A Weekend in Scotland

As I said last week, I spent this past weekend exploring Edinburgh, Scotland. That’s pronounced “Ed-en-Brah,” so not how it looks at all. I went with my program group, CIS Abroad. Although we were there for a short time, we fit a lot of amazing experiences into three days.

On Friday we took the train from London to Edinburgh and arrived in the evening, with just enough time for exploring the High Street and getting dinner. Saturday we had a full day, packed with discovering different castles in the Highlands. The coolest castle that we saw was Doune Castle, which actually translates to “Castle Castle.” As the tour guide said, “It’s a castle so nice they named it twice.” The super neat part about this castle is that it has been used for many different films, such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Outlander and Game of Thrones. In Game of Thrones it was used as the town of Winterfell, which I thought was awesome, considering I love the TV series.

Doune Castle
Doune Castle
Deanston Distillery
Our tour bus in front of Deanston Distillery, where Scottish whiskey is made.
Edinburgh beautiful view
A beautiful view of Edinburgh

After the Doune Castle we went to Deanston Distillery, which was established in 1966. We went on a tour of the facilities and saw how they made single malt Scottish whiskey. It was neat to see all of the effort that goes into it. After they make the concentration of barley, malt and sugar, it has to age in the cask for at least 12 years. They showed us the storage room where they keep all of the casks, and there had to be thousands in that cellar. One of the barrels was from 40 years ago; the tour guide said that this barrel would sell for about 4,000 pounds a bottle, which would be about 5,300 American dollars! I thought that was insane, but I guess that over the years of the concentration being in the cask, they will loose a lot of it due to evaporation.

The last day we had some free time to explore the town and shop for souvenirs. We also saw the most beautiful view of Edinburgh. It seemed like we climbed a million stairs up this hill to see the view, but let me tell you it was totally worth every step. Scotland now has a special place in my heart and I will definitely be back to one of the most beautiful places on earth.

—Mary Warfel ’18


‘Be the Change’: Hermina Garic ’19 on D.C. Women’s March

On Saturday, Jan. 21, sophomore Hermina Garic ’19 traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in the Women’s March on Washington. Along with peers from UC and nearby Hamilton College, Garic joined nearly 500,000 people who participated in the historic demonstration. Here, she answers a few questions about her experience: 


When did you decide to take part in the Women’s March? Was there one distinct moment that inspired you to act? Is there a particular cause that is important to you? 

I decided to take part in the Women’s March as soon as I heard about it from my advisor during one of our K. Della Ferguson Womyn’s Resource Center meetings. There was not really one distinct moment; it was more of a collective response in regards to my feelings towards the sexist rhetoric used during the election. Once I heard and saw on TV that Trump was normalizing sexual assault with certain phrases he was using, I knew I needed to take action. I am also a firm pro-choice supporter and it blew my mind that a female’s right to her own body was being attacked yet again.

Describe the trip to D.C.

I traveled to D.C. on one of the buses that was leaving Hamilton College. There was a variety of individuals both from the Utica College area and Hamilton College area that wanted to go. It was a one-day trip. We left Hamilton College around 1 am on Saturday and came back on Sunday at 4 am.

What was your first impression when arriving in D.C.? 

We first stopped at Shady Grove metro station, about an hour from the city itself, to catch the train into D.C. Just at this stop, the crowd was already huge. There was so many people, and we had to wait around an hour or so just to get onto the train just because the crowd was so big. Every stop along the way to Washington D.C. filled the train a little bit more. When we finally got to Washington D.C., it was a sea of people. It was incredible.

How would you describe your fellow marchers?

My fellow marchers were positive, peaceful, and empowering. Honestly, all of them were memorable. It was a weird experience for me because even though I did talk to a lot of the marchers, we all felt like one big unit. I think the interaction that will stick with me was when a marcher on the bus kept offering everyone cookies. It was a great thing to sit down to on the bus after a long day. Plus, his cookies were delicious!

20170121_11585920170121_141100Describe some of the signs and outfits you saw at the march. 

I saw suffragette outfits and the signs they held up said something along the lines of “I cannot believe we are still protesting this.” I saw was doctors wearing lab coats and nurses wearing scrubs advocating for universal healthcare. My favorite outfit was a nurse who wore green scrubs and held up the torch like the Statue of Liberty.

What’s your opinion of how the media has covered the march? Did they get it right? 

The only coverage that I saw was the aerial views of how massive the crowds were, and they definitely got that right!

Describe how it felt to be part of the march. What was the overall vibe and message you felt was being communicated? 

I felt safe and strong. It was so unifying, too. Everyone was together and it felt like nothing could break us apart.

What effect do you hope the march will have going forward?

I hope that the march makes people realize that as citizens we hold power in democracy, and if we wish to see change we should connect with each other, learn from each other, and like Ghandi said, “be the change that we wish to see in the world.”20170121_115417


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 

All You Need Are Friends!

Yes, we are all here for an education, but honestly, all you need are friends. You need the educational background to further your own life, but really, you just need friends who will set you straight when you stray from your norm.

When entering a new place or new beginning for the first time, I have to find some sort of friendship to guide me through it. When I first stepped onto the Utica College campus, I began befriending people who were in the same major as me. We went to meetings together, dinner together, and even ended up in the majority of the same classes our very first semester. I got lucky. It doesn’t always end up that way, but it was definitely nice that it did. Sometimes making major changes are necessary, but it’s nice when you have friends to help you through it.Blog Post 4 - All You Need Are Friends! Pic 2 Blog Post 4 - All You Need Are Friends! Pic 1

Personally, I’ve made some major changes this semester alone, including moving off campus and completely changing my schedule. Those two things caused me more stress than I ever thought possible, but I’m finally happy with where I am at. Luckily, I did it with the help of great friends! I moved in with two of my good friends. Though it was a major change, it was a pretty smooth transition with their help.

Thus far, we’ve celebrated birthdays, made dinner together, sat down and did our homework together, and we even watch tv together. So, when you’re going through changes, just do as I did and find happiness in friendship because it will make things much, much less stressful.


Reality Check: Graduation is in 20 Days!

Out of all my years here at Utica College, senior year has gone by the fastest. With graduation just 20 days away, I can’t help but look back over the past four years. There have been good times, bad times, and some of the best moments of my life. If I had the chance relive my time here at UC I would, but I wouldn’t change one thing. Okay – maybe I would change some choices of outfits.

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 1.10.08 PM


Now the butterflies, nerves, and excitement are all setting in. Finishing up my undergrad classes and being aware that I am soon to be a graduate student is a weird relief. Now I’m not sure if I’m more concerned about future employment or what to decorate the top of my graduation cap with!


trax grad pic


I look forward to May 8 at 9:30 am when I walk across that stage but my mind will be torn between bottling up every memory possible from the past four years, taking it all in, and thinking about what’s next. My undergrad experience at Utica College is something that will be hard to leave behind but I am excited to take what I’ve learned here, in and out of the classroom, to the next step in my life.


Being Frugal When You Need to be Frugal!

For some of us, it’s easy to fall into bad spending habits and purchase things that are completely unnecessary just because we feel like it. Unfortunately, it’s a really bad habit to fall into and it can run your bank account dry before you know it!

While in college, it’s important to remember (even if you’re a working college student) that money doesn’t just appear in your bank account and that you can only work a certain number of hours each week around your class schedule to earn some extra cash. Therefore, going out and spending it all on pointless items is completely unnecessary and a complete waste of money that you should be saving.

I found 5 tips in which I found to be useful in helping me save some more money this semester in order to prepare for graduate school:

  1. Even if you have a car, learn to carpool with your friends. Don’t fall into the trap of being the only one who drives. It will use your gas and you will more than likely be the only one who pays for the gas. Change it up once in awhile!
  2. Use coupons for items that you need such as toiletries. Quite often, you can find a few coupons online to save you a few extra bucks when shopping for necessities.
  3. Do NOT buy coffee every single day. I fell into this trap my entire sophomore year and it’s MUCH cheaper to brew it at home!
  4. If you purchase things on campus, use your student ID! If you use your student ID, you do not get charged tax. If you run out of money on your student ID, you can add more to it on the UC Dining Commons website!
  5. When you go to buy new clothes (only when necessary), check the clearance racks first! Quite often you will find a few nice things on those racks and they will be much cheaper than some of the new releases on the other racks in the front of the store!

These 5 tips are ones that I constantly have to be mindful of but they have honestly helped me tremendously with my past spending habits! I used to shop all the time and go out to eat at least 3 times a week. It’s a bad habit and it ends up costing much more money than simply being more frugal and saving some extra cash where you can!


Graduation, Here I Come!

This is my last month of college classes. Ever.* And in order to celebrate the end of an era I am going to do a countdown of sorts as some of my final blog posts. This is going to be a pseudo bucket list of sorts, and I intend to produce (photographic) evidence that I’ve actually completed my tasks. So, stay tuned. And check out the list of things I am going to (attempt) to complete before the end of the semester rolls around.

  1. Work out at “The Hutt” aka the Dome!
  2. Swim in the pool! (My entire time at Utica College I have never gone in the pool…)
  3. Check a book out from the library…a book for lesiure. (Not something to be used for a paper/research. For fun.)
  4. Organize a friend “family” dinner. Cook actual food. (…learn to cook actual food.)
  5. Attend an annual event on campus that I have never attended before.
  6. Pull an all nighter for some reason other than schoolwork. Watch the sunrise.
  7. Wear sweatpants to class. (I’ve literally never done this. Surprising, I know.)
  8. Write a cover letter. Actually try to perfect my resume.
  9. Apply for some jobs and stop stressing when someone asks me the “dreaded question”.
  10. Plan a huge-elaborate event with one of my orgs…and get other orgs involved!
  11. Get to know someone that I haven’t known before. (Make a new friend.)
  12. Find a new resturant in Utica and buy myself a fancy dinner. “Treat yo’ self”
  13. Thank my professors for everything they have done for me. Find a way to actually show my grattitude.
  14. Decorate my graduation cap. (…actually buy my graduation apparel.)
  15. Walk across the stage and get my diploma!

*Well, until I decide if I want to continue with a further degree…that decision is unknown as of right now


I’m simultaneously thrilled and terrified at this upcoming month, but I’m sure it will be filled with many unforgettable moments. I’ve always believed in the tired and true saying to “live in the moment” but, this month will see me fully embracing the motto. Here’s to April and here’s to the now.



Utica’s Good Eats: Piggy Pat’s BBQ

A few weeks ago a few friends and I got together and went out to dinner. We wanted to try something in the area that we have never tried before. After a few minutes of debating and violently searching through Yelp, we landed on a review of Piggy Pat’s BBQ. A few people had mentioned that it was some of the best barbeque food around and that it was a “must eat.” So, we were up for the challenge.

Less than 10 minutes from campus and right off the highway lies Piggy Pat’s. When we first walked in there was an obvious a cabin-in-the-woods type feel to the restaurant. We were seated in the dining room that was draped with handmade quilts and some other old, country-like artifacts.

The menu was full of fun named and creative entrees. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich, a fan favorite. While waiting for our food we discovered a few home made barbeque sauces on our table, and they were delicious!piggy pats pic #1piggy pats pic #2

Then, finally, our food came out. Piggy Pats has hands down some of the best BBQ I have ever had. This is definitely one of Utica’s good eats and a must try! Needless to say, we will be back for more – especially after learning about some of their weekly events!

Wednesday Nights – Trivia Night

Friday Nights – Live music starting at 6 p.m.

Saturdays Nights – Live music starting at 8 p.m.


A New Adventure

It’s no secret, I am not a gym-going kind of girl. I personally envy those who truly enjoy going to the gym and working out. Me, I dread it more than the most pain-filled trip to the dentist. That being said, I’m always looking for different things to do to stay active.

This past weekend we had a few hours of beautiful weather, there was still a bit of snow of the ground but the temperature and the sun drew almost everyone out of their rooms. I had been wanting to take up hiking for a while but always seemed to find an excuse to push it off. But no more!

A few friends and I decided to go on a hike a trail in Wilderness Park in Deerfield, NY. It took us just about a 15-minute car ride from campus. When we got on the park grounds there was a large pavilion with ten or so picnic tables and a large set of swings. The perimeter of this area was lined with great big evergreen trees – it was a perfect day to explore.new adventure pic #4

new adventure pic #2We followed the signs to the trail and followed the yellow reflector squares through the woods. The trail was guided by paths and huge makeshift stairs made from large logs. The trail was the perfect mix of flat surface and inclined areas. It was beautiful! We came across a flowing stream that was half frozen along the side of a hill.new adventure pic #3 new adventure pic #1

This adventure wasn’t only a great way to get some enjoyable cardio in, it was a beautiful winter sight. I look forward to revisiting this trail and hopefully discovering some other trails in the area.