Welcome, First Years

Welcome, First Years

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Dear incoming freshman,

College is an exciting time, but it's also a time filled with nervousness, anxiety, and homesickness. These are all emotions that I've felt before, and still feel as a rising sophomore. It's normal. However, I had the privilege to meet amazing people that gave me great advice to combat my freshman year, and I can now attest to the fact that I love Centre.

So, I hope to be that person for you. Here are a few tips and things to know about Centre that will make your freshman year worthwhile.

1. The correct term is first-year.

"I'm a freshman."

I learned very quickly that no one actually calls themselves freshmen during the freshman year. In fact, I felt more mature when I told that senior I was a first-year instead of a freshman, and for them not to forget it.

2. Tater Tot Day in Cowan will make you unbelievably happy when you might be having a crappy day.

Although you'll question whether some of the things in Cowan are edible, the tater tots are something you just can't pass up.

3. Get to know your hallmates.

You'll be seeing these people a lot. And they will be seeing you at your worst. I'm talking right when you wake up, bed head, pajamas, worst. And they won't judge because they're in the same state.

4. Don't be afraid to talk to your professors.

Most professors may seem intimidating, but they are there to help. All it takes is one time to break the ice, then you'll feel comfortable enough to go get extra help. It pays off in the long run.

5. Find a study spot.

It's essential to have one spot away from all of your friends where you can really buckle down and get your work done. During my first year, there were plenty of times where I had to excuse myself from a group study with my friends because I was too distracted. Trust me, they will understand.

6. Get involved.

Centre is a small school with a lot to offer. Our sports teams are really good, and it's up to the students to show school spirit and make them exciting! If sports aren't your thing, there are plenty of clubs to get involved with. Our sororities and fraternities are awesome, so think about rushing in the spring!

7. You don't have to forget home.

One of my biggest fears was that everyone back home would forget me, or that I would forget some things about home. I found that this wasn't the case. You can bring as much or as little from home to school with you. I found that pictures and a banner of my hometown's skyline helped with my feelings of homesickness.

8. Snow days (if we're lucky to get any more) are sent from heaven.

Being from the north, I got snow days pretty often. But in Kentucky, I felt like I had won a million bucks when we got a few snow days. Lots of people went sledding, drank hot chocolate, and played football in the snow. It was one of the most memorable days.

9. Explore.

Kentucky has a lot to offer outside of little ol' Danville! Go to a UK game, get fancy for the Kentucky Derby, or go apple picking in Versailles. It's important to take a break from the pressures of Centre every once in a while.

10. Have fun!

Make the most of your college experience. Study hard, make friends, turn up. Laugh, be silly, dress up as TMNT for Halloween. In the words of President Roush, "Do your best, be your best, no regrets."

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!

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So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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