One of our requirements for the program is for students to complete two hours of community service. Whenever I meet with middle school students I ask them what they think about when I say community service. Most students talk about picking up trash on the side of the road. While that isn’t wrong, I’d like for us to change the narrative on what students think about community service. I try to make sure they understand what it is, why it is important, and the different ways they can do community service.
Community service brings awareness to help needed from people around us. We hope to inspire our students to pursue their goals and dreams while also being individuals that can help better the community. Community service not only helps people in that moment but it creates opportunities for creative minds to make changes for the future. Community service can inspire a future engineer’s invention or a future legislator’s law.
We understand that Covid-19 has put a damper on what we may traditionally think about for community service but there are several ways we can still help our communities safely. You can organize a clean up of an area and ask your friends and family to help out. There are many people that have volunteered to clean parks and communities to keep individuals safe.
There is a program that collects manufacturer’s coupons and sends them to our troops overseas. We called Coups for Troops and we had hundreds of coupons donated from our students in the past couple years. You can also do that on your own! Here’s a link to more information.
Another way to help is to write letters to the residents in nursing homes. I’ve seen posts on social media asking for letters for their residents. How awesome would it be to have a pen pal? Many of them have the same interests as you; like sports, gardening, pets, singing, dancing, etc. I actually plan to do this myself. Think of the smile you’d put on someone’s face by showing you care!
There are plenty of websites that can give you ideas and will guide you on the different forms of community service you can do. No matter what you choose to do, remember that you are making a difference.
Attending a Historically Black College and University, HBCU, was the best choice for me and I recommend HBCUs to all students. Out of the 111 colleges and universities in North Carolina, 12 are HBCUs. There is a myth that only black, or African American students can attend HBCUs. All ethnicities are welcome at HBCUs, some offer minority scholarships to students of other ethnicities. North Carolina is also home to the biggest HBCU in America, NCAT (North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University). They have the most students enrolled.
HBCUs and PWIs, predominantly white institutions, have many similarities. HBCUs have big, medium, and small campuses. They also have public and private campuses. Another myth is that the education is not as credible as PWIs. Many HBCUs are known for their prestige and scholarship. I researched the top nursing schools in NC and out of the top ten, two HBCUs were on the list. Here is the list along with their yearly instate tuition rate and NCLEX passing rate.
From the picture you can see that HBCUs offer similar outcomes and more usually more affordable.
Price is not the only factor that effects why we choose our colleges. Retention rate is also a factor. For many HBCUs the retention rate is not where it should be. However, I do have a simple solution for that. We need more Crosby Scholars. No, seriously! So many high schools do not have programs like Crosby Scholars that prepare students for the college going process. Many African Americans are first generation students and do not have the tools to help them be successful in college. I am proof that programs like Crosby Scholars can lead to better retention rates.
When I was in high school at Statesville High, we had a program called Gear-Up (which has recently been refunded for ISS and has partnered with us). This program took me on college campuses that I would have never seen otherwise. They taught me how to fill out the FAFSA. They also informed me about the responsibilities and discipline I would need to be successful. I can honestly say without a doubt that without that program I would not have attended WSSU and graduated.
As a HBCU grad, I will also say that the HBCU community, while competitive, is welcoming of all HBCU alumni. Black culture is naturally collectivistic and so all HBCUs are seen as a family. HBCU pride is very strong because of our rich history. Greensboro is one of the places that participated in the Civil Rights protests. My great uncle was attending NCAT during this time. NCAT gives a piece of this history during their tour. I highly recommend! WSSU is rooted in a black community and serves the neighboorhood and surrounding grade schools. At WSSU the motto is “Enter to learn, depart to serve.” While we were taught our majors we were also taught to give back. I appreciated the experiences I had with the surrounding community.
Lastly, the Devine 9. There are 9 original HBCU Greek Organizations. Joining a Greek organization is costly. Most will not allow you join your freshman year because they all value scholarship and that is your priority as a freshman. Some have GPA requirements and depending on which organization you are interested in you cannot fall below a certain average. All organizations value community service, as thier campuses do. These organizations can be found at PWIs as well. The commitment to be a part of these organizations goes beyond graduation. Please do your research and attend information meetings before pursuing.
I hope I have outlined a decent picture of HBCUs. The topic of HBCUs is dear to my heart, and I could go on for days. If you want more information I can give you more of my personal experience and help you find more information.
Ahhh, test taking. The thought of taking a test gives most people anxiety. I am one of these people. In grade school, I would miss questions that I knew the answer to simply because of my anxiety. You can be fully prepared to take a test and still be anxious about it. That’s perfectly normal. I am in this category, even as a grad student. The good thing is that there is help for test anxiety. There are several things you can do to combat those feelings.
A good breakfast does the body good! We have to make sure we fuel up our bodies for the day. When your brain is fueled and not thinking about food you can focus better. I’ve presented research that gave evidence to this. I’ve presented this research at WSSU as well as the Southeastern School Behavioral Health Conference in Myrtle Beach (2017).
Make sure you are sleeping the recommended amount of time. Sleep gives your body the rest it needs. Your mind does enough when you are awake. Give it the break it needs.
Make sure your study space is free of distractions. When studying make sure you space out your studying. Do not CRAM the night before! This does not work. You may remember a few things but not enough. Your brain retains information over time. Study the information routinely. Ask for help when studying (friends, peers, family members). There are many tools you can use to help make your studying easier.
There are several test tips you can use when taking a test. First, make sure you read the directions as well as the test questions carefully. I had a science teacher in high school that gave a test as an April Fools joke. His only instructions were read the test fully before answering the questions. The last question told you it was a joke.
Also, underline words if you need to. Anything that helps you recall or think through the answers. I like to go through a test and answer all the easy questions first. That way I have more time to solve the questions I need more time to think about. For subjects that require formulas, you can write those down before you begin. Also, use scrap paper if it’s allowed. Some of us are visual learners and may need to draw concepts out.
If you need accommodations please talk your teacher. They will make sure you get the help you need. If you did not make the score you were hoping for, also talk to your teacher about those questions. See where you may have made an error. Ask about tutoring and you can also use the internet for help.
Lastly just make sure that you are giving you best effort and utilizing the resources you have. Tests are not always easy but the more prepared you are for the test, the better the outcome will be.
Given the circumstances, we all have a reason to feel stressed. Our lives have changed so much in the past few weeks. The changes have been the same for some of us and different for others, nonetheless, you still have a reason to feel stressed.
My first tip is to acknowledge that fact. This isn’t something that you have ever experienced before, nor have many generations before you. This is uncharted territory for the whole world. You’re allowed to feel whatever you are feeling. The next step is being able to express yourself and relieve your stress in the best way possible.Talk to someone about how you feel or write it in a journal. You may want to put parameters around the conversation to ensure this is a positive conversation and that you are able to express yourself fully. Parameters may be that only one person is allowed to speak at a time, negating someone’s feelings is not allowed, or even say that you’re not looking for advice you just need to get it out. You may feel emotional and you need to feel that. Do not hide your emotions from others (if it is a safe environment) to avoid looking vulnerable. As humans, we all have emotions and they bring us together. Ever cry (or fake cry) in front of a toddler? They hug you, right? It’s a natural response.
My next tip is to make a routine. Think back to a couple of months ago, you had a routine that you followed every day. Now is time to make a new one. It is easy to settle into our feelings but sometimes when we do we slack off. Your sleep pattern is off, you don’t want to cook or eat, and you just want to lay in bed. Maybe that’s okay for a day or so, but in order to feel better we have to make a routine. Our brains naturally like order and routine. So set an alarm for everyday and get up and start moving. Set achievements for the day. I am currently working through this myself, so bear with me. I give myself a list of things to do for the day. It helps me stay in the present. Not reminiscing on the past before this and not worrying about the future. Stay in the here and now. I have a list of things to accomplish for work, school, home, and self. Don’t go crazy with the list. A few things on each will keep you busy each day. Check them off your list when they are done. If anything wasn’t completed roll it over to the next day.
Another tip is to enjoy the little things. Before this change, I can say personally, that there were moments that I don’t feel I took time to enjoy. I make sure I do that now. In previous blogs, I mentioned that I like to sing and paint. I downloaded an app that gives me vocal exercises every day and during my room cleaning I found my paints. I plan to try doing my own painting soon. Growing up I also liked cooking and baking. I bought a cake decorating kit that I’ve been using to practice piping with. Those are things I make sure I slow down and enjoy. It brings memories of fond times with people I love. Those memories bring me good feelings and during these times we need those.
Lastly, we live in the day of technology download a meditation app, a journal app, a fitness app whatever you need to help you through this. I promise there’s an app for that or a YouTube video. Look into eBooks and audiobooks. Play family games (Heads up is fun!). There are so many podcasts out there to listen to! Also remember that you can still contact mental health professionals if you want or need to. Please do not hesistate.
I hope this helps as we continue this journey together (while being apart). Please continue to stay safe!
Many of us think about résumé’s when it’s time to apply for a job or a scholarship. There is so much information that goes into résumés and there is also a great deal of information that shouldn’t be in a résumé. Keep reading to see my personal tips about résumés.
What is a résumé?
Great question! A résumé is a brief account of a person’s education, qualifications, and previous experience. So on this 1-2 page document you want to make sure you market yourself well. Many people only put the basics here, but, this is your time to shine! Note your experiences and what skills you’ve learned. What were your responsibilities and what skills did you learn? Granted, these should be short sentences but put your strengths forward! You want to show the people reading your application that you deserve the position or the scholarship! This is your ticket to earning an interview. Ask someone to review it for you before you submit it. Another great service we can provide, by the way (shameless plug).
It is my opinion that having someone look over your résumé is always helpful. Make sure these are trusted adults, that will give helpful advice. Many times when we describe our experiences it sounds pretty basic, but word choice is everything! Choosing the right action words for your résumé can completely change the tone of your description. I’m sure we’ve all sent a text where we meant one thing and it was understood a different way. An easy way to find new vocabulary for your résumé is to find synonyms for certain words. For instance a word often used is “helped”, try using assisted or aided. Sometimes you realize that you didn’t help you collaborated with others on a project. Also if you are currently working, look up your job description online. See how your position is explained and use that to inspire your words.
Before I graduated college I made an appointment with at the student resources office to create my résumé. When we started talking about my experience my only jobs were being student researcher, a sales associate at Kohl’s, and a deli clerk at Harris Teeter. He asked me about my responsibilities. Imagine seeing my résumé and under deli clerk you see – slices meat and cheese for customers. Is that what I did? Yes, but see how this sounds: “Prepare, process, package, and stock products according to health and safety standards.” Sounds much better, right? It’s also a more accurate description of what I did.
So what don’t I need?
Remember a résumé is a summary, so we do not want to be heavy handed with our words. We are not telling a story, but we do want our summary to make the interviewer(s) curious about our experience(s). Under each experience I would note 2-3 responsibilities. Also there are many résumé templates online and on Word, be careful. You definitely want to be basic here, in my opinion. I’ve always been told not to go for the colorful ones or the ones with funky layouts. Some people put pictures on their résumé and that could be a bit much. Every employer is different, but I would stick to a plain layout. Above all else DO NOT lie or exaggerate. Always be honest and upfront. That’s a sure way to get denied for what you’ve applied for and also things you may apply for in the future. The interviewer may also tell others about your lie, so don’t risk it!
I hope this helps and know that we are here to help! Good luck with your résumés!
We often talk about middle and high school being the times to start habits for being successful in school, looking into careers, and making a routine. These years are also a great time to start discovering what you are good at, or your talents. One of Meriam-Webster’s definitions of talent is “1. A.) A special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude.” Notice the word special. It doesn’t say that it’s similar to everyone else’s talents. You may be an awesome athlete, but that doesn’t mean you have to play basketball, football, or volleyball – maybe you throw shot put and discus (like me), quidditch, or unicycle hockey.
Call it cliché but I do feel that everyone has a talent. Most people overlook their talents as something they think everyone can do. You know when people tell you how amazing your ability is, and you brush it off as nothing. Others don’t try new experiences to determine if they are good at something. These are the best years to try new tasks and see where you stand. We as people have a terrible habit of thinking of failure as something that defines who we are. Failure is simply a learning tool. It happens to the best of us. If you have never failed at doing something, you probably have never been challenged. Youth is one of the best times to fail and learn because your brain still finds it easy to store new knowledge and get rid of knowledge you don’t use. As we age our brains aren’t able to do that as much.
Ever since I was small I have had a love for singing. My father is a great singer and I am named after a beautiful singer that tragically lost her life in a plane crash in 2004. So I worked on my singing all my life because I figured it MUST be my talent. I am a decent singer but I have found another talent as a young adult that I have never tapped into before. I started attending painting classes and found that I’m a pretty good painter. My first painting compared to my most recent are as different as night and day. However, I love seeing my progress and it makes me feel good. I have 12 paintings that I am very proud of and I try to do at least one a month. All of my paintings are on my wall somewhere in the house.
Why do we care about talents? Talents can lead you to finding your career. Could I become an amazing artist and start selling my art for people to enjoy – maybe! For now however, it is a talent that helps me de-stress and focus on something I enjoy. I also get to decorate my room with my art which is an awesome feeling. The possibilities are endless with what your talents could be! Start figuring them out now! Tell others about them, then you can find friends that enjoy doing it as well!
You’ll never know until you try, and it’s a worthy feeling to be able to confidently say I did this and I’m good at it or I did that and it’s not for me. Sometimes we try things and realize we’re not good at it and we try harder to become better at it. It’s up to you. It all depends on how it makes you feel. So don’t be afraid to take that class, join/start that club, and write down that poem. You never know where your talents could take you!
The New Year is a time where many people make vows to change old habits and make better choices. Now is a great time to reflect on last semester and look at what worked and what didn’t. It may be time to make new habits or goals. The first step in making new habits/goals for the New Year is writing them down. Pick up a journal or planner and put your goals on paper. It can be as fancy or as simple as you like make sure it’s attractive to you. A great technique when setting goals is making sure they are SMART. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time based). The time on your goal should be no less than 30 days. Start with something simple like, I want to make better grades. That is a great goal, now let’s make it a SMART goal – By studying each subject for 2 hours each week I will make A/B honor roll by the first progress report. Both goals want the same thing, yet, the second statement tells exactly what you want and how you’ll get there. Making SMART goals allows you to make a plan to achieve the goals by changing habits. Give yourself a reward at the end for achieving your goal too!
The hardest part about making goals is actually sticking to them. You are used to doing the same thing every day and when you want to change that your brain has a hard time adjusting. You won’t feel like it, or you’ll be too tired but remember the goal! You can also set up small rewards for yourself along the way. Say you do it the first week, a reward is going to a movie that weekend, or going to a game on Friday. The second week, you forgot one day to study – don’t beat yourself up about it. This is where many people stop! Mistakes happen, you can study extra one day. If you can’t earn it back, then recognize it and remember to do it the next day. Don’t let shortcomings stop you from achieving the goal! Forgive yourself and keep pressing forward.
Quick life story: As you may know, I am a full time graduate student. This past semester for me was exhausting! I never seemed to have enough time. So a goal for me is to better prioritize my time with school tasks, work tasks, and my self-care. I bought a planner that I think is pretty and the layout is the way I want it. I have already written my work tasks and set deadlines in it. My classes started on January 6th, so I started using the syllabi to put my school tasks and deadlines in it. I have work tasks in orange, school tasks in pink, bills in red, and self-care in light blue (my fav color.) My rewards are nail dates with my best friend, facials, paint classes, and giving myself time to binge watch a tv show. These rewards are written in green. The hardest part for me is making sure I keep it up to date. So I have specific times every day for me to review and update my planner. I am giving myself a month so see how well this works for me.
When the due date comes, you are now able to see if you reached your goal! If so, reward yourself! You stuck to it and you achieved what you wanted, by now the habit is probably formed and doing it isn’t such a chore anymore. It’s more of a routine now, and now you have a new habit. Time for another goal. If you didn’t reach the goal, you’re still awesome! Give yourself a smaller reward, you still put in hard work! The great thing about SMART goals is that you can see exactly where you need to change your goals to be successful. Maybe you need three hours, or you need to extend your deadline to the first report card. Tweak it in the best way you feel it will help you. Love yourself by bettering and forgiving yourself. Enjoy the process!