4 Final Thoughts on Finals

It’s that time of year again. To-do lists are growing, bags are developing under eyes, coffee is brewing, Quizlet is on the brink of malfunction and most of all: the light at the end of the tunnel is visible. Happy finals week!

  1. Stay Positive

Optimism can take you a long way during finals week. If you believe in yourself, half the battle is already won. Humans have a way of generally proving themselves right. If you tell yourself that finals week will not go well, it won’t. You attitude is just as important as your textbooks this week.

  1. Take a Break

Do not overwork yourself. Take a break every couple of hours and remove yourself from the situation. Grab lunch with a friend, hit up the gym or whatever it takes to get your mind off the books for a while. You will return refreshed and ready to power on.

  1. Don’t Underestimate a Kind Act

This is a high-stress week for everyone. Share an extra smile with your barista, pay for someone’s coffee or let a stranger pet your dog. You have no idea the momentous affect one simple act of kindness can have one someone during this week of peak stress.

  1. You are Worth More Than a GPA

Now, I am not saying that your GPA does not matter; but it does not define your entire being. I understand this. That one bad semester when you let things slip a little too far down the slope is never easy to handle. You will be disappointed with yourself and I am sure others in your life will be disappointed too. Take this as a learning moment. Learn from your mistakes and set goals for next semester. The pain right now is temporary and will soon dissipate.

Keep working hard and try to make yourself proud. I believe in you and so should you. Summer is waiting at the end of this week, greet it with a smile.

Packing Up the Office and Unpacking a Year of Change

As I pack up my office and come to terms with officially being the former Student Body President, I find myself reflecting on the past year.

The past year as your Student Body President flew by. It seems like it was yesterday that I took my oath and described the passion that I saw in my executive board’s eyes. Now, the day has come that I will contently witness Ramon take his oath of office, thus officially step out of the role and join the ranks of the former Student Body Presidents who also worked tirelessly to construct a strong future for their peers.

This is a highly bittersweet feeling. I will certainly not miss the late nights, the heavy weight of stress and the seemingly endless to-do list. However, I will miss the feeling of walking out of the office each day knowing that I helped at least one of my peers that day. I will miss speaking for those who feel they do not have a voice. I will miss empowering my executive board to lead and learn through their various programs and initiatives. I will miss unending love and support that Student Government has given me over the past year. I will miss the people around me that picked me up when I fell apart, the people that never stopped believing in me, and the friends that became family.

This year was another successful year for SIUE Student Government. Together we changed the negative stigma surrounding mental health and counseling services through our partnership with the iCare program. We continued the conversation about sexual assault prevention with the backing of It’s On Us. We responded to students’ concerns regarding diversity and inclusion by adding a Student Diversity Council and a Student Diversity Officer to ensure that students are included in the conversations and solutions. We spoke up for student employees who were disserviced by the employment policies and helped ensure that the hours capacity was increased to 28 hours per week and employment eligibility was open to more students. We carefully allocated student activity fees to ensure student money was stretched as far as it could and impacted students the most. We welcomed new student organizations that allowed students to carry out their passions during their college career. We enlightened 500 campus community members on oppression that underrepresented students face every day through Tunnel of Oppression. We brightened the holidays of hundreds of local children through Angel Tree. We spoke up to administration to ensure that students were included important conversations. We lived up to the mission that we set out to do. We heard voices and took action.

All things considered, it is impossible to hang my head in regret as I end my term. This year has been an incredible adventure in which I have experienced endless opportunities and vastly expanded the horizons of my SIUE family.

Thank you. To my peers who trusted me to serve. To my executive team that took on every challenge head first and with a smile. To the senate who worked tirelessly on the endless tasks and initiatives that came their way. To the frequent office users that dealt with my daily pacing. To my advisors who supported and guided me every step of the way. To the faculty and staff members who I saw more than my own friends and family. To my family, friends, brothers and girlfriend who continued to stand by my side and support me even when I did not give them the love they deserved because I was too focused on work. Thank you. Each of you played a role in my term. Each of you played a role in carrying out positive change this year. I certainly would not have made it this far if it weren’t for each of you.

Fortunately, this is not the end of my Student Government Journey. In July, I will begin my term as the SIUE Student Trustee on the SIU Board of Trustees. I am grateful for one last opportunity to continue to speak up for my peers. I am ready for this new adventure.

Congratulations to Ramon. I am very confident that you will lead Student Government through another year of advocacy and change. I am proud to be a part of your team. Congratulations to all new and returning members of the Student Government team for the 2017-2018 school year. Together, we will have yet another successful year.

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Student Body President Out.

Invest Yourself in Others

Stop investing yourself into things that will never take you anywhere and start investing yourself in the people that will take you through the adventure we call life. Take a moment at the end of every day to consider how you invested yourself in someone else that day.

As soon as you begin to see the value in others and help them to increase that value, you will understand the priceless return on investment that comes from investing in the most important commodity of all: human capital.

Investing myself in others is one of the most rewarding things I have experienced. Every time I make a true effort in doing so, I feel that I get as much or more out of the experience as the person or group that I invested myself into. This does not take any sort of major effort or time commitment; rather, it takes a simple change in mindset. Instead of considering, “What can I get out of this interaction with Sally?” consider, “How can my interaction with Sally help her in the long run?” When you find yourself thinking, “Why would I spend my valuable time helping Jimmy out?” turn it around to, “How will my time help Jimmy?” Once you make this simple change in your thought process, you will become a master investor in those around you and you will be greatly rewarded for it.

How did you invest in others today?

Don’t Peak

I constantly hear people saying, “I peaked in college.” or “I definitely peaked in high school.” I am not a fan of this thought process. Stop limiting yourself by focusing on these peaks that are, in reality, a sheer figment of your imagination.

When you say that you have already peaked in life, you sell yourself short and openly admit that you are okay with being mediocre the rest of your life. Instead, I challenge you to constantly strive to your peak and understand that it is a point that will only be achieved when you can look someone in the eye and tell them that you have zero regrets and have surpassed all of your goals in life.

Instead of cutting yourself off from striving for new heights by claiming that you have peaked, keep climbing. Once you have reached a point when you think you have peaked, it’s time to set new goals and take yourself to new heights you never dreamed possible.

A life that never experiences a peak is a life that attains great success and leaves behind no regrets. Progression and growth are lifelong commitments that can never be wholly achieved. Let me repeat myself one more time, don’t peak.

A Letter to the Next Student Body President

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Dear Esteemed Candidate,

I truly hope you are ready. You are about to embark on a wild new adventure. This adventure will take you to many new places. You will experience genuine happiness and pride, expand your network further than you could imagine, enact major change and truly make this university better for your peers for generations to come.

You will also experience a large amount of stress, face times when you want to do nothing but give up, learn who and what are truly important to you and stand up to immense adversity.

Again, I hope you are ready. I certainly did not realize the scope of what I would experience in this role when I was in your shoes one year ago. All of the previously mentioned aspects are important, but overall I hope you understand the power you hold. Once elected, you will have the choice to live up to the duties and responsibilities that your fellow students trusted you with or to become selfish and complacent. Please do not fall into the trap of the latter.

The old saying goes, “What you put into it is what you will get out of it.” That is not the case in this role. What you put into it is what you AND your peers will get out of it. You have the duty and responsibility to properly represent all 14,000 students at this university. You have the power and the purpose to enact positive change that will improve not only current students’ experiences, but also student experiences for years to come.

With that being said, you cannot do everything. Determine your priorities and run with them. There is a reason that Student Government is not comprised of one person. You have a team behind you that will help you carry out the positive changes that the campus wants and needs. Use them and embrace them. They will bring ideas to you that you never would have dreamt of.

Overall, congratulations and buckle up. This is going to be one of the most exciting chapters that you have written thus far. Make it a chapter others will want to read, but do not forget why you are here. Have some fun and keep studying, I promise you will regret it if you don’t.

Welcome to your new adventure, whoever you may be!

Sincerely,

Your Soon-to-Be Former Student Body President

It’s Time to Hold Yourself Accountable

When is the last time you openly and honestly took the blame for something that was genuinely your fault? If you are the average human, it has probably been quite a while. It is long overdue that you take responsibility for your own actions and shortcomings.

While this may sound harsh, you will thank me for this wake-up call. The moment you take responsibility for your actions is the moment that you find yourself becoming more responsible and making fewer poor choices.

It is not your professor’s fault that you failed class because you did not go to office hours, skipped class and did not apply yourself. It is not the person driving the speed limit in front of you’s fault you are late for class. It is not your friends’ faults that you went out with them last night then woke up late for work this morning.

Of course, there are many scenarios that are certainly out of your control; but next time you find yourself blaming everyone else for something, take a moment to consider whether it is actually their fault. Once you get in the habit of taking responsibility for your own mistakes, you will learn from them. Additionally, your eyes will open to the fact that you are in control of your destiny. You get to decide if you are going to have a good day or not.

Be accountable today.

5 Signs Your Major Might Not Be For You

5 Signs Your Major Might Not Be for You

  1. You hate your classes.

While it is understandable if you do not particularly enjoy your required general education classes, you should enjoy your upper-level major specific courses. In considering this, be sure to disseminate a dislike of the course itself over a dislike of your professor’s teaching style.

 

  1. You avoid conversations about your future profession.

I find myself constantly talking about public relations and marketing. I know that it is the right field for me because I care about it beyond the classroom. I enjoy reading articles about current trends in the field. I enjoy watching organizations react to adversity through careful communications plans.

 

  1. You are not willing to go the extra mile.

If you find yourself doing the bare minimum to slide by in your courses, you might want to consider a major change. Again, you should be highly vested in your major-specific courses. You should not find yourself scraping along to get to the end of the semester. At this point, you should want to learn more about the topics you discuss in class, thus go above and beyond the minimum requirements for a course.

 

  1. You are only in it for the money.

Please do not base your major choice on the potential salary. Your happiness is worth considerably more than a paycheck. A life time of not being happy in your field is not worth a high salary.

 

  1. You cannot handle honest feedback from your professors.

If a professor provides you with honest, constructive feedback on an assignment and you take it as a personal attack, you may want to consider a new field. The feedback that you receive as a professional will be far less friendly and constructive. The professional field can be rather cutthroat. If it hurts now, imagine the pain later.

 

Overall, do not be afraid to change your major. Even if it adds another year or two to your undergraduate career. A small amount of inconvenience now will certainly pay off in the long run. Part of the college experience is opening your eyes to new fields and topics. There are many majors and professions at your fingertips that you had no idea existed before. Embrace them, research them and if it feels right, just do it!