Selling Yourself… The Personal Essay

Today i had the opportunity to speak with a group of college bound high school seniors. They all came from different walks of life, with different G.P.A.s, extra curricular activities, and career aspirations. As we sat and talked about their promising roads ahead, we found that there were a few things that no matter what your walk of life or personal goals are, some things we all need to learn how to do. At the very top of that list… learning to sell yourself, in the form of a personal essay… make a list of your qualities, and outstanding character traits that the college, job, or scholarship foundation of your choice would benefit from having chosen you to represent them. Then, make a list of the challenges you have faced in the last few years (that you have over come and may have hindered you temporarily from doing your best.) Now is the time to be more than just your G.P.A., test scores, and extra curricular activities. Give people an opportunity to get to know you, as a person in a structured format of course.  This essay will stand as a format that all personal essays of yours will derive themselves from. With minor tweeks to some information based on the school you may be applying to or scholarship application requirements, you will be able to use this personal essay to “sell yourself” many times over with every application you fill out. So start writing! Don’t edit! Just write, then when you flush everything out, go back and take out what you don’t need, make certain things clear that might need clarity and then let your English teacher or college advisor look it over to make sure it is saying everything it needs to say and is grammatically sound. 


The Finals Survival Guide… Again


Ladies and gentlemen, October is almost over and November is going to fly by, which means your first semester of college is almost over and it’s time to get geared up for those finals. Finals season can be a stressful time if proper preparation has not taken place. If you have kept up with your notes, homework, and study groups you should be in excellent shape. If you did not however, fear not, you can still come out on top, we just need to make some mental and study habit adjustments.

Whether you are over or under prepared there are a few basic questions you can ask yourself and your professor to prepare:

Will the final be comprehensive? Or just cover the last few chapters I worked on in class?

Do I have a study group that I can be a part of that will help me prepare or understand things I’m still unsure about in class?

Do I have my homework and previous tests that I can use along with my notes to help asses my knowledge of the material?

Should I give myself a practice test?

And lastly, has my professor dropped any hints as to what will be on the final exam?

If you ask yourself these questions and use them as a guideline to prepare, you will be ready once game time actually gets here. Below I have given you a few items that I call “The Final Exam Survival Kit” that helped me survival my finals every year so check it out, maybe something there can help you too!

“The Final Exam Survival Kit”

  • Pizza coupons and lots of crushed red peppers
  • Recorder for notes, both my own and the professors lectures
  • Clean socks and undies just in case a library all-nighter is necessary
  • Numbers and email addresses of smart people in my class for study groups
  • Number to professor on hand
  • Tissue for any tears I might need to cry for a lack of properly allocated study time
  • Pillow pet for random sleeping and power naps on the go
  • Pens, pencils, new note books just for finals notes. I found it helpful to write
  • my notes in another notebook just for finals, it allowed me to 1. keep everything I needed in one place and 2. The practice of rewriting my notes helped me to commit to memory what I needed my brain to retain.
  • Motivational music to get hyped up for finals (whhooooooo!!)

Lastly, Ask questions and get clarity on anything you are unsure about. The only stupid is question is the 1 you don’t ask. You are paying for this education; get everything out of it that you need to. Don’t ever be ashamed to say you don’t get something, ask, and practice till you’ve got it down. Not knowing benefits no one and it hurts you. So ask questions.

Good Luck! Not that you need it, because you are PREPARED!!! Yaaaaaaaaaay! 🙂

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Dating… dating is a topic that people either give too much thought to or not enough. When you left home for school, did you leave a boyfriend or girlfriend behind promising to talk/ skype every day, to be faithful and make many visits to see them? Or convince each other that winter break isn’t too far and you can be faithful until then? Did you break up with them before you left? Did you come to college thinking you’ll find your soul mate… because that is a part of what college is about?

Well, here’s a little advice… don’t worry about dating.

For those who left their girlfriend/boyfriend at home (different schools):

Long distance relationships rarely ever work, especially with young people going off to school for the first time. I know some of you think you’re the most in love right now than you could ever be and your plan is to attend college and then come back and marry your high school sweetheart…  I don’t mean to burst your bubble but… it most likely will not work. You are embarking on a brand new territory and with that come new experiences and learning new things about yourself. We always think we know who we are, who are friends are and what we are capable of, but the truth is you only know those things based on living in one environment. You now have the opportunity to get out and learn new things about yourself. For example, you may discover that you really love art and you’re attracted to artist and not athletes or “model types” anymore. Allow yourself the freedom to get to know yourself and the qualities that you might want in a mate… further down the line AFTER school is finished.

For those who broke up before you got here:

Good decision, just make sure you made it for the right reasons. It’s better to be honest with someone about your intentions than it is to lead them on. Believing that you feel a certain way or are faithful when you are not or don’t have any intention of being isn’t nice. So while it might seem harder to say “hey, I think we should go our separate ways for now,” it saves much heartache down the line for you and the person you care about. Honesty is the best policy.

For the soul mate finders:

Stop looking for a soul mate. When it is supposed to happen it will happen. Work on just enjoying yourself right now. Collect data on the qualities you want in a life partner if that’s something you’re thinking about but don’t focus on looking for The One. That is not why you’re here.

To everyone:

Books first! While dating and partying is much fun and I’m sure you’ll do plenty of both, remember why you are there. You are there to get an education first and foremost… in the classroom; because that’s the one that gets you the degree.

Final Note:

Remember: the only way to completely protect yourself from STDs and pregnancy is to abstain from sex, but for those of you that are going to do it anyway remember…  ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS protect yourself. Wrap it up.

The Freshman 15…


By now you should definitely be getting around campus pretty well and have established a bit of a routine for your day… great. But now I have a question for you, have you ever heard of the Freshman 15? Well if not, the freshman 15 is said to be the average amount of pounds a freshman gains their first year in college. And believe me, it is REAL 🙂 ha! But with adding a moment to exercise in your daily routine and being mindful of your diet, (your diet is simply the food you choose to eat. Ex: I have a healthy diet/I need to change my diet, it’s riddled with junk food) you can avoid putting on more pounds than you want to.

Most dorms have gyms but not everyone has time every day to carve out for exercise so maybe instead of taking the shuttle, you power walk to class. Do exercises in your dorm room as you read (lunges, stairs, cardio in place etc.) Or some days opt for a large salad with chicken breast for dinner instead of the fried chicken strips and cheese burgers.

I pulled out a few items from the book Freshman 101 A Roadmap and Journal to Surviving Your First Year of College to share with you all a few things to try on your road to conscious eating:

  • Mini fridge to keep fresh produce for salads, snacks, fruit etc.
  • Blender for morning smoothies if you can’t get them on campus
  • An indoor grill like George Foreman grill; easy to use even for the cooking impaired
  • A steamer for rice and veggies
  • And of course like most people a microwave

The café is great, and some colleges cafes are better than others, but it is always good to have options for yourself; Options that you create and can control. Know what you eat. And whatever you do, eat and exercises not be skinny, but to be healthy, and comfortable in your OWN SKIN! I’ll have some recipes for you all next week. Now go forth, and eat well 😉

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September 11th… Journal Entry

september_11_with cross
In light of today’s date, and because it is still early on in the year, i felt  keeping a journal would be a good topic of discussion.
My Freshman year of college was the year of the September 11th attacks and i was living in Washington DC. While keeping a journal can be great for preserving memories, it can also be used as a way of therapy for the challenging things we face and don’t always understand. You may find that keeping a journal works wonders for you. whether you write in it everyday or just on certain days when you feel a certain type of way and want to write about it to get it off your chest. Bellow is an entry in my own journal, 1 of only a few for that year, but by far the most significant for me and today i have decided to share it with you…

Journal entry

Tragedy – My Account of  9/11

       Last night I was up until 3:30 a.m. studying for a Japanese test. I woke up this morning and went to my first class. I was a little late, but it was okay. Before going to work, I stopped by the administration building to take care of something and, as I was leaving the building, I noticed a crowd of students around the television watching CNN. I figured they were just geeks, so I left and headed back to my dorm before heading to work. On my way, I got a little curious as to why everyone was watching CNN on an early Tuesday morning. I got back to my dorm, turned on the television and to my astonishment one of the World Trade Center Towers had a hole in it the size of a plane! Then, out of nowhere, another plane crashed into the other tower As we all stepped into the hall, to talk about what happened, CNN announced that the Pentagon had just been hit. I ran back to my room, looked out of my window and was greeted by a massive amount of smoke and then blazes of fire. As I looked on with amazement and disbelief, they announced over the intercom that students were to stay where they were while the campus worked on an evacuation plan, just in case things got too out of hand. (Like a huge plane crashing into the Pentagon wasn’t enough “out of hand” for them.) I turned back to the news and could not seem to tear my eyes away from the screen. I began to hear girls crying because they were scared or had family in those particular places. My whole heart went out to them. Then, there were those who could not contemplate the severity of what had just happened; they frustrated me.
     As the day went on, I watched the city break into complete havoc. We were under attack, and there was nothing I could do about it. Some girls were talking about going home and asked me what I was going to do. I smiled with dampened eyes and said, “Home for me is thousands of miles away,” and that’s when I began to feel completely alone. It was an indescribable feeling. I wasn’t scared, but I felt alone. Despite the fact that I had family and friends in D.C., not one of them was familiar to me. It was like being in a foreign place, yearning to see a familiar face and be held by someone I knew well. All of the other students around me were a few hours from home. My home was on the other side of the United States.
     It’s now about 5:30 Wednesday morning and I cannot get any sleep. Along with everyone else in my hall, I’m contemplating the thought of another attack, and if so—where? I know there probably won’t be another one. There was a point in time when I would have said that [an attack] would not happen because I’m in America, or, God wouldn’t let that happen to me, but then I thought, those people [who died] probably said the same thing.
     The world is forever changed. People who once thought America was invincible have been greatly disappointed. There is, however, one lesson I have learned from this tragedy, and that is: It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, when God is ready to shake things up, because we have become too content in our ways, he will. And in a big way.   

Off To A Great Start……How Are You Doing?


first week or so of classes... Congrats! you made it! 🙂
lets take a look at this... yes another list, of things we need to make sure are 
on our minds coming into this next month of school...

-add and drops:
 if you needed to change a course, make sure all paperwork for those changes 
have been turned in and the changes are shown on your permanent. 

-pay attention to when final withdrawal dates for a class are for 2 reasons:  1. 
to get all or most of your money back for that class and 2. to not receive a W 
(withdrawal) for the class

-take a tally, how are things going with your roommate?
if the answer is not so well, then it's time to have a small melting pot. come 
together and discuss in a non threatening  manner the miscommunications you all 
are having and come up with a plan and schedule that will suit you both based on 
your personalities and rhythm (ex: one early bird, one night owl; make sure that 
when you come home, get up, or leave you are respectful of your roommate... 
don't be loud) 

-make any new friends?
 introduce yourself to some of your dorm/floor/hall mates

-finding your rhythm, what time are your classes?
 is your current schedule working well for you right now? does it leave ample 
time for peak study hours (peak: when you best retain information in addition to 
class time)

-have you gotten all your books? 
if not, its time to take care of that, or spend an awful lot of time at the 

 The first few weeks are filled with parties, (as well as the rest of the year) 
make sure you are staying focused on your goals for being in school. WORK FIRST, 
then party. there will always be parties, but you will only take every test and 
turn in every assignment once. And you will only get your first final grade for 
that class once. So start the year off right and you have a better chance of 
finishing it right. and make that when you party, you do so responsibly



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LEAVING THE NEST ” A Special letter to parents”



Dear Parents,

This will be one of the most memorable times in the life of you and your student. How you handle this transition will determine the relationship you will or will not have with your student during these life-changing college years. Be there, but remember that this is their first step to independence, so give them the opportunity to begin this process with your support, not your dictatorship. Give them the benefit of your experience without making them feel guilty, if they don’t use it. Some students will take your advice, while others will have to make the mistakes and learn the lessons. But you had to go through this, too, and you, also, made mistakes.  They will need your wisdom and direction now more than ever. Balance is the key.

Below, I have listed steps that will make this transition smoother; these things helped me, as well as others, during our transitions. Enjoy this time!  You won’t get a second chance.

o    Pray  (It’s this connection that will let you sleep at night – well, most nights).

o    Do an itinerary for the trip to school.

o    Make a list of all friends and family in the area (in case of emergencies).

o    Introduce your student to the individuals that will be their support team while away at school (only those that desire to support).

o    Locate a church and visit the church with your student.

o    Introduce yourself and get the number to the Resident Assistance in the dorm, the financial aid officer and their assigned college counselor.

o    Don’t hesitate to call the president’s office, if necessary.

o    Be a good listener.

o    Always communicate – Do not disconnect:  It is critical that you remain in communication even through a challenging time.

o    Remember, they are at the age of accountability.  Help them to understand the responsibility that goes with freedom.

o    Don’t hesitate to remind them of the things they are to do. They are balancing a lot of tasks, and will forget every now and them, but be kind.

o    Give them enough space to feel independent but enough support to know you are in their corner – even when they make a mistake.

o    Remember, you have lived your life! This is theirs. Help them to become their own person and most important, enjoy their transformation into adulthood!


                Parental Unit

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Move in day – An HBCU Experience!!!!

HBCU seal

Move in day – An HBCU  Experience!!!!

Journal  Entry
August 23, 2002
            Lines and lines of cars filled Georgia Ave. As I sit patiently in the back seat of our rental car, I notice a sign in the back window of the truck ahead of us.  It reads “College or Bust.” I’m smiling so hard that my cheeks begin to hurt. My heart is beating so fast it seems as though it’s going to jump right out of my chest. My hands are sweating, my mouth is cold, the music coming from my headphones seems muffled and I’m feeling a bit woozy. Are these signs of being nervous? Nope, they’re signs of excitement, pure excitement. It was Move In Day.
            As I finally make my way to the front of the line inside that tall brick building, the lady sitting in front of me, behind a big brown table hands me the keys to my brand new dwelling quarters.  I make my way to the elevator, staring at the shiny silver keys and the paper in my hand. It reads … Truth Hall…fourth floor. When I step off the elevator, everything begins to move in slow motion as I approach room 409. I pause, take a deep breath and step inside.
            As I looked around the empty room, I smile and begin to mentally put my room together. My roommate and I arranged our beds to make a little more space in our itty-bitty room, then we head back downstairs to meet our dads at the car. There were people everywhere, as far as I could see, that had come to help us move in, from the different campus organizations to the maintenance crew.  There were guys, beautiful guys EVERYWHERE, and they were there for one reason and one reason alone… to help us move in. What a wonderful welcoming party!
We finally got our things and made it upstairs to our room. My dad offered the three guys, who were helping us, a little partying gift.  They declined saying “that it was just apart of their job as a fraternity” and boy was I thankful… they were gorgeous. One of them told me I was really pretty and I got so nervous that I accidentally dropped a box on him and he rolled down the stairs. He thought it was funny, but I was mortified. He laughed it off and called me Ms. Klutz for the rest of the day.
We took pictures of everything, from leaving the hotel, to the beginning part of unpacking and setting up our rooms. Our RA came around and introduced herself and then reminded us that we were all to report to “the yard” in an hour for a ceremony. We were so tired from unpacking that we didn’t want to move, but my mom said “come on! Let’s see what else they are going to do!” I looked at her and wondered “how in the world does she still have energy?” I was exhausted, but my roommate and I followed her out of our room and on to the yard anyway. 
 When we got there, the HU( Howard University) Band was standing in the middle of the yard along with the flag girls and dancers. As we took our seats, the band began to play. The President introduced himself along with the rest of his staff. He welcomed us, the new freshman class, as we joined a legacy known as the Howard University Family. It was our Pinning Ceremony. 
We watched as one hundred upper classmen made their way through the crowd to welcome us. They gave us a hug and stuck a shiny round pin on our shirts that read “Howard University class of 2005.” Then we all stood up and sang the Alma modal and danced with the rest of the band. As the ceremony came to an end, I understood why my mom thought it was important for us to be there… It was a historical moment, one that I could only have once.  I am glad I went– glad I am at a historically black college and honored that I have been given the pleasure to attend such a wonderful University.
As the long but rewarding day came to an end, I sat at the dinner table with both my mom and dad, reflecting on how wonderful the day was and anxious to see what is in store for us tomorrow.
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Leaving Home




Of all the different things you’ll face when you go off to college, the hardest part is actually leaving home. Leaving home means leaving everything that is familiar to you in the past and moving on. It is an emotional and slightly frightening time for most. Since the age of six, I started spending my summers away from home for weeks and months at a time. So, I was used to being away from my mom. Therefore, when I left home, I thought it was going to be easy to leave her. I thought transitioning into college would be a breeze—that was so far from the truth. I hadn’t thought about the whole idea: getting acquainted with a totally different environment, in a totally different state, on a totally different side of the country!


At first, I almost panicked, but then I remembered, “Hey, this is a part of being on my own!” So, I decided to make the best of it and explore. I began by mingling with the girls on my floor; half the battle is finding a few people to explore with and, more importantly, establishing relationships that will help you through this first year. After that, we set out for all kinds of wacky adventures! My new friends and I found all the closest grocery stores, where we needed to go locally for certain things, and then we found out how to use the transportation system. Since I go to school in Washington, D.C., it was important that I knew how to use the Metro. It was really easy once I got used to it. At first I worried, “What will happen if I go the wrong way?” But then I reminded myself, that if I ended up far away from where I was supposed to be, I just needed to come back. It’s a learning experience and it’s all at the hand of exploration. After we figured that out, the sky was the limit. We found out where all the hot spots were, and then we went. I love to eat out and I love plays, so I made it a point of finding the cool restaurants and small, inexpensive theatres; then I tried all of them—or, at least I did until my funds were depleted. Hey, it happens!


The key to getting comfortable with your new environment is to get to know, or at least become aware of your surroundings. Howard University is located in what might be considered one of D.C.’s not-so-friendly environments, or the “hood.” Whatever it’s called, the bottom line is that to live here, you need to know what is going on in your area, when it’s safe to go out and, in turn, when it’s not. Once you become familiar with your surroundings, no matter where your college is, everything else is simple. Remember, there is nothing wrong with exploring. So feel free to venture out!




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Things To Remember…


Things To Remember

This is a little list to help you decide what to take and what to leave. There will be a lot of things that you will have to take care of when you get to school, so it will help you organize your list of things to do.

To-Do List

___ Get copies of high school transcripts in case the school does not have them.
___ Make sure the college has relevant copies of medical records.
___ Order telephones for the dorm or apartment, if needed.
___ Schedule an appointment with a college counselor two or three days prior to registration, to make sure all documents are in place       and discuss any questions or concerns.
___ Book flight or train arrangements, if necessary.
___ Book accommodations – Call the school to get a list of hotels in the area. You might plan to stay  3 to 7 days.
___ Call the college’s Resident Life Office to confirm your housing arrangements and check in dates.
___ Purchase trunks or other packing and shipping supplies.
___ Sit down with your parents and discuss what items you’d like to take to college as
       well as what colors you’d like for your college room.
___ Plan and throw a college shower; include a list of needed items on invitations.
___ Pack