One Woman’s Mission To Build A Community In STEM

 

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Several weeks ago, I wrote about my experience as a young woman pursuing a career in advertising who also has an interest in STEM (and its status as a male dominated field). Personally, I was never told not to explore science or math as a career, but the media I consumed from youth onward tended to portray men in those roles. My parents gave me female-oriented magazines to read that focused on careers in fashion, social issues, art, and health, but very little on careers in science. On my campus, I’ve heard tons of stories from female peers who felt they were not encouraged to pursue STEM fields like their male counterparts and face a less welcoming environment in the classroom and the workplace. Other students I’ve talked to have had great professors and mentors, made friends in their classes, and have access to awesome resources, but still wish for a larger community of women exploring these subjects.

At the end of the article, I articulated my desire to connect with women who were not only making great strides in the STEM field, but also had the desire to reach out and lead young women to realize their potential in a field they might otherwise overlook. When I met Dr. Anna Powers as a result, I knew I had to share her story.

When Dr. Anna Powers, an NYU researcher, lecturer, scholar and entrepreneur, noticed that some female students had never been encouraged to explore STEM by a mentor or role model she quickly identified a correlation between lack of encouragement or guidance and performance in the subjects.

“There are very few women in these fields to begin with, so there is no community,” Powers says. “Not having the proper support can turn women away from the field and, thus, many young women feel that science is not for them.”

While Powers herself was always interested in STEM subjects, she noticed during her many years of teaching that while some young women were perfectly capable of excelling in these subjects, the society around them did not motivate or encourage them to explore. Then, their potential was left untapped.

As a direct result, Powers established her organization, Powers Education. Through this company, she pairs young women with tutors and role models to help them explore subjects like technology and math as well as unlock the potential they had not yet realized.

One student, for example, came to Powers with a “D” in a science course. The student had struggled to understand the subject and had almost resigned herself to failure as she felt she was more naturally gifted with language arts, a college major typically dominated by women. Powers took her into office hours sessions and explained that science, too, is a language and that her brain was perfectly capable of learning it. By the end of the semester, the student passed the course with an “A” and saw science in an entirely different light. For her, and many students, she simply needed a mentor to show her that her difficulty with science is not unsurmountable, she only needed to find inspiration in the pursuit of new knowledge – and that inspiration can open tons of doors.

“I could have gone into another field, had I not met a role model who encouraged me to get a PhD,” Powers says. “I have always been really good at science, but in order to pursue it, one needs to feel inspired.”

When Powers went to college, she took a course that combined math and physics, where her professor noticed her aptitude and encouraged her to pursue a career in STEM. For the first time in her life, she realized that science was a beautiful, ever-changing thing that she could spend the rest of her existence discovering. Being a goal oriented person, Powers decided that she would not only dedicate her life to science, but she also wanted to change the world. For her, that meant doing exactly what her professor had done for her. She wanted to bring more women on board to experience everything that STEM has to offer.

Currently, Powers Education is focused not only on teaching but also on building a community of women in STEM by inspiring women to participate. The video campaign, emPower, captures the stories of young women in STEM, their struggles and how the community in Powers Education helps them find belonging.

 

 

In the future, Powers wants Powers Education to be global. She still has work to do in the US and tons of girls can benefit from building a relationship with one of her tutors and receiving a deeper education, but some countries have even wider gaps to fill. In fact, in some countries, girls are discouraged from going to school in general, let alone exploring STEM.

“I want Powers Education to be the go-to resource and support for all educational and career related materials for women in STEM,” Powers says. “I believe it is essential to the world because women are essential to the world”

Want to learn more about Powers Education and ways you can participate?

Visit powerseducation.com/empower

If Everyone Understood Consent The World Would Be A Little Brighter

 

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Sometimes, the internet just give you gold.

I was scrolling through an article today, and as per usual, I went to read the comment section. Some people avoid comments like the plague, but I’m genuinely interested in hearing people’s opinions whether I agree with them or not, and sometimes I learn a thing or two or find a link to another relevant article. Today, however, I found ironic internet gold. As I’m scrolling along, I read the following comment:

“I think campus sexual assault is being discussed mostly in the hopes that it will lead to some republican saying something appalling on a live mic.”

This comment was posted in 2014, but they certainly weren’t predicting the future about this:

 

First, I certainly don’t think the discussions surrounding sexual assault on college campuses or elsewhere were a secret conspiratorial plot to stoke a fire and catch a republican presidential candidate making “lewd” comments. That is ridiculous. That is clearly ridiculous.

The problem is, too often, people think that conversations surrounding rape, sexual assault and consent are being perpetuated for any reason other than educating people and making people safer. People aren’t talking about it because they just want attention or pity, they aren’t talking about it because they want to encourage women to make false accusations, and they aren’t talking about it because they want to make all men feel like guilty pariahs. People are talking about it because they want others to understand the difference between consensual and non-consensual activity, and what should happen when non-consensual activity takes place.

I do think the discussion of sexual assault on college campuses and the Trump video are linked — they are linked because it demonstrates the exact mentality that leads to the normalization of non-consensual behavior. When Trump states that he can grab women’s private areas and kiss them, he claims that he doesn’t wait, and he doesn’t have to because he is a star. When he says, “I don’t even wait,” the words he carefully leaves out is, “for her consent” or “for her to stop me”. Even Trump himself knew when he made the statement that he was implying that there was something he should have waited for, and yet he did not — and to him, that is a bragging joke.

As women on college campuses, including my own, continue to battle this issue, it becomes increasingly clear that the journey will be entirely uphill until mentalities like that of Trump are dealt with.

When a college student is sexually assaulted they can go to both the police department and the University. Many students choose to report the incident to both parties, as the criminal justice system works slowly, often taking years to reach final judgement. By reporting the incident to the college as well, a victim may be able to have their assailant suspended, moved, or in some cases expelled. Colleges, however, have been heavily criticized for their inability to accurately judge such serious crimes and their proclivity to find ways to blame the victim for the assault. When elements like drugs and alcohol come into play, universities still seem unclear on how to proceed when determining consent. Further, it is often in the university’s best interest to determine the activity to be consensual in order to avoid PR issues.

On the flip side, high profile cases like that of the Duke lacrosse players, have drawn increasing media attention to the plight of those falsely accused of non-consensual activity, leaving a community of people who believe tons of women would be interested in accusing men of sexual assault for various vindictive reasons.

When I talk to male friends and guys on my campus, it seems they do not operate in fear that one day, a woman will decide to accuse them of rape because they are an angry ex-girlfriend or something. They are however, scared that will “accidentally” rape someone. Of course, you cannot accidentally assault a person, but some people feel that the idea of consent is so fuzzy in some areas that they could commit a crime by mistake. I find myself, time and time again, explaining that, no, just because your partner had alcohol doesn’t mean they can legally say you raped them (unless they were so intoxicated that they could not have objected to sexual activity or otherwise did not consent). I have to explain that no, you don’t necessarily have to say the exact words, “do you consent to this activity” before you make every sexual move. You do however, need to understand two things: 1. If someone does not have the capacity to object to an activity, then you cannot move forward with that person and 2. If someone, says “no” “stop” “slow down” “I don’t like that” or they pull away, push you off of them, turn away, try to leave, or do anything else to indicate they are not comfortable, you absolutely must stop what you’re doing. Learn to listen to the person’s words and body language and act accordingly and never use roughness or force unless they explicitly ask. If you find that when you are intoxicated, you aren’t a very good listener, then that isn’t a good scene for you and you should avoid drinking heavily before attempting to hook up with someone. If you are sober and an intoxicated person tries to initiate sexual activity with you, the best thing to do is decline. The next day, the person may regret the activity and feel taken advantage of, so while they initiated the interaction and it isn’t considered rape, you should honestly just be the better person and tell them “call me when you’re sober.” If at any moment, you feel unsure about a situation, discuss it with the other person before you do anything else.

While I have no problem explaining these consent rules to people headed to college parties, statements like Trump’s only expose our societal need for the conversation to start during our pivotal formative years. When I took sex education in middle school and high school, the conversation mainly centered on abstinence, puberty, and discussing how difficult it would be to raise a baby. After that, we were given a quick seminar on sexually transmitted infections and condoms (no other birth control methods were discussed). Consent never entered the equation. If schools don’t cover it and parents ignore the subject, who is going to tell them that you have the right to change your mind about a sexual activity at any point and being forced to continue is considered rape? Who is going to explain that males can also be sexually assaulted and they have the right to come forward? Who will intimate that while people may wear certain types of clothing because they want to look and feel sexy, you never have the right to touch someone, shout at them, or say rude things just because they dressed a certain way? All of these rules may seem obvious on paper, but when people boast about grabbing and kissing people without permission, it becomes all too clear that the consent discussion is far from over. Some people have yet to read the definition.

 

 

A Fake Instagram Influencer Just Taught Me A Lesson

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Social media influencers, meaning people who are heavily followed on one or more social media accounts, often team up with brands to sell products. This marketing technique is achieved with varying levels of stealth and success. Someone as influential and well-known as Kim Kardashian can cause products to sell out of stock, simply by endorsing the product on Instagram or Twitter. While many campaigns have reached great success by paying influencers to interact with and endorse their products, social health campaigns and other issues of public welfare have worked with influencers far less often, especially if the influencer isn’t an extremely famous celebrity. So far, many brands have been able to successfully market products like clothing, food, or technology through the help of influencers who have 40,000 to 80,000 followers, but social issue campaigns, like voting registration, tend to use high profile celebrities to get their point across.

Addict Aide, a french organization that seeks to prevent substance abuse, decided it wouldn’t be shelling out that kind of money for a high profile campaign endorsement. The solution? They created their own influencer, built her social media presence from the ground up, and then used the fake profile to spread their message.

I don’t follow many influencers on social media. I love their aesthetic profiles, but I prefer for my content feed to be mainly composed of people I know in real life. Yet, when I read an article about Louise Delage, the fake persona created by Addict Aide and their ad agency BETC, I noticed two things: 1. She posted the exact type of content that many of my friends and peers like to follow and  2. Had she been a friend of mine, I would not have noticed anything abnormal about her pictures.

🍸 Cheerz 🍸

A post shared by Louise Delage (@louise.delage) on

But there is something abnormal.

Good Time

A post shared by Louise Delage (@louise.delage) on

She is drinking in every photo she posts.

👀 Look 👀

A post shared by Louise Delage (@louise.delage) on

When you look at all of the photos together, it seems so obvious that the fake character might have a drinking problem, but in real life, people rarely post several photos of themselves drinking, one after the other within a short period of time. You might see a photo from a friend or peer once per week, and it is mixed into your feed with tons of other images. You could be regularly looking at the evidence that someone you know has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and never realize it because you don’t put the pieces together.

Having just turned 21 a couple of weeks ago, I’m acutely aware of my new responsibilities. I can buy a drink or a bottle of wine any time I want, and because I’m a college student, I’m almost constantly surrounded by alcohol (or at the very least, conversation about alcohol, parties, tailgates, and more). At my university, many people are starting to talk more candidly about mental health, but alcoholism and substance abuse are often left out of the conversation. Instead, we treat alcohol abuse like a joke.

Images like these are extremely common on the social media feeds of my peers, and are occasionally given hashtags like #alcoholic for good measure:

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Social media content like this as well as popular TV characters who heavily rely on alcohol such as Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development or the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, are supposed to be silly and humorous. Of course this humor trope and normalization of substance abuse also blurs lines when it comes to discerning when someone has an alcohol problem. Many millennials seem to believe that as long as you have a job/make it to class, avoid receiving a DUI, and keep up a healthy appearance, they do not have an alcohol problem and are not in danger of developing one. This is a myth, and it is becoming increasingly important for college students and all young people to be aware that just because you are functioning on a daily basis doesn’t mean you are in the clear. Further, young people need to be better educated on how to spot warning signs of substance abuse in their peers and ways to address them.

For students who experience mental illness, it is paramount that substance use is approached with care, as heavy use of some substances, like alcohol, can worsen depression or anxiety over time. If you notice that you or someone you know seems to be self-medicating a mental problem with alcohol, it is extremely important to find more effective therapies and medication, as the seemingly helpful properties of alcohol won’t last forever.

If you notice that it takes you significantly more alcohol than it used to in order for you to feel tipsy or drunk, that’s another sign you might need to cut back. It’s natural for your body to get continuously more acclimated to alcohol, but if you seem to be building up a tolerance that results in you needing more than a few drinks to feel the effects, you have likely been drinking too heavily. Alcohol limits vary from body to body, so use your discretion and take notes of how many drinks you order at the bar. If the number starts creeping up over the course of a year, its time to cut back.

Finally, know that alcoholism doesn’t happen all at once. You won’t wake up one day and suddenly be an alcoholic. Becoming an addict is a gradual process, which is precisely why many people don’t recognize when their joking love for whiskey and vodka has become a full out addiction. Being drunk on occasion is not a problem, but if you are specifically aiming to get drunk or wasted every time you drink, your relationship with alcohol isn’t healthy. You should be able to enjoy alcohol for its taste or its light effect (i.e. being tipsy at most) without wanting to get constantly drunk. You should also take note that you should avoid drinking alcohol to feel better about something. Sure, if you have a bad day at work, you might want to pour yourself a glass of wine, but if you drink every time you’re in a bad mood, you’ll naturally develop a habit.

If you notice that you have a friend, like Louise Delage, who always has a drink in her hand  and/or shows any of the above signs, be sure to have a discussion. If you haven’t recognized the warning signs, its possible that they haven’t recognized them either.

 

 

The Biggest Financial Mistakes You Can Make In College

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As the price of attending college increases and the number of well-paid entry-level jobs shrinks, most college students worry about their post-graduation finances. We can no longer assume that a four-year degree will translate into a good job (or any job) right after college. Instead, many graduates make do with adding yet another internship to their resume or move back in with their parents while they search for a job in their field of choice. Then, as they search for available positions, Sallie Mae comes knocking at the door.

While this situation is far from ideal, it is a reality that many millennials face. There are plenty of ways to improve your chances of receiving a job offer before you graduate, but it’s equally important to prepare yourself financially in the case that you don’t receive an offer right away.

First, if you don’t have a post-graduation emergency fund, you can experience some very frustrating set-backs when money is already tight.  After you graduate you will have a lot of expenses both unrelated and related to your job search. For many grads, you will be paying way more bills than you are accustomed to, in addition to loans, extra travel expenses for interviews, and more. As a result, you will need an emergency fund for unforeseen expenses like your old car breaking down or a sudden medical issue. You can start preparing your emergency fund during college by creating a savings schedule for yourself or using money saving apps like Mint. Personally, I realized that I spend a ton of my money on food, so now, every time I eat at a restaurant, I write down the amount of money I spent. Then, I divide that number in half and put that amount of money into my emergency fund. You’d be surprised how much money accumulates by the end of the year.

Second, If you don’t get a credit card, you might have trouble applying for loans in the future. For most of your late teens/early adulthood, people will probably tell you to avoid getting a credit card. A credit card can be trouble in the hands of someone who doesn’t budget well, so most college students only use debit. Of course, eventually, you will absolutely need a credit card in order to establish good credit and apply for loans, so it is imperative that you sign up for one before it’s too late. By signing up for a credit card during your college years, you can save yourself tons on future bills — you must simply remember to treat it no differently from your debit card and set a reminder on your phone or computer to pay it off each month.

Third, letting your coffee habit (or any other seemingly small frivolous expense) get the best of you adds up fast.  If you are regularly on a college campus you will likely see Starbucks cups (or Dunkin Donuts depending on where you live) in the hands of every other student. When you’re working hard and managing a busy schedule, caffeine and sugar will seem like a good way to keep yourself going. Unfortunately, in addition to being bad for your health, those $5 lattes can take a huge chunk out of your weekly budget. Instead of spending $100 per month on coffee, save your cash and find ways to improve your sleep schedule and quality. It might be financially beneficial to power down your electronics an hour before bed and find ways to break up your homework load so you can get more sleep.

Lastly, spending money on goods rather than experiences will always leave you wanting (and spending) more. College is a great time for making memories and experiencing new things on a regular basis, so take advantage of it! Instead of spending your money on clothes, forgettable fast food, or an upgrade for your cell phone, spend money on activities you can enjoy with your friends. When you buy a material object, the newness of it fades or it is quickly consumed. Experiences, however, can create positive memories that leave you feeling more satisfied. If you have the choice between buying a new piece of costume jewelry from Forever 21 (that will probably break anyway) and going to a great comedy show with your loved ones, the comedy show will probably be a better return on your investment. You’ll leave college feeling like your money was well spent.

The Truth About Women And STEM

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None of my closest friends are going into the STEM fields. Not a single one. Instead, we are all pursuing things like advertising, women’s studies, theater, and music. Honestly, I’m pretty torn about how that makes me feel.

This subject came to mind earlier today as I was reading an article about high paying, low stress jobs. The Occupational Information Network came out with a list of jobs in which the professionals were experiencing below average stress levels. When you look through the list, you’ll find that most of the higher paying jobs that also come with low stress are in STEM.

After reading this, I thought about my career of choice, advertising, and my general temperament. I kind of enjoy stress. I like being busy and dipping my hands in multiple projects at once. I like it when no two days of the week are the same, and pulling an all-nighter to work on a creative project is a guilty pleasure. Most of my female friends operate in the same mindset.

Our choices to go into non-STEM fields that will likely result in working way past 5 pm on the regular does not seem like a coincidence. As young girls, we grew up being told that building things was for boys and communicating/socializing was for girls. As we grew older, we were told that computer club was for boys and chorus was for girls. It’s no wonder that our choices in college majors panned out the way they did. Chances are, at some point the all-nighters will get old. We’ll tire of pumping our bodies with caffeine and working on weekends for a less than 6 figure salary. We might even grow to envy some of our male friends who are clocking out at a reasonable hour in silicon valley.

Part of me feels disappointed that none of my female friends chose STEM careers because it reminds me that we are part of a depressing statistic. All of my friends are feminists, and we spend plenty of time lamenting the lack of women in engineering or math, but none of us are changing that picture ourselves. On the one hand, I feel hypocritical, but on the other hand, I’m studying what I love — and I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. Does that mean that one day, I’ll be making less than my male friends from college and also be twice as stressed? Maybe.

Of course, women who are going into the STEM field face a whole other set of challenges. A career as a computer hardware engineer may be lucrative and low-stress overall, but women in the field can face less welcoming environments that lead to anxiety, depression, and general frustration. Many women in STEM careers report experiencing a micro-aggression, receiving negative reactions from peers and family members for choosing a traditionally masculine field, or feeling excluded by the culture in their workplace. Surely this is not true for every woman in STEM, but it seems to be a common thread among many of the young women I have spoken to who are currently pursuing a degree in these fields.

As a young woman who isn’t pursuing a degree in STEM, I feel all I can do is learn from the awesome women who are . This is why I carefully follow women like Anne-Marie Imafidon, founder of the Stemettes.  I love the degree I’ve chosen and I don’t intend on changing my career path, but I also feel it is my duty to think critically about why I chose a career in a rapidly feminizing field. I also feel it is my duty to make sure my children know that they can choose any field they want — and hopefully not feel any guilt related to their choice whether it’s in STEM or something else. I know what I’m getting into by choosing a career in advertising. It means I’m not going to get offered a 65k per year job right out of college and it means I’m going to experience a little more stress. Right now, I wouldn’t change it for the world — but I also might start learning how to code, simply for the sake of exploration.

 

How Do You Know If You’re Physically Fit?

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Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. -JFK

On my blog, Brain Brawn Beautie, I talk about matters of health every Wednesday. The vast majority of the time, I talk about mental and emotional health by tackling topics like stress, self-actualization, self-care, grief, and much more. I find these types of topics to be most relevant to my daily life, however, every now and again, I do talk about physical health as well.

I started thinking about how little I discuss physical health yesterday, and how that directly relates to how little I’ve been working out lately. Then, I started to wonder if I’m actually “in shape”. When I go to the doctor, I’m told that I have a healthy BMI, and I eat generally well. I drink nothing but water, except for the occasional soda/sweet tea splurge when I go out to eat. Yet, am I really healthy? As a person who not only discusses health through my online content, but also coaches a gymnastics team, I’m really starting to wonder if I’m living up to my own hype.

My boyfriend just recently enrolled in his required college fitness class, which will be condensed into a month long course during a university summer session. When I looked at the requirements on the syllabus, I laughed. The requirements for the course seemed ridiculously difficult! These kids have one month to be able to run a mile in less than 6 minutes (Something I could only do when I was running varsity cross country). They also had to be able to do 60 push-ups in 2 minutes, and an even larger quantity of sit-ups.

Even though I wasn’t taking the course, I felt oddly pressured just looking at the syllabus, as I wondered if these types of requirements are really indicative of what a 20 year old should be able to do. And if so, could I?

Out of curiosity, are started doing some research to see what other people consider, “in shape” to mean.  Some people believe that you can prove fitness by holding a plank position for a full minute. The website cheatsheet.com suggests that as long as you do at least two hours of moderate to vigorous exercise each week, you should be pretty healthy. Harvard Medical says that if you want to stay in shape, you should regularly swim, do Tai Chi, and/or strength train.

The number of definitions and opinions on physical fitness seem limitless. I didn’t want to pick just one. As I was looking around for definitive answers on the web, I stumbled across the Mayo Clinic’s 5 step fitness program. In this program, the first step involves assessing your current level of fitness by completing several tests like walking/running the mile, and doing push-ups — just like in my boyfriend’s fitness class. Then, after they describe the tests, they tell you to design a fitness program for yourself and just monitor your progress. That’s when it hit me. Maybe fitness shouldn’t involve some lofty end goal like the ones required in a fitness course. Maybe the goal should just be progress.

Physical fitness and getting in shape can easily be a long, and confusing road for a lot of people. Every person on this earth has a different body, and while it can be enticing to just ask, “what weight should I be at my age?” or “how many sit-ups should I be able to do on the first try?”, it will probably be a better choice to let progress be your goal. Rather than focusing on fitting into a mold, simply focus on being a better you than you were yesterday. If you’re improving, you’re doing something right by any doctor, scientist, or trainer’s standards.

Today, I’m starting my new exercise plan, and my only goal is to improve. I plan to run, do push-ups, do sit-ups, and maybe toss a fun fitness class like Zumba or Barre into the mix. Most importantly, I’m going to track my progress so I know when and where I need to step up my workouts. And if I get to a point where I really feel like I can’t improve on something any more than I already have, I’ll change the rotation. For example, if I ever manage to max out how many push-ups I can do in a minute, I’ll start practicing a side-plank, or I’ll try to learn more yoga moves.

I think the idea of broad requirements for physical fitness are a little antiquated. Sure, they might be useful in a general sense — like teaching a med student whether they need to tell their patient that a medical condition may be related to their weight, and therefore, they need to step up their exercise game. When it comes to designing a workout for yourself, however, I think you should forget the requirements, tests, and quizzes you see all over the internet. The information out there often changes or conflicts, and all those rules tend to result in more stress than they’re worth. If you’re exercising multiple times a week in a measurable way and you’re improving over time, I think you’re going to be just fine.

Appreciating Your College Years

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Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes. -Thích Nhất Hạnh

Now that my junior year at UNC Chapel Hill has come to a close, viewing the graduation pictures of my peers has become bittersweet. Looking at pictures of those bright-eyed, smiling faces with mortar boards and fresh diplomas fills me excitement — and a touch of sadness.

I can’t wait to find out what my post-college future holds because there are endless possibilities and opportunities to do great things with my adult life. Yet, even though I expect my graduation to be an amazingly inspiring moment, I’m in no rush. Many students in their later years of college often say things like, “God, I can’t wait to just graduate and get out of here already,” and I honestly don’t understand it. Sure, the “real world” after college is going to be wonderful in many ways, but why talk about your college years as if they were a nuisance, when in reality, you had an amazing time?

The people, the campus, the events, the atmosphere, the free food, the good days, the bad days … college is something worth cherishing. So many people complain and gripe about college until after they’ve graduated, and then they start thinking about all of those things they should have appreciated in the moment.

I hate when people say that college is going to be the best years of your life, because that means everything goes downhill afterwards, but let’s also stop pretending that college is nothing but a chore. College is a privilege, and for most people who get to go, it’s life-changing. For a lot of people, college is a time in which you learn who you are, who you want to be, and what truly makes you happy. And if those things aren’t becoming clearer during your college years, you’re probably not appreciating your time in school — which can lead to those, “I can’t wait to leave,” statements.

If you’re still in school, I think it can be a good mental exercise to take a good long look at your colleagues’ and friends’ graduation photos and really ask yourself, “When I’m wearing that cap and gown, will I feel like I appreciated my time at school? Or did I take it for granted?” If you haven’t learned anything about your personality, your hopes and dreams, or the things that make you happy, then you need to make a change.

In order to fully appreciate my time at college, I’m making it my goal to not only learn the art of advertising (my major), but also learn how to really live in the moment. I want to be mindful of the opportunities college has given me and make use of those opportunities. With my senior year approaching, I have several mindfulness goals to help me make sure I live every last day of my college experience with utmost gratitude. I plan to attend more activities after class. I plan to be grateful for every slice of free pizza. Rather than being sad when I watch all my money drift out of my bank account at the beginning of the semester, I will be happy that I don’t have to pay “real” bills (My apartment rent includes my water, electric, gas, and much more which is unheard of for most people who don’t rent an apartment near a college campus). When I text someone and ask them to grab lunch with me, I’ll be twice as glad when they can join, because it’s way harder to find friends after you’ve moved to a new city alone for a job than when you’re on a college campus surrounded by cool people your age. There’s too many things to list!

I hope that when I graduate, I can look back on my last four years and know that I appreciated every moment. Maybe it isn’t cool to love school and be happy, in fact, I’m almost certain that it’s way more en vogue for millennials to approach all things with cynicism, sarcasm, and “shade”. But you know what? Enjoying my college years is just too good to pass up. If admitting that I’m going to miss college and that I feel no need to rush through my final year makes me look like a dork, so be it. When I walk across the stage and get my diploma, my smile is going to be twice as wide.