EntertainmentAug 16, 2016
The Duck's Speech
lots of ducks
lots of ducks
I want you to want to make the most of the years that are prior to Senior year
I was you not that long ago. I was once an eager freshman, a searching sophomore, and a know-it-all junior. Now? Now I am a risk taker. Not the type that gets you in trouble with your parents, but the type that changes your future. Senior year is exciting. A lot of awesome things come along with being the top-dog of the school, but you, right now, are building the foundation for the next 4 years that you will spend in high school. I know you've heard it all. "Get involved", "You'll regret not going to prom", "You're going to miss this". As redundant as these seem, they're true. Although I am just at the beginning of my senior year, I am realizing how many lasts I am encountering.
I don't want to focus on talking about senior year right now though- I want you to want to make the most of the years that are prior to that. Find your niche. Whether it's sports, academics, music/theater- find it and embrace it. Don't let your friends determine that niche, because I can tell you that you will be shocked by the amount of "friends" you no longer speak to by senior year. I am involved in a little bit of everything- and I am so so glad I took that path. I beg you to find something you're passionate about and pursue it. Someway, somehow, throw yourself into the high school community. Go to football games, please. Yes you may look stupid wearing that night's themed outfit, yes your throat will burn from all the yelling, but you will have a blast. Don't be that underclassmen that is "too cool" to yell for the QB that just ran the ball 54 yards for the winning touchdown. Because you're not too cool. Yell, scream, cheer- these are your boys of fall. Support every sports team. It won't kill you to go sit through a soccer game even if you don't know the rules, just cheer for your home team! Go to the dance. Buy the dress you'll only wear once, get dolled up, and go. Don't worry about a date, go with friends. Dance, look stupid, sing your heart out, and take ridiculous amounts of pictures. Participate in spirit week, because how many other times in your life are you going to see what group of people can wear the best crazy socks? Exactly? Never.
Join a club! One of my favorite parts of high school was becoming the president of a community service club at my school. You will intermingle with people you would never see otherwise. This is your time to embrace ALL of these things that high school has to offer, so embrace them. Before you know it you'll be like me- 3 months until I wear my cap and gown and leave. You're going to miss this; don't leave with a single regret
Being a 20-year-old college student sitting on a bench, minding your own business, preparing for your second exam of the day. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? The night before, you talked to one of your best friends of eight years about her week at college, three hours away, and about her exciting internship offer.
Again, nothing new.
While looking over your notes, about 10 minutes before the exam is to commence, you're told to pack up your things and go outside to talk.
On Friday, March 24, 2017, I felt like my world had been turned upside down and stopped spinning. How could this happen to my best friend? I just talked to her last night. The following moments seemed to blur together as I called my mom, speaking through my sobs, hurried home to pack a bag of clothes, and flew down the interstate towards Wisconsin. Over a thousand thoughts went through my mind on that five-hour drive but I just could not wrap my head around the fact I was headed to an ICU in Madison, WI to see my best friend.
In times like this, it would have been all too easy to ask God, why?
Why did you do this?
Why Jenna? What did she do to deserve this?
Why now? She's only 20!
However, instead of taking this route, I chose to pray. I prayed for strength for myself, Jenna, The Preston Family, Tayler, Cody, and my own family. I prayed for the recovery of Jenna and that my best friend would be okay eventually.
I distinctly remember walking out of the hospital that night with a sense of ease, like God had put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Don't worry, I got this."
And he did.
The doctors originally told Jenna's parents it could take up to two years before she might walk or talk again. This accident occurred at the end of March and by her birthday, April 28, Jenna was able to walk into a benefit/birthday party for herself and speak with the all the of attendees.
If she isn't a miracle and true "God Sighting," then I don't know what is.
From witnessing all of this, I cannot begin to stress enough how the power of consistent and heartfelt prayer can work miracles. No matter If you are seeking simple answers, comfort, or guidance, present your troubles to God and let Him take the reins of your life. He wants you to turn to him at all times. I know there have been many, many moments in my life thus far that I have found comfort in putting all of my faith in Him.
It's so easy to interpret the answers to our prayers in the wrong way. When we don't receive the answer we want its simple to think our prayers are not being answered. If that's the case, don't stop and give up. Take a moment to look at all the ways your prayer could be answered. God will not always provide an obvious answer. He works in mysterious ways, whether it's using your prayer to guide you to take another step in a completely different direction or open your eyes to what is in front of you. He wants you to believe and trust Him. If your prayers aren't answered as you had planned for them to be, it's not because He isn't listening to you. Listen to Him no matter how crazy it may sound. Look at the all the ways in which your prayer could be answered. Do you see God working? If not, then that's okay. Keep praying, and ask Him to point you towards the right direction.
I urge everyone to never give up on trusting the Lord wholeheartedly. Although the road ahead is full of uncertainty, if let your faith become untouchable, so that no matter the situation, God will see you through the darkest and bright shining moments of life.
the highways are home
With Halloween quickly approaching, I have been talking to coworkers about what scares us. There are always the obvious things like clowns, spiders, heights, etc. But me? There are a number things I don't like: trusting strangers, being yelled at, being in life or death situations, parallel parking. All of these are included when you get behind the wheel of a car.
As most 16 year olds, I was so excited to get the freedom driving allows. In North Carolina, you're allowed to start Driver's Ed at 14 1/2 years old. Being a January baby, I took the class in July before my 15th birthday. The class goes over the rules and dos and donts of driving that a lot of people never follow (please turn your lights on when it is raining, I don't know why people never follow this rule). The most terrifying part of the class? This horrible video they play of the kids that got drunk and got into an accident. I'm sure nowadays they also have a texting and driving video that I thankfully never have to see. This video however didn't deter me from getting my license at the first chance I could because A) I'm hardheaded and B) When you're a teenager, you feel invincible.
At 23 years old, I feel my invincibility slipping away and my mortality running at me full force. I now think about things I never did before; what would happen if the roller coaster ran off the tracks, what if I fell off this ladder while cleaning the gutters, what if the lawnmower went berserk and the blade went flying off? You see what I mean? I over analyze every little thing now, which includes driving.
Think about it, you are putting your complete trust that all the other drivers on the road know what they're doing at all times. You are hoping that they're not texting, drunk, or sleeping, at least not while they're close to you. One time I seriously saw a girl watching Friends on Netflix while driving (I was a passenger). Don't get me wrong, Friends is a fantastic show but it's Netflix and Chill, not Netflix and Cruise.
In addition to worrying about everyone else, if you make one mistake, you are getting flicked off or cussed at by strangers.
And the worst part about driving? Seeing an accident in front of you and knowing that if you were going a little faster, or if you left a little earlier, it could have been you.
So the next time you get on the road, be a little more cautious, and try to follow the rules because driving is a serious matter and shouldn't be so terrifying.
It's my new favorite time of the year.
Nothing gets me more pumped up than the nice weather and the sights and sounds of the baseball season quickly approaching.
But before we can even get to that point of the 162 games that take up at least six months of our lives, we need to cover all of the bases with what happens beforehand. The monthlong love of spring training.
If you're like me, then you're lucky enough to be in one of the two states that host half of the MLB for this amazing spring season. It's even better when all of the stadiums are within reasonable driving distance from where you're located so you have endless choices for your weekend afternoon.
Even if you're not a baseball fan, it's still a good way for you to even catch a cheap game and spend some time for your friends, which is where the lawn seats will come in handy. Lawn seats are usually located in the outfield on some green grass with a whole field in front of you that usually includes kids running around in hopes of catching a home run ball from the players they idolize.
It's also something that many people don't get to experience, which is why it's so important to take advantage of living in a state that hosts spring training.
I think this is especially important as a student of a university close to these facilities because believe it or not, it kind of becomes a staple for the university and what they have to offer. I know that when I was deciding on what school I would like to attend because I knew it would keep me happy personally and maybe even offer some opportunities professionally.
Personally, I also enjoy it as a baseball fan because I get to go out and see teams and players that I don't get to see as often throughout the regular season.
Spring training is also a really good time to try and get autographs.
With the practices usually being in the morning and with games in the early afternoon, it makes it the perfect day activity whichever day of the week. The accessibility fans get during spring training is unlike any other where you get to watch your favorite players practice and walk past you on their way to another workout during their training in which they might stop by to sign some autographs or something.
Find out how this TikTok star gets women excited about science!
How it all began
Hi! I'm Melanie Byrd, aka @sciencey_melly on TikTok. If you ask me how my TikTok career started, I’ll tell you honestly: I was bored.
It was the beginning of COVID and I was a junior in high school. Cut off from my friends and classmates, I had too much free time, and not enough people to talk to. I spent countless hours scrolling on TikTok and thought to myself, ‘I could do this. What if I just talk about all the weird and wacky stuff that happens at my high school?’
So, I got in front of a mirror and started telling stories. It was just like dishing out the latest gossip with my friends— only, I was having a one-way conversation with a whole bunch of strangers on the internet instead.
Everyone was a bit starved for entertainment during the pandemic, weren’t we? To my surprise, my storytimes about the drama at my high school started to gain a lot of traction. By my senior year, I was eager to start the next chapter of my life, with a modest social media following coming along for the ride.
A new approach
Then, senior year took me on a journey I never imagined. I sustained a bad hip injury, which disrupted my daily routine. Shortly after, my dad and I got into a car crash on the highway. I suffered a traumatic brain injury, which I’m still recovering from years later. Clumps of my hair started falling out because of it. Eventually, I chose to shave it all off to reduce the anxiety of my hair falling out without warning.
Within a few months, I went from being a carefree high schooler dishing out the latest gossip to a girl with a shaved head and a much more serious outlook on what mattered in life. And so, a lot of things changed. I wasn’t the same person I used to be. I posted storytime content less and less frequently. A lot of my followers started to drop out, especially after I shaved my head, which hurt more than I wanted to admit.
I started to take a step back from my original TikTok account because I realized I didn’t really care to tell crazy story times anymore. I was moving away from that chapter of my life, and towards better things. I entered college at UT Austin and chose a biochemistry major with a certificate in forensics. With a new topic to focus on in my life, the content on my channel also began to shift. I’d sit in class, taking in so much new and fascinating information. All I could think was, ‘this is what I want people to learn about.’
The birth of Sciencey Melly
I made a new channel dedicated to science in July of 2022. To tell you the truth, I had no expectations for it. I thought it would be my fun little side project. I wasn’t worried about followers or engagement— I just wanted to talk about science.
I started with about 30 followers, and that was fine by me. I wanted to be the go-to science woman for this small community. I got to engage with my followers on an intimate level. We could talk about whatever we wanted science wise and just run with it.
Then, I had a viral video within my first month and skyrocketed up to 23,000 followers. Still, between the ups and downs of my first two years in college, I took plenty of time off. School was my number one priority. Last year, I didn’t post for five months. Then, I suffered yet another injury— this time, I broke my foot— and got another perspective shift along with it. Since I was effectively grounded, I thought it was the perfect time to start talking about science again. I started posting again to my 23,000 followers, who were thrilled to have me back. Less than a month later, I hit 90,000 followers.
Getting excited about science
The big jump in followers was thrilling, but not for the reason you might expect. All I could think of was how happy I was to share my passion for science. And not just any science, but really weird science! I was getting tons of questions about forensics— everything from poisons to decomposition to toxicology. Audiences who were interested in true crime became curious about the science behind it, and that curiosity led them to me. I was only too happy to indulge them.
A lot of forensics as a field is lectures about basic chemistry, or basic biology. But I knew I wanted to go beyond that. There’s only so much you can take in from textbooks and lectures. I wanted to share the strange, interesting tidbits of scientific knowledge that were applicable to real life. I started different segments on my channel— like Kooky Science, where I shared all the weird science constantly happening in the world around us, like how your brain has a “hate circuit.” Another popular series I started was Could That Kill Me?, which is exactly what it sounds like. In bite-sized videos, I dove into the hidden dangers of mundane tasks, like brushing your teeth or eating potatoes!
The 'why' behind what I do
The majority of my followers are kind, enthusiastic, and encouraging. But of course, it’s impossible to be a woman on the internet and not receive hate comments. Being a woman in STEM who challenges traditional beauty standards didn’t do me any favors, either. I’ve received my fair share of bullying from strangers hiding behind their keyboard. But the hate doesn’t get me down. The other comments, like "you helped me so much with this topic!” and “I've never been interested in science until I saw your channel!” make it all worth it.
I love telling people about what I'm interested in. I love talking about science in a way that 1. people understand and 2. people are interested in. So many of us are introduced to science with a focus on memorizing complicated facts and equations, to try and get a good grade. But whenever you take a step back and you educate people on the really cool parts of science that are relevant to daily life, they get really interested.
Being a voice for change
Building up the kind of audience grants me the label of “influencer.” To me, that means a lot more than just posting content. Having a large following gives me the chance to be a voice for what I believe in.
Over 90% of my followers are women. That means every time I log on, post a video, or respond to a comment, I’m a real-life example of what being a woman in STEM looks like. I have the power to encourage and uplift women like me, who might feel discouraged from pursuing the kind of career I choose to pursue. That’s a huge honor for me, and a responsibility I don’t take lightly.
I have always wanted to use my platform for good- to raise money and awareness for the causes I care about, and build a community with other people who share my passion. About a year ago, I became aware of the term “impact influencer” when a Silicon Valley startup called Stashrun reached out to me to scout Gen Z’ers who are using their social media in this way. Today I lead partnerships there, to help empower other impact influencers, and I think this is the perfect way to describe what motivates my content. I’m impact influencing! For women in STEM and for the planet So, in addition to my series about fun and quirky science facts, I keep my followers updated with the latest news about the state of climate change. I inform them about new bills and government projects that could have a negative impact on the Earth, provide resources to combat environmentally dangerous laws in my bio, and offer outlets for my followers to donate to nonprofits centered around combating climate change. Bringing climate activism to the public is hands down the most important part of what I do.
The importance of being genuine
If I have one piece of advice for anyone trying to make it big on social media, it’s this: don't try to become an influencer for the sake of becoming an influencer. Find passion in your own life first before sharing it with other people. It’s very obvious whenever you meet someone if they’re interested in becoming an influencer for the sake of the pretty pictures, popularity, and brand deals. But the key to success is being excited that you're sharing a topic with people.
That’s what drew me to partnering with Odyssey. I loved that the platform covered so many different topics, and gave so many writers a chance to share their voice. The articles are engaging and well-written, but most importantly, they’re real. They speak to what’s most important to the creators’ hearts and minds. That’s a quality I admire, and one I hope to embody in my own content creation for years to come.
Find Melanie on social media!
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1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign