The Real College Experience As Told By Me

The Real College Experience As Told By Me

The best parts about college.

T'is the season for touring schools. Every year, around this time, it seems there is a mass migration of all prospective students and their families to campuses worldwide as if they are all some sort of prehistoric species looking for a warmer climate. However, rain or shine they make their way from campus to campus on the hunt for the perfect fit. It seems like just yesterday my family and I were partaking in this journey. It is a scary place out there on the "wild" unknown college campuses. I remember from my touring days, I was so overwhelmed by the vast amounts of people- all types- and they towered above me in a way that made them seem more like giants and less like college students. To say the least, it was overwhelming, but when you find that perfect school and everything clicks- it makes the journey worth it.

I remember the first time I entered UMW's campus: it was like someone came and knocked the wind right out of my chest- and oddly I didn't mind at all. It was like that feeling people often describe when you find the perfect wedding dress- that serendipitous "you just know" feeling. The beautiful campus, the small class sizes everything just clicked. Finding the perfect school can be hard, but I hope this article reaches some nervous high school Junior out there, who doesn't know where to start on their search for a home away from home. Take the leap, tour Mary Washington, become an Eagle, and learn how to fly.

Dear UMW,

Thank you...

1. Thank You for Taking Me Out of My Comfort Zone

I was an insecure, sheltered, small town girl when we first met. I left my mountains for you, in search of myself. It was between your old brick buildings and cast iron gate that I found opportunity, and with this opportunity, I work (to this day) on perfecting who I knew I was. It was hard trusting you. You were nothing like I had known before- fast cars, big roads and people using slang like "a brick" or "what a sice." It was not always easy either, there were times I wanted nothing more but to return to my mountains, but looking back now I'm sure glad I didn't.

2. Thank You for Introducing Me to the Love of a Life Time

I sure have met a number of amazing people since I stepped foot on this magical campus, but never in my life have I met someone like him. College is supposed to be a time to figure out who you are, but it seems he came here already knowing. Not only does he seem to know just who he is, but those times where I felt most overwhelmed- he helped me remember who I was. He is my best friend and perfect compliment; tackling college may be our first adventure, but, with a partner like him, I know there will be many more to come.

3. Thank You for Giving Me the Perfect Roommate

It may have taken a year to meet her, but she was 100% worth the wait. She is one of those people you meet, and can't help but love. It's like we were cut from the same cloth, her and I. Whether it is binge watching Pokemon on a Saturday night, or making Mc. Donald's runs- in just one year we have made some of the most memorable moments of my time here at UMW. She is the Bonnie to my Clyde, the Pikachu to my Ash and someday a future bridesmaid. She is my adopted sister in my home away from home and I couldn't be more thankful to have her.

4. Thank You for My Second Family

A second home isn't home without a family, and I am lucky enough to call these crazy people OHANA. We are all different, but somehow it just works. I feel extremely blessed to have them as my support system, and I know they will always be there. Whether we are cramming for finals or having a League of Legends marathon, I know I can count on them to be there- with their sassy comebacks too.

5. Finally, Thank You for Your Many Lessons

In and out of the classroom, UMW, you are constantly teaching me things. I came to you a shy, sheltered small town girl but every day, through the many blessings you brought me, I emerge a better version of myself- and that is why UMW is the best choice I ever made.


A Verry Happy and Blessed Eagle

Cover Image Credit: Libby Patterson

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10 Reasons Working As A CNA Has Been So Rewarding

I am so thankful for the experiences I have each day I work as a certified nursing assistant.

1. Bonds

I have heard so many stories, learned life lessons, and stepped into many different roles. As a caretaker, before you know it your family seems a lot larger.

2. Rewarding

Knowing that I am offering the best care possible, I sleep well at night knowing my residents are well looked after. I have the blessing of getting know each resident, their families, and their other caretakers. Constantly looking out for my residents' best interests, safety, respect, and health- I feel rewarded for having the honor of looking after such deserving people.

3. Experience

As an aspiring physician's assistant (pre-med student), gaining hours upon hours of experience in the setting of a nursing home or hospital look GREAT on applications. Most medical programs require an extensive amount of hours of direct patient care. Thankfully I am earning these hours while also being paid.

4. Connections

Working alongside nurses, doctors, therapists, etc. allows me to make many beneficial professional connections. Not to mention, their advice is SO helpful. Finding where you want to end up in the medical field is challenging, as there are so many options. Narrowing those options to what best suits you is a fun journey.

5. Staying Fit

Being a certified nursing assistant is a VERY physical job. Feeding, bathing, transferring, etc. residents takes a large toll on the body. However, I generally obtain at least 11,000 steps just within one 8 hour shift (reaching the 10,000 step daily goal). Gaining muscle is not something I ever thought I would experience, however it comes along with the job.

6. Knowledge

I have the opportunity to learn on the job every single day. Learning to recognize symptoms of various different health conditions, the process of treating those conditions, and the plan of recovery for each condition. A good amount of the residents generally have a chronic health condition, ranging from diabetes to chronic pain. Paying attention to prognosis, diagnosis, symptoms, etc. I recognize patterns in people outside of the nursing home. Knowledge is such a powerful tool.

7. Preparation for the Future

Within a few decades, as much as I hate to think about it, my own parents will be geriatrics. Knowing what I know now, having the experience that I have, I will now be able to take care of them myself if need be. I love my parents so much, and want to know that they will be getting the best care. The only way I can be 100% sure of that, would be if I was their caretaker.

8. Greater Empathy

I was already extremely empathetic before becoming a CNA, but I am now empathetic in ways I never could have predicted. I realize that families may come into hospitals and nursing homes with frustration and speculation, and I have learned to keep my emotions in check. Most often, those emotions are the result of a negative experience their loved one endured at a past facility.

9. Tolerance

Encountering many different bodily fluids each shift, I have a very high tolerance for pretty much anything at this point. In the beginning I just didn't sweat much about it, knowing that it was going to just be a part of the job. I still feel just about the same, doesn't quite phase me. We are ALL human.

10. Peaceful Goodbyes

I have lost a lot of close friends throughout my teenage years. For once I am surrounded by natural death. In which goodbyes can be delivered before it's too late. Rarely are goodbyes unexpected or undelivered. Closure is more consistent in my work setting. I have many beautiful angels looking over me now.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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