A Walk on The Wild Side

A few weeks ago, I was looking for something to do outside before the snow hit. Just about an hour away from campus is the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, NY. A friend and I decided to jump in the car and take the trip. I’ve seen a few zoos in my life, but this, by far was the best. It was a perfect fall day filled with exotic animals and great times.

On the top of my priority list was to see the Asian Elephants. We started at the back of the zoo and made our way to the front. There were four large adult elephants and newborn baby elephant fresh to the zoo family last March. Unfortunately, when I was there the baby was being held indoors because he was sick. It was amazing how close we were able to get to see them running round and playing. Just as we were about to move on to another exhibit, five zoo workers dropped a dozen bails of hay into the elephants’ play area. All of the elephants ran to the hay and began to eat their lunch. It was an amazing site to see them use their trunks like hands to bring the hay up to their mouths!elephants

Then we moved our way to see the Snow Leopard. Half of the exhibit was incased in glass and the other half was open but protected by netting. Within the leopard’s habitat there were trees and logs everywhere where it would climb and jump on. The Snow Leopard was not the friendliest animal, once it saw us it ran to the highest tree and glared at us from above.cat

On our way out, we stopped to see the bird unit. There was a pond filled with ducks, swans, and other birds. As we crossed a small storybook-looking bridge, there was a gathering of bright pink flamingos. Standing on one leg and bending their long necks down to drink the water, I was amazed by them.flamingo

In a small green house-like structure there was a display of rainforest birds. We were able to walk through this display and be up close and personal – there were literally no barriers between us and the birds. They were free to fly right by us! Needless to say, I used my zoo map as a hat to protect my head just in case!bird

This was definitely a trip I would recommend taking. It took us about 2 hours to do the entire zoo and each exhibit was better then the last – especially the gift store!


7 ways to stay pretty/happy on a college budget

Girls…this one is for you. When people are on a budget, they seem to cut-down their spending to “necessities” only. But, there are certain things that we like to do, whether people want to believe it or not, that ARE in fact necessities (shopping, beauty products, nails, etc). Luckily I have this budgeting down to a science. So for all you non-locals who may not know where to go or what to do, I have made-up a list for your convenience.

Here are some ways to prevent lack-of-funds from getting the best of you:

1. Embrace the Dunkin Student Discount 

On those days that you know you just “CAN’T” POSSIBLY get through the day without a large pumpkin coffee from Dunkin, remember to always always always tell them “Oh [hehe] I have my student ID” at the window. It is not a large discount, but if you are a loyal customer like me, those nickels and dimes WILL add up.

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2. Don’t let your nails wither away to stubs
I’m addicted to getting my nails done, and I often “treat myself” (or that’s what I tell myself anyway to justify spending money). There’s just something about having them done that makes me feel like I have my life together. You can get a gel polish change for a measly $11. Yes, that’s right, $11 (Fashion Nails in New Hartford).
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3. Ditch your Victoria Secret leggings

Leggings are a necessity, and yes, THEY ARE PANTS. Especially in the fall/winter/spring, it’s probably a good idea to have multiple pairs in your wardrobe (don’t be that girl with the see-through, faded, old leggings). The problem is, if you buy multiple pairs of VS leggings, you are going to get those annoying texts from your bank saying that “your account is below $____.” So, shop around. Look for deals at TJ Maxx. I have even bought leggings at Walmart before… they are $12 and guess what? They look like leggings, they feel like leggings, so they must be leggings.

4. Invest in dry shampoo; it will change your life.
I always thought the more I washed my hair, the better. Turns out washing daily isn’t good. One thing to invest in is definitely some dry shampoo. People always ask me how/ why my hair is always done (my friends always joke and say, “Marissa, why are you always ready for prom?”). What they don’t know is that it takes me five minutes to do because it’s leftover from yesterday.

5. Crest 3D White Toothpaste… People will stare at you in awe
I use Crest 3D white toothpaste and that works amazing. People are ALWAYS asking me how I get my teeth so white. Well, the secret is out; it’s my $3 toothpaste.

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6. Your tan doesn’t have to be a thing of the past
The most depressing time of the year is when you have to buy new makeup because your summer makeup is now too dark for your pasty face. Well, if you need a bronze pick-me-up, I’ve got the solution. Now, I know there has always been this stigma surrounding the world of spray tans, BUT they have gotten much much better. Coming out orange and blotchy is no longer a thing. I don’t spray tan usually unless it’s a special occasion, but some of my friends do it consistently. A local tanning-salon, Zoom Tan, runs weekly specials offering spray tans for as cheap as $2 or $3.

7. Make-up setting spray—it’s actually just a bottle of magic
If you find that your makeup completely just melts off on the weekends after going out to crowded party or bar, you NEED to try a makeup setting spray. It’s similar to hairspray (only it glues your makeup on). Try the one from Urban Decay. They have a small sample bottle up front at Ulta for $14 (mine lasted me a couple months). You will wake up the morning after you went out to your makeup almost as flawless as the day before.


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.


RA Life as I Know It

I saw some of my best friends become RAs early in my college experience and it was intriguing, to say the least. I mean, who doesn’t want to hold a position in Residence Life?!

Needless to say, I applied and was accepted as an alternate RA and, soon after, was offered a position in the First-Year Village in North Hall. This post describes how my life is now as an RA, including what my job is like, my responsibilities, and my social life. Life as an RA can be extremely demanding, but it can also be extremely rewarding!RA2

As part of my job, I’m expected to spend time throughout my floor and North Hall.

Though I am a fulltime student enrolled in the Health Studies/Physical Therapy program, I am also an RA. I set aside time for homework, meetings for organizations, and still try to maintain my social life. However, everything boils down to being an RA. Sometimes it’s next to impossible to sit in the building as a student rather than an RA. When I walk through campus, I frequently hear “oh, there goes my RA,” and that’s how I am referred to. Not that it’s a bad thing, but being an RA is a label that seems to stick, sometimes more than your own name.

I’m responsible for dealing with issues within the residential community.

When a resident is hurt, needs someone to talk to, or is simply disruptive, I have to address the issue. Sometimes it isn’t always the easiest scenario that I can deal with and that makes my role as an RA that much more rewarding. I am trained to deal with policy violations, roommate conflicts, fights, and plenty of other things that give me the title Resident Assistant.

Training is a lengthy process.

Fall and Spring – two training sessions a year that are hours upon hours long! It’s quite daunting when it crosses my mind; yet, it is necessary and relevant information that makes being an RA much easier.

At times, I’m hated!

Yes, it’s true. As an RA, there are definitely times in which residents throughout campus hate me. I have to be “that guy” at points when policies are broken and the college experience is hindered for the surrounding residents. As an RA, my job is to enforce the residential policy that is upheld by the Office of Residence Life and sometimes that means correcting actions of others that are not necessarily the best possible choice to make. No, I don’t want to rain on everyone’s parade, however, I want everyone to be safe and comfortable while they are within the Residence Halls.

Yes, I get free room and board, but it comes with a price $

Sure, I get free room and board, but it’s more than that. When I made the choice to become an RA, it was a rewarding one. Of course, I get paid and get my room free of charge, but I have to limit my social life and remember the standards that I was asked to uphold upon accepting the position. It isn’t always easy, yet it’s necessary.

I can plan a bunch of fun events for every resident, within a set budget.

Each year, I am given a budget through the Office of Residence Life that accommodates the residents of the building and allows me to host events that are fun and educational. Sometimes it’s impossible to accommodate everyone, but I try to make sure that I gear my events to something that the residents would like to participate in such as:

  • Door decorating contests
  • Fun community building activities
  • Social events
    • Skyzone Indoor Trampoline Park
    • Hoopla Frozen Yogurt
    • Pizza Parties
    • Nacho Bar

RASure, I have to make sacrifices now that I am an RA, but the job is far more rewarding than some of the activities and things I have to pass up. It’s true; There are weekend duty days that make it hard to go home or go away, but being able to be a part of Residence Life at UC makes it completely worth it!


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!)



Fuerza Latina Has a Successful Night!

Fuerza Latina had an amazing talent show this past Saturday in Strebel Auditorium. Their annual talent show , hosted by Gregory Spears and Jabarie Broomes, consisted of dancing, stepping and singing from people on the Utica College campus and off campus as well. There was about 14 different acts that went up to perform but it all came down to the top three. Third place went to Prestige Step Team, Second place went to Impacto Sensual and First place went to Africa In Motion. I had interviewed the Secretary of Fuerza, Karina Cabrera (Senior) about her Organization and this is what she had to say.
“Fuerza Latina to me is an organization where we embrace and acknowledge the empowerment of the Hispanic/Latino community, not only in Utica College but in the world. In the organization, we welcome everyone no matter their ethnic background. We stress how important it is to be diverse and that just because we are “Fuerza Latina” does not mean that we are strictly an organization for just Latinos/Hispanics, because that is not the case. We want to educate everyone on what it means to be Hispanic/Latino and our role in this country and world.”
Karina says that it is never to late to join Fuerza Latina, they have weekly meetings on Wednesday’s at 5pm in Boehlert Conference Room. She also felt that the talent show was a huge success overall. “This year’s talent show was better than last year’s in that it was shorter and we had a successful after party planned.” But last year’s talent show is a talent show to remember because our decorations were AMAZING and the fact that we did it ourselves made them even more special.” We have a lot of talented people on our campus, and you would never know unless an event like this is happening.
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Congratulations to Fuerza Latina on a successful night! For more information on events on campus, check my twitter @Jayson_UC

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!)

Spooky Activities This Fall

The Utica Area is a local area that is obsessed with Fall. You think I say this lightly? I do not. Being a Utica native myself, I can say with the utmost confidence that Fall is truly the season meant for Central New York.

There are apples to pick at local orchards, vegetables to snag at farmers markets, trees to oogle at up North, as well as spooky activities to be frightened by. With Fall being a local favorite, anything Halloween related is also well-within the favorites range.

Some of my favorite local things to do just so happen to be of the Halloween variety. Lucky for all locals and visitors, the Oneida County Tourism Department puts out a handy brochure of all ghost and goblin filled Halloween-esque events.  So take a look at the pictures below and see if any events peak your thrill-seeking fancy. I know I’ll be headed to a few of the events as well!

Enjoy the season! And be sure to check out as many local events as you can! Take advantage of the Fall weather…because before we know it, snow will be here. (Which brings with it a whole host of winter events to be taken advantage of!)

Happy early Halloween!

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Stressed Out? Take a Hike.

We’re so fortunate at Utica College to be not-too far from one of the most beautiful national forest reserves in the entirety of the United States. Literally, head up north for just an hour and you’ll be submersed in mountains and trees and glorious fresh air; it’s something every UC student should experience at least once.

This Sunday one of the RA’s in the First Year Village was holding a floor event where people could sign up to go for a hike. I signed up once I knew there were enough spots left, and convinced a friend to tag along. It was a beautiful day and we were lucky it wasn’t too hot in the sun-it was literally “just right.”

The hike was up Bald Mountain which is just outside of the Old Forge area. It’s a relatively easy hike and barely takes a half hour to submit the top. There isn’t too much fancy-footwork required, but there are a view rock faces you have to scale. My philosophy is, “if that dog can do it, so can I.” The views at the top, however, are beautiful and well worth the climb.

So, if you find yourself stressed and in need of some nature-time: head up to the mountains, gain some perspective, and enjoy the view.

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(The view from the top of Bald Mountain.)
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(Courtney and Gator attempting some relaxing yoga at the summit.)
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(George and I scoping out the view.)

New Semester Resolutions: How I Did!

In a post at the beginning of the semester, I listed my new semester resolutions. Now that the year is coming to a close, I’d like to return to the list and reflect on what I have accomplished over the last several months:

My New Semester Resolutions/ Senior Year Sentiments:

1. Attend as many of my favorite (and free!) UC events as I can- including UCPB nights, Crystal Ball, and Mooseapalooza!

I definitely accomplished this! Some of my favorite events were the hypnotist during Moose Madness week, the Utica College TEDx talk, the Eh440 concert, Crystal Ball, and the GSA Annual Drag Show!


The UC Gay-Straight Alliance snaps a picture after the show (above). 3BL at Crystal Ball (below).



2. Win at Tuesday night trivia! (Hey, 4.0 Laura, I’m going to need your help with this one, lil sis)

While we didn’t win, we did get third place! Mainly because 4.0 Laura had night class and couldn’t be on our team to save us.

3. Do something fun over Spring Break- even if it’s not very far away or tropical!

We went somewhere both far away AND tropical- St. Thomas! It was gorgeous and so much fun!


3BL in paradise!


4. Take advantage of the open swim hours at the UC pool to add variety to my workouts.

Mission accomplished! Karita and I love to swim, and Laura and I tried spin classes, zumba, yoga, step, and tabata to switch up our workout routine. Photographic evidence of Karita and I at open swim can be found below.


5. Take a Saranac Brewery tour, and check out any other local attractions that I have yet to see before I leave Utica.

The brewery tour was great! I went with Rachel, a Burrstone RA, and a few of her residents. I loved learning all about how beer has been made throughout history right here in Utica.

6. Get a good night’s sleep (most nights, at least!) so I am more alert during my 8:30 AM classes!

While I don’t have photographic proof of me sleeping, I can attest to the fact that I made sleep more of a priority, and my grades definitely prove it!

7. Make it a priority to do more volunteer work in the area.

This is one area that I was not able to accomplish nearly as well as I wanted. While I stayed very active on campus and was involved in many orgs that help area charities, I didn’t ever find the time to do my own, separate volunteering in the Utica area. There’s definitely always room for improvement, so I still plan to keep this goal in mind for the future!

8. Take a trip to NYC to see museums and eat tons of new foods!

This is another one I didn’t cross off the list. St. Thomas was a huge trip, which made finding time for NYC difficult. Luckily, I have some time this summer to try to accomplish this goal!

9. Allow myself more down time and fun, rather than over scheduling every moment as usual.

Check! I worked very hard on balancing my life more this semester. I gave myself more down time, had a great time with my friends, and was more spontaneous. This allowed me to enjoy every moment instead of trying to over-plan everything all of the time, as I am often tempted to do.


Sunny days and good vibes in Utica with Karita (above) and Rochester with Ryan (below).


10. Graduate summa cum laude and go on to graduate school next fall!

I am very excited to be the Class Marshall for the School of Arts & Sciences at this year’s graduation ceremony. In the fall, I will be beginning at the University at Buffalo in the Social-Personality Psychology PhD program.



So there you have it! I’d say I did pretty well accomplishing most of the things on my list. It was a lot of fun to both create a senior year bucket list and to work towards checking it off. Though my time at UC is almost finished, this list helped me make some awesome memories in my last months here.

Time passes much faster than you think, so I invite you to ask yourself what you want to do before you graduate, make a senior year bucket list or new semester resolution list of your own, and have exactly the college experience that you imagine for yourself!