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Fall Leadership Conference

September 22, 2014

“Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas;
they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them.”
― Russell H. Conwell, Acres of Diamonds

There’s no doubt in my mind, Russell Conwell was a very smart man.

A preacher living in the rough neighborhoods of North Philadelphia, Dr. Conwell made a simple decision to tutor an underprivileged man and a few of his friends. That class took place 130 years ago and that one decision sparked an entire university based on one principle — finding the diamonds in the rough and nurturing them to their full potential.

I am one of Dr. Conwell’s diamonds, a testament to the spirit that lives on long after his death. Temple gave me the tools and it was up to me to take responsibility and mold my own diamond.

This weekend, I was asked to return to the house that Russ built as a co-facilitator to the Fall Leadership Conference — a gathering of more than 400 student leaders, hosted by the Diamond Leaders. As a Diamond Leader, I gained the self-confidence to be bold enough to follow my dreams, and nothing excited me more than the prospect of giving back to my alma mater and empowering students with that same confidence.

I couldn’t have been more energized knowing some of my favorite campus leaders and mentors would be sharing their insight — Joe Urbanski, Lauren Bullock, and Kate Schaeffer. The conference couldn’t have come at a better time. Joe was giving one of his signature seminars — Preventing the Miserable Career Journey — and it’s one I’ve tried to stick to since hearing it for the first time six years ago.

He preaches finding and adhering to your real GPA — your genius, your passion, and your achievements — knowing that “life is too short to do the things you suck at.” It was a poignant reminder, especially as I look for the next big step in my life.

The students sat in Mitten Hall, listening intently, filling out worksheets, and taking notes…but little did they know, their facilitator was in the back row, doing the exact same thing. I was amazed how, after a year of growth, experiences, and self-discovery in Atlanta, my answers had evolved.

After the morning seminar, I finally got to meet my students. We lunched next to Dr. Conwell’s grave in Founder’s Garden, and then returned to the OwlCove for intense discussions about applying the findings from our self-discovery to our own lives and our responsibility to one another. They brought such unique and new perspectives to lessons I’ve been helping teach at these conferences for so many years. I absolutely learned as much from them as they were meant to learn from me.

Everyone has bumps and bruises on their road to happiness, but remembering your genius, your passion, and your achievements will keep you on the right path.

The twenty-something’s guide to unemployment

September 8, 2014

YouIsKindNearly three years ago, I started this blog as a favor to the Undergraduate Admissions staff. They wanted a view through my eyes to show to prospective students what daily life at Temple looked like. Only a few of the tour guides agreed, so I thought, sure, I’m a journalism student, give me a platform to write about how much I love my school.

But it’s turned into so much more. I never gave it a focus. It’s not fancy or cute or innovative, but it’s mine.

A blog is supposed to be the best presentation of your life, right?

You put your best foot forward to say to the world, “Hey! Look over here! My life right now, whatever I’m writing about or photographing or experiencing — it’s great.”

This blog might have started out as one for Admissions, but I’ve got an admission of my own — a lot of the time, our lives aren’t perfect. We aren’t great. Many times, I’m not great.

One of my favorite movements, To Write Love on Her Arms, has a saying — people need other people.

And in times like this, when we aren’t at our best, people do need other people.

So here I am, being your person.

I’ve shared a lot on this blog. A lot of good times, that is. I’ve written around a lot of difficult patches in the road, omitting them, pretending they aren’t there.

But there’s a big one there now.

A few hours ago, I started looking through my pictures to see where I could fill in the holes from my summer with blog posts. How many posts of happy, smiling photo galleries would it take to look like I had my life together, like I wasn’t unemployed, living at home, looking for a job?

I’ve done the unemployment thing before, right after I graduated from Temple. Eight months of tears and frustration and embarrassment and self-doubt before one person decided to give me a chance. And that chance is like walking out of Plato’s Cave — you never fully realized how dark it was until you see the sun again.

I worked my butt off to graduate early from college, applied high and low, but it took eight months for that chance to come in the form of a year-long postgraduate program in Atlanta — a dream internship covering college sports for NCAA.com. I finished with an entirely new resume worth of experience — I covered the College World Series, I wrote stories I was passionate about, I managed one of the most trafficked sites in athletics.

But then, in an instant, it was over.

And all the work I’d put in and networking I’d done and expectations I’d had for life after NCAA.com didn’t prepare me for another spell of unemployment that felt like it had never left in the first place.

The sports journalist who (still) loves her career fiercely, who smiles too much, eats too many sweets, laughs too hard, and takes entirely too many photos? She’s still here. But the girl who feels a little lost and a little lonely and a little down? I know she’s not alone.

In 2013, 13% of American twenty-somethings were unemployed. It’s hard and it’s humbling. There are good days and there are bad days.

I’m sure you’ve heard all the excuses before — it’s just bad timing, the right thing will come along, just be patient, maybe you should try another career, stop being so negative, get a part-time job, etc. And those people mean well. But it’s easier said than done.

It’s hard to have a good attitude when you blame yourself.

It’s hard to be strong when rejection letters knock you down every day.

It’s hard to believe in yourself when you question your merit.

It’s a challenge, but not a challenge you can’t overcome.

People need other people. We need each other.

And so, like Plato called for, I’m going back into the Cave to pull you out with me. I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not. But somehow, we have to put one foot in front of the other and lead each other out of that Cave.

I lean on my friends, on my family. I chuckle and call it “funemployment.” I watch lots Boy Meets World reruns and get my hands on as many new books as I can. I cuddle with my dog and eat pints of Turkey Hill ice cream. In my book, if I don’t have a breakdown, I call it a good day. And my new full-time job is finding a full-time job.

But I’m always proactive. I’m always ready. You never know when you’re going to get that call.

And you will get that call.

People need other people. We need each other. 13% of our demographic, our peers, our friends, are in the same boat. I may not be great at math, but 13% is a lot of people who feel the same distressed feelings you do, right at this very moment. There are two sides to the unemployment battle — the professional one and the personal one. While a community of twenty-somethings might not be able to help professionally, they can certainly help personally. So let’s build each other up, admit and learn from our weaknesses, and lean on those who know best what you’re experiencing.

Is it hard to stay positive when you doubt your self-worth? Yes.

Is it easy to get depressed, defeated, and throw yourself a pity party? Yes.

Am I embarrassed to admit all this to those outside of my innermost circle? Yes.

Am I nervous to be this vulnerable? Yes.

But if even one person reads this, relates, and gets a shred of reassurance that someone, somewhere knows what they’re going through, well, isn’t that also the point of a blog? It’s more disheartening than your friends and family will ever understand, but you don’t have to do it alone. I know that you is kind, you is smart, and you is important. And you can do this. You will do this. And one day soon, some great employer will be so lucky to have chosen you.

For those days you can’t believe in yourself, I will believe in you.

And for those days I can’t believe in myself, I hope you will believe in me, too.

Just don’t give up.

Don’t ever give up.

Looking back on Labor Day

September 1, 2014

Labor Day marks the unofficial end to summer. And this summer has been quite an eventful one. While the beginning of the season provided so much excitement — a roadtrip to Omaha, Team USA watch parties, a visit from my sister, our Walking Dead day and my best friend’s wedding — the end hasn’t been too shabby, either.

After Abby and Nathan’s wedding, I drove back up to Philadelphia, where I was able to spend time with my family and take a break after the hectic year it’s been. Life may be uncertain and full of adventure at the moment, but it’s full of love and laughter, so I can’t ask for much more. Here’s a look back at some of this month’s great memories.

 

 

 

#TeamNerswick

August 3, 2014

NersWedding-2Aug14-1

When Abby Hill walked into NCAA.com two weeks after the rest of the intern class last August, her reputation already preceded her. She and I had held the same position at Team USA just one year apart and we somehow now found ourselves sharing a cubicle. Exactly one year later, she and I would have shared a lot more than a cubicle — and now I was sharing in my best friend’s wedding day.

I’d only been hearing about this wedding for a year and it became a thing of certainty in my very unstable future — I always knew where I was going to be on August 2nd.

I’ve seen many of my cousins get married, but for the first time, one of my friends would be walking down the aisle. I’d spent more time in the past year with Ab than with anyone else, and we all absolutely loved her fiancé, Nathan. She’d planned nearly the entire wedding from the 8th floor of our Techwood office, letting me share in every detail. In an exciting summer, there was nothing I was looking forward to more.

After three hours of side-splitting, screeching sing-alongs, Andrew and I made it to Ringgold, Georgia, for the ceremony. Not a seat in the church was open — so many people had come to see Abby and Nate tie the knot. We didn’t know many people, but Andrew’s comical commentary made the traditional ceremony even greater. In one of the most tender moments, Nathan choked up delivering his vows, and the look on the joy on their faces was palpable as they walked back up the aisle. But after a year together, my best friends knew me too well. Ab’s first question after the ceremony to Andrew — “How badly did Higgins cry?”

Afterward, we drove the quick half hour across the border into Tennessee for their reception. Ab and Nate had chosen Church on Main in Chattanooga. It was so quintessentially them, rustic and elegant. Everyone was so fun, so happy, so welcoming, and I really couldn’t have been happier to be a part of their special day. After dinner, dancing, and doughnuts, it was time to head back down to Atlanta with smiles permanently etched on our faces.

Congrats, #TeamNerswick. Love you both.

I love you more than coffee…

July 19, 2014
"I love you more than coffee, but don't make me prove it."

“I love you more than coffee, but don’t make me prove it.”

…well, I don’t love coffee. I don’t even like coffee. But you could say #TeamNerswick does.

Nathan’s competed in the US Coffee Championships, Abby’s taken coffee classes, and their new kitchen even features a “hot corner,” dedicated to…well, you guessed it, making coffee. And so, with the bourbon buried and their wedding a mere 14 days away (eeeek!), it was time to get cracking on the wedding present.

In March, my DIY addiction and I gave distressed wood a try when I made a sign with the iconic Friday Night Lights phrase — “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.” It was cheap, customizable, and unique. It’s quickly become one of my favorite pieces in my apartment.

Abby loved the sign and we decided I would make one for the Nerswicks’ new apartment. I found the perfect phrase for them — I love you more than coffee, but don’t make me prove it — and set to work.

I can’t wait for the Nerswicks to see the final product and to celebrate with them in just a few more days! Love you, Ab and Nate!

Follow my step-by-step photo tutorial in my March post and check out my other crafts:
DIY string stateDIY Instagram coasters | DIY string map | DIY baseball wreath

Don’t look back, Carl

July 14, 2014

After chasing walkers all through backwoods Georgia today, we finally arrived -- and survived. #Terminus #TheWalkingDead

After chasing walkers all through backwoods Georgia today, we finally arrived — and survived. #Terminus #TheWalkingDead

Atlanta’s been called the Hollywood of the South. But today, backwoods Georgia took center stage.

Truly, I shouldn’t be a fan of The Walking Dead. I don’t like blood, I don’t like gore, I don’t like action. But somehow, I fell in love with the dorky little drama about Georgians caught in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. And I’m not alone. The Walking Dead is the most watched drama in basic cable history and has a fan base as passionate as any.

After doing our research and lots of free time on our hands, Andrew and I decided to take the day trip down to Griffin, Georgia, to see the filming for the upcoming season. We found we were far from the only fans crowding the small-town streets, looking out for their favorite characters. First, Carol came out to film a few scenes in her iconic station wagon, which we surmised must be a flashback.

A bit later, we moved down the street and saw none other than Norman Reedus who plays the most eccentric survivor, Daryl — one of my favorite characters. Though the alley scene was covered with a white sheet to prevent us from seeing the action, Reedus was always waving to the fans lined up on the street and mingling with his admirers. The genuine love the cast has for the fans who come out to watch them is so mutual and defies every Hollywood stereotype. This isn’t your average television show, for sure.

We made friends with a couple who had brought their two young sons to scope out the action. They told us they had made a not-to-be-missed stop on the way in Senoia, Georgia, the setting for Woodbury, a too-good-to-be-true refuge from the post-apocalyptic world swarming with zombies, and most of the regular series filming on a private, secluded property.

So after a few hours in Griffin, we made the trek a few miles west to Senoia and started squealing, seeing that the one-street town was a dead-ringer for the fictional Woodbury — absolutely nothing had been altered for filming. Following their suggestion, we headed to the Woodbury Shoppe, which in its basement housed a free, open-to-the-public collection of authentic Walking Dead sets and memorabilia.

We drove back up to Atlanta with one stop to make along the way — Terminus. In the season finale, the cast made it to the place whose motto was “all who arrive, survive”  and were promptly shoved into a rail car — cue cliffhanger. While standing on a road near Turner Field, it was incredible knowing this was the very place the new season would pick up from.

We didn’t think it could get much cooler until we wandered down the road and saw the “A” rail car — the very car the cast is currently trapped in. We were able to walk a few steps into Terminus and pointed out every major moment from the season finale — “That’s where they were shot at! That’s where Carl ran from! That’s where the room with the candles was! That’s the path they took!” It was another set completely untouched by movie magic. Even Andrew, normally reserved and near-impossible to excite, was undeniably wowed.

I may have only started watching TWD this winter, but Georgia brought one of our favorite shows to life today and October — and with it, the season five premiere — can’t come soon enough.

Sissy visits the ATL

July 6, 2014
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