I am happy to say that this upcoming fall semester I will be a Peer Educator.
What is a Peer Educator?
This is a program held by the Counseling Services Center which Peer Educators (P2P) are SUNY Oswego students who involve, empower, and support educational campus environments related to psychological health and wellness.
What do P2P students do?
The role of the P2P Educator is to promote programs and provide information on mental health topics that can impact the academic and social success and overall well-being of SUNY Oswego students. P2P Educators are committed to teaching skills that can help fellow students reduce potential stressful life experiences (prevention) and to resolve situations more quickly should they arise.
Who are these P2P Educators?
P2P Educators are undergraduate students who represent a rich diversity of cultural and life experiences. They have a commitment to learning, teaching, assessing, role modeling, communicating in person and using social media, and effective presentation skills.
This is something I am very excited about and I can not wait to meet/help students. During my undergraduate career, I had my own experience of going to the counseling office because I felt that I needed help. At that time my friends thought I was in need of counseling because I was making decisions that they thought I could have prevented and were “affecting others”. Which made me feel like I was being attacked so I made the decision to speak with a counselor and it was the best decision I made.
While at first, I was nervous speaking about my experiences but then realized that they are there to help. These services that students take for granted are not only for people with “mental issues” but in actuality, it is for students who need someone to talk to. As a P2P I want to bring awareness to all students that these stereotypes of illness are not true which is one of the reasons I joined. The counselors on campus are all amazing people, help with different stressors in life, and are people who care about your well being.
Everyone is welcome so please stop by Mary Walker!
For more information follow this link below.
Nine months ago, the island of Puerto Rico was devasted by Hurricane Maria.
Nine months ago, homes were destroyed.
Nine months ago, people were displaced.
Arriving back in the states after helping with disaster relief has allowed me to put many things into perspective. For one, it allowed me to realize how blessed and privileged I am as an individual and as a resident/citizen of the U.S.
Every day, people complain about minor inconveniences in their lives such as slow internet speed, missing their favorite show or even their phones dying. But, for the many homeowners that my service in Puerto Rico has impacted, small inconveniences such as the aforementioned, are laughable.
How can one complain about the internet without power?
How can one complain about missing their favorite show when the very room where you would watch that show, has been destroyed by water damage and mold?
Being in Puerto Rico was beyond humbling for me. It allowed me to see that whenever I feel as though things are uncomfortable for me, there are people who are living through far more serious and uncomfortable hardships.
Living in the states gives us many opportunities to seek the help we need in any situation while others get ignored. Comparing my service in San Juan, Puerto Rico to my service in Port Arthur, Texas, it is clear that one city received much more help than the other. For one, the traffic lights in Texas were up and running while many of the traffic lights in Puerto Rico still remain unrepaired- nine months later.
This trip has allowed me to step outside of my world and add context to what it means to be an American, living in the United States.
Hopefully completing service in Puerto Rico opens the minds and eyes of future students who are a part of the New York “Stand with Puerto Rico” initiative to realize how privileged we are here in the U.S. I hope that it opens their hearts to want to do more for others who are not as privileged and are often forgotten.
Nine months later Purto Rico still remains in need of recovery and yet, the people are so pleasant and welcoming. Truly, a humbling experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
As a part of the New York statewide effort to “Stand with Puerto Rico,” several SUNY Oswego students including myself has chosen to embark on a two-week journey in San Juan, Puerto Rico to aid in disaster relief.
In collaboration with the non-profit disaster relief organization, NECHAMA, I have the opportunity to directly impact the lives of homeowners who are trying to recover from the devastation that Hurricane Maria caused.
My group was assigned to repair the roof of an 80-year-old woman. Upon arrival at the site, I noticed the condition of the home and the surrounding homes. It was clear that the roofs of many homes in that area were affected by the storm.
Her roof, which was once the second story of her home had been damaged by several hurricanes over the years causing her to transform it into a roof. Due to several cracks in the concrete, her house often had leaking when it rained.
After speaking with Marta I got to learn a little more about her life. She lost her husband five years ago and currently lives alone. They were married for over 40 years and have two sons together. One of which lives in Puerto Rico and the other residing in Texas. She expressed that her husband did everything for her including building their home so when he passed, it was very hard for her to adjust to living on her own. It was the first time in her life where she had to do things for herself.
Day 1 consisted of scrapping and lifting the old surface of the roof to prepare it to be cleaned and prepped for the sealing and painting of the new roof.
Fast-forwarding to September of 2017 when Hurricane Maria hit, she was faced with overcoming the devastation on her own.
Today was filled with concrete work and preparing the roof to be painted. My team and I dusted and swept the roof, applied concrete to all of the cracks and began applying primer to the surface of the roof. Unfortunately, it started to rain very hard causing the primer we applied to be washed away. Our resilient team, however, was not discouraged and quickly dried the surface and applied the primer for the second time.
Perhaps the highlight of the day was the home cooked meal we were prepared for lunch by our homeowner, Marta. Marta prepared a delicious meal for us to eat (chicken, rice, and beans) to show her appreciation for our efforts to help her with her home.
Today was slower than the previous days in terms of busy work. Since we primed the roof and prepped it to be painted, the only task left to do was to actually paint. While completing this task, a news crew came to Marta’s home to interview the leaders of our group and a few students. We explained to the crew the process of our work and the importance of the “Stand with Puerto Rico” initiative.
Our lovely homeowner Marta, yet again, prepared us a delicious lunch. Today, she made rice and beans with pork chops. It felt great to see how much she appreciates us and which in turn allowed me to put the entire program into perspective.
Sadly, our time with Marta will come to an end soon as we only have one more task to complete to restore her roof. Tomorrow, we will be applying a second coat of paint and then we are off to meet a new homeowner!
There are plenty of ways to be a part of the Oswego community! Living in Johnson Hall prepared me to be involved on campus. Ever since freshmen year, I have tried to make an impact on the community. Below, you will find a list of opportunities to get you involved!
Permaculture (between Lee Hall and Shineman) –
I volunteered for the permaculture on campus. A campus environmental development community service opportunity, created and led by Grace Maxon—in which we were given the opportunity to harvest a fruits and vegetable garden. This event was a hard but rewarding experience. We had to dig, fertilize, and plant to make this happen.
Alternative Spring Break (Habitat for Humanity)-
SUNY Oswego Habitat for Humanity offers volunteer opportunity during winter, spring, and summer breaks. There are numerous locations and different reasonings you go where you go. You are given the opportunity to choose the location with a small fee which covers food, gas, and housing. Some locations range year to year. This summer there was one for Puerto Rico. When I went, I went to Iowa to build a home for a well deserving family. We were only there for a few days during Spring break, but we were able to create all the walls, demolish the old home, and learned to use power tools. Within those five days, we were able to explore different states since it took 18 hours to drive there from Oswego. On the trip, I was able to go to Chicago for the first time and eat real deep dish pizza at the famous “UNO” restaurant.
Red Carpet Crew-
The Red carpet crew is a service that allows upperclassmen to assist resident halls to move in incoming students or returning students. The first day back to school is usually a hectic one, which is why this is such a great opportunity to relieve stress for students, families, and staff. Most students do this because they are able to come back to campus a few days earlier to have everything settled before everyone else comes to campus, while also providing great service to campus.
Mentor Oswego is a program where college students go to a middle or high school in the Oswego community. Here you are able to reach out to the youth and talk about your experience and answer any questions they may have. When I did it, my job was to get to know a group of students who were having attendance issues and figure out ways to ensure 100% attendance. As a group, we played games, ate lunch, and talked about ourselves and our future aspirations. It was very enjoyable getting to know the kids from the community and build relationships with others.
Overall, I was happy to help and loved the experience of meeting new people. These are just a few community service opportunities available. There are much more and there can never be enough help!
My fellow readers, it’s great to be back! Just a heads up I will be posting my blog every week so keep an eye out.
To begin, for those who aren’t aware of what the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) stands for: its an organization whose purpose is “to fulfill New York state’s commitment to provide access to higher education for historically underrepresented students who possess the potential to succeed in college, but whose academic preparation in high school has not fully prepared them to pursue college education successfully.” Additionally, in private universities, the Educational Opportunity Program is recognized as HEOP, and SEEK in CUNY schools. Professionals say that it is good to have diversity in the workplace because people can relate to others and think outside the box.
The EOP program provides students with additional financial assistance. In fact, despite the financial stress, EOP students have higher graduation rate than admitted students and become successful.
I am an EOP student from the class of 2014. My experience has been amazing at Oswego and before coming here, as an EOP student, we are given the opportunity to come for a month. During this month you get the chance to live on campus and experience the life of a college student. First, you will meet your peers and live in one of the residence halls. Many of the students are from different parts of New York so you meet people from a similar but different background. Which is great, since you meet people before you begin your first semester freshman year, causing it to be less overwhelming. Second, your classes will mostly consist of English and math in order to help transition high school students to the college life. Lastly, you will be assigned to an individual Academic Planning Counselor (APC) but you can go to whomever you feel comfortable with.
In addition, there will be peer leaders to guide you which are upperclassmen that inform you about Oswego and their experience. The peer leaders spend a lot of time creating activities so that you can bond with each other. I know this because I was a peer leader for the class of 2015. After my freshmen year, I wanted to gain those experiences I lost because I was not involved in my EOP class. Which is why I wanted to become a peer leader. It was a channeling experience but I recommend that everyone should apply even if you are not an EOP student. It is an opportunity to build leadership qualities and something to put on your resume.
Moreover, if given the opportunity to do it again, I would be more social and attend group activities. I was lucky enough to find true friends which is why I did not do much, but I suggest talking to everyone. You can never have too many friends and sometimes your freshmen year friends will not be the same friends you leave with. You will be assigned to an individual Academic Planning Counselor (APC) but you can go to whomever you feel comfortable with.
A goal I suggest as EOP students are to be a part of the Chi Alpha Epsilon National Honor Society. I am a part of this and I have been a member since Spring 2016. To get into this honor society you must first maintain a 3.0 GPA for three consecutive semesters. Then you would be invited to be inducted as a member. It is an honor because not many EOP students are in it but I suggest to start off your freshmen year strong. Have a mindset of not going lower than a 3.o because freshmen year really does affect your whole college GPA. I mean I did not have a 4.0 at the end of my freshmen year but if you have that mindset you can reach close to it. There is plenty of great staff in EOP who are very friendly and there to support you.
Overall, what should you take away from this? Aim high because you were chosen to be in EOP. Do not be ashamed to admit your EOP because there are students who actually wish they were. Take advantage of all opportunities because you do not know where it will take you. Be an active student but remember that school always comes first. Make time for school and then everything will fall into place. Remember to be yourself because college is to grow as a person, not become someone new. At the end of your journey, you’re here to graduate so do not let anyone stop you!
Shana clicks off her phone and greets me as I pull up a chair. We’ve intended to have a lunch date, but as fate would have it we aren’t huge fans of the menu that day. Shana Weiss is a sophomore education student here at Oswego, and we’ve met today to discuss her upcoming role in a staged reading of “Not Someone Like Me” directed by Mya Brown, a professor at the college.
The show is structured as a series of monologues about survivors of trauma and assault within a group therapy session. The play, written by Susan Rice, features survivors of varying ages and backgrounds. Weiss plays Pam, a woman from a lower-middle class background whose mother’s dream for her is to pursue her education, but this dream gets harder after she is assaulted. Shana is no stranger to staged readings; she participated in one for a senior’s capstone last year called the Laramie Project, a show about the bullying and subsequent murder of a young gay man. “It’s different because I’ve never had this intimate of a look into someone else’s life. Laramie was intense, but this takes it to another level.”
The cast of five went through auditions in mid-March, got casted, and went straight to work. Weiss notes that this is a quick turnaround even in theatre, but also mentions that the cast got to spend two hours of alone time with the director, Brown, to develop their characters. “It’s been a very insightful experience. I’ve worked with a lot of different directors and directing styles, and it’s very important to her that you have a very good background on the character. It’s very important that you have a feeling with the character. She very much knows what she wants out of you and has this way of drawing it out of you without feeling like she’s controlling what you do as an actor. It’s very nice.”
In the wake of #MeToo, a national online movement where people who have experienced being sexually assaulted and harassed have shared their stories, this show that was originally selected in the spring of 2017 seems more timely than ever, and that isn’t something that has escaped Shana’s mind. “I feel like it lines up very well with the timing of the #MeToo movement. I feel that it’s very important that we’re having this show, especially around a time where when there’s all these allegations coming out, where there are all these issues… It was talked about before, but now its started to really pick up.”
Event co-sponsors include Artswego and It’s On Oz, an organization dedicated to the education and prevention of sexual and interpersonal violence. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. These statistics are alarming and bring up the issue that inspired an Academy Award nominated film The Hunting Ground. However, this show encompasses an array of experiences, and the production provides resources within their programs for anyone who may need to seek help. It is noted that the “detailed, vivid imagery” within the script that helped prepare Weiss for her portrayal may affect audience members sensitive to this type of content.
The event will take place in the Sheldon Ballroom on April 30th at 7:00 P.M. When prodded as to why people should come, Shana answers earnestly. “It is so important as to what is going on even though some of these stories have taken place 50-60 years ago. The fact that it’s still relevant and it’s still happening is why you should come see this show.”
With graduation being just a month away, my senior self is feeling very nostalgic about letting all of Oswego, go. With that being said, I have brainstormed a few ideas for seniors to do before we put on our caps and gowns in a few weeks. Here is my SUNY Oswego Bucket List!
- One last meal in the dining hall.
- Take a selfie with Sheldon!
- Stop by Cooper Creamery, they have the best flavors.
- Have a campfire by the lake.
- Go to the final Chicken Patty Day.
- Go to Old City for $1 Taco night.
- Plan a flat rock day.
- Get one last panini at Mackin!
- Bowling at Lighthouse Lanes.
- Visit the Bluffs.
- Have a picnic at Breitbeck Park.
- Get a burger from Dino’s.
- Take the polar plunge into Lake Ontario.
- Try and walk through campus with an umbrella during a rainstorm without it going inside out.
- Visit the school store to stock up on Oswego Alumni gear!
- One last ice cream cone from Bev’s.
- Get chicken tenders and french fries from Crossroads with the best honey mustard on the planet.
- last free skate.
- Go to the dining hall on Broccoli Cheddar soup day.
- One last trip to Hibachi.
- Visit your first Freshman year dorm.
- Get your favorite Fans smoothie.
- Thank your favorite professors.
- Let the smokestacks guide you home for the last time.
- Stock up on Crossroads cookies.
- The final all-nighter in the library during finals week.
- Walk all the way from West Campus to Shineman and figure out how the heck you got to class on time in the morning.
- Do circles in Lanigan because we are seniors and still probably get lost in there.
- Grab lunch at Rudy’s and sit out by the lake in the sunshine.
- Go to the senior nights of all the sports teams to see your friends play one last time at Laker.
- Use up all your dining dollars.
- Walk out to the lighthouse.
- Find out what a Laker is.
- One last movie in the amazing Oswego Cinema Theatre with the reclining comfy chairs.
- Last but not least, take a picture in front of the Oswego sign in your cap and gown. (tears)
To all my fellow seniors, I hope that some of these ideas will get you guys out and about. We do not have too many days left here in Oswego. Let’s make the best of our last month!
The sun and the sand of St. Lucia sound amazing, but that’s not always realistic for a broke college kid. If you’re spending spring break (or any vacation in your house), I have a few pieces of advice to make it one of your best.
Staycations are the perfect time to catch up on the sleep you missed for studying for midterms. If you’re at home, you don’t have to feel guilty about wasting any time you could be spending sightseeing or tanning.
If you’ve been letting your planner get messy or you’re pushing 587+ emails in your inbox, it’s a great time to hunker down and sort it all out. Getting prepped for the second half of the semester will make your life go a little more smoothly.
3. Do your hobby
If you’ve got a camera, a pair of skis, a computer, or whatever you like, pick it up and do it! Hobbies can be harder to execute while you’re at college because there is so much else on the docket. I’m planning on baking while I’m home!
4. Binge a new show
If you’re like me, you hate picking up a new show during a super busy time like right before big tests. A staycation is the perfect time to catch up on a show all of your friends have been talking about. Plus you have enough time to watch 2 (or 7) episodes in one day.
It’s spring break! The word break is in there for a reason, so at the end of the day, just relax and do what you want. You can treat yourself to a meal, new headphones, a little RnR, anything you want.
Don’t let envy take over! Your staycation can be just as beneficial as a trip to an exotic locale (and can be easier on the wallet). If you really can’t stand it, turn up the heat in your apartment and post a picture from the internet to your Instagram (kidding!). Have a happy and restful spring break!
I’m not afraid to say it; I miss being across the pond. By placing yourself in a foreign country, trying to build up contacts and a support network while cooking and doing other things for yourself, you change. It’s inevitable when you go off to see the beauty and the people that the world has to offer. You get pretty comfortable with introspection–and Citymapper for that matter. How can you not? You are undergoing so much personal growth and learning.
What’s the point I’m trying to get at? It’s easy to forget that being back is an adjustment. Yet another lifestyle change, and yes, you can get culture shock being back home. My first day back someone asked me what kind of tea I wanted. I said Earl Grey and she said “No, I meant hot or cold.” After being picked on by my fellow diners, I realized fairly quickly that I wouldn’t slip back into things as easily as I thought.
The college lifestyle is different back here, too. Classes are different and how students interact with each other is different. I think the key word in these phrases is different. Not better or worse, just different. That’s a really big takeaway from being exposed to new cultures that people don’t necessarily take the time to think about. It’s a concept that was mentioned in a communication class I had previously taken, and I always thought I had grasped it, but I truly understood it after my experience.
One thing to be really grateful for is my friends and family. I don’t think I’ve ever had better hugs in my life than those I received when I saw people for the first time in months. They are also what I missed the most, even more than Kraft mac and cheese or American peanut butter. They are what make the adjustment back so worth it.