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.

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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

 

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5 Things to Get Excited About Post-Spring Break

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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.

4. RELAY FOR LIFE

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 relayforlife.org/uticacollegeNY.

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.

 

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‘Tis the Season (For Stress)

Have you ever noticed how filled the library becomes when December hits? Well, it’s that time of the year again. The library is mobbed, the lines to get coffee are longer than usual, and the printers are heating up.

Tis the Season-2There is always that really, really thin line between being extremely stressed out or just officially checked out by the time the end of the semester comes around. You’re either zombie walking to your classes or leaving the library with bloodshot eyes from intensely studying. Or there are the complete opposite types of people who basically have just reached the end of caring. They either feel very confident or just cannot take the overwhelming feeling of the term “end of semester” gives them.

What does help the anxious feeling of finals are the events Utica College has during the final weeks of classes. As classes come to an end, Utica College’s Greek life throws an event called “Midnight Breakfast.” Midnight Breakfast is something I look forward to during the last weeks of hell. The cafeteria serves the most delicious breakfast at midnight on the last day of classes. At some point each student who attends Utica College makes their way to enjoy waffles loaded with syrup and Oreos or anything of your choice. It is something to take your mind off exams, and students are able to take a break from studying.

Because it is the last weekend of the semester, of course it would not be a great weekend without a Chi Beta Sigma bar night. The girls host the final bar night of the semester, “Naughty or Nice” in honor of the holidays approaching, which is another way students take their minds off the books and focus a little more on themselves. Over-studying is never a good idea, so why not celebrate the closing of yet another semester with friends?

But, if you’re not in the mood to get out of the dorm but you need something to take your mind off of the books, Jakki Pickett, a counselor from the UC Counseling Center gave me some good advice on how to manage stress and relax. She said, “It’s all about balancing your time with making sure you take a break for self-care: eating, sleeping, and exercising and setting out specific study times.”

After talking with Jakki, I tried some of her tips. When I feel a little overwhelmed, I take time for myself and nap. When I eventually wake up, I feel motivated to get more done. I also really enjoy exercising; I believe it is a great way to relieve stress and get one’s mind off of finals. Jakki also gave me a pamphlet that I thought was very useful. It gives students a couple of more tips such as diet, sleep and exercise plan. Students should visit the health center during a break to learn how to take care of themselves during this time of year.

The most important thing to do is to remember to be happy. Though it may not be the best time of the year, remember that everything comes to an end and to take time out for yourself.

“May the odds be ever in your favor.”

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When All Else Fails… Communicate!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find that it’s extremely hard to perfect the art of communication. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the correct form of communication that conveys the message you wish someone to receive.

In my experience, I have found that it is extremely hard to communicate in one way that everyone can interpret. So, I hosted an event for my residents on Tuesday that was focused on effective communication that poses a variety of issues that people must overcome. It was called, “Let’s Talk About ___ Baby! An event based on effective communication and the struggles that go along with it.”

When I was thinking of an event that could help my residents with communication skills, the first thing that came to mind was something that I did when I applied to become a Resident Assistant: structure building.

When one thinks of a structure, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Probably a building of some sort. However, communication is a structure that truly underscores the human race. Communication is what makes us, and it’s what could potentially break us. Without effective communication, life would be extremely difficult.

This event asked residents throughout North and South Halls to make groups of three to four people until they were given directions on what to do. I separated small bags; four bags filled with broken spaghetti noodles and four bags filled with mini marshmallows. Each group was given one bag of spaghetti and one bag of marshmallows and asked to build the tallest, self-sustaining structure possible within 8 minutes. However, it comes with a few challenges.

One member of each group was told that they could not use their dominant hand. Their dominant hand had to be placed behind their back at all times, and if it was observed that they used their dominant hand, they were disqualified. Another member of the group was told that they could not speak unless another member of their group had asked them a question. Lastly, another member of each group was told that they could not use their hands at all. Each of these rules posed challenges for the groups and revealed that various forms of communication were necessary to accomplish the common goal of building the structure.

Here’s one of the finished structures:

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There’s always more than just verbal communication. Sometimes it’s true that actions speak louder than words and the nonverbal messages sent through body language and gestures speak more to the audience/group than any verbal communication ever could!

So when all else fails, communicate!

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Utica College Choir: The Rockstars of UC

Ever since I was a little girl, singing has always been my favorite past time. I sing when I’m happy, stressed, excited, sad, bored, etc. My mom tells stories of how I would sit alone in my room for hours and just narrate what I was doing through song.

So, imagine my happiness when I found out that I could continue my love of singing when I enrolled as a student at Utica College. (Actually, you don’t have to imagine my happiness because I’m going to tell you all about it…)

The Utica College choir is a student, faculty and alumni choir that is under the direction of David Kolb, a professor here at UC. Participation in choir can range anywhere from students who have never sung before that are taking it as a course, to people like myself, that have sung in a choir since they were 9. My favorite thing about the UC Choir is that it is a welcoming environment for all abilities.

We rehearse every single Tuesday night from 6:30-8:30. (No worries though, we get a 10 minute break to relax and grab a coffee if we need one!) We typically perform 3-4 times a semester, whether at our own concerts or at sporting events singing the national anthem. Concerts and events range from dressy attire to UC apparel, and we always sport our UC Choir scarves or ties.

The songs the choir sings range from typical choir selections, such as Broadway pieces and traditional vocal selections, to more contemporary pieces; one of my favorite pieces the choir has ever performed was my sophomore year when we sang Queen’s Somebody to Love. The songs are always varied, and Director Kolb tries to add variety to every concert lineup.

This past Wednesday we had our “Lunch Hour Series” concert, which is a part of the Professor Harry F. and Mary Ruth Jackson concert series that, according to the UC website, “presents a series of musical and literacy programs each semester.” (Learn more about the lunch hour series here) The concert is open to the public, and always has a good turn-out of students, faculty, staff, and community members.
The Utica College choir is something I encourage all students to participate in. Even if you doubt your singing abilities, singing in a choir can help to foster a sense of music that you might not have even known you had. Plus, the UC Choir is a small choir that allows for close interactions with fellow singers; I enjoy just hanging out with choir members! So, think about joining choir next time you find yourself bored on a Tuesday night, we always welcome new members!

 

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My Other Family

I came to Utica College with one thing on my mind, and that was softball. Freshman year flew by, and I realized I wanted to be more than an athlete. I envied the friendships my friends had with their sorority sisters and began to sit on the idea of rushing Chi Beta Sigma. After meeting the girls I knew it was something I was going to pursue. A couple of weeks ago I went through the sorority recruitment process, and it definitely was a process. It showed me I can be strong during tough times, I could get through anything I put my mind to, and in the end, it directed me to the people I now call my sisters. Honestly, people get a lot of wrong information about sororities but the one thing people are right about is that they will be your second family. My sisters mean the world to me and I couldn’t be more proud to be a Chi Beta Sigma sister.

IMG_3251People think all we do is “party.”

We are a group of girls who know how to have a good time, but it isn’t the only thing we do. Being in a sorority comes with a lot of responsibility. We each have duties to fulfill. The positions held by the sisters are taken very seriously. A part of being in Chi Beta Sigma is that we to give back to the community. Whether we are walking for a cause like for the breast cancer walk where we support the fight against cancer, raking leaves for the elderly during fall clean up or adopting a classroom in which we help students in our local community who need our help during this cold season, our community service is something we put a lot of thought into and is something we are very proud of.

But we still have awesome bar nights….

Who doesn’t want to dress up for a specific theme? Our bar nights are some of the most memorable nights for people at Utica College.

College Student One: “Remember that awesome Saturday when we went to the bullet and dressed Christmas colors for the Naughty or Nice theme?”

College Student Two: “Was it one of the Chi Beta Sigma bar nights?”

College Student One: “YEAH. It was the night you wore your ugly Christmas sweater and Santa hat”

College Student Two: “OH RIGHT. Damn that was a night to remember, I had a great time. Themed nights at UC are always a great time!

You are hazed before you can be a member.

WRONG. We have a strict NO hazing policy. It is an inaccurate portrayal of Greek life. Our sorority is against domestic violence and anything that pertains to a sister, so why would we take it out of people who want to be a part of Chi Beta Sigma?

“Greeks think they are better than everyone especially when they show off their letters.”

Just like my sisters and little brothers, I worked my a** off to wear these letters. I do not think I am better than anyone, but I am proud to wear these letters. They make me feel accomplished and give me a huge sense of pride. Receiving your letters is one of the best feelings in your life that you want to keep replaying. So, yes I feel amazing when I support my sorority, but no I don’t think I’m better.

Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind.

You eventually learn that everyone goes out of their way for each other. You laugh together, cry together, eat together, watch terrible movies on Netflix and eventually just do everything together. It may seem annoying, but until you get the firsthand experience of being a part of a sorority, you’re not going to understand it.


Together forever, forever together.

I intended on joining a sorority, but instead I became a part of an amazing family with sisters and little brothers who support me and are there for me through thick and thin.

If interested in learning more about the sisters and little brothers of Chi Beta Sigma, feel free to contact me! Don’t be the fog, learn the truth about Greek life and end put an end to stereotyping Greeks.

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EFT- Electric Fuerza Talent Show

Fuerza Latina, a student organization on the Utica College campus, “fulfills a common need to share rich Latino/a heritage and unites all Latino brothers and sisters in a mutual bond.” (According to their pioneer place.)

 

Every year the organization holds a talent show that they encourage all members of the UC community to participate in. They held open auditions this year during the month of October and advertised throughout the campus so that everyone would know about the opportunity to showcase their skills. Any talent is encouraged and welcome! (Dancing, singing, spoken word, comedy, etc.)

 

The cumulation of all of those auditions and rehearsal times for the selected performers was this past Saturday. Doors opened for the talent show at 5 with festivities being kicked off right away by DJ Rey Stacks, a student from UC, playing music and pumping up the crowd. The theme of the talent show was Electric Fuerza Talent show, so Strebel Auditorium, where the event took place, was decked out with glow sticks and balloons. Fuerza Latina even handed out glow sticks to audience members and it was a fun and poppin’ environment to wait for the show to start in.

 

I actually decided to audition this year, being that it’s my senior year and all, it was my last chance! I made it into the show and actually performed an acoustic cover of Adele’s “Hello” with my resident, Fredo, playing guitar. It actually was one of my favorite performances to date. There’s just something about being able to do what you love in front of people that really want to see you do well. The audience would clap and cheer for every single performer, and the environment was so encouraging. People would shout out for performers and were waving their glow sticks during slower performances, it was like a concert at certain points!

 

The winner(s) of the show this year was AIM, or Africa in Motion, a dance crew from Utica College. They performed a moving piece about the Black Lives Matter movement, and it was incredible to see them portray such strong emotions and concern for social activism through their dance skills. They really deserved to win. In fact, every performer really put an incredible amount of effort into their performances and it showed. Even performers from other schools were invited to showcase their talents, and they all were amazing.

 

Fuerza Latina hosts the talent show every year and it is always a widely attended event. So, next year be on the lookout for their annual show and head to it! It’s a guaranteed good time. Maybe even work up the courage to audition? I mean, it only took me 4 years? So what have you got to lose?

 

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(The winners from this year’s show!)
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(A snapchat of me singing snapped by my friend!)

 

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Tried By Twelve or Carried By Six

This past weekend I attended the Utica College production of, Tried by Twelve or Carried By Six. The play was actually written and directed by Shannon Enders, a professor of Theater right here at Utica College! The production detailed the lives and stories of police officers, firemen, and citizens pertaining to the issue of human rights, specifically focusing on the #blacklivesmatter movement.

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(The program for the production.)

The production boasted a cast full of talented student actors that were brave enough to tackle some heavy storylines pertaining to race issues. The play detailed riots, gun violence, racism, and the actions taken by police officers while in the field. While the issues were heavy, the play never felt too somber; there were a few “well-timed” funny moments which helped to carry the play. While the play did focus on the severity of scenes depicted, it did not completely stray from humoring the audience.

My favorite storyline focused on a young black woman who was cleaning up after a riot. She was upset and exclaiming how the people who were sabotaging the firemen and police were actually sabotaging their community’s own safety. She was upset and was ranting about how individuals that were choosing to riot were actually harming their own neighbors. Yet, the delivery of the lines was comical at times. There were moments when she would aggressively start sweeping in time with her angry musings, and she would complain about how stupid the individuals were. It felt very real. The actress portraying the individual was only a freshman! Her acting abilities were quite impressive.

Actually, the entire cast was very impressive. Each student had all of their lines memorized, and were able to realistically portray intense situations and characters, which is no easy task.

After the production, audience members were invited to discuss the scenes that they had seen throughout the show. It was actually revealed during this discussion that several audience members were actually the policemen or firemen that had their stories portrayed in the play. Shannon Enders, the author, had interviewed people from the surrounding areas to get their take on issues and to hear their stories. During the discussion, an older gentleman actually raised his hand and discussed his storyline that was portrayed in the play.

Being able to actually hear from the people that the production was based on was an amazing experience. Hearing first hand about such poignant issues such as race and racism from people that actually experienced it was memorable and my favorite thing about the production.

While the run of the play might be over, the theater department puts on a production every semester! So, I strongly encourage everyone to attend the play for the next semester! (Or audition!) If the next play is anything like this past one, it is sure to be a hit!

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(I had to snap a final pic of the cast!)
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NEACURH

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the NEACURH conference held at SUNY Geneseo. NEACURH is the North Eastern affiliate of NACURH which stands for the National Association of College and University Residence Halls. It’s basically an organization that is who our own RHA, or residence hall association, reports to.

I was invited to go to the conference because I am a member of Utica College’s RHA. The president, my friend George, and another member, Sara, went as well. Our advisor, Marissa Finch, also accompanied us. (She actually drove…so I guess we accompanied her…)

The conference was themed “Marty and the Chocolate Factory.” (Marty is the name of the NEACURH mascot, which is a moose.) So everywhere you turned there was a candy themed this and that.

I really enjoyed the conference because it was a great opportunity for our RHA to network with other colleges and their own organizations. I actually have so many ideas for potential events and different ways to ensure that a large number of individuals get involved. It was so cool being able to talk to other individuals that have the same goals and the same mindset as myself and my friends!

If you’re interested in a fun time, join RHA! They tons of events planned for the rest of the semester and the upcoming one as well! Meetings are Wednesdays at 2:00pm in Bell Conference Room. Plus, if you join UC’s RHA you’ll have the opportunity to attend a NEACURH event in the future!

 

(George, Sara, and I getting into the NEACURH spirit!)
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