Give Thanks

We made it to Thanksgiving Break! Fellow Radford students, I applaud you in making it through this hectic week with your sanity still intact. Enjoy your well-deserved break.

With Thanksgiving in just a few days, I have been thinking about how much of a difference it makes living with a thankful attitude. Even if you don’t feel like it, when you express your thanks, it will make people around you feel better and will most likely do the same for you. Here’s a few things you can do to be more thankful and stay positive.

Say thank you a lot (and you’re welcome)

This one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t even say thank you anymore. It’s just two words but it shows that you appreciate what someone else has done for you and everybody needs that. Whether you asked someone to hand you something and they did, or someone bought you lunch, when you say thank you, it will remind you of all you really have to be thankful for.

praying
“You’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t even say thank you anymore”….photo retrieved from: www.keepbelieving.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus on the good

Sure, your day (or week) may not be going the best but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. If you’ve eaten today and woke up healthy in a bed under a roof, you’re doing pretty good. Try doing something for someone else that will make them smile,you’ll probably end up smiling too.

Be positive even when others aren’t

I have a bad habit of mirroring other people’s attitudes and moods. For example, if someone is being unfriendly with me or in a bad mood, I often think, “Well, if you’re not going to be friendly with me, then I don’t have to be friendly with you.” This kind of attitude just creates two people in a bad mood and gets us nowhere. Maybe that person with a scowl is having a bad day and you have a chance to make a difference by making their day a little brighter. Don’t hold back your happiness just because someone else is. Be friendly to them even if you don’t get anything in return. It might be just what they need.

34 Thoughts you Have When You Go to the Gym

With everyone trying to get fit this year (and every year), going to the gym is a crucial part of the get-healthy equation. Sometimes going to the  gym can be such a drag and let’s be honest, getting there is half the battle but once we do get there and get our workout in, the feeling is so rewarding. This post is dedicated to all the thoughts we have in between getting to the gym and leaving.

 

  1. Okay, I made it here, now I have to go in.
  2. Wow, everyone here looks like they live here.
  3. I don’t belong, I should just go home.
  4. Or to Taco Bell… yes, Taco Bell sounds very good.
  5. No, I have to stay, the front desk person already saw me.
  6. Gonna start with something easy, like the treadmill.
  7. Okay, onto equipment and weights.
  8. Am I doing this right?
  9. I’m not doing this right.
  10. Oh my goodness, everyone is looking at me.
  11. Taco Bell sounds really good right now.
  12. Good, I’m starting to sweat, that means this is working.
  13. WHY IS EVERYONE LOOKING AT ME?
  14. How many reps of these am I supposed to do?
  15. Let’s set the weight to 90 lbs.
  16. Nope, down to 50 lbs.
  17. Oh, he’s cute.

    treadmill-cropped
    “8. Am I doing this right?”…photo retrieved from: www.funnyasduck.net
  18. He probably thinks I look like a whale on this machine.
  19. Screw him, I look hot and fit.
  20. What am I doing, I don’t even know him.
  21. How many reps am I supposed to do?
  22. How many is in a rep?
  23. What is a rep?
  24. Why am I even here?
  25. I like this machine.
  26. I’m going to stay on this machine all night.
  27. This is my machine.
  28. Okay, I should probably move to another machine.
  29. Why are people still looking at me?
  30. Have my abs formed yet?
  31. Okay, I’ve spent enough time here.
  32. Wow, I actually feel good about myself.
  33. I’m definitely coming back tomorrow.
  34. I’m going to Taco Bell.

Saving Money in College

Let’s be honest, college is super expensive! Basically, it costs money just to breathe. We probably have all had times when we’ve had to call our parents, begging them to transfer some money in our account. Well, worry no more! Here are a few ways to save money while getting your degree.

  • Don’t eat out all the time!

I am very guilty of this. My friends and I find every opportunity possible to go to Roca’s or Cracker Barrel. However, going out can be very expensive. If you have a meal plan, use it! You are already paying for it so do not let it go to waste! Buy your friends who live off campus food, too! If you have to go out to eat, consider your options. Cookout is a lot more affordable than Red Lobster.

  • Consider your options when looking for entertainment.
raining-money
“You can get five shirts at Goodwill for the price of one anywhere else.”….photo retrieved from: www.business-opportunities.biz

You do not have to go the movies every Friday. In fact, it can be way more fun to watch and make fun of cheesy romance movies! Go to the Dollar Tree, pick up some cheap candy and watch Netflix! This is even more fun because there is no one there to tell you to be quiet!

  • Wait to do your laundry until when you have a full load.

It’s tempting to keep washing your favorite pair of jeans but you will save a lot of money if you wait until you have a full load. Make sure to save all of your spare change because laundry is expensive!

  • Take the transit.

The bus transit is there for a reason and free for all students with your student ID. Be sure to take advantage of it whenever possible. The transit goes many places so it is not necessary to always use your car. Save money on gas!

  • Shop Goodwill!

You can get five shirts at Goodwill for the price of one anywhere else. You just have to search for the good stuff; I have gotten everything from Calvin Klein to Michael Kors at thrift stores around the area. You don’t have to break the bank to look stylish! Take it from a Fashion Merchandising major.

Humans of Radford University

 

When I first started here with Clinical/Mental Health, I thought that it was what I really wanted to do. I thought that it was what I was supposed to do. I don’t really feel that way anymore. When you find what you’re supposed to do, you should find a feeling of fulfillment. I just don’t feel that with what I’m doing. Whatever you’re doing, make sure you’re doing it for you. Not because you’re trying to appease someone else or because you’re trying to change someone’s else’s opinion of you. Do it for you.

 

“Whatever you’re doing, make sure you’re doing it for you.”

 

 

It Is Okay to Fail

Failure—nobody wants to admit it, but everyone has done it. There is such a negative stigma around the words fail and failure. What people seem to forget is that failing and failure is a part of life. No one, and I mean no one, will get through life never making a mistake. That is just not how life works.

 

– Photo from BU Today

 

What is something that you have failed at? What did you do? I have just recently gone through an experience that some people would describe as a failure. I have decided going into my junior year of college that I want to change my major. Instead of studying Merchandising for design, I am now studying Journalism and creative writing. Kind of a big leap, I know. To many people, this may seem like a failure, especially considering how much I loved the design program. The truth of it is that I was not succeeding the way I should have been, because I was not where I was supposed to be.

Failure tells us more about ourselves than our success ever will. Through my ‘failure’ in the design program, I have learned that I enjoy writing, and not only that but that I am good at it. I am a good writer and instead of focusing on my failure in design, I will use it to my advantage, focus on my future, and walk in my destiny. Failure is not defeat; it is transition, illumination, and clarity.

“I have not failed. I have found 10,000 things that do not work.” -Thomas Edison

Failure is all about perspective. So what is your perspective? Did you really fail, or did you find a few different ways that did not work?

 

 

 

 

Originally posted on The Odessey Online

A Day in the Life of a College Student

Coming into college, you expect to suddenly feel like an adult. You are away from home for the first time, and suddenly you do not have anyone telling you what to do. Your classes are spread out throughout the day, and you don’t have to wake up at 6 a.m. every day to make sure you make it to homeroom before the bell. You are now responsible for this thing called time management. If you are a college student, your day may look a little like this . . .

 

- Photo from Amazon.com
“Your alarm goes off for the first time, and it will not be the last – Photo from Amazon.com

 

8:00 AM- Your alarm is going off for the first time, and it will not be the last.

8:15 AM- So, your goal was to get up earlier today and dress nicely for once. Just one day without sweatpants and the t-shirt you wore to bed last night.  It is now that you decide that that idea was dumb, and sleep is a lot more precious right now.

8:30 AM- Okay, okay. You are up now, but Facebook is not going to check itself. You end up getting distracted and watching cute cat videos for the next 15 minutes instead of getting up and getting dressed.

8:45 AM- Fifteen minutes before class starts and you still have to get out of bed, brush your teeth, and get to class. You can do this.

8:50 AM- You can do this. You can do this. Wait, what’s that smell? Chick-Fil-A breakfast sounds really good right now. Late to class with a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit, or on time without one?

9:01 AM- It’s okay. Just a few minutes late and you still have breakfast. The professor isn’t even here yet, so really, you’re early.

9:02-11:50 AM- Made it through the first half of the day and now you don’t have class until 3:00. Is it worth it going all the way home just to come back in a few hours? No, so to the Bonnie.

12:00 PM- Of course, the Bonnie is an absolute madhouse. The Chick-Fil-A line is backed up to ABP, but it is so convenient. Chick-Fil-A twice in one day? Oh, who cares?

12:30 PM- Thirty minutes in line? It’s been worse. Now time to work on homework. Of course everyone and their mother decide to drop by and see you. Suddenly, homework is not as important.

4:00 PM- Finally out of class for the day. Now time to go home and be productive. Clean room, paper to write, socialize with friends. You can do this

4:15 PM- So. Much. To. Do. However, Grey’s Anatomy is calling your name. A nap sounds really good right now too….

7:00 PM- Okay, you did not mean to sleep that long, but that’s okay.

9:00 PM- Time to go to sleep and do it all again tomorrow.

 

The Fourth Estate: The Press

Insights from big data analysis contribute to major manipulation of the public, often, without their awareness. In the political context, the issue with this is that the information that is collected is being put to use in optimizing marketing strategies that help attract and retain potential supporters in a prejudiced fashion.

The internet today has accumulated enough information about each user’s preferences that their home page is modified by what they like, from news to memes. A look at the specific keywords, tags, browsing history, et cetera, make it all the more easy to decipher a person’s interests. This aids the media, the fourth estate of a democracy, in playing a greater governmental role in society.

“The Press is an essential component to a functioning society” — Image from Big Brother Watch

Although the number one rule in journalism is that a reporter must remain neutral and unbiased to represent the two sides fairly, it’s difficult when media firms have been bought or sponsored by a particular political party that it feels the obligation to sport. Information gathered by data mining companies and the media is used to portray these candidates and c

Campaigns in colorful lighting by interpreting big data and turning it into smart data that converts and makes the respective presentations more relatable and favorable to the people.

For example, if “Barack Obama” was put into two different search engines, such as Google and Yahoo!, the prioritized order of news listed as the results will be drastically different as well. This influences the internet surfer to develop an opinion for or against the political cause and/or campaign, ultimately, manipulating the public opinion and sentiment.

The press is an essential component to a functioning democracy, but it is commonly referred to being the fourth implied branch of government. If journalism is to refrain from taking any sides, then how is it that FOX News today is known for reflecting Republican values and CNN democratic values? The distrust the American people have in the media is therefore not so misplaced.

 

 

 

A Student’s Two Cents

Radford in the Fall — Photo courtesy of Alexander Burnley

Regardless of where you study, if you’re not one to take the initiative, then do not expect to thrive. While there’s that image of RU being a party school, I honestly think that that’s got absolutely nothing to do with you. Some will scrunch up their face or look at you demeaningly for going to a school with a negative connotation like that, but I can easily see this place becoming a proud institute of higher learning where students not only know how to play hard, but work hard as well; the culture is changing.

Join any organization(s) that will help you develop, network, get you out of your comfort zone & get your name out there. Give your locals a chance, volunteer with them if you have to in order to pick up on new skills or just for the sake of providing a helping hand. You’re bound to learn something either way. The first semester has yet to end for me here at RU, and, if you know me well, you know that I wasn’t exactly all too hype to be going to Radford University.

Now?

I am determined to graduate as a Highlander and make the most out of my experience here. While my studies are a priority for me and my grades were pretty awesome, I was still upset with the way life was going for me.

I decided to get involved with Highlander Student Media here on campus—an interest that corresponds with my major—which, by the way, branches out into seven legitimate media outlets. I’m part of three teams: Radio Free Radford (RFR), Radford On Camera (ROC-TV), and Whim.

I joined RFR as an amateur disk jockey, got promoted to being the social media manager as well. With Radford on Camera, we get exposed to editing soft wares like Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, After Effects, etc, & you may wonder why a Journalism Major like me would need to know all that. The competition for us is getting tighter & tighter out there in the workplace. Radford on Camera, for example, also gave me the opportunity to cover a historical moment of our seventh presidential inauguration with Brian O. hemphill, along with a Press Pass that allowed me to free roam—which I’m still geeking out over. Then there’s Whim, Radford’s online media publishing outlet, that I just recently got accepted to work for, and not just as a content writer, but as an Editor for the Opinion’s column!

I may seem all over the place, but what’s significant here is the fact that the experiences your future employers are looking for do not just lie within your classroom walls. Going to class then straight home will not suffice when it comes to your end-of-the-year portfolio because regular classes tend to drag a project or two for periods in which you could’ve finished twice or thrice the amount of projects.

Take the initiative, see what works for you and what doesn’t.

The Magic Lota

How splendid would the world be if people, instead of holding one another’s faults over their heads, picked up and adopted the good in others? Allow me to introduce to you, The Lota.

The Magic Lota

I say introduce because to many, surprisingly, the lota is still a foreign concept. Technically, it’s a Muslim thing–introduced by them, evolved by them, carried on by others. “Cleanliness is half of your faith,” they believe. So if you’re a hygienic person, congratulations–you’re 50% Muslim.

What is this magic lota that you speak of? Do you mean to say it has magical powers and if I rub it, then a genie would appear to grant my wishes? 

Please. You’re your own genie.

And unless you’re Donald Trump, born with a silver spoon in your mouth (and perhaps even something sour because god knows how that man gets away with the things he says), then like any other, you have to work your bum off for the life you go around calling goals.

Speaking of bums, consider the lota your savior. It helps prevent or at least reduces the chances of one catching an infection or a disease that can potentially lead to death. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a study done in 2008 goes to show that the urinary tract infection (UTI) is the second most common type of infection in the body, accounting for about 8.1 million visits to healthcare providers each year. An estimated 13,000 deaths are attributed to UTIs annually in the United States, states the Virginia Department of Health.

That’s that, but what exactly is the purpose of a lota? 

A lota is a vessel usually placed within reach next to toilets. It is filled with water that is then used to cleanse the anal area after one’s done with their business.

How is pouring water down your genitals suppose to efficiently clean you? 

Well, there’s really no other way to say this, but shove your hand down there and make sure to clean it good. Once you’re done, pour some more water over your hand, grab some toilet paper to pat yourself dry, wash your hands with soap, and then pull back your pants. And yes, after every time you urinate or poo.

But who would touch their own doo doo? 

The choice is yours. Just wash your hands at the end, it’s as simple as that. A content writer for VICE brought up a good point regarding this: “If a bird shat on your hand you wouldn’t just wipe it off with a tissue would you?” The point is: anal hygiene is important for so many reasons.

Where can I get a lota from? 

Really, from just about anywhere. If you’re not feeling up to hit the bazaar, there are plenty of online stores that sell lotas made out of brass, copper, and/or plastic.

Or you could use a cup that’s already lying somewhere in your kitchen.

 

 

 

At the Cost of Diplomacy

It’s already a terrible thing to put someone down, to bully others, but silence . . . silence is far worse. It is what fuels partisan stances, discriminatory behavior, sexism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, you name it. A good example of who stands today as an embodiment of these values is Donald J. Trump. Who’s to say he won’t wage war the second he sits in office? Some would say the same thing about Hillary Clinton.

The point I’m trying to make here isn’t who is or isn’t worth voting for, but that this culture of harassment must be discouraged and called out in order for it to change for the better. If we were to imagine the application of this on a politically international scale, logically speaking, the implications are bound to be catastrophic.

And speaking up for someone isn’t the only way to stand up for somebody—simply showing up can mean showing support.

“Let us never become indifferent to the loss of a soul . . . ” — Image from teachermagazine.com.au

We see how people change their profile pictures on Facebook with overlays that pay tribute to a certain nation, but then we also notice just how underrepresented third-world countries are in these shows of patriotism.

This selective attitude—be it due to laziness, lack of knowledge, or sheer pettiness—is what will drive us to the depths of a pathetic, inhumane future. May I never become the sort of journalist who cares more about political correctness than life itself. If you stand up for the weak, then know that you are powerful. With power comes great responsibility? But together, if we stand for all who are vulnerable, who are without voice, we won’t just be powerful . . .

We’ll be invincible.

Our silence will only further enable demeaning behavior if it is continued.

A recent attack on a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, took the lives of at least 74 civilians, out of which about 60 of them were lawyers. Many of us won’t stand with Pakistan because, for one, some of us find the nation an embarrassment. Many of us won’t stand with Pakistan out of fear of being accused for supporting a “nation that breeds terrorists.”

I’m just as much a Pakistani as I am an American. These people, they’re like you and I. Among us, sure, whack jobs are walking around—but that’s true regardless of race, of creed, of nationality. People who have a mother, a father, a lover, a brother—like you—are dying. Being killed, and murdered in numbers. Be it one life or a hundred, let us never become indifferent to the loss of a soul. In the end, that is what will differentiate us from them. Let us retaliate with peace, but firmness. Let these attacks strengthen our resolve, not render us oppressed.

 

 

 

How to Cope with an All-Time Low

I’m supposed to be doing my homework. Nothing’s easy about college, especially when you’ve loaded your schedule with sixteen credit hours, a commitment towards four organizations, have a cat to feed, all while trying to make sure familial issues do not get too out of hand. Despite the end to Daylight Saving Time and an hour more that I’ve received to wrap up my work, it’s been difficult for me to focus. The clock right now reads 4:26 p.m., and if I don’t submit my work by 11:59 PM tonight, guess who’s bringing home a big, huge F?

But it’s become increasingly difficult for me to go on with life pretending like everything’s okay, like everything’s normal.

“Normal.” Ever wondered about what normal was for you? By definition, it means “conforming to a standard.” Other phrases it can be substituted with are: the usual, the typical, the expected – which is a funny way to describe life because life’s full of interruptions, no? It’s full of twists and turns at every point, so is there really a point for sulking over the way things used to be?

Let’s pause right there today. Let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about depression and some coping skills that I’ve picked up along the way to get you by with some smiles, okay?

“Nothing’s easy about college . . .” – Photo from URNA Career Pro

Rule #1: With time, everything changes. 

Do you hear me? Carve this well into your heart and mind. Everything changes, for better or for worse, and time’s the best teacher of them all. You, your surroundings, your social circles, your relationships, even your dreams –  they’re susceptible to change. The sooner you realize this, the quicker you move on to the next best thing in store for you.

Rule #2: Acknowledge the pain.

Some out-of-the-blue events really shook me up, disturbed me, even hurt me. It became hard to breathe at home and even harder to get out of bed. All I wanted to do was sleep, sleep, sleep. If I wasn’t sleeping, I was keeping myself distracted, buried in my studies or photography. Or food.

The first two days, I was in shock and denial. The next four days I was sad, but because I had accepted reality, I was able to be optimistic in regards to the future. More than a week has passed now and I’m doing much better. This is how it works-

You deny the existence of something that clearly exists, you’ll always find yourself at a dead end. But when you acknowledge what is for what it is, you’re able to come to terms with it and find another, if not the same, pathway.

The past becomes a lesson.

Rule #3: Make time. 

This one’s super important and super tricky. People can’t seem to find time for themselves! It is so necessary to set aside time investing in your self, creating a happiness that’s independent of others.

Anytime you’re feeling down, try something new. Find a hobby. As I mentioned in a brief previous post of mine, there are those who’ll pick up a paintbrush or a brow brush when dealing with something similar. That becomes their way of coping with the negativity. In the beginning, you may fail. But with practice and patience, symbols of your resolve, your attempts will certainly lead you to success.

 

Rule #4: Be YOUR best 

It’s not about following in someone else’s footsteps or trying to be somebody you’re not. It’s about unleashing your best version of yourself. Bruce Lee once said, “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

 

That’s the secret to happiness: self-love. 

Self-love is genuinely caring for yourself, giving back to yourself, being yourself. It’s taking a break, however that looks, from all conventional matters and putting everything on hold for some me time, time that’s a natural born right, just like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

If you’ve experienced hitting rock-bottom at least once in your lifetime, you’re aware of the sentiments that come with it- feeling of confusion, anxiety, fear, a drop in self-esteem, and god knows what other awful thoughts.

Hang on. 

 

 

 

Why You Should Join the Fight Club

The first rule to Fight Club is: you do not talk about fight club. Today we break that rule.

Much has changed with time, especially for us women. We now compete, and we compete alongside men… almost. As a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast, I’m a big advocate on women learning how to defend themselves with any form of self-defense class: Karate, Kickboxing, whatever martial art really. Pepper spray can only go so far.

The first hurdle you might come up against is overcoming your timid self. When you fight, you fight. You don’t have the time to feel shy or awkward, especially if the friendly-fire is off and your opponent is legitimately out to get you. You need to be able to fall into the mindset right away, as if it were part of your reflex.

“Practice means up close and personal.” – Photo taken from GracieBreakdown, YouTube Channel

Practice means up close and personal. It means sweat, smell, strategy. As much as you’ll need the body strength, you’ll need to keep your head in the game just as much. It’s not an either-or situation; co-ordination between the two makes a belt-worth of difference. If you’re flailing your arms and legs at your opponent and thinking less, a win in that case would mean sheer luck- your opponent was lacking. If you’re being strategic about your next move but are taking forever to get into position, a win in that case would also mean you’ve got ways to go. Practice is what will condition you to get in shape- body and mind wise.

Knowing how to defend yourself comes with more benefit than just that one, though. It has an overall positive impact on your life, and these are some reasons why:

  1. Lets you burn off some steam: helps with depression, anger, frustration
  2. Boosts your confidence: helps with self-respect, discipline, control
  3. Makes you independent: helps you rely on your abilities rather materialistic things
  4. Increases awareness: helps contribute to a quicker response in the case of an emergency
  5. Makes you goal-oriented: helps with setting your goals as you try to nail a move

The list could go on.

 

 

 

Your Net Worth is Only as Good as Your Network

Maybe you’re looking into tropical islands to travel to next summer, maybe you’re filling out applications for internships later this winter. Whether it’s the money you’re looking to earn or the experience, allow me to share a personal anecdote with you on the importance and benefits of networking and a little on how you can go about making those invaluable connections.

Sometime during my senior year of high school, Mrs. B from Loudoun County High School taught us the fundamentals of business and computer information systems. Down along her lessons, 18 year old Shiza ended up creating an account on LinkedIn, an online platform made especially for those in search of seriously likeminded or relevant people looking to prosper through one another in the name of business.

And then I forgot I ever made an account.

Months later, as we neared the end of the school year and as we barely survived senioritis, the fact that I was transitioning from familiar training grounds to an unknown battlefield that we referred to as “the real world” put me in a peculiar sort of frenzy. Am I ready for this? I hardly know what I want to major in. Sure, Journalism sounds nice, but is that really what I want to do? I went with it anyway and boy am I glad for having a decent personality.

You know why? Skills are a must-have, but you’re going to need that, or a lot of money to get your foot through some doors. So 20 year old Shiza decides it’s time to find a mentor or any experience that would help build her profile as a reporter, and that’s when I go on LinkedIn and scroll through people related to the news industry, hit connect, and then the next thing I know- I get a message from radio WPGC’s Promotions Manager asking if I’d like a tour of the station. We set a date. I go in for the tour, get showed around, and then offered a position on the team when I expressed that I was working towards a degree in journalism! I had no clue he also took care of the hiring!

Good networking’s one concrete element that will set you up for definite success. It not only presents you with opportunities, but also assists with your credibility, boosts your self-esteem, and can even lead to friendships that last a lifetime! From face-to-face interactions to online pen pals, there are plenty of ways to go about it – the more, the merrier! So the next time you sit down with somebody for coffee, feel free to open up some. If you’re socially savvy, get comfortable with multimedia, post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or whatever about what you’re interested in doing and how you would appreciate some feedback or pointers. Utilize the power of hashtags and keywords to draw in your targeted audience. Look around! A web this big is bound to take you places!

When “Stranger Danger” Prevents You From Helping Yourself/Another

The night I felt homeless:

No clue what time it is, but the bus dropped me around 9:55pm. Can’t remember when exactly. I didn’t bring my car with me today. I don’t usually board buses, but it would help to know my options. That’s what I’d told mother who instead insisted on picking me up from campus this late hour.

It’s like mother’s nagging caught up to me today. She’d always ask me to avoid public transits after 8, to count on her for late night transportation. She’s always ask me to allow my phone to fully charge before I proceeded to use it or else I’ll one day find myself in a situation and have no way to contact anybody.

And that’s what happened.

The bus was to drop me at a stop near home, and I did let mother know where she would find me before my battery died. But we’re both still fairly new to this area.

So I waited.

It was dark. Nobody in sight. After what seemed like 15 minutes, I saw a red truck pull up. Thought I should see about borrowing their phone to make a call, but the stranger danger stories I’d heard since I was a kid made my hair stand on end. What if I ended on those ‘Have you seen this person?’ bulletin boards at Walmart? I tried to shake it off and looked for a brighter place to relocate to. As I did, the truck drove off as well.

She was supposed to be here a long time ago now. Is she okay? Am I being searched for? Have I been reported? I hope not. I’m not lost, really. I just don’t know how to get back home. I knew the general direction I should head in. I could walk along the highway, I could ask for a lift. But how can I trust just anyone? My family’s probably worried sick though. I don’t have much of a choice, but to reach out to a stranger.

Or maybe I should stay here, where I told mom she would find me. Upon looking around, I found a spot just a little off the incline. More people, more lights. An arena for skateboarders, that’s where I found myself.

I asked one skater if he knew of an outlet nearby. I would’ve asked him for his phone, but I couldn’t afford to lose the one chance I had to get in touch with my family. What if he perceived me as someone looking for an opportunity to rob him of his belongings? What if I scared him, and he left with his pals? I didn’t want to bother him, nor be left alone on this playground.

He pointed towards a small hut nearby with an all-gender bathroom sign sticking out of it. “There’s a vending machine behind there. You might find an outlet somewhere.” I nodded, thanked him, and went to check it out. He went back to skateboarding. The wiring behind the machine threw me off, so, defeated, I headed towards the bleachers, threw my bags down, and slumped into them.

For a long time, I just sat there. More skater dudes joined the park. They were good. Flying on and off the ramp like they were born with wings, it was a sight to see. Quietly, not knowing how to approach anyone, I stuck with observing them. The temperature had dropped. More time passed. I wondered what mom was up to and how we would laugh if she went, “I told you so,” on me. Will the abundant lunch she packs for me each day be coming in handy tonight? Is this how it feels to be homeless?

I mustn’t cry still. There are those who enjoy taking advantage of the emotionally vulnerable. Look intentional, I told myself.

One by one, two by two, they (the skaters) were leaving. One of the overhead floodlights went out, leaving me and now only two skaters in partial darkness. Given I should be bold enough to do my part, but why is it that no one will inquire about a stranger? A simple “are you okay?” is all we need in order to create an inclusive environment; what is so hard about that? Am I invisible? Can’t anyone see that I’ve been here for what feels like three hours? Can’t anyone tell that I’m distressed?

I cupped my face with both hands, shivering with a cold realization about the world that I lived in: because it’s every man for himself, we must equip ourselves with the oxygen mask first.

 

I made that call.

Taking the Initiative

Ever heard about characters getting sucked into a video game and getting stuck there? What about chemo patients being able to go to the beach with their friends? Or military troops submersing themselves in the training and mindset they need way before they even set foot on the actual battleground? How about being able to attend your favorite artist’s concert that’s happening all the way in Germany, without having to leave your bedroom? The possibilities are endless when you combine virtual reality with the capability of a 360 degree video platform.

I believe it was October the 27th when I walked into one of the many AdScape workshops being held on campus, and, truth be told, I only went because I had nothing better to do. Even the sound of extra credit for class wasn’t enough to move me, but because my friends were headed there, I thought why not? I had nothing to lose.

Long story, short- we left with business cards in our hands.

The workshop we attended was delivered by a team known as GoJourni- a group of innovative individuals working together to take virtual and augmented reality to the next level. As exciting as it is to see this project come together, it’s even more exciting to know that they’re open to students with a background in any major.

Now this is particularly exciting news for high school seniors and college students as it provides an open house feel to prospective recruits, granting them the full freedom to explore their career of interest while also keeping up with the times. Just the other day, I overheard two kids chatting about Musical.ly, a social media platform made especially for content creators with a knack for music. I tried to get into it, but I realized soon enough that it wasn’t for me, or rather I had maybe grown out of that phase.

So what I’m saying here is that eventually apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Vsco, et cetera will be replaced by far better, smarter ones, and we’ll be left trying to convince our juniors that we’re indeed not as old as they deem us to be. A career is like that, too. If you refuse to adapt with the times, time will easily leave you behind.

Around 2007, for instance, the sudden emergence of new tech had a direct effect on newsrooms across the nation, shrinking them in size. But by 2009 and 2010, that very technology was the reason journalists were back and all the more evolved. Writing, shooting, editing, and publishing- we were and are expected to enter the workforce equipped with all those skills.

Being a fairly small company with the mission to grow overtime, it’s natural to play with ideas and go through trial and errors. I see working with small companies as an opportunity of great investment, and there’s no better time than now to start preparing for the future. With VR and 360 video footage on the rise, there’s sure to be another purge soon that is bound to make the workforce even more competitive for upcoming reporters. The real question is:

Will you be ready?

More Than Parties

- Photo from parktownprogress.blogspot.com
Party Aftermath – Photo from parktownprogress.blogspot.com

 

Radford University . . . now take a moment and think of what comes to mind when you hear about this college. Is there one standout thought that you think when it comes to this school? Probably. And that thought is most likely not “academics.” But how much more is there to this university?

The very first thing I heard about Radford was, yes, its reputation over the weekends. But now, as a student, I have seen Radford for more than what it is mainly talked about. There’s a lot to hear about this university and it doesn’t include our Spartan-strength weekend warriors. There is a community at Radford where two people throwing a football out on the quad can turn into a full game. Radford has some excellent students in prestigious programs. There’s research being done by students here that hasn’t even been attempted before. Students do research here that gets presented nationally and travel internationally to work in their career fields.

All I have ever heard about Radford was the parties, but no one told me that it offered opportunities and programs to be plugged into. You wouldn’t think there are ministries on campus that are worshiping and praying for this university, but there are. Chi Alpha, a ministry on campus, had 45 students go on a Christian retreat where 14 got baptized. There’s so much more to Radford than parties, which is something that students do at every university, no matter if it’s Virginia Tech or Liberty. People have failed to hear or think that Radford has academics, faith, and the potential makings of a kid’s future at this campus. Students can leave this school successful and ready to make a contribution or an impact on this world. One bad thing that’s not what it once used to be shouldn’t be the sole thing that this university is renowned for.

 

What It’s Like Being a Non-College-Age College Student

A long time ago, I enrolled in community college immediately after I graduated from high school. One day, my hand-me-down Ford Escort broke. So, I decided to go to work full-time in order to finance my purchase of a new vehicle. In doing so, I did not return to school. This was a horrendous mistake. There are many obstacles that I have experienced being an older student.

Let me preface this by saying that I am old. Not a “gently used” 25 or a “getting out of my first divorce” 29 old. I am talking about geriatric old age. Dr. Poland old. When I was in high school, Dave Grohl was the drummer for Nirvana, Slash and Axl rose were still friends, and Beyoncé was still a part of Destiny’s Child.

Many years after high school, I decided to try this whole “higher education” gig one more time. Holy crap. It is awful. Don’t get me wrong—I am more employable, will have better job opportunities, and I have an air of credibility about me now when I tell people that 50 Shades of Grey is really terrible literature. For that matter, so is anything by Nicholas Sparks.

So here are just a few things that are different for a non-college-age college students

Fraternities. Wow. People have their opinions about them, and I was always intrigued by the possibility of becoming a Greek. Yeah no. There is no way my old ass is going to become part of a frat now. Can you see some dude who can pass for someone’s dad being a little? Me neither.

Sports. I had always been athletically inclined throughout my younger life. Not so much anymore. My best bet now is to see who I can bribe into letting me be the scorekeeper for the volleyball games.

Dating. While people would consider me to be handsome, women usually are not—in my experience, at least –into guys who are old enough to be their father. There is the whole joke about girls with “daddy issues”, but that is a power dynamic I would rather not explore on a full time basis. My experience and world view, I feel, would make a relationship unfair for a woman who was significantly younger than I am, as I could potentially take advantage of her inexperience. Needless to say, I am lonely most of the time.

What I am really getting at is that you should finish college now. I understand that life happens at times. Unexpected medical bills, life events, or even a failing class can put a hitch in your giddy up. It’s really easy to quit. But don’t. Just don’t. Tough it out. You’ve got this. Finish your degree. It will get easier.

I understand that I have my whole life ahead of me now, but I would have much rather had it sooner rather than later.