day of school like a care package from home.

I mean what’s not to like about it? It’s like opening up a present on Christmas. You have a general idea of what you’re going to get, but the specifics are uncertain. So as I fight through the well taped box I can’t help but get excited. Hmm, first there are two containers of Campbell’s Soup at Hand, not bad, not bad. Next, some half and half; I guess my parents were paying attention when I told them I was turning into an avid coffee drinker. Sports Illustrated; always a great package stuffer, if only I had more time to read it. Freeze and Eat tubes of fruit? Very interesting, but hey, I’ll give them a shot. Finally some Juicy Juice individual juice boxes; Mom you know me all too well.

And of course Mom and Dad or Grandma (My two prominent suppliers of packages) always include a note or card. Even without the enclosed card, the message is quite clear. Although I’m over a hundred miles away from home my family still hasn’t forgotten about me, not that they ever would. Whether it is a box full of useful things you love or stuff you don’t want, it reminds you of home.

I really like being away at school, even though I was very happy with everything in Buffalo. I just wanted to try something new for myself. And it’s things as simple as a package from home that remind me of the home I’m missing. And on an ending note, I don’t think anybody really knows who or what “HARLD” is.


5 Hours of Sleep…Again?

To say the least I’m having a long week. See the thing is I have this tendency to be interested in almost everything; I can’t help it, I like being busy. I’m trying to be as unconceited as possible when I say I pride myself at having halfway decent time management skills. It’s probably what helped me get into Case (It’s definitely not a prerequisite; I know a fair share of people here that show little to none at all). Regardless, the fact is simple, if you wake up early, fill your day with classes and extracurricular activities then stay up late doing homework, you’re going to get worn down. It’s a fact of life and part of what makes college what it is. This semester I tried my best to take advantage of everything Case has to offer. Between undergraduate research, SigEp, service opportunities, education (of course) and just trying to have a social life, it’s been a trying week and it’s only very, very early Wednesday morning. I’m not trying to intimidate you into thinking that Case or any other college is not fun, I’m just trying to say overextending yourself can catch up with you. It depends on what kind of person you are. If you’re student at Case or even someone considering Case, more often than not you’re a person that enjoys doing more than the bare minimum. Case accommodates that perfectly. They have something for just about everybody. There’s little merit to the statement that your 19-credit course load is weighing you down and you just don’t have time for anything else. You have the time; you just don’t know how to find it. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t plan on going to college two or three times in my life. This is my time here and I’m going to make the most of it, even if it involves a little lack of sleep and a few extra cups of coffee during the day. I can always sleep when I’m older.


The College Survival Guide: Case Edition

1. There is a difference between going to class and actually paying attention in class. Yes, the games on my iPod touch are much more interesting than anything that’s being taught in Statics. Of course I think we are still learning about vectors but I’m not all that positive. And forgive me, I have calculus 3 right before Statics and both classes have had the exact same lesson plan for the first 2 weeks. Learning the same thing twice in a row, each for about 50 minutes, is not as fun as it sounds.

My Advice: Go to class and actually pay attention. No matter how much you may think you know the material, when you get to the homework you will regret not paying attention.

2. As tempting as it seems to sleep that extra 10-15 minutes in the morning before your first class, it is worth getting up and making it to class before the scheduled time. At the time 10-15 minutes more of extra sleep sounds amazing. But looking at the big picture, the extra stress from practically running to class and walking in late are not worth those 10 minutes.

My Advice: Plan ahead, get to class early. Being late to one or two classes can really ruin your day. (Plus its embarrassing walking in late)

3. On that note, I tend to take advantage of the snooze button on my alarm clock. Therefore, I developed the strategy way back in high school of setting my alarm a good 45 minutes before I actually need to be awake. This gives me the opportunity of multiple snoozes and coincidently tricking myself into believing I actually got to sleep in. It may sound stupid but I’m not a morning person. I can’t function completely in the morning, let alone understand simple concepts such as time.

My Advice: If you have trouble getting up in the morning, try setting your alarm much earlier than you need to be up. If it doesn’t make a difference you can switch back to your old methods.

4. Going to Leutner, Fribley, Grab-it or L3 for every meal can get repetitive after a few weeks. The temptation to spend Case cash or money elsewhere to get something different and “better” becomes extremely tempting (especially when there is a Subway right on the main quad). “I’ll only go elsewhere once or twice a week,” adds up to 3 or 4 times and sooner or later you are spending $20-$30 a week off the meal plan.

My Advice: Stay away from outside food sources because they can be costly and freshmen are required to be on the 17 or 19 meals per week plan. Someone is paying a lot of money for that meal plan (Something like $12 a meal). So take advantage of that. As a student, money unfortunately does not grow on trees.


That’s only a few of the tips I’ve quickly picked up in only one semester. I hope that they can be helpful for you in the transition from high school to college. I have no problem giving more advice as well.


What’s the Rush?

So I’m sure most Case guys have experienced a fraternity brother forcing a calendar upon them during the first few days of school, I did. I’ve never been a huge fan of flyers that are handed out to me when I’m going somewhere, usually because I have grown accustomed to ads that have little to no importance to my life. But of course, naturally, I took one, probably because I’ve always had a hard time saying no. I really didn’t think much of it, especially since I was given 6 or 7 different ones filled with events that all seemed pretty similar. And why did I care? I didn’t come to Case just to join a fraternity, I came for academics and other opportunities. Clearly it’s a little different for me now.


Fraternities, to me at least, have always been something depicted in movies or on television. Most people my age have seen the movie Animal House or a similar rendition sometime in their lifetime. These representations show fraternities as a group of people who focus their college experience around alcohol and creating trouble in every way, shape and form.


At Case, the first 2-3 weeks of each semester are known as Rush Week. As an incoming freshman I had not the slightest idea of what that meant. It was soon clear that nearly every fraternity on campus was trying to get to know me. At the same time, each particular one was trying to sell the idea of Greek life, specifically, their individual chapter. Pretty much every fraternity has a specific rush calendar packed with a variety of events catered to what they were looking for in the new students. For example, a fraternity that emphasizes competition and sports holds events pertaining to, well, sports. Those focused around social activities hold dances and trips to restaurants with the existing brothers. Whatever way they do it, each fraternity attempts to show others why they think their specific chapter is the best on campus and why the prospective student should join.


The problem is, the majority of freshmen have little to no idea what these fraternities do coming into college. The idea of fraternities having a party first philosophy is a myth, especially at Case. Yes, parents have gone to other institutions where fraternities have little respect for others and themselves but Case is a different scene. The Greek organizations on campus are made completely of Case undergraduates. Clearly they are here for a great education and to take advantage of opportunities they can get nowhere else. If anything, some Greek students may have a stronger incentive to do better in the classroom because at Case especially, GPA rank is important to fraternities and sororities. Clearly each chapter on campus is a little different, but at Case, academic importance should not be the reason not to join a Greek community.


Personally, I feel that even if a student has no interest whatsoever in Greek life they should rush regardless. I had no interest until I started going to events and meeting brothers that shared the same goals in life and the same values that I have been brought up with. Even if you rush one fraternity or several and don’t end up joining, chances are you went to a fun event and got to spend time with old friends and meet new ones (This was very important to me in the fall because I’ve never been that naturally outgoing). During rush I met friends that I will know for a very long time, even some that didn’t join SigEp. Even for those that enjoy being antisocial, I believe rush is a great time to leave your room, even if it’s just to get free food from the events.


I feel very strongly about rush because it allowed me to be convinced to join a fraternity (which is one of the best decisions since coming to Case). Even to those that don’t join or girls that have friends that rush, I think that rush week is a great opportunity for the Greek community to dispel any myths created by movies or TV shows. Fraternity brothers are proud people. They are proud of themselves, their education and their fraternity.


So if you haven’t gone Greek already take the calendar next time it’s offered to you. Even if you don’t have the slightest interest, take one and see what happens. I believe that there is a fraternity to fit anyone, especially at Case. If you’re looking to get something more out of college than just the 20 minute walk to and from class I think exploring Greek life is the way to go.


Liberal Arts Weekend

Spring time is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year to work in Tomlinson Hall here at Case. The gallery and hallways are always jumping and filled with visiting students and their families, which is great for those of us who do more behind-the-scenes work in the Office of Undergraduate Admission (and not just because sometimes there are extra snacks around we can munch on).

Spring time gives us a chance to finally see the students we’ve worked hard all year recruiting, and sometimes a chance to meet students and families in person who we had previously only met via e-mail or the phone. All of Case’s spring programs are great, and like Bob has already mentioned, visiting campus is a great way to really see which of your many college options is truly the best fit.

69348857808_0_BG.jpgWhat I really want to talk about though, is a program this year for admitted liberal arts students (coinciding with Case’s Humanities Week 2006 the theme of which was “Childhoods.” Check out this lineup!) called… wait for it… Liberal Arts Weekend! I had the privilege of helping out with the program this year, and it was a complete blast from beginning to end. What I like about the program is that it really highlights what it is like to be a humanities major here at Case and the nowhere-else-in-the-world opportunities that our liberal arts majors get to take advantage of all the time. Lemme hit some of the highlights:


Students each had a SAGES-style seminar taught by some of our outstanding faculty members, Jonathan Sadowsky from the history department, John Orlock from the theater department, Darci Brandel from the English department and Alan Rocke from the history department.)

Students and their families (and some UGA staffers) had a great lunch with some of Case’s humanities faculty members (complete with delicious asparagus and great conversation, especially at my table!). Mark Turner, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, spoke during dessert about the history of liberal arts at Case and the SAGES program.

89778857808_0_BG.jpgOur student tour guides and some faculty braved the rain to show off our beautiful campus. (To the left, check out tour guide Sean giving a tour to some parents along with History Professor Ken Ledford.)

Probably the highlight of the day was the reading by author Anne Lamott and follow-up discussion moderated by Florence Harkness Professor of Religion and Director of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities Tim Beal. Anne Lamott’s reading was laugh-out-loud funny and her conversation with Prof. Beal, as well as her answers to questions from the audience revealed (if you’ll pardon the cheese) the humanity that makes her such an amazing author. For anyone interested in any type of writing (or as Anne pointed out, any creative endeavor) let me recommend Anne’s book, Bird by Bird, which is full of insight into the creative process as well as some hilarious anecdotes from Anne’s life. (The pictures are of visiting students waiting for the lecture to start, as well as Tim and Anne’s discussion. Quality isn’t the greatest, darn flash!)

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I could go on with highlights and tell all about what a great time the UGA staff had hosting the event, as well as what a great time our current students, faculty, prospective students and their families had, but let me cut to the chase: While this schedule seems almost too cool to be true - days chock full of invigorating seminars, opportunities to meet with faculty outside of class, and lectures by world-renowned authors, musicians, scientists, researchers, politicians and civic leaders - days full of chances to extend learning outside the classroom are every day for students of the liberal arts at Case! Don’t believe me? Check out some of our students’ blogs, or slap this puppy on the portable listening device of your choice. Case Western Reserve University offers students the chance to create their own curriculum by building their own major, traveling abroad, and spending time at some of the coolest cultural institutions in the world like the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Playhouse Square, Severance Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art, all with mentorship from our top notch faculty.


College buddies = lifelong friends

It's a cliche to refer to the college experience as "the best years of your life". And for me, it's not even true. The best years of my life came after graduation, without a doubt.

But, I have to agree with Gest that the college years do represent critical years. Some of the people I've met during my years as an undergraduate student at Case have had a profound impact on my life, extending long after graduation. I've stayed in contact with many of those people.

My husband, Vic, is also a Case alum, so our wedding included many college pals. It's still funny for me to think of how well-mannered Vic's fraternity brothers were that evening. I had expected them to be the crazy hellraisers I knew years ago!

Vic has remained very close to many of his friends from Case, especially the ones he had met in the Case commuter lounge. They played on sports teams together, devised and managed fantasy football leagues (Case engineering students + sports fanaticism = supercrazy!), helped each other get through challenging classes, etc.

During the holidays, we have an annual Case commuters reunion where we all get together for a night of food and games. One December, everyone cheered when Vic and I announced our engagement. The next year, we spread the happy news of our pregnancy. It's been wonderful being able to share everyone's triumphs - weddings, babies, new jobs, etc.

Yesterday, though, we shared a very sad day. Our friend Zaid's mother passed away late last week and yesterday was her funeral. Zaid and all three of his siblings graduated from Case with undergraduate and graduate/professional degrees, and the funeral service included many Case grads. While it was sad to see so many Case alums - doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, educators - mourning together, it was also heartwarming too. People had flown in from all over the country (and world) to comfort the family.

I guess that's one of the things we don't really talk about in our publications or on our Web site. Besides the top-notch education you get at Case, you also make lasting relationships that carry you when you really need it.