Category Archives: Opportunities

Making Orientation Better for Your Student

Blaise
Blaise LaCour is a Mass Communication Junior from Natchitoches, Louisiana currently serving as the Communications Chair for LSU Ambassadors. She attended the Southern Regional Oriental Workshop in 2016 and 2017 and served as a Parent Orientation Leader in 2015.

LSU is constantly working to have the best orientation program possible for incoming students, parents and their families. Part of what we do as a university to keep our orientation leaders as informed as possible is send them to an annual conference called the Southern Regional Orientation Workshop (SROW). The organization orientation leaders are chosen from, the LSU Ambassadors, selects a group of its members to send to universities across the south where they attend presentations and learn how other universities run their orientation programs.

This year, a group of about 40 Ambassadors, including myself, loaded up a bus and traveled to Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia for the conference.  Since the SROW committee had been chosen in November, this was a highly anticipated trip. In the months leading up to SROW, we prepared detailed presentations to bring to the Presentation Groupconference. Most presentation groups researched universities across the country in order to compile a well-rounded set of information for their presentations. Presentation topics this year covered areas like campus safety and financial literacy. At the conference itself, other universities discussed diversity, first generation students and the importance of social media at orientation. Over the course of SROW there is a large exchange of information between universities as a result of these educational presentations.

In addition to presentations, the Ambassadors participate in the song, skit, step and dance competition that takes place at SROW. Entering under the dance category, we performed a 3 minute and 30 second routine set to music combined with voice-overs that spoke about resources LSU offers its students. (https://youtu.be/jVoFKIyDoa4 ) This was one of several ways we displayed how dynamic LSU is as a university.

After four days in Georgia, we returned back to Baton Rouge eager to share what we learned at SROW. The conference seemed to pass in the blink of an eye in comparison to the months that were spent preparing for those four days. Because of this experience, the SROW committee is now a tight knit group of students who are well prepared to serve the university that we love. Committee Picture

How To Balance Everything

megMeg is a third-year undergraduate student from Lacombe, LA pursuing a degree in industrial engineering at LSU. She is actively involved in LSU Ambassadors as the current Funding and Financial chair while having also served as a 2015 Orientation Leader and 2015 SROW LSU representative. Her favorite things to do are travel and eat all the good Cajun food possible!

Balancing everything in college, especially your first few semesters, can be trickier than some of those equations you deal with in Calculus! There’s school work, plus organization meetings, job shifts, and more with a maximum of only twenty-four hours in a day. Here’s a few theories of what three years of college have taught me thus far:

  1. Get a planner and USE it – A planner could be anything from a small notebook to a large calendar where you keep everything in. I recommend checking out the bookstore and finding what works best for you. The important thing is to have one and actually use it. This can help you see as things are coming up ahead of time so you aren’t waiting until the last minute or forget.
  2. Have friends to hold you accountable – It’s great to have friends that you can hang out with outside of class and go on adventures with during the weekend, but it’s important to have the friends that will spend an afternoon after class studying with you or working on that group project.
  3. Exercise – This is such an underrated component of keeping students happy and healthy in college! Even if it is just thirty minutes on a UREC machine or maybe an hour-long fitness class, just go and do something. Getting your body moving and focusing on yourself for a little while each day can help keep you focused. 
  4. Get involved but don’t overdo it – This meg2may not make sense now, but you’ll know when you get to this point. It’s great to be involved, but maybe you joined one organization too many and now you’re struggling to keep up with all your obligations. Maybe you’re finding yourself spending a large majority of your time on one specific involvement of yours and not keeping up with the other aspects of your life. To quote my mother, “Don’t be afraid to say no sometimes!” 
  5. Don’t forget to call home – Sometimes you just need time to chat with people you love from home that keep you grounded. All I can say is thank goodness my wireless provider has unlimited call minutes because I sure do wear out my mom’s phone catching up about our week or even sometimes the simpler questions like how long do I leave a chicken in the oven before I know it’s cooked. 

Pura Vida Mae! My Study Abroad Experience

ciCierra Burnett is a Memphis Native.  She is currently a Masters student in the Higher Education Administration program and works as a Graduate Assistant for LSU’s Office of Community-University Partnerships.

I never realized just how much studying abroad would change my life. My 10-day excursion to the rich land of Costa Rica was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had in my life. In those few, short days, I fell in love with Cumbia dancing, ate more plantains and gallo pinto than my stomach could hold, practiced my Spanish while chatting with locals, and stood at the edge of a volcano as the sun rose. I gazed in awe at the beautiful architecture of the Teatro Nacional and imagined the people who entered its doors hundreds of years ago.

ci2One of the moments I will always cherish most from the trip was a conversation that I had with a man hula hooping in Parque Central in San Jose. He said something so profound that it has stuck with me since: “Your comfort zone is your dead zone.” When he said those words, I was so moved by the meaning behind them. It was basically like saying that every moment spent afraid to step out of your comfort zone is killing you; And it’s true. I am so glad that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and decided to take on this adventure. I entered Costa Rica an apprehensive American, but I really do believe that I left Costa Rica as a Tica (a colloquial term for a Costa Rica native). I did everything that I could to embrace the culture, the people, and the language of Costa Rica, and that made all the difference.

I wish that every single student would make an effort to study abroad at least once in their college career. It was more meaningful and transformative than any other involvement opportunity that I took advantage of, and my life has been forever changed because of it.  I encourage your students to visit the LSU Study Abroad website at http://abroad.lsu.edu/ to gain more information on how they too could have a life-changing experience like I did.

 

Why STRIPES?

IMG_3286Bio: English major, Junior, from Marshall, Texas. Involved in LSU Ambassadors, served as a STRIPES small group leader for 2 years, currently serving on executive staff

STRIPES bio: extended orientation program focusing on history and traditions, spirit, and making students feel more at home and have a more personal or intimate connection with campus and with other future tigers. It stands for Student Tigers Rallying Interacting and Promoting Education and Service.

Take it from someone who heard about STRIPES and said “Ew. That sounds lame.” STRIPES is worth your time. Though I was never a participant at STRIPES, this program has shaped me and changed me more than I can express in 500 words or less. However, this isn’t about me, is it? It’s about you. And how STRIPES can change your life like it changed mine.

S is for spirit.

I don’t necessarily mean cheer camp or fired up spirit. While this program is fun and energetic, it instills a sense of pride for LSU that doesn’t have to be loud and noisy. Whether you’re more introverted or extroverted, there are parts of the program that can show you how sweet it can be to be a tiger.

Just an example, all participants get a little card with the lyrics to the LSU alma mater, and line by line, we sing it together. What a resource. I was mumbling those lyrics for a solid year and a half after football games, and knowing that it said “worth” and not “birth” would have been handy.

T is for tradition.

Did you know that LSU is one of the only universities with a land grant, a sea grant, and a space grant? Did you know that we have the Indian Mounds on campus, a landmark older than the Egyptian pyramids? Did you know that Death Valley started our as a residence hall and somehow was magically converted a football stadium by Governor Huey P. Long?

LSU’s history is full of wild, interesting tidbits, making it a unique university with tons of interesting fun facts. And while I might be a little partial, I think ours are more interesting than any other school in the SEC – two words for you Bama, GEAUX and TIGERS.

But I digress. All of these interesting tidbits are things that I learned from the STRIPES program.

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R is for respect.

There are 30,000 students on this campus and they all come from different walks of life. Aspects of the program focus on getting students to see from the perspectives of others, and to unite the student body. No matter our gender, racial identity, sexuality, political party, or economic class, we’re all tigers. That’s something we can’t forget when starting a new chapter.

I have seen STRIPES give students the pen they needed to keep writing that chapter. Students can leave with a respect not only for their campus, but for the 30,000 beautiful individuals that call it home.

I is for intelligence.

STRIPES works with LSU’s Center for Academic Success and the Olinde Career Center to give students resources to help them succeed for their first semester and beyond. One of my favorites is the Learning Style Preference Assessment, where students are given strategies that are individualized to help them learn to the best to their own ability. Also, students get to see the faces of the workers at those offices, opening doors for them to be unafraid to ask for help.

P is for people.

This is my favorite letter because the people at STRIPES are some of the programs greatest assets. STRIPES has over 60 qualified student leaders that come from every corner of campus. These student leaders take on the role of mentorship for participants, for the program and beyond.

Staff aside, students are put into small groups that go through the program together.   There is something special about watching groups go from painful small talk to camaraderie in four short days. I have no idea how it happens, but somehow I have found every small group I have ever had laughing while eating breakfast without student leaders  having to drive the conversation.

squad being cute

E is for eats.

Okay, honestly maybe this is my favorite letter. STRIPES is catered by some of Baton Rouge’s best restaurants and caterers – they believe and invest in the program and I thank them from the bottom of my heart and stomach. One new part of the program – GEAUXchella – is a Baton Rouge appreciation festival that will bring in restaurants from the Baton Rouge area to show students that Baton Rouge has cool things for students off of campus as well as on campus.

S is for stories.

Before my freshman year of college, I though STRIPES was lame. Let’s blame that on me being uncomfortable at LSU. Stripes showed me that whether LSU was my first choice (which it wasn’t) or at the bottom of my back-ups (which it was), there was something I could find on campus that would not only make me successful on campus, but make me feel like I belonged in the midst of 30,000 terrifying strangers. While this was comforting as a sophomore, it would have been a real life-saver as a freshman.

Thus ends my plea. As a group leader, I have seen this program do amazing things for students. And it’s my firm belief that it can do that for anyone. As a small group leader, I have met so many people and learned their stories, and those stories have pushed me, inspired me, and given me so much confidence that I am in the right place.

If you’re on the fence, give it a try. You might surprise yourself.

 

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Big Ideas in Baton Rouge

Meet MorgaScreen Shot 2016-03-03 at 10.58.58 AMn Kastner a senior Business Management major from Denham Springs, Louisiana. Kastner is part of the TEDxLSU Creative Communications Team, where she works with the PR/Outreach and Writing subteams. She has recently become a Communication across the Curriculum intern.

TED is a non-profit global organization dedicated to spreading ideas and creating a dialogue for change. As part of TED, TEDxLSU is an independently organized and local event devoted to sparking discussion and connection within our community of Baton Rouge. The event is put on by dedicated LSU staff, faculty, students, and community members.

As part of the TEDxLSU Creative Communications Team and Communication across the Curriculum intern, my job is to help put together the TEDxLSU event. TEDxLSU presents speakers from around Baton Rouge and surrounding areas to talk about ideas worth spreading, this year’s topics include: cancer research, childhood obesity, animatronics, comics, and more. In addition to the talks themselves, the event consists of various interactive exhibits that also showcase innovation and the importance of community connections for the area. The event culminates in a closing celebration during which attendees, speakers and community partners engage each other and the talks they heard that day.

But this event does not happen overnight. LSU’s Communication across the Curriculum program (CxC) brought the first TEDxLSU to life in 2013 and has been spearheading the event since then. In 2014 CxC created the Student Creative Communications Team. In 2015 TEDxLSU’s staff organization team expanded into the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, and the result of these new developments each year is increased opportunities for students, like me, to undergo experiential learning while engaging the Baton Rouge area. The TEDxLSU organizers, TEDxLSU Creative Communications Team members, and dedicated community members work around the clock from August to March to put this event together.

The Creative Communications Team is comprised of students from various academic programs spanning from engineering to art and design, and it is broken into different subteams: Event Logistics, PR/Outreach, Writing, and Visual Communication. We work in our independent subteams to finish certain projects, but most of our plans require tedxcollaboration between multiple teams. For example, I work across two teams extensively in order to promote this event. 

Along with working on promoting and setting up for the event, our organizers have also taken us on educational adventures, including trips to Baton Rouge’s Creative Bloc and Vivid Ink Graphics. Here, we talked with Baton Rouge creatives to learn about different industries and processes of various fields, further spreading ideas through our community.

We are gaining real-world experience in our intended fields and getting to work closely with influential community members within and outside of LSU. For example, I am managing all of our social media ads with money donated to us by the Baton Rouge Business Report. I get to work closely with their Chief Innovation Officer to learn how to optimize my budget and yield high results. I’ve also had meetings with Mary Ellen Slayter, CEO of Reputation Capital Media Services, to discuss my writings for TED that were published by 225 Magazine. And my favorite experience with TED so far was being asked to be a CxC intern.  As a CxC intern, I get to work alongside the organizers to fully understand the wide scope of responsibilities that go into making this event and expanding my skills by taking charge of different projects.  Through these projects I have come to understand the importance of collaboration, analysis, and engaging community members. These new skills can be applied to many fields and will benefit me no matter where my future takes me. Not only do I feel that I have learned countless invaluable skills and lessons, but also that I am highlighting amazing work that is happening in our community and pushing our city towards progression, creation, and innovation.  


By hosting this TEDx event each year, as a student, not only do I gain experience and form connections, but I also have the opportunity to showcase Baton Rouge’s thriving arts community, scientific innovations, and cultural movements. And by sharing we inspire ourselves and future generations everywhere to keep learning, creating, and innovating. That’s why I invited my parents, siblings, andtex2 friends to come to the event. I want them to see how much this event has already impacted my life and how much it could impact our community.

Join the discussion for change and create a connection of your own in our community. Visit www.tedxlsu.com. Together, we can spread some of the best ideas our community has to share.

 

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Finding The Major Key To Your Major

 

11011182_10205311904024452_5584625840562960430_nMeet Tori Callais, a Senior majoring in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Women and Gender Studies. She is also minoring is social work and sociology and is from Denham Springs, Louisiana. Tori is involved in LSU Ambassadors, NSCS, Leadership LSU and served as the Orientation Team Leader this past summer.

College is about finding out what you’re passionate about, who you are, who you want to be and finding what makes you excited to learn. Many of those things come from declaring your major once, twice, or maybe a few more times (it happens). Each major is like a different shoe and it’s up to you to find the perfect style and fit for you. Once you find that major that makes you excited to learn and passionate about going to class- it’s a pretty incredible feeling. Sometimes finding it can take years, or maybe if you’re lucky you knew right from the start. But once you find the major that is fit for you and challenges you, how do you react when people shut it down? Or decide that your major and your passions are irrelevant?

There always seems to be this ranking of “important majors” to “less important majors.” You can hear it walking through the Student Union or the library on any given day. “Oh you’re an engineer? You’re going places!” “Oh, you’re majoring in Liberal Arts? Oh…”. Needless to say comments like these help keep this system of “important” majors and “less important” majors in the mindset of many students. But why do we celebrate some majors over others instead of supporting the pursuit of different academic realms? best-memes-boromir

When talking to my best friend the other day about our majors, I noticed that we both have found our niche in college and although our majors aren’t considered money makers in the future, they truly inspire us to learn as much as possible and to continue our academic careers. One thing he said that was upsetting and was something I identified with as well, was how when he told people his major they looked at him with disapproval or even pity. His major of sports administration prompts many questions from friends and family alone of, “what are you going to do with that?” Comments like, “that’s not a real major” from outsiders don’t do much to help one’s confidence on their academic endeavors. Both of our majors will require us to attend graduate school after our undergraduate years, but we both love what we study and going to school a little longer is a plus for us. This conversation I had with him has been repeated in different ways with other friends countless times, and I’m sure other students have had similar conversations as well. So, what do you do if the only people who see the value in your degree are at a limited number?

Tips and tricks for those who have ever been this situation: 

* Be confident in your studies. You chose your degree path for a reason, and it’s important to be confident in that decision. If you aren’t confident in your studies, who else will be?

* Take time to explain why you chose your degree path, and the different places it can take you.

* Don’t be afraid to open up dialogue about your passions. When people see your excitement about your major, they will be able to see the significance of it.

* Encourage others to open up meaningful dialogue with others about what their degree path offers for them.

Although my major does not guarantee a hefty paycheck one day, my academic studies have made me find what I want to pursue after college. I am always excited to go to class because I am learning about something I truly love and want to gain more knowledge on. You’ll never hear me complaining about one of my classes, and I walk with confidence about my degree. Remember that college is a huge and it can be your platform to be the person you want to be. Always stay true to who you are and find your own passion, no matter the title of the degree. And of course, Love Purple and Live Gold!12299110_10205596576741092_4483773923760294457_n

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Back to School

11885339_955484164494592_331845813517572457_nMeet Jordan Lange, a Junior majoring in Biological Sciences from Erath, Louisiana.  I Jordan is involved in LSU Ambassadors and served as an Orientation Leader for the College of Science this past summer.

As winter break comes to an end, it is time to return to Baton Rouge for the start of the spring semester. I am sure that students are currently getting last minute things together in order to prepare for the first day of school. I am sad that winter break is over, but I missed my home here in Baton Rouge and am excited to get this semester started.

I spent most of my break back home in the small town of Erath, Louisiana. It was great getting to visit with friends from high school and spend quality time with my family. I hope that everyone had a great holiday season and the opportunity to eat delicious home cooking in the weeks that we were away from campus. Being from South Louisiana and Cajun Country, I can assure you that I ate some delicious food including many servings of gumbo and rice and gravy. By far my favorite part of winter break was cheering on the LSU Football team at the 2015 AdvoCare Texas Bowl in Houston, Texas. Having the opportunity to watch Leonard Fournette score five touchdowns and to hear Callin’ Baton Rouge in NRG Stadium surrounded by thousands of Tiger Fans was incredible.12182481_990855720957436_2722092496713124772_o

It is time now for the spring semester to start and I could not be more excited to return to my home away from home, Baton Rouge. With spring classes beginning today, remember that you and your student have done this before. The freshmen class has made it through the first semester and is much more familiar with college now. My best advice for the spring semester is to hit the ground running from the first day. It can be hard for students to get back into a routine coming off a long break, but it is important for them to make a schedule as soon as possible. Always remember that the start of a new semester is a clean slate. Regardless of how your student did last semester or in semesters before that, spring 2016 is a new semester and gives every student a chance to put their best foot forward. Always remember that your student is not alone at LSU and that there are resources here to help including the Center for Academic Success, the Student Health Center, and the Center for Freshman Year (UCFY). These resources and the LSU faculty and staff are dedicated to helping students succeed at LSU.

For parents and families, my best advice is to always be there for your student. College can be very stressful and emotional at times, but it can also be the experience of a lifetime. I call my mom and dad often just to talk about things and share my experiences. My parents always send me words of encouragement before my tests and remind me that hard work and dedication will pay off later in life. As students, we are thankful for you, our parents and families, because we depend on you for encouragement and support.

I hope that everyone has a great first day and an even better spring semester. Orientation Leaders and Parent Orientation Leaders are always available to answer student questions. Love Purple, Live Gold, and Geaux Tigers!

 

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Why Studying Abroad Was the Best Decision I Have Ever Made

HeadshotMeet Meagan Johnson. Meagan is a 21 year old junior from Hackberry, Louisiana. She’s majoring in Mass Communication with a concentration in Broadcast Journalism. She’s involved in multiple organizations such as LSU Ambassadors, Collegiate 4-H, and University Baptist Church Collegiate Group!

We all know that college is about self-discovery and figuring out what you want to do in life. It’s a time when you can try new things, meet new people and do things you’ll never be able to do again. The memories you make in college will stay with you forever!

However, there is one option in my opinion that sticks out more than all the rest… studying abroad. This is an amazing opportunity for young adults to have a life experience in another country that they may never experience otherwise. This can be beneficial for many reasons giving students something that sets them apart.

Studying abroad in Paris, France was the best decision I ever made at LSU. So I’ve listed different reasons why studying abroad will be the best thing you ever do!

1. Historic Places

One great thing about traveling overseas is getting to see so many great and historic sites the world has to offer. You read about the Roman Empire, gladiator games in the Coliseum and even the building of the Tower of London, but nothing compares to seeing the real thing in person. There are so many places that have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years and being able to see them in person is simply incredible. You can literally reach out and touch years of history with your bare hands.

2. Culture

It’s really important to know that there are many other types of people in the world who live and act according to different customs than our own. There are different cultures out there and it can be really beneficial for students to see the differences first hand. Being able to learn and exist in another culture can be a great life skill to have for the future.paris

3. Independence

Any college student will tell you that one of the best things about college is the new freedom you have. You get to make your own choices and decide who you want to be. By living in another country, you will find this new sense of independence that you never thought you would. It’s very satisfying to know that you can navigate through a country where you don’t speak the language or even go on an adventure through the city all by yourself. With that new self-confidence, you’ll have the courage to do things you never thought you would!

4. Experience of a Lifetime

The main reason and possibly the most important reason why studying abroad is so great is because of the once in a lifetime experience you will have. One day you’ll have a job, family and other responsibilities that may keep you from being able to take advantage of an opportunity like this. You will also never again have the chance to go to a foreign country with a group of your peers all experiencing the same thing. This experience will stay with you forever along with the amazing memories you will make!

I know the thought of this can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming, but I can assure you that if you decide to take advantage of this great opportunity LSU has to offer you will not be sorry. It was definitely the best decision I have ever made!

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