NC State HEA Recruitment Weekend 2015

This past weekend, I was chillin at NC State for their Higher Ed Administration Recruitment Weekend. Thursday afternoon found me wandering around the new senior apartments, student union, and ginormous campus. We took photos with the mascots, which was cute, although I’m extra shiny in mine since we’d just gotten back from the campus tour. During dinner we chatted with current students and professors and introduced ourselves. It was really awesome how quickly everyone became friends. There weren’t any clicks, people just talked and got to know each other all weekend. I can honestly say I didn’t meet anyone I didn’t like, or didn’t think I could be friends with. Towards the end of the program, we got sad that not all of us would be there in the fall. I did hear a lot of people say that NC State was in their top choices though, so maybe we will. :)

Walking through the Tunnel of Expression!

Walking through the Tunnel of Expression!

Friday was interview day, so we were all looking sharp and snazzy trying to get graduate assistantships. I only had three interviews (chosen with a mutual matching process). This stressed me out a lot because I thought we would have at least five or more, some people did anyway. My first interview was for a Housing Director position on NC State’s campus, which I think everyone interviewed for. I think it went really well because I was able to draw on my experience as Dean of Residence Life at Duke last summer. That craziness was worth it if it lands me this assistantship (it’s basically a free ride)! My second interview was for Duke Housing, but instead of a housing director I would basically be doing recruitment and hiring as well as managing their summer transition programs. I wouldn’t mind this assistantship, but the compensation is lousy. My third interview was also at Duke in their Center for Activities and Events. I believe I would be working with mostly students trying to start new programs/develop groups, etc. I mean, it’s a job, but again the compensation isn’t the best.

Friday was also when I had a chance to have an “academic discussion” with a faculty member; it was essentially an admissions interview. She asked me what my proudest moment of my undergrad career was and I talked about how I “crashed” my senior year and recovered from that failure to achieve the Dean’s list the semester I graduated. #likeaboss She also asked me why I wanted to attend NC State. That was easy. Two words: social justice. NC State is all about bringing in the social justice aspect of higher education, which is really important to me since I want to go into college access. They also teach with a focus on theory into practice, which is what the Elon School of Ed emphasized as well. Overall, I think my discussion went well; she nodded a lot and told me I had good answers. Yay!

photo (1)

That night I found out I didn’t have any second round interviews (for NC State or Duke) via formal rejection letters. Ouch. Not getting a second interview can mean one of two things; 1) I have already been chosen as a candidate for the assistantship, or 2) I have been placed on the waitlist or been rejected as a candidate for the assistantship in question. I was especially disappointed not to get a second interview for the NC State housing job. I have qualifications and skills coming out the wazoo here. What’s going on?! My brain, in an effort to protect itself from the pain of rejection, has been switching frequently between options 1 and 2. Of course, there is option 3, which is to find a completely different assistantship before school starts, but that leaves an even bigger question mark in the air and my brain doesn’t like that either.

Recruitment weekend ended after closing remarks Saturday morning. Rather anticlimactically, I went to work almost right afterwards. It was nice being around like-minded people my age for a while this weekend. I almost felt like my college-self again, the independent, work-oriented, intelligent Becky. Instead of my college-graduate-self, the dependent, focused on everyday maintenance, manual-labor-working Becky.

Let’s hope I hear a positive response from NC State in March!

Beck

Graduate School Personal Statement

I said I would post my final personal statement for grad school. Here you go! :)


Around this time last year, I was in the fall semester of my senior year at Elon University preparing to student teach in the Spring. I was taking seven classes and working part-time as a barista at a local cafe. I was also desperately struggling to find a place to live.

Homelessness does not happen all at once; it is a process. For me, it began when I lost a large portion of my financial aid package and was forced to give up my room and move off campus. A month later, I lost my job, which was the only way I was able to afford rent. That weekend, I moved my life into my ancient Buick. I commuted from Raleigh twice a week to refill my suitcase and get food from my mother’s apartment. The rest of the week I spent sleeping on friends’ couches, in my car, and sometimes the library. The majority of the financial support I received from my mother was spent towards gas, so I became adept at improvising meals. I attended events with free food, found faculty lounges with coffee makers, and made friends with dining hall workers who occasionally gave me leftovers. Although I was not sleeping outside, being completely reliant on the generosity of others for my basic needs brought me painfully close. I developed a system so I could stay in school; it worked for a short while.

Food and housing instability made every other aspect of my life infinitely more difficult. The stress, anxiety and isolation I felt was a constant ominous shadow looming over me. I felt unhinged and was not able to focus on anything for long. My academic performance suffered severely as a result. I was not able to successfully complete student teaching, and my GPA plummeted after that semester. For me, this experience impacted my final year so much as to change the course of my college career. I had to change my major and my postgraduate plans; I had to change my dream. I later realized that this loss led directly to a new passion and career in higher education.

It was not until a week before final exams that I found a place to live. The church I was attending at that time has a program that allows families to “adopt” college students, so they can have home cooked meals and a place to stay during holidays – I was in need of both. When they learned of my situation, my adopted family invited me to rent out their spare room for a nominal fee for the rest of the year and provide me with meals every day, an invitation I accepted gratefully.

This experience stretched me to my limit. I had to rebuild my identity, but recovering from so thorough a failure is not easy. I spent weeks trying to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent something like this from happening again. I had to work through resentment towards my circumstances, my professors, and myself. I had to take responsibility for my shortcomings and forgive myself. I decided that who I am is not what I have done; that what matters most is not that I had failed, but what I would do afterwards. I had to regain my confidence in my ability to not only be an excellent student, but a successful future professional. While all my friends were student teaching that Spring, I was taking the few remaining classes I needed to graduate. I made it my goal to finish my academic career strong; a goal I achieved when I made the Dean’s List my last semester.

I recently spoke at a panel hosted by the National Coalition for the Homeless at Elon University. It was difficult to talk about this experience publicly in front of my peers, some of whom I had classes with last fall. Afterwards, an audience member asked me what kept me from dropping out and trying again the next year. I told her that it was pure stubbornness. I knew if I did not finish then, I most likely would never finish my degree. For me, giving up and dropping out would have been a worse failure, even though it would have saved me from going through pain.

The compassion shown for me through this experience has deepened my commitment to working with college students to help them graduate, achieve their personal and career goals, and develop as individuals. Struggling with housing instability while in college opened my eyes to how inequities can lead to dire circumstances, and how difficult it is to thrive without a stable, safe environment. My background in secondary education taught me just how many students, especially minority students, struggle with access to resources and institutions of higher learning. This has cultivated my interest in social justice, access, and multicultural education; topics I hope to pursue intellectually and practically while completing my graduate degree at <school>. My ultimate goal in pursuing a higher education administration degree is to work with high school and college students to further their education and provide support that will enable them to fulfill their potential.

Since graduating, I have been able to act on my commitment by working as the Dean of Residence Life during Duke University’s 2014 Summer Session. This four week academic program allows high performing students the opportunity to either earn a college credit or take a non-credit class and live on Duke University’s campus. This position was my first glimpse into higher education at the administrative level. I was able to learn about the challenges and rewards of working with a team to carry out residential programs, and practice receiving and acting on feedback in order to improve my work performance and develop professional skills. I believe this experience and others in residence life have prepared me for a degree in higher education. The program at <school> will enable me to build on these experiences and skills and prepare me to become an advocate and future leader on college campuses.


What do you think? How are my chances?

Beck

PS: I know I’m making up for a month of silence in twenty minutes. Whatever. #mylifeisbeck

November in 800 Words or Less

Where have I been all November?

Happy Halloween! Happy Birthday to me! Happy Thanksgiving! :)

I’ve thought about writing many times this month, but haven’t made the time to do it, partially because I’ve been busy and partially because I’ve been lazy. Getting used to a new work routine that changes every week has not been fun. I do enjoy some things about my job, but I don’t get to do those things very often. I really want to find a better job that will pay me more than minimum wage.

To celebrate my birthday, my sister and best friend went out to dinner and drank wine. I got Caged, which was hilarious. This was followed later that week with a family dinner that was surprisingly pleasant. No one was fighting or drunk, there was an ice cream cake. Success.

Capture

On the 19th, I spoke at a Faces of Homelessness panel at Elon, my alma mater. I met with the other speakers and some current students for dinner before the panel. One formerly homeless man asked me how many times I had spoken and he looked shocked when I said this was my first time. Then I learned the event was being filmed. I suddenly grew really nervous. I didn’t really know what I was going to say. I had printed out the Pendulum article I wrote in the spring and the blog entries I wrote as well, which I thought would help. The truth is I have often doubted whether what I went through was actually homelessness or something else. One of my former professors blatantly told me I had no right to use that term, so speaking about my experience on a panel about homelessness made me feel a bit like a fake. Hearing the stories of the other speakers made me think what I had gone through was not really that intense or tragic, even if it felt that way to me at the time.

When it was my turn, I started with something about invisible homeless and then spoke about what and how it happened last year. I honestly don’t remember what I said afterwards. It was so difficult to say those things in front of my peers, some of which I had classes with last fall. Did I mention the room was packed? People were sitting all around on the floor and near the door. I didn’t know where to look. I finished by saying that what I went through was only a fraction of what the other speakers had been through and could only imagine how much more difficult it would have been had it not been for my friends and church.

There was a short question and answer session after we shared. I was asked what the school said when I told them. I answered by telling her that there wasn’t anything they really could have done but that was an area of improvement for the school.  Another person asked me what kept me going through the experience. I told her that I was plain stubborn and knew that if I didn’t push through, I wouldn’t have graduated. I also mentioned that my faith in Christ was a huge source of hope and comfort as well as solution for my situation.

After the event was over, people came up to me and shook my hand thanking me for sharing. One guy kept saying how “gusty” it was for me to talk about that in front of my classmates “especially at Elon”. The wife of Elon’s president also spoke to me and said she remembered reading my article in the spring and wished me luck in the future. One student gave me a hug and said that my story moved his friends deeply, even though he had dragged them to the event and they had previously made fun of homeless people. It was so reassuring hearing things like that from the audience. I could tell a lot of them were close to tears, although I can’t claim credit for that. This has given me the courage to claim my experience and speak at further events about homelessness.

I haven’t had the courage to watch the video yet, but I believe there is a video in this Pendulum article.

There are two more things I want to mention in this post. (1) Starting a diet and workout regime during Thanksgiving week is probably the worst week of the year to start anything requiring physical activity and calorie counting. #getswole (2) I APPLIED TO GRAD SCHOOL!!! I should begin to hear back from schools mid-December. Let us pray.

Beck

PS: My friend and future brother-in-law, Andrew, started a blog this month. Check it out y’all. He’s super well-read…like, better than me. #jealous

Postgraduate Depression

You know the classic story of the hero? He, or in this case she, accepts a challenge, goes through obstacles, faces a crises and recovers to reach her goal. Well, readers, my crisis is over. How do I know that my crisis is over? I woke up this morning and felt like I had something to say. For the first time since I returned from my summer job a month ago, I wanted to write.

Postgraduate depression is a real thing. It’s akin to First-year Loneliness Syndrome most college students go through. It’s probably the same kind of “freaking out” that all people go through anytime there’s a major change in his or her life. Postgraduate depression can be described as a prolonged feeling of “What am I doing with my life?” with the resulting echo being a hollow “nothing, nothing” that fades into the nights of Netflix binge watching and an old friend you graduated with from college, procrastination.

I got so discouraged that I deactivated my Facebook and started calling/emailing my friends that I wanted to keep in touch with (crazy concept, I know). I didn’t want to see day after day that “everybody” was getting great jobs or going to great schools. And I was just sitting here, with an empty bank account and empty days ahead. I know that social media is a farce, that people create ideal versions of their perfectly pictured lives to display for the public; but even so, I couldn’t help but think that I wasn’t making progress.

I spoke with a friend recently who is moving back in with her parents soon in order to save more money. She also felt depressed, like she was moving backwards. But we decided that just because we feel social pressure to get perfect jobs, move out of our parent’s homes, and start our “adult lives”, doesn’t mean that we’re failing at life if we’re not doing those things immediately. Everybody has their own path. Whether it takes you four or six years to get an undergraduate degree, you’re still working toward your goals. Don’t let people make you feel bad for taking time to figure out exactly what you want to do, or for working through obstacles like a lack of resources. The important thing is that you do have goals and that you persevere.

I use my sister as an example all the time. She graduated from college two years ago. During the past two years, she has continued taking courses to fulfill prerequisites for graduate school and made progress into her intended career by becoming a nurse assistant. Now she works at Duke University Hospital and is most likely entering PA school next fall. That’s progress. Who cares if it took two or more years? She has gone through countless setbacks, but has steadily worked toward her goal; no one can say that she has been sitting around doing nothing.

Some people would still judge her for moving back in with her parents this summer, but like I said, everybody has their own path. Until you know everything about what a person has or is going through, you can’t judge whether they are “failing” at life. People forget that college students are graduating into a different economy nowadays. It used to be that people could move out and start a career right after college, but I’ll be lucky to get any job that allows me to start paying back my student loans this year. So I say, screw those people; you do you. I may not have any immediate plans, but I do have goals for graduate school, working abroad and more; and I don’t have plans to give up, no matter how long it takes.

Beck

Life is Beautiful

Graduation

Who is in charge of speeding up and slowing down time? Whoever it is, you’re fired, because the past two weeks have sped by in a moment. When I was a kid, I remember my parents telling me that time would pass faster the older you get; they weren’t kidding. I wonder why it’s so hard to slow down and make the most out of enjoying the moment.

I graduated 12 days ago. It was a beautiful day. So much happened that weekend, it’s hard to process! I just remember smiling so much it hurt. I wanted to stretch each second out like taffy, so it would last as long as possible. When I finally drove away and realized I didn’t have any excuse to go back, it was a bittersweet feeling. That day I felt invincible, because I had accomplished something really hard, something not many others get to do.

My invincibility didn’t last long though. My car didn’t care that I had to drive to Raleigh that day; it still blew a tire. It turned out to be a nail. It was Memorial weekend though, so I had to wait until Monday to get my tire patched. A small hiccup in the day’s festivities, but a sobering one for sure. The rest of the day I spent driving 50mph on the highway for more than two hours trying get everyone where they needed to be.

The next day, my parents renewed their marriage vows and we had a celebration at church. I woke up early, got out my nicest salwar kamez, and headed to the church with my family. In our usual fashion, we were more than 30 minutes late, but what can you do when your entire family is wired for Indian Standard Time? We ate a cake with one of my parents’ cheesy wedding photos printed on it, and hung out/took naps in the afternoon. That night, we headed to an impromptu dinner at The Pit in Raleigh.

On Monday, I said goodbye to my hilarious Uncle and Mississippi friends who travelled up for the weekend. I also traveled down to Charlotte in order to spend as much time with my sister before she left for home in Seattle. I dropped her off at the airport yesterday. I miss her so much already!

What I’ve written here is basically a summary of events that I’ve participated in over the past two weeks. What I haven’t written here are the crazy ups and downs, dramatic arguments, and frustrating obstacles that my family and I have worked through in this short amount of time. The marriage vow renewel ceremony was also a family renewel ceremony. My family has been apart for so long, and we are just beginning to be knit back together. I am getting used to having my Dad around, referring to his judgement, and receiving affection from him.  At times, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s a discomfort I welcome, because I know it is good. We’re all having to relearn how to trust, rely on, and be there for each other. I may have come from a broken home, but it is no longer broken; for that, I praise God.

Beck

Flying the Coop

Homecoming

Throw back to my second year!

It’s crazy how time flies. I’m graduating college in nine days. So many changes have happened in my life in such a short period of time! Four years sounds like a long time as a first year student, but it goes by in the blink of an eye. I want to say I’m going to miss college. It’s “the best four years of your life”, right? But honestly, there isn’t much I’m going to miss about Elon besides having friends nearby. Part of me wishes I had more time to participate in the community, but that’s only because this was the first year I’ve actually been able to do that in a meaningful way. I think I will miss being challenged intellectually. I really enjoyed the discussions I had in some of my classes. Where else do people come together and devote their time to dealing with complicated issues and new ideas?

But I’m tired of talking (and writing essays) about these ideas; I want to act on them. I feel ready to move on to the next stage of my life. I want greater intellectual challenges and opportunities for community. I want to start a career that allows me to be the person I became through this experience and helps me continue to grow.

The other day I was walking past the small downtown streets of Elon. The bricks led me past the pizza place, coffee shop, and student theater. I smelled the honeysuckle in the air. I looked up into the canopy of ancient oaks. I heard the train blow past the school, just like it does every day at 5pm. And I realized that no matter what happened to me here, good and bad, it’s still my home, and I love it. I won’t miss Elon, because I’m taking Elon with me (No, I haven’t stolen a brick yet!). Everywhere I go, I will remember the friends I met, the professors I was honored to work with, and the memories I made that make my heart swell with warmth.

The same itch that had you to get out of the nest as a high school senior is the same itch you get as a college senior. It’s a restlessness that is filled with nervous excitement and the knowledge that something amazing is about to happen. But one of the first things you learn when you get to college is how awesome your mom’s cooking is, how warm your old bed is, and how far away your friends are. I am relearning all this now that I’m leaving home for the second time. But, this phoenix is flying the coop, because there is much more to experience in life, and I am so ready for it.

Beck

Police Officers and Overheard Conversations

I meant to blog about some events last week and didn’t have time to write! Prepare to time travel into the nearly present past…

tumblr_n4gsiv4ufM1qirafjo2_500

It is last Tuesday and I’m driving to class. I have two classes one after the other, and if I don’t run, I’m usually late. So today, I decided to drive instead. The buildings are maybe a five minute drive a part, so naturally, I wasn’t wearing a seat belt. I forgot that my life is…well, Beck, so I didn’t think anything of it. Lo and behold! Who should see me turning into the parking lot but the good ole town police. I didn’t see the cop pull in after me, so I parked and prepared to get out when I saw the flashing lights in my mirrors. I immediately knew why he had pulled me over and waited for him to get out of his car in slow motion (with his deputy in tow) and approach my window. The usual cop and driver script was played through, both of us unenthusiastically, and I gave him my license and registration. He kept me waiting in my car for a long time while he did magic and mysterious things with my documents in his car. Eventually, he returned with a bright and shiny ticket, which I didn’t even look at before throwing it in my glove compartment and heading to class. At this point, I was twenty minutes late and very hot and bothered.

I can understand if I wasn’t wearing a seat belt on the interstate, but I was in the car for less than five minutes and I got a ticket. Of course, I didn’t tell him that; he wouldn’t have cared anyway. I know it’s ultimately my fault and “responsibility” and “Click-it or Ticket” blah blah blah, but really, he could have let me go with a warning. In my experience, Po-po don’t give “warnings” unless you’re a flirty blonde. Maybe that’s not true, but I’m upset about this, so (:P). This has not been a good year for me and Rihonce (my car) thus far.

Update: I went in for my court date and a super cute DA let me off. Hooray for not having to pay the ticket! I’m mending my ways and never driving without my seat belt again!

my brain gets angry

I’m getting the feeling none of you realize how small the dating pool is for intelligent women at my school. This goes beyond the girl/boy ratio as many of the guys that do attend my school are, well…frat boys.

Exhibit A
I heard a conversation very much like this while waiting in line to pick up a package this week.

Dude 1: How was your weekend, bro?
Dude 2: I’m exhausted. I threw up, like, four times every night.
Dude 1: Yeah, I just chucked it out the third floor balcony every night. Haha
Dude 2: I went home, popped a Prozac before bed and maxed out.
Dude 1: Yeah dude, I got home, smoked a bowl and just chilled.

Ladies and gentleman, these men will most likely procreate someday…#ohdear

I’ll leave you with that,

Beck

PS: Yes, I’m aware that all my images are from The Mindy Project and I don’t care. Mindy is my spirit animal (sometimes).