Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Class of 2014

Following the ceremony at
Municipal Auditorium
It has been a full two and a half weeks since my graduation from Rockhurst.  I cannot believe that four years before that, I was graduating from my high school in western Kansas.  The weekend this time around was that much more full though as I also moved into my new apartment on the Plaza.  I was so lucky to have my parents, my siblings, my boyfriend, and my grandma all here to help me throughout the weekend, and there were definitely a few times that I could not have done it without them!

After Baccalaureate with my parents
Friday was the Baccalaureate mass at St Francis Xavier, across the street from Rockhurst. Before the mass, all of the graduates gathered on the quad and got a chance to catch up, take pictures, and just take a moment to reflect before the big weekend began.  We even got to say hi to Lynn and Dean McConnell who were in the 2nd floor of Conway from below!  The church was completely packed with the families who were there to support their graduates, and Fr Curran gave a great homily.

Saturday was the actual graduation ceremony!  By being separated between the colleges, it seemed weird which friends we were able to run into.  After getting seated at the Municipal Auditorium, and seeing my family all sitting together, the importance of the day truly set in.  I could not believe how excited everyone looked for us.  Our class speaker was Quentin Savwoir, who I remember thinking the first time I met him that I hoped he got asked to give our graduation address.  Walking across the stage was exciting, but I especially enjoyed all of the smiles and congratulations I was able to share with professors who were also part of the ceremony.

With friends at Hawk Walk
The Hawk Walk proceeded from Municipal Auditorium to a Block Party in the Power and Light District.  I was part of the first wave of people and directly followed bagpipers (nice touch Rockhurst) from a local group.  It was definitely a unique experience to get to walk through downtown Kansas City.  After spending some time congratulating friends and hanging out with my family, we went to dinner on the Plaza.

Over the course of the weekend, my family was phenomenal in also getting all of my stuff moved from one place to the other, and over the course of the following week, I got settled into my new place (although it is still a work in progress). And then last week after Memorial Day, I started my new job!  It has been a crazy few weeks but I am so excited to be graduated and on to the next step in my life!

The "Ladies of Accounting" before the ceremony

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Teacher Appreciation

Photo: Our graduating brothers....going to miss you!
DSP Seniors with our Chapter Adviser, Turner White

Last week was our "very last" of several different events- Senate meeting, DSP meeting, and Senate Bingo (also Wednesday night class, but that's not as sad).  At our last DSP meeting, all of the seniors received graduation cords and roses.  At this time, the seniors always give a short speech to talk about their experience at DSP and pass on their "words of wisdom" to the younger students.  As I've spent three years watching the previous seniors give these talks, I was very excited to do the same as a senior myself.  However, as I began to talk about the professors and the opportunities that Rockhurst had provided me over the past several years, I got choked up.  Tears may not have fallen, but it was obvious that I was emotional!  It seems that every opportunity I have had in recent years been hugely impacted or made possible by professors being devoted to their students.  Having that kind of devotion has been so important to my positive college experience that its hard to believe that students even consider going to the larger schools that have a much larger student-to-faculty ratio. 

I recently learned that today is Teacher Appreciation Day (thank you Facebook).  So this blog post is a solid THANK YOU to all of the professors in college and the teachers and mentors throughout high school and younger.  Its unbelievable to think about how many students some of these teachers have influenced in their careers (many teaching for more than 40 years).  From the student aides, staff, and every person who influences students throughout the years, I know that every mentor wishes the best for students and has done so much to positively influence our futures.   

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The End is Near

It seems that this is a common phrase that has been uttered with increasing frequency this semester.  Any variation of the phrase really, such as "Almost There", "Just a Few More Weeks" and "Last *fill in the blank* Ever!".  These are just simple ways for those of us who are graduating are staying motivated throughout the last few weeks of school.  Some seniors are still on the job search, trying to find a good fit for our first "real" job after graduation.  Others are looking at starting grad school or moving back home to figure out what they want to do.  I have been lucky enough to have settled down a job to start after graduation before the end of March. I've only had to continue my work at school and in my current job with as much enthusiasm as possible in order to keep being productive for a few weeks before I have to start in the "real" world.

The biggest piece of this puzzle seemed to be an apartment.  I spent several weeks on the apartment hunt, finding a place that would line up with my (probably unreasonable) list of expectations.  Downtown or Plaza area, reasonable rent, fitness center, nice management, safe area, washer and dryer preferred, etc and so forth.  I had found several properties that I liked but I kept going back to one apartment building in particular.  I didn't want to choose an apartment until my mom intended to be in town over Easter to apartment hunt with me.  So when a unit came available at this particular place, I impatiently waited the day I could go in to tour with my mom.  As soon as I saw the apartment, I knew that I wanted to live there, but I toured others to appease my mom and to be 100% sure.  A few hours later, over lunch, I called the property manager and told her that I wanted to come in and fill out the application.  She told me that she would save the spot for me and to just come in later that afternoon.  When I arrived to fill out paperwork, the apartment manager told me that three other people had toured and wanted to make an offer/ fill out an application, but since I called, she had told them it wasn't available to save it for me!  She also told me that she had shown the property 15 times over the past week, with no good fits, so it is obvious to me that it was meant to be for me to live there!  I will be able to move in the weekend of graduation, a time when I will also have lots of helpers in town for moving everything.

Overall, it seems that I have found a great fit for a job, an apartment, and I will be able to start my first year after graduation much better than is often expected for college graduates these days: debt free, with a well-paying job and living in my first-choice apartment! I can't wait to see what else will be in store!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Professional Visits

Last Tuesday was Helzberg School of Management's Leadership and Ethics Day.  This is the second year that the school has hosted this event, which welcomes leaders in the business community into classes to speak about their experiences in the business world.  Generally, these speakers talk about times that their ethics have been tested throughout their experience in business and how their leadership has developed over time.  Sometimes these speakers are alumni of Rockhurst whether from the Undergraduate, MBA or EMBA program.

Another speaker at Leadership & Ethics Day
Photo compliments of Rockhurst University.
This year, the first class that I attended with a speaker was my International Management class. We had Scott Marshall who worked for Ford for many years both in the United States and in the Czeck Republic and has even worked for a Swiss company in the United States. Throughout his time in these different positions, he talked about how he struggled to learn many lessons.  These lessons included everything from knowing a language to inspire trust all the way to how not to transport vehicles across country borders.

The second speaker in my classes that afternoon came to us by speakerphone from Baltimore, MD.  This man, Jeff Goering,  is the Chief Financial Officer for the Baltimore Ravens and is an alumni of Rockhurst.  His journey to become the CFO was quite varied and it was interesting to see how each step in his career, while it didn't always seem that way, would lead him toward his current job.  He spoke about ethical situations in which he had to make decisions on behalf of the stadium and how his education helped support his decision.

Each time speakers come in to speak on these type of issues, it gives the students the opportunity to hear how our liberal arts education will be applied following graduation.  These type of talks, while varied in exact story, can be inspiring for students to keep pushing through in order to finish out the year and continue to work toward the career of their dreams.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Habitat for Humanity ReStore

A few of the Rockhurst volunteers
(courtesy of Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity) 
This Saturday, Delta Sigma Pi (the business fraternity) volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to help them prepare their new ReStore building in Blue Springs.  Everyone in the fraternity is required to attend a service event, and this is the second time that we have been able to assist with this particular project.  Our chapter of DSP initially got connected to this project through one of our brothers, who is an employee of Habitat for Humanity, and we also got the UMKC chapter involved to have even more volunteers.  A local high school debate team also volunteered, so we were able to have a lot of hands on deck!

You can see me in the background of this one!
(courtesy of Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity) 
According to the website, RestoreKC describes themselves as "...your discount home improvement store! Donate your old items to help raise money for Habitat for Humanity Kansas City homes or shop us for great deals on furniture, building materials, lawn & garden or major appliances."  While talking to Mike, one of the managers at the site, he spoke to the importance of ReStore locations to allow people's monetary donations to the organization to go directly to their core efforts, that of building homes to people in need.  By funding daily operations such as salaries and utilities through the ReStore projects, they are able to supply their own income for the less "appealing" parts of the organization and depend on donor support for their core operations.
Smiling faces!
(courtesy of Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity) 

I really enjoyed getting a chance to help at the new ReStore location, and to be a part of the process.  We were completing projects from sweeping floors and cleaning windows to putting up door frames and bending metal.  Many of the guys mentioned that they enjoyed using power tools and getting dirty too!  It is always a unique opportunity to get to work with organizations around the community especially through volunteering.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014


So over the past few years, I have had many interviews, and throughout these interviews I've noticed a few things that are most useful to me, even if they aren't highlighted the most on any "advice pages".  So here are some pieces that I have found more useful to me than any other advice I have read:

  1. Stay Relaxed:  Most of the time, it seems that interviews aren't nearly as stressful as what many people make them out to be.  Its better to just be calm and treat the interview as more of a relaxed situation than a stressful one.  Interviewers are looking at whether or not they can see working with you and so its important to build a relationship with those potential colleagues.  
  2. Take a Deep Breath: (before answering any big questions)  I know that oftentimes when I'm in an interview, it can be really difficult to stay calm and I will talk too quickly, making it too difficult for the interviewers to understand what I'm really trying to say.  So I've found it best to, after any question is asked, take a deep breath, and intentionally speak a lot slower as I'm answering the question that they have asked so that my point will get across accurately and efficiently. 
  3. Know your Resume and the Position:  Know what it is that you really want the interviewers to know about you before even going in.  That way, you can highlight pieces of your resume that you are qualified and excited about, which makes it a lot easier to convince everyone that you are right for the job. 

Well good luck in your job search Hawks!  I hope that my little pieces of advice that I've shared can be minutely helpful in  your next interview during this "interview season" for all those summer internships and final jobs!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Growing Up

From the Rockhurst Twitter (@RockhurstU)
Last Thursday night and Friday was Rockhurst's official groundbreaking and a presentation to honor donors for the new academic building, named Arrupe Hall.  Thursday night was the presentation titled "Wisdom and Leadership Depicted Through Humor" by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau which was intended to honor the McMeel family, donors to the new building.  I attended this presentation and greatly enjoyed a chance to hear Mr Trudeau speak.  The presentation truly seemed to follow the title of the presentation, beginning with stories of coming into adulthood, moving into the story process ("humans are hardwired to create and process stories") and following with speaking on the topic of comedy ("the opposite of comedy is not seriousness, it is despair"), entertaining us the entire way through.  While he questioned his own ability to speak on the topic of wisdom, I found the whole presentation to be captivating.

Countdown we made at my high school for graduation
My favorite quote from his entire speech though came toward the beginning, and I found myself reflecting on it throughout this week.  As Mr Trudeau was speaking on his own coming of age, he spoke of navigating the "uncontrolled skid that is adolescence".  As I prepare for my own graduation from college in a mere 8 weeks of classes, I cannot help but reflect on the huge impact the past 4 years of my life will have on me and how quickly it has gone by.  It seems like just yesterday I found out that I received a full-tuition scholarship to attend Rockhurst, and now I'm in the final weeks to graduate.  Four years ago today I was working on projects for high school Spanish class and beginning a countdown bulletin board for graduation from high school (see above) with many of my closest friends, excited and nervous to take that huge step of moving away from home.  I never could have imagined what lie in store for me throughout these past four years, but that only points toward what little I can expect to know for the future.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Foreign Aid and Political Issues

Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal
One issue that I have found very interesting recently has been involving the recent Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act that has been passed and how it has affected foreign aid to this developing country.  This issue has caused organizations to make a decision regarding their guidelines for providing aid.  Many organizations give aid to this country due to the low GDP and to assist the nation in its continuing development efforts.  However, many organizations have felt that the enactment of this new bill does not line up with the values of the organization and have expressed a desire to withhold aid as a result of the passage of this law.  This article by the UN News Centre sites public health as a huge concern due to the high level of people living with HIV/AIDS in the nation.  With 1.5 million people living with HIV in Uganda, treatment is a huge concern due to studies that show that "when gay people face discrimination including abuse, incarceration and prosecution, they are less likely to seek HIV testing, prevention and treatment services" (UN).  The World Bank has postponed a $90 million loan to Uganda for maternal health, newborn care, and family planning due to the enactment of the new law.  The organization has concerns that the new law will "affect our projects and our gay and lesbian staff members" (BBC).  

Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal
The backlash experienced by this issue however, seemed to be anticipated by the lawmaker who first proposed the bill.  Overall, this bill was widely liked by the citizens of the nation, and the lawmaker believes that these withdraws of support are worth the preservation of the nation's moral values.  Whether a person agrees with the new law or does not however, I believe the most important thing to look at is how the average citizen's life will be hurt or made better by the enactment of the law.  Nonprofits and aid organizations additionally have to evaluate how their organization's values fall into line with any decision the government has made.  These widespread implications make politics and aid interesting topics to dig deeper into and to continue to follow closely.  

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Courtesy of Unbound
Thursday night, I was able to attend an Unbound event, featuring Lillian, a woman working in Kenya as the director of the mother's groups for Unbound's Nairobi project. Lillian is an energetic woman with an eye for what really goes on in the sponsored families' homes. She grew up in a family with nine children in Mombasa, Kenya, which allows her to connect her own experiences with others around her. The event enabled people in the community to learn more about Unbound, the micro-lending program through mother's groups, and to socialize.

Courtesy of Unboud
The program began with time to socialize and then after an introduction by Elizabeth Alex, Director of New Channels, and Scott Wasserman, the newly elected CEO, Lillian began to talk about herself and her projects through compelling and entertaining stories using straight-forward language. Unbound's mother's  programs allow mothers of sponsored children in a community to meet together to support each other under the umbrella of the unbound community. These mothers represent their families, meeting once a month to discuss their community and what they can do to support them. 
Courtesy of Unbound

The most unique part about this group is their micro-lending programs. The women are encouraged to donate just about $1.10 per month to a group "pool", which unbound matches. At any given time, a mother can approach the group to request a loan to start their own business, expand a business, pay for a child's school tuition, or pay for medical expenses. 70% of the loans requested are to support businesses. These businesses may be raising poultry, farming, providing laundry services, or perhaps creating necklace and bracelets through intricate bead work. The loans allow the women to make the investment needed to start these businesses and then make money to support the family. 

Courtesy of Unbound
Lillian shared how important this income is to the family in this way: if a family does not have a steady job, the mother or father might go out in the community to find a job as a daily laborer. If they come home without having found a job, this also means that the family will not have a meal to feed their children. Lillian shared stories of mothers placing a pot on the stove without starting the fire, and then when their children ask "Mom, when is dinner" she simply says, "Its being cooked, just be patient". Eventually the children fall asleep without realizing they didn't have dinner, carrying them over into another day. These tactics are heart-breaking for these mothers and can cause fights for the parents. By allowing the mothers to start their own business, they no longer have to worry about whether or not they can provide a meal for their family, which provides huge ripple effects for everyone in the community. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Weekend Activities (part 3)

#5: Fine Arts events

Throughout the city, there are also many opportunities to explore the fine arts.  From the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, to the UMKC Conservatory, there are countless chances to see an Opera, the Ballet, or a play directed by Kansas City's own. Almost every weekend, I will look over at the Visit KC website, and there are several plays and various types of performances available to enjoy.  While I have only been able to attend a few of these types of performances, there are consistently opportunities for people to see these events across a huge spectrum of costs and locations. From free concerts on the plaza and at colleges to events you pay a much higher price for at the Kauffman Center. 

#6: Concerts

Throughout my time at Rockhurst, I have also attended many concerts. From my very first concert
of Flogging Molly at the Uptown Theater in March of my freshman year, to the concert I am seeing this weekend- Infected Mushroom at the Midland- a gift to my boyfriend, I have taken advantage of the music scene in Kansas City. There are often many free concerts at the Power and Light district such as their line of concerts during the summer on Thursday and Friday nights. (Country on Thursdays and more pop/dance music on Fridays) I saw Silversun Pickups as part of the MLS week, and Icona Pop for these reasons! There are also the fair share of more expensive "big name" concerts at the Sprint Center on a regular basis. 
Overall, my time living in Kansas City has been full of numerous types of ways to spend my evenings and weekends. People are never left to have nothing to do on weekends in the city- so staying busy is never a problem! 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Weekend Activities (part 2)

#2: Nelson- Atkins Art Museum

A sunset in front of some of the permanent outside art
This museum, located less than a mile from the university, allows free entry to see all of the permanent exhibits at all times.  With a large lawn with permanent art installations that provide entertainment in addition to the huge collections inside, this museum has entertained me for many afternoons and evenings throughout my time at Rockhurst.  Many students will also use the front lawn to host frisbee tournaments, picnics, and general opportunities to meet up with group of people on a nice afternoon.

#4: Festivals (Renaissance Festival, Fiesta Hispana, Plaza Art Fair etc)

Over the years, I have been able to attend numerous festivals, fairs, and other events around the city.  The Renaissance Festival- while among the most expensive of the events I'll share- was a lot of fun for my family and I.  (My parents last visited while my mom was pregnant with me!) Between the costumes of other attendees, jousting tournaments, hundreds of booths for Renaissance themed food and gifts, camel rides, and jesters; the whole day was filled with entertaining activities.  
My brother was the happiest I've ever seen him riding
a camel at the Renaissance Festival
Fiesta Hispana in the downtown area was my first experience with a Spanish-themed festival with booths selling food and items from many different cultures from Latin America, in addition to performances and artists.  The Plaza Art Fair (along with the Westport Art Fair, and the Brookside Art Fair, among others) features booths from artists from all around the country in addition to deals offered by restaurants and stores in the area is always a great chance to walk around and soak up the art culture in Kansas City.  
You never know what you'd find at Fiesta Hispana
My mom, brother, and I at the Renaissance Festival

Fiesta Hispana- downtown

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Weekend Activities (part 1)

Oftentimes, I like to talk about the different opportunities that there are around Kansas City for recreational and cultural activities.  The next few weeks, I want to go through many of these that I have been able to take advantage of over the past few years.

#1: First Fridays

Since my first year at Rockhurst, I have regularly gone to First Fridays in the Crossroads District.  First Fridays takes place, exactly as stated, from 7-9 pm the first Friday of every month.  Countless art showrooms open up their doors to the public to view the art.  Additionally, many restaurants in the area (Christopher Elbow Chocolate among them) have special deals at the time of this event for the public.  Street artists and performers also make appearances throughout the area making it a whole evening affair that can be incredibly enjoyable for many students, visitors, and residents alike.  Over time, my friends and I developed a pattern of visiting favorite showrooms and favorite areas to walk through.  We would also plan the event around dinner or an evening watching movie favorites for a great start to the month!

#3: National World War I Museum

Just this last weekend, I was able to visit the National World War I Museum for the first time.  After purchasing a Living Social deal giving me half price tickets, my boyfriend and I spent the large part of the day exploring the museum.  It was recently renovated and it including educational videos and interactive exhibits, which brought pieces of the history alive and allowed for a cohesive experience involving the artifacts and the history behind the progression of events throughout the war.  There were also several temporary exhibits and a gorgeous view overlooking the city from the top of the Liberty Memorial.  The small cost was definitely worth the experience at this museum.

Continued part 2 next week....

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Last first week

Syllabus week- this is what most students call the first week of the semester in which most classes spend the majority of the time going over the syllabus and outlining the rest of the semester. This week is always an enjoyable transition, because it provides a chance to hang out with friends for a while before getting into the full swing of the semester.  This semester, I am taking several different classes- two accounting courses, a communication, a management, and a business course each.  It will be a full semester with 15 hours and 20 hours a week working.  While many students do manage a much busier schedule, I am excited to have a full schedule, yet with time to enjoy my last semester.

Spring semester also tends to go much more quickly than the fall semester.  I think this is a result of two different things.  First of all, we lose almost an entire week for actually taking classes.  Secondly, I think that with an entire week off in the middle of spring semester, it divides the semester so that both "sections" are fairly short.  However, many students also have troubles getting back into the semester after such a long break.

I recently learned that 40% of our campus is involved in a fraternity or sorority- this huge portion of our campus is especially busy this time of the year as they start to welcome new freshmen as potential new sisters (or brothers as the case may be). This whole new group of students being involved means that there are a huge number of people very involved during this semester.

A group of representatives from various sororities on Bid Day

Friday, January 3, 2014

Support in all Forms

Throughout my time at Rockhurst, I have always been impressed by the excellent support that is provided for the students by the faculty and staff (and of course other students).  However, in the last month of classes, I have seen a lot of this first hand.

First of all, I apologize for the very late blog post.  Shortly after my last post, my maternal grandfather passed away.  This fairly sudden loss in my family, shortly before the end of the semester, provided a lot of stress in my entire family's life.  This difficult time also coincided with finals week for my siblings and I, which meant many projects and papers due at the same time.  The professors however, were so incredibly supportive, and allowed me to complete a few of the projects on my own timeline.  Other staff members offered their condolences and students texted me to offer their support while I went back home to be with my family for the funeral.  I have been so incredibly grateful for all of their kind words and their kind support.

Winter break has been (as I'm sure for many students) going by much more quickly than I may have hoped.  While many have taken the chance to work or travel, I have enjoyed most of the break back in western Kansas.  I know that if everything goes according to plan, I won't be able to take 2 weeks or more off in order to just relax between stressful times, so  I'm very happy to take this time off!  So I will share a few pictures from the break!
My car got snowed in the first weekend of break!

Christmas day games & candy with my mom's side!

My dad holding our new family dog Belle!

Sushi date with my dad!

Cuddle time with my boyfriend and his family's dog