Student BlogsWelcome to Around the Grove, the official student blog of The Universities at Shady Grove! Students are able to blog about their college experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom. Read about their triumphs, trials and everyday lives that makes being a college student so uniquely life changing — and challenging. Feel free to connect with them by leaving a comment or asking them questions.

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Who are USG Students?

What makes a USG student a USG student? Is it just that we all take our classes through the USG campus or is it about who we are as people? The question “how would you describe USG students?” came up last week and it made me think hard. I asked some of my fellow student ambassadors how they would describe USG students, let’s talk about what a couple of them had to say.

Julia Francis said, “A USG student is someone who is driven, eager to learn new things, and doesn’t mind sharing their knowledge with others”. I like how Julia mentions how USG students are driven. In my experience, USG students show an exceptional amount of motivation for their studies. I think this has a lot to do with the abundance of support services available to our students. Another contributing factor to our drive is us being surrounded by other motivated students.

Francheska Pineda said “Students at USG are very dedicated to their studies which will translate to the workforce. Many students here have tons of outside responsibilities and therefore develop many skills such as time management. They can also be open to new experiences given the pathway we took and this kinda leads to that dedication aspect.”. A majority of the students at USG are juggling multiple responsibilities which can be extremely difficult but USG makes it possible. The support systems, the close-to-home campus, and the cost savings allow our busy and ambitious students to do it all and excel in the workforce. 

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

My description of a USG student would be ambitious students who utilize their opportunities. USG allows students to obtain the same degree as students at main campuses with additional opportunities such as double the scholarship opportunities, amazing ample support services, and double the student life. One of my favorite things about USG is the environment. USG is full of students who are truly ambitious about their future. 

Want to learn more about USG students? Keep up with our blogs here on Around the Grove or meet with one of us student ambassadors to talk about what it’s like to be a USG student.

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Monday Mourning

Today’s installment of Around the Grove features heavy subject matter. If you could be triggered by discussions of filicide, murder, abuse, neglect, or ableism, you might want to skip this one. However, if these topics are not traumatic triggers for you, please keep reading. This is important. Thank you.

For those of you who don’t know, I am the Vice President of Zeta Sigma. Zeta Sigma is the USG chapter of Delta Alpha Pi, which is an international honor society for students with various disabilities. Our mission at Zeta Sigma is to promote understanding, tolerance, and inclusion for disabled people. We aim to open conversations with our nondisabled peers about disability issues because we believe that disability does not make someone “damaged” or “less-than.”

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with that sentiment.

Nobody is denying that the world is very hostile toward disability, whether that means inaccessible infrastructure, or difficulty finding a job, or a number of other things. But it is entirely another thing when that hostility comes from the person who was supposed to be your safety net. And when that hostility costs you your life.

A sea of candles lighting the dark.
A row of candles in the dark. Photo Credit: Mike Labrum vis Unsplash

Every year, dozens of people of all ages (yes, even babies) with dozens of disabilities are victims of filicide: murder by the victim’s parent or caregiver. If the murderer is caught, they spin a tale of how their victim was better off dead, because how could anyone who was so “broken” be anything but a “burden” to others?

DisabilityMemorial.org has documented cases like this going back to 1980, but the cycle is almost always the same. The worst part is that the “burden” defense almost always works. The “better off dead” narrative gets picked up by the media, and the killer gets a comparatively lighter sentence, if any sentence at all.

And the victim? The innocent whose life was terminated against their will? The one who had to die knowing that the person they most trusted didn’t love them at all?



A statistic.


But not to us.

Every year, on March 1st, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network hosts the Disability Day of Mourning, when self-advocates and allies come together to mourn the people who deserve to be remembered.

This year, Zeta Sigma will conduct one of the vigils, and we invite you all to join us. We will have introductions from Kaitlin Mills (our advisor) and Dr. Jonathan Kandell of the USG Center for Counseling and Consultation. Then, members will read the names of the 2020-2021 victims, and our president, Emma Earnest, will share her personal experiences with related trauma.

You can watch the recorded vigil on Facebook through this link. And don’t worry, you don’t need a Facebook account to join. For more information, read the ASAN Anti-Filicide toolkit, and check out the full list of names on DisabilityMemorial.org.

I hope to see you there.

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Weight Loss Update

Hello everyone! This blog is just a little update on how my weight loss journey has been going from a previous blog I made about my goals for the end of 2020 and onward for 2021. I’m sure many of us had a bit of a weight issue when 2020 came around; with the lockdown, we couldn’t go out as often as we wanted to, so we’d often eat more of what we had at home. That was something I eventually started doing myself. I’ve said before that I wanted to lose at least 10 pounds before 2020 was over and if I did do so I would try to push to lose 5-10 more pounds by June of 2021. I’m proud to say that I did achieve my goal of losing 10 pounds before 2020 ended. I even managed to lose little over five more pounds at this time; soon enough I was told by the doctors that I’m at a healthy weight for my height! So I wanted to share what I did to get to this point.

Moderation: This was and still somewhat a bit difficult for me to do; I love food and sometimes can’t resist eating more than I’m supposed to. So I decided to moderate my diet based on what I did in the day; if I have to go somewhere and it made me walk a bit, I’d eat more and vise versa. I’ll even try to save meals for the next day if they are served in a huge portion.

Exercise Routine: I decided that I would do the exercise routine five times a week(on weekdays) as it’s recommended to exercise five times a week. I’ve been keeping track of when I start my routine and let me tell you, I always end up being exhausted or out of breath afterwards which is good. Least it means I’ve been giving it my all throughout the routine.

Image by 5132824 from Pixabay (Actually this is one of the exercises I do during my routine!)

I also have a habit of weighing myself in the morning to see if I’ve truly lost or gained weight since you weigh less in the morning than at night and I keep track of it using an app. I do all this on my own because I’m more comfortable that way but if you’re not fine with that, USG’s Campus Recreation Center (CRC) still has virtual classes if you prefer exercising with a group.

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, let me know and I’ll get back to you! Hope you all enjoyed the blog and I’ll see you in the next one! 🙂

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Immunity Boosters

Here are 3 immune boosting vitamins that you should incorporate into your diet to keep you strong and healthy throughout the spring semester! For each vitamin I’ve included some quick facts/benefits and some great food sources.

Vitamin C rich foods: Citrus fruits ~ Red bell peppers ~ Papaya ~ Berries ~ Broccoli ~ Kale ~ Elderberry tea/supplement

  • Water-soluble – dissolves in water and is easily absorbed and metabolized quickly
  • It’s an essential vitamin – meaning your body can’t produce it and must be obtained through diet or supplement
  • Powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system
  • Protects cells from harmful free radicals, which are linked to chronic diseases
  • Encourages the production of white blood cells – helps protect the body from infection
  • Fights inflammation

Vitamin A rich foods: Carrots ~ Sweet potato ~ Spinach ~ Broccoli ~ Red bell peppers

  • Fat-soluble – stored in your body (too much can lead to toxic levels)
  • Two forms: preformed Vitamin A (active form found in animal products) & provitamin A (inactive form found in plants)
  • Preserves eyesight – converts light into an electrical signal sent to the brain
  • Plays a role in maintaining your bodies natural mucous barriers in the eyes, lungs and gut – traps bacteria
  • Involved in production and function of white blood cells which clear out pathogens from the blood stream

Vitamin D (aka the Sunshine Vitamin) food sources: Fish ~ Egg yolk ~ Mushrooms ~ Fortified foods (milk, yogurt, cereal & oatmeal)

  • Fat-soluble – stored in the fat tissue
  • Regulates amounts of calcium and phosphate in the body – nutrients needed to keep bone, teeth and muscles healthy
  • Supports immune, brain and nervous system health
  • Supports lung function and cardiovascular health

This is just a brief list of benefits and sources to give you a gist of each vitamin. I’m sure there are plenty more benefits and sources that could be added along with other vitamins that are amazing immune boosters. Some honorable mentions – Vitamin E, Vitamin B & Zinc.

Its important to have good variety in your diet… and I’m definately not always the best at this. I have a tendency to just eat the same foods everyday. Consider adding some of these foods to your normal diet. Especially right now with COVID-19 its important that we keep our bodies’ defenses strong!

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I don’t know why, but I always feel more motivated during the fall semester than the spring semester. It just seems that the closer I get to graduation the worse my procrastination gets. As bad as my procrastination and motivation are I still want to end the semester strong so let’s talk about reducing procrastination.

  1. Acknowledging You’re a Procrastinator: Don’t deny it, it’s only going to make it worse. It’s okay procrastination is normal, but don’t let it take over your life. 
  2. To-do Lists:  A big reason why we procrastinate is that we simply just don’t want to do it! So push yourself to get it out of the way as soon as possible. Some people feel if they do the task last minute the pressure will allow them to finish quicker. When I finish tasks quickly at the last minute I get anxious thinking about how much better of a job I could have done if I had started earlier.
  3. Scheduling Yourself Well: Giving yourself a sooner due date than the actual due date can be very beneficial. If it’s due on Friday write in your planner it’s due on Tuesday. I’ve found that I enjoy doing the task more when I know I have more time to do it.
  4. Reward Yourself: This is the one for me. Those little rewards for finishing the tasks I don’t want to do push me to get them done! If it’s a bigger task you could reward yourself for getting parts of the task done. For example, if the task is a long paper, I’ll reward myself with coffee when I have made enough progress or some time on social media!
  5. Have Someone Hold You Accountable:  Having someone check in on you to make sure you’re getting your tasks will allow extra accountability. This is the best kind of peer pressure! 
Photo by Pedro da Silva on Unsplash

One last piece of advice I have is looking forward to things, such as spring break! In a few weeks, we’ll be about halfway through the semester on break, stay strong guys!

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A Running Diary of My Thoughts While Reading Academic Journals for Class

(Helpful advice in bold)

Okay. I’m done with my internship for the day, I ate dinner, I got this. What time is it now?

Wow, 7:00? Huh. Well, how many pages do I have?

Okay…so there’s 25 pages, minus three pages of references makes 22. Got it. If I focus, maybe I can finish this by 9:30. Let’s get started.

This sounds like a neat topic. This won’t take long!

Image: a pink, 3-D brain on a gray background. The brain is probably from an anatomical model of the human body. Photo Credit: Robina Weermeijer via Unsplash

Wow, I’m exhausted. I’ve been sitting in the same spot for almost the entire day. How am I this tired? I guess if I have a more consistent sleep schedule, then that should help somewhat. I could go to bed a bit earlier, too. What time did I go to bed last night? 11:30? So, tonight, I’ll shoot for 10:00. What time is it now?

Whoa, 7:30 already? And I’m only on page three? I’d better focus.

That looks important. I’d better write that down.

And that.

And that. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t take notes. I’d never remember all of this stuff if I didn’t have my notebook with me.

I wonder if any of my classmates take notes by recording themselves? There has to be some adaptive technology out there, right? Anyway, I wouldn’t need any adaptive technology; I could use my phone. Still, now I’m curious, and someone who does need that support might want to know. There’s a whole page about disability support resources that I could look at. Maybe I should ask Kaitlin about it, too. She would probably know, being part of Disability Support Services. She’s so great. I love having a DSS coordinator who has empathy for her students.

Actually, hey, look at that. This journal is talking about empathy now. I’d better write that down. What page am I on now?

Only five? What? Oh geez. I’d better concentrate. What time is it anyway?

8:15? What on Earth happened? Come on, brain. Think. About. The. Journal.

Didn’t the author say that on the last page? If I repeated myself this much, my English professors would have knocked off points for lack of concision.

Oh, look, evidence. The most important part of any essay: backing up the argument. Now we’re getting somewhere.

And that somewhere is the conclusion! Let me scroll down and see how much more reading I have to do.

Six pages. Welp, in the immortal words of Dory, “Just keep swimming,” right?

“Just Keep Swimming” from Finding Nemo. Credit to Disney and Pixar.

It’s 10:25? What have I been thinking about for the past 20 minutes?

Oh, yeah. Literally nothing. So tired.

Huzzah! The conclusion! Now that I think of it, I have a classmate who starts here and circles back to the beginning, so that she has the author’s main point in mind. She might be on to something.

Oh well. For now, I’m all finished. What time is it?



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16 Personalities

What personality type are you?

I love taking personality tests and seeing if the results match up! I don’t necessarily take them super seriously but I’ve found that I learn something about myself and I’m able to draw connections between the results and my own experiences. The 16 Personalities test stands to be one of my favorite personality test that I’ve taken. Based on my results I am a Mediator (INFP) – someone who tends to be quite, open-minded, imaginative and caring. After reading through the results I thought it seemed pretty accurate and fitting to how I view myself, how I respond in situations and how I am within relationships.

Brief Background on 16 Personalities

According to the 16 Personalities website, the test incorporates the “latest advances in psychometric research, combining time-tested concepts with robust and highly accurate testing techniques”. The free test provides test takers with detailed results and a bit of insight into their personal strengths and weaknesses, romantic relationships, friendships, parenthood, career paths, and even workplace habits.

The 16 Personalities approach combines the acronym format with the Big Five Personality Traits model (aka OCEAN), which groups personality traits into five factors; Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. The test is based on these five independent spectrums but reworked differently.

The framework of the test has two layers. The first inner layer determines our Roles –our goals interests and preferred activities. The second outer layer determines our Strategies – our preferred ways of doing things and achieving goals.

Read more about the test here: 16 Personalities Framework

Take the test here: 16 Personalities Test


If you’ve already taken other personality tests (like the Myers Briggs Personality Test) and know your personality type… the 16 Personalities test is still worth taking! Personally, I was interested whether or not I would get the same results. Its a good way to get a deeper understanding of yourself and what makes you tick.

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Releasing the Pressure

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

We are three weeks into the semester and I’ve begun to feel the pressure of it. I’m often finding myself panicking over the amount of assignments I have to do this semester and honestly it gets to me. I have days where I’m just overwhelmed and it often gets me spiraling into a state of confusion and worry. I’ll admit, this semester is the most important to me since as I’ve said before, I’m a senior and will be graduating this semester so I’m striving to end my undergraduate studies on a strong note. However, I do have certain methods to relax myself so I don’t keep spiraling into a hole deeper than I should be.

Starting on assignments: This is one thing that I often do just so my mind is occupied with an assignment instead of freaking out over results that haven’t happened yet. I recently started an assignment that isn’t due until next month because I wanted to get the information out in the air while it was fresh in my mind; I somewhat have a schedule for the assignment so that I could finish it in time without stressing over other assignments. So this method helps me focus my energy on something academic related so that I can finish the semester strong.

Watching videos: Most of us already do this method even when we’re not in school just so we feel entertained or at ease. I do it for both; I may watch different videos based on how I’m feeling on a certain day. I may watch videos about video games, videos about random posts on social media, or videos about TV shows I watch to name a few. This just helps me maintain my mental state so I can keep going through this semester with a clear and sound mind.

Talking with loved ones: This method truly should be used by everyone. I do have a significant other who I do speak about my stresses and he’s attentive towards my feelings and ensures me to just take things one at a time so i don’t overwhelm myself during the semester. This gives me some comfort since I know I have a support system to help me but I am aware that there are others who might not; so I want to suggest USG’s Center for Counseling and Consultation. The CCC has virtual meetings with their clients and ensures they have someone to speak to for help; here’s the link for anyone whose interested in having a meeting with a counselor.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns, let me know in the comments and I’ll get right back to you on that! Thank you for reading the blog and I’ll see you in the next one!

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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is when you feel you are not qualified or deserve to be where you are despite all of your skills, talents, and accomplishments. The first time I experienced imposter syndrome was a few weeks before I transferred to UMBC, but I did not know then it was imposter syndrome. I was worried that I would not do well in my program or everyone else in the program would be more experienced than me. I also kept thinking I did not deserve to be where I was. I was in shock that I had made it to the next level of my education, attending university!

When I began my first social work internship last fall, I began to feel the imposter syndrome work its way back. I felt that other students would be able to do a better job than me. I loved my internship and felt privileged to be there but kept feeling that I did not deserve to be there. I learned to accept the challenge and make the best of my experience. Let’s look at some things we can do or remember imposter syndrome attempts to make its way into our heads.

Putting the Thoughts into Perspective: Recognize what you are feeling and dispute the feelings. You would not be where you are if you did not deserve to be. Remind yourself of your accomplishments, qualifications, and positively reassure yourself. You are worthy of this. It may feel like you just got lucky, or it is too good to be true but even if that was true would you want negative thoughts to keep you from experiencing incredible opportunities?

Photo by Amer Mughawish on Unsplash

Talk About It: Try not to let imposter syndrome take over. Speak with a mentor about how you are feeling, they most likely experienced it as well! Be open with your friends as well, especially those in the same field as you. I felt such a relief learning my social work peers were experiencing the same feelings as me. Seeing a professional can also be beneficial. Remember, USG’s Center for Counseling and Consultation is open for virtual appointments!

Take Protective Measures: In my last post, I suggested writing a “for when you’re doubting yourself” letter as a Valentine’s Day gift. I want to suggest this concept again but in a different way. I want you all to get a mason jar and fill it up with positive affirmations about yourself. Begin with your thoughts such as “I am organized” and “I am bright”. You could even include obstacles you have overcome. Then I want you to ask those close to you to provide you with a few and write who said it. Keep this in your workspace for positive reassurance. 

 It’s so easy to look down on ourselves but we have to remember that we are worthy of the good things we obtain. If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you. So learn to take constructive criticism, take this is as an opportunity to grow. Remember it is okay to not always be the best.

If you are looking for an internship or employment opportunities in your field check out the Career and Internship Center! They have wonderful career coaches and were so helpful with my resume and cover letter last year.

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Staying Positively Positive

The first week of the semester is almost over! Lots of people find this time of year exciting, and rightly so! New classes, new chances to learn, new challenges–it’s undoubtedly going to be interesting if nothing else. That said, some people also feel a lot of anxiety at the start of the semester. (“This syllabus has a lot of stuff on it. Can I really do ALL of that?”)

I get it. Full disclosure: I’m one of those people. But being pre-stressed out isn’t exactly fun, so I’ve made a list of good things to think about instead. Here goes:

  • Professors who respond to emails quickly
  • Classes that don’t have final exams
  • Extra credit
  • Libraries. They’re quiet, they’re useful, and everyone can find help regardless of social class. What’s not to love? The one here at USG is pretty darn great, if I do say so myself.
An ornate library in Chantilly, France, filled with several hundred books and lit by candles. Photo credit: Gabriel Ghnassia via Unsplash
Image: an ornate library in Chantilly, France. Photo credit: Gabriel Ghnassia via Unsplash
  • Koalas
  • That feeling when you have a song stuck in your head, and after several days of not remembering the name, you finally figure it out.
  • Finding out that the class you just started taking is much cooler than you thought it would be
  • Dogs (especially rescues)
  • Cats (especially rescues)
  • Good hair days
  • Tutoring (Check out the Macklin Center for Academic Success for more info!)
  • Sparkly things that don’t shed glitter everywhere
  • Working hard on a project and then getting an A
  • If your professor likes your work on a project so much that they ask you if they can use it as a model for future students (That happened to me once in eighth grade. My teacher wrote the request on a sticky note that I still have pinned to my bulletin board.)
  • Reading a story problem in a textbook and noticing that one of the characters has your name.
  • Having a test shortly before your birthday, so you don’t have to spend your special day studying for it.
  • Geodes
A geode with a boring, rough outside and a sparkling, bright blue inside. Photo Credit: Robert Ramsay via Pixabay.
Image: a geode with a sparkling, bright blue center. The outside of a geode looks like an ordinary rock, but the inside looks like a galaxy. Photo Credit: Robert Ramsay via Pixabay.
  • For those of us with a difficult to spell/pronounce name, the feeling when someone either gets it right or takes the time to ask you.
  • Referencing something you like in public and people picking up on it, especially when it’s something niche
  • Going to a professor’s office hours for help on something and learning that you were actually on the right track the whole time
  • When you’ve been stuck on the same level in a video game for ages and finally make it to the next one
  • Finding a lucky coin on the ground
  • Working out with the Campus Recreation Center and, better yet, beating your personal best
  • When your friend sends you memes
  • And finally, when you mention something you used to like as a kid and someone goes, “Oh yeah! That was the best!”

What’s on your “List of Good Things?” Let me know in the comments down below! And, if this list can’t make a dent in your new-semester anxiety, contact the Center for Counseling and Consultation. They can probably find something that will.

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