GEAUX & Give Back

jolieJolie is a first-year graduate student at Louisiana State University pursuing a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration. She currently works as a Graduate Assistant for the President’s Millennial Scholars Program within the Office of Diversity. Before becoming a Tiger, Jolie studied Psychology and Leadership at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. As an Undergraduate student, she was involved in: Orientation, the President’s Leadership Program, Greek Life, Alternative Fall & Spring Break Service Trips, and graduated with service distinction within the youth development track.

In regards to service Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “what are you doing for others?” I initially knew upon beginning my undergraduate career that service was something of high priority on my list of things I wanted to get involved in. But if you don’t exactly have the track record of completing service in the past, don’t quite know where to get started, or don’t think service is for you, fear not! I’m here today to offer my advice on getting involved in service or service learning as a college student.

  1. Step out of your comfort zone: If service is not something you have a lot of experience with or something you’re a little nervous to jump into, my advice is to get like Nike and just do it! More than likely you’re already challenging yourself by beginning this new season of life, why not use this transition as a chance to go out and try something that can make a positive impact on your community?
  2. Narrowing down your options: Okay, so we’ve decided we’re going to give this whole service thing a shot, now what? There are SO many organizations, people, and places that have plenty of volunteer work available or are in need of an extra hand. How do you know where to start? Well I would say begin by identifying personal interests. I know before I just said to step out of your comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean enter the panic zone. For instance, I am not an outdoorsy-type gal (though I try hard to be by wearing Chacos or telling myself I want to go hiking, ha! Yeah right..) Well if I choose a service site related to nature or the outdoors, what good will I be as a volunteer if I pass out when I see a snake, spider, or alligator? None.A good place to start narrowing down service site interests would be through LSU’s Campus Life office. Here is a link to their website. There you will find more information about what LSU has to offer service wise on campus!
  3. Make a commitment, y’all: Service is like a lot of things; you get out of it what you put into it. If you aren’t getting involved in something you really care about, show up sporadically to serve, or aren’t fully present in your time there, you as well as your service site will not get the best out of your experiences. Talk with your service site supervisor to agree on a schedule that works best for both of you and hold yourself accountable! I know how hard it can be finding time with a college student schedule, but remember that time management is key.jolie-2
  4. Check yourself: One important aspect of service or service learning is reflection.  Taking the time to step back and reflect in whatever way best suits you is important to really understand the bigger picture of your work. At times it can be discouraging knowing there is so much to be done that you might feel as if you’re making little to no impact. During these times write in a journal, look up quotes, talk it out with someone else, or check out this list of reflection activities in order to have a better idea of what your service means, the impact it’s making on the service site as well as on yourself, and any lessons you’re learning along the way.
  5. What kind of ships never sink? Some of my best friends I still have to this day I met on alternative spring or fall break service trips. Having the opportunity to put myself out there, meet people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and be vulnerable during group reflection allowed my new friendships to be deeper and more intentional. I went into these experiences not really knowing other students or staff I was with but always left feeling like they were family (as cliché as that may sound it’s true!) There’s something about living in a cabin for a week with people you have just met and no access to wifi or cable that just sort of brings you all together! In all seriousness, getting involved with service based trips or committed service sites is a great way to meet new people in both the LSU and greater Baton Rouge community. (The answer was friendships. Friendships never sink!) 
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New Year, New Semester, Fresh Start

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Lexi is first-year graduate student at LSU, pursuing an MBA with a specialization in marketing analytics. She currently serves as the marketing & communication graduate assistant at LSU First Year Experience (FYE). Before pursuing her master’s degree, Lexi received her bachelor’s degree in mass communication: public relations from LSU. She is from the small town of Lockport, LA, but has enjoyed living in Baton Rouge for the past five years.  

With a new year, comes a new semester and a fresh start at tackling classes and all of the exciting, yet occasionally stressful, things that come with any college experience. The best way to kick off a new semester is to take the time to reflect on the one that just passed. The very first thing all Tigers should think is: “Wow! I conquered another (or your first) semester toward a long-term goal I’ve set for myself!” This past fall semester was a rough start for everyone at LSU, and having made it through is a huge accomplishment that all Tigers should celebrate. After considering all that you’ve accomplished in the past semester, you should begin to think about things you can improve upon. Ask yourself, “How can I make the spring semester even better? How can I finish this year off strong?” As a Tiger with years of experience of balancing course work, student leadership and involvement, internships and work, as well as a social life; here’s the advice I would give any student on starting the semester off strong:

  1. Be proactive, not reactive! Plan ahead, Tigers! The best way to ensure that you start off the semester on the right foot, is to know what you want to accomplish. Set goals for yourself now, before the semester starts. While it sounds like a minor thing, starting classes with clear-cut goals of what you want to accomplish will take a massive amount of stress off of you during the first weeks of classes. I am a visual person, so the way that I set my goals is by writing down what I want to work toward, and even writing down how I am going to do it. This helps me stay focused, even when other things pop up.
  2. Tackle Homesickness. During my first few years at LSU, coming back to campus after the month-long break was tough because I would get used to being with my family and hometown friends again. While the saying, “There’s no place like home,” is absolutely true, the only way to make the feeling of homesickness subside is to make LSU your home. The best way to do this is to get involved and take advantage of the resources and events that the University offers. You should take comfort in the fact that your becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be, and you’re accomplishing a major goal by being here.
  3. Stick to the rule of three! I am a big believer that the more involved you are, the better you do in school. With that being said, I also believe that you cannot give a thousand things 100 percent of your ability all at the same time. So my advice is to stop doing several things half-way and do three things extremely well. For example, during my senior year of my undergraduate time at LSU my three things were doing well in school, serving as vice president of PRSSA at LSU and my job at LSU FYE. When you focus all of your effort on only a few specialized things, you’d be amazed at all you can accomplish and how well-received your work will be amongst your superiors and teachers. My advice for how to narrow down to only three things is to stick with what is going to help you accomplish the goals you’ve set (See #1).
  4. Know what helps you de-stress! Sometimes no matter how much you plan in advance, the stress of the semester still sneaks up on you. When this happens, it is good to know what is going to make you feel better and gain a handle on things. For me, depending on how stressed I was at the time, it could be as simple as taking a few deep breaths and watching my favorite TV show or even going for a run regularly. Everyone is different, but it will be helpful to have a healthy way to de-stress in mind when that overwhelming feeling sneaks up on you. LSU’s Center for Academic Success has great examples of ways to manage stress, and the LSU UREC has a lot of active ways to decompress.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I would be willing to bet that there are very few, if any, successful people out there who achieved their success without the help and guidance of others. That is why it is important to know your limits, and know when you may need help from a classmate or a tutor, or when you may need to take advantage of the additional resources on campus. Asking for help will never hinder you from reaching a goal, but giving up surely will.
  6. Know that you can do it! You’ve already made it through one semester this year, so there is no doubt you’ll make it through this one! You can accomplish all of the goals you set by staying focused, organized and working hard. Good luck this semester, Tigers! Even though you won’t need it because I know you’ve got this semester covered.

The Semester Is Over! What Now?

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Victoria Cleveland is a sophomore pursuing a Public Relations major with a minor in Business. She is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and works on the Media and Marketing Team for First Year Experience.

Dear Parents,

Your child has just endured one of the toughest weeks of the semester and is likely looking forward to enjoying the comfort of your home. Here are five easy and helpful ways to ensure that your beloved tiger has a great winter break.

1. Welcome them back with open arms! – Hugs have been proven to reduce blood pressure, lower stress and alleviate fears. Whether your tiger aced their finals, or perhaps encountered a few bumps this week, a hug helps to make life a little sweeter!

2. Light a candle! – Studies show that lavender and vanilla scents actually reduce anxiety and agitation. For instance, people who smelled vanilla during a stress test actually maintained a lower heart rate than those who smelled no scent at all.

3. Make sure they eat! – Your tiger will need to maintain a regular and well-balanced eating schedule to help replenish their energy.

4. Fluff the pillows! It is time for bed!- Your body needs extra sleep and rest when you’re stressed, so make sure to tuck your tigers in!

5. Know who to call! – With finals, the end of the semester also brings various financial responsibilities. If you or your tiger has questions about your fee bill, billing statement or TOPS, contact the Bursar’s Office at 225-578-3357 or by email at bursar@lsu.edu.

The absolute best thing you can do for your tiger is to enjoy the time you will spend with them this winter break!

5 Steps to a Cajun Thanksgiving


danielleDanielle Ford is currently pursuing a dual Masters in Higher Education Administration & Public Administration and is a Graduate Assistant for Student Advocacy & Accountability.  
Danielle is from Baton Rouge, LA and studied abroad twice: Paris in 2009 and London, Brussels, & Paris in 2011-2012.

As a Baton Rouge native and LSU alumna, I know a thing or two about Cajun cuisine. As the President of the Thanksgiving Fan Club (not a real thing, but maybe I should invent it!), I’m positive I know a lot about Turkey Day. If this is your first holiday season in Louisiana, there is a lot you should know about how to celebrate a proper Cajun Thanksgiving, and as a self-appointed expert, I’m here to help you out!

1. Dressing, dressing & more dressing! In Cajun Country, we are connoisseurs of dressing of all types: we have cornbread dressing, rice dressing, crawfish dressing, oyster dressing, and andouille sausage dressing just to name a few. Your choice of dressing just might make or break your Cajun Thanksgiving.

2. Turkey does not reign supreme. In many Cajun households, turkey is just one of the many meat options served on Thanksgiving. Traditionally in my family, we prepare deep fried turkey, baked turkey, ham, roasted chicken or Cornish hens, and of course gumbo! It’s not that we don’t love turkey; we do! But when we cook a meal on Thanksgiving, we like to go all out!

pie3. It’s all about the sweet potatoes and pecans. For most Cajun households, we cannot live without some kind of dish made with sweet potatoes and/or pecans. You’ll often find a platter of candied yams, mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato casserole (topped with pecans!) and an assortment of sweet potato and pecan pies – no pumpkin found here!

4. Thanksgiving is for college football. We all know that traditionally, the Detroit Lions play (and lose) their annual Thanksgiving Day NFL game. But in many Cajun households, the biggest sporting event of the year is the annual “Bayou Classic” featuring the Southern University Jaguars against the Grambling State University Tigers. Usually held the Saturday after Thanksgiving at the Mercedes-Benz SuperDome in New Orleans, the Bayou Classic is a staple. While many love to watch the longstanding football rivalry come to a head, even more fans salivate for the “Battle of the Bands” competition the night before the game. If you’ve never seen a HBCU’s band play, make sure to turn in during this year’s Bayou Classic Weekend for a real treat! #GeauxJags

5. We Are Family! Thanksgiving is all about family. But if you can’t spend the day with your biological family, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the day. Get a group of friends together and have your own Friendsgiving. If you’re from out of town, see if you can be the guest of a local friend. As long as you bring a few cases of Coke and an empty stomach, you’re sure to be welcomed in with open arms!


P.S.
Here’s a tried and true recipe for Sweet Potato Pie!

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.

 

Trick-Or-Treat Down the Row

headshot-2Camille Beste is a senior from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is an active member of Greek Life, serving as the current Panhellenic President and has held positions on the Greek Board of Directors, as well as within her own chapter. Her favorite spot on campus is the fourth floor of the Student Union (shhhh it’s a secret spot).

One of the most popular traditions of LSU Greek Life is the annual Trick-or-Treat Down the Row sponsored by the LSU Panhellenic Council (PHC). Held the Sunday before Halloween, this event brings hundreds of families to campus. West Lakeshore Drive, also known as Sorority Row, is blocked off for this two-hour event. Children can go door-to-door to all of the sorority houses and get candy from chapter members. Most sororities even threw in a theme. These ranged from Luau to Decades. Houses also have crafts, face-painting, and photo booths. This year, the costumes were awesome! There were lots of little Golden Girls walking down the row, as well as quite a few Ghost Busters and Wizard of Oz characters. Some families even bring their dogs; Chewbacca stood out the most to me. Overall, this event brings lots of joy to sorority row at a time of year when school is often getting the best of students. This year was a special year, as LSU Athletics got on board and brought some of LSU’s top athletes to the row to take pictures with Trick-or-Treaters. That was certainly a huge treat for all members of the family!

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Trick-or-Treat Down the Row is not just limited to the housed sororities on West Lakeshore. The Interfraternity Council (IFC) posted up in front of the LSU Systems Building. IFC Exec members handed out candy and learned quickly this year that it is very easy to underestimate the amount of candy needed for the event. Sigma Alpha and Sigma Lambda Gamma, Panhellenic’s two un-housed sororities, were stationed along the row as well to hand out candy. Several fraternities that are housed on West Lakeshore also participated. Phi Kappa Psi truly was the life of the party. These men jammed out to a wide range of (family friendly) tunes. There was a line down their driveway, onto the row, as children lined up to give their best shot at the dunk tank. It is such a treat to see fraternity men and sorority women thoroughly enjoying their time with kids of all ages. I think I can speak on behalf of the entire Greek Life community when I say that I still believe I am young enough to be one of the kids trick-or-treating.

One incredible aspect of this event is that it is truly geared toward the Baton Rouge community. It is not limited to Greek members, like many Fraternity and Sorority events are. Word is spread to LSU faculty and staff members, as well as in many elementary schools in the surrounding areas. Families look forward to this event every year. Maybe it’s the fun that comes with the day, or maybe parents are looking for another chance to get some wear out of those costumes that can certainly cost quite a bit of money. I’m going to say that the event itself is the main draw for most families. Growing up in Baton Rouge, I attended this event many times as a child. Being on the other end of the event and helping to facilitate it is like a full-circle journey for me.

This year, Panttdtr-2-copyhellenic collected monetary donations at each trick-or-treat stop for their local philanthropy, Live2Serve. These monetary donations will be used to purchase clothing and toys for children from at-risk families who are not able to provide gifts for their children during the holiday season. This is an ongoing campaign for all of the Panhellenic sororities, and Panhellenic was thrilled to be able to involve families from outside the Greek community.

I think it is certainly safe to say that everyone who participated in Trick-or-Treat Down the Row, from the sorority women and fraternity men, to the families who came out to gather some candy, cannot wait for next Halloween! If your Tiger is a member of a Greek organization, encourage them to get involved with this event next year. If you are from the Baton Rouge area, I highly recommend that you check this event out; the costumes seem to get better and better each year, so start planning now!

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.