Commissioner Amanda Fritz attends the opening of the Errol Heights Community Garden
As this academic year is quickly coming to a close, it is a
bittersweet for a first-time peer mentor. While my students have been challenging, it is very easy for me to see how they have grown over the past year and how they have been putting their learning into action.
Not only have students been making personal goals to live more sustainable lifestyles, a couple even took the initiative to submit a proposal for 2012 Solutions Generator program though the Institute for Sustainable Solutions. Their commitment to sustainability has now created a community garden in Errol Heights Park that will be a community asset for years to come.
As an aspiring teacher, this is what it is all about! While some of my
students will leave still unsure of what they have gained from their
FRINQ class, I see individuals who have thrived in their first year of
college. I look forward to hopefully seeing a couple around campus
next year and hearing about their experiences and successes.
My head is spinning with convoluted conjugations. My brain is struggling, fighting to remember the difference between preterite, and imperfect and future and . . . and . . . my mind goes blank. It’s my first day in Spanish 203; my first Spanish class since high school over four years ago. What was I thinking?
In the back of my mind, my teacher from all those years ago is whispering in my ear that I’m a failure. She somehow had the power to make me feel like I had the intelligence equal to a fly on the wall. Entering another language class was beginning to feel like an exercise in self-torture.
“You only have to get a C,” I kept reminding myself, without much optimism. To my surprise however, by the end of the day I found myself motivated to go home and review the words ahead of time. And guess what? I liked it!
Somehow a four-year absence and a chance to heal my wounded pride and was able to surpass years of being taught that I was incapable of learning. My realization that day was that I was not bad at learning another language. In fact, I’ve found that each day is a new surprise that I look forward to, so much so that might even continue past the required class for my degree and try to attain the goal I’ve kept suppressed for years: become fluent in another language.
“There’s so many choices! How can I choose?” I laid my head down on the desk out of frustration. The simple task of finding a graduate school seemed daunting. No matter how many databases I looked at or websites I searched, new programs kept popping up on the screen.
I have to admit that I have been putting off looking at grad schools because of this very reason—on top of trying to ignore the fact that at some point I’ll have to study for the GRE, I’m now faced with attempting to narrow down my various interests into one program. Coupled with the pressure to focus my interests, is the fact that my choice of schools will also mean serious discussions with my partner about where we’re both willing to move.
Layer upon layer, the stress is building. The fact that I cannot seem to narrow down my list into a manageable size is making me question grad school at all. I mean, after all, who wants to spend money on a specialized grad program just to discover their true love later on and have a worthless degree? My wandering thoughts tell me that maybe I would be better off waiting for a few years.
For those of you who have mastered the process, how did you narrow down the many options and get through the stress of grad school applications?
You know what really makes me mad? The fact that I have to put down my parents’ income every year on my FAFSA. As a student who works up to four jobs at a time to pay for school and does not receive help for paying my school costs, this seems incredibly unfair.
I know many of you feel the same way that I do. From not being able to report our own tuition and school costs on our tax forms, due to being listed as dependents, to not receiving a well-deserved Pell Grant because the government decides that our parents should be giving us thousands of dollars each year, I have to say that I am tired of a broken system!
I am about to start my next round of taxes for the upcoming year and I am already dreading the results. Isn’t it time that students get to report what is actually being paid for their tuition costs instead of reporting what some higher power thinks should be happening? I am tired of being penalized for the money I make and having nothing in the bank to show for it at the end of the term.
What are your thoughts and how do you deal with the “FAFSA nightmare”?
Last summer, I found myself standing on the Oregon Capitol steps smiling, taking photos and shaking hands with former Governor Barbara Roberts and Secretary of State Kate Brown. The reason why I was there that day was because of a program called New Leadership Oregon that is run through the Center for Women, Politics, and Policy at PSU.
We had just finished an intensive week of workshops, panel discussions, and research to write our own legislative testimony to present to our peers. Before that week, I had only the vaguest interest in politics or public policymaking, but after meeting countless female community leaders (who were offering business cards, mentoring, referrals for new contacts and many other invaluable resources) it got me thinking: Would it not be too far of a stretch to think that one day I might want to or serve on a government or non-profit board? Perhaps I would just start off with helping one of the dozens of ongoing political campaigns, with thoughts of my own future candidacy.
These new possibilities were awe inspiring and even a little nerve-wracking. The one lesson that I game away with is: you’ll never know if you don’t try. Now that I am an alumnus of the program, I see the value of getting more women into power and political advocacy. So all you female-identified people (sorry guys), if you’re interested in exploring new possibilities, the 2012 application process is now open.
Kari Anne McDonald works the runway at PSU's first Love Your Body Fashion Extravaganza. In background, emcee Poison Waters engages the audience.
This past Thursday in the Smith Ballroom, PSU’s Love Your Body Fashion Extravaganza featured a fashion show with models who definitely were outside of the size zero seen on most runways. The focus of the fashion show was to highlight loving your body no matter what size or shape it happens to be. By deciding to be a part of this show, I had to face my own inner insecurities between weight and health.
It seems to be a focus of media attention that the United States is becoming bigger around the waistline. In Portland, a city that tends to be very health conscious and that also is known for having a strong foodie culture, this can be a source of conflict. College is certainly a time when students are faced with the fears about the “freshman fifteen” weight gain, and how to transition from a system of mandatory physical activity in schools to self-motivated physical activity.
One consequence of this transition may be adding extra pounds. Fat acceptance can certainly be a loaded subject for many individuals. One question that frequently arises is, “How can we promote health while still accepting those who are overweight?” Somewhere in all of the haze of health information and media messages there must be a balance between health and weight.
If anything, this recent Love Your Body Fashion Extravaganza shows the PSU campus that you do not have to be traditionally skinny in order to be sexy or feel good about your body. For myself, I have had to let go of my fears about being “too fat” and instead focus on getting back to my love of running. I may still have those few extra pounds, but in this way, I feel healthy.
Weigh in with your own thoughts: What do you do to accept your body and stay healthy, while possibly still keeping on those extra pounds? Do you think that people can still be healthy while being overweight?