Welcome to Around the Grove, the official student blog of
The Universities at Shady Grove!

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Volunteering (Posted on behalf of Zoha)

As a pre-medical student, one aspect that pre-medical advisors encourage students to have on their application is volunteer experience. This includes volunteer experience in a clinical setting but also volunteer experiences in other settings. Volunteer experience is valuable for not only pre-med students but students of all majors.

USG specifically encourages students to engage in volunteer experience in their own local community. The USG Career and Internship services center provides students with volunteer opportunities through career connector.

Register for Career connector at https://shadygrove.umd.edu/campus-services/career-services/usgcareerconnector

Clubs on campus are given the responsibility of engaging in community service as well. Last year, Student Event board engaged in holding a drive on campus to give toiletry items to the homeless (also supported by Student Council and the Muslim Student Association).

Volunteer internships are also an option available that helps students give back to their community as well as develop skills that may be important in obtaining a career later on in life. The career connector website is also great resource for finding these internships!

So why are medical schools interested in students that have volunteer experience? It helps develop leadership skills, skills of interacting with different populations, communication skills, and the list goes on. All these skills are vital in order to become a physician and for a range of other professions as well! Volunteering is not just great for potential employers and graduate school admissions though. It gives you a chance to give back. It also allows you to meet people that could potentially be your friends for life.

If you are looking for potential volunteer experiences in the Montgomery county area, also try looking through the Montgomery County Volunteer Center’s website at http://www.montgomeryserves.org/

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Study Breaks (Posted on behalf of John Arthur)

With exams now, you’ve probably been spending a lot of time in the Priddy Library studying. You’ve probably realized that you haven’t gotten up for the last few hours and need a change of location.

I personally like to move around campus every so often to make myself more productive. Studying indoors can make you feel like a vampire, and it’s nice to see people going about their daily business outside to give you perspective. There is life after school is done. The SG III building actually has some great views if you know where to look. If you go high enough up the stairs on the west side of the building, you can get a nice skyline view, with the Human Genome Sciences building reflecting the daytime sky. The green roof garden is also visible from the stairway landings. A change of scenery can break up the monotony of student life.

When you find your mind slipping away from your studies, take a break. When the notes on the page begin to run into each other, and when you’ve reread that sentence maybe five times, it’s time to stop and take a deep breath. It’s not only good to step back and gather your thoughts, it’s also good for your health.

In fact, research has shown that an excess amount of sitting can lead to many different disease states. Dr. James A Levine of the Mayo Clinic has noted that there may be a link between sitting, insulin sensitivity, metabolic dysfunction, and cancer. (Levine JA. Sick of sitting. Diabetologia. 2015 May 24; 58: 1751-1758).

So put down that work. Spare a few minutes to take a walk around campus. Go outside and breathe in some fresh air and help oxygenate your brain. It’s too cold outside, you say? Take a jacket. I’m sure you didn’t drive to campus in shorts and a t-shirt. Have you ever seen photos of Russians and Eastern Europeans who practice naked ice swimming? If they can do it, your five minute clothed romp should be absolutely refreshing.

And while you’re out there, see if you can look to the sky and take in some stargazing.

From Canis Major in summer to Orion and his fancy belt in winter, there is always something to see in the night sky. Often times, the first star you see in the night sky is actually a planet. Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are frequently visible throughout the year and often at sunrise or sunset. Use the publicly funded Stardate website, courtesy of The University of Texas McDonald Observatory, to get a heads up on astrological events that are happening through the week.

So, study hard, take breaks, and good luck on your exams!

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Same Faces | New Experiences (Posted on behalf of Menaza Fernando)

One day, I was walking around Building III in the search of finding an empty classroom when I noticed a familiar face. It was a girl whom I had seen before at Montgomery College. She seemed to recognize me as well and proceeded to greet me.

I decided to sit down with her and strike up a conversation. Before I knew it, we were talking and laughing with the realization of how similar we were. From our personality types to the most random preferences, we realized we had so much in common.

One of the amazing things about attending USG is the ability to develop and continue relationships when interacting in a smaller environment. As opposed to attending a large university where I might meet someone fascinating only to never see him or her again, at USG, the chance of that is much lower.

In fact, you start to feel as if you know the people you don’t even know. You can recognize the guy in your class that you might have never spoken a word to. You can instantly spot a student that comes into your class from a different assigned section (imagine trying to do that in a lecture with 200+ students). You’ll even remember the girl that always sits in the same table in the Green Grove Cafe.

So whether it is recognizing familiar faces from prior events or institutions, or simply moving from class to class with the same students in your respective program, this might be your chance to go from being acquaintances to life-long friends.

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Stress (Posted on behalf of Dilani)

Ugh. That word alone makes me let out a sigh. There is no one on this planet that is immune to stress.

As a public health student, I hear about the importance of being physically healthy all the time. There are tips anywhere and everywhere on fitting exercise into a busy schedule, meal prepping, and getting maximum gains.

But today, I’d like to focus on mental health. Sure, exercise can help you wind down and blow off some steam, but sometimes, you need a little more help.

That’s what the Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC) is for. Any student that is registered for classes at the Universities at Shady Grove can visit the CCC for a variety of services. If you’re stressed out and need someone to talk to, you should definitely stop by, or make an appointment. If you’re having a having feeling overwhelmed, and don’t know what you want to do with your life, try career/major counseling. If you’re having relationship troubles, there’s even couples counseling.

As a UMD student at USG, I’m glad I don’t have to take on my problems by myself. No one at this campus should ever feel alone. There is always someone to talk to, and someone willing to support you and anyone else in the USG community.

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Two Years Later

It’s hard to believe that I will not be writing another blog post two weeks from today.  It’s hard to believe that I will not be jogging around the school asking people to attend the town hall the last Wednesday of this month (even if it is just for the free pizza). It’s hard to believe that a week from today I will be walking across that stage, accepting my diploma, and moving on to the next phase of my life.

I came into USG thinking it was a small, commuter school that would not be able to give me many opportunities, friendships, or valuable experiences but that is exactly what it gave me.

My involvement gave me the opportunity to meet so many amazing people and create lasting friendships. Here’s a shout out to some of those organizations and the valuable lessons they taught me:

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I’ve had some pretty unforgettable experiences here as well.  Hopefully these are events that will continue to be offered to USG students later down the road:

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I can honestly say that I will not forget my undergraduate years because I feel like I did make the most of it. Congrats to all my fellow graduates and good luck with finals everybody! It has been a real pleasure blogging Around the Grove for the past two years!

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My Life as a Grad Student

As our school year is coming to an end, I started to reflect to when I was first hired to be a blogger for Around the Grove, especially a Graduate Student Blogger. I was told that my unique perspective as a Grad Student would allow me to talk about things that undergrads might look forward to or find interesting.

Now that I think about it, I haven’t really mentioned what I do as a Graduate Student.

First of all, I am a Master of Public Health (MPH) candidate in Public Health Practice and Policy with University of Maryland (UMD). I am enrolled in it full time so it will take me only 2 years to complete the program. I am taking interesting courses such as Healthcare Strategic Planning, Public Health and Politics, Research Methodologies, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and my personal favorite: Environmental Health. I also co-founded a grad student organization called Studends in Healthcare for Action and Reform (SHARe).

Secondly, I am fortunate enough to be offered a Graduate Assitantship (GA). A GA position can be an Administrative Assistant (AA), Teaching Assistant (TA), Research Assistant (RA), and so on. Graduate Assistants (GA) are Graduate Students who are being offered part time or full time tuition remission for their work for the school. In my case, my GA position is to work for UMD’ Public Health Science Undergraduate program at Shady Grove. I am a full time GA so I work for 20 hours per week. My grad school tuition is completely covered as well. I am also compensated for the hours I work. My GA position is unique because our Public Health Science program is small and has various uses for me. In addition doing administrative work and assisting in teaching, I also do admissions work and advising. This means I read applications, look at transcript, and discuss who gets accepted into or rejected from the program. I advise students who are looking to apply to the program, as well as applicants and current students. I also host workshops for students and alumni for internships, job search, and other popular Public Health topics.13076826_10154178006848293_4507657569140764738_n

Basically, I attend school full time and work 20 hours as week. I use my extra time to study, intern, and most importantly, enjoy life.

Studying is simple. I do it to get good grades.

Intering is also simple. I do it to gain experience and improve my resume. Starting this summer, I am interning for Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN). I’m excited!

1234567.jpgEnjoying life… now that’s a hard one for students usually. As an undergrad, I was so consumed with studying, trying to get into grad school, and stressing out over part time job, internship, and extracurricular activities. Now, I am realizing that it was so exhausting to live that way. So I do these things to relax and unwind:

  • travel
  • go to concerts
  • go hiking and camping
  • play tennis
  • explore new locations, restaurants, or hangout spots
  • make time to meet with my loved ones and close friends
  • focus on living a healthier lifestyle (decrease stress-eating, working out more, sleeping right, etc)12345.jpg

I find that I’m happier these days. I don’t know about other Grad Students, but I feel like this is the best stage of my academic and personal life. I’m doing what I love, professionally and personally…and that means the world to me.

Thanks for reading my blogs this past school year. I hope that you will do wonderfully for your finals. Have an awesome summer!🙂



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My Tidal Wave of Change: A Spoken Word

grad.jpgSeventeen years.

Since my first day of school.

I can look back  all the way to that day and still remember my navy blue dress, the big grin on my face, and my bright red vest.

It was day one — my first day of first grade. Day one of my education, my journey, my life.

Seventeen years later i’m a graduating senior, with a ring on my finger, on my way to becoming a professional, a home renter, a bill payer, a wife.

I did learn though, throughout those seventeen years that life is more than just checking your  boxes, or crossing your t’s or dotting your i’s.

It’s about passion, compassion, love, and friendship, determination, and motivation, travel, adventure, and not knowing what’s next.

It’s about battling your demons, your fears, and your sorrow, it’s about finding yourself, forgetting about the past, and forgetting about tomorrow.

They say that the only thing constant in life is change and that is the truth.

So the other day I picked up my cap and gown, and as I was alone in my room I couldn’t help but try it on, but as I looked into the mirror I didn’t think about community college, or high school or prom.

I thought about my time here at USG – my friends, teachers, events, organizations, internships,and personal milestones. Amazing how much can be packed into only two years.

It’s a bitter sweet feeling, as I’m standing here facing my own personal tidal wave of change.

Its shadow is hovering over me, and I know that any minute now that wave is going to break.

It’s scary, and it’s dark, and I can’t quite see what’s under water, but instead of standing here I better dive in head first.

Accept the change, ride the wave, and say good bye. I’m ready to close this book, and get started on my new life.








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Integrating Passion and Strategy | Happy Finals!


Earlier this week, I was listening to the commencement speech given by President Obama to the Howard University’s Class of ’16 Graduates, and he said one line that truly resonated with me:

“Passion is vital, but you must have a strategy.”

Passion is easy. Our emotions, beliefs, values, and experiences all contribute in one way or another to shape what we are passionate about. Passion is easy, because it is all in our vision. We aspire to be the teachers who inspire students, the firefighters and nurses that save lives, or the future CEO’s who build successful businesses. This is the big picture we visualize and dream about in our minds. This is our passion, and it is absolutely vital when it comes to success.

The challenging part is the strategy aspect of it, which does not mean simply thinking about one big strategy, but rather formulating many different effective strategies. We cannot achieve the big picture without giving consideration to all the small tasks along the way.

So as we all continue studying for finals week, let us keep that passion alive. Let us use the big picture to motivate us, to inspire us to be greater and work harder. Let us also take the extra steps and work to develop and implement the strategies that will allow us to make our vision a reality.

You’ve got the dream, the vision, and the passion…
Now what are some strategies to get ready for finals?

  • Jot down all the times and locations of EACH exam:
    Put it in your planner, your computer, your phone, or whichever method words best personally. You will be surprised how easily it slips the minds of busy students.
  • Organize study materials:
    Instead of scrambling to find notes at the last minute, take a few moments to organize any notes, readings, and any other study material for each class.
  • Allocate time slots to have specific study sessions for each class:
    Just thinking to yourself that you have to study for Class A at some point and study for Class B sometime before you have to study for Class C as long as it’s after the exam for Class D… can get a little confusing, needless to say. Dedicate specific times you will study for each class, and it will make you more likely to stick to the schedule and study for each class accordingly.
  • Study in blocks of time:
    50 minutes of studying with a 10-minute break has been considered to be the most effective. So study hard during the designated study times while minimizing any distractions, take breaks after long periods of studying, and most importantly, keep a positive mentality!

Good luck everyone!🙂

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Summer Fun

It’s funny that, as the semester draws to a close and work begins to accumulate, I find myself fitting in regular workouts.  At the end of my second year, I just don’t care about grades.  It’s a hard line to straddle:  maintaining a good GPA while realizing that grades don’t actually matter and employers could care less.

Having said that, the “C” I thought I was destined to get for my neuropsych course magically turned into an 80% B at the end of the day. I’ve worked hard to maintain A’s and B’s in this tough degree program.  Sometimes, things work out.

I’ve certainly been working out often, looking up exercises I can quickly do in front of my desk while watching Daredevil Season 2 on Netflix.  Next year, I plan to hit the campus gym with a fellow pharmacy student, but it’s amazing what you can do with some hand weights, a chair, and simple exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, and military press.  I plan to maintain my workout schedule through the summer months during my pharmacy rotations.

The UMB School of Pharmacy is awesome because they set up mandatory rotations for us throughout our four year curriculum.  This summer, I will have two 3-week rotations.  One will be at the Walgreens Pharmacy next to the Rockville Town Center.  The other will be at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring.

I’m excited about this second rotation because it states that I will be working in pediatrics.  My courses have discussed treatment options for the pediatric population, but these lectures and clinical pearls were scattered throughout the last two years and across multiple different subjects.  I’ll have to take a day or so to compile my notes and brush up.  I want to make a good first impression.

Your internship preceptors may be the key to landing  your first job, so always be prepared.

Now that we’re at the end of the school year, I want to say that I’ve had fun sharing my experiences with you, and I hope you can take away tips to enhance your academic success.  I always try to give advice to young students so they don’t have to learn the hard way like I did.  Stay motivated, keep seeking out new opportunities, and don’t be discouraged when things don’t go your way.  My son recently started taking foil fencing lessons because it sounded cool.  Because, why not?

Have a great summer, and maybe I’ll see you around Rockville!


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Friendships at USG: Bonds That Make The Difference


Quote by Charlie Chaplan.

One of my favorite quotes is by Charlie Chaplan, who said:  “a day without laughter is a day wasted”. It’s true because laughter to me means enjoying the moment. That’s how I feel about the friendships I’ve made here at USG. For me, not one day has gone by without laughter and I have my friends to thank for that. For keeping me in the moment.

It’s easy to make friends at USG since it’s such a tight knit community. In fact, it’s nearly impossible not to make friends because the average class size is 25 students. If you are in the same major you have those same classes with those same people day in and day out for 2 years. You can’t escape them.

The bonds at USG are unbreakable and the friendships are unique because they’re also partnerships.

What do I mean by that?

  1. Friendship = a relationship in which two or more parties have fun together, share each others secrets, trust one another, laugh together, spend time together, learn from each other, have high expectations for each other, support each other, console each other, etc.
  2. Partnership=  a relationship in which two or more parties share the same interests and goals, share the same desire to make a difference, learn from each others skills and talents, inspire one another, connect one another to other assets, plan together, learn together, grow together, etc.

The relationships at USG are productive and essential to the community. Students at USG start businesses together, they intern together, they work on projects together, they volunteer together, they start clubs and organizations together, and they make their mark on the world together.

Even teachers and staff are your friends. In previous posts I mentioned a few of USG’s most valued Communication teachers like Bob, Nixon, and Tenney. These are just a few examples of teachers who listen to you, who support you, who have fun with you, who inspire you.

Oh and Staff members from the Office of Student Services or The Career Center or Center for Recruitment they’re there for you too.

USG is overflowing with relationships that make the difference. It’s up to the rest of the world to do the same.


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