Four Years Later…

Nicole PicNicole Dominique is a soon-to-be LSU graduate with a Dual-Degree in Microbiology and English Literature.  Nicole is from Thibodaux, Louisiana and has served LSU as an Ambassador, Parent Orientation Leader, BIOS Mentor, and Cox Communications Student Athlete Tutor. Recently, she was awarded as a member of the LSU Tiger Twelve Class of 2017 for her service to the campus and larger Baton Rouge community. After graduation, Nicole will attend LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans to pursue a combined M.D./M.P.H degree. 

Two papers, two exams, and a couple steps across a stage: it seems strange that this is all that is left of my LSU career. Being so close to graduation, this semester has forced me to reflect on my time at LSU.

It’s unbelievable to me how much LSU has given me. I’d like to think that LSU, the experiences it has provided me, and the people on campus found me in the times that I needed them the most.  I will leave with significant memories including volunteering at the Crisis Intervention Center, studying abroad in the U.K., assisting families and students through LSU Ambassadors, and meeting many genuine people. From my random roommate freshman year (still a close friend) to encouraging professors, LSU seems to attract individuals eager to connect with others.

LSU has taught me about myself and has given me a deeper love for Louisiana, motivating me to give back to the state that has raised and formed me.

College is challenging, but in a way that enables you to find your passions (still a bittersweet and scary time). I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the help that enabled me to arrive at this point. For future students, I would recommend seeking out our post-orientation programs, like STRIPES (for entering freshmen) and BIOS (for entering science majors). I attended BIOS, and it gave me an insight into what being a Science major was like before beginning in the Fall. Additionally, I benefited from Supplemental Instruction, study sessions led by fellow students who have already taken the class, especially for notorious classes like organic chemistry.
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LSU gave me experiences that I never imagined being able to do, and I was able to pursue an education that I really enjoyed. I know that my time here has been meaningful and will remain with me. LSU has a way of making itself your home and a place that you are sad to leave with only 2 weeks before graduation. I can’t in any way tell everyone how to chart their path, but just know that there are many resources, experiences, and kind people waiting for you!

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What My First Year at LSU Taught Me

Tori2Tori Landry is from Albany, LA and is a freshman majoring in Mass Communication with a concentration in public relations. Tori is an LSU Ambassador and will serve as one of LSU’s Orientation Leaders during FOAP 2017 this summer.

Going to school in a small town, the idea of change is a frightening one. As frightening as the thought may have seemed, it was always a dream of mine to attend LSU.

When I first attended my orientation session, I was beyond anxious. I felt that I had made a huge mistake. Who was I to think I could actually thrive in such a large campus? Who was I to think I could make a difference or be remembered here at LSU? I left orientation feeling hopeless and became nauseated at the idea of leaving the small town I had become so accustomed to. My mom offered advice saying getting involved on campus is the best thing to do. It wasn’t until I became a member of LSU Ambassadors that I realized how true this actually was.

I attended the info meeting for LSU Ambassadors in the fall semester. Because I had to attend the meeting by myself, I was petrified. To this day, it is still one of the best decisions I’ve made. I felt so embarrassed being there alone because I had always depended on my friends and family in everything I did. If I hadn’t attended that info meeting I wouldn’t be the person I am today. College taught me it’s okay to be scared and it’s okay to be alone. Everyone is just trying to find themselves. A lot of that goes hand in hand with doing things on your own.

My first year has taught me momentary fear can lead to everlasting success. If you Tori1are fearful because you graduated with a class of 118 students and you feel you’ll be just another number at this university, get involved! Push your limits – go out of your way to make friends and make the experience memorable. LSU offers more than enough opportunities to get involved as we have over 350 organizations offered on our campus.

My first year taught me it’s okay to try new things and discover what your dreams really are. To think that I will be orienting new tigers this upcoming summer is mind-blowing in relation to where I just was last summer.

What a difference a year can make, and it’s all up to you to make it a remarkable one!

Another OUTSTANDING Family Weekend

khalif-laticia-2Laticia Khalif is a member of LSU’s Family Association Council and parent of a sophomore at LSU. She resides in Milton, GA and is a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket who has learned to Love Purple and Live Gold.

My family loves LSU Family Weekend for a host of reasons and after this past Family Weekend, we have decided that we will continue to attend as long as my daughter is a student at LSU. As an out of state parent, I don’t get the luxury of seeing my daughter every weekend. As a matter of fact, I don’t get the luxury of seeing her on a monthly basis. With the expense associated with flying back and forth to Baton Rouge or even the time needed to drive between Louisiana and Georgia, opportunities just don’t present themselves.

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Therefore, every opportunity counts. And timing wise, I have found the timing of Family Weekend and the Spring Event are PERFECT! Unbeknownst to my daughter or myself, the events seemed to be planned right at that time when students, typically those who live out of state, begin to yearn for that “touch point” or connection to HOME!  Specifically, last year when my daughter was a freshman, I found after moving in mid-August, that by October (and in particular, leading up to Family Weekend) she was MORE THAN READY to see her family. Imagine the big smile on my face when she started the 10-day COUNTDOWN. So, given that she was an out of state student who had mentally prepared herself to not come home until Thanksgiving, I was so excited and filled with relief when we both realized that I had made the right decision in planning to attend Family Weekend. WHEW!!! And… when most kids are embarrassed by their over eager Aunties, God Mother and mom, she seemed to relish the moment and beamed with pride at our “silliness”.

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That is why we came again this year. And that is why we are coming again next year. So, from the perspective of an out of state parent, Family Weekend matters! And as much as we enjoy the city, the food, experiencing The Chimes, Roux 61, and  TJ RIBS for the 99 cent Margaritas at least 2 times during the weekend, and not to mention just roaming around the campus, going to the volleyball games, and more importantly, getting a chance to experience LSU in Death Valley; Family Weekend, to us, is truly about spending time with my daughter, meeting her new family and friends, and reinforcing the love that we all have for her in her home away from home.

 

To SPIN or not to SPIN

Meet Troi Benjamin, a IMG_9156Human Resource Education major, Leadership and Development concentration, Business Administration minor, from New Orleans, Louisiana. Involved in LSU Ambassadors, currently an Associate chair for the Orientation committee, student worker for the Office of Orientation.

Spring Invitational: An orientation for outstanding students who are invited to participate in this prestigious event. Spring Invitations’ staff is dedicated to the students to ensure an exceptional time and aiding in recruiting the future tigers. There are added benefits to coming to Spring Invitational besides having a summer to yourself. Students who attend Spring Invitational have the opportunity of receiving college credit before attending college, scheduling classes with first priority, and enjoying the extraordinary company of other high achieving students.

During Spring Invitational, there are many resources for the exceptional students to hear about in addition to seeing their college advisors more than once to guide them on the journey to scheduling classes. Every student is broken into groups based on a random selection within their senior college, this allows for students to meet potential classmates and/or friends.

I did not get the opportunity to be an attendee of Spring Invitational, but has not been a barrier to my passion of Orientation. I have served many different roles for Spring Invitational over the past 3 years of being an LSU Ambassador. I began as an Orientation Leader in 2013, moved into being a College Leader in 2014, and I currently hold one of the Associate Chair positions, while working for the Office of Orientation.

Working

Associate Chair Role: Working as one of the associate chairs for Spring Invitational allowed me to see the program from another angle. There are more aspects to Spring Invitational than just being an Orientation Leader and serving the students directly. As one of the Associate chairs, I was aided in assigning all volunteers who worked Spring Invitational. This position allowed me to understand how if one piece of the puzzle is missing, you do not have to panic but adjust your puzzle.

Student Assistant Role: I originally believed that there wasn’t much student interaction done between the student assistants and the students attending Spring Invitational, but oh was I wrong! As a student worker every day of Spring Invitational we are set up in the Orientation Headquarters to answer any and every questions asked by a future tiger or parent. We as the Office of Orientation are here for the assisting of every individual at Orientation.

My word of advice to all students who get invited to Spring Invitational would be to dive in to SPIN and allow the potential memories to take over and fall in love with being an LSU Tiger who will bleed Purple and Gold 24/7!AMB Photo

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.

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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.

 

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

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!