Service Day at UC: Why I Give Back

20160415_azure_garrett_013My name is Azure Garrett ’17, and I am currently the President of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed national service fraternity on campus.

APO is very focused on service, so we were happy to work with Student Activities on the second annual Service Day at UC! This year, we thought of some new service activities we could do at the event on Oct. 26, including making pillows for nursing homes and goodie bags for children. APO values service and a lot of activities we do are based around service, especially service to our school and community. This event definitely gave us the opportunity to do both of those things.

Service is always something I have been interested in, but it is very hard to do as an individual. Joining Alpha Phi Omega gave me the voice and resources to not only think about doing service, but by going out and doing it with people who have the same interests as me. As a group we are constantly thinking about ways to give back to the community. It’s nice to be able to do img_2254someething with a great group of people, and not expect anything in return. Personally, I have always enjoyed being involved. I hate the feeling of not being able to help. I like staying busy and what better way to do that than by volunteering? With volunteering, I am able to work with all types of people, from children to senior citizens, and gain new perspectives on different situations. I learn more about myself and the community through service.

As President of APO, I encourage all students at UC to get involved in service, because it makes you a well-rounded individual and it teaches you to give back and have empathy for people. I believe it is our social responsibility to help each other out in all ways possible.

img_2273At this year’s Service Day, a lot of UC students were excited to get involved. Sometimes I find it hard to get UC students involved in activities that don’t give them incentives, and the fact that so many students were willing to give back to the community without expecting something in return is a great sign that UC is growing in more ways than just physical.


UC’s Historic Inauguration: A Student’s Perspective

My name is Ann Ciancia, and I’m the president of the UC Student Senate. On Friday, September 23, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the procession at the inauguration of Dr. Laura Casamento, Utica College’s new president. The entire executive board of Student Senate was asked to participate.

Members of UC’s Student Senate prior to Inauguration

Inspiration filled me as the inauguration started on the cloudy (but not rainy) day! At the beginning of the year, during my convocation speech to incoming first year students, I emphasized how President Casamento was breaking the glass ceiling amongst the high leadership positions within college institutions, including our very own. As a female student leader on this campus, this event in our college history speaks to me. It means a lot to me knowing that a woman, like President Casamento, can make such a huge impact. I know she will transform and guide this college into a trailblazing institution as the ninth president.

The words of Professor Gary Leising and Gianna Boone were extraordinary and uplifting. Their poems were both filled with such incredible emotion, creating a distinct atmosphere for this event.

As President Casamento delivered her speech, she focused on the success of this college. During her presidency, she wants to reach out to faculty, staff, and students to make sure their voices are heard. It is important that she cares about the opinions of others. The change in store for Utica College during her presidency will exemplify the future success of this community.

A touching moment during the ceremony was when President Casamento pointed to the students in the crowd. She said her goal was to shake the hands of each student as they walk across the stage during graduation. As students, I know that we can help her reach the institution’s goal.

My final words go out to President Casamento herself: Remember to “Never Stand Still” as you embark on this unforgettable journey! Thank you for instilling the values of being a Proud Pioneer.

President Casamento took a moment to pose with me 

5 Things I Love About College


1. Class Times: 

They weren’t lying when they said that college is WAY different from high school. But the structure of my day is most defiantly the thing I love most about college. In high school you are stuck in one building for eight hours and aside from lunch and gym class, it is school, school, and more school for those long eight hours. I love how college has allowed me to schedule my day the way I want it. There are some days that I have classes in the morning right in a row, and then the rest of the day is mine to do what ever I need to. Or, there are some days where my classes are spread far apart and I have large breaks to grab lunch, hang with friends, work on homework, or even sometimes, take a nap!5 things I Love... Pic #1

2. Freedom:

I never thought I would say it, but I’ll admit it: I miss my parents. That being said, it is a nice feeling to be independent from them. It is definitely a culture shock to not have to ask my parents if it is OK to go somewhere or do something. I love the freedom that I gained when I left home, but it does take some responsibility and a huge adjustment. But, after getting it down to a science, all it takes is a good head on your shoulders and some time management skills. But don’t worry, my mom still calls me 100 times a day…

5 things I Love Pic # 2 

3. Friends: 

I have always grown up and been around a strong group of friends, and when I first left for UC, I was terrified to leave them. However, I quickly learned that my fear was unnecessary. The friends I have made here at UC have become lifelong friends. I will never not be friends with the people I’ve grown up with but there is something different about the bond you build with the people you go to college with. It truly is something special.

4. Campus:

Like I mentioned before, the biggest change from high school to college is the structure of my day. I love not being confined to one building for the whole day. Especially when its night out, I love finding different places to hang out on campus and some some work, like under a tree or on a blanket in the quad.5 Things I Love... Pic#4

5. Professors:

The professors I’ve had over the past four years have truly made my college experience that much better. They are always willing do help me with a project, stay after office hours or, come in early to meet me. My professors are always reaching out to me with information about job opportunities and other networking information. When I graduate I will miss many things about Utica College but the professors and the relationships I’ve built with them is something I will definitely remember forever.


The 5 Realities of Having a Roommate

Upon your arrival to college, I’m sure you’re extremely nervous and uneasy about the thoughts of having a roommate. This person will share the same room as you, probably some of the same belongings, and eventually they may end up using some of your stuff with or without permission. Living with a roommate isn’t always the easiest of college tasks, but it’s one of the best lessons and experiences I’ve ever had!

Did we just become best friends?

So, here’s a few realities that happen with nearly every roommate you’ll have at some point through your college career:

  1. Your room will often look like a crime scene unless you have established a set day in which you will both organize your things and clean your room.
  2. Whether you know it or not, your roommate will know your entire life – especially if you are close friends.
  3. Your shared space will quickly become disorganized with two people frantically panicking to get up and ready for class in the morning.
  4. They will more-than-likely see you at some of your worst points throughout the year.
  5. And though the last four seem to be breaking points about having a roommate, that same roommate will always be there to comfort you when you need them! I mean, after all, they do live with you.

Having a roommate, in my opinion was one of the best things that had happened upon coming to college. Of course the five things mentioned above are from personal experiences here and each persons experience is different, but my first roommate was my first friend here at UC.

Having someone to talk who is going through the exact same obstacles as you in the beginning is comforting. Your roommate also allows you to find your first friend while you go out and explores the college experience. Your friend group will grow, but your roommate usually will be the one to keep you grounded for a while.


Club Spotlight: UCEMS

I’m a proud member of several diverse and interesting organizations. From the Gay-Straight Alliance, to the Biology Club, to the Residence Hall Association…one of my favoite things about Utica College is the sheer number of organizations that are available for students to join and become a part of.

One of the newer organizations on campus is the Utica College EMS (Emergency Medical Services). The organization is open to anyone interested in helping out with emergency assistance and care on campus. However, students that are trained as EMTs and have recieved their state certification are given the position of Captain, and are the main respondants from the organization to any on-campus situations. If you aren’t EMT certified, never fear! They do offer first aid certification training for their “assistant responders.”

The organization is certified through the state and campus safety, and now they are fully allowed to respond to emergency medical situations on campus. Plus, the coolest part about the org is the hard work all of the members put in to actually bring the idea of an on-campus, student-run, emergency medical service to life.

One of the integral founding members is Anthony Scalise, a sophomore Biology major. He now holds a captain position within the organization and I was given the opporunity to sit down and chat with him about his endevaor to create the Utica College EMS.

Anthony was very enthusiastic with how awesome reception has been to the new organization. It is great that students that are trained to respond to incidences will have the opportunity to use those skills. However, he did stress that “if people have a medical emergency, call campus safety and they will notify us. “*

We chatted about a few of their events and he mentioned how they were on for the heart run and their presence was seen by all as they responded to events. Plus, they will be in charge of all medical calls for the 2nd annual upcoming Relay For Life! Not only with the organization be on call for the event, but they also will be walking in the event. Currently they are number two for all clubs on campus as they have raised over $800 for the charitable cause!

Congratulations to Anthony and the entire Utica College Emergency Medical Services on a sucessful inagural year as an organization!

*To be clear, campus safety still responds to all on-campus incedences first. UCEMS is a supplemental service avilable to the Utica College community.

EMS members Ann, Megan, and Anthony



5 Things to Get Excited About Post-Spring Break


So the semester isn’t over yet? I could’ve sworn it was based on my exhaustion. I totally understand why 93% of the campus is dragging their feet to class this week, but here are some reasons you shouldn’t:

1. It isn’t freezing anymore

Yes, you were so annoyed to be back to the hustle and bustle of the college life after a week of sweet nothings that you completely forgot to notice that the freezing air was no longer hurting your face as you walked to class. Yes, it is pouring rain, but hey, all the more reason to not get ready in the morning am I right?

2. You’re almost there

You’ve managed to survive 10 whole weeks of classes and you only have a measly five more to go. It is the home stretch!

3. Warm weather makes people nicer/happier

People are evidently nicer when the weather is nice. Just a couple more weeks and people will go from darting from building to building, buried in their parkas, avoiding human interaction, mumbling swear words to themselves as icy show whips them in the face to taking leisurely walks, socializing and smiling again. Maybe that’s just me, maybe not.


The most fun all-nighter you will ever attempt to pull is less than a month away! On April 8 in the Dome, the UC community is in for a night of music, games and some serious cancer fighting. Last year, Relay For Life raised over $22,000 for the American Cancer Society and it’s looking like we are going raise even more money this year! You really don’t want to miss out on this. Join the fight at

5. Moose Madness Weekend

Assuming you’re all going to push-off studying for finals until the night before, you have an amazing Moose Madness weekend to look forward to! Moose Madness begins on the last day of classes and features an annual spring concert, sporting events and other activities. You wouldn’t want to miss that, would you?

Hang in there, folks. It ain’t over till it’s over.



5 Things I Wish I Knew Freshman Year

Before coming to college, there are quite a few things I wish I knew sooner. As a first-semester freshman, I never really thought about a lot of things in regards to my college experience including living on campus, taking college classes, and maintaining a social life. But I soon began to think that I had it all under control, when I, in fact, did not.

If I knew freshman year what I know now, I would have done things much differently. My grades were pretty good, but my study habits and things like that were horrendous. All I wanted to do with my free time was nap and that actually leads to a lot of sleepless nights and stressful mornings. So, while thinking about what I could do differently, I compiled a list:

  1. Go to the library between classes

The more free time I have, the better. I now go to the library more to get work done in the daytime. It keeps me from napping and I get more work done so I have less to do when I get home at night.

  1. Work, but save your money

It’s extremely tempting to go shopping and such when you have a campus job. Finally, you have an income while in school.. but don’t let it fool you! Save the money you make because sometimes things pop up and you have to have money for them right on the spot. You may have an unexpected textbook that you need or a computer program and unfortunately they’re super expensive in most cases.

  1. Research your professors

There are websites out there that students can rate professors and write reviews on them. Use them! Not that any singular professor is “bad,” rather, everyone learns differently and students frequently talk about learning styles and such on these websites. Choose your professors according to your learning style and preference. You’ll be much happier and more successful!

  1. If you have anxiety over office hours, email for a private meeting

I used to despise going to office hours because I never really liked asking questions in front of others. It wasn’t until my second semester that I had figured out that it was possible to ask for private meetings with professors simply by emailing them.

  1. The writing center in the library is a real thing

I honestly had no idea what the writing center was in the library. I’m usually pretty good at writing papers, but I never really liked having my friends read them over for me and correcting them. The writing center is always available for that reason, to help you with your papers! Who knew?!

These are just a few tips that I wish I had known about in the beginning of my freshman year at UC. I’m sure there are plenty more to add to this list, but these are the main ones that I could think of that would have helped me be a better student overall.


If Your Favorite Disney Princesses Went to Utica College

Growing up watching and idolizing Disney Princesses, I recently decided to revisit my fascination.

Being that the past few weeks have been filled with rain and snow, it was the perfect opportunity to binge on movies like The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Beauty and The Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, and my new favorite, Frozen. Yes, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands paired with a slight self-diagnosis of insomnia. After a few hours of watching, I thought to myself – my life is far from the standards of those of the Disney Princesses. But what if they lived my life? This 3 a.m. ponder lead to some interesting scenarios.


Ariel Pic

Upon her enrollment as a full time student at Utica College, Ariel finds comfort in becoming a Pioneer while joining the Women’s Swim and Dive team. Breaking records and owning the lanes, she never looks back – her happily every after will culminate on her senior night when she breaks the school’s longest standing record.



Cinderella PicAfter declaring her independence from her evil step-mother, Cinderella spends most of her time in the Womyn’s Resource Center where she is surrounded by faculty, staff, and other students who share her same passions and ideas of equality. She has since ditched the glass-slipper look because, let’s face it, glass slippers are not ideal for getting across campus in a hurry!



Jasmine Pic

Always going to be beat of her own drum, Jasmine spends most of her time working in the robotics lab trying to build her own flying carpet. Unfortunately, her whole new world here at Utica College does not allow for her pet tiger Rajah. However, she keeps her passion for wild life alive by majoring in Animal Behavior.



Elsa Pic

Deciding to leave her castle was one of Elsa’s hardest decisions. But like most people, Elsa decided to move on to the next chapter in her life. Her fascination with weather has landed Elsa as president of Asa Gray Biological Society (Asa Gray). While Elsa has made tons of friends, some do blame her for the lake effect winter we experience here in Utica.



Belle Pic

As scholarly as she is, Belle’s transition into college was a breeze! Spending most of her time reading, she has almost made her way through half of the books in the library. Since Belle is so adoring of literature and the atmosphere the library brings, she has just become the latest work-study at the circulation desk and has taken part in peer tutoring.



Sleeping Beauty Pic

Catching naps in between classes is a must for our sleeping beauty. Luckily, she has had the freedom to schedule all her classes for later in the day. That being said, her favorite place to hang out is in the Residence Halls. After getting five other friends together, Aurora formed a club on campus called “Sleepers Anonymous.” The club works together to help raise money and donate things like blankets and pillows to the local homeless community.


The Best Way to get BAKED!

When I got home from work today, my roommates and I were talking about how it’s national chocolate cake day. We had been talking about it for nearly 20 minutes when we decided that we really did want to make a chocolate cake, but on the next level. What’s better than simply chocolate cake? Chocolate-covered chocolate cake pops!

Though chocolate cake is great and all, chocolate cake pops are much better. They are like bite- sized pieces of an entire chocolate cake! So, that’s exactly what we decided to make.Untitled

How to make chocolate cake pops:

  1. Beginning with a traditional chocolate cake: We made the cake according to the box and then let it cool for an hour.
  2. We then broke the cake up into a bowl and mixed it with one package of cream cheese. We then rolled this new “dough” into small circles and poked lollipop sticks into them before placing them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for a half hour.
  3. We then melted chocolate to dip the cake pops in.
  4. After dipping the cake pops in chocolate, we placed them back on the cookie sheet and let them cool for about twenty minutes. And then…… VOILA! Chocolate covered, chocolate cake pops!

It’s like chocolate cake, but better on national chocolate cake day! And what makes that even better? My roommates and I made them together and even shared with our friends!


How to Get Away with Murder…ing Stress!

I’ve found that stress is one of the easiest things to get but one of the hardest things to get rid of. Between school work, maintaining a social life, staying healthy, keeping a job, and keeping sane, stress is everywhere on a college campus. Being a chronic over-thinker, I often find myself stressing out and obsessing over every little detail. This is not only not a healthy way to live, it is also extremely counterproductive. The times when I am stressing the most just so happen to also be the times when I barely get anything done!

That said, over the past four years of being a college student here at Utica College, I have found a few perfectly reasonable tips on how to de-stress!

Tip #1: Mindless doodling.Stress Tip #1 PicThis is one of my favorite things to do when I have some spare time or when I need a break from all of the moving parts of my day! An added bonus to this activity: I never knew I was good a drawing until I tried – grab a pencil and try!!

Tip #2: Painting nails/self pampering.
Stress Tip #2 PicNot only does painting my nails or putting a face mask on take me away from the chaos of homework, it also makes me feel refreshed and rejuvenated!

Tip #3: Throwing a one-person, private dance party.

Stress Tip #3 Pic

Locking my door and tuning out all that is outside helps me practice my most embarrassing dance moves! (does this count as exercise? I think yes!)

Tip #4: Taking a break & hanging with friends.

Stress Tip #4 PicIf I ever need a laugh, I know who to do to. Sometimes the best way to relax is to laugh it up with the people you love!

Tip #5: Blindfolded silence.

Stress Tip #5 PicFinally, I think that this technique is the most effective. I love to take five or ten minutes to totally unplug, cover my eyes with a sleeping mask, and pretend like nothing else exists in the world!

BONUS – Tip #6: keep it to a minimum.

All of these stress killers take no more than a half hour. It is easy to take a small break and get carried away with it. So the best thing to do with these tips is time them. Set a time limit for your break and stick to it, once the time is up – get back to work!