Writing to Relieve Stress


Every once in awhile I hit a point in my life where I get stressed and need relief. In moments like this, no amount of junk food, binge watching, or spa treatments can help me feel better. In order for me to pull myself out of the hole that I sometimes walk into, I must write.  I know you may be thinking, “Well you are already a good writer so, that should be easy.” My response to you would be; that is not entirely true. Writing about things you love to talk about are easy, but finding the words to express your innermost feelings is often a difficult task. Personally, I have found solace in discussing my emotions through creative writing such as poetry, so that I can vent while also creating and producing meaningful writing that I can be proud of in the long run.

For some reason, poetry is an art that I am able to vent through, and afterwards I tend to not only feel better, but I also improve my writing skills in the process. I want to share with you all a piece that I wrote at a time when my emotions had become overbearing. This piece of writing was a game changer for me because it helped me express myself without revealing too much about myself at the same time. I feel as though sometimes we fear being vulnerable, so instead we create this facade of strength so we can appear okay to people on the outside.I found that various forms of structured writing, such as poems, melodies, raps, and short stories, can be a perfect place to document your feelings. So here is my first poetry piece that I uniquely used as a way to relieve stress. Please read, indulge in my thoughts and leave your opinions below.    

Seeds of Emotions

One of the worst feelings in the world is finding out that the world you love does not feel the same

The excruciating, stomach-churning emotions that follow this revelation are enough to make you swallow yourself

Within the tears you cry, you will eventually find a sense of internal, and external self.

Your despair will offer a purpose, and a meaning to the issues that you must soon accept. Depression will occur while your mind wonders towards the possibilities of the future that will never exist.

In the midst of the lingering disappointment, there will be a deep enlightenment

The words that were said will continue to rip you to shreds, and often leave lasting impressions that become etched into your skull

Actions can never be returned to the sender once the deed is done

However, they leave an everlasting memory which will replay, and alter all life choices that will come

The same person that once enraptured your mind, has the power to alter your entire outlook on the world

In doing so their feelings for you will cause you to develop feelings for them, and if those same feelings are not reciprocated a seed will sprout

A gut wrenching seed with deep envious filled roots, and leaves that grimace at the sky while growing to its full potential

Afterwards this seed will become a sprout, and this sprout that became a plant, will develop new seeds that will create new plants,

and these feelings will continue to grow.

Once these feelings mature, and reach maturation we can no longer hold them in and they flow out through our words, and our tears, and our actions and our decisions,

and we make a mockery of ourselves and the situation based on feelings.

We do this because one of the worst feelings is finding out that the world that loves us is not the one that we love

Sometimes love, and the world of love are just too psychologically disturbing to live with but too devastating to live without.

Now that you have read my poem , can I ask you a question? Yes? Okay. How does this poem make you feel? Do you notice any of your own deep seated emotions in the words of this poem? If you answer is “Yes” then this poem could have been written by you. What I mean when I say this is that the feelings in this poem that resonated deeply with you could be in a poem that you write to relieve stress. Just like how some choose to go to the gym to burn off some steam, you could sit back, think about your grievances and then write about them. While writing you can let yourself go, you can cry, scream, shout, even rip holes in the paper with your pen if it will make you feel better! Don’t just think of writing as a tool that you have to use to write a college essay. No, you can use writing to benefit you, to help you say things that are too difficult for you to articulate, and to help you relax. No one has to read your words, but I guarantee you that after you write, specifically with a pen and paper, you will feel so much better.

When I’m stressed I write poetry, but when you are stressed you can write anything. Just try it for yourself and make sure that you are being completely honest in your words. I encourage all of my readers to get a piece of paper and a pen, and just write about your problems or any feelings in general. Speak your truth in your mind and let it reign free through your pen. Don’t stop until you start to feel those clouds in your mind disappear and your heart beat starts to slow down. Then after you finish leave me a comment and let me know if writing helped you like it helps me.

Growing and Getting Through

During the semester it may be difficult for students to balance their personal lives and their academic conquests. At some points it may even feel as though you are going “crazy” between dealing with the stress at home, at work, and at school. As a  student I can attest to how difficult it is to find time to make everyone happy, but the truth is it’s impossible to satisfy everyone’s needs and your own! You may be thinking to yourself, “That’s not true, it is possible to make everyone in my life happy.” My response to that would be “If you are making everyone happy, are you yourself truly happy? After you’ve done everything for everyone else, how do you feel mentally, physically and emotionally? Are you strong enough to do all you need to do for yourself as well or do you find yourself feeling exhausted and drained?” I think once you reflect on those questions, you will realize  that living only to please others has in fact been taking away from you pleasing yourself.

I decided to discuss this topic this week because at the tender age of 24, I have finally realized that I am not capable of making everyone happy. I thought that I was strong enough to balance my personal and academic life, while also being there for everyone else. In all actuality, I was absorbing everyone else’s issues and adding them on to my own personal problems. Days would go by and I would feel consumed with anger and stress, but I couldn’t put my finger on the issue. One day I decided to find a way to occupy my wandering mind, and I found a book that changed my outlook on life. The name of the book that I found solace in is called “All About Love: New Visions” by bell hooks . This book opened up my mind to the possibility that I was the root of my problems. I was causing myself a lot of stress and frustration because I was dwelling on issues that were out of my control rather than moving on and accepting things for what they were.

After reading this book I looked at my life through a different lens, and I began to adapt the ideas in this book to my personal life. I noticed that the more that I accepted the things bell hooks provides in her book, the more relationships in my life began to change. Not only were the dynamics in my relationships beginning to change, I was also growing and I could see my growth. I was accepting that there are things that I cannot change, allowing myself to work through issues in a positive light, and expressing my inner most thoughts that I historically tried to harbor inside of me. This change in the way I was navigating through my life helped me mentally, and physically. Not only was I feeling better about the things I could and couldn’t do, but I was also able to feel more confident in completing the academic work I had to do for myself. This book “All About Love: New Visions” has taught me about  more than the dynamics of love;  it also taught me so much about myself. It showed me that in order for me to find a way to say no to others so that I could say yes to myself, I had to grow. I had to grow out of the current position I had placed myself in, and go through a metamorphosis into a new me.

I want each of you that are reading this blog to know that in life sometimes you must unapologetically take your feelings into consideration before others. I am not saying to be selfish because there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking care of others. Rather what I’m saying is you must first work on your own personal happiness, and then you have to pick and choose what you can do for other people. Don’t over exert and extend yourself to help others when you need to take care of yourself. Instead, do what you can for others, while also making sure you are okay in the process. I know that making such a drastic change as taking care of yourself as much as you take care of others won’t be easy. However, in order for you to be happy, healthy, and mentally stable you must take the appropriate steps to comfort and console yourself.

I urge everyone who is reading this blog to take a moment and ask yourself:

  1. Have you cried randomly in the last few weeks?
  2. Are you doing too much for others and feeling unappreciated?
  3. Do you often feel like you are overwhelmed with your life?

If the answer to any of these questions are yes, then you need to take a break and take care of yourself. The only way for you to feel better about any situation you are in is for you to practice self-care and make sure you are okay.

Feel free to use the comment box below to vent about what’s on your mind.
And, has anyone read this book that helped me so much ? If so, leave a note about your experiences with it!

The Black Panther: The Movement Within Black History Month

A comic book cover of Black Panther


Since the invention of television in the early 1900s, there has always been a lack of equal representation of all races. Sitcoms, cartoons, movies and even commercials were dominated with predominantly white leading actors and supporting casts. According to the article “The Golden Age Of Blacks In Television: The Late 1960s”  by J. Fred MacDonald, “In part, the changing complexion of TV in the late 1960s was a reflection within the industry of the changes wrought by the great social and legal movement that was the push for civil rights. Until this date there had been few sponsored network shows headed by black actors.” It was not until the late 1900s that people of African descent were given roles in movies, but most of these roles were either demeaning or considered black exploitation. MacDonald explains that people of African descent were offered parts in predominantly white movies with minimum lines and camera time, people such as: Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) from Star Trek, Louise Beavers (Delilah Johnson) in The Imitation of Life, or James Baskett (Uncle Remus) and Hattie McDaniel (Aunty Tempy) in Disney’s cartoon Song of the South. All of their roles in one way or another played into negative stereotypes that were are related to people of African descent, and displayed them in a negative light. As time progressed and the Civil Rights Movement went into effect, television shows and movies became more diverse, as they began to air shows that showed people of African descent in roles that were more than just background props. As examples the article lists television shows such as The Cosby Show, Julia, I SPY and Room 222 which depicted people of African descent in a more respectful and accurate light. These shows were full of characters that portrayed people of African descent positively rather than in a way that played into negative connotations that were associated with their race.

More recently I’ve noticed that people of African descent have been dominating movie/television screens and playing characters that are relatable to people of all races. After going to see movies like Hidden Figures, Moonlight, Get Out, Fences, The Butler, and Straight Outta Compton, just to name a few, I feel as though these movies  have accurately depicted the lives and struggles people of African descent face today and have faced in history.  These movies have also given people of African descent a platform to have their voices heard, as movies are now created from their point of view. There is currently great excitement within the African American community because a new movie is being released that approaches African American film in a new way. The movie that is causing so much excitement is called “The Black Panther.” On February 16, 2018, about halfway through Black History Month, a movie about a Marvel Superhero of African descent will finally be released. The Black Panther movie is set in the nation of Wakanda, which is a technological fortress inhabited by African royalty and their people. Without giving too much away about the movie, the main character must return home to take over as heir to the throne after his father’s death. Now I know that the content of this movie sounds exciting, but that’s not the only reason that this movie is outselling every previous superhero film in advance ticket sales.

The Black Panther movie, which is directed by an African American man named Ryan Coogler, is so popular because it is breaking down barriers of visual media that have always glorified white superheroes such as Superman, Batman, Captain America, and Wonder Woman, while ignoring or downplaying the importance of superheroes of African descent such as Luke Cage, Black Lightning, Batwing, Storm, and The Black Panther. This introduction of a superhero of African descent into the lives of people who are accustomed to associating superheroes with the white race, provides a new dynamic into what group of people are seen as suitable role models or saviors. Not only is this movie centered on a superhero of African descent, but also the cast of this movie is the epitome of Black Excellence. Highly esteemed actors such as Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got To Do With It), Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), Michael B. Jordan (Creed), Chadwick Boseman (42), and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) all play major roles in this movie, and collectively have drawn in the attention of various audiences. The combination of the cast members and the content of this movie has created a fierce movement within communities of color. People are excited about this movie, and yearning to see this movie because it signifies a feeling of pride during a time where being a person of African descent is so difficult.

The Black Panther gives underrepresented groups a feeling of pride because it shows us that we can be excellent, strong, intelligent, and successful, but most of all, a hero. In a way, this movie is saying, “We do not need to wait on the white savior to rescue us from our struggles, we can rescue ourselves.” Superheroes of African descent like The Black Panther encourage young children and adults who grew up in the era of white-only superheroes to strive for greatness because they are being presented with visuals of greatness. I urge everyone–young and old–to go out and see The Black Panther movie. I feel that this movie could provide insight for people of all races, creeds and colors about how people of African descent prefer to be portrayed in media. We don’t want to be limited to categories and stereotypes that were created in segregationist eras. We are more than that, and this movie shows us and the people who seek to degrade us that we are more than the expectations placed on us. So go out, see the movie, and be part of The Black History Month Movement that will become a major part of history.

P.S. If you are just as excited to see this movies as I am, let me know what this movie means to you in the comment box below.


Love vs. Valentines Day

Today I would like to write about a very sensitive topic that effects everyone in every generation. This very sensitive topic that I will be discussing is VALENTINES DAY, or The “DAY” of “LOVE”.  Ever since I was a young child I noticed how much emphasis people would put on Valentine’s Day. School girls would base their whole relationship status on whether or not they received a gift from their special guy. Young men would come to school with the biggest teddy bears that they could find, in hopes of outshining other guy’s gifts. Valentine’s Day was always a competition surrounding who gave the best gift, and who received the best gift. In my eyes, Valentine’s Day was more about who could spend the most money on their significant other, rather than finding ways to express their love truly. Valentine’s Day has become a day to obsess over because it symbolizes the celebration of Love and affection. However the commemoration of Love should not be celebrated once a year, but all year around.

One of the major reasons that people are so obsessed with Valentine’s Day is that everyone is searching for love. Everyone thinks that once they find that perfect person to love them, all will be right with the world. Unfortunately this assumption isn’t true. Love comes with just as much complications as anything else in life, if not MORE. Don’t get me wrong, Love is definitely a beautiful part of life. However finding love and keeping love isn’t always accurately portrayed in the media. Love , real love that is, is a complex necessity of life, which is powerful enough to initiate a major catastrophe, but also end a prolonged war.  Love is also a very dangerous force that can be used for positive, as well as negative purposes.

This obsession with love dates back to the early ages of Greek Mythology. In Greek mythology there was a God named Eros who was known as “The God of Love”. Eros was said to be responsible for helping populate the world. He was also alleged to be the “United power of love who brought harmony to conflict”. Eros was depicted as either an extremely handsome man, or a child holding a bow and arrow. The God of Love’s outward appearance was eventually adapted to the modern day version of Cupid. Cupid is now known as the “Love Doctor” who goes around shooting people with arrows, so that they can fall in love. Be that as it may, I’ve noticed that Cupid’s legacy is more prominent in February, than any other month. Why is Love known to be celebrated on one special day, in one special month? Love is a universal phenomenon that has the power to control minds, and alter lives for the better (or worse). Love should be celebrated at all times, and not just on one specific day. The beauty of Love should not be confined, it should be expressed on a daily basis.

Please DO NOT misinterpret what I’m saying, Valentine’s Day is a very important day. Yes, your significant other, or love interest should buy you a gift, and make you feel special. However when you’re in a relationship, you should always feel special. The person that you are spending your time with, should make it their business to make you happy, and vice versa. I just feel that people put too much emphasis on Valentine’s Day, instead of expressing their love regularly. Valentine’s Day is a day, that two people enhance the way they express their love for one another. However if you are single on Valentine’s Day, you should not feel left out of the festivities. There are various places that have single mixers, and parties for people looking for love. If you’re too modest to go to a singles mixer, or you just want to be alone, be your own valentine! Practice self-love and spend the day pampering yourself. Go out, explore the earth, find a new restaurant, and don’t forget to order dessert. Get your nails and hair done! Treat yourself!!  No one knows what you like better than you!! Once your figure out how to love yourself, then you can truly love someone else.  In life the little things matter the most, and Love shouldn’t be based on fancy gifts, given on special holidays. Love should be given all the time, and shown through all that we do. Our actions, words, choices and decisions in life should all express the love we feel for one another, and most importantly how we love ourselves.

My Internal Fight at My Grandmother’s Funeral

Young girl dressed in black reading bible

A few weeks ago my grandmother closed her eyes one last time and left the physical confines of her body. After we lost her I began to wonder what I could possibly say at her funeral that would express my feelings for her. As I brainstormed things that I could possibly say about her, nothing seemed to flow well enough for me. I decided that I shouldn’t speak at her funeral, and I should stick to completing the tasks of creating her photo collage, writing her eulogy, and her obituary before the service. After completing these tasks to the best of my ability, I felt a deep sense of dissatisfaction. Although I had already done so much to contribute to the funeral service, I  felt like I hadn’t done enough.

The day of the funeral came and I felt so much anxiety about whether or not I should go up and say something to honor my grandmother. Internally my body was saying “Cherishe you are going up to read a scripture. You don’t need to speak. Let someone else talk.” However, when it was time for the words of tribute part of the program, only two people got up to speak on my grandmother’s behalf. I was in shock because the church where the service was being held was so full that people in the back had to stand through the service. So imagine my shock when the audience was asked to share their experiences and not many stood up to utter a word. I decided at that moment that if these people weren’t going to talk about my grandma, I was going to go up their and speak on her behalf. Before I knew it I walked up there, and said my piece about my grandma while staring into the faces of all those who she had helped, but who were reluctant to speak about her character.  I stood up there next to my grandmother’s casket and shared an intimate moment that we both experienced together during my childhood.  

The moment that I shared with the audience was “The Chicken Story” which was my favorite memory of my grandmother. This story dates back to when I was around four, and I decided that I wanted a chicken for a pet. I decided to go into my aunt’s fridge one day while my grandmother was babysitting me and take out an egg. I took the egg and placed it in a box so that it could warm up and my egg would hatch into a baby chicken. My grandma watched me do this and allowed my imagination to run wild, instead of scolding me about playing with food. The next day my grandmother told me that the egg that I tried so diligently to warm up so that it could hatch was discovered by my aunt. Apparently my aunt had picked up the box that I was using to warm my egg, and the egg fell out and splattered on the floor. When my grandma told me this story we laughed so hard, and afterwards she didn’t scold me. She encouraged my imagination and pushed me to keep dreaming.

This moment was so special to me because it allowed me to try, fail, and then learn from my mistake. I thought that this story was so appropriate and after I shared it , I felt a weight come off my chest. In that moment that I decided to speak on my grandmother’s behalf I had done my last task to honor my grandmother’s legacy. Although I doubted my ability to speak about her character in a way that others would understand, I found a way out of no way.

On that day I learned what I was capable of when I put my mind to it, and I would like to say to other people that we are much more than we think we are. We often doubt our ability to be great, and what we have to learn is that we are so much more , and we are capable of so much more. My advice to anyone who has been in a position or is currently going through an internal fight with themselves is, don’t doubt yourself.  Have confidence in your ability to succeed at all that you put your mind to, and then go out and live your best life! If I let fear and uncertainty stop me, I would have never been able to honor my grandmother. Don’t let an amazing opportunity pass you by because you are fighting yourself. Relax, breathe, and allow yourself be exactly who you are and show your greatness to the world.

The Semester is Almost Over!

Hello students, faculty, graduates, undergraduates, and all others!! I have amazing news, the fall semester is finally coming to an end, and we have all made it through. I must say that this semester was extremely trying in my opinion, and I am more than ecstatic to kick my heels up and rest. However, I’ve noticed that although the semester is winding down, I can’t shake the feeling that I have assignments to hand in. At times when I decide to take a little break, I find myself feeling guilty that I’m not doing work. I also noticed that it’s a bit difficult for me to sleep late, because I still have anxiety about completing assignments that are already for the most part done. I still wake up at 6:00 am, even on the weekends, because in the back of my mind, I have to be ready for class. After I have awoken, and I realize that I don’t have to go to school on the weekend, a feeling of anxiety comes over me because I’m not being productive. I’m not hustling to review notes for different classes, complete lab reports, and study for exams. My mind, body, and soul have adapted to constantly working that now I am unable to adjust to having down time!

My advice to anyone who is experiencing the same difficulties as me is to GIVE IT TIME! Throughout the year we neglect all of our needs in order to finish off every semester with passing grades. We barely get eight hours of sleep because we are either up studying or partying before class the next day. Students rarely eat a well-balanced meal throughout the semester, because we look for the cheapest meal, so that we can preserve our money. Students rarely get enough exercise, asides from running up and down the stairs from classes, which also can play a large role in not getting enough rest. Students deprive themselves of all the basic necessities that will ensure a happy and healthy semester. Once the semester ends we are all exhausted, but we find it difficult to unwind immediately.

I urge students to take advantage of this upcoming time of relaxation. I know everyone has anxiety, while waiting for their final grades. Just take a minute for yourself and BREATHE! I’m sure that everyone knows where they stand academically, based on exams taken throughout the semester, as well as how comfortable they felt on their finals. The semester is almost over, and stressing over finals will not improve your grades!!! Stress is never helpful, only harmful.

During winter break, take time for yourself to just relax! Find activities that meet your needs, whether these activities are exhilarating or peaceful. Join a yoga class to become one with your body, or join a kickboxing class to relieve stress. Find whatever activities tickle your fancy during break and DO THEM!! Make the most of it. Hit the reset button! This whole semester has been based on studying hard and getting good grades. You know what they say “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. DON’T be DULL!! Go out there and experience the world! Make amazing memories, and enjoy your winter break. YOU DESERVE IT!!

Trying Something New: Brooklyn Escape Room

One day as I was walking home from school, I found myself on Pacific Street and a building caught my eye. The bright LED lights that were coming from the scaffold in front of the building were bold and brazing. This tiny building completely enraptured my mind to the point that I made a complete stop to glance inside. When I peered inside I noticed that there was a young lady sitting at a table, concentrating intensely on the work in front of her. I also noticed that the décor within this tiny building was simple yet sophisticated. I said to myself I must research this establishment, and find out what occurs in this building. That same night I looked up The Brooklyn Escape Room on google and to my surprise, I found out that this tiny building actually held an escape the room adventure! I decided that night that I would return, and take a chance at seeing how great my analytical skills, actually were. A few months ago I decided to take that chance and see how fast I could escape the room.

My cousin and I caught the train to Atlantic Avenue and walked two or three blocks to Pacific Street between 4th and 5th avenue. Although it was sweltering hot outside, the walk was short because I was so excited about this new life changing experience! As we entered the establishment we were greeted warmly by our host Samuel Walker, and after paying, we signed waivers for our own protection. After everything was squared away, we were led down a corridor with lockers. We were told to put all of our belongings into the locker, including our cellphones!! After we locked up our stuff, we were briefed on all the rules of the game. We were then blindfolded, separated and led into a dark room. Then, we were locked in separate cells, and our host left the room. I was so uneasy, and uncomfortable that I was locked up, that I began to panic a bit. Eventually after talking to my cousin through the cell, I calmed down and we began to work together to escape the room. We were given exactly an hour to find all the necessary clues to escape each room. Did I mention that we had to escape several rooms??!!

After we escaped our cells, we entered another room that was intricately designed. The décor was thoroughly thought out to the point that I felt like I was really in a dungeon. There were torture devices, wooden floors that squeaked, candle lit walls, knives, gates that were dripping blood and various trap doors, which will keep you on your toes. We were allowed a limited amount of clues.They were cryptic, yet extremely helpful. Each room that we entered tested us physically, as well as mentally. There were also hidden surprises at every turn that made us pay attention to every single detail. Each room had hidden clues, and each room was connected which made escaping the room difficult.
The most difficult room that we encountered was at the end of a dimly lit corridor. There was a contraption made of levers that required a specific sequence of numbers, in order to open the door into the final room. It took my cousin and I, at least 20 minutes just to get through this one specific door. With help from our host we were able to get through this door, and enter into the final room. Our host told us that we had six minutes on the clock, and we went into commando mode. We started running around the room trying to find the hidden clues to open the final door. When we finally found the key, the treasure we found inside left us puzzled. What were we supposed to do with the map that was provided to us ? We eventually figured out how to make the best of what we were given. There were clues in the room that led us to a trap door. After completing the task within the trap door, a key fell to the floor, as our host yelled out we had one minute remaining. I grabbed the key, tossed it to my cousin and he raced to the door. After pushing the key into the keyhole, MY COUSIN OPENED THE DOOR AND WE ESCAPED THE ROOM!!!!! We were so excited to finally have escaped the room, that we greeted our host with open arms.

I must say that this was an amazing experience, and I am so glad that I took the chance to try out something new. This escape the room was so trivial, yet so fun that I found myself wishing that I could do it again. In the beginning I was so scared, that I let my fear hinder me from figuring out the puzzle as soon as the clock started. The dark hallways, scary sounds, and difficult puzzles gave me a real run for my money. However, when we finally escaped the room, I felt accomplished, as well as ecstatic. The Brooklyn Escape Room is definitely more than it appears to be on the outside looking in. I would recommend this escape the room to anyone who is looking to have a fun time, while working all parts of their brain. I give this escape the room 5 out of 5 stars. The experience was amazing, and so was the service we received from our host. I would definitely return to this escape the room again!! Have you ever been? What did you enjoy about it?

Crying at the 2017 HASTAC Conference

A few months ago I was offered an all-expense paid trip to Orlando Florida to speak on a panel at the 2017 HASTAC Conference. When I found out that I was chosen, I was in shock that The Futures Initiative Peer Mentoring Program really chose me “Cherishe A Cumma” an undergraduate, to attend such a prestigious event. For those of you who many not be familiar with the Futures Initiative Peer Mentoring program, click the link here for more information on the program. The Futures Initiative Peer Mentoring program is a community of CUNY students from vast disciplines, who come together and build meaningful relationships with one another. The current mentors and mentees in this program and myself, dedicate our time to focusing on elements such as student centered pedagogy, peer mentoring, and leadership development.

On Thursday November 2nd, I traveled with members of The Futures Initiative Team such as Cathy Davidson, Lauren Melendez, Frances Tran and Mike Rifino to The University of Central Florida to present at The HASTAC Conference. While at the Conference, my panel members and I participated in a poster presentation on “’New Majority’ Student Success: Fostering Connection, Renewal and Leadership Through Peer Mentoring” as well as a panel discussion on “The Possible Worlds of Digital Humanities”. On the day of our presentation I was in a very strange mental state, and I could not figure out what was happening to me emotionally. However, the panel discussion commenced and when it was my turn to speak about my experience in The Futures Initiative Peer Mentoring program I lost complete control of my tear ducts. My heart was so touched that I was afforded the opportunity to speak at an event of this caliber, that I could no longer contain my emotions. My tears began to pour out of me as I spoke, but I was determined to get my point across, and that is exactly what I did.

After the panel discussion was over I made my way towards the door to get some fresh air. However, I was stopped by a few audience members who had heard my speech, and wanted to commend me for telling my truth. I was, for a lack of a better words, confused. I thought to myself: How could these people understand me through my blubbering? What I didn’t realize was that my display of vulnerability allowed people to understand me, and also relate and share their stories with me about their own struggles within academia.

I have decided to share this important moment in my life with you, with hopes that you can understand that sometimes being emotional doesn’t mean you are weak. I chose to take down the facade, and show the audience members who I was and how I really felt about The Futures Initiative Peer Mentoring program. This program has afforded me the opportunities to become an undergraduate editor of the book “Structuring Equality: A Handbook for Student-Centered Learning” , then a student author in the upcoming Diversity & Democracy issue focusing on Building Institutional Capacity for Student Success. Even after giving me so much, they assisted me with admission to The CUNY Pipeline Program at The Graduate Center and then paid for me to attend the HASTAC Conference. Can you see that my tears were not a moment of weakness on my part, but a feeling of overwhelming gratitude? Had I not applied for The Futures Initiative Program, I would not have gained the opportunities I listed above, but I also may not have been qualified to write for this blog in the first place. This program has given me so much, and in that moment when I was asked to reflect on my experience,that abundance of amazing opportunities the program has afforded me, all came to me at once .

As a student from a CUNY campus, it was overwhelming to visit another university to talk in an academic space about how I feel. To be heard by people from prestigious universities who were interested in what I had to say was a game changer for me, and it made think back to the day I received the email to apply for The Futures Initiative Program from my professor Anwar Uhuru. Had I ignored his instructions to apply for this program, I would not be in the position I am in today. My point in saying all of this is to tell you, that being open emotionally allows other to see you and see pieces of themselves in you. When that occurs, you form relationships with people who you would have never imagined could happen. However in order for you to be put in a position where you can cry on a panel, you must first take the chance and apply for the program.
As someone once said to me “Dont ignore your emails, read them on your desktop computer”. By reading your email , and applying for programs you can put yourself in the position to not only have your voice heard, but also find the right listeners. My advice to all CUNY students is to change your destiny, read your emails, apply for programs, and most of all don’t be afraid to show who you are on the inside.
Now that I have shared my experiences with you, tell me if you have ever been in a position where you have been emotional at an inopportune moment? If not, Have you ever applied to a program that changed you life for the better? Lastly, have you ever almost missed out on an opportunity because you ignored an email?

Summer School Blues

A few years ago I had the pleasure of signing up for a 5 week summer math course. In my mind I thought “how difficult could it be to have one class every day, for 2 and a half hours, for about a month?” In the past I have taken 6 classes, including a math course, and I passed every single class. However, I was not aware of how different a fall semester math course compared to a summer math course could be. Well, I must say I was in for a rude awakening when I started my summer class this past June. Not only was I not prepared for the chilling temperatures in the classroom, but I also was not prepared for the fast pace that we would be learning different concepts.

When I entered the classroom it was freezing cold, which for me is a distraction because cold weather makes me tired. After I sat down and tried to get comfortable, my professor would come in and immediately start with the lecture. The material that we were learning was complex, and at times I found myself lost. I constantly asked my professor questions, and I even went up to her desk a few times for clarity. My efforts to understand were to no avail because I just was not grasping the concepts! As time progressed, I tried to teach myself the material that I didn’t understand. I also went to the learning center and sat with the tutor. The end of the first week of class came and we were to take our first test and I knew that I was not prepared. Although I spent 4-5 hours after class studying and trying to complete homework, I WAS NOT GETTING IT!! I asked other students in my class, and they explained that they were also having difficulties with the material we were covering in class. After the first two weeks, several people dropped the class because they were not satisfied with their grades on the first, and second exam. However I decided I would not give up on myself, I would finish the class.

As the semester started to wind down I realized that taking a math class in a summer session is NOT A GOOD IDEA. (Well not for me anyway!) There just is not enough time to explain each topic in detail!! Even though I spent hours studying, I still found it difficult to remember the topics that I was taught previously throughout the week. Mathematics is a complex subject which requires a lot of time and devotion. I felt that I did not have an adequate amount of time to break down each topic and internalize it. Since I was not able to get a firm grasp on each topic, I was not able to perform to the best of my ability on each exam. I found myself in a very unpleasant state, and I cannot learn when I am not happy! I had to pull myself together and put as much effort as possible into my school work so that I could see improvement in my work. It took me sometime, but I developed a method that allowed me to slowly increase my grades in this course.

My advice to anyone considering taking a summer Mathematics class is to think twice. If you do not like math,the summer definitely is not the right time to take a math course! You may have difficulty absorbing the information if your mind is not open to learning math. There is not enough time in the semester for you to gradually teach yourself the information, and try to understand it, which was my experience. T o really succeed you have to be open to the knowledge and be able to work in a fast paced environment.

As a student you also have to realize, that not all professors will be willing, or have the time to,sit with you, after a 2 and a half hour class to explain to you topics you missed. Another thing to remember is that you will be exhausted every day after class, and you’ll have a heavy workload. If you decide to take up a summer class just be ready for intense class hours and intense study sessions. There may be nights where you do not sleep at all and in order to succeed in a mathematics course you need your rest. You must try and find a balance doing things like taking naps between study sessions, eating well, keeping a positive mindset and getting as much help as possible.

A mathematics course can be difficult in a regular 15 week course and it’s even more difficult in a five week course. If you decide to take this route be prepared to work hard, and devote a significant portion of your time to studying. Hanging out with friends, and having time to relax is out of the question. If you want exceptional grades, you must sacrifice a lot of your time and put in maximum effort into every topic that is covered in class. If you want to enjoy your summer, I would encourage you to Think Twice before taking a Summer Math Course. Who knows, there is always a possibility that you may be a math wiz, and could knock out three math courses in the summer session. If you have ever taken a summer class , leave me a few comments and let me know how the experience was for you.

Surviving The Semester

During my freshman year in college I over loaded myself with classes. In the process I prevented myself from getting the most out of my coursework. I didn’t have any breaks in my schedule, and I attended school every day of the week. All of my classes required my undivided attention, as well as serious study time. My first semester in college was spent in the City Tech library doing assignments, and neglecting my friends and family. At times when I felt extremely stressed out and exhausted, I stuffed my face with brownies from Panera Bread. Eating these sweets treats provided a moment of bliss, as well as a sugar rush that would help me complete my work even when I felt horrible. At the end of the semester, my teachers awarded me one A, three B’s, and one depressing D. Unfortunately for me, that one D plagued me for the rest of my college career, and lowered my grade point average in the process. It took me at least 3 semesters, as well as many hours of studying, to get my GPA back to where I wanted it to be. My first semester in college was a learning experience for me, where I figured out how to organize my classes in a way that would be beneficial to me . I also learned how to avoid putting myself into situations that would result in me getting unsatisfactory grades.

I realized and acknowledged the mistakes that I made during my first semester and I was determined not to make them again. While avoiding bad decisions, I found ways to improve the likelihood of me getting an A in each class. Below, I will share some of the tactics that helped me become a more productive student. Some of these tactics are:

1. Take breaks, and give yourself down time.

2. Sit as close to your professor as possible so that you don’t miss anything important .

3. Talk to your professor after class, and visit their office hours.

4. Utilize the tutors in the Learning Center.

5. Email your professors with any concerns you may have.

6. Turn off your phone while reviewing notes/ studying.

7. After class, review your notes so that the information is fresh in your brain.

8. Utilize online tutoring, or YouTube videos.

9. Visit sites like Khan Academy and Wolfram Alpha that specialize in breaking down difficult concepts.

10. While studying, use colored pens to make your notes more appealing to the eye.

11. Eat junk in moderation, but make sure you eat foods that will give you fuel.

12. Go out with your friends and enjoy yourself!! Give yourself time to enjoy life, college is also about enjoying newfound freedom.

13. Stop stressing yourself! Stress promotes more stress. Take a deep breath, relax, and then approach any difficulties you are having in school.

College is the last step in your journey until you become a hard-working adult. Look at this time in your life as your last opportunity, to have the power to choose how you would like to schedule your time. You can organize your own schedule, and decide on which classes you find interesting. In college everything is about what you want. After college, life is about making enough money to support yourself and your family, keep a roof over your head, and food in your mouth. After college real life sinks in, and you have to be able to get a job and be serious so that you can live comfortably. So why not take these last few years in stride, and make the most out of them? Life is about experiencing new things with new people. Our college years can be productive, as well as extremely pleasurable. If we as college students work as hard as we play, we can be successful and still have an amazing social life.

College doesn’t come with a handbook on how to do well, and get good grades, but good grades are attainable. In order to get through the semester successfully, students should develop a game plan so that they can get the best grades during the semester. Students must realize that getting good grades is not only achieved by working hard, and studying until we are exhausted and overwhelmed. My advice to college students is: have fun while learning. Learn how to make absorbing knowledge enjoyable, and believe me you will notice an improvement in your grades. Read through the tips I provided above, try them out and see what works for you and what doesn’t. Apply the tips that work for you to your daily college routine, be consistent, and you will see results. Your college experience is in your hands, all you have to do is figure out how to make it work for you so that you can survive the semester!