Friday, May 4, 2012

Rockstock = Success

Needless to say, thing have been pretty crazy these last few weeks. Not only are we in the middle of final exams, but SAB had our biggest event of the entire school year last Saturday. Rockstock is the annual spring concert, and it is one of the most highly-anticipated events of the RU academic year. This year, we were especially excited for the concert because we found a band that countless students had requested—Jack’s Mannequin. Each fall, after our Fall Concert, SAB sends out a survey to the entire student body to see what types of musical acts they want to see in the spring. I have read the survey results for the last three years, and not once had so many people listed the same band as they did this year with Jack's. We were so eager to see how it would turn out, considering how in demand this particular band was.

(SAB with Andrew McMahon. He is kind of hard to pick out because he also wore yellow, but he is just right of the center.)

It could not have gone any better. There were no major incidents, and we received tremendous feedback. I was so happy that we were able to make so many other people happy. It is a tough job finding a band that everybody likes, but SAB did a fantastic job this year picking an artist that really appealed to a majority of the student population. I was also very excited for the opening band, Antennas Up. I’ve been friends with the band for a few years now (we saw them at one of our SAB conferences and they even played a smaller show at RU a few years ago), so I was really pumped to bring them back to campus and put them in front of a bigger audience. Of my four years here, I had a personal hand in bringing three of my favorite smaller, local bands to play at our big RU concerts (Treaty of Paris, Ha Ha Tonka, and Antennas Up). The sense of pride I felt about how well the concert went was amplified by the fact that I felt like I have really left my mark when it comes to connecting people with the music I love.

(Me and my friend Abby with Kyle, the lead singer of Antennas Up.)

One of the best parts about working the SAB concerts is getting to meet the band. Let me tell you, Andrew McMahon, lead singer of Jack’s Mannequin, could not have been any nicer. He signed multiple items (t-shirts, CDs, DVDs, etc.) for all of us workers, and was really personable and outgoing. Unfortunately, you sometimes deal with artists who are not very friendly. Luckily, we had a great experience with this show. Andrew has another band called Something Corporate, and I have been a huge fan of their music for years. He graciously signed my Something Corporate memorabilia during the meet and greet. He even stayed around after the show to sign things for a bunch of the students. We really had a great experience this year, and I am so pleased and proud. I have had the joy and the pleasure to work all eight SAB concerts of my undergrad career, and I am so happy that we ended on such a high note. I’m definitely going to miss it.

(After Andrew signed my favorite Something Corporate CD. I gave one to my sister, who is a big fan as well.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Something Kind of Funny

Do you ever go to an event (say a speaker or poet or movie) and you expect to enjoy yourself but you’re completely unprepared to hear something that you really needed to hear? You don’t know it in advance, and you’re not even sure what it is you need to hear, but when you hear it, it just clicks? At least in my experience, this happens occasionally and it really makes me stop and think. Today, this wisdom came in the form of a simple phrase, “Don’t forget to breathe.”

Not too long ago, I received an email from the President of our campus’s chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the national Hispanic Honors Society. I have been a member since my sophomore year, and they host some great cultural events every semester. This specific email referred to an upcoming event featuring famous US-Latino author Daniel Olivas. The email also talked about a lunch before the event. As a college student, I always appreciate a free lunch. I guess I didn’t read the email that carefully because I thought it was just going to be a lunch with other members of Sigma Delta Pi. When I got to the room today, Daniel himself was sitting at the table, too. I was pleasantly surprised. He told us a little bit about himself, and then he spent this time asking us all about our experiences studying abroad and what we had learned. It was cool to hear of the experiences of my fellow students who had traveled to places like Costa Rica and Peru with RU. He asked some really interesting questions, and it was just a nice way to spend part of my afternoon.

After our lunch, we went to another building on campus so Daniel could give a presentation.  What a fascinating person! He has had so many cool experiences as not only an author but a lawyer as well. He is also a Latino Jewish American, and I can’t say I have met someone like that before. As a Spanish major, I have always been so interested in hearing personal stories about US-Latino citizens. A few years ago, I took a course called US-Latino Literature, and much of the time spent in class was hearing firsthand from local authors. Their stories were enthralling, as was Daniel’s. As he read out loud, the chapter ended with, “Don’t forget to breathe”.

It’s hard to believe, but I only have 22 days until graduation. These past few weeks, I have run the gamut of emotions when it comes to my impending life transition. I have also been occupied with papers, organization events, Greek Week, you name it. It has been a hectic time, and I have been all over the place. Sitting in a full room in the science center, listening to an author whom I’d only known for an hour, I felt like he was speaking right to me when he read that ending phrase. After the presentation, I purchased a copy of his book, The Book of Want, which he signed and personalized for me. At the end, he wrote, “P.S. Don’t forget to breathe.” At this hectic yet beautiful time in my life, this is exactly what I needed to hear. Take a step back, soak everything in while it lasts, and don’t forget to breathe.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

This One's for the Girls

During my years at RU, I have had the immense pleasure of gaining 100+ amazing sorority sisters. Being a part of Greek life has been a hugely special aspect of my college experience. I can honestly say that I would not have joined a sorority if I went to a bigger school. There’s something very different and unique about Greek life at Rockhurst. At RU, it is completely unlike the picture that is painted of sororities in movies and on TV. It’s hard for me to believe, but I recently celebrated my three-year Initiation anniversary. That special event was followed by my last spring formal dance as well as the Initiation of fifteen wonderful new sisters. As I look back on my time at RU, I can’t help but smile when I think about how much my sisters have positively impacted the last three years of my life. 
(Initiation day my freshman year. Hard to believe it's been 3 years already!)

I have to admit that I definitely had my reservations when I was considering joining a sorority freshman year. Everything I had seen or heard about Greek organizations indicated that it was not for me. During my first semester at RU, I had gotten to know a lot of great upperclassmen through SAB. After Recruitment (Rockhurst has Recruitment in the spring, not the fall), I was presented with the opportunity to join a sorority on campus. When I realized how many people I actually knew in that sorority, I began to reconsider my previously-held ideas. I liked and respected these upperclassmen, and their values and beliefs were very much in line with mine. I decided to give it a try, and I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions of my life. Not only have I really enjoyed my time in my particular sorority, but I have enjoyed interacting with the other sororities and being part of RU’s Greek community in general. It is something in which I can really take pride, and I don’t think that can be said of Greek communities at all universities.

(Some of the seniors at our last spring formal dance)

(Our newly-initiated sisters and their big sisters)

Sometimes I hear about the Greek experiences of my friends who attended other colleges or universities. Many of them attend larger schools, and their experiences have been so different from mine. Unfortunately, many of them have not been as positive as mine. I believe the people at Rockhurst have made a special effort to ensure that the Greek experience is as positively rewarding for the students as possible. Being in a sorority at RU has provided me with leadership experience, knowledge on how to work with all groups of people, and an incredible support system. Our graduation stoles for our sorority just came in today. As I look forward to graduation, I think it is only appropriate that I will be able to wear my letters with my graduation cap and gown. It has been such an important part of experience, and something I honestly think I would have missed out on had I attended any school other than Rockhurst.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Only at Rockhurst...

This past week, I’ve really noticed just how special this place is. I have always known it, but the past week, I was pleasantly reminded. We found out a few weeks ago that they planted over 30,000 tulips on campus. Each semester, Student Senate sponsors a “Town Hall” forum in which major players from each department on campus are invited to sit on a panel. They give a brief update of the status of their work for the university, and then the floor is opened up to students to ask questions. This is a great aspect of RU- the open communication between faculty, staff, and students. Whenever I have had a question, there have been multiple people on campus ready and willing to help me figure it out. And it really helps when they provide us with venues like the Town Hall Forum.

But back to the tulips. They planted over 30,000 of them around our campus, and it looks just beautiful. I was having a hard time getting out of bed one day last week (it rained a lot, and I knew I had a long day ahead of me). I reluctantly got up and made my way to class. As I was walking to my psychology class, I was admiring the newly-planted tulips when I noticed something out of place. There, right in the middle of the sea of red tulips, was a small batch of daffodils. I am not sure if it was done on purpose or if it was a pleasant accident, but it definitely made my morning. Daffodils are my favorite flowers, and it really brightened my day. Had I not gone to class that morning, I would have missed that wonderful opportunity to smile.

Another special thing about RU is our President, Father Curran. I know I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but I was reminded just how great he is this past week. Voices for Justice, the social justice club on campus, sponsored their annual Karaoke for a Cause. They invite representatives from campus organizations and departments to perform. Father Curran was the last act of the evening, and he performed a wonderful rendition of “Camp Granada”. As he was on stage, being silly and carefree, I said to my sorority sister sitting next to me, “This wouldn’t happen anywhere else.” She agreed with me. A couple of teachers also performed, and their version of “Sexy and I Know It” had the whole audience roaring with laughter. They ended up winning the show.

(The two professors who performed at Karaoke for a Cause. It was a blast!)

I honestly believe that you would be hard-pressed to find another university where the faculty, staff, and even the President of the school are so wonderfully connected to the students and so committed to making their college experience really awesome. I know it has been a tremendously important part of my time here, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Changing Attitudes, Changing Times

The past week has been filled with some pretty interesting changes, the first of which came in the form of changing my own attitude. Before spring break, I was asked to select an SAB representative for the Miss Paddy Murphy Pageant, a fundraiser sponsored by one of the fraternities. They were looking for a representative from each campus organization to participate and in turn help raise money for Children’s Miracle Network. I decided to volunteer myself as SAB’s rep. We talked about it among the e-board, and I was the only senior female on the board, so it only seemed fair. I was nervous to say the least. Nothing like this had ever been done on campus before so I was apprehensive as to how it would turn out. I was also terrified at the thought of having to perform by myself for my individual talent. I feel pretty good about being part of group performances, but when it’s just me up there on stage, it’s a different story.

All that aside, I decided to volunteer because I knew that it would push me outside of my comfort zone. With only a few months left before I graduate, I figured there was no time like the present to put myself out there and see what would happen. I was pleasantly surprised. Although I was pretty timid during practices, I found myself incredibly excited the night of the pageant. Thirty minutes before doors opened, the fraternity men came to notify all of us girls that we had sold out the event. That really made me feel great, to know that I was helping out another organization as well as helping a very worthy charity. I found that I was only nervous during my individual talent, but that even subsided once I was out there. I am so glad I made myself go through that experience. I really ended up enjoying myself, and it is a memory from my senior year that I will definitely cherish. I learned that when you step outside your comfort zone, you will be pleasantly surprised. I think this change in my own attitude was pretty remarkable.

Another big change that happened on campus was the election of a new e-board for SAB for next school year. We have a great group of new student leaders ready and eager to take on their positions. I have no doubt that they will do a wonderful job next year. It just seems strange, though, to think that I won’t be a part of it. I have been actively involved with SAB pretty much since my first week at Rockhurst as a freshman, and I have been on e-board for 3 years. I really put my heart and soul into this organization and the work it does for the university. I’m really proud of what we were able to do while I was a part of it. I’m excited to see what they do with it next year, but I can’t help but feel like I am giving away a pet or prized possession. I know it will go to a great home, but I still feel nostalgic for it. Change can be scary, but it is also a good thing. I think this lesson will be very important for me in my last 6 or so weeks at Rockhurst.

 (SAB's annual E-board Christmas card picture, December 2009. I'm really going to miss being a part of this.)

 (December 2010)

(December 2011)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Much Needed Break

Spring Break is just about over. I can’t believe how fast it went. The past few years, my mom and I went down to Clearwater, FL for Phillies Spring Training. This year, though, I just went back to St. Louis for the week, and it ended up being perfect. It was so nice to just relax for a week without running around. I got some homework done and got everything ready for the upcoming SAB E-board elections. It was also beautiful to be able to sleep in until noon. I haven’t had the opportunity for that in quite some time. At night, my mom and I hit our favorite restaurants around the city, my favorite being Chimmichanga’s. It’s a very authentic Mexican restaurant in St. Louis, and my mom always makes me order in Spanish when we go. It’s pretty silly and embarrassing, but I have secretly come to enjoy this tradition. Don’t tell my mom, though ;-)

I kicked off break by going to a concert by The Ataris. They are one of my favorite bands of all time, and I’ve been seeing them play shows for about 5 years now. I couldn’t have picked a better setlist myself, and I was able to get a spot right up front. It was perfect timing that I just happened to be home when they came through.

(Me with Kris Roe, the lead singer of The Ataris.)
One thing about this break that was memorable is the weather. It was beautiful! On Tuesday, a few of my sorority sisters from here at RU and I went back to our high school in St. Louis (Urusline Academy) to visit our old teachers. It’s always nice to go back, but every year, I’m surprised by how much has changed. Some things never change, though, and it’s always great to see my favorite teachers again. It was too gorgeous that day to spend all of my time inside, so my boyfriend and I went to the zoo. The penguins are my favorite, and there was even a baby penguin! Adorable.

(Penguins at the STL Zoo. They don't even look real!)
The highlight of my break, however, was meeting my childhood hero, Cal Ripken, Jr. He recently released a children’s book that focuses on the issue of bullying, and he was promoting the book at the St. Louis County Library. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was born in Maryland and lived there until I was 8. My earliest baseball memories are of seeing Cal Ripken play in Camden Yards. I used to go to a sports camp after school when I still lived in MD, and we got to pick our own jerseys. I HAD to have the number 8 jersey, even though it came down to my ankles. I couldn’t really even play in it, but it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I had Cal’s number.

(Me and Cal Ripken, Jr.)
After meeting him, my admiration is as strong as ever. He was such a nice guy- really relatable and genuinely appreciative of his fans. He spoke for a little bit at the event and he acknowledged how important it is for him to be a good role model. This is one of the reasons I always liked him, and the fact that he is using his fame to gain attention about such an important issue as bullying is just awesome. I think it’s really important to have good role models. Cal Ripken joins my mom and Fr. Curran (president of Rockhurst) as my major role models. Especially with everything changing in my life right now, the example of these people help me keep everything in perspective. I have to say that my break was perfect. Low key, but absolutely perfect.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Giving Up vs. Giving In"

This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I attended the mass service on campus at noon, and Fr. Curran (President of RU) performed the ceremony. I was really intrigued by his homily. He said that we often misunderstand the point of Lent, and we usually think it is all about giving up. We worry about what we will give up during Lent- soda, Facebook, using the elevator in Sedgwick, etc. However, it is actually about giving in to God and letting Him be the center of our lives. I was especially touched by this homily because I am the type of person that becomes easily upset when things go wrong, even when they are out of my control.

(The Ash Wednesday service that I attended. I can see myself in the very back lol. Photo credit to the Rockhurst University Marketing Department.)

I had been struggling to think of a physical thing I would give up during Lent, but this homily completely changed my thinking. I have decided instead of “giving up”, I will be “giving into God” by trusting in His plan for me. I will be making a conscious effort to surrender those things that upset me, especially when they are out of my control. The day before the Ash Wednesday service was a pretty rough day for me. I received a very low grade on a test. I take my grades very seriously, and I was incredibly upset by this grade, especially since I felt prepared for the exam. It was a very emotional experience for me, but Fr. Curran’s homily the next day really put things into perspective for me. I often find myself upset over things I can’t control, and sometimes it really affects my day. During Lent, I will be making a conscious effort to not let these types of things bother me.

I can think of countless examples about things in my life right now that upset me but are beyond my control. Since I am a senior, I was not able to participate in the NACA National Conference on behalf of SAB in Charlotte, NC. This is the first semester since my freshman year that I won’t be there, and I am so nostalgic about it. With my new Lenten attitude, however, I have been able to find peace with this. I may not be able to attend the event, but that gives four awesome, up-and-coming e-board members the chance to take in the experience. I have no doubt that they will do an awesome job, and I am so excited to hear all about the conference when they return later this week.

Tomorrow is my 22nd birthday, and I can’t help but feel like my life is flying by me. I have been reflecting on the past, and I feel very sentimental. With my new Lenten attitude in mind, I have let go of the uneasy feeling associated with the fact that I cannot slow down time. Instead, with God’s help, I can turn toward the future with a secure optimism, knowing that the best is truly yet to come. I know that the rest of the semester will be filled with some very exciting things. I can't wait to see what this semester (and beyond) has in store for me.