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 Syelle Graves 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!

Life After Instagram

Social networks in my opinion are now one of the most popular, and useful networking tools in 2016. However like everything in life, social networks come with negative and positive qualities. As a third year college student, I have participated in internet socializing for almost 10 years. 10 years is a lot of time wasted, keeping up with other people’s lives, new fashions trends, and other things that aren’t necessarily beneficial to my life. So, towards the end of my second year of college I decided that I needed to make a drastic change in my life. I realized that the amount of time, and effort that I was putting into social networks was detrimental to my well–being for various reasons. I decided to give up all my social networks once and for all, with hopes of truly embracing the beautiful aspects of life. I realized that once I deactivated all of my accounts there was NO TURNING BACK!! I pulled myself together, mustered up some courage, and hit the deactivate button on every single social network account that I had ever started. Believe it or not, after I deleted all of my accounts I felt free and I was ready to start my new life, my real life without social networks.

After deleting all of my social networks, I waited a few days before telling any of my “friends” or family. I wanted to see who would notice that I had actually removed myself from the limelight permanently. I thought that everyone would immediately realize my absence, and ask me why I decided to stop sharing my life with the world. In all actuality, no one really realized I was gone until days, weeks, and almost months later. I was surprised to see how my communication with my “friends” decreased after I no longer had a social network. I realized that a lot of my conversations were based on new trends, and topics that were addressed only on social networks. Without new memes or drama to reference back to, I noticed that my communication with other people had decreased. I began to realize how large of a role social networks played in my peers lives. By deleting all of my social networks, I became an outsider, confined to experiencing life for what it really was, REAL!

During the years of my life that I was heavily influenced by social networks, there were so many aspects of life that I missed out on. My life was passing me by, and I was so concerned with other people, and how they were living their lives. At times I found myself comparing my success to other people’s lives that I saw online. I became so hooked, that I would wake up in the morning, and immediately check my phone! One day I decided to log out of my account for a day, just to see how different life would be. At first, I was a little antsy because I wanted to constantly check what was going on with my friends. As the day progressed I relaxed, and I realized that my mind was actually at peace. I wasn’t worried about who unfriended me, or certain people’s motives for following me. I wasn’t arguing with people who left nasty comments under my pictures. I also wasn’t engaging in conversations with people, who I may not have ever met in real life. It was at that moment, I knew that social networks had to be removed from my life for good!!!

In the beginning it was difficult to learn how to maneuver without constantly checking my phone for likes, compliments, cute emojis, etc. As time progressed, I learned a lot more about myself, and the world that I lived in when my head wasn’t constantly buried in my phone. I didn’t feel required to find the correct lighting, to take the perfect selfie, or to get an obscene amount of likes from people who didn’t really matter to me anyway. I wasn’t constantly stopping throughout my outings to take pictures in cool areas, just to post them online for other people’s enjoyment. After deleting my social networks, I could actually go to a restaurant and enjoy food without having to get the perfect snapshot. The person in front of me was actually able to have my undivided attention, without me rudely glancing down at my phone. I was re-experiencing the world, this time with a brand new outlook.

After deleting my social networks, I came to the conclusion that I had been revealing my life to outsiders. I was unknowingly putting myself at risk or worse, in DANGER! These people who were my internet friends could be stalkers, murderers, abusers,who knows?!. I allowed random people to befriend me, under the false pretense that they just wanted to like my pictures. Little did I know that I would encounter some extremely irrational people. I understand that using the internet is addicting because it fills a void within people’s lives. Some people want attention, some people want to be in other people’s business, some people want to network, and some people are searching for love. However, social networks can be very dangerous, and once you post something on the internet, it’s out into the world forever, it only takes one screenshot. I can honestly say from experience that in life, the less you expose about yourself, the better your life will become.
October 29, 2017 makes 2 years and 9 months since I’ve deleted all of my social networks. I have noticed drastic changes in various areas of my life. My grades in school have improved because I can devote more of my time to my studies. I’ve also been able to spend quality time with my loved ones, and actually enjoy the moments we share together. After I deleted my Instagram, so many more opportunities blossomed for me. I also was blessed to find a beautiful person to experience my internet free life with. Without social networks in my life, I learned how to appreciate how amazing life could actually be. Personally I feel that removing myself from social networks was one of the best decisions I ever made. I am now able to embrace reality, as well as the essential parts of life. I challenge all of the people that read this blog to take a break from social media, and focus on your real life. Then after a few days come back to my blog post and let me know how differently you see the world after taking a break from social media.

Don’t Base Your Academic Career On Rate My Professor

I am currently a college student who has been attending New York City College of Technology for three years now. Like any other student I make sure that I take the necessary steps so that I can have an enriching, enlightening, and successful semester. Towards the end of each semester, I make sure that I register for my classes as soon as possible, so that I can get amazing professors next term. In order to get great professors for the following term, I usually consult Rate My Professor because it’s extremely helpful. For those of you who don’t know about Rate My Professor, I’ll try to explain the content of the website. Rate My Professor is a website that does exactly what it says it does, it provides students a space to vent or provide success stories about their professors. The website is broken down into various categories such as schools, departments, and the individual names of each professor. You can type in just about any professor’s last name, and he or she will have at least one review from a past, or present student. In my opinion Rate My Professor has always been an amazing and accurate resource until this past year, when I registered for a few professors that I wasn’t compatible with.

Last semester I registered for a few classes based on the Rate My Professor ratings that I had found online. In doing so, I created a really hectic schedule for myself, which made my life difficult. Two days out of the week, I had early classes, and the other two days I was getting out of class after sun down. During this semester, I was also working, so it was very difficult to fit my work hours, into my set class schedule. However, I did find a way to make my class and work schedule coincide. At first my semester was going well, I was on top of my work, and I understood my professor’s lectures in their entirety. As time progressed, the connection between my professor and I began to decrease. I was so shocked that I was having difficulties with my professor, because I picked the professor that had 4.0 out of 5.0 rating on the website, as well as a CHILLI PEPPER, which indicates how hot the professor is!! My initial thought was that I was the reason that I was no longer grasping the information, which my professor was lecturing. I tried to change my seat, with hopes that I would catch on to the work that I wasn’t understanding. I also went to my professor’s office hours and sat down with them, and unfortunately that didn’t work either. Then one day it finally dawned on me, that I may be having difficulty with my professor because I put my whole semester in the hands of the opinion of another student!! Gasp!!

I had unknowingly based my whole college semester on what three students thought about a professor. In doing so, I paid for a class out of pocket (with no financial aid), that I thought I would do well in, just because another student said that they did well, in that particular class. I was so upset with myself because I had a crazy schedule, since a few students said that my current professor was amazing, and it turned out that this amazing professor, wasn’t so amazing to me. Don’t get me wrong, about 80 percent of the time Rate My Professor is accurate, because students hold no punches, and tell it like it is. However I do feel that students shouldn’t rely so heavily on Rate My Professor like I did.
In reality what works for one student, may not work for another. I am living proof that sometimes a student’s interpretation, or Rate My Professor reviews can make or break their semester. My advice would be to look your professor up on google beforehand, go to their office hours, and ask some of your favorite professors about other professors, who have the same mannerisms and teaching styles. DO NOT rely solely on one source, and possibly mess up your college careers by failing a class, because you aren’t compatible with a teacher, who received great reviews online. Do your own research and find out what professor is best for you, and make your college schedule convenient for you. Make your own choices so that you can have a prosperous college career.

Writing Made Easy

Essay writing is a difficult task that everyone is faced with at one point or another. Whether a person is assigned to write a paper for school, or a presentation at work, even an email; everyone has to do some form of writing. In order for a person to become an efficient writer, they have to follow a few simple steps. These steps, if followed correctly, can not only improve a person’s writing dramatically, but also increase an individual’s confidence while trying to express themselves verbally. Throughout my childhood I was able to express myself verbally, but it was difficult for me to get my thoughts together to write an adequate paper. As time progressed, I found a method for writing papers that worked for me. I decided that I would like to share some of the steps I used, and still use to write a successful paper in hopes that it will be helpful to you as well.

Step 1. Listen!! When your professor gives you an assignment, don’t automatically write it down verbatim. Listen to how your professor explains the assignment. Pay attention to what the professor says he or she wants in the essay. Make sure that you know how long the paper needs to be; the specific font, font size, margins, and of course the outline. After finding out the specific layout of the paper, continue to listen to exactly what the subject matter of the paper has to be. The professor will give you direct instructions on what the topic of your paper should be, so the student must listen intently. As a college student, you should also listen to your professor during their lectures. After listening, you can possibly incorporate some of the information your professor gives you into your paper. Professors love when you creatively show them that you were listening to them speak during class.

Step 2. Take Notes!! After your professor has finished speaking, they will usually pause and ask if anyone has questions. Even if your professor doesn’t ask if you have questions, you should immediately clarify any issues you have with assignment. If something is unclear about the task, ask your professor to repeat the assignment. DO NOT be afraid to speak up!! Trust me there are students who have the same questions as you. As I’m sure you’ve heard before “There is no such thing as a stupid question”. Being afraid to speak up, and gain clarity in life will only hinder your success. Ask as many questions as you deem fit until you completely understand the task. As your professor reiterates exactly what they want in your paper, take notes in your own words. When it’s time to reread your notes, it will be easier to understand your own words, than the words of your professor. After politely interrogating your professor so that you write the best paper you can, then you can move on to the next step.

Step 3. Plan Ahead!! DO NOT wait until the last minute to start your paper! Give yourself ample time to do what’s necessary, in order to get a good grade. Procrastination can sometimes be a recipe for disaster, which college students cannot afford. Start brainstorming ideas for your paper the same day you get it. Write your ideas down on a notepad, and organize them in a way that will be beneficial to you. After writing down your ideas, think about how you are going to set up your essay. First, determine what your thesis should be. Next, try to figure out a way to incorporate your ideas into paragraphs that support your thesis. Third, map out your essay from introduction to body paragraphs, and then finally the conclusion. After completing the outline of your essay you can move on to the next step.

Step 4. Get Some Rest!! Relax! It is essential for human beings to get rest in order for us to have energy. Without energy, we will not be able to devote our undivided attention to our school work. I know that it’s difficult to sleep as college students because our minds are always racing. However we have to make an effort to relax our mind as well as our bodies. Without sleep, we will not be able to function at our highest capacity.

Step 5. Eat food that will give you energy!! In order to sit down at a computer for hours at a time, you have to eat food that will give you energy. Some food that will give you energy are: Nuts, Fish, Vegetables, Fruits, Water, Granola Bars, Oatmeal and Yogurt. Of course as college students we are prone to eating junk food, fast food, caffeine and other foods that will eventually make us crash. Beware of the unhealthy food before, and or while writing a paper. Eat food that will not only increase your energy, but will also help stimulate your brain.

Step 6. Research!! Research. Research. Research. In order for a person to write an amazing paper, they have to research their topic. A student has to put the time and effort into finding out accurate information about their topic. Websites like Wikipedia aren’t always deemed as acceptable by professors, so be cautious. After gathering information from credible websites, make sure that you start your bibliography. The best time to complete your bibliography is while you’re gathering your research. By completing our bibliography while researching, we are ensuring that we cite every single website that we gather information from. After researching our topic we can move on to our last step.

Step 7. Start writing your paper!! After following all of the steps above you are now ready to type up your paper. First things first, get your thoughts together, and pull out your outline. Organize your research into different sections depending on what paragraph the research will be inserted into. After organizing your information, get ready to start typing your paper. First, put your heading on the top of the paper, followed by the title of your essay. Your first paragraph should be an introduction to your essay. This paragraph should state what your essay is about, as well as defining your thesis statement. Your body paragraphs should be short, sweet and to the point. Throughout the body paragraphs, you should include a topic sentence, followed by supporting facts. Each paragraph should be laced with details, and facts that relate directly to your topic. Make sure that the information you put in your essay relates back to your thesis statement. After completing your body paragraphs, move on to your conclusion. Your conclusion should always innovatively restate what your introduction says. After you restate what your introduction says, you can move on to adding your finals thoughts and opinions.

Step 8. Proofread!! Grammar plays a large role in how a professor grades their students. In order for an essay to be in tip top shape, a student must continuously review their work. In reviewing their work, students will find various errors that they can fix. After a student proof reads their work, it’s a good idea to have another person proofread their essay. Another person may be able to pick up on errors that a student can’t, after they finish typing up their essay. Once your essay is free of errors, save it once more, print it, and hand it in.
Now that I have shared my eight steps to a successful essay, I hope that I have helped you become a better writer. These ten steps are my specific procedure for writing an essay. It’s not necessary to incorporate all of these steps into your essay writing process. However, maybe you can adapt these steps to your life in a way that’s beneficial to you, in some way or another. Keep in mind that the best way to prosper in your educational career is to listen, work hard, plan ahead and make sure you complete any task to the best of your ability.

Tips to Getting The Most out of each Semester

So the semester has begun and I, like most students, feel exhausted almost every day. As a student at a CUNY college life can be difficult, especially if your morning commute to class requires the use of public transportation. Aside from the challenges that come with traveling to school, there are many other obstacles that a college student has to face on a daily basis. However, after spending three years as a CUNY college student I realized that being a student isn’t as difficult as we make it out to be. College is similar to a rubix cube in a way because its just a challenge that requires a great strategy and your full concentration in order to be executed thoroughly. In order to prosper in college I had to figure out 1) how I could adapt to college life, and 2) which tactics could I use to make each semester beneficial to me. Below, I have listed my top 5 tips/ tactics that I used, and still use to get the most out each semester, with hopes that readers can gain some insight on how to make each semester a successful one.

The tips that I use to get the most out of each semester are:

Tip 1: Take your studies seriously!!

You can party hard, and still pass all of your classes. Just organize your time, and make sure you prioritize studying as well as looking over your notes. Your parents or legal guardians aren’t shelling out big bucks for you to bring home C’s and D’s!! Apply yourself to your books, just like you apply yourself to social media and video games, and all the other things you enjoy. School is only as difficult as you make it!! Think about it like this , attaining a bachelor’s degree only takes a few years of your life. So why not go to school and do your best in every class that you registered for? The semester only last a few months, and although it may seem like a drag you have to make the most of it because it’s not free. Each class costs a significant amount of money whether it be yours, your parent’s or money you receive from financial aid. Regardless of how your semester is paid for, we all know it’s not cheap, and each student owes it to themselves to do their best so they don’t waste their time or the money that was paid for their individual classes.

Tip 2: Party!!

When I say “party”, I DO NOT mean go out clubbing with your friends every night. I’m saying that students should have some down time to breathe. Every once in awhile throughout the semester students should take a break from the books. Go out and have a night on the town. Go out to a new restaurant and try their signature drink, go all out, have dessert while you’re at it! If you don’t party then find something exciting to do like visiting Sky Zone Trampoline Park, or go race around the go kart track at Pole Position Raceway. There is always something exciting happening in New York. All you have to is log on to the computer, and Google away!!

Tip 3: Attend events on Campus!!

Colleges are always hosting events!! Don’t limit yourself to just your college events. CUNY ID cards work at just about all CUNY campuses, so go explore what other campuses have to offer. If you’re feeling really adventurous go visit a SUNY campus, and see how colleges get down outside of New York City. New York City College of Technology has at least one event a week, if not more. Events on campuses are the best way to take a load off while you’re on break, or after a long day, and these events also give you the opportunity to meet lots of new people and potential friends.

Tip 4: Make Friends (Network)!!

Don’t be a hermit crab throughout your whole college career!! Talk to your classmates, and get to know the people around you. Of course be careful who you make friends with because not everyone deserves to have you in their life. However, I have personally met some amazing people in college who have been a blessing to me since the day we met. The best way to figure out if you should befriend a fellow student, is to give them a trial period. Monitor their behavior for a few weeks, if they seem normal then, great you have a new friend. If this particular person rubs you the wrong way, run for the hills! Pay attention to the signs, because there are always signs.

Tip 5: Be nice to your Professors!

I don’t think students realize just how important their relationships with their professors are. Professors have extensive knowledge about subjects/ fields that may be beneficial to students in the long run. Professors also have connections, and they can assist you with getting into special programs, and finding jobs in your field of interest. Professors also are perfect for writing letters of recommendations because they monitor your progress throughout the semester, so they can reflect on your positive attributes. If a student maintains a positive relationship with their professor, they can ask their professor for an amazing letter of recommendation, or for help with other academic related issues. Maintaining a positive relationship with your professor can enhance your college career to great heights.

These tips that I provided below may seem simple but if you incorporate them into your life, you will see drastic changes. College is about getting good grades, but it’s also about finding yourself and figuring out who you are. In order to do so, college students must have experiences, and then learn from those experiences. These precious years of college are our last few years of real freedom until real life, and real responsibility kicks in, so enjoy yourself while you can. My advice for all college students is to take chances, live your lives, work hard but most of all make the most out each semester.

Beware of Fake Friends

It all started when I reached the stage of maturity, that was when my life changed forever. My outlook on life, as well as my cognitive processing transformed completely. My mind was developing, and I could feel myself seeing life through a different perspective. I was evolving mentally, physically, and internally. When I entered this new environment, the possibilities of where my life could be were endless. I realized that new opportunities were being presented to me, and I decided to break out my shell and go for them. I decided that I would find ways to experience life, just like all of my other “friends” did. In doing so I awakened a part of myself that I never knew was hidden within me. Through every painful experience that occurred in my life, I drew deeper within myself, and another person was forced out. At times when I looked in the mirror, I no longer saw that sweet, outgoing, extremely intelligent person that once stared back at me. However, I did see a strong young woman, who was going down the wrong path, dealing with the wrong people, and putting herself in the wrong positions.

Let’s just jump right into the first downfall in my life which was the group of people I surrounded myself with. I prefer to name them by their “outstanding” characteristics than their actual names for now. The two kinds of young women that caused the most turmoil in my life were the Alpha, and the Mime. Each one of these characters were a stepping stone to me finding the other side of me. Individually these people, at one time or another were ranked as high priority in my life. However, after spending enough time with them, I realized that I was more beneficial to them, than they were to me. I tried out various combinations of these sorts of people, until I realized that these people just didn’t work for me.
Let’s begin with the Alpha, because they usually appear to be the leaders of the group. I have encountered more than one Alpha in my life, but no matter how different they may seem, I’ve seen similarities in them all. This female or male may be known to seek power over others even though they themselves are being used by people more powerful than them. The Alpha can be manipulative, and knows how to get what he or she wants. However they expose themselves in various areas of their lives which makes them vulnerable to the ones closest to them. Just like a bully, in actuality the Alpha is sometimes the weakest person, because they need other people to validate their strength. If the Alpha is not idolized, they face adversity which they are not equipped to handle, and they crack under pressure.

The Mime is the person in the group who has not yet discovered their identity. They are a follower who picks up traits from other people and uses these characteristics to build themselves up. This person is, for a lack of better words, a follower. At times you will see traces of your own personality within them. At some points you’ll wonder, when did this person become so much like me? When did we start dressing alike? When did we start speaking alike? If you have to ask yourself these questions then more than likely you should re-evaluate your friendship immediately. The Mime in this group of friends is able to adapt multiple personalities at once. In some ways they may seem like a super friend. However when the fog starts to clear, you’ll start to see cracks, and flaws in their perfection.

Both of these people entered my life at a time when I was open to new friends, but I wasn’t aware that not everyone has good intentions. I allowed them into my space and I allowed them to alter my life. I decided to tell you about these two kinds of people because having them in my life didn’t benefit me, and if you notice that people in your life have the same characteristics, you should steer clear of them. Life is short and relationships can be even shorter. However, if you use the characteristics I listed above you’ll be able to sift out people who will impact your lives negatively. Now I’m not saying that this description is completely accurate, but I am telling you to watch out who you let into your life. People can be toxic, and you should watch out how quick you are to befriend them because they can turn your life upside down. In retrospect, now that I think about it, the only way I could find out what kind of friends worked for me and who didn’t, was to try things out for size. I gave each of these kinds of people a distinct role in my life for a trial period. Some of them were disappointments, some helped me learn valuable lessons, and others were a complete waste of time. All in all, from each situation I encountered, I gained new and useful knowledge. This particular knowledge helps guide me into the right direction till this day, while also preventing me from involving myself with toxic people. My message to anyone reading this blog is: Don’t waste your time, and watch out for who you may be calling your friend.

Finding A Balance

I recently became a legal adult not too long ago, and I must say that transitioning into adulthood has been difficult. If I could go back in time to my toddler years, I would have taken more time to enjoy them. I cherish the days when life was easier, and I didn’t have to worry about various aspects of life. During preschool, I would have appreciated the different hues of the watercolor paints. During nap time, instead of making funny faces at my friends, I would have actually went to sleep and had pleasant dreams about candy canes and unicorns. When I went home at night, I would have pulled out my coloring book, and enjoyed a cool cup of apple juice while relaxing. Wouldnt that be awesome to be able to go back to?

Unfortunately, I don’t own a time machine, and therefore, I must deal with my present endeavors. I must take life one day at a time and deal with all obstacles that come my way, no matter how difficult they may seem. Older and wiser people always say to me that I should stop complaining about my college years, because when they were my age they didn’t have any problems. What people fail to realize is that times have changed, the world has changed, and so have the people in it. Life can be extremely difficult in these days and times, and the only way to truly get through every day without cracking is to find a balance. Without a proper balance, life would become quite unbearable.

I myself decided during my first semester of college that I would find balance within my life. It took me some time to break down different aspects of my life and decipher who and what I should keep in it. After going through a few difficult situations, I knew I had to analyze my life and find balance within myself. I started to think of myself as a scale!! My body from my head to my toes was the beam of the scale. My arms,stretched out, held the cluster of chains that are attached to the two metal pans. These pans held the different aspects of the world, that I was carrying with me every day throughout my life. As I began to develop cognitively, I came to the realization that I was weighing myself down with a lot of negativity, and I was UNBALANCED. As I grew and matured, I realized that in order to progress, I had to start tilting myself from side to side, and letting some of those worldly things slide off of my scale.

Whether it may have been parasitic friends, family, difficult situations, unworthy opponents, or just bad memories, I had to start letting go of all the negativity.The negativity was blocking the positivity. I was so weighed down by it that I was blinded to the positive parts of my life. I was letting myself be sucked into all the wrong in my world, instead of enjoying all of the right. As I started to allow myself to let go of all the bad situations, bad people, and the bad memories, I began to tilt more towards the positive side. I started to pull myself out of all that despair and anger, and I found positivity and happiness.

When I finally started to feel balanced and centered, my life started to change. Of course there were other obstacles that I had to overcome, but once I became balanced, I learned how to disassociate myself from the negativity. While learning how to not take on negativity, I started to see so much more positive things happening around me, and for me. My grades were improving, my relationships were getting stronger, and I was becoming stronger as a person. I learned how to forgive people quicker, so that I could remove the negative feelings from my life quicker. I realized the more that I held these grudges, the more I would dwell on certain situations, it would eventually consume me.

The first step to living a positive life is to let all of the negativity roll off of you.


DO NOT hold on to it!!

DO NOT overthink it!!

DO NOT give negativity any second chances!!

Life is too short to worry yourself over worldly things that make you unhappy, or weigh you down. Let go of as much negativity as you possibly can and embrace the positivity!! Of course there will always be some hardships in life, but these difficult times will influence you to work harder so that you can experience more positivity. Letting go of negativity is easier said than done, but it’s obtainable. Once you start to let go, you will feel lighter, less stressed and more at peace. I personally was in a toxic situation where I was allowing one person’s behavior to bring out the worst in me. I was letting anger consume me and once I came to the realization of what was happening I had to take a step back. I analyzed the situation I was in, and then I had a conversation with myself. It dawned on me that this unhappy person that sought to make my life miserable was miserable herself and reflecting her negative energy onto me. However, my mistake was letting her miserable behavior, pull me out of character. I decided that day that I would no longer allow her issues to anger me. Instead I didn’t hold on to her negativity, or let her negative words stick to me. At that moment, I told myself to stop overthinking and I made the decision to be happy and stop giving negativity second chances.

Work hard, Party Hard

two cupcakes with frosting flowers on top

Photo Taken By: Cherishe Cumma

When this current semester began I thought that I would be in for a treat seeing as I only had class for two days a week. In my mind I imagined all the sleep I would get during my time away from school, as well as how easy it would be to manage my classes since my workload decreased in comparison to previous semesters. It wasn’t until my first day of class, that I realized this semester would actually turn out to be the most complex semester since the beginning of my academic career.

As I began to come to terms with the fact that I had misinterpreted how my semester would pan out, I decided to find a balance between my academic and social life. You may be wondering: what is this “balance” word that people often speak of, which seems to be non-existent in academia? My answer to you is very simple, the way that I find balance during the semester is to practice positive reinforcement, meaning I work hard and party hard.

The process of using positive reinforcement is simple, and if completed properly can promote a positive college experience. All one has to do is to work hard during the semester, and get the highest grades possible on their assignments/exams. After executing each task and receiving a great grade, the student should then reward themselves in whatever fashion they choose. In my experience, the most fulfilling moments of life are the ones that are either spent with my loved ones, or consuming a treat that will send AMAZING sensations throughout my body. However, there are some cases where a simple outing or treat from a well-known bakery isn’t enough, and more appropriate rewards are necessary. If that is the case, I suggest rewarding yourself with an unforgettable experience such as an epic night out on the town, or a vacation during spring break that you’ll remember even when you reach the seasoned age of 100!

I decided to share this tactic, my personal tactic, with you because I’ve noticed how gloomy students tend to look while I walk through the halls of City Tech. Students move slowly through the hallways looking exhausted, and often drag into class, plop down in their seats, and let out a sigh of despair. What most people fail to realize is that the success of your academic career solely depends on your attitude towards your studies. If students go into class with a negative mindset, they won’t absorb the knowledge the professor is providing them with. However, if students go into class thinking “I’m going to do my best so that I can get good grades, and treat myself to cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery when I ace this class”, then they are setting themselves up with a positive mindset that will definitely benefit them in the long run.

My suggestion for students who find it difficult to complete a semester with great grades is to set up a reward system at each major milestone throughout the semester. For example, last semester I took a Professional Editing and Revising course, with a professor that required students to complete a specific amount of assignments during the semester. I set up my semester in a way that every time I finished an assignment I would go to a restaurant that had food I absolutely loved. In the following weeks after handing in the assignment, I would go back to working hard, and once I received my passing grade, I would reward myself by going to get a pastry from Betty Bakery. I continued this process of working hard, passing, and then rewarding myself for the whole semester, and at the end of the semester, I got the A that I deserved.

In retrospect, I would say that the reason I was able to do well during the semester is because I propositioned myself with something I love, so that I could ultimately get good grades, which I also love. By giving myself an incentive to look forward to, I pushed myself to do the best I could on every assignment so that every reward was well deserved. I feel that as college students we often find it difficult to balance our lives, so much so that we often drown in a sea of anxiety, assignments, and examinations. However, the best way for students to get the most out of their semester is too work hard and reward themselves in the process. Students must give themselves reasons to do well, just like back in elementary school, when teachers gave out prizes for passing the infamous spelling quiz. Do you remember how great it felt to get a gold star on your test when you got a 100? Well great! Now apply that same logic to your current academic life, and I’m sure that you will be successful.

Take your studies seriously, get good grades, and then reward yourselves with something that will bring you great happiness. College is about learning as much as you can so that you can get good grades, and ultimately a great career. However, college is also about enjoying your freedom , taking advantage of your twenties, and most of all living your life to the fullest. Just remember to go into class with a positive mindset, then work hard, and after you pass your classes don’t forget to party hard!