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

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Reflecting on Last Week’s Shooting

Good morning everyone.

Today I want to talk about the shooting that occurred last Wednesday.

On Wednesday, February 14th, there was a school shooting in Florida. Our hearts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

As a response to this, John Brandt, the head of security at USG, sent out an email to the USG community, in concerns about the incident:

“If you ever do find yourself in the middle of an active shooter event, your survival may depend on whether or not you have a plan. The plan doesn’t have to be complicated. There are three things you can do that make a difference, RUN. HIDE. or FIGHT….”

– John Brandt, head of USG Safety & Security

John Brandt included in his email a link to a video, that describes what you should do if you ever find yourself in a situation similar to this one.

If you want to watch the video, here it is:

The video describes 3 steps to consider: Run, Hide or Fight.


If possible, the best solution is to run. Leave all your belongings behind, and find the nearest exit. Encourage people to exit with you, but don’t let them slow you down. Your top priority is to get out of harm’s way. If you see someone about to enter the danger zone, stop them. Once you are safe, call 911.


If you cannot escape safely, find a place to hide. Lock or blockade the door to your room, and silence your phones. If you cannot enter a room in time, hide behind a large object that could conceal you. It is important to remain quiet while hiding.


Fighting should be your LAST resort. If you find yourself in this situation, find anything you can use as a weapon to attack the shooter. Commit to your actions to take down the shooter.


Once law enforcement has arrived, remain calm and follow instructions they may give you. Make sure to keep your hands visible, and avoid pointing or yelling.

In all of these events, you should always have an exit plan. Whether at school or at work, make sure you know where the closest exit is, of you find yourself in a dangerous situation.


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Everyone LOVES USG … And you will too!

The idea of 9 universities in one campus was a foreign concept for some time. As USG has developed in tangible and intangible ways, it has become a well known beacon of education in the Montgomery County community. It offers convenience, quality, and the feel of “home” in one package.

Personally, I have taken higher education classes in numerous facilities; from the University of Maryland to the Montgomery College campus, and even graduate school classes in the Ronald Reagan building in Washington, D.C.

USG’s campus has the deepest sense of community, diversity, and empathy to offer its students. If you ask anyone who has taken classes at USG whether they liked the campus and courses, I assure you will receive a resounding Y-E-S (I’ve done this before so I know)!

USG is hosting an open house on Saturday April 7 from 8:30am-12pm. During this experience, you won’t just be receiving information about USG, but you’ll also be given the opportunity to get career and academic help. As a bonus – parking is free!

Register for the event here: https://www.shadygrove.umd.edu/news-events/events/undergraduate-open-house

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Career Planning and You

Many times, I have heard the question, “what do you want to do with your life?” How’s that for a loaded question? For me, the answer has been the same since coming out of high school. I want to become a family physician and work with Doctors Without Borders serving underserved communities around the world. However, for my friends and loved ones, the answer isn’t so straightforward.

As I am sure is the case with many of you, you may not exactly know what career you want to commit to. After all, it is a daunting task to discover what you are going to do in life after only being around for so long. Amazingly, USG can help you decide where your future may be.

The Universities at Shady Grove is a wealth of knowledge and information. As I mentioned in a prior post, the Center for Counseling and Consultation, is an excellent source for career/major counseling. There you can talk to a counselor and go through your strengths and weakness and interests and dislikes, to determine your career path.  The Career & Internship Services Center also offers similar career services, providing two sources of great information and guidance for students.

Another great way to learn more about yourself and meet others, is by joining one of the many organizations on campus. While I could take half a page just to list them out, I’d rather provide you with a link on where to see which clubs exist: https://shadygrove.campuslabs.com/engage/

Going to college is a difficult time for everyone, in different way. However, when done right, it leaves us with great memories to last a lifetime. Take care to not get buried under work and school, remember to take time for yourself, to relax. Thanks for reading, and until next time.



Christopher B. Majano

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Tips and a tutorial for using Adobe Spark!

Happy Fri-yay!

Today I want to share a quick tutorial and tips for using Adobe Spark! Spark is an application that allows you to create pages, posts, and videos. This can be accessed from Adobe Creative Suite on your laptop or desktop, but it is also available in the App store for mobile use. 

I find that this application is very user friendly, and it can help you create a professional flyer in minutes. If you are pressed for time and want to use a more sleek design, and rather than creating your own art, use Spark instead of Illustrator!

  1. Spark allows allows you to choose from creating a post, page, or video. For this tutorial I used “Post” to create a flyer.

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 7.10.18 PM.png

2. Add a background picture, header text, and information. When in the shapes palette (right), you can change shapes that will appear behind text, to make it stand out.Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 7.18.53 PM

3. Test out the Layout options. See what options Spark gives you with different page alignment and spacing.

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 7.53.27 PM                   Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 7.28.22 PM

4. Play around with the Design page! Check out all of these other layouts that can easily auto-fill your info. 

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 7.45.27 PM Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 7.45.42 PM Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 7.45.13 PM

5. Easily share and download your file. Top, center of the page will allow you to download or export your file and share on social media! Check out Spark next time you need to create a flyer.

And you’re done! Simple as that!

If you’re still reading, and wondering why I chose to make a flyer titled “Why Give to USG?”, that is because I work in the Office of Advancement and Community Engagement. We work with the wonderful community donors who donate to student scholarships here at USG!

*Adobe Creative Cloud can be downloaded for free for University of Maryland students through TerpWare. UMCP students also have free access to Lynda.com tutorials!*

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Here is Why Yesterday Wasn’t All that Bad

To what is expected of Valentine’s day, I would have to say it was one of my better ones. I was able to put a smile on the face of many of my coworkers with simple valentine’s day cards. My cohort had a whole party in the Green Grove Cafe, where we all just got to eat sweets and play games.

As children, we are more excited about getting candy and cards and class parties. However, now that I am older (and not in a relationship), I can say that it is a greater pleasure to give than to receive. I feel like that is why I want to do all I can to give back to the people that need it and to those who have selflessly helped me as well. I wish my schedule allowed more time for volunteering, but I do what I can with the time I have.

I hope everyone got a little bit of love and happiness yesterday. With all the cards, candy grams from Student Council and delicious treats, yesterday was one that went in the books.

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Giving Back to the Community

I hope everyone had a great start of the semester. I have been extremely busy due to wedding planning, volunteering at the Montgomery County Humane Society, participating in the Graduate Student Association, classes, work, and family. In the spirit of Valentines Day, I thought I would write about my passion for giving back to the community. I love helping others especially animals. About six years ago, I adopted a stray kitten, hence, my soft spot for homeless animals.  

To give you a little background about my experience with community service, during my last two years in high school, I was able to accumulate over 450 community service hours by the end of my senior year. I was involved as a teacher’s assistant, math tutor, and after school help to my teachers. My community involvements helped me realize my passion for helping others and education. Though I was not able to get actively involved the last two years, I knew I wanted to volunteer again. I love animals so I applied to volunteer at the Montgomery County Humane Society. In addition, because I was part of the Student Council in undergrad at USG, I also decided to participate in the USG Graduate Student Association this year. Although most of us come and go due to our life responsibilities, I thought that it was important to voice our opinions. USG is our campus and we are impacted by any changes that happen so it is important to ask other fellow graduate students about any changes that they think will benefit all of us.    

Montgomery County Humane Society (MCHS)

MCHS is a private, non-profit organization whose mission is to end animal homelessness in the community. The recue animals from over crowded shelters and make sure that they find their forever homes. They also go into the community to educate people about the importance of adopting a pet and how to care for them. They run solely on donations so the USG GSA decided to run a collection drive (February 5th-March 9th) to help collect supplies using MCHS’ Wish List, which they use to care for the homeless animals that they currently house in their facility.  

Collection Drive

How can you help these wonderful animals? You can help our collection drive to by donating supplies for our homeless animals at MCHS. There are collection bins by the elevators in building three in the first floor and inside the Student and Academic Services suite in the first floor of building three. If you have any questions, please feel comment to this post.   

MCHS Wish List

How do I balance it all?

I learned about my own strategies through my past experiences. I encourage you to utilize the Center for Academic Success (CAS) because their workshops also helped me figure out additional strategies. I had many roles when I worked there from being a Writing Fellow for the Psychology program to being a students worker which lead to being an assistant coordinator so time management was vital. For those who are trying to balance your many life responsibilities, I encourage you to use their Time Management academic coaching. You can schedule an appointment with them online via WCOnline.

If you feel stressed, anxious, depressed, or just want to talk to someone, I highly recommend the Center for Counseling and Consultation. Because my background is in counseling, I truly believe that people need to value their mental health because this significantly impact how you live your life. I worked there for a short period of time so I had to the opportunity to get to know the counselors there too. I honestly would say that they are fantastic. Give them a call to set up an appointment!

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Choose Discomfort

Does procrastinating cause you problems? Does leaving things for the last minute cause you stress when deadlines are approaching?  One way to deal with delaying important tasks is to choose doing the uncomfortable thing now. If you leave things for the last minute, the discomfort will only intensify later. This can cause things to get out of control.

Practicing this type of discipline is like developing a muscle. It’s the small things that count when developing a new habit. Something as small as taking cold showers on a daily basis can condition your mind to experience discomfort. This will develop your discipline muscle every day.

Make en effort to truly experience the negative feelings you go through when you are uncomfortable. The same feelings that are keeping you from experiencing the hard work and focus that it takes to complete a task are the same feelings that are keeping you from improving your life. Those feelings are your worst enemies and to overcome them you must be aware of them. Experience them, analyze them and eventually you will be able to control them.

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Simple tips for a successful group project

Effective group work can be an excellent cooperative learning tool. Team members typically bring different perspectives to a subject and with that, a platform is created to understand a topic better.

In my research class, we were recently asked to analyze a compendium of evidence-based practices. The following are things we did to enable effective group collaboration:

  1. Selection of a group leader

Although it was not required, we selected a group leader who would be able to communicate on behalf of the team. The group leader ensured that set deadlines were met.

  1. Group chat

We exchanged phone numbers and created a group chat to get speedy responses to pressing inquiries from team members.

  1. Google Docs

Google docs is a free web-based application that provides group members ability to share, edit and manage projects.

Each member was able to access the same document and edit it in real time.

  1. Face to Face

We created an agenda prior to face to face meetings. Agenda’s ensured that team members were on topic, therefore, helping our time management.

I wish you success in your groups!

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Student Spotlight: Timothy La

When you attend a unique campus like the Universities at Shady Grove, there’s no telling who you might run into. Throughout my time at USG, I’ve reconnected with so many people from my past. Tim La is one of them. I met Tim when I was six years old in Mrs. Malveaux’s class at Stonegate Elementary School. We also went to the same high school for two years. But somehow, we never once spoke to each other.

Years later, I ran into Tim again. I remember walking into a classroom in Building III to set up for a geriatrics outreach training that I was leading. Tim was studying quietly in the back of the room. When I told him I recognized him, we struck up a good conversation. He was excited to hear about the outreach I was planning, and I was likewise interested in his obvious passion for leadership and forming collaborations between students of different educational backgrounds. My post today is all about Tim, how USG changed him for the better, and the impact that he’s making on the USG community. Here’s his story:

Tim was always a pretty quiet kid and often had trouble initiating conversation with other people. Throughout his childhood, he tried several times to step out of his comfort zone, but these attempts were of no avail. Tim recounted to me the time he ran for the position of Class Vice President in elementary school. He had prepared an amazing speech. But as soon as he stepped up to the podium to deliver it, he froze. He was overcome with anxiety and ultimately had to back down.

Tim can honestly say that it wasn’t until he found himself at USG that he was finally able to gain self-confidence. It all began quite serendipitously. Determined again to come out of his shell, he joined the Student Athletics Organization. The pharmacy students who ran the organization, however, were pre-occupied with their last year of classes. Tim was asked to take over the entire organization. He accepted. And just like that, Tim became the new President and saved the organization from becoming obsolete.

Around the same time, the President of another organization Tim had joined, USG’s International Club, had to resign because of other priorities. The current Vice President took over for her and appointed Tim to be the new VP. Suddenly, Tim had two leadership positions! He went a step further by becoming involved with Toastmasters, an organization whose mission is to help members by improving their communication, leadership, and public speaking skills. By giving ten speeches, he met his goal of officially becoming a “certified competent communicator”.

Last spring, Tim ran against six other University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) students for a position on USG Student Council. He came out first in the group which allowed him to be the institutional representative for UMCP. In addition, he serves as Chair of Advocacy & Outreach on Student Council. His latest endeavor has been co-founding a new student organization, called Ceadership, with his good friend and former Montgomery College Student Senate President, Jonell Malone. Ceadership is similar to Toastmasters, but is geared more specifically toward students as it allows them a platform to practice for their class presentations, meets more often (twice weekly), and requires no membership fee to join.

Tim has come so far from those days of being a shy kid. He is now a recognized and respected student leader who is dedicated to helping others “become better than they expect themselves to be” and to building connections between students from all 9 universities represented at USG. After all these years, I’m glad that I had a chance to finally establish a friendship with Tim.

Tim will be graduating this May with a Communication degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. He is interested in pursuing content marketing and is currently a business development news intern at DelfinoCo.


Ceadership’s first meeting is this Monday from 3-4 PM. Interested in learning more? Email Tim at tlaspeech2018@gmail.com.  

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Being the Outsider

639-02030190I grew up in a military family. My father was career Navy which means we moved around…a lot. It wasn’t so bad when I was younger. We would move to a new state and inevitably, a kid would knock on our new front door and say “Do you have any kids my age?” (Kids age 10 and under are just that bold.) That would be the beginning of days playing in the woods across the street, jumping rope, and riding our bikes to the candy store where 25 cents would actually buy 25 pieces of penny candy. Those friendships happened easily.

As I got closer to high school, it wasn’t as cool to be the new kid. It was harder to make friends—mostly because the other kids had already formed groups and weren’t really looking for new faces. I was not outgoing back then (hard to believe, right?) and felt awkward, lost, and like I’d never belong. But I did manage to make some great friends because they ventured outside their comfort zones and invited me to sit with them at lunch, come along to movies, and simply just to hang out. Now that I am an adult, I like to think that I am inclusive, but I know that I sometimes forget how it felt to be an outsider.

I recently came across Am I Invisible? The Pain Relieving Response to Being Rejected or Excluded, a blog post by Rachel Mary Stafford that resonated with me. I included the link below so I hope you will read it, but I will share a few things that stood out for me. The author talks about how her daughter started a new activity and had a tough time feeling accepted into the group with the other kids. As her mom (the author) was waiting for her to be done with the activity, she was met with rude behavior when she attempted to engage another group of moms. She used this instance to educate her daughter and herself. She told her to always try to remember the way it feels to be shunned, excluded, or ignored so you will make an effort to include others who may feel like outsiders. She writes:

  • Remember this when you are in familiar territory and someone new walks up looking for guidance.
  • Remember this when you see someone on the outskirts anxiously holding her own hand.  
  • Remember this when someone approaches you and asks a question—see the bravery behind the words. 
  • Remember this when you see someone stop trying—perhaps he’s been rejected one too many times.
  • Remember this when you see someone being excluded or alienated—just one friendly person can relieve the painful sense of feeling invisible.  
  • Remember the deepest desire of the human heart is to belong … to be welcomed … to know you are seen and worthy of kindness.

So I challenge you with this goal for the week: Invite someone new to lunch, to study, or just simply make an effort to ask them a few questions about themselves. You never know how it will make their day—or they may remember it for the rest of their lives.


Read Stafford’s complete post here.

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