Creative South 2016

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending Creative South, one of my favorite conferences I’ve ever attended. Last year I attended for the first time and could not wait to come back the next year. This year, I am feeling the same way and definitely wish I could restart the weekend so I can do it over! Even though anything that could go wrong went wrong, it’s times like this weekend that make me appreciate the people in my life and learn to accept that life comes with a little drama. Where’s the fun without it?

On Thursday, we were set to rent 3 15-passenger vans for the almost 40 people we were bringing from UCF. When some of the officers went to go pick them up, Enterprise told them that 2 of the 3 vans were recalled for safety issues. Instead, they gave us 4 mini vans, which means we needed more drivers to come to Enterprise, delaying our departure by over an hour. On the way to Columbus, GA we had to stop several times due to people needing to pee or drink coffee. Having 40 people try to sync up their biological needs was not an easy feat – one we didn’t accomplish on the way back either and eventually gave up trying to stick together. Eventually, we made it to our hotel and we ran into a roadblock.

It just so happened we forgot to notify our bank we were leaving the state, so after paying for 4 out of the 6 hotel rooms, our card was declined. We spent over an hour trying to get in touch with our bank but with no avail. Eight of our members were forced to change in someone else’s room while we figured it out. However, we had to postpone the hotel billing process because we had to attend the bridge party that everyone else had already been at since 2 hours prior. Once we got to the bridge, there was something wrong with everyone’s registration and we needed our professor from UCF to come and verify our identities.

This all happened in the first night, and even though it was a nightmare, it helped set off a great weekend in Columbus, GA! I got to meet new talented people, bond with old, and had a lot of fun times dancing sleepless nights away with fellow designers. I can’t wait till next year!

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Creative South 2016

My First and Last Knight-Thon

If you’ve never heard of Knight Thon, it is UCF’s 20 hour dance marathon in support of the Children’s Miracle Network. In all my years at UCF, I’ve never took part in this yearly event. Usually I had prior commitments on the date of, but this year, I made it a point to be actively involved in the miracle-making moment that is Knight Thon. I was with Student Government’s team and I helped our team surpass our goal of $10,000 for the kids through vigorous fundraising efforts. I didn’t realize how deep Knight Thon was, didn’t really fathom my impact, until the day of Knight Thon. Me and 1500 dancers stood for 20 hours in support of the children and families who suffer.

After each hour, my feet hurt even more, my back ached even harder, and nothing looked better than one of the arena seats. Even though I was in personal pain, I realized it was nothing like the pain faced by children with life-threatening illnesses. Some of these children have to undergo 10 hour + surgeries for survival, about half the time I stood to raise money for them.

About every half hour to an hour, we heard a story from a Miracle Family, and being able to directly see the lives we were helping only motivated me more, even through the painful kneeling. The most amazing moment of Knight Thon was not when we finally get to sit down, but when the final total fundraised was revealed. UCF’s goal was $820,000, but we raised over $1 million for the kids. I broke out in tears of joy and could not believe the amount of miracles we had made. I never felt more in camaraderie with my UCF community until that moment. I was so amazed about the accomplishment we had just made, and am honestly proud to call myself a UCF Knight, and soon, a UCF alumni. I wish I had done Knight Thon sooner, but am happy I was able to go out in this capacity, with Knight Thon being 20 years strong.

My First and Last Knight-Thon

Feeling the Bern

So this past weekend the Bernie Sanders campaign experienced some major wins. Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii, some of the most diverse states in the nation have illustrated that they are “berning” up. These results are odd, however, compared to the media’s insistence that Bernie only appeals to white, young voters. Hawaii alone has the lowest percentage of Whites than any state.

Anyway, why am I talking about Bernie, you may be thinking? Well, if you didn’t follow me on Twitter, I’m telling you know – I #FeelTheBern. This campaign has made me incredibly active in politics, and especially since last week’s Arizona election fraud situation, I’ve never felt more impassioned to my right to democracy. I feel like these primaries are just taking the longest time, but yet as time goes on, my fire gets even brighter for Senator Sanders. I’ve never been too active in politics – I’ve voted, and argued for my candidate many times in the past, but this election season has consumed me! There is just so much going on and a lot at stake this time around and I’ve been trying to be an active constituent helping the grassroots movement that is Bernie’s campaign.

This has involved Facebanking, donating, and so much more. It is amazing to see the effect Bernie has had on young voters like myself, and not only white males, but voters like me, the minority. This could be people of color, women, or those of the LGBTQ+ community. Bernie is a man of the people, no matter who you are, and I can’t wait for him to be the President of the United States.

Feeling the Bern

Real World Preparation

The time has come for me to rev up my efforts in the job search for post graduation. I graduate in May, and come July, will be unemployed and homeless. It is coming down to the wire. I have final projects coming up, Creative South, and GDSA’s Pre-Flight show to help plan. My stress levels are at all time high, as a lot of projects are due at the same time. I just don’t understand how I am supposed to be actively looking for a job when I have work that needs to be done anyway. How does anyone find the balance? I never realized how extensive the job search process is.

I have to make sure my portfolio is up to date, not only on Behance, but on my personal website, as well as in a PDF format to send to employers who require it. Plus, I need to finish, print, and bind my portfolio for interviews. Then, I have to make sure my LinkedIn is up to date, as well as my resume. Then, I have to look for job postings, research the companies, decide if I want to work for them, and the fill out their online applications. Often some companies also require a cover letter – which is something I need to make as well.

I never realized how much prep being an adult involved – and now at this point I still haven’t applied to any. I’ve just compiled a list of all the companies I want to apply to and now have started the application process. With only 6 weeks left till graduation, stress levels are high!

Real World Preparation

ABP Part Two

Since my last blog post, a lot has happened in the last week. My alternative break story was truly an eye-opening, astonishing experience. On Tuesday, we helped tutor children for the first time at an alternative school in Selma, Alabama. An alternative school is where a student who has been expelled or suspended for a long period goes to continue their education so they are not falling behind. The problem with this is that a lot of the students are behind in general – we met an 18 year old reading at a 3rd grade level, and the student I worked with could barely read at all. A lot of the students are also there for the most menial reasons, sometimes reasons out of their control – like truancy. The city schools can’t provide buses, so many children can be forced to walk to school nearly an hour or more. Many times, they are late, and then punished for being late, for a situation that is often out of their control. Then, they end up in the alternative school wondering what they had done wrong.

Overall, these children are good kids just living in a bad environment. The alternative school environment is definitely not one that cultivates learning, creativity, or growth. The students spend all day from 8 am to 3 pm being “taught” by a computer module while the teacher acts as a monitor, not a teacher. Our group was the first group to actually work one on one with the children, and for many children, it was the first time they received individual attention and help with their schoolwork. It is saddening to see all the potential in a child being squandered by a system that is rooted in systematic racism and pitted against them. All I wanted to do was love and help the child I was working with become the best he could be. I wanted to be the door of opportunity for him, but sadly I wasn’t there long enough to leave my impact. Saying goodbye to him was truly the most devastating thing, as I was just another fleeting moment in his life – another thing he got excited about but didn’t last. When I told him I was leaving, he tried to remain cool, but his expression broke my heart.

Along with that, being in Selma and learning the state of this city rich in civil rights history, deeply frustrated and saddened me. I felt I had time traveled back to the 60s. This city, where so much has happened, is still rooted in racism and segregation. All the blacks attend public school, while the whites attend a private academy within the city. When a black child wanted to attend the private school, her family received death threats and ultimately had to remove her from the school. This same school, instead of holding a prom, holds a Confederate Ball, to honor their “heritage.” They have a memorial erect for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate leader and said to be one of the founders of the KKK. His bust is displayed proudly in the city, and maintained by a white supremacy group called Friends of Forrest. The city has a country club which is all white, and its members have clearly stated they would never allow a black person join. These are all legal things happening – as they are private institutions in which the city or government has no control over. White people in this city have found their legal ways to keep hate alive in the city of Selma, and it deeply saddens me to see how much in regression this city is. And it is just one of many in the United States like this – as can be seen by the continual primary wins of Donald Trump.

I want to do something more for Selma – but I still don’t know what. Our group will be meeting to create a plan of action so that our impact can expand past this one week and really make a difference. Hopefully Selma can change with time.

ABP Part Two

Alternative Break Program

I am three days in to my first experience with UCF’s alternative break program. For those of you who don’t know what that is, alternative break program is when instead of going on a cruise or partying for spring break, you travel somewhere and perform service and try to leave an impact on a community. For me, I am in Selma, Alabama with 9 other females from the UCF community for a social justice and advocacy trip. We drove to Alabama at 3:30 am, 9 hours later, we made it to Selma. Instead of getting to rest, however, we parked our cars at the hotel and walked over to Brown Chapel where we joined the rest of the Selma community on the march across the Edmund Pettus bridge for the 51st anniversary. After walking nearly 4 miles on an empty stomach, I realized the strength the marchers had back in the 1960s to have not just gone across the bridge,  but marched 5 days to Montgomery, Alabama. I could barely handle a couple hours in the hot Alabama sun, let alone days!

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Afterward, we ate a quick snack to fill our tummies before we headed to Something New, an organization based on fighting racial injustice in the community and providing outlets for expression for local children. I had no clue what exactly I was getting into, but they provided us an awesome dinner and we had an energizing welcome rally with the other schools in attendance. Some schools represented were FSU, George Mason University, and Columbia College, to name a few. It was amazing to see us all coming together to help out a struggling community.

The next day, Monday, we had nonviolence training, as popularized by Dr. King. We learned the principles of love in action, and bonded with each other a little more through team-building activities. This took nearly the entire day, and then it was time for dinner. Let me tell you – all the meals I have had so far the last two days have been so delicious (and included in our trip cost!). After dinner was our given time with the “New Expressions” kids, who are homeschooled children that join together with dance, music, and arts. We had the night to basically play with the kids – learning their dances, drawing with them, and playing fun games. It was a great time to get to know some of the kids from the community. A lot of them were from the Atlanta or Colorado branches and were visiting for Alternative Break, which I thought was interesting. Today, we are headed to doing our first official day of service at one of the local schools so I will keep you updated next week on the rest of my trip!

 

Alternative Break Program

My Last DCON

This past weekend I regrettably attended my last District Convention of my college career. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is convention for Circle K International where we meet up with everyone in the state (From FSU to even Palm Beach State College), and elect our District (State) officers, attend workshops, and celebrate the past year in service, leadership, and fellowship.

For those of you who don’t know what Circle K International is, it is a world-wide service organization whose ideals are deep rooted in 3 main tenants (stated in the previous paragraph.) I’ve been a part of the UCF chapter since the beginning of 2013, and since then, have attended a variety of conferences, leadership training workshops, and large scale service projects which have had a great impact on me and the community. As a senior, I am experiencing a lot of lasts in the CKI realm – because once you’re graduated, the next step is Kiwanis – the “adult” branch of the service organization.

Now that all of that has been cleared up, my last DCON was definitely one for the books. It’s probably because I had no responsibilities this year. My first DCON, I was running for a position so I had no time to chillax – I was super stressed, preparing speeches, and running around from caucus room to caucus room. The next year, I was on the board so I had a lot to do in regards to helping with District Convention – which once again meant no rest for the wicked. I am so grateful for this year’s because it definitely was a nice, easy way to “end” things. I got to see friends who visited from other parts of the U.S., and got to say goodbye to a lot of my Florida buddies. I also participated in a talent show with my best friend, danced the night away, and took great pictures. I am so happy I was able to attend. My last official CKI event, regrettably, will be in June at the International Convention (CKIx) in Toronto, and I don’t want it to come just yet!

My Last DCON