Luis De Leon

Luis De Leon

Public Relations

On a mission to see the world.



The Art of Perfecting Your Craft

Sep 25, 2014 | Author: Luis De Leon

Part of what makes the experience at Utica College great is that proper time management allows us to focus a piece of our week on miscellaneous interests and hobbies we truly love. Below I’ll share why it’s important to the person in the mirror that you stick with your hobbies and make time for at least one of them – no matter how chaotic life gets.

The benefits of having a hobby are endless: evoking your passion, personal enjoyment, stress relief, character building, improving a skill, conquering a challenge, sharing your gift with others… The list can go on.

Before I continue, just know that I’m using the word hobby very broadly. Please do keep your own hobbies in mind as you continue reading. In the end, the process of perfecting your craft can apply to just about anything. If you’re wondering, my main hobby these days is learning guitar. I’ll use that as an example from here on out, but feel free to fit the shoe onto your own hobbies.

Don’t get discouraged. This year, a lot of people in Boehlert Hall play guitar. Some of them have guitars on campus. I will be the first to say that I’m by far the worst player out of all of them. After hearing my friends play, it would be easy to feel embarrassed and hide with my inferior guitar skills under a rock. However, I realized that it’s better to put my ego to the side. Instead of getting discouraged because I’m not as good as the others, I see the situation as a great learning environment. I can learn from a bunch of other guitar players and they are always eager to share tips and give me a few pointers. I’m surrounded by people who share my passion and that is awesome.

Be patient. My friends are better than me for a reason; they’ve played longer and put in a lot more practice. My friend Gustaf, for example, has played acoustic guitar for five years now. I’ve only played guitar since December. Obviously, Gustaf plays better than I do, so comparing our skills given our difference of experience would be ridiculous. Gustaf had his growing pains and at one point he didn’t know a thing about playing, but he put in the effort to improve. Stay the course, and in five years the improvement will come. Will I be as good as my buddies when they reached their five year mark? I don’t know. The growing pains will come as well, but it’s so exciting when your improvement becomes noticeable.

Ignore the crowd. You will get all kinds of feedback. Some people will compliment you and praise your skills. Some will criticize and put you down. Don’t let any of the negative stuff get to you. Some people are ignorant to the idea that things don’t happen overnight. They never want to witness someone practicing; they just want the award-winning entertainment. When I’m around friends, I practice some, but for the most part I play tunes I’ve learned already because I understand that they don’t want to hear me struggle through a new song all the time.

Keep it fun. The moment it feels like work and you stop enjoying what you do, game over. Practice does feel like work sometimes, but I still feel happy just holding the guitar. The idea that I can play a song I like motivates me to do something 1,000 times until I get the hang of it. I don’t force the issue either. If I get bored because I spent too long working on one thing, then I move on to another song or take a break by playing songs I already know. I also don’t learn something new all the time. Sometimes I just fool around and just make noise. Good ol’ stress relief.

Go all out. Depending on what exactly your hobby is, fall in love with the technical aspects of it. When someone plays guitar, for example, I’m not just hearing the music. I’m looking at the hands to see how they hold frets and how they strum different strings. Any in-shape person deserves respect from a health and fitness perspective because it’s so much easier to skip the gym and eat whatever is nearby.

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Change Makes the Campus Go Round

Sep 23, 2014 | Author: Luis De Leon

People tend to get comfortable with the status quo, but change happens all the time. Change is the reason life in 2014 is so awesome (and I’ll just assume the History Department will agree with me on this one). Change is natural, inevitable and hopefully it’s not as scary as you think.

For example, think about life when you first arrived at UC. For most of us, it’s the first taste of independence and therefore, the most freedom we’ve ever had. Living on campus probably means you’re far from home, so you left old friends and family to start all over again in a new environment.

So now you’ve been on campus for a while. Whether a while means a few weeks or a few years, Utica College has gone through quite a few changes as well. Sometimes we don’t notice because it can seem trivial in the moment. We might be too busy thinking about the cute girl (or guy) in our class and when that next paper is due. There’s nothing wrong with that, but smaller changes have a compound effect over time, and then you realize life on campus really has changed.

Alumni of the past decade, for example, witnessed the ECJS Building and Romano Hall go up. Some of us will be fortunate enough to see some very big changes, such as the forever-wished-for addition of the dome.

This is what the dome (beyond Gaetano Stadium) would look like walking from Parking Lot J.

If you’re new to the UC community, just know that a few years from now, the campus will look and feel different. As a fifth-year senior, UC has changed a lot. But it only makes sense, right? Our motto is Never Stand Still, after all.

This whole change thing is probably easiest to explain if I paint a picture of what life was like when I was a freshman. It was Fall of 2010, and I was looking extra fresh with my lanyard and the blue UC Class of 2014 shirt (time flies because it’s crazy to think the new shirts say 2018…).

Anyway, the following is a list of random things that have changed since my first semester at UC:

My hair. Two afros in four years that I grew out for a whole semester each time. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like doing that again, but at least it was fun while it lasted.

No Wi-Fi in your room. Can you imagine that? Only the main lounges of the Residence Halls had Wi-Fi, at best. Unless you had a data plan on your smartphone, the only way you could access the Internet from your room was by plugging an ethernet cable into your laptop or video game console. I still had a dumbphone at this point, but the coolest thing out at the time was the iPhone 4. Bell Hall was the first to receive Wi-Fi in Spring 2011. By Fall 2011, all of the rooms on campus had Wi-Fi.

iPads were a new thing in Spring 2010, by the way.

R.I.P. Mellow Moose. Mellow Moose was the coolest place on campus, but it no longer exists. The new Campus Safety Office used to be a coffee house that was basically a mini-Tramontane Cafe (highly recommended place, FYI). The atmosphere was quiet enough to study, but also comfortable and laid back enough to hang out.

Even though it was right in the middle of campus, Mellow Moose had such a distinct energy to it that it felt like you were off campus. At one point, Mellow Moose sold milkshakes, bagels, halfmoon cookies, brownies and other goodies. Mellow Moose was the place for open mics, board games, group meetings and other small-scale events.

Students worked there and you could use your declining balance to buy snacks. Unfortunately, the College felt that the space was seldom used and decided to close Mellow Moose down. It tried to make a return as an arcade room, but that flopped.

Common Grounds. That’s right. This was under construction in Fall 2010. I always wondered what the construction in the library was all about back then. I’m not much of a coffee person, but Common Grounds is clutch, especially during Finals Week. Now that I think about it, the launch of Common Grounds made Mellow Moose a redundant business. I still miss that Mellow Moose atmosphere, though. So chill. Anyway, the only gripe against Common Grounds is that it could stay open an hour or two later on weekdays.

Track & Field facilities. It’s awesome when hockey players go off campus to practice, especially after the $1 million makeover courtesy of the Utica Comets. When track has to go off campus, it sucks. Although the campus still awaits a track, UC took a step in the right direction in building an outdoor throwing and jumping facility in 2011. Soon enough, track & field athletes will have everything they need on campus. In all honesty, it’s crazy how good the track & field teams have been considering the lack of facilities the program has dealt with.

UC throwing and jumping facility near the baseball field.

Campus Safety. Wayne, Bruce, Rick and those golf carts have been here forever. Now that I’m actually thinking about it, the Officers enjoyed a small change to their uniform last year. Campus Safety Officers get to wear short sleeves during summer months, which we all know lasts about 48 hours a year.

Themed Housing was new. If I remember correctly, the only themed housing that existed my freshman year was Health & Wellness and the Global Village. In Fall 2011, the Global Village was in Tower Hall, and after that, it has stayed in Boehlert. Residence Life once had themed housing in Alumni Hall. Once. Now, most of the themed floors are in South Hall, such as UDiscover and UBalance.

Dining was different. There was no such thing as the sandwich line. The way you’d make sandwiches on the weekend was how you made them every day back in Fall 2010. The sandwich line used to be the “Fresh & Healthy” station, where you could have custom orders of stir fried food every day. The dining services were provided by Aramark, a company UC had partnered with for over 30 years. Honestly, the stir fry was the only highlight in the Dining Commons, which is why Sodexo took over in Spring 2011. Hiring Sodexo has been one of the best things the administration has done in the time I’ve been here.

#tbt

The return of the Pioneer Pub. Before Fall 2011, there had been no campus pub for 26 years! The area where the pub is was an empty corner with a pool table that nobody used. On the bright side, back then you could actually use the back door to Pio. That was really convenient if you were coming from the Athletic Center, the fields or the Residence Halls. As a result, the back door was probably used more often than the front door. Without a liquor license, Sodexo couldn’t sell any alcohol. In other words, Fall 2011 was the semester of free booze on campus. Too bad I wasn’t 21 at the time… Anyway, way to take one for the team, Sodexo.

If you saw how Pio looked before this, you’d appreciate this beauty right here.

Speaking of Pio… The renovation to all of Pio was very much needed. There were no TVs and no booth seating. Renovating Pio, an important hangout spot on campus, was definitely a wise move by UC. The electronic menus that were added this past summer is also a nice touch. I just have one request: can we please keep Subway open until 11 p.m. every day?

Other renovations and changes worth mentioning. Gordon Science Center. Most of the Residence Halls. The library. The trading room with a live stock ticker. The canopy atop the pressbox. The transition to Google from Sun Microsystems. The new stadium turf… I can go on, but you get my point.

The people. The most interesting changes, in my humble opinion, happen to be the people on our campus. Hopefully, one day you will wake up as a senior and realize you’re not the same person who walked around campus for the first time with fresh lanyards.

Many people come and go. Mistakes are made and lessons are learned. People you never saw or spoke to during your freshman year might be your best friends at Commencement. A lot will change during your time at Utica College, mostly for the better. Just know that you as a person will grow and change with each footstep you take on this ever-changing campus.

15 Ways to Make Your UC Experience Awesome

Apr 10, 2014 | Author: Luis De Leon

Whether you’re a first-year student just getting used to college life or a senior who’s cringing at the thought of the real world, it’s never too late to make the most of your time at Utica College.

After reflecting on what will soon be four years as a UC student, I compiled the following list. This is in no particular order.

1. Balance is everything. Without balance, you have nothing. A lot is said about people who aren’t involved on campus, but being too involved can be equally bad. Some people are superhuman and find ways to fit 100 hours into one day. For the rest of us, finding a happy medium is necessary in order to have time for our studies, relaxation, social lives, the gym, etc. Balance demonstrates good time management, which is more of an asset than joining a random club to make your resume look good.

Yup, his time management is on point.

2. Put yourself out there. It never hurts to make new friends. You get an opportunity every day in the classroom, the library, Strebel Lounge, the Athletic Center and in the residence halls. If you’re nervous about these things, chances are the other person feels the same way in these situations. The other person will appreciate you making the first move. Let’s be honest though – if the stalemate continues, isn’t it awkward to see the same person over again without ever talking to them?

3. Make decisions for yourself. Sometimes you don’t want to say ‘no’, but sometimes you have to. That could mean turning down a student organization or studying while your friends go to Varick Street on Saturday night. Sometimes you shouldn’t do what makes sense because you should do what makes you happy. Sometimes you must walk your own path. Your friends will respect you more in the long run. Nobody truly respects the person that follows the group all the time.

4. Save your receipts. You have more money than you think, and here’s one way to prove it. Stash your receipts in a jar. At the end of the month, add everything up to see how much money you spent. If you didn’t spend your money wisely, make adjustments for the next month. If you are good with your finances, you will thank yourself when you can enjoy special events, the weekend, winter break and spring break.

“Bro, I spent over $200 on Chinese”

5. Appreciate the Dining Commons. Let me get this out of the way – nothing will ever beat home-cooked food. Still, the Dining Commons is awesome. It is THE definition of convenient. You don’t have to worry about grocery shopping, cooking or dish washing. The café saves us so much time and yet it’s taken for granted every day. I understand that it’s nice to order Chinese or go to Moe’s once in a while, but if you eat out too often, then you’re not making the most of your meal plan. If you don’t have a meal plan, I recommend the occasional trip to the café.

6. Use the hidden gems on campus. The sauna. The racquetball courts. The pool. The batting cages. In one corner of the basketball courts there are volleyball nets ready to go anytime. Now let’s move on from the Athletic Center. Did you know about the TV studio in the Faculty Center basement? The radio station in Strebel? The Art Gallery in the Library Concourse? The soundproof piano room under the library? If you’re religious, check out the Newman Center by the residential quad.

Yup, this is on campus. Green screen and everything.

7. Befriend international and exchange students. America is great, but let’s open our eyes to the rest of the world. You learn about different cultures, you learn how to say funny things in different languages, and you surround yourself with different perspectives. Many international students are around for only a semester or two, so they have no choice but to make the most of it. If you don’t know any of them, stop by White Hall 252. If you’re looking to study abroad, then having friends all over the world wouldn’t hurt.

8. Evaluate your friendships. Who are you spending time with that doesn’t deserve your time? Who should you spend more time with but haven’t? To keep it real, some friends add value to your life and others don’t. The sooner you figure this out, the better off you’ll be.

9. Check out UC’s fraternities and sororities. Going Greek may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly worth looking into. The people you meet may very well become your second family. Greek life is fun, of course, but it also offers amazing opportunities to network and give back within the Utica College community. The Greek connection is worldwide – you’re bound to connect with anyone you see proudly wearing their letters.

Greek organizations host tons of cool events like Midnight Breakfast.

10. Participate in intramurals. Even if you’re a student-athlete, it’s fun to participate in intramurals. Bragging rights is all you need to play for here. It’s competitive and definitely something Allen Iverson looks forward to – games without practice.

11. Stick around for Senior Week. Ah, the week between finals and Commencement. The main events are Senior Ball and Senior Pub Night, which costs $70 to attend. Don’t let the price scare you away because it’s well worth it. Senior Week is the last chance for seniors to have fun as undergrads. Throw in the best weather of the year and that gives you an amazing time to be on campus.

12. Pack that Zipcar. Members can reserve and use Zipcar anytime. Zipcar covers gas, insurance and maintenance costs for you. The company will reimburse you if you happen to spend any money on the vehicle. Unlike other car rental companies, Zipcar does not charge an underage fee for anyone under 25. Save even more money on rental costs by carpooling with friends. If you plan to go shopping, you might as well take advantage of college discounts.

The original Zipcar on campus in 2011, parked like a boss.

13. Avoid the Tuesday/Thursday trap. It looks so appealing on paper to schedule classes for only two days, but then life happens. You’ll be the person with multiple exams, presentations and papers due on the same day. And you’re scrambling to get it done because you thought you had all the time in the world. Where’d all that time go? Every weekend is long and may include more naps than you want to admit, but a pile of Tuesday assignments due on Thursday is no fun. It takes a special kind of discipline to take on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule and avoid procrastination in the process. The lack of consistency in a schedule like that can really throw you off balance. If you’re the type who needs to have a day off here and there, I would recommend stocking up on Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes instead. Despite the days off, you’d still go to class often enough to remain productive.

14. Pick a hobby and stick to it. The best decision I made this semester was bringing my guitar back up from home. Every time I need a moment to ease stress and relax, I can do so in a productive way. I can go on about how much I love my guitar, but the point here is to choose a hobby you’d enjoy too much to forget about. No matter how busy you are, you’ll always find time for your favorite hobby.

I don’t know how I managed all this time without my guitar.

I don’t know how I managed all this time without my guitar.

15. Go to the Aud. Fun fact: the NCAA D-III Frozen Four will be held at the Utica Memorial Auditorium in 2017. Utica is a hockey town and that was confirmed when the Comets arrived. Thanks to the Comets’ arrival to Utica, the Pioneers enjoyed the renovations to the Aud last season. Even before the Comets and the million-dollar makeover, the Aud is where UC school spirit is at its finest. I’m not much of a hockey fan myself, but I love to watch the Pioneers in action. The Aud is notorious for being the best Division III facility for ice hockey in the country. The energy is great and the atmosphere is as close to professional sports as it gets in Division III. By the way, free shuttle vans take you from Strebel to the game, which is also free for UC students.

Epic photo of the Utica Comets and the Aud from uticaod.com

Hope you found this helpful. See you around campus!