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

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noun (ˈɡuːɡ(ə)l ˈfu)
A modern skill involving a mastery of numerous search engine features which enable a web searcher to find anything on the internet faster than a kick by Jackie Chan

By now we’re all well accustomed to the act of pulling out a smartphone at a bar or in a meeting at work to look up some fact relevant to the conversation. While some may think this is rude, that’s not what this article is about. For the past two decades, there have been modern search engines to help us navigate the nearly 5 billion web pages that make up the internet. These search engines are incredibly powerful, but by some estimates, Google has only 0.004% of the internet!

But they are also the best tools we have to make sense of all that information. So, learning how to use them well, will inevitably make your life easier. Fortunately, there are quite a few web pages to help you learn how to do that. Here are some tools to know that should work at Google, Bing, Yahoo! or any other.

“exact phrase”
Will return only pages that contain exactly that exact phrase. (Don’t make any typos!)

+and -minus
Preceding a word with a plus or minus sign will return pages that +have or do -not have that exact term.

The * is a bit of a wild card. Think of it as the part you can’t remember. If you weren’t sure about song lyrics, for example, you could search for something similar to: “there’s a * on the the rise”

This tool is a powerful one that I use frequently. This tool will return only pages with a particular web address. If I want to know what the EPA’s official stance is on GMO salmon, I will search for: +gmo +salmon site:epa.gov

Returns only files of a particular type as in: cat meow filetype:mp3

Will mostly return pages related to the specific location that follows as in: wine bars loc:NYC

Another great tool that is especially useful to students and others in academia is Google’s Scholar Search. The next time you are researching any topic, give scholar.google.com a try. Google Scholar only returns scholarly literature. This will help to reduce your time spent researching a topic by eliminating web pages from sources that aren’t as trustworthy or reliable as peer-reviewed research.

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Stress: It’s Just Not Worth It!

I don’t know about you all, but the whirlwind of work has already set in for me this semester. I have a lot on my plate in the coming months, which is both invigorating and overwhelming. It can be tough to find just the right workload that pushes you to achieve without leaving you burnt out. If you’re starting to feel burnt out and overwhelmed by the coming semester, maybe it’s time for you to take a step back and evaluate what’s on your plate.

In life, it can be easy to let your choices be dictated by what other people expect of you. It’s great to get advice from others and be mindful of other people’s expectations, but I think it’s also important to learn to put your foot down and stand up for  your own needs at times.

It’s awful to feel like you’re drowning in never-ending commitments. Sometimes we become so convinced that we have to do everything or we can’t let people down that we stay in extremely stressful, even toxic, circumstances. But we end up hurting ourselves and even letting others down even more because we can’t give all the tasks we’re juggling our full attention.


De-stress picture #1! (Taken in Prince Edward Island, Canada, one of the least stressful places I know of!)

Of course, sometimes we really have to shoulder a ton of different things in our lives; it’s beyond our control. If that’s the case, it’s still important to draw a line and not let work and other commitments take over your life. Make time to relax and remember to take care of yourself by doing things as simple as eating regularly, getting sleep, and staying hydrated.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the semester already, consider doing some of these things:

  1. Cut something out of your life. Drop a class, ask to reduce your hours at work, cut back on the number of organizations you’re in…You don’t have to do everything! It’s more important for you to be healthy and for you to do things well, giving them your full attention.
  2. Build a support network. Find one or two supportive friends or family members who you know you can go to when you’re overwhelmed. Maybe even delegate one of them to be your “No” person who will remind you not to take on more than you can handle!
  3. Find a professor or other staff member to mentor you and help you navigate all that’s on your plate. We have wonderful, caring staff here at USG, and they are here to support students and are often more than happy to give advice, offer encouragement, and answer questions.
  4. Consider talking with a counselor at USG’s Center for Counseling and Consultation or attending one of their free workshops teaching skills to handle stress and live a healthy life.


    De-stress Activity: Imagine yourself on a beach! (Photo by Rebecca Gale)

  5. Take time to de-stress. Plan little breaks in your day. Take a walk outside and look around at the scenery, noticing things you haven’t before. Sing along to the radio in your car. Find a hobby as simple as coloring or learning how to make smoothies to give you breaks so you don’t feel like you’re drowning in work.
  6. Enjoy good conversations with friends, even on a busy day. One of the first things that tends to go when I get busy is socializing, but taking time for a laugh or honest chat with a friend can really go a long way.
  7. Get rid of things in your life that bring you down instead of lifting you up. Avoid unnecessary extra stress…Does the news send you into a rage whenever you see it? Does social media overwhelm you or make you feel like you’re not good enough? Avoid things on your phone, TV, and computer that add to your daily frustration.

I know it can be tough sometimes to say no to things and it’s easy to feel like a “wimp” for trying to take care of yourself, but I honestly believe it’s for everyone’s benefit if we all manage our lives to be a healthy balance so we can be our best selves and be able to step up to the plate in the tasks we are faced with. Stress can really take its toll on relationships and mental and physical health, so be wise about controlling the amount of stressors in your life and learning how to cope well with stress when it does arise.

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Breaking Walls

Many have asked how I do it, how I live away from my entire family and seem not to be phased by it at all. This question is asked very often especially around the Valentine season where love is in the air.  In fact, just recently I met a new international student here on our diverse campus at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG), who was fresh off the boat as we say in my circles and was having some difficulty adjusting as she had built up many personal walls.


Personal Walls


Her questions regarding this made me think long and hard as to how I survived the transition stage to now be relatively successful. My immediate conclusion was that I do not have a heart as I was told on more than one occasion “you have an icebox where your heart is supposed to be.” When it was announced in August 2011 that I, Gabriel Daniel, Corporate Accounts Executive of Digicel Guyana, the Bigger Better Network, would soon be pursuing studies abroad instead, many wondered why. The answer was a surprisingly simple one; it was time for me to leave the nest. About a year before I realized I was in a place and in a position in life that I had always dreamed about. I realized that everyone in my life was in a place to carry on without me and with that, I left the job that I worked about five years to achieve. I made the decision pretty quickly and expected nothing more than to just pack my bags, get on a plane (yes I came on a plane and not a boat as many of you think) and then attend classes in pursuit of my degree. 


My travel


The transition to the new environment was not easy at first, but here I am five years later, still going strong. After writing this piece of reflection, I can now confidently say to Jane and any other international student, that the secret to my success and perhaps to your’s, will be the friendships that you forge. Something I think we should not lose sight of. And you could not ask for a better environment than the USG campus to do just that. At USG there are so many services available and opportunities presented to help you transition and break those personal barriers. For example, the upcoming International Night Event happening next Thursday, February 23rd presents a wonderful opportunity to join in on the free celebrations, featuring multi-national foods, music, poetry slam, fashion, and talent show. Although the timing for the event 6 pm to 9 pm will be during one of my class sessions, I will surely find a way to attend, so I encourage you to do so also!


International Night Info


Seems pretty simple, right? But believe me, I understand if you are reading this and thinking, easier said than done! I was raised in a culture where we were sternly told to avoid social distractions (friendships) and focus on the academic prize. However, it is important to realize that friends can have educational as well as social benefits. So in conclusion, I encourage you to go forth building friendships and not walls, and all shall be well. You don’t have to take my word for it but I think Bob Marley was pretty spot on when he saidnone but ourselves can free our minds.”

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Internship Experience…so far so good!

Hello there! 
This semester has started out as a whirlwind!! It is my last semester and I have started my internship at Shady Grove Adventist Cardiac Rehab and it has been an amazing experience thus far. I am working with patients, getting to know hospital protocol, and I’m given the opportunity to write for their newsletter! Below is an example of an article I wrote for February and Heart Health Month. 🙂

“If I Only had a Heart”: The Journey to a Healthy Heart
February is National Heart Month and its goal is to raise awareness for heart disease and prevention. This article will cover topics that fall into primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease and the long journey to a healthy heart.
Exercise is an imperative factor that can contribute to CVD prevention and treatment. Per the American College of Sports Medicine, the population is recommended 30-60 minutes, 3-5 days/week of cardiovascular exercise. This can include walking, biking, running, elliptical and even swimming. There are endless possibilities to achieve this recommendation, it just takes a little heartfelt dedication. Examples of purposeful exercise that are part of your daily life include walking the dog, talking a walk during a lunch break, or wearing proper shoes when hitting the mall. What are the benefits? The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute specifies that regular exercise contributes to lowering blood pressure and triglyceride levels. C-reactive protein (CRP) also decreases; “This protein is a sign of inflammation. High levels of CRP may suggest an increased risk for CHD (coronary heart disease).” Your body also gets better use of the small blood vessels in your heart that improve function and oxygen delivery.
Another aspect in the “Heart Health Journey” is diet. While it’s widely known to “eat healthy” …what does that mean? More salad? High protein? It’s all a balance. One common guideline is Choose MyPlate that is organized by the USDA. This movement helps with dietary tips and proportion guidelines on vegetables, grains, fruit, protein, and dairy. For those who are in secondary prevention, another common guideline is that DASH Diet. This focuses on a low sodium diet that helps lower high blood pressure and ultimately decreasing a co-morbidity that can lead to cardiovascular disease. If you would like to know more about what foods fit your lifestyle, make an appointment with one of our Registered Dieticians!

One mission in the “Heart Health Journey” that often gets skipped is preparation!
“When you fail to plan, you plan to fail…”- Benjamin Franklin
So, what can you do to ensure your success? Do you have time on Sunday night to plan your week ahead? Do you follow a similar routine each week? Do you set aside specific times for your exercise or food preparation? These are questions to ask yourselves if you find that it is challenging to follow a routine and make healthy decisions. How can we overcome these challenges? The NIH suggests making exercise appointments with friends that will help you stay accountable with your exercise routine, plan at least one meal or exercise routine differently each week to keep your interest, cook healthy foods in bulk to help with healthy meals for lunch or breakfast, and set short term goals or challenges to help you stay motivated.
Achieving a healthy heart is a long process that takes time. While there may be obstacles along the way, it is important to remember that your heart and body will thank you! You also have resources at The Center for Fitness and Health to keep you on track and cheer you on during your journey. Just follow the yellow brick road! Like the tinman, he realized he had a heart the whole time! You too have the strength to make heart healthy decisions and lifestyle changes that will not only benefit yourself, but inspire those around you!

Happy National Heart Month!
Changing Your Habits for Better Health. (2013, June). Retrieved January 19, 2017, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/diet/changing-habits/Pages/changing-your-habits.aspx#f
Getting Started and Staying Active. (2016, June 22). Retrieved January 24, 2017, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/phys/getstarted
Heller, M. (2004). The DASH Diet Eating Plan. Retrieved January 21, 2017, from http://dashdiet.org/default.asp
MyPlate/MiPlato.(2011). Retrieved January 22, 2017, from https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/MyPlate


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8 Reasons Valentine’s Day is NOT Overrated

I would go as far to say – of the mainstream holidays – Valentine’s Day might be the mosted disliked of all. We all have that handful of friends that hate February 14th. Buying red and pink flowers, candy, and stuffed animals = stupid. Showing a loved one extra attention on this day is a waste of time and money. We’ve all been friends with someone who posts on Instagram or Facebook about how Valentine’s Day is a sad reminder of their relationship status “#ForeverAlone”.

Maybe these 8 reasons will convince you that Valentine’s Day isn’t so bad after all.

  1. Candy – I don’t know about you, but I have a sweet tooth that will not deny a holiday that promotes the consumption of candy. Those seasonal, little chalky hearts emblazoned by red letters “be true”, “hug me”, and “love you” actually aren’t my favorite (I’ll still eat them though). Chocolate is my Feb. 14th candy of choice. Scientifically speaking, chocolate triggers the release of feel-good chemicals in our bodies. Need a better reason to eat it?
  2. Love – Love is a positive emotion that is applicable to any relationship. You can love your friends, family members, pets, pet rock…you don’t have to be romantically in love to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
  3. Food – Any good holiday has some type of food associated with it. I have never gone out to eat on Feb.14 because I can only imagine how crowded the restaurant scene would be, but if today gives you an excuse to treat yourself, go out to eat with your boo, or meet up for dinner with your family, why not?!
  4. Red – The color red is associated with many positive emotions: energy, power, passion, desire, love, oxygenated blood (science nerd alert). Even marketers think the color red is appealing to their consumers. Target, Netflix, McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, and Coca-Cola all use red in their logos.
  5. St. Valentine – This person has some pretty cool history. There are a few rumors about who Valentine really was. Stories suggest Valentine performed marriages for young lovers in secret after a Roman emperor outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine could have also been an aid to Christians facing harsh conditions in Roman prisons. Some claim that Valentine’s Day may have also had pagan origins.
  6. Flowers – Flowers have psychological benefits that enhance your mental state due to their delightful aromas and beauty.
  7. Candy grams – Is that what they are called? I’m 24 now, but one thing I fondly remember from my childhood is making candy grams for my classmates and recieving them as well. Those little foil cards with cute cartoon characters never fail(ed) to elicit a smile.
  8. Sales – You can’t beat the post-Valentine’s Day Sales! 50-75% off candy, stuffed animals, and maybe even flowers. Who doesn’t like saving money and getting treats?

Happy Valentine’s Day!



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So much to do with so little time.

My day consist of:


  1. Wake up at 5:30 am. I make breakfast and get my food ready

(which I prep on Sunday Lunch and dinner for 3 days and prep again on Wednesday for another 3 days’ lunch and dinner)


  1. Get ready for school and make sure I have everything ready for work

(Leave the house by 7:30 am and make sure my dog LOBO has food)


  1. Get to school and read from 8:30 am until 9:20 am


  1. Class 9:30am-12:15pm


  1. Work 1pm-10pm (gym if I have time, if not after work)


  1. Go home and read for classes/ do homework 10:30pm -12:30am


And repeat! Repeat!


Where does the time go? We all have very busy lives and we try to do so much with so very little time! My grandfather always told me not to rush and to appreciate the time we have on this world! We get one life and no matter what we want in life (money, success, happiness, love, etc.) the one thing we can never get back is time. No amount of money can buy more time! Success can’t add more years to our lifetime. Happiness is great to have but time still passes and The Beatles said it best “it can’t buy me love”. My grandfather also told me that giving someone some of your time is better than all the money in the world because it shows that you care. We get so blinded by our ambitions that we lose track of the people we love the most. Valentine’s Day is coming up soon and although it’s great to buy someone a gift, it’s also the easiest way. I think about the lessons my grandfather shared with me which is to give the people you care about some of your time. I understand we all have very busy schedules but make time for your family and friends. You don’t need to have a romantic candle light dinner with them but give them a hug and share some kind words to show them that you appreciate them. I appreciate you all even if I don’t know you. I also hope that one day I get to share some of my time with you.



-I dedicate this to my mother that is worth of my time and to the people I wish I had more time to share with my grandfather and grandmother.

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According to Fred

At the beginning of this semester, my pharmacy classmates and I had the pleasure of hearing from Mr. Alfred Abramson (aka Fred). Fred had a wonderful story to tell! In this week’s post, I’d like to share with you a few of the things I learned from him as they are incredibly relevant not just to pharmacy students, but to any young, ambitious person. First, let me give you a little bit of background on Fred.

Fred was assistant professor of pharmacy practice and science at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy from 1982 to 2012. Prior to teaching, he had a long, successful career as a pharmacist at his own independent community pharmacy. Throughout his time at the School of Pharmacy, Fred taught and mentored thousands of students. He is well known for his dedication toward producing graduates who understand the fundamentals of professionalism and pharmacy practice. For his excellence in teaching and devotion to his students and school, Fred received numerous awards and even had the pharmacy practice lab in Baltimore officially named after him.

But along with success, Fred has also had his fair share of life’s trials and tribulations. He’s learned a lot from his many experiences. And so Fred compiled a list entitled “Life’s Fifty Lessons” to help guide those of us who still have a whole lot of living to do. Below are a few of the lessons that really resonated with me when I first heard them. I hope you find Fred’s words of wisdom as useful as I have!

  • Spend your life lifting people up, not putting people down.
  • Don’t judge people by their relatives.
  • Start every day with the most important thing you have to do. Save the less important tasks for later.
  • When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  • Surprise an old friend with a phone call.
  • Don’t drive in a car if the driver has been drinking.
  • Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
  • Don’t confuse wealth with success.
  • Be the first to forgive.
  • Accept a breath mint if someone offers you one.
  • When you need professional advice, get it from professionals.
  • Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
  • Don’t believe all you hear, spend all you have, or sleep all you want.
  • Everyone loves praise. Look hard for ways to give it to them.
  • What you must do, do cheerfully.
  • Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  • When you say “I’m sorry,” look the person in the eye.
  • Don’t trust your memory; write it down.
  • Overestimate travel time by 15 percent.
  • Root for the home team.
  • Watch your attitude. It’s the first thing people notice about you.
  • Remember the ones who love you.
  • Don’t take anything personally. Notice less and you will live longer.
  • It is not a sin to make money.
  • The harder you work the luckier you get.
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Wait what!!! Who did you Nominate?

Did you ever attended a program on the USG campus? Have you ever set foot on the campus for either a tour, a visit or for some information? Are you attending class this semester? If Yes to these questions then, who did you met? who helped you around, who answered your questions? Also who was involved with you, helping you make decisions, showing you the way? If you did it all by yourself then kudos to you! You are a prodigy. However, if any faculty, director or staff member helped you during your time at USG, spent their time and effort making sure your worries are all met, impacted you and your experience at USG and you feel like you will never forget everything they did to you. Then I believe you should look into nominate them into the “Kendall Service Awards“.

If you wonder what is it about, well the “Kendall Service Awards” is an award created by the “USM Regent and former USG Board of Advisers member Cliff Kendall and his wife Camille” thus the name “Kendall”. This Award is divided into three categories: Excellence in TeachingProgram Director of the Year, and Outstanding Service to Student. It is dedicated to recognize and congratulate school personnel (Staff, Faculty, Program Director) for supporting and helping students with their persistence, hard work and involvement during their time at the Universities at shady Grove. It is an Award that shows that we appreciate all they have done to us and invite more participation to other professors to work directly and influence possessively more students and their lives on the campus.file_001-1 file_000

Indeed, USG is not a “fast food” school where you just come and go. Instead, it is a community based school where we promote involvement, hard work and of course education. Recognizing  these efforts are just a human thing to do! Right? So, if you feel that someone had impacted you during your time at the USG by all means nominate him/her in a way to say to thank you and also to use this nomination as a way to call other professors to step up their game.

FYI: Nominations for the 2017 Kendall Service Awards are open during the month of February (2/1/17 – 2/28/17). Let all work together to perpetuate this beautiful tradition.


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Global Game Jam 2017

During this past weekend (2/3 – 2/5), the Universities at Shady Grove hosted a Global Game Jam. The event concluded at 5:30 pm on Sunday, Feb. 5th. The theme was “games for health”.

What is a game jam?


No, it is not a jam for bread. A game jam is an event where participants split up into groups and spend the course of the weekend to produce a finished video game. This game jam limited groups to 6 members each. Participants from all over the area were welcome to participate.


Why participate?

Participating in a game jam is entirely voluntary. If you DO participate, you learn things that you don’t normally learn in the classroom. You get to sharpen your skills while learning new skills.  It helps expand your network and overall, it looks good on a resume.

The process

When creating a game, whether digital or not, a certain process is followed. Though the steps taken may vary, there is a common step-by-step procedure.

  1. Planning – once a group has been formed, the group brainstorms ideas for a game. Since the game jam is only 3 days, a game design document isn’t created.
  2. Splitting tasks – when the group has decided on a game idea, the members take on tasks related to their skills. From personal experience, members split up into 3 categories – artists, programmers and UI designers.
  3. Production – after splitting tasks, members of the group work to complete their assigned tasks.
  4. Playtest – an important part of the production process is playtesting. When possible, members try to play their game. The goal is to check what works and what doesn’t, and fix any bugs that may occur (trust me – there will be bugs).
  5. Compiling the game – once the group has determined the game to be functional, the game is compiled together. All menus are put in, and a file called an executable (.exe) is created. This is the playable version of the final product.


By the end of the game jam, the games are complete. They are available for playtesting by the judges, friends and family. Afterwards, the winners are decided.

What can you take away?


While my team may not have won the game jam, there are several lessons I learned by participating. These lessons, shared below, will hopefully be of some use to you in the future.

  1. Know who you’re working with ahead of time.
  2. Be ready to take on additional tasks, outside of your own.
  3. Take 10-15 minute breaks every few hours.
  4. Have fun – the goal of the game jam is to have fun!



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Go Study Abroad!!

Last semester I had the wonderful opportunity to study abroad. I did a full semester in Brazil where I studied Public Health, Race, and Human Rights. This experience helped me grow as a person, student, and as a leader. 

While abroad I was able to have many exciting experiences from learning a new language and culture to visiting and sleeping in the Amazons. It wasn’t only about these exciting new adventures. 

I was also able to intern for an organization called Força Feminina (Women’s Force). During my time with this organization I learned about their approach and was able to do a community service project. 

Personally, I had many doubts about the possibility of me actually studying abroad. I had 2 major concerns: 

1) Financing: 

How was I going to pay for the semester? What about my bills here at home? 

2) Course acceptance 

Would the credits transfer?                                Would I be set back on my graduation date? 

We all have our doubts about taking a risk and while many of you might not want to do a full semester abroad like I did, there are many different ways to study abroad. 

The Universities at Shady Grove is hosting an information session on study abroad which I highly encourage everyone to visit!

Our very own blogger Christine Thinn is organizing the event! 

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