Family, Food and … Shopping?

Well, we’re in the home stretch! T-minus one week (and a day or two, depending on finals schedules) until we will be headed home for three relaxing weeks with no homework, no deadlines, no meetings or projects or anything! I cannot express how excited I am for that, or how much I need it. However, getting away from campus last weekend and celebrating the Thanksgiving (and Hanukkah!) holidays with family and friends was so great. My break was anything but relaxing, though. It was busy, busy, busy!

Wednesday afternoon I left campus around 2 p.m. It took me until 6 p.m. to get home… when it should only take 2.5 hours. Traffic was terrible! I sat almost completely still on I-96 West near Okemos for over an hour. It was a nightmare. When I did finally get home, I was only awake a few short hours before heading to bed, because I knew all Thursday/Friday had in store.

A snowy and beautiful Detroit

A snowy and beautiful Detroit on Thanksgiving morning.

Thursday morning, my sister, my boyfriend and I headed down to downtown Detroit for the Turkey Trot 5k and the Thanksgiving parade. While I personally did not run the 5k, I operated my personal shuttle service from my aunt’s house in Midtown down to the start of the race (my aunt, uncle, sister and Nick all ran it… someone had to get them down there!). Then I spent the time during the race and parade with some of my cousins, watching the parade on TV and staying nice and warm inside.

After the race was complete, and the runners thawed out, we headed back down to my house to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner. I got through about an hour of cleaning and cooking before completely crashing for a two hour nap. Around 4 p.m. my family began arriving and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and some quality family time together. Once the house began emptying out, we (my sister, Nick and I) decided we should go Black Friday shopping. I refuse to go to the sales that begin at 5 or 6 p.m. because I think everyone should be able to spend Thanksgiving (especially dinner time) with their families. However, once midnight rolls around, I am already ready to hit the stores for all the sales.

We arrived at Target and began filling a basket with tons of good deals. When we eventually made it to the back of the store, we saw a line like no line I have ever seen before! It wrapped up and down about 40-50 aisles of the store and was full of carts with TVs, iPads, phones, camera, video game systems and all sorts of other Christmas gifts that are going to make some people very happy. However, that line did not make us happy, so we decided to put our items back and head off to some other stores. We encountered the same problem at Kohl’s, but did manage to snatch up some deals at FiveBelow and Meijer.

Nick and I with the Christmas tree!

Nick and I decorating the Christmas tree!

I didn’t get any deals pre-bedtime on Thursday/Friday but as soon as we woke up Friday morning, Nick and I headed out for Round 2. I found lots of great deals! I found a deep fryer (don’t laugh… imagine all the things you can make with one!) for $10 at Macy’s, along with several other Christmas presents which I cannot mention here. I found a $45 pair of boots for $20 at Target, along with some $4 movies. Later on that night I got a sewing machine for $45, which I am super excited to learn how to use over Christmas break.

The next day the shopping continued. Old Navy had the entire store 40% off, and I got pants, a sweater, a scarf and some shirts for less than $30. Then I went to JoAnns, where I got a sewing machine tote bag (the kind on wheels!) that was originally $90 for just $15! I’m always looking for deals and love it when I find good sales. Saturday night we put up all the Christmas decorations in the house and got everything looking very cheerful and ready for the holidays.

I spent Sunday recuperating from all of the festivities of the rest of the break and packing to head back to school. The drive back took longer than it should’ve but it was better than Wednesday’s drive home so I can’t complain too much.

Since returning to campus, I have been running around trying to accomplish all of the things I have left for the rest of the semester. I am so close, yet so far from being done. I’ve completely finished two of my classes for the semester, and will finish another tomorrow. The other three, I am onto the final assignment for them, which for all three, happen to be large papers (12+ pages for each one!). So while it is nice to be winding down, I’ve got about 30 more pages of writing to do. I’ve got “to-do” lists written on every inch of my room, and calendars with all the things I need to accomplish by the end of the semester. I have no actual finals, like test or anything, so next week I will have plenty of time to finish my final papers.

Our new house, all decorated for Christmas!

Our new house, all decorated and ready for Christmas!

When 5 p.m. rolls around Friday, I will be so relieved. I am so looking forward to returning home, spending more time with family, enjoying Christmas in our new house, and not having to worry about the day-to-day responsibilities and tasks that come with being at school. Don’t get me wrong, I love being here and love all of the things that I do, but also I love getting a break from it all, too.

One more week. We can do it!

Mid-Michigan Explorations: Rozena’s Recipiez

Well, it’s my favorite time of the month again! Yesterday I headed out into the community in search of finding a blog-worthy local “hot spot” to feature for this month’s Mid-Michigan Exploration post. Thanks to Meghan Litwiller ’15, a local student who currently commutes from St. John’s, Mich., I found Rozena’s Recipiez in Ithaca, Mich.

Rozena's Recipes in Ithaca, Mich. Photo by Miranda Parker Photography.

Rozena's Recipes in Ithaca, Mich. Photo by Miranda Parker Photography.

“Eating at Rozena’s is like eating in your own kitchen. Home cooked food, and people who genuinely care about how you are doing and make the experience a personal one. It’s comfort food when you need a break from the busy Alma College life,” said Litwiller.

So I headed over to Ithaca and had the pleasure of meeting with Rozena and learning all about the store and her family. The first thing I noticed upon arriving at Rozena’s was the tagline one the front of the building…  “Where life is a little lopsided and moments melt in your mouth.” The second thing, the cupcakes display case! That case held some of the most beautiful and creative cupcakes I have ever seen.

Cupcakes at Rozena's Recipiez

Cupcakes at Rozena's Recipiez. Photo by Miranda Parker Photography.

I learned later that Rozena selects themes for each week, and she bases the cupcake designs around the theme. This week was Thanksgiving Dinner and there were cupcakes made to look like turkeys, and mashed potatoes, and there was even a vegetable cupcake!

Rozena and I had the chance to sit down and chat, so I could learn more about how the business began and the ins and outs of Rozena’s Recipiez. Her business is built on one thing and one thing only – family. Rozena began her business years ago when her family went through a rather large change.

“It was 8 years ago,” Rozena recalled. “Our family went from two children to six children through fostering and adoption, and it was expensive to have six school-age children who wanted to be involved and play sports.”

To help pay for the sporting equipment and other fees that come with being involved with organizations at school, Rozena began baking sweet treats in her house to raise some extra cash. She ended up doing so well with this that she was able to sponsor up to 11 students at one point in time. “Any extra money I raised would go to making treats for the sports teams,” she said.

However, that business she created in her home years ago has been through lots of changes since then.

“Four years ago, we received a call that would change our lives yet again,” said Rozena. Zoey, a very premature baby, was born into the world with no family. Doctors were not sure what her chances were, as she was born with several health complications including Cerebral Palsy. Rozena and her family were called down to meet Zoey and all baking ended at that point in time. Zoey was a fighter, and Rozena’s family officially adopted her. Not long after that Rozena restarted the business to help cover Zoey’s medical costs. 

Both Rozena and her husband (who also works at the St. Louis prison) work all day in the restaurant and never take a paycheck. Their children work in the business as well, to earn some cash to help pay for their things like phone bills and cars. Rozena knew that if she started slow, they’d be able to move up and grow, which is exactly what is happening with the business right now.

Rozena’s Recipiez is heading to a new location in downtown Ithaca. When the move is complete, you will be able to find them in the McCormack building – which used to be home to Sip-N-Knit and the mayor’s office (142 E Center St, Ithaca, MI 48847). This space will allow lots of expansion in the business. The menu will grow, sit-down meals will served, rental space for parties and events will be available, and they’ll be able to keep the shop open longer hours.

Currently, Rozena’s offers food “to-go” style, though you are welcome to enjoy it in shop. They have delicious (yes, I got a chance to try some!) sandwiches, pizza, and “Rozie’s Cozies,” which are similar to a pasty and so delicious! Her cozies come with several options of fillings like ham & cheese, club, walking taco… you name it!  She also serves soups and salads, has a full line of baked goods, and an ice cream bar, too! All of her meals are homemade, from scratch, and are fully loaded with flavor.

Rozena does large orders for special occasions, and she does cakes as well. She also has done lots of donations and charity work, some of her most recent being Mott’s children’s hospital and the Ronald McDonald house and also the new children’s museum in Mt. Pleasant.

Now through Thanksgiving, Rozena’s Recipiez will be collecting baking ingredients (flour, butter, sugar, sprinkles, etc.), which they will use to bake over 800 cookies to send to the troops – a project that they call Operation Confectionation.

Be sure to “like” Rozena’s Recipiez on Facebook to stay up to date with their daily specials and their moving process. Once they are in the new location, they will be open Monday through Thursday from 4:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., Friday 4:30 a.m.-9 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Right now, the new location is open from 7 a.m.-10 a.m. for coffee and toast, but it should be fully operational in the next few weeks.

Whether you’re looking for a sweet treat or a nice home-cooked meal, Rozena’s Recipiez will not disappoint.

Check out this YouTube video of the family and learn more about Zoey’s story.

Thank you to Miranda Parker Photography for allowing me to use some of her photos!

Timing is Everything

I’ve been sitting for quite awhile trying to think of a topic to write a blog about for this week. We’re in that awkward time of year where mid-terms are over but it’s not quite time to start studying for exams and hanging up the Christmas decorations. The weather has started to change into winter, but we’re not out playing in a foot of snow quite yet. Some leaves have fallen, and others are still hanging on. Then I realized that I haven’t written too much about my personal life this year. I’ve been focusing on campus in general and events going on around campus, but let’s be honest… most of my time is spent in classes, doing homework, working and being a part of some pretty awesome organizations. I’ve written blogs about an event I may have spent an hour or two at, but what about the other 22 hours?

This semester has been arguably my busiest semester at Alma thus far. I’m taking 18 credits (a full-load!) working several jobs, including being an RA—which is a 24/7 position, and am heavily involved in several organizations. Most days finding time to grab food or check my email is almost impossible. I attend approximately 10 meetings a week to be able to keep up with my jobs and organizations. That doesn’t even include time to do all my homework and study! My mornings typically begin pretty early, and most nights I’m not falling asleep until around 2 a.m. The concept of needing more hours in the day could not be truer with college students.

Most people can see the day-to-day items that I have planned out and know that I hop from meeting to class, to work to another meeting all day long. However, there are usually several things going on internally too, or other things I am trying to squeeze in, such as finding time to stop by the financial aid office and check on my finances, checking my mailbox, figuring out classes for next semester, doing a junior audit to make sure I am on track to graduate, finding time to work out, running to Walmart to grab snacks because I usually don’t have time for meals, remembering to pay my own bills and bills I owe organizations and the college… the list goes on and on!

Then, after all of that is done (or forgotten about, or put on the back burner for another day) I like to try to find some time to spend with my friends! A typical “hang out” for me is going to the library together to work on homework, walking to a meeting together, or stopping by for a quick chat. I don’t have time to go to the movies or go out to dinner, and when I do go out and do these things, my mind is constantly planning for when and how I am going to get everything done when I get back. It is a never-ending cycle.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: Weekends.

I use my weekends to take time for myself. I try to leave campus every weekend, even just for a few minutes, just to clear my head. I have visitors come stay for the weekend, or take trips home when I have less events going on. I will be spending this Saturday doing all Phi Sigma Sigma things. We are heading up to CMU for State Day, where we will meet and celebrate our centennial with all of the other Phi Sig chapters in Michigan. Saturday night we have initiation, and after that we will be heading back up to Mt. Pleasant for dinner at Olive Garden to celebrate.

Next weekend I am going to Grand Rapids to volunteer at a 5K and spend some time with my boyfriend and his family. The following weekend after that is Thanksgiving, and I will be returning home to Grosse Ile for some family celebrations and lots of good food. When we return from Thanksgiving there will only be one more weekend before the end of the semester (That’s scary!) and that weekend will more than likely be spent studying and working on my final papers.

Taking these trips and making the time for myself on the weekends is what gives me the power to go, go, go during the week. I know that all of my hard work will be worth it when the weekend rolls around, and even more so, in the long term, after graduation.

Not everyone here at Alma is as busy as I am, though every day I meet more and more people who are, and we get exhausted just discussing our schedules. However, through all of the things I am doing each day, I am learning life skills that are relevant to what I want to do in the future. Everything I am involved with comes full circle and I find myself making connections between things, everyday. I guess that’s the liberal arts for ya!

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

While we may not have football games broadcast on ESPN or athletic gear sold in every sporting goods store in the state, athletics are a big deal here at Alma College. The reality is, when coming to a Division III school you don’t expect sports to be on par with those of the Division I teams. Those schools have the resources to make a big deal of their sports – recruiting, marketing, runtime on large TV networks and radio shows.Scotty, the Alma College mascot

When asked why they chose a D3 school over a D1 school, most Alma athletes’ answers were “academics.”

Marie Zill, a junior education major from Chelsea, Mich., said “I came to Alma instead of a D1 school because I knew that academics was an important part of my life. Softball has become a release of energy for me rather than something I stress out about. Deciding to come here is the best thing that could have ever happened to me. At Alma I have been given the opportunity to discover my passions and get to know my professors rather than being constantly being on the road for a sport and simply being a number. Being close to my professors has made softball less stressful because most of my professors understand when I have to leave for a game and are willing to catch me up.”

As far as sports are concerned on campus, seasons are beginning to come to a close for most of the fall sports teams. Football has two games remaining – Nov. 9 at Kalamazoo College and Nov. 16 at home at 1 p.m. Men’s and Women’s Cross Country will be wrapping up their seasons with the Great Lakes Regional meet on Nov. 16 hosted by Calvin College, and finally the Nov. 23, D-III National Championships at Hanover College. The golf teams finished up in October with the women’s team taking 5th place overall at the MIAA championships and men’s taking a 5th place overall at its 8th and final Jamboree on Oct. 7 hosted by Calvin College. Men’s soccer ended its season with a 1-2 loss against Hope College to make their overall record 9-8-1 and women’s soccer will play in the MIAA Semi-finals today (11/7) against Hope right here in Alma at Scotland Yard. (Check our social media for updates on that!) Last but not least, volleyball finished on Nov. 1with an away match at Trine University, where the team had an end record of 13-14.
Talon Morris

Cross Country runner Talon Morris ’14 reflected on the season with a vivid memory of the weather conditions: “Even though our past two races, (The Oberlin Invite and The MIAA Championships at Hope College) have had rain, mud (a lot of mud), and spongy/soft running conditions, we’ve managed to get our fastest times at them. We definitely look forward to running a dry course at The Regional Meet at Calvin College on Nov. 16.”

Now that those sports are ending and most practices are heading indoors, a whole bunch of winter sports have begun practicing and games/competitions will be beginning shortly. The sports you have to look forward to are men’s and women’s basketball, cheerleading, swimming & diving, women’s bowling and wrestling.
Casimer Stryzinski

All of these teams have begun practicing and wrestling has even had its first match; The Alma vs. Scots wrestle-off. Casimer Strzynski ’15, a wrestler from Ludington, Mich., has a good feeling about this season. “Over the past two years the team has turned a lot of heads—now everyone is watching and we’re excited to prove ourselves,” said Strzynski. “Each year we have taken leaps and bounds in the talent category; now we just have to perform. If we can perform above expectations like we have the past two years, the things the wrestling team will do this year will shock you.”

Alma may not be a part of the Big 10 or have football players regularly heading off to the NFL, but we have athletes with passion and heart for both the game and for academics. We have team players, who are well-rounded and involved in other things besides athletics. Our athletes are able to work as Resident Assistants, participate in Greek Life and honors societies, work as tutors and in other jobs on campus, and so much more.

If frequenting sporting events isn’t exactly your thing, I suggest getting out and giving it a try. Sporting events are always a good time here at Alma because they bring together people from all different organizations and groups on campus. Who knows, you might even get to see Scotty shake his tailfeather!

 

 

 

Mid-Michigan Explorations: Sweet Rickedy Redo’s

It’s that time of the month again! Buckle your seatbelts, we’re going on another Mid-Michigan exploration. One thing I miss most while I am in Alma is options. When you live in a larger city, you always have options. Options of places to shop, options of places to eat, options of things to do and even options of which way to take to get somewhere—in big cities, options are a huge part of daily life. (Which has made me very indecisive, by the way!)

One option that really has begun to bother me over the years I’ve been at Alma is the one-stop shopping. Everyone seems to go to Walmart, and only Walmart. It is the easiest, cheapest and most all-encompassing store in Alma, no doubt, but what people don’t realize that in Downtown Alma there are several family-owned shops that carry a lot of the products that Walmart has and then some. There is a jewelry store, a musical instrument store, hair and nail salons, a sewing store, a shoe store, antique stores, thrift stores, a natural food/organic store, several delicious places to eat and so much more.

One shop that I happened to stumble upon while I was out searching for a place to buy my mom a birthday present is new to the downtown scene. Full of all sorts of interesting pieces for the home (and dorm room!) and also lots of gift options, Sweet Rickedy Redo’s quickly became one of my favorite stores in town. The minute I walked in the door, I just knew this store was going to be my go-to shop when I needed gifts or a new pick-me-up for my dorm room.

Sweet Rickedy Redo’s has only been open since July 2013, but it does not lack in selection or quality because of it. Every wall, corner, and shelf space in the store is covered with beautiful works of art. If you’re looking for a bright blue chair, or a wooden panel with a quote painted on it, there’s a good chance you can find it here. The owner has deemed it an antique, vintage gift shop, though some items are new as well.

“My love of vintage items started at a young age. Painting furniture came later. I’ve always wanted my own shop to sell fun unique items. As the business grows I hope to expand my lines of brand new items as well,” said shop owner Danielle. “I look for things everywhere; from estate sales to flea markets.”

If you have not been in to Sweet Rickedy Redo’s yet, be sure to take a few minutes to stop by, say hello and take a look at all the beautiful items that are for sale. I guarantee you will leave there with something, or at very least, with a wish list or a desire to do your own DIY project. The store is open Tuesday-Thursday from 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. “My favorite piece in the store is the hutch that I sell my vintage fabric out of,” said Danielle. “I don’t really care if something is valuable or not, so long as it has character.”

Midterm Germs

I’ve got some pretty exciting news…. deep breath… you’re halfway done with the semester, Scots!

To some of you that might bring great relief, knowing that you’re halfway done and before long you’ll have a few weeks of rest, relaxation and celebration, but to others the thought of the semester being done might be completely terrifying. For me, since a lot of my classes are working on semester-long papers or research assignments, I’m leaning towards the idea of “What!? My time is halfway gone already?!?”

Something to keep in mind now that your stress levels are climbing and temperatures are dropping… cold and flu season is almost upon us and most of will catch the “Alma plague” sooner or later. Avoiding a cold or the flu is a little bit different when you live on a residential college campus (and unfortunately, quite a bit more difficult to avoid as well).

Even though I can’t say I am a champ at avoiding it (it’s actually had me out for the count for the past few days!!), here are some tips I’ve acquired to help you come out on top:

1)   Stay clean!  Here at Alma, staying clean is more than washing your hands. It’s washing your body, washing your clothes, washing your bedding… even cleaning as in cleaning your room and bathroom (if you’re on South Campus – North Campus people don’t have to worry about this thanks to fantastic housekeepers!). Every day or two, take out the disinfecting wipes/spray and wipe down surfaces, door handles, faucets… really anything you tend to touch on a daily basis. Do your laundry! Your favorite sweatshirt that you may not like to wash (you know, the one that still has the new-sweatshirt soft feeling on the inside) may have been exposed to the flu in the library the other day and you wouldn’t even know it. The longer it sits in your basket the better chance of other clothes being infected and, inevitably, you getting sick sooner rather than later. Be clean; it’s a good life rule.

2)   Keep your vitamin levels high.  A few good ways to maintain high levels in vitamins are eating fruits and vegetables, drinking lots of fruit juices and getting some sun exposure every day. By keeping your vitamin levels up, your immune system will also be stronger and will be able to fight off infections and illnesses easier. Getting outside may not always be the easiest to work into your day, but even something as simple as grabbing your homework and doing it outside, even for just 10 or 15 minutes, will help in the long run.

3)   Get sleep! While students joke that Alma is one of the most sleep-deprived colleges, it is true that college students get far less sleep than needed to function properly and fight off disease. I’m not saying get 8 hours of sleep every single night, but if you typically get 5… I’m challenging you to try to get 6 or even 7 a few nights a week. You’ll find yourself feeling better, trust me!

4)   Exercise. Studies have shown that getting out, working out and shedding some sweat for awhile is a great way to burn stress and keep your immune system boosted and able to fight off the flu. Stone Rec is open Monday—Thursday 5 a.m.–11 p.m – Friday 5 a.m.–9 p.m. – Saturday 10 a.m.–9 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m.–11 p.m. Just be sure to clean your machine before and after use to avoid those germs!

5)   Open your windows. With the heat now being turned on in buildings, our rooms will be extremely hot and dry. Germs flourish in those types of conditions so open your windows and let some fresh air in every once in awhile. I like to leave mine open while I’m in class so that I am not around if it gets very cold.

6)   Bundle up! I know campus isn’t huge, but walking to class in a T-shirt and sandals when it is in the 30s is not a good decision. I hope everyone has boots, coats, hats, scarves and gloves on campus because snow is in the forecast for this week!

7)   Get a Flu Shot (Optional) I won’t convince everyone to get a flu shot—the choice is yours—but do your research. If you think a flu shot will be beneficial for you, go for it. It comes in many forms, so if you don’t like actual shots, a nose swab might be the answer for you. Some people don’t believe in getting shots, and that’s fine with me; just be sure to be paying extra attention to the other steps above!

Whatever it is that you do to help you fight off colds and flu, be sure to share those tips with your friends and roommates. The people you spend the most time around are the people you will share sicknesses with. If they have the same germ-killing routines as you, the chances of all of you avoiding some germs will be even better.

Though we are halfway to the end of the semester, we are just entering cold and flu season. Be sure you are aware of the resources on and around campus if you do happen to find yourself feeling under the weather.

Feeling stressed? The Counseling and Wellness Center is always available with some de-stressing activities, and a friendly staff who is available to talk you through your stress. Walk on down and stop in or set up an appointment by calling (989) 463-7225.

Feeling sick? The Wilcox Medical Center (aka, the Med Shed) is the place to go. A full-time nurse and physician’s assistant staff it at all times and can help with injury, illness, chronic pain, physicals or any other medical issue you may have. Call (989) 463-7181 to make an appointment. (However, if it is an emergency and you need medical attention very quickly – please call 911.)

“But it’s after 5? I can’t wait till tomorrow morning with this sore throat. ” If it is after regular business hours for the Med Shed, there are two other local options. If it is before 8 p.m. or happens to be a weekend or a holiday then you might try visiting the MidMichigan Urgent Care (Alma Location) which is just a few minutes away – located at 321 E. Warwick Drive Alma, MI 48801. If it is after 8 p.m., and it is very urgent, you always have the Emergency Department at MidMichigan Health hospital, just across the street from urgent care.

Take care of yourself, get some sleep, and good luck with the rest of your semester!

 

 

 

 

What do you do with your breaks?

There is only one time of year when you wake up on a Monday morning and it is already Wednesday…. That’s right, Warp Week at Alma College. Warp week means that we only have three days of classes then we get a five-day weekend for fall break. Alma is one of the few schools left in the state that gets a fall break, and students may wonder why.

Traditionally, fall break was meant to be a time following midterms to go home and regroup your thoughts for the rest of the semester. However, now that midterms don’t exist for every class or sometimes take place a week earlier or week later than Warp Week, fall break is now based purely on tradition.

Fall break means a lot of different things for different people. Some students will take the time to go home, relax and get away for a few days. Others will stay on campus and enjoy having two extra days class-free. A third option for fall break (and every break) is doing an Alternative Break.

Alma College students on an Alternative Break in Delaware focused on affordable housing.

What is an Alternative Break, you ask? Alternative Breaks are trips that go off-campus during fall, winter, or spring break to do some form of service. Some of these service trips are faith-based, others aren’t. Sometimes they head west to Grand Rapids or south down to Detroit. Other times, students board a plane and head out to Louisiana, Mississippi or the East Coast.

“Not every student who goes spends their entire fall break at home. Fall Alternative Breaks offer short-term opportunities to learn and serve in Michigan. This fall, students will be raking leaves in Alma, cooking and serving food at the Open Door program in Detroit as well as having dialogue with different faith communities in Grand Rapids and learning how they respond to community issues,” says Sallie Scheide, Assistant Director of Alma’s Responsible Leadership Institute.

Alma College students on an Alternative Break in South Bend, Ind., focused on urban poverty.

If an Alternative Break sounds like something you might be interested in, there are still a few days left to apply for a winter break trip. The trips this December include: Affordable Housing in Elizabethtown, Ky;. Disaster Relief in New Jersey; Urban Poverty in South Bend, Ind.; Hunger and Homelessness in Washington, D.C.; and Keeping it in the mitten in downtown Detroit.

Here is the link to the applications: http://www.alma.edu/academics/leadership/action/altbreak.

They are due back to the CSO by Oct. 23. Applications for the spring break trips will be available sometime in November.

Lauren Steinhurst ’14, an avid Alternative Break participant, says, “Alternative Break is a great way to help serve those in need. You create great relationships with the people you are helping while also building lasting relationships with other Alma College students.”

Cody Nevins ’15 echoes Lauren’s enthusiasm for the experience.

“Alternative Breaks have taught me so much more than just being able to travel with friends and log service hours. It has taught me to become an active citizen! Now that I’ve done three Alternative Breaks and gone to an Alternative Break conference, I’ve learned to research the issue I’m about to make a difference in, serve that community with understanding, and find ways to continue making a difference with that issue back at home,” Nevins says.

Alma College students on an Alternative Break in South Bend, Ind., focused on urban poverty.

If these student testimonials aren’t enough to convince you to try out an alternative break, stop by the CSO and get more information.

Though I won’t be doing an alternative break this time around, I am very happy to be returning home for a long weekend. I plan on spending time outdoors and enjoying the fall, as it is my favorite season. I want to cook and bake and catch up on my sleep. However, it won’t be completely homework-free.

I hope everyone has a safe drive home or a restful weekend on campus. After all, the other benefit of Fall Break is that it means we’re halfway to the end of the semester!

 

Sweet Home Alma College

It’s that time of year again…

The leaves are changing colors, pumpkins and apples are on every corner, and the smell of fall is in the air. Fall is my favorite season for a variety of reasons. I love being outside in fall temperatures that encourage cuddling up in warmer clothes. I love football games and apple orchards. I love apple cider.

The "homecoming" of Fall Recruitment - When Ashley decided to be Greek! (Also pictured, Jessica Lawrence '15 and Ashley Esselink ' 15)

The "homecoming" of Fall Recruitment - When Ashley decided to be Greek! (Also pictured, Jessica Lawrence '15 and Ashley Esselink ' 15)

Fall in Alma is something extra special and can be described with one word–Homecoming. The first week of September is a “homecoming” as all students return to campus for another year. Fall recruitment is a homecoming for girls looking to find a home in Greek life. Then the first week of October brings one of my favorite weekends of the fall term… Homecoming weekend.

This year’s Homecoming theme was Sweet Home Alma College. Homecoming weekend is always such a happy time around campus. Alumni return with their families and friends to show off a place they once called home. Scots, past, present and future, come together to celebrate all that it means to be a part of the Alma College community.

Some of the Phi Sigma Sigma sisters and I who walked in the parade (pre-parade)

Some of the Phi Sigma Sigma sisters and I who walked in the parade (pre-parade)

Friday evening, I started off my Homecoming festivities with the percussion ensemble concert. I love going to these concerts and have gone every year. I spent my evening playing card games with friends and guests who were visiting them and campus this weekend. Saturday morning, a popular favorite, the Homecoming parade, took place and I marched along with my sisters from Phi Sigma Sigma. We had a blast chanting and yelling with our Phi Sig spirit! Immediately following the parade were several brunches and picnics and other types of get-togethers all over campus. I spent my time at the Phi Sig alumni brunch and then headed over to the football game.

During the game, I saw so many alumni who had returned for the weekend. It is always great to see bright happy faces that you haven’t seen in a while. I handed out the 2013 yearbooks (which came out beautiful, I might add!) and then watched the unveiling of the new “Scotty” – our Alma College mascot. If you haven’t seen Scotty yet, check him out on Facebook at Scotty at Alma.After that, I watched Jillian Thompson and Michael Reeves get crowned Homecoming Queen and King – adorable! I love it when actual couples are dubbed Homecoming royalty.

A photo I took last weekend when I went to a pumpkin patch.

A photo I took last weekend when I went to a pumpkin patch.

I spent most of Sunday napping off Friday and Saturday. It was cold and rainy and perfect for being lazy. Homecoming weekend is the perfect break to the beginning of the semester, but it also marks the middle of the first semester (just about), which is a little overwhelming but also exciting because that means we’re halfway to a few weeks off for Christmas!

Before we know it fall will be over, trees will be bare and snow will be falling. Get outside and enjoy fall while it’s here. Get a good book and go sit in the leaves, take a trip to Uncle Johns or Anderson and Girls, or carve a pumpkin.

Plaidurday 2013!

Plaidurday: The worldwide celebration of plaid!

Plaidurday: The worldwide celebration of plaid!

It’s time to start digging through your closet or heading to your local thrift store because this Friday is Plaidurday! What is Plaidurday, you ask? Plaidurday is a worldwide celebration to recognize and celebrate plaid. It is held on the first Friday of October every year. The first Plaidurday was held on Oct. 7, 2011, in Lansing, Mich. It all began because a young man was being teased by a group of his co-workers for wearing plaid too often. After being heckled he thought it was best to start wearing more plaid, start an annual plaid holiday. The name—Plaidurday—came to him one morning as he was working, and the first Friday in October has never been the same since.

Plaidurday

Plaidurday

Taken directly from the Plaidurday website: Together we can all make a difference in the world. From lumberjacks to hipsters, fashionistas to snowboarders, and everyone in between, we all share a common thread. For some it’s glen plaid, for others a traditional tartan. Some prefer a monochrome gingham, others choose a bold buffalo, while some choose a madras. No matter the thread count or the stripe count, we share a bond of perpendicular stripes. You won’t find any argyle here. No obtuse angles, no acute angles, only right angles.

When asked about Plaidurday, the holiday’s founder, Bugsy Sailor, responded, “Plaidurday is meant to be fun. A way to build community, friends, and smiles through something that everyone is able to participate in. There’s no reason to believe plaid can’t bring a few smiles, we might as well congregate and celebrate. And if you see someone wearing a plaid shirt, offer a hug or a compliment! Plaid on!”

Here at Alma we will be celebrating Plaidurday a day later than the worldwide observation. We decided it would be better to recognize plaid and our Alma College tartan on Saturday (Oct. 5) because this is the first homecoming since the new Alma College brand statement “Plaid Works” was created. As alumni return to campus they can sport some plaid as they reminisce about their time here at Alma.

How can you celebrate? I’d suggest just donning some plaid and doing so with confidence. The Plaidurday website has a few more suggestions though.

Keep Calm and Plaid On

Keep Calm and Plaid On

  • Hug someone who is wearing a plaid shirt
  • Donate your old plaid shirts to a homeless shelter
  • Dig out an old plaid shirt that you haven’t worn in years
  • Give someone a plaid shirt
  • Compliment someone else’s plaid
  • Encourage someone wearing argyle to try plaid
  • Encourage someone wearing only horizontal stripes to try adding vertical stripes
  • Look good, feel good, and spread happiness and joy!
  • Throw a Plaidurday party

Don’t forget… Share photos of you rocking your plaid all over social media. On Instagram/Twitter/Facebook be sure to use #Plaidurday on your photos!

This is what dreams are made of.

In my last blog, Nine Months Later…  I mentioned that over my time at home this summer I worked an internship with Quicken Loans. As promised, here is my follow up.

I never would have pictured myself working full-time for a corporate company at age 20… but this summer, that is exactly what I did and I enjoyed it a thousand times more than I could have ever imagined.

It all began back in February when I began looking for an internship to complete over the summer. I had heard good things about the internship program at Quicken Loans, so I spent some time reading up about the company and its culture before deciding it was definitely a place where I could see myself learning a lot and also loving my job. I hurried up and sent in my application, knowing there would be thousands of applicants, but hoping for some reason mine would stand out among the rest.

A few weeks after applying, I received my first interview. It went well and my application was passed on for another level of interviews. This actually happened several times before I found out I was selected for a position working with the Quicken Loans FOCUS team. I was unsure what the FOCUS team meant, and I asked several employees (recruiters, and the people interviewing me) and no one seemed to be quite sure exactly what their position (and specifically my position) would entail. However, it wasn’t long before I found out.

On June 10 (which happened to be my 20th birthday!) I woke up anxious, nervous, hopeful and excited. I put on my most professional outfit, spent an hour doing my hair and make up, and got a ride downtown because I thought my mind was not going to be focused on driving, which would be terrible since I was going to be driving in downtown Detroit morning commute traffic for the first time ever. I hopped out of the car with a smile on my face, ready to tackle whatever the day was to throw at me. The minute I walked into the Compuware building and met the recruiters in person for the first time, I knew this internship was going to change my life.

Quicken Loans has an unimaginable company culture. I had heard rumors that the company had popcorn machines in its kitchens/break rooms and that it had some game rooms as well, but in reality there were popcorn machines, slush machines, free snacks, free coffee, a pool table made out of a Ford Mustang and so much more.

However, fancy snacks and game tables are the furthest thing from what made my internship amazing (though they were great perks). What I experienced and learned through my internship was something I don’t feel I could have gotten at an internship anywhere else.

The team I was working for, FOCUSed on Imagitivity (aka, the Unicorns!), is the team that deals with designing all of the employee spaces for Quicken Loans. If you haven’t seen what a Quicken Loans office looks like, I’ve shared some photos I took this summer. Basically, if it is white or beige or looks like a cubicle, you won’t see it in a QL space. You’d have a better chance finding a wall of graffiti, a pink plastic throne or a 10-foot horse statue wearing rainbow socks.

As a team, we spent the summer taking all the amazing things we do for Quicken Loans and developed our team into a separate (sister) company called dPOP! dPOP! officially launched on Aug. 16, the day before I returned to Alma. My specific role in prepping dPOP! for launch included writing the mission statement, producing email templates and other creative writing pieces, updating our social media sites and content daily as well as rolling out some new social media tools, photographing our spaces to help build content for the website, and basically assisting with any other task that seemed to pop up over the summer.

As you can tell, this was no paper-pushing, “go get me a coffee”-type of internship. I was treated no different than any of the full-time team members and was given just as much responsibility with very important tasks. My team leaders put me on tasks they knew would challenge me but that I would enjoy and from which I would benefit tremendously.

While working at my internship I learned several things:

  1. In relation to friends and coworkers, it is so important to find what good you bring out in others and also the good they bring out in you. I was lucky to have been placed on a team of creative, intelligent, and all-around happy people. We had similar career aspirations and we all learned from one another.
  2. When you’re on the job, you learn a different set of skills than you would from a textbook. You are able to begin making connections to your college courses.
  3. Everyone, if relevant, should try to have an internship before graduation. It is a great way to give you confidence that you are going into the correct field (or maybe it will help you realize a field or track is not for you).

After reading about my internship, are you wondering how you can get an internship yourself?  At Alma you have a couple of options. The first, and main, thing you should do is take a trip over to the Center for Student Opportunity (CSO) and meet with one of the great people over there. They can help you find internship opportunities, prepare a résumé and even hold a practice interview for you.  The second option is keep an eye out for career events on campus. For example, Oct. 4 brings CareerEXPLO, an event where alumni and other professionals from a wide range of careers will be on campus to share their experiences with students.  The event is from 3-5 p.m. in the Stone Center for Recreation and if you’re planning on attending, be sure to (1) bring 15-20 copies of your résumé to present to potential employers and alumni and (2) dress to impress. Furthermore, students in the Class of 2017 and beyond can take advantage of “venture grants” of up to $2,500 to help support applied learning experiences, such as internships, Posey Global experiences, Spring Term courses, etc.

As the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers, once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know what it is when you find it.”