Saturday, May 30, 2015

The #SAsearch in Review

Greetings from Dean College, where my apartment currently looks like this:

(And these are the tidier areas of my home at the moment.)

I've been spending most of today packing up my place for in impending move at the beginning of July because (surprise!) I was approved for an apartment earlier in the week! I wanted to get a jump on packing before sessions start with BSU's Orientation in a little over a week, because once that starts I will legitimately have ZERO time. My new place will be about three times smaller than the one I have now, so I'm really trying to purge out the unnecessaries, figure out what will be in storage, and choose what's going to come with me. It's been crazy, but I'm so excited for the next chapter of my life to begin!

Speaking of the next chapter of my life, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on my #SAsearch. Searching for a job is a long and grueling process, and with impending graduation and with it, the loss of one of your main sources of  income in your graduate assistantship, it can be extremely stressful. I went into the job search process knowing full well that there was a good possibility that I wouldn't have a job lined up before I graduated, but I stayed confident that by the beginning of the next academic year I would be working somewhere doing something that I loved, and that was all the motivation I needed to keep pressing forward. This post is going to chronicle my own entry-level #SAsearch, as well as outline what I thought of the experience. Read on for more! :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

#SAgrad Survival Kit

My #SAgrad journey has officially drawn to a close, but I know so many people out there are just beginning theirs! It's an exciting time - pursuing a new path, learning things that you're passionate about and interested in, and getting some hands-on experience in a field that you've fallen in love with. However, being in graduate school is definitely a challenge, especially if you're going to be like I was - balancing three part-time jobs and a personal life with a full-time course load on top of it all. It's a tough but rewarding experience, and if you equip yourself with the right stuff, you'll get through it all! In honor of so many of you beginning this exciting journey, thought I'd share my personal survival kit to get you through your #SAgrad experience!

1. Planner/Notebook/Calendar/Time Mangement system of some kind.

 This is number one because it's honestly the most important tool you can have as an #SAgrad. It can be a paper planner, an electronic calendar, or a notebook with a running list of to-dos. As long as it works for you, I would highly recommend using and organization system of some kind. I relied very heavily on both my paper planner as well as electronic calendar alerts to keep me on track with everything I had going on. My paper planner acted as my to-do list as well as a comprehensive overview of what appointments I had each day, and my electronic calendars sent reminders to my phone to alert me of upcoming meetings. This combination of tracking everything that was going on in my life was SO helpful, and I honestly don't know what I would have done without it. Find a system that works for you and you'll be able to tackle grad school head on!

2. A way to keep your schoolwork organized. 

This one's obvious, but it needs to be said. My first 3 semesters, I had a binder for each of my classes with dividers, a note section, and enough pockets to fit all of the handouts that I received in class. This worked well for me during those first three semesters, but with adding an additional course to my workload in my final semester, in addition to the job search, I wanted to simplify. During my last semester, I kept a simple file folder for each of my classes, and took notes on OneNote as the program syncs your notes to ALL devices and computers, so I could access them no matter where I was. Again, keeping all of you coursework organized will help you stay on top of everything in your academic life and will make studying and completing assignments 10 times easier. Find what works for you and stick to it!

3. Scheduled "me" time. 

As an #SAgrad, you do not have a ton of time to yourself. You're going to hear a lot of preaching about self-care, but truth be told it is damn hard to actually achieve that as a grad. As a budding professional, it's really important to take these years as a grad and use them to your full advantage. Attend conferences, spend free time connecting with and learning from grads and professionals across the country, volunteer for that after-hours function that will give you a valuable experience to talk about on the job search, etc., but you need to be able to work in some time for yourself outside of your many roles and responsibilities. Continue to work towards your personal goals (for me I had a goal of running a marathon each year I was in grad school), spend time with your loved ones, try the new restaurant that just opened up. You are more than your program and your assistantship, and you need to continue to work on yourself as a person while you're working toward you future. With the craziness of your professional development, try to schedule in time to yourself each day. It may be best to wind down with your favorite Netflix show at the end of the evening instead of burning yourself out over assignments until 3AM. You may not be able to take a whole day to yourself, but if you can designate 30 minutes each day and treat it as an appointment that you can't cancel on, it will help so much.

4. A confidant. 

Grad school is challenging and frustrating. There's going to be days where you feel like you're going to want to quit. (And before I go any further, trust me that everyone is feeling this way. You're not alone.) You're going to want to have someone in your life that you trust outside of your program (a friend, your partner, your family member, etc.) that you can talk things out with. It's great to express your frustrations or challenges with someone who is removed from the situation. Having someone with an outside perspective can help bring clarity to a situation, can give advice from a new point of view, or point some things out that you may not have noticed before. (And at the end of the day, it's just great to be able to get some things off your chest, even if they don't completely understand what you're talking about!)

5. Some sort of attempt at physical wellness. 

Grad school was probably one of the physically unhealthiest times in my life, even though I ran marathons both years I was an #SAgrad. I really tried to make an effort to exercise at least 2-3 times a week, but sometimes it just didn't happen because I was just so damn exhausted. My diet generally consisted of Dunkin' Donuts drive-through, snacks from the vending machine, and food from the grill that was in the same building as my grad assistantship. It was easy, convenient, and honestly when you're going full-speed from job to job to class to sleeping to job, you're really not eating for health. You're more eating to prevent your stomach from growling and to ensure you don't pass out. (I'm really making grad school seem glamorous, huh?) You're straining your mind so much on a regular basis in grad school that straining yourself physically can seem like the last thing you'd ever want to do.

However, if you're generally aware of what you're eating and how often you're exercising, you should be alright. Maybe pack your lunch a couple times a week. Maybe spring for the salad bar instead of the chicken tenders for the 4th day in a row (#guilty). Maybe take the stairs to your 3rd floor apartment instead of waiting for the elevator. And (this might sound crazy, but hear me out), trade in the 2nd or 3rd (or 4th, you fiends) coffee for some high quality H2O (name that movie!). It seriously makes so much of a difference when you're hydrated! Though, unfortunately, you're not going to be able to be in top physical condition (and PROPS TO YOU if you can pull that off in grad school!), being mindful of how your treating your body will go far in this department! (Side note: I utilized summer and winter breaks to make up for lost time, and since I've graduated a whopping two weeks ago, it's been SO much easier to find time to exercise and buy healthy groceries to stock my apartment with. There IS hope, guys!)

6. A bed time.

I can't stress to you how important sleep is in grad school. There were multiple nights my first year where I was just pushing myself so hard at 2AM to make my brain work and crank out just one more page of a paper, knowing full well I had to be up in 4 hours for a 14 hour day of work and class. Of course, I would be completely useless the next day, and I would feel awful because of it. My second year I adopted a "bed time" or at least a time where I promised to take myself out of work and student mode and enjoy some time to myself. No emails, no textbooks, no anything after 11PM for me, and it made a world of difference. I was convinced that with all I had going on this year that I would become deathly ill from all the stress at least once, but because I was forcing myself to disengage every night and give my brain some rest, I didn't get sick one time. Make sure you do the same for yourself.

7. A willingness to take it all in. 

This is going to be a time where you're going to be challenged. Your views and beliefs are going to be questioned over and over again, and without the willingness to truly examine yourself and learn from the people and experiences around you, you won't last long as an #SAgrad. Make sure you enter each day with an open mind and see each interaction that you have with a student, staff or faculty member, colleague or classmate as an opportunity to learn and develop. Make sure you're staying up-to-date on issues in Higher Education and in the world. Learn about institutions outside your own. Conduct informational interviews. Participate in Twitter chats. Read professional test. Seize every opportunity that comes your way because now is the time to try new things and learn from them. It's really how you'll be able to make the most out of your #SAgrad experience!


And there you have it - the basics of how to survive your time as an #SAgrad. It's a crazy time of your life but honestly one of the coolest experiences you'll go through. You're at the very beginning of your career as an #SApro and where you're going to build the foundation of your Student Affairs knowledge. Take advantage of all of the opportunities that come your way, and remember, YOU CAN DO IT!

Sunday, May 24, 2015


As mentioned in my last post, Brittany and I did an entire photo shoot around the BSU campus on graduation day to comemorate the end of our grad school experience! We had an indoor evening ceremony which doesn't allow for too much photo opportunities aside from when we walk across the stage, and since Brittany and I had such a wonderful experience at BSU, we wanted to take some time before the ceremony to grab some shots of a few of out favorite spots! This post will, of course, be photo heavy, so click "Read more" to see all of them, and for a bonus surprise at the very end! :)

(Every time I saw "Degree Candidates Assemble" I wanted to channel my inner Ron Burgundy...)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Catching Up on the Last 5 Weeks! (Part 2)

And thus began the most exciting week and a half of my life to date!

Thursday, May 7

Thursday was my first *official* day off (save for a night of duty) in who knows how long, so I definitely enjoyed it! My CAs and I went out to FroYo as an end of the year celebration, which of course was delicious, and I even got my commencement tickets in the mail! It was a great way to spend a day off and unwind from the stress of the semester.

Friday, May 8

I had another day off on Friday and because it was such a gorgeous day, I opened the windows to my apartment to let some air in. I may or may not have forgotten that the Dean commencement was taking place on my front lawn this year, but instantly remembered as the noise of sound check came through my windows. I got a sneak preview of all the musical performances though, which was a nice background to cleaning!

Friday I also got the chance to see Meredith, who I hadn't seen since the winter! It was great to catch up with her a bit. We met up with one of our favorite graduates, Cassie, and went out for celebratory margaritas to toast her accomplishments, joined with many other friends!

Saturday, May 9

Saturday morning was Dean's commencement! Of course I needed to be there for many of my CAs, but I also wanted to be there for two students that I've worked with for the past three years (since I started as a professional!), Liz and Cassie! It was so great to be there when they crossed the stage, and I can't wait to see where they go off to next!

After commencement and closing all of my buildings like a maniac, I got ready at the speed of light for formal event #2 of that day, Brett's cousin Angela's wedding! I got there right in time for the lovely couple to exchange vows and enjoy the end of the ceremony. It was a beautiful event and I was so happy I made it on time to at least see some of it (I thought I would miss it all because of closing!). Afterwards we went to the reception, ate so much wonderful food, and danced the night away. It was such a fun night with Brett's family! :)

The Foster Crew

~so official~

Sophia and Danny high-fiving!

Aftah pahty! :)

Monday, May 11

Monday was my birthday! A whopping quarter-century for me. Brett surprised me at midnight with a gift (he loves doing that on my birthday!) of exactly what I asked for - a cooler for us to tote around for the summer. We are always scrounging for coolers in the summer so I'm super pumped that we won't have to be doing that this year! He also got me a couple of Starburst scented candles... YUM! Perfect for my future new apartment! Thanks love! <3

Another wonderful gift that I received on my birthday was MY LAST NIGHT OF GRAD SCHOOL CLASSES EVERRRRRR! I presented one final group project and then all of the Student Affairs grads got together (FINALLY) for drinks to celebrate! It was so much fun to hang out with everyone outside of class, share a few drinks, and make some final memories before leaving. I only wish that we had done that way more during my time in the program, but hopefully they continue the tradition moving forward!

When I came home, Brett had an Oreo ice cream cake waiting for me for one final birthday hurrah! So delicious. It was a wonderful way to end my birthday. I love birthdays, and I definitely feel like I rang in 25 the right way thanks to the wonderful people in my life!

Tuesday, May 12

Tuesday I had a follow up meeting with...

Mount Holyoke College! This is the college I had visited during the #SAroadtrip a week and a half ago, and I had actually received a job offer on Thursday! This meeting was to meet with the Dean of Students and with the Office of Student Programs one last time, and I officially accepted the position after that! I will be the Student Event and Special Programs Coordinator at MHC starting in July and I cannot wait to be an #SApro! I will be writing a post next week reflecting on my #SAsearch experience, so stay tuned for that! :)

Wednesday, May 13

Ending my week of excitement was, of course, my own commencement! Brett and I ventured out to Bridgewater and spent the day wrapping things up in OSIL at my assistantship, saying some goodbyes and some thank yous, showing my family around the BSU campus (including taking them to Marylou's, of course!) and you know, casually graduating with my Master's degree. *hair flip* I'm going to do a photo post of all of my graduation pictures (Brittany and I did a full-blown photo shoot around campus) as well as a video, but for now here's some snaps from the day! :)

Brittany and I took a secret field trip!

Before processing! We were separated was we were waiting to march...

...but she was seated right behind me once we got into the auditorium! #score

A little goodbye message from the GAs :'(

The GORGEOUS flowers from my family and Maribeth! <3

Weekend of Celebration!

Brett, our families, and I celebrated all weekend long! We headed up to New Hampshire on Thursday to spend time with my fam and the pups, and Saturday we went out to dinner at the new hibachi restaurant at Patriot's Place with the whole Fickett/Angel/Hill/Foster crew! It was a whirlwind of celebration, so I'll just let these photos describe the weekend! 

The only appropriate shirt to wear the day after commencement.

Bought myself a birthday/graduation/new job present! The A5 Filofax Saffiano in Pear... *heart eyes Emoji*

Playing video games & relaxing!

One of my graduation gifts! Beers decked out in academic regalia! XD

My mom & sister's handiwork! :) It half looks like I graduated, half looks like I'm turning 15... haha!

Patchwork cake!

This is what adults do in the morning... drink coffee and play Pokemon.

Nature walk!

Out to hibachi!

Danny was psyched for his birthday present from Uncle Brett!

Walking around Pat's Place... clearly had to take a selfie!

I don't think I'll have a week that out-excites this one, but I'm okay with it, haha!  It'll be good for things to settle back down into a routine, as I'm still recovering from all the activity.  I think it's pretty needless to say I was exhausted after this week and a half of excitement, but it was packed full of memories that I'll always look back and smile on!

Hope you're all having a fantastic week! 
Can't wait to get back into the swing of posting regularly! :)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Catching Up on the Last 5 Weeks! (Part 1)

I can't believe how long it's been since I've written a proper life update post! Things went so quickly at the end of the semester, just as I'd anticipated that they would. I always say the end of the year sneaks right up on us because we're busy right until the last second. This year was no different! It felt like I had events every single day, on top of finishing up my graduate work and trying to not pass out from exhaustion. Anyway, I have a LOT to catch up on, so I'm going to break this life update into two parts. (I'll post part #2 tomorrow!)

The day after the Boston Marathon, Springfest activities got underway! I always love the large scale, campus-wide events because I really get to see the students in action. It really is amazing how much they can accomplish as a group! Each event was a success (even with the rained out carnival) and we all had such a blast the entire week. I'm going to really miss PC next year when all of the Homecoming and Springfest photos pop up on social media!

Grilled cheese truck, hosted by the Cheese Connoisseurs Club!

A happy Springfest gift from former PC advisor Matt!

Rachel & Kevin loving the cookie bouquet!

Mid-week during Springfest I picked up my cap & gown for commencement which made things REALLY real! It was a great motivator, though, to keep pushing through all of the school work and reach the finish line of grad school. I had it hanging up on my closet door right next to my mirror so I could see it each day to keep me focused!

My regalia in all its glory.

The weekend after Springfest was the Dean Dash 5K! My family had run it last year so we thought we'd continue the tradition. Louie even joined us, only 5 days after running Boston! #champ This year's race was much larger and much better organized as well. It was a gorgeous day for a race and it's always good to have friends and family visiting my neck of the woods!

Giving Louie the sign we made him for the Marathon! It got a little destroyed by the rain...

The following week I had, what I liked to call, an #SAroadtrip! We all know that I basically lived in my car this year, but that week I truly, truly did. I commuted between Dean, Nichols, Bridgewater, Clark, and even an institution that I interviewed at in Western Massachusetts for a total of 5 different colleges, within 3 days! I traveled a total of 399 miles in a little under 72 hours... Yikes. Here were my tour stops:

Wednesday: Left Dean in the morning to commute to BSU for work, and then went out to Nichols to visit Brett for the night.

Watching Brett play a bit of pick-up basketball at Nichols while working on some homework.

Thursday: Had my last day of my internship at Clark :( where Joanne and Tim took me out to The Fix for a delicious lunch that consisted of burgers with espresso. bacon. What. (Guess who's the idiot who forgot to take a picture? Trust me, it was BOMB.) Then I commuted back to BSU for the Impact Awards that evening which were so much fun! (So proud of all of my PCers who took home awards!) I spent the evening back in my apartment at Dean.

The give away at this year's awards were selfie sticks, so of course it was selfies galore for the rest of the year!

Friday: Woke up and commuted out to Western Mass for my interview, made a stop at Nichols to say hi to Brett on the way back, then was on duty Friday evening at Dean. (And of course, I treated myself to Chipotle for champing out the last few days.)

Saying I was tired by the end of the trip would be an understatement, but I'm glad I have such a reliable car to get me everywhere! #DoryismyBFF

That Saturday Brett and I went out to dinner at the new Smash Burger (YUM) and just relaxed at home while I finished up an assignment for school. Sunday evening was the end-of-year ResLife banquet at Dean, and it was so sad to say goodbye to my wonderful CAs. It was so wonderful to have them on my staff this year and I'm going to miss them so much!

Monday marked the last day of classes for the BSU undergrads, so of course we had to go out with a bang which included Duck Day* and the rescheduled Springfest Carnival! The weather was absolutely perfect and made for a wonderful last day to hang out with the PC gang. We had so many people at the carnival which was awesome! It was such a great note on which to end my time as a PC advisor. Don't worry, I'm not crying... there's just dust in my eye...

Set-up selfie!

Pie a Panhel! With one of my favorite Greek women, Shannon!

Look at those lines! It got much more crowded as the event progressed.

Tuesday evening PC hosted their annual Production Crew dinner, which is for students who have gone above and beyond to contribute back to the organization. Even alumni are invited back, so long as they were inducted into Production Crew while they were students! It was great to catch up with some of the students I worked with last year, as well as to have the opportunity to really say goodbye to the wonderful organization that really impacted my time as a grad at BSU. (And the food was amazing!)

With some of my PC pals!

Candyland battle!

I'm going to wrap up this first part of my life update with my Portfolio Defense that happened on Wednesday of that week. I had been working on my portfolio all semester long and it was so great to just have it be done with. However, I was the last person to defend, meaning I had to sit through six 25-minute presentations before I could present my own, which of course gave my nerves plenty of time to build. I'm pretty sure I blacked out during the entire presentation and I probably sounded like an idiot, but I PASSED which meant I was graduating for real! Such an amazing feeling to be done with that portion of my grad school experience. Our Internship course instructor took us out for drinks and appetizers to celebrate after we were done!

My outfit for the defense!

Pre-defense selfie with Brit!

Post-defense Mai Tai *heart eyes Emoji*

I still have a ton to catch you up on, so make sure you check back tomorrow for part two!

*Duck Day is an awesome program that PC puts on. Staff members hide rubber ducks all around campus, and each duck corresponds with a prize. When students find ducks, they turn them in for those prizes, ranging from a back of candy all the way up to an iPad! Students will climb trees, go through bushes, and look literally EVERYWHERE to find the ducks. It's one of the most entertaining things to witness!