10 Things I Wish I Knew As A High School Senior

10 Things I Wish I Knew As A High School Senior

I'm simply passing down the keys to the kingdom.

Despite the ongoing stress of college applications, maintaining a social life, and retaining a sturdy GPA, senior year was easily one of the greatest years of my life. Now, having experienced high school from the first day of school to receiving my diploma at graduation, I can only hope to offer meaningful advice that I hope will help the "new kids" who are now entitled to my parking spot.

1. Be mindful of every single day.

I know I sound like a grandma on a rocking chair when I say, "Appreciate every day", but trust me, you will naturally sink into a routine once September is over. Then, multiple days will jumble into one instead of being remembered individually. And whether you've already graduated or are eighty years old, you'll thank yourself for making an effort to remember your high school days.

For this, I recommend using a notebook to write in any format five things that happened during your day--sad, glad, comical, even stressful moments of that day. It'll take five minutes before going to sleep, and you will appreciate it once you're an alumni.

2. Do not look for what you don't have.

For this, I am specifically referring to relationships. If you do not already have a steady significant other, do not desperately seek one out because you simply want to "be with someone". Trust me, this one is hard to stick with, especially when your "GNOs" turn into a boyfriend scientific analysis with which you have nothing to contribute to. Good people will come into your life when you least expect it.

Not being in a relationship will allow yourself to truly assemble your priorities, especially when deciding a college or university, Also, you do not have to stress over the infamous "Are we staying together or splitting before college?" debacle.

3. Be nice to everyone, especially underclassmen.

I really should not have to explain why you should act like a decent human being to another human being. It's 2017, treat people with respect. That freshman walking like a slug in the halls could possibly be your boss one day.

4. Say "yes".

Senior year quite possibly contains the most awesome school trips ever. For my high school, all five-hundred of us traveled to Walt Disney World. For others, there are ski trips and of course, prom.

While these are amazing trips, senior year also has great leadership opportunities and service projects you should get involved in. If you're ever asked to attend a service project or be a leader of a club or activity you love, say yes. It is not only a great thing to mention on your college applications but also a rewarding experience that enables you to meet such amazing people and become close with some teachers too.

5. Power through the "College" talk.

Nothing's worse than religion or politics at the dinner table? Try asking a high school senior that question on Thanksgiving, and they'll quickly assure you otherwise. We all know extended family dinners can be awkward, especially when you're persistently asked what your college aspirations and future plans are. So, before you sit at that dinner table, remember that it's okay to say "I don't know" because you truly do not know. And please note, most people don't know either.

After that, continue to smile and change the conversation as subtle as possible. Do not in any way lose your temp er or get frustrated, it'll make the rest of the evening five hundred times worse. So power through, and save your breakdown for the car ride home if necessary.

6. Go to a "Senior Night".

Even if you aren't on a sports team, attend a "Senior Night" or any "last home game" for any sports team, or try to attend your last high school homecoming. Confidently saying you want to go will influence some of your friends who were iffy from the start, and eventually a group will surround you, making the experience more enjoyable.

So, deck out in your school colors, make signs, paint your face, and most importantly show your support.

7. Never be afraid to say "Hi".

By senior year, people change. The friends you declared your "ride or die" squad during freshman year have most likely gone their separate ways with different groups. And while that's normal, you should never feel embarrassed or awkward about the friendship you once had. So, whenever you pass them by in the hallway, a simple "hi" can go a long way. It shows how high school has enabled you to mature and will definitely ease any awkward tension between old friends.

8. Do not get "I hate you, high school" syndrome.

Please do not be that person who continuously rants on their finsta about how they "can't wait to be done with this school and everyone in it", especially in October. High school isn't over yet, and most people won't converse with you if you claim to hate everyone. No one likes a Scrooge.

9. Find your "go-to" teacher.

Honestly, senior year is a rollercoaster of emotions. From college applications, acceptance/rejections, and your final college decision to inevitable drama and the "last time" for anything, there will be tears. You might be the next Niagara Falls, but everyone understands you on some level.

First, find a teacher you can trust. Someone you admire, whether you've experienced them in a classroom environment, as a coach, a guidance counselor, or even an adult who supervises a club or organizes events. This teacher will be your "go-to", and their office will become your new therapy center where tissue boxes and arms are always open.

The biggest advantage to this is that by the time you receive your diploma, you are no longer a student. So, your "go-to" teacher transforms into your friend, and this friendship will always welcome you with open arms whenever you come home.

10. Break stereotypes; make new friends.

By senior year, most people have abandoned the general stereotypes surrounding high school and its students. So, start a conversation with that football player in your art class. Or talk to the track kids who sit at the adjacent lunch table. Be comfortable to ask the cheerleader what your assignments are.

There are two consequences to this approach:

One, you will have a relationship based solely off of "What was the homework?" conversations which will turn into discussions based on tests, papers, and of course, what you think about your teacher.

Two, you've made a friend, a friend you've grown somewhat close to in such a short time span that it'll leave you amazed whenever you think of it. When you think about this type of friendship, you'll simply wish you knew them four years ago and simply had more time to spend together.

Class of 2018, I truly wish you the most exhilarating senior year with amazing opportunities, friends, and family surrounding you. Take care of my parking spot.


A High School Alumna (Class of 2017)

Cover Image Credit: Juliana Cosenza

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4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

Increasing Evidence Points to Music as a Potential Solution to the Mental Health Problem.


Okay, You caught me!

I am NOT just talking about everybody's favorite actor-turned-rapper— or second, if you've seen Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video. Unfortunately, current research hasn't explored specific genres and artists. However, studies HAVE provided significant evidence in possibilities for music to treat mental health disorders. Now, before you say something that your parents would not be proud of, ask yourself if you can really blame me for wanting to get your attention. This is an urgent matter concerning each one of us. If we all face the truth, we could very well reach one step closer to solving one of society's biggest problems: Mental Health.

The Problem:

As our nation continues to bleed from tragedies like the horrific shooting that shattered the lives of 70 families whose loved ones just wanted to watch the "Dark Knight Rises" during its first hours of release, as well as the traumatic loss of seventeen misfortunate innocents to the complications of mental health disorders in the dear city of Parkland— a city mere hours from our very own community— it's impossible to deny the existence of mental illness. As many of us can already vouch, mental illness is much more common than what most would think: over 19 million adults in America suffer from a mental health disorder. Picture that: a population slightly less than that of Florida is plagued by hopelessness, isolation, and utter despair.

Disease in the form of depression holds millions of people prisoner, as anxieties instill crippling desperation and too many struggles with finding peace. This can be you. It could be your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your friend, your roommate, your fraternity brother, your sorority sister, your lab partner, or just your classmate that sits in the corner of the lecture hall with a head buried into a notebook that camouflages all emotion.

I hope we— the UCF community— understand the gravity of the problem, but it's clear that some still see mental illness as a disease that affects only a handful of "misfits" who "terrorize" our streets, while the numbers reveal more to the issue. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health disorder. The problem is so serious that suicide has risen to become the second-leading cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds. While many continue to ask for more antidepressants and even the occasional "proper spanking," recent studies indicate increases in occurrence, such as one in depression from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. So, clearly, none of that is working.

The Evidence:

If we really want to create a world where our children are free from the chains of mental illness, we need to think outside the box. Doctors and scientists won't really talk about this since it's still a growing field of research, but music has strong potential. We don't have any options at the moment, which means we need to change our mindset about music and to continue to explore its medicinal benefits. If you're still skeptical because of the title, then please consider these 4 pieces of solid evidence backed by scientific research:

1. Music has been proven to improve disorders like Parkinson's Disease.

Researchers sponsored by the National Institute of Health— the country's largest research agency— saw an improvement in the daily function of patients with Parkinson's Disease. This makes patients shake uncontrollably, which often prevents them from complete functionality. The disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine— a chemical your neurons, or brain cells, release; since music treats this shortage, there's an obvious ability to increase dopamine levels. As numerous studies connect dopamine shortages to mental illnesses like depression, addiction, and ADHD, someone could possibly use music's proven ability to increase dopamine levels to treat said problems.

2. Listening to the music has the potential to activate your brain's "reward center."

In 2013, Valorie Salimpoor and fellow researchers conducted a study that connected subjects' pleasure towards music to a specific part of the brain. This key structure, the nucleus accumbens, is the body's "reward center," which means all of you have experienced its magical powers. In fact, any time the brain detects a rewarding sensation— drinking ice-cold water after a five-mile run in sunny, humid Florida, eating that Taco Bell chalupa after a long happy hour at Knight's Library, and even consuming recreational drugs— this structure releases more of that fantastic dopamine. So, with further research into specifics, doctors may soon be prescribing your daily dose of tunes for your own health.

3. Listening to Music may be more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medication.

In 2013, Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin— two accomplished doctors in psychology— reviewed a study wherein patients waiting to undergo surgery were given either anti-anxiety medications or music to listen to. The study took into account cortisol levels, which are used daily by healthcare professionals to gauge patient levels. This "stress hormone" was actually found to be lower in patients who listened to classical music rather those who took the recommended dose of prescription drugs. Sit there and think about that for a second: these patients actually felt more relaxed with something as simple as MUSIC than with chemicals that are made specifically to force patients into relaxation before surgery. Why pop a Xanax when you can just listen to Beethoven?

4. Music may release the chemicals that help you naturally relax and feel love.

Further studies continue to justify music's place in the medical world as results demonstrate increases in substances such as prolactin— a hormone that produces a relaxing sensation— as well as oxytocin— the substance that promotes warmth and happiness during a hug between mother and child. So this study basically showed us that music has the potential to actually make you feel the way you did when Mom or Dad would embrace you with the warmest hug you've ever felt.

The Future:

The evidence I present you with today is ultimately just a collection of individual situations where specific people found specific results. There are a lot of variables when it comes to any research study; therefore, data is never truly certain. We should take these findings as strong suggestions to a possible solution, but we must remember the possibility of failure in our search.

The neurochemistry behind the music and its medicinal properties is just beginning to unfold before the scientific community. In fact, extremely qualified scientists from the National Institute of Health— the organization that basically runs any important medical study in the United States— continue to remind us of the subject's youth with the constant use of "potential" behind any and all of their findings. Therefore, it's our responsibility as a community to look into this— not just that of the scientists at the National Institute of Health.

We're all surrounded by music. It's at the bars. It's in our ears during all-night sessions at the UCF library. It's keeping us awake through East Colonial traffic at 7:00 AM while hordes of students focus on their cell phone screens instead of the paved roads ahead. It's in the shoes we wear, the actions we take, and the words we say. IF YOU'RE READING THIS: it's accessible to you. So, don't be shy, and try to play with your Spotify account, or even just on YouTube, and gauge the power of music. As more and more of us see the light, we can promote the movement and carry on as more research comes out to support us.

Drop the bars, drop those addictive pills that destroy your body slowly, and pick up your headphones and press PLAY.

Just relax, close your eyes, smile, and live.

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I am an intern. Yep, Mom, I finally made it!

For twenty-years, my Dad, Jim Loveless, has served Nemours' department of Information Systems.

During our talks, we discuss a myriad of matters, including my vocational aspirations. He always encourages me to be passionate and work for a company I can believe in.

Based on his years at Nemours, my Dad purports that who one works for is as significant as what type of job is done.

His decades long devotion to Nemours and pride in their mission has inspired me to seek employment within their ranks as well. A summer marketing internship with Nemours fits the criteria that my Dad instilled in me; work enthusiastically for a company that champions a healthier tomorrow.

I believe, as Nemours professes, that children's healthcare deserves a higher standard.

Fostering a culture of trust in every interaction is pivotal for Nemours, a company who clearly prioritizes the person before the bottom line.

Over the past two days, I attended the new hire orientation. We discussed, in great depth, Nemours' Standards of Behavior.

Of course, Nemours requires these standards to be upheld companywide, but they also hope that such values transmute associates' off hours.

For example, Nemours' number one standard is to 'Be in the Moment.' Associates' undivided attention is demanded. Thus, ferreting in one's purse or swiping through one's phone would obstruct productivity and damage the carefully cultivated environment of respect.

Within the offices and clinics, engagement is key. You ascribe value to what you pay attention to.

Secondly, 'Be Authentic and Humanistic.' Do not be Sheldon, from 'The Big Bang Theory,' spouting facts without tact.

Third, 'Volunteer Discretionary Effort Constantly,' meaning second-mile service of one's peers, the patients and their families. A company produced video told 'The Bubbles Story' wherein a cancer patient loved to blow bubbles, but eventually she was too sick. The Nemours' clinic's facilities team worked afterhours to build her a bubble machine.

Nemours included the word 'constantly' because selfless service should not be a novelty, but rather habitual and automatic.

Next, associates must 'Model High Performance.' According to Nemours' CEO, Dr. Bailey, "desired behaviors drive desired results."

Personally, I was struck by 'model.' The founder of Nemours, Alfred I. duPont, spent his early years as a black powderman. He created two hundred plus patents and addressed the needs of his fellow powdermen throughout his life. Alfred I. duPont's innovation and compassion are the bedrock of Nemours.

In manufacturing, models are carved to create countless other identical productions. However, if the model can be improved upon then it is tweaked; hence, all the subsequent models bear the improvements.

Therefore, each associate is a model of the Nemours brand. A brand that strives for perfection through continuous improvement.

Both five and six are complementary standards; 'Respect and leverage separate realities' and 'Be Curious vs. Judgmental.'

Specifically, at hospitals, countless stories converge; the plots of which are as varied as they are valued. Each story exists separately, but at Nemours they become one.

Each associate, patient and family member brings their own narrative to the proverbial table. At orientation, we heard countless anecdotes of how Nemours gave many hopeless a happy ending.

The task before me is to tell their stories.

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