Internships and Extracurriculars and Post-Graduation, Oh My!

(From The Campus Lantern – February 19, 2015) 

College is all about partying till two in the morning, sleeping for a few hours, and then rolling out of bed for your nine o’clock class hung-over, right?  Wrong.  Well, kind of.  College is about learning how to manage your time between fun and academics.  Work hard, play hard.  It’s a motto that everyone should live by.

Another misconception about college is that everyone who gets a degree will get a job right out of college.  That’s wrong again.  The piece of paper that Eastern gives you at the end of your time here does not guarantee anything except for a crippling pile of student loans.  If a college degree isn’t the surefire way to success after college, then what is?  Extracurricular activities and internships!

You can skip every class and fail every exam or you can attend every class and ace every exam.  Obviously, whether you have a GPA of 1.0 or a 4.0 is important to a certain extent, but what employers are looking for are real-life skills.  Written and verbal communication skills.  Multi-tasking skills.  Ability to work independently or as a team member.  Are these skills listed on your resume?  If they are, then you’re all set.  If they’re not, you should continue reading.

Maybe you know that it takes more than a degree to get a job after college but it’s all just so overwhelming and you don’t know where to start.  Well, I’ll tell you.  You have to pinpoint an interest you have.  Do you like hiking?  Join the Eastern Outdoors Club.  Are you really into feminism?  Join the National Organization for Women.  Do you want to be a teacher?  Join the Education Club.  The extracurricular activities you are a part of don’t have to necessarily be oriented to the profession you’re going to pursue after graduation.  What’s important is what you do in the activities.

Say you’re an avid knitter.  Perfect!  Join the new knitting club at Eastern, the Knit Wits.  Other than giving yourself some de-stressing time that isn’t academic-oriented, being a part of a club provides you with future leadership opportunities.  You start off as a member of the club.  You attend most meetings and some events.  All is well.  The year after, you attend every meeting and you’re feeling really interested in working to make the club the best it can be.  So, the next semester you decide to run for an e-board position.  Bam!  Now you’re secretary.  The year after, maybe you’re president.  Really, it’s that easy.  If you’re passionate about the club, it’s easy to move up and gain more skills as an e-board member.

Marketable skills that club e-board members gain, such as event planning and interpersonal communication skills, are important when trying to land a job after graduation.  However, if you can say that you’ve interned for a company in college, that’s really the icing on top of the cake.  I’d say to aim for an internship that is going to offer you some experience more than simply filing papers and answering phone calls.  Your internship should be more career-oriented than your club extracurriculars.  If you’re interested in working for a bank after graduation, it might not make sense to intern with an animal shelter.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you can gain useful skills in any internship, but it’s probably best to try and break into the field you’re interested in working in after college.  Finally, a paid internship is ideal because you can start paying off that crippling debt I mentioned earlier.

Rachael Skinner, Peer Counselor for the Center for Internships and Career Development here at Eastern agrees, “I don’t think many students realize that Eastern’s goal as a liberal arts school is to immerse its students in real life situations through experiential learning; and we have all the opportunities and resources waiting for the students to take advantage of.

I know not everyone has the time or ability to take on much more than five college classes and 300 hours of homework each week, but if you do, I urge you to do the most that you can here at Eastern.  Go beyond what is required and push out of your comfort zone!  Go ahead and build that resume!

To take a look at the different clubs we’ve got here at Eastern, click here: http://bit.ly/17jAnBD.  To set up an appointment with the Center for Internships and Career Development, call (860) 465-4559, email careers@easternct.edu, or stop by Wood Support Services, 2nd Floor.  You won’t regret it!

Writer’s Note: I don’t actually guarantee that you’ll get a job out of college even if you do join every club and take part in nine internships – but the extra experience can’t hurt, can it?!

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Three Muslim Students Murdered in North Carolina

(From The Campus Lantern – February 19, 2015) 

On Tuesday, February 10th, three students were shot and killed at an apartment near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Campus.  All of the victims, Deah Barakat, 23, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and Razan Abu-Salha, 19, were Muslim.  Allegedly, the shooter, Craig Hicks, 46, had previously posted anti-religious beliefs on his Facebook page. Consequently, there have been disputes in the media over whether the killing was a hate-crime or simply a disagreement over a parking spot between the victims and the shooter.

Deah, Yusor, and Razan were all known as selfless, compassionate people; all three volunteered in their communities.  Yusor and Razan’s father stated, “They all volunteered in downtown Raleigh many times a year to feed the homeless and the hungry. They cooked loads of food. They came heartbroken to me to tell me how many grown men they’ve seen, standing in line, waiting for a bite” (www.cnn.com).

Yusor and Deah, according to CNN, were both planning a mission trip to Turkey this summer.

According to CNN, Hicks was indicted on Tuesday on three counts of first-degree murder.  He was also charged with discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling.

Hicks’ wife’s attorney has been quoted as saying this case “highlights the importance of access to mental health care services,” suggesting that Hicks’ actions were due to a mental illness. However, the Yusor and Razan’s father thinks otherwise.  He stated, “My daughter, Yusor, honest to God, told us on more than two occasions that this man came knocking at the door and fighting about everything with a gun on his belt, more than twice. She told us, ‘Daddy, I think he hates us for who we are and how we look’” (www.cnn.com). Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that three innocent people were killed and justice needs to be served for Deah, Yusor, and Razan.

PHP Donates Jeans to Homeless Youth

(From The Campus Lantern – February 19, 2015) 

Each year, DoSomething.org and Aeropostale stores pair up to put on the Teens for Jeans campaign. The campaign allows schools and individuals across the country to take part in raising awareness of the one million homeless youth that live in the United States. The campaign started when DoSomething.org asked homeless shelters what the most requested item was and the response was jeans.

This year, People Helping People (PHP) member Kirby Madden-Hennessey suggested the campaign as a possible volunteer opportunity. Kirby has participated in this campaign in the past, but was hoping to make an even bigger impact of making a difference in the lives of the homeless youth in Eastern Connecticut.

Madden-Hennessey said, “I brought Teens for Jeans to PHP in hopes of collecting jeans for the homeless. But for me it meant more than just a pair of jeans. It was about making a difference in someone’s life no matter who they are or what their circumstances may be. I think that sometimes we all need that extra push of knowing that there are people out there who care and want everyone to succeed, and I hope that’s what a pair of jeans will do, as silly as that may sound! I honestly would have never imagined in a million years that I, along with PHP, could have collected over 800 pairs of jeans and I am beyond ecstatic and thankful at how successful it was!”

The club set up collection boxes in most of the dorms on campus and collected jeans at one of the men’s and women’s basketball games. PHP also reached out to friends, family members, and businesses such as Plato’s Closet to donate their gently used jeans. The overall response was incredible. In total, 840 pairs of jeans for Teens for Jeans were collected by PHP. The jeans have been dropped off at the Aeropostale store in the Buckland Hills Mall and will be distributed to local homeless shelters this winter.

Eastern Senior Designs New Mascot

(From The Campus Lantern – February 19, 2015) alexa

Alexa Brooke Senia defines herself as creative, bold, easy going, organized, and a very hard worker with lots of positive energy.  She is an open person who is always smiling and has a loud sense of humor – one could say that her Italian side comes out very often, especially through her art. Senia grew up in Westport, Connecticut and is currently a senior at Eastern Connecticut State University. In the spring of 2015, she will complete a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts with a concentration in Digital Art and Design and with a minor in Studio Art. As of right now, Senia is taking 20 credits plus an on-campus job – that may sound like a lot, but she still has time for her passions, drawing and designing.

It was recently announced that Senia’s design was the winner of the new Eastern mascot contest.  Her design, a gender-neutral, fierce Spartan bearing the word “Warriors” on its shield, is a mighty replacement to Eastern’s goofy and outdated current mascot, Sheldon the Shield.

Senia shared her inspiration for the design, “Since we are the Warriors, I wanted to create a figure that was bold and strong.  I decided to draw out a Spartan-like character and incorporate the shield within.”

Overall, Senia estimated that it took a couple of hours to research, come up with the idea, and then design it on her computer.  When designing anything, Senia always starts with a drawing or small thumbnail sketch.  Once she gets down most of the design, Senia scans it into the computer and uses programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to manipulate the sketch.  That is also how Senia’s winning mascot design became what it is today.

The new mascot costume is still being drafted from Senia’s design but is set to debut this May at the 2015 Commencement, coincidently when Senia is graduating.

Laverne Cox: “Ain’t I a Woman?”

(From The Campus Lantern – February 5, 2015) 

 CCSU / Department of Student Activities & Leadership Development

CCSU / Department of Student Activities & Leadership Development

On Thursday, January 29th, Laverne Cox spoke at Central Connecticut State University as part of their Living Room Lecture Series.  As soon as Cox took the stage, her power and confidence swept the room and the audience clapped to show their appreciation of her presence.

Cox started her speech talking about how people have multiple identities.  From there, she reflected upon her experiences as a transgender woman of color.  Taking a powerful line from Sojourner Truth, Cox posed a question to the audience: “Ain’t I a woman?”  She then went on to talk about other influential feminists and activists, such as bell hooks, Judith Butler, and Simone de Beauvoir.

Cox is originally from Mobile, Alabama.  She talked about how she was bullied up until high school; her peers made fun of her for her nonconforming gender expression.  With this in mind, Cox touched upon the importance of spaces of gender self-affirmation for young folks, in which they can “express gender however they see fit.”

Cox talked about how her imagination and passion for dance saved her life when she was going through rough times as gender nonconforming child.  She shared an anecdote from third grade in which an adult asked her if she knew what the difference between boys and girls was; she replied, “there is none.”

When she was in sixth grade, Cox’s grandmother (whom she lovingly called “Madea”) passed away.  Cox was overwhelmed with worry that Madea was looking down on her from Heaven, disappointed that she was attracted to boys.  This self-shame ended in Cox’s suicide attempt – she overdoes on pills.  Thankfully, she survived and promised to make her family proud.

At the end of her emotional anecdote, Cox shared the statistic that 41% of transgender people attempt suicide, compared to only 1% of the population.

From there on, Cox made the decision to earn high grades in school, excel in leadership positions, and participate in any and every way she could.  She applied and was accepted into the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA), a high school in Birmingham, where she majored in ballet.

Throughout the night, Cox discussed much about overcoming internalized shame due to her sexual orientation and eventually gender identity.  At ASFA, she encountered discrimination that she had never faced previous: against her race and class.  It was at this time in her life that Cox started showing her feminine gender expressions with the world; she would dress in girl’s clothing.  Since she came from a lower income family, she wore many clothes from thrift stores – she jokingly called her style “Salvation Armani.”

When she graduated from college, Cox first went to Indiana University, but soon after transferred to Marymount College, a theatre school in Manhattan. Living in New York City was first time she felt validated in her gender expression as a woman.  She became acquainted with many drag queens and transgender folks who helped her feel comfortable in her own skin.

Even in New York, violence against transgender folks is an issue.  Cox told stories about how she had often been verbally harassed, and sometimes even physically, on the streets.  Police, too, have been known to criminalize transgender folks for their gender identities.  She shared with the audience that three transwomen of color, the most targeted by violence, have already been murdered in 2015 so far.

“Calling a transgender woman a man is an act of violence,” stated Cox, stressing the importance of self-identification and autonomy.

Now, Cox has come to realize that being a transgender woman is beautiful.  She ended her speech on an inclusive note, stating the importance of creating safe spaces for people to identify on their own terms.

“It is important to have difficult conversations with love and empathy to create safe spaces to understand who other people are, and ultimately who we are,” Cox solemnly ended her speech.

The event ended with a question and answer session in which Cox discussed more about the LGBTQ community, her personal love life, gender pronouns, Beyoncé, and the prison system.

Get Covered 2K15

(From The Campus Lantern – February 5, 2015) 

Young folks often see themselves as invincible.  When thinking of health insurance, our minds often drift toward older people.  Young people don’t need health insurance, right?  Wrong.  The fact of the matter is that people of every age can get sick or injured, and healthcare is expensive for anyone who doesn’t have insurance.  According to the Commonwealth Fund, nearly one in five young adults doesn’t have health insurance – we need to change this reality and make sure everyone gets covered.

Open Enrollment, which is from November 15, 2014 through February 12, 2015 this year, is the period of time in which folks are able to sign up for health insurance or change their current plans.  If someone misses Open Enrollment, they may end up being charged a penalty for not having health insurance – or worse, they may have to wait until next year to sign up.  Health Insurance Marketplaces are places in which folks go to find information about health insurance, as well as to compare and buy plans.  The marketplaces can be accessed online at Healthcare.gov, in person at a location near you, or over the phone.  Connecticut’s online marketplace can be found at accesshealthCT.com.

Options for health insurance coverage depend on several factors, such as your age, state, and income level.  One option that is convenient for many young folks is to stay on your parent’s plan until you are 26 years of age.  Another option is Medicaid coverage, depending on what your income level is and what state you reside in – former foster youth are granted Medicaid coverage until they are 26 years old.  Some employers provide health insurance to their employees, and Eastern and other universities provide health insurance for students as well.  Finally, you can purchase your own insurance plan at Healthcare.gov.

One of the negative aspects of health insurance is how costly it can be.  Thankfully, folks who don’t think they can afford coverage can fill out applications on their state’s Health Insurance Marketplace website to find out if they are eligible for low-cost coverage.

January 29th was National Youth Enrollment Day, which is sponsored by Young Invincibles (YI).  YI is a national, non-partisan organization that aims to amplify the voices of young adults ages 18 to 34.  The organization seeks to expand economic opportunities for young folks by improving their health care access, college access, and job opportunities.  On National Youth Enrollment Day, events were hosted all across the country to help young people get the information they need to get covered.

There are still a few more days to sign up for health insurance before the February 12th deadline.  To learn more about the importance of health insurance for young adults, Young Invincibles’ “Healthy Young America Playbook” can be accessed online at this link: http://bit.ly/1t9EhAF.  All of the above information was compiled from the Playbook.

Intramural Sports at Eastern

(From The Campus Lantern – January 22, 2015) 

Eastern is offering many intramural opportunities for students in the Spring 2015 semester. Intramural sports are designed to provide fitness opportunities and foster healthy competition amongst participants.

All Eastern students may participate in intramurals. Students from other colleges and universities and non-students are not permitted to participate. Although the primary purpose of the program is to serve the student population, faculty and staff may participate. All participants must bring their valid Eastern ID to each intramural event.

All of the intramural programs are coordinated through the intramural website, http://www.imleagues.com/EasternCT. All participants must create an account on IMLeagues.com. A team can be organized by a captain or students can join a friend’s team. Students can also sign up as a free agent and be placed with a team.  Sign-up instructions can be found on the website.

Spring 2015 intramural leagues include men’s and women’s basketball, co-ed outdoor soccer, co-ed floor hockey, softball, co-ed volleyball, and additional mini leagues and tournaments.  Each league will have a regular season followed by a playoff tournament.  All information, including dates, times, league descriptions, can be found on the IMLeagues website. The first sport is basketball – men’s NBA division, men’s ABA division, and women’s WNBA division.  Registration is now open.     

All Eastern rules, regulations, and policies must be followed while participating in campus recreation and intramural events.  The Intramural Coordinator and the Athletics administration have full discretion to determine appropriate sanctions against individual participants, teams, and spectators that are in violation of any University or intramural policies.  The IM / Rec Handbook has all intramural rules and regulations and can be found online at http://www.easternct.edu/athletics/intramurals/handbook.htm.

Anyone who is interested in playing an intramural sport is encouraged to visit the IMLeagues website or reach out to Coach Wilde, Coordinator of Intramurals and Recreation.