Do you want to build a snowman…..

Snow Day! Snow Day!

I am sure that all of you have been hearing about the Lake Effect happening in Buffalo right now. Here at UB, things have been running as usual until a few hours ago when we all got the alert that class and activities would be canceled for Thursday! Personally, I view this as an opportunity to get work done earlier than I would have been able to, catch up on sleep, and get things in order for Thanksgiving Break!

I hope that everyone else who is being affected by the snow more than us is staying safe and warm!

That Final Stretch until Finals Week

In a month from now, I will have taken my last final and be on my journey home for Winter Break. I can’t believe that I am almost mid-way into my junior year. There is only a week and a half until Thanksgiving Break and then after that last week of classes before finals. However, I am definitely starting to feel that slump of going to classes and barely paying attention especially when waking up to a few flurries this morning.

How does one get out of this slump? The Answer: It is different for every person. I know, so useful but in reality what might work for me may not work for other people. For me, it’s taking advantage of the free time that I have just to relax. I do this by making plans with friends that I haven’t seen in awhile and just hanging out. Talking to people, and being around other people energizes me. I then transfer that energy over to throwing myself into my work and re-exciting my self for classes.

Looking ahead and thinking of all the wonderful things in the future helps me a lot too. This includes having a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner, going Black Friday shopping, and finally going home (I haven’t been home since June) after Finals are over.  Thinking of these things, helps motivate me to get my work done, and pa more attention in classes to make sure that I end the semester strong.

For other people, taking that time to relax could include napping, watching tv/movies, going to the gym, eating comfort food, etc. You have to find that balance in your life so that everything doesn’t stress you out.

Let Them LOL :)

***This week, I am going to take the time to blog about a charity that is very important to me. This is not directly related to UB***

My first year at UB, I was a part of Leadership House, a living and learning community for thirty lucky freshman. As part of the requirements for being in the program, we had a mandatory 25 community service hours to complete every semester. One of the girls who lived across from me, Mary Beth (soon to be sophomore roommate and close friend) had family that was involved in an organization that was located in Buffalo. Thus, I and many others were introduced to Let them LOL. Let them LOL works to raise money to build wells in Sierra Leone in order to provide fresh water to the communities over there. After volunteering a few times, we got to participate in their 3rd Annual Water Gala and it was truly an amazing experience. Flash forward two years, and this past weekend I volunteered for the 5th Annual Water Gala.

Looking back at the first year, there have been so many changes to the gala: bigger venue, supporting an orphanage, and more volunteers to name a few. Everyone who is a part of LOL are volunteers, and each year I have seen more passion to making every aspect better. The student volunteers are known as Water Ninjas led by Jason and Jessica Papas during the Gala. This year, three years of Leadership House represented as Water Ninjas, no longer trying to fulfill a requirement.

The three years of LH

The three years of LH

All of us got to the venue, located in downtown Buffalo, at 8:30 AM to start setting up for this year;s gala. There were two very prominent parts of the decorations that really stuck out to me. The first was the lego wall that two Children had come up with and made representing the 4000 children that die every day from lack of water. Every single lego piece was donated along with another donation to a well. In the picture above you can see part of the lego wall, but this picture captures it better:

Lego Wall

Lego Wall

The second part that I felt was very inspiring was the experience that we built that guests would walk through when they first entered the gala. I can’t describe in words how beautiful it was and can show you through this picture:

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After many hours of working on the set-up, all the volunteers helping out at the gala changed and learned our positions for the night. There are many different ways in which someone can donate money to the organization throughout the night.  First, there are the three different auctions: Chinese Auction, Silent Auction, and the Live Auction. Second, you could purchase special LOL merchandise (changes every year) and items made in Sierra Leone. Third, there are donation slips on the tables for attendees to donate during dinner. Throughout the night, the ninjas are very busy working the auctions and the merchandise table, but we do get a break to see the presentation during the dinner.

The presentation told the story of LOL through videos of homages from the Board members and footage from the trips made to Sierra Leone every three months.  One quote that stuck out was ” We empower those experiencing an unjust suffering by providing them with basic resources a community here with a  community there”. LOL doesn’t just build wells for the communities, but LOL actively checks up on each community during each trip, provides maintenance for the wells,  and opened a children’s home for orphans. It is amazing to see how far LOL has come from starting out with just selling ringtones of one of the co-founder’s laugh to raise money.

I am grateful becoming a part of Leadership House , because I got to become a part of such a wonderful organization. I have formed close relationships with not only other students, but the board members of LOL as well. My goal one day is to go on one of the trips to Sierra Leone. My advice for anyone who wants to come to UB is to get involved with something you are passionate  about. Not everything has to be something on campus, but could be in the community as well .

For more information about Let them LOL visit their website here: http://ltlol.com/

 

This is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween

A little late with this post, but it has been a very busy past two weeks for me! Starting on October 17th, my favorite time of work rolled around, the construction of the Haunted Union. As part of my job with Late Night UB, we spend two weeks construction our 9-room Haunted House for UB Students to go into throughout October 30th and 31st.

Before we actually began to build the Haunted Union, my staff and I had the opportunity to go to Fright World for research. With a Fright World admission, you can go into five different Houses. Some of these house occur every year such as Phobias and Asylum, whereas the other ones can change from year to year based on how popular they were. There are also different levels to how scary each haunted house is starting with Phobias as the first level, and slowly increasing. It was a lot of fun, and I am glad that I got to bond with my staff even further.

For my room this year, I worked on a Nightmare Before Christmas theme. My partner and I split the room into two parts so that one side captured the Christmas part of the movie, and the other side the Halloween side of the movie. Since we were the first room, our plan was to split up the groups that come through so that they go down one path of the other.  I wish I had taken a picture of the room to show all of you. It looked amazing! The other rooms this year that were included in the Haunted Union were a Butcher room, a Asylum, Zombie Room, Clown Room, Mad Scientist, Mummy Room, Witch Room, and ended with a Possession Room.

My staff couldn’t build the Haunted Union on our own. Many volunteers come out and join us throughout the entire construction and to actually scare students as well. Most volunteers return every year, because it is so much fun putting everything together. It is great to have all these people because everyone has a creative aspect in them, and it helps make the Haunted Union better than if it was just my staff.

These past two years, I have spent my Halloween scaring people, and I wouldn’t change anything.

Post-Haunted Union PIcture!

Post-Haunted Union PIcture!

Wes Moore, a New York Times Best Seller. Wes Moore, a hardened criminal.

Two Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend this year’s UB  Reads Distinguish Speaker.  The Distinguish Speaker Series invites writers, politicians, comedians, celebrities, and more to our school to talk about their journey while giving advice to all of those who attend. About six to eight speakers are invited each year and admission is free for all undergraduate UB Students. The UB Reads speaker is chosen carefully as his or her book is distributed to all the incoming freshman during their orientations over the summer, and in the fall to the rest of the UB Students. This year’s book was The Other Wes Moore, by Wes Moore.  The books tells of the story of two men named Wes Moore who grow up with similar background,  but the decisions that they made influenced their lives to one becoming a New York Times Best Seller and the other a hardened criminal.

Since I have been a Peer Mentor for UBE 101 this past semester, my instructor and I told our class that if everyone attended Wes Moore’s speech that we could cancel class during the week of Thanksgiving. My students at first did not understand why we were requiring them to attend, but all of them did end up showing up. I don’t think they realized how many people actually attend the distinguish speakers series as we walked into Alumni Arena.  Before Wes Moore came out to speak, Matt Weigand, director of the Orientation, Transition, and Parent Programs Office, and my friend Jake Caldwell spoke to introduce the speaker that night. When I saw my friend on stage, I was so proud!!! Introducing the Distinguish Speaker is a huge leadership role and he did amazing!

Wes Moore was truly an inspiration! He was able to mix telling his story with humor, motivation, and seriousness. One off the most memorable parts of the speech was how he stressed that you are more than your major. It is not what major you have, but what you do with it. The best part is the fact that all of my students stayed until the end of the speech and Q&A. Afterwards, my students were even posting our our facebook group how glad they were that my instructor and I had forced them to go. I am glad that they learned so much and enjoyed such a great opportunity.

The Distinguish Speaker series, is one of the many great activities offered here at UB. I have been fortunate enough to attend at least one Distinguish Speaker each year.

A Different Kind of Leadership

Over the course of this past semester, I have been a Peer Mentor for UBE 101. UBE 101 is a 1-credit course that first-year students take during their first semester to help make the transition between high school to college easier.  Such topics would include How to get Involved, The UB Reads book for that year, How to Register for Classes, and Academic Success. Additionally, it gives first-year students and opportunity to get to know a faculty member on campus, in case they need a reference in the future. As a Peer Mentor, I am partnered with an instructor and serve as an additional resource for the students.

Instructors and Peer Mentors have the ability to request who they would want to partner up with for their class. Since I had made close connections with one of m y bosses in Student Life, Kerry Spicer, we requested each other. Each peer mentor can chose how involved they want to be in their class. Since Kerry and I already had such a close relationship, I am actually co-teaching the class with her. In these duties, we create the lesson plan together , I host mid-semester meetings with my students, and grade papers that the students have submitted. This has been a very different leadership experience then any of my other activities that I have done. I am taking on more responsibility and practice my public speaking skills every week.

Since I am an engineering major, I have a class full of engineering. Most of them are computer science, and I even have one lone soul who is a pre-pharmacy major. They are a very lively bunch, and I enjoy seeing them make UB more of their home every week.  One of my goals as a peer mentor, is to not have them fear reaching out to me if they want to talk about anything or have any concerns.

Aside from teaching my own class, I also take a 3-credit class called UBE 495 Supervised Teaching. Every week, I meet with other peer mentors and an instructor from the Orientation, Transition, Parent & Programs office to talk about the up and downs from our respective classes. Not only do we give advice to each other, but we learn about how to be better peer mentors as well. One of our main projects is doing a 20 minute presentation on a lesson that we will be teaching to our students.

Overall, being a Peer Mentor has been a great Leadership Opportunity so far, With half a semester left, I can’t wait to see where this adventure will take me!

Note: If you are interested in this opportunity, please know that applications for the positions are up in the Springtime. You must be an incoming Sophomore level or higher to apply.

Family Weekend!!!

Family Weekend is a UB tradition where families reunite with their students to enjoy the fall weather and experience some of the UB lifestyle.  Some of the events that families could  attend were  Homecoming Carnival, Tailgating, UB vs Norfolk football game, Niagara Falls or Great Pumpkin Farm bus trips, and Sunday Brunch.  My first year, my family actually came up and we attended some of the family weekend events. It was a lot of fun! Now that I am a part of Student Life, I actually got to work some of the family weekend events which I will talk about in the following paragraphs.

Homecoming Carnival!  Although Student Life organizes family weekend, our Student Assoiciation (SA) takes charge of the Homecoming Carnival tagging it a part of their them to #OWNthefall. Having fun games, food, and prizes all in one area is a great way to kick off family weekend.  One of my favorite parts is winning a fish to take home.  Another favorite part of mine is the huge bonfire and fireworks that concludes the first day of Family Weekend.   Leading up to the carnival that week, all the engineering clubs get together to help build the bonfire. This year’s bonfire was bigger than I have ever seen and it was nice seeing everyone enjoy all the hard work that we put into building it.  Homecoming Carnival is tradition, and so many families and students end up attending.

Onto the next day, I actually worked and helped out with the Tailgate. The tailgate didn’t officially start until 1:30 pm, but my staff and I were there at 10:30 AM making sure that everything was in order for when the families arrived. It was my first time working the tailgate since I had an Organic Chem test during that time last year, so I was very excited! Once the families arrived, I was in charge of collecting their tickets that they bought and putting wristbands on them to allow them inside. It was a lot of fun chatting with the families as I did that. I am proud to have made their experience here at UB better. Aside from the Student Life run family weekend tailgate, there are other activities that go on in the parking lot by the stadium as well. First, the Spin Doctors were playing as part of the Tailgate Series that athletics hosts before each home game. Additionally, there were tons of other food vendors and fun activities such as rock climbing for people to enjoy.

After the tailgate, I was in charge of the Great Pumpkin Farm Bus Tour. Last year, I got to go on the Niagara Falls Bus tour, so I wanted to try the other location this year.  After about a half hour drive to the town of Clarence, we finally arrived there. It was amazing. Not only did you get to pick our own pumpkin (for a very low price), but there were tons of rides, a corn maze, lots of food, and more. There was even special bbq vendors there as part of their Oinktober Festival that weekend. There was even a quaint shop full of tons of Halloween decorations! Everyone who went, I could tell really enjoyed going. I actually now am planning on going back with a group of friends later on!

Finally, on Sunday Family weekend concludes with a Brunch for all the families. There is so much delicious food; basically anything that you can think of. My job as part of student life was clearing the plates from the tables and interacting with the families. It is a lot of hard work, but I could tell from my conversations how much fun families had throughout the weekend.

Every UB family should experience Family Weekend at least once. Not only can you enjoy some on campus activities, but you can enjoy exploring the Buffalo/Niagara area as well.

UB vs Baylor

UB football hosted Baylor for Friday Night Football on ESPN this past weekend. Ever since the football schedule had been released during the summer time, there had been excitement for this particular game. After an amazing season last fall with two of our players getting drafted, playing against a seeded team was a great honor.

Leading up to the game, our Bulls were 1-1 in the season. True Blue, the club that organizes the fan sections for all UB athletic games,  started promoting that the night game was going to be a Black Out. This meant that not only our players would be sporting new gear, but all the fans would be decked out in black as well.  One of the shops on campus started selling special addition black out shirts as well. On Thursday, the day before, True Blue and athletics hosted a night to hear the coach speak, get free food, and watch Remember the Titans. Although it was cold out, it was a lot of fun!

Go Bulls!

Go Bulls!

On Friday, as it got closer to game time, the campus was full of students, faculty, alumni, friends, and family roaming around campus in black. There were multiple tailgates going on to get everyone pumped up for the game. When students entered the stadium, they were given signs to hold up for the game. The stadium was packed! I think we might have broken the record for most attended game, but don’t take my word on that. The energy was so high, with True Blue leading us in our usual chants to psych out our opponents. Seeing all the school spirit made me brought to be a part of the UB community.

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Top 50!!!! #GOBULLS

This past Tuesday, UB broke into the top 50 best public “national universities” in the country for the first time ever, earning the No.48 spot according to U.S. News and World Report.  Additionally, among both public and private national universities, UB ranks No. 103 and among public universities is ranked No.1 for lowest student debt.. As one of many students that goes to UB, I cannot express how proud I am to attend such an amazing university.

After the past three years attending UB, I can see why we have finally cracked the top 50. I have had the opportunity to learn from top professors, participate in various projects, and enhance my non-technical skills as well. Each year, I have seen the school make small changes and gain achievements to make our school better as part of the UB 2020 plan. This ranges from the remodeling of two of the largest lecture rooms on campus, the addition of the Winter Session for classes, new outdoor pursuits available to students, Khalil Mack getting drafted, and even President Obama taking the time to speak at our University.

It is also gratifying knowing that when you attend UB, not only are you getting an education that is quite competitive to other universities, but you won’t have as much student debt as everyone else.  One fact that was astonishing when I read the article about our school from U.S. News was that UB students who graduate with debt has an average amount of $17,455. Additionally, 55% of students graduate with no debt at all. I can only imagine how great a feeling that is to know you either don’t have to pay debt or it only will take a few years to pay it back.

I cannot wait to see everything else that UB has in store. From what I have seen so far, UB is only getting better and I am sure that in ranking reports for next year, we will be even higher.

For more information check out this link: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2014/09/011.html

 

#OWNtheFall

UB Student Association is a student run government that manages all 200+ clubs on campus, brings distinguish speakers to campus, and hosts bi-annual concerts for the undergraduates for UB. All of these are funded by the mandatory student activity fee that is included in everyone’s tuition. This past Saturday was the third Fall Fest to happen since I have attended UB. This year the main events were Schoolboy Q and T.I. with Ab-Soul and Bas opening for them. Although I didn’t know who either of the opening acts were going to be, I knew a few songs by Schoolboy Q and T.I.

Fall Fest Poster

Fall Fest Poster

Due to meeting up with other friends before the concert, I finally arrived around 8PM to the concert. This actually worked out in our favor since we didn’t have to wait in any long lines and got through security pretty quickly. SA did a pretty nice job with the outside set up with a food station, tons of bathrooms, and a medical station. It was exciting seeing so many UB students come out; in fact I ran into people who I didn’t even know liked rap music!

Besides getting through quickly through the line, we got there just in time for Schoolboy Q to come on stage. Of course, tons of students were wearing bucket hats in honor of Schoolboy’s signature look. Everyone went crazy as he went through his set list! He was even cracking jokes in between songs. Even though I had only prior knowledge of two songs (Studio and There he go) beforehand, I learned of some new ones that I will definitely be adding to my playlist. After a small set change, T.I. took the stage to close the night. He was quite entertaining as well to watch. He performed a set list of older songs that students had grown up listening to and newer songs that he had either remixed or been featured on.

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SA did a great job with this year’s Fall Fest line up and it was placed perfectly during the school year to keep students pumped to be back at school. I am excited to see what else this year’s SA has in store for the students of UB!