Fall break!

Fall break!

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I think that in every one of my posts, I make some sort of comment about how fast time is flying by. Well, guess what … I am going to make another comment right now. Can you believe it is already the end of October?! Hello, where does time go?

Fall break has already came and went in the blink of an eye. It feels like just yesterday that I was counting down the days until I went home and visited my family, and here I am, back in action at school.

Fall break was absolutely perfect. Here at Mount we get off classes Friday and Monday, and it usually falls smack dab in the middle of October. It really is the perfect amount of time off. I was able to take the short trip home to Cleveland, visit with most of my family members, relax and get some errands done.

I can’t stress enough how perfectly located Mount Union is. Like I just said, I live up in Cleveland and it is such a perfect distance. It takes me a little bit more than an hour to get there — not too long of a drive, not too short (Goldilocks style). It is just right. I was out and about in Cleveland this past weekend and I ran into numerous Mount friends at the mall and out at night, therefore backing up my statement that it is the perfect distance away.

Also, my boyfriend and I took the short trip to Pittsburgh over fall break as well. See, if you get bored with Cleveland (like that is possible!), it is a little bit longer of a drive to get to Pittsburgh. We had a great time there and it was nice to get away for the little break.

If you’re not one that likes to leave campus on breaks such as these, I know quite a few people who stayed here over fall break and just enjoyed having time off from class. There are so many fun activities to do around the Alliance area and its surrounding communities such as shopping, fall farms with pumpkin patches and hayrides, movies and so much more.

Meet the Organization: Alpha Phi Omega

Meet the Organization: Alpha Phi Omega

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Alpha Phi Omega (APO) is a national co-ed service fraternity. The term fraternity can be a little confusing at first because “fraternity” is associated with only males. This is not only co-ed, so both males and females can join, but it’s a service organization, not a social organization like other fraternities (or sororities for that matter). It is based around three main principles: leadership, friendship and service. This values shine through everything APO does – from countless service projects each week and social activities to members holding leadership positions not only within the organization, but within others as well. There are more than 350 chapters of APO in the United States, 250 chapters in the Philippines and one chapter in Australia … this fraternity is taking the whole world by storm!

Here at Mount, APO is one of the largest organizations on campus with more than 100 members. We have weekly chapter meetings (Tuesday nights at 8:15 in the Mount Union Theatre) as well as weekly executive board meetings (Monday nights at 6:45 in the Hoover-Price Campus Center), but this is not the only time contributed by members of the organization. The meetings themselves usually only last about an hour, and each member must complete 20 hours of service and attend two socials each semester.

Service projects at Mount Union vary greatly. One week you can volunteer at a soup kitchen; play with puppies at the Humane Society; work on your bingo skills at a nursing home; and walk in an awareness walk for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Autism or one of many other walks in the area. Twenty hours might seem like a lot of work, but when you look at it in terms of what is offered each week, you can potentially get all 20 hours in within a month or two, but members have the whole semester! On top of that, there are different levels of service in APO: national, community, campus and fraternity. National and community are probably what you think of most when you think “service project,” but members of APO receive service hours for other things as well. For example, writing an article for the Ant Hill, which is our monthly newsletter, counts as one half hour of service to the fraternity.

Don’t think that APO is all work and no play, though! We have a social chair who puts together at least one to two socials every week. The socials are ALWAYS fun and vary greatly, so if you aren’t interested in attending one, you’ll be sure to find one that meets your interests. We often go see movies at the movie theatre near campus, go out to eat at Applebees and take trips to seasonal attractions such as a hay ride in the fall or Christmas light viewing in the winter. We usually have one or two larger socials every semester as well. Last semester we drove three hours to go to Kalahari in Sandusky for a whole day! We got a group discounted price and got to live it up in the balmy 75 degree waterpark for a day when it was the dead of winter outside.

Another aspect of APO is conferences. Since it is a national (international!) organization, there are events that bring chapters together to interact with one another. Every year there is a sectional conference that is fairly small (about eight or nine chapters are in each section). Every other year there is a regional conference, which is a bit larger, and consists of about five sections. The year’s that are opposite of regional conferences, there are national conferences. National conferences encompass every single chapter in the United States and usually a few chapters from the Philippines.

Last year, Mount Union hosted the section conference for our section! It involved more than 200 brothers from around Northeast Ohio coming to campus to participate in workshops, social events and service projects. We did a lot of work to entice other chapters to attend our conference that we knew was going to be the bomb.com; the picture shown is one of our tactics! It was so stressful to plan, but the rewards definitely outweighed costs! Coming up in a few weeks, APO will be traveling to Louisville, Kentucky for a regional conference. We have a whopping 30 brothers attending and we will be down at the University of Kentucky for a weekend to serve and socialize with brothers from our region. In December of 2012, the national conference is being held in Anaheim, California! This is a LONG trek for brothers from our chapter and will require a lot of fundraising on our part to be able to attend, but it is sure that at least a fairly sizable handful of brothers will be in attendance in sunny California!

There is SO much more I could tell you about APO because it is such a large organization with such intricate parts, but for now, I’ll leave it at that. If you’d like to find out more, come to one of our chapter meetings! We always welcome visitors and we have pledge classes go through every semester, so there’s always going to be an opportunity to take part in this great organization!

Mixing Up Some Fun

Mixing Up Some Fun

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All the movies portray college as one big beer fest; frat parties, sorority parties and just plain old parties are the objects of the media most times. Aside from this being a completely inaccurate portrayal of college life, especially here at Mount Union, we as a campus work harder towards the mature management of alcohol instead of hosting the best parties in the United States (like some other schools in Ohio).

GAMMA is a major organization on campus that works toward this common goal. Their acronym stands for Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol, which means that members are from the sororities and fraternities on campus, but their influence extends beyond the Greek community. This organization puts on a variety of events throughout the year that do just what their name implies, advocate mature management of alcohol.

One of these events, and arguably one of the largest, is a mocktail competition. This competition took place this past Wednesday and drew quite a crowd. Any organization on campus is encouraged to create a mocktail and compete. The goal is, in the end, to show that alcohol isn’t needed to have a good time and enjoy beverages that are varied and pretty tasty. This year there were a large number of mocktails created, tasted, judged and voted upon. There were trophies awarded for most members in attendance and people’s choice and prizes were awarded for first, second and third place. The group that won most members in attendance was Delta Sigma Tau. The picture to the right is just a few of sisters of DST with their mocktail.

I, along with a friend, headed up the mocktail concoction for Alpha Phi Omega, the co-ed service fraternity that I spoke about in my last blog. Our drink was based around Breast Cancer Awareness since it’s October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month). APO decided to make a drink to advocate for this cause because of the sheer amount of cases of breast cancer being diagnosed each day, each month and each year. Did you know that a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every three minutes? That means, in the time since you began this blog, a woman has been given a diagnosis that will change her life forever. Wow. That’s crazy to think about. THAT’S why there is a whole month dedicated to education about this cancer and THAT’S why APO chose this cause.

The drink we chose to make is called the “Pink Boobie Saver.” It may be a funny name, but people did come over to look and raised awareness on our campus.

Here’s the recipe in case you want to join in on the wholesome, non-alcoholic fun!
2 parts white grape juice
2 parts cranberry juice
1 part frozen pink lemonade
1 part sparkling water

College Eating

College Eating

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My cheat codes in life include winning the lottery and marrying someone rich who will cook wonderful healthy food for me.  Chances are those both won’t happen, so I guess I’ve got to learn to cook and choose the right food.  I took cooking classes in high school and that taught me how to read recipes and something about a pyramid.  But we are in college and there are so many options of where and when to eat.  Here are some easy tips on how to eat healthy.

1.  Ask yourself four questions.  Am I really that hungry? Will I regret eating that?  Do I need to eat that? Would a caveman eat that? Some of you might be confused by the caveman question.  Well, would a caveman eat deep fried food or would it just be cooked over a fire?  I think you know the answer to that and you can apply all of these questions to everything that you might eat.

2.  Taste the rainbow. Not Skittles, but a colorful plate means you are getting all different kinds of energy, vitamins, minerals and all that jazz.

3.  Eat balanced meals throughout the day. Breakfast should be the largest meal of the day.  After that, you can have anywhere from five small meals to two big meals at lunch and dinner.  For a faster metabolism, it is recommended you get six smaller meals throughout the day, but make sure they are balanced and it isn’t the same thing at every meal. Change it up.

4.  Limit your caffeine. Caffeine is a drug and you might be dependent on it if you drink it over and over.  Aim for a caffeinated drink once a week, not every day.  Too much caffeine dehydrates you and when you’re dehydrated, you’re tired.  Just drink some juice or water and if you get enough sleep, you won’t need caffeine.

5.  Avoid deep fried food. Fat may taste good, but it doesn’t look good … if you know what I’m saying.

6.  Eat fresh. If you are buying and cooking your own food, don’t buy microwaveable food just because it is easy.  Chances are it doesn’t taste as good as the real thing and it is full of preservatives.  We are in a time where we look to do things as fast as possible, but when it comes to cooking, slow down and take your time.  It is definitely worth it in the end.

7.  Pill popping. If you are lacking vitamins because you don’t like certain food or you are a vegetarian, then make sure you take the right vitamin pills.  A multi-vitamin can generally cover for the lack of vitamins you aren’t getting.

These are generalizations that I try to follow for cooking and eating (when I am not in season). When I’m in wrestling season, I have to be able to diet in a healthy manner to lose weight and still have energy to perform.

You must know your body and how it reacts to different types of food.  Everybody is different and eats different types of food and different amounts.  I didn’t even mention carbohydrates or protein or any of that, so obviously if you do a little research, you can find what is best for you.

Get Involved!

Get Involved!

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College may seem a bit scary as it forces you to adjust to a new place (which is basically your home for the next four years), make new relationships with new people and once again find where you fit in.  You are no longer a big senior, at the top of the pyramid.  Once again, you are a freshman at the bottom of the food chain, which is a place many people do not like to be.

College is very different, however, in that aspect.  Other than the amount of credits you have and where you live, the status of your grade level does not mean all that much.  Unlike high school, seniors do not pick on the “little freshmen” or put them in lockers.  In college, everyone (for the most part) gets along.  Everyone has friends from each grade level, and the campus, especially Mount Union’s, is basically one big family.  Take me for example… I am a sophomore, yet I have many friends in each grade level whom I frequently spend time with.

But coming to a new campus and making friends all over again may seem nerve-racking and scary…I know it did for me.

The answer to this situation is simply the most important thing to do when going to college (especially as a freshmen) – get involved!  Getting involved is the best thing to do when starting out at a new school as it proves to be very beneficial to you.  Getting involved allows you to quickly meet many different types of people and make friends.  It presents you with the opportunity to better learn the campus and community and also allows you to better connect with faculty and staff members.  Getting involved keeps you busy and helps to erase boredom.  Additionally, joining different organizations and clubs can open many doors for you in the future.

Mount Union has many different organizations and clubs that you can get involved in on campus.  This ranges from joining a sorority or fraternity to participating in intramurals to joining academic clubs or service organizations.  I can guarantee you that there is at least one organization or club that exists on campus, but most likely more, that will draw your interest and you will find you fit into.  (Trust me, I have found many that I enjoy and fit into!) If there isn’t, believe it or not, you can start your own club!  Check out the list of the different organizations and clubs that currently exist at Mount Union.  See what you like and what you may be interested in joining.  Leave me a comment with any questions regarding the different organizations or clubs that spark your interest.

Just remember, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you GET INVOLVED!

Fall Break Wedding

Fall Break Wedding

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Fall break was intense. I did a lot of things and accomplished quite a bit of schoolwork as well. However, the most significant thing I got to attend this past weekend was a wedding.

chris and sarah

On Saturday, I got to attend the wedding of Mr. Christopher Durr and Ms. Sarah Mariani. Sarah, an alumna of Mount Union, is the sister of my girlfriend, who was the maid of honor, and I, happily, got to attend the festivities. I hadn’t been to a wedding in quite a while, so I was very excited.

The whole thing was incredibly well decorated. Sarah, with an eye for design, and Chris, with an eye for Sarah, put together a beautiful ceremony at their church and then followed up with a reception at Gervasi Vineyard in Canton. Although a little chilly, I don’t think anyone noticed once we were all inside and the reception began.

We listened as the best Man, maid of Honor and father of the bride gave their speeches. After the toasts had been made and the food had been eaten, it was time to dance. And dance we did. Dancing continued on into the night and ended with the bride and groom leaving for their hotel before their honeymoon began the next morning.

emily and i

It was a really interesting and fun experience being able to see the behind-the-scenes of a wedding, and also attend it as a guest. It turned out even better than I could have imagined and I’m sure that everyone had an absolute blast attending.

High School Senioritis

High School Senioritis

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My Facebook news feed has begun to show me what time of year it is for those who I’m friends with who are seniors in high school… it’s the beginnings of senioritis. A lot of seniors are already receiving their acceptance letters from their desired future schools, and those who haven’t are probably done with taking the ACT or SAT. They know where they want to go, have probably sent some applications out and the rest are over caring about school. Now they just want to send out their college applications, so they too can join the crowd of their peers who JUST.DON’T.CARE. … it’s a bad decision to take this route. I repeat… this is a bade decision! Senioritis is the enemy of every senior, everywhere, every year. Remember: colleges CAN and DO occasionally revoke acceptance to students who’s GPAs plummet their senior year of high school.

Let me just tell you about my senior year of high school. I was always a pretty good student. I worked hard in classes and slacked off occasionally (like almost all high school students do), but the moment I received my acceptance letter from not only Mount Union, but 3 other schools I applied to, I hit a wall. I had been taking AP classes and was in AP English when the acceptance letters arrived. I dropped that class faster than I could even open all the envelopes of acceptance. Bad choice. I ended up picking up another class that gave some college credit, but if I would’ve kept with AP, I could’ve had 18 college credit hours going into college. How cool would that have been?! Instead I came in with only six and ended up having to take an English class here.

Here’s my suggestion: fight it! Fight that senioritis as hard as you can because your last year of high school DOES matter. Even if you can’t wait to get out of your small town, take on the big world, live on your own… the things that happen before you make it really do matter a lot. Never forget that while college will become the best years of your life, high school is a precursor to that.

Android’s big problem

Android’s big problem

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Mountain / Tree / Landscape

As a tech consumer, there are only ever three things that you absolutely loathe when it comes to your favorite gadgets:

1. When the device is too expensive.

2. When the device is out of stock.

3. When the device is outdated within a short period of time.

I only want to focus on number three for right now. That’s because it is indicative of Android and Google’s current problem.

Note: As I sit here writing this post from my Macbook while texting my mother with my iPhone, it should be clear that I live in an Apple world. However, I arrived late to the Apple world. My first smartphone was a Palm Treo 700p (stylus all the way), which was eventually followed up by the original Motorola Droid. I’ve been reading tech news, particularly mobile tech news, since my family first got the Internet. Although some may label me an Apple fanboy, I simply like to use the most superior product in any given category. This being said…

Google recently revealed its latest update to the Android OS, and keeping in line with the company’s “treat” naming scheme, the operating system has been called Ice Cream Sandwich. It will debut on the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus and will be available soon. It will be a flagship device for both Google and Samsung.

From a technology standpoint, this is great. Who wouldn’t want a new, super powered, 4G, HD, *insert acronym here* device?

Unfortunately, it ends up that the consumers don’t.

Sure, those in the smartphone market will start looking at these new Android devices and sizing up spec sheets to try and pull the trigger on something “just right” for them. But in order to see the real problem, you have to take a look back in time and examine just how little time has passed since the last “great” Android device was released.

Just a month ago, Verizon launched the Droid Bionic. This was hailed as the king of all smartphones and got a huge push from Verizon. The thing is, not only is the Bionic now old news only a month later, but the ill-timed launch of the Motorola Droid Razr was completely overshadowed by the Galaxy Nexus press event.

In the span of a month, and I only mentioned two of many manufacturers, three new devices were pushed to market, all set up to be the next “great” Android device. Consumers are getting overwhelmed by this saturation of spec-chocked Google phones and often times it really hurts the people who went and recently bought an Android device in the first place.

No one wants to own the latest and greatest phone for barely a month.

“But people enjoy the phones they get, why do they care what gets released?” you ask. Well, because it’s not just the new phones and features they will be missing out on for the next two years of their contract. Remember the new, feature loaded OS update Ice Cream Sandwich to Android? Unfortunately, because each phone manufacturer has to get its hands on the source code and make its own modifications for each of its devices, odds are that unless you go buy the Galaxy Nexus right now, you won’t be seeing any of those new features for a while.

This is a real problem. I know more than a few people who are really upset that their “high end” device they paid more than $150 for is now outdated. I doubt it will change at all because people are still buying these phones, but I see it as a huge downfall to jumping into the Android / Google world.

UMU Wilderness Trip in the Adirondacks

UMU Wilderness Trip in the Adirondacks

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This past summer from August 5 – 14, I was fortunate to participate in the Mount Union’s wilderness trip in the Adirondack High Peaks in New York. For some course credit, myself and about 20 other students went to the woods to discuss environmental ethics and to lead a rather simple life for a week.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Thoreau

My smaller group of eight was given the name of “Team Donut” when we decided to make a rest stop at Dunkin’ Donuts rather than McDonald’s. We quickly embraced this name, and we referenced the hilarious video of former Cleveland Cavalier Delonte West. With our team motto being “I don’t care if you gotta fly…planes, trains, and automobiles you better have my donuts,” we adopted some crafty nicknames like R-Nut, K-Sprinkle and D-Hole.

Aside from having too much fun, laughing most of the day and engaging in unforgettable conversations, we had a pretty eventful trip. Our group was fortunate to hike through Cold Brook Pass, which is a stretch of trail that few hikers pass through because of its tough terrain. We also made it to the summit of Mt. Haystack and Mt. Marcy, the highest point in the state of New York. We hiked a total of about 40 miles on the whole trip, 10.1 being our longest day when making both summits. It is crazy to think that people hiking the Appalachian Trail average about 20 to 25 miles a day hiking! We also had some great nights while staying in lean-tos at Bushnell Falls and Lake Colden. Awesome views!

“Take nothing but memories, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints.”

What made our trip even more exciting was that we got to rock climb, repel, swim, visit Lake Placid and Inlet and some of us paid to go on a half hour charter plane ride. While flying out of Long Lake, we were able to see the mountains we climbed and Vermont ranges in the distance, which made for incredible views. I hope you enjoy some of my favorite pictures because words can simply not describe this wonderful experience.

Right when I got back to school, I read an article about A Semester in the Woods from St. Lawrence University. The program is about “Students who swap cell phones and indoor plumbing for handwritten letters and a composting toilets.” This doesn’t sound like too much fun to many, but you should definitely read the article.

Through this wilderness trip, I was able to meet and create everlasting relationships at Mount with people I thought I never would have. This is just another way to get involved on campus and a great way to meet new people.

Someone take me back to the mountains!

AASHE Conference 2011

AASHE Conference 2011

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This past Sunday, on October 9, I was fortunate to attend the AASHE Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. AASHE, which stands for the Association for Advancement in Sustainability in Higher Education, has a mission to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. The organization does this by providing resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything it does, from governance and operations to education and research. Since I am a member of Mount Union’s Sustainability Management Advisory Committee (SMAC), they were able to cover the costs for me and three other students to go.

The conference on Sunday featured the Student Summit, where there were breakout sessions from many colleges over the nation presenting material and giving advice to other students. One presentation was from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire on how it allocated a green fund. A green fund is part of student’s tuition it and goes into a certain account, which is used for sustainable projects. They had some great ideas, and hopefully they are some Mount can implement! One of the guys presenting from this school actually knew people from my hometown of Cedarburg too … what a small world.

Other events that were going on were keynote speakers and an expo at the convention center. The keynote speakers were Bill McKibben, author and founder of 350.org, and Majora Carter, founder of The Sustainable South Bronx and MCG consulting. They keynotes focused on climate change, under-served communities and universities. I really enjoyed listening to Bill McKibben speak because I have been following his non-profit for some time. 350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis and push for policies that will put the world on track to get to 350 ppm. 350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. The picture to the right of this blog is of Mount Union students with Bill McKibben. Some good books he has written are Eaarth and Deep Economy. I was able to get him sign a copy for me!

“Very few people can ever say that they are in the single most important place they can possibly be, doing the single most important thing they could possibly be doing. That’s YOU, here now.” – Bill McKibben in relation to students and climate change.

There also was an expo where there were many businesses and organizations that featured cutting-edge innovations. Some of these ideas were shared to the many sustainability managers from all over the nation that were present. I was able to talk to some cool companies, and hopefully I can land another internship!

This conference was truly an awesome experience for me since I am so interested in the topics of sustainability, global perspectives and environmental education. We were also able to explore Pittsburgh a little bit and walk around PNC Park and Heinz Field while the game was going on. It was awesome being by the river seeing people tailgating on their boats, and one group was even cooking hot dogs in a canoe! This just goes to show that by getting involved with organizations on campus, many cool opportunities that will present themselves. I sure hope Mount Union can go to the conference next year in Los Angeles.