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

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Tackling group work

I think we all have either a love-hate or hate relationship with group work. Suddenly you realize you’re the one who is always coordinating the group meetings, contacting members of the team, and ensuring deadlines are met. You could also find yourself in the opposite role, where your opinion is never taken into account or you get stuck with the part of the project you least enjoy. These are a few strategies (learned via Smith’s PT MBA program and by experience) to mitigate issues that may come up with group work:

  • Accept the fact that not everyone thinks the way you do: We all have different upbringings and life experiences that shape our opinions and perspectives. What we think is right or proper, may not be for another person. Keeping an open mind is important in this case.
    • To avoid personal conflict avoid questioning the team members themselves (you cannot change the cards you are dealt). Instead, question the assumptions upon which they are basing their opinions/contributions.
  • Articulate expectations from the get-go: set goals for the group and yourself, and communicate this with your team at the start of a project to avoid last minute disappointments.
    • Establishing deadlines in addition to goals is essential at the start of a project
  • Meet in person: in the work force it is highly likely that group work will take place in a face-to-face setting with your colleagues. Interacting face-to-face not only helps imitate a real world scenario, but it also helps minimize misinterpretation of information.
  • Avoid traps: don’t be guilty of the fundamental attribution error: placing emphasis on internal characteristics of the individual, rather than external factors, in explaining their behavior. If someone is not pulling their weight, don’t assume they are lazy…inquire about their struggle with the work, and how the team as a whole can help.

Every group’s dynamic is different by nature, but there are many ways to align individuals to achieve a common goal. Take a positive approach to group assignments, communicate clearly, and actively look for resources (online for example) to help deal with obstacles you  may be facing with your team.

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Our Home (USG) is having an open house on October 29, 2016 at 8:30 am. I find it amazing that our campus will be offering tours to prospective students with VERY important information that will help them on their pathway to success. I know that the open house will be very informative and helpful to prospective students as it was to me last year. I remember the first time I walked around the USG campus imagining myself learning in a classroom and enjoying the many activities on campus. I remember my professor from Montgomery College informing me of the many opportunities available at USG. If it wasn’t for Professor Alavi helping me with the decision of where to attend college, I might have missed out on USG and all the great opportunities I have experienced so far during this semester. For example, I have met great people in my major and in other majors that have made my experience at USG meaningful.  Additionally, some other awesome opportunities like being a USG ambassador and USG Blogger have added to my success at USG. What I enjoy most about USG is that I have a great time because I am constantly surrounded by individuals who are focused and ambitious who motivate me to work harder.  Not long ago, I was worried about getting into the school of my dreams which is a feeling that most students feel initially when applying to the school of their dreams.  Sometimes we all need is a little help so I encourage you to be that helping hand for others. Tell your friends and family members who are considering attending college about USG. The USG open house will be offering the opportunity to speak to a representative from the different universities at our campus. Their questions might help them in becoming part of our Ohana (Family in Hawaiian) at USG. Spread the word about the USG Open house on Oct 29, 2016 at 8:30 am.


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Stop Goblin Up All That Candy Tho…

As a kid, Halloween was my second favorite holiday, right after Christmas. Whenever October came around, I would always look forward to picking out the perfect costume at Party City with my mom, watching Hocus Pocus on Disney Channel, trick-or-treating around our neighborhood, and trading Skittles for Kit Kat bars with my little brother. Of course, the best part was all that candy I hoarded and steadily consumed over the next several months.

Yeah… those were blissful childhood days full of chocolately goodness. But looking back now, it’s a bit concerning just how much sugar I (and practically every little boy and girl in the United States) loaded myself with each year. While I still love Halloween as much as I did growing up, I don’t think the holiday does much to improve the alarmingly high prevalence of childhood obesity. According to most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 17% (or 12.7 million) of children between 2 and 19 years old in the U.S. are obese. Not just overweight… obese. And as you can probably guess, these youth are at a significantly higher risk for many physical, social, and emotional complications.

So why am I rambling on about candy and childhood obesity in my post this week? It’s because University of Maryland School of Pharmacy students at USG have come together to organize their first ever “Healthy Halloween” event next Saturday, October 29th at Rockville Memorial Library. This is an annual tradition that was actually started by students at the main campus in Baltimore. Each year, students from a local elementary school are invited to Pharmacy Hall to engage in interactive activities not just about sugar intake and diabetes, but a variety of other topics that include differences between candy vs. medicine and the importance of regular exercise in maintaining a healthy heart.

If you have young children, siblings, cousins, nieces/nephews, or kids you babysit, consider treating them to an early Halloween celebration! They can dress up (us pharmacy students will be in our costumes too!) and have the opportunity to win fun prizes like Halloween stickers, tattoos, key chains, pencil toppers, and more! One event won’t make a dent in those scary statistics I presented, but it can certainly make an impact in our local community. So tell your friends and help us spread the word. Hope to see you at Rockville Memorial Library next Saturday for some “Healthy Halloween” fun!






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“Dress for the Job you want, Not for the Job you have”.

When you hear “Universities at Shady Grove” what do you think? Many knowledgeable patrons will say: nine universities in one place, others will say: I graduated from there, or we met there. Few will be perplexed to what actually USG is. But today, I want to highlight one point that is particular to USG and that people do not see. USG is not just a teaching environment type of campus, it is also a stylistic campus.

Indeed, USG teaches not only about career and ways of life but also about how to dress to achieve those goals. The lack of dormitories on and around campus actually incites student to dress up and go to school. And this phenomena is happening for multiple reason such as students are either coming from work or going to work after their classes, having a presentation, a meeting or to attend the multiple career fair that the school host.


Social Work major from the University of Maryland Baltimore COunty

On top of that, to add a cherry on the cake, the presence of senior students on their internships, graduate students and veterans help the juniors to follow the same steps. These group of students make USG a professional and serious frame to study, this way they are prepared to tackle their career life with a tremendous start.

You will never mistake students at USG; you can definitely distinguish a nursing student from a business student or accounting and political science major from a social science student. Students at USG are being put into the atmosphere of their goal career so when they come out with their degree they feel at ease in their field. They feel confident because they have lived and taught in the same environment. They have long-awaited for that moment, they have been dressing up for that since they arrived.

 USG is more of a lifestyle, because it affects all phases of a student life, it is a full package deal offered to students to be successful in every career of their choice.
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Midterm Study Tips


Mid-October is the time for midterms. A lot of students spend hours a day either in the library or in a breakout room, studying. Spending hours and hours studying for exams can be stressful. Personally, when I think about spending hours on end studying, I get very anxious, which is counterproductive to studying. Similar to Elizabeth, I want to share a few tips in preparing for midterms (and exams in general):

  • Time management – one of the most important things in preparing to study is time management. Creating a weekly schedule will help you pinpoint where in your day / week you have time to dedicate studying. The idea is to spend 2-3 hours each day reviewing what you’ve learned that day to retain as much information as possible, without the stress of long study sessions.timemanagement
  • Study methods – what helps you study? Think about the best method of studying for you, to make studying a bit easier. Some people study using flash cards, some people prefer group studying and some people like highlighting key points in textbooks so it’s an easy review. Think about what works for you.
  • keep-calm-and-take-a-study-break-7Give yourself breaks – but don’t overdo it! Having a break for five minutes every 45 minutes of studying helps the brain take in the information during that session, and allows you to relax without feeling anxious. Be aware – sometimes when you take a break, it turns into a long one, and you don’t feel like returning to studying after. To steer clear of this, set a timer so you know when your break is over.
  • Sleep – get plenty of sleep every night. Sleeping allows the brain to process all the information from that day and store it in the long term memory. By getting enough sleep, you are giving your brain adequate time to do its job. No need to stay up all night studying.smartwatch-mykronoz-zewatch-2-black-19432
  • Prepare for the midterm – on the day before the midterm, make sure you’ve packed everything you need for it – pencils, erasers, pens, calculator, etc. By doing so, you’ve reduced a little stress for the next day (you won’t have to worry about missing any items right before the exam).
  • Staying in shape – eating healthy and exercising helps maximize the brain’s capacity for remembering things. People who live healthy lives end up with better brain functions.


These tips are here to help you prepare for midterms, exams and finals. Though preparing for these can be stressful, it doesn’t have to be. Managing your time well, having a study method, giving yourself breaks and getting enough sleep are all ways you can improve studying, and even getting over the fear of studying. Following these tips will help you guys ace your midterms!


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How Do You Handle It?

Within the materials provided during my study abroad orientation I was given tips and resources on how to handle stress while abroad. I never assumed that this would be part of my time in Brazil. After all I thought, how could I feel stressed if I was going to be studying steps from the beach and in a program that I was more than excited for. However, I didn’t totally ignore the advise that the counselors on campus gave me and I came prepared  with different tools to help me if it ever came to that point.

Here’s the thing about stress, sometimes it can take you by surprise. So I have decided to share with you guys some tips that I have found useful on how to handle stress.

Get to know yourself– Find out what brings you energy and what steals your energy.

Make time for YOU– Some times we get caught up in meeting new people, having new experiences, and even cramming for a midterm or paper that we forget how important it is to slow down.

Sleep Sleep Sleep– I don’t think I can stress this enough. Sleep is vital for a physical and mental reasons. When we sleep our body has time to heal and repair and the lack of sleep has been linked to many issues from heart disease to stroke. Mentally sleep is associated with improved memory, creativity, and grades to name a few.

Know your resources– This is by far one of the most important tips I can give on handling stress. It is important to know what extra help you have at your disposal when the pressure of things gets to be overbearing.

The Center for Counseling and Consultation at Shady Grove campus is an amazing service that is free of charge for all USG students, faculty, and staff. If you have never seen them they are located in Building III, Room 1134 in the Priddy Library. Check them out at http://www.shadygrove.umd.edu/campus-services/ccc.

Let me know some of the ways you handle your stress!

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Participation Grades: Yay or Nay?


We have all experienced it: the silent classroom. The professor directs a question to the entire class, and everyone is sitting in silence hoping that the professor will not resort to the cold-calling method in order to get an answer.

Recently, I read a post that an educator had shared on LinkedIn where she discussed the challenges professors face when they want high student engagement in the classroom but are unsure of the most objective way to measure each student’s level of engagement. One way courses are designed to determine whether students are engaging with the material is through participation points. Many of the classes I am currently taking have participation scores built into the grading scale, with different professors having different ways of measuring it.

On one extreme, in my Business Law class, the professor will cold-call on students every class and have them explain the assigned case reading thoroughly. As a result, I have observed many students coming to class anxious wondering as to whether they will be called on. However, at the same time, it is also important to note that as a result, students complete the assigned case readings prior to every class, allowing us to have better discussions about the content.

On the other extreme, in my International Economics and Economics of Development classes, my professor does not require attendance nor does she factor participation into the overall grade. As a result, I have observed that sometimes there is not as much of an incentive to attend class when students can simply review the material on their own. However, the benefit is that students, as opposed to being anxious about being called on, are able to simply soak in the information and learn at their own pace.

Proponents on both sides have valid arguments. In an article I recently read titled “Participation Penalizes Quiet Learners” Emily J. Klein and Meg Riordan write that “the qualities measured in class participation—engagement and communication of ideas—matter in the real world.” However, as the article also points out, the “spontaneous nature of some discussions may be difficult for introverted learners who need time to process ideas before sharing them with a group.” In a classroom setting, where there are students from all backgrounds with many different personality types, is there one way that will allow for high student engagement while also preventing the potential hindrance of learning?

What are your thoughts as a student?

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Be a Part of the Cancer Awareness Months

We all have lost someone to cancer, or we at least know people who has. Cancer has become a common illness in our society. As a Public Health professional, it breaks my heart to see so many people die from it even when our country is well-equipped with preventative measures. Sadly, numbers are gradually increasing, and the most important thing we can do right now is to raise awareness. Raising awareness is great for many reasons: it gives hope to patients and loved ones, it provides financial support to research and treatments, it informs the general public that this is an important cause, etc.


Almost every month of the year is a cancer awareness month. Among them, October is especially meaningful to me because I almost lost my mother and grandmother to Breast Cancer. When my grandmother was going through it, I didn’t know enough to realize how serious cancer was. I was just glad that she was no longer ill. However, when my mother went through it, I was old enough to comprehend the gravity of the situation. Seeing my mom go through chemotherapy and operations was the hardest thing I have faced in my life. My mom is my rock, and she is the toughest person I know. To see her so weak and defeated turned my whole world upside down. Despite it all, I cannot be happier that she is alive and healthy today. This is why my mom and I are especially motivated to give back to those who need. We participate in fundraising events and anything that helps raise awareness. My mom and I actually did a 5K recently. It is such a rewarding experience. Many survivors and loved ones come together to share their stories, encourage each other, and most of all, spread love and hope to those who are still struggling. It definitely makes you feel like you’re a part of something great.


My mom and I at               St. Jude’s 5K

Throughout my undergraduate and graduate career, I have been involved in many events on campus that has raised awareness for various types of cancer. I’ve participated in events hosted by Terp Thon, Students Engaged in Public Health (SEIPH), and Student Leadership Association (SLA). It was so empowering to see my fellow students taking a stand and raising awareness for those who couldn’t, for those who needs it, and for those we love.

Are you interested in raising awareness and being part of a greater picture too? There are many local organizations. If you want something a bit closer to campus, Students Engaged in Public Health (SEIPH) is doing a Breast Cancer Awareness week in the last week of October right here on USG campus. Keep an eye out for flyers and tables!😉

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disciplineSome weeks, I am awesome. I get everything done that I planned to. I avoid distractions like Facebook and those terrible click-bait articles. Other weeks I don’t do so well. It’s easy to put off work and spend time on mind-numbing activities. I have so many things on my plate that it can be daunting to just think about where to start. So, what’s the difference between my good weeks and my not-so-good weeks? Why is it that some of my friends are far better at staying on task? It’s the elusive and mysterious quality we refer to as self-discipline. So how do we get better at it? Here are a few practices you can start to help you develop your own discipline.

Learn to set better goals.

First and foremost, if you want to have discipline, you have to have a goal. Maybe your goal is to quit smoking or maybe it’s to call your grandmother more frequently. Whatever your goal is it must have a few qualities. One way of evaluating whether or not your goal is a good one is to use the SMART method.

  1. Is your goal Specific? Don’t settle for “Do better in my next class”. Instead, try “Dedicate 1 hour every day to my classwork and 2 hours every day to studying.”
  2. Is your goal MeasurableI like to think of this as being part of making it specific, but it is important that you will be able to determine if you were successful. In terms of school work, this is easy because the performance is graded. But it might be more difficult if your goal is to improve that relationship with grandma.
  3. Is your goal AchievableIf your goal is to run a marathon and you currently run less than twice a year, then consider an intermediate goal of running two or three times per week for a month. Choose goals that are within your grasp. It’s okay to have bigger goals but try making them more achievable.
  4. Is your goal Relevant or RewardingIs it relevant to your current (or desired) path in life? It might be fun to pursue a goal to learn Origami or gain 500 new Twitter followers, but if you’re just doing those things for bragging rights, you can probably find a better use for your time. Why am I doing this goal?
  5. Is your goal Time-basedThis one is often overlooked, but if you don’t set a time period in which to complete the goal, your motivation may slip because you could always work on it tomorrow.

This exercise isn’t specific to every goal or effort but doing this will help you get in the practice of critically examining and carefully defining your goals. Better goals will lead to better results and make maintaining your commitment easier.

Remind yourself (constantly).

We know that we are incredibly busy (though that may all just be our perception). We have so many distractions! And hundreds of things to keep track of! So, it’s easy to forget our goals. So what’s the key to overcoming this hurdle and having more discipline? Reminders. Constant reminders. There are countless ways to do this whether you’re old-school and prefer yellow stickies on the bathroom mirror, or you’re like me and prefer a random reminder multiple times throughout the day from an app on my phone (Android or iOS).

Measure and review your progress.

It’s important to review your progress and see if you need to double up on your efforts or be proud of the gains you’ve achieved. So take a few minutes and write down how you did. If you’re using an app to remind you it may include a feature to record when you’ve accomplished a particular task. Otherwise, try keeping a simple log by the side of your bed. You don’t need to write a full on journal article (though that may help), but even just a couple of check marks or a simple sentence about how you did on your goal each day will do the job.

Reward (or punish) yourself.

Now that you’ve got a measure of your progress, you can reward or punish yourself. There may be some cautionary notes to be made about punishment but I feel comfortable denying myself social time if I haven’t put in my hours of work on my goals for the week. I’m not suggesting that you need to lock yourself in your room or sit in a corner for twenty minutes, but not going out and partying after a week of poor performance is probably a wise choice. As for rewards, make sure they’re healthy. Treat yourself to a massage, or a $30 spending spree. Try to skip the ice-cream (even if it is vegan and low-fat). Here are a few more examples of positive rewards.

Ask friends or family to help.

Ask a friend to help you out. This might mean that they will work on the same goal and you can be accountable to each other. Or it could simply be that they ask you periodically how you’re doing. A friend’s positive support for making progress can be a great reward. On the other hand, having your mom tell you that she is sad that you didn’t do better in school this semester could also be motivation. (Note to self: write an article about picking good friends for self-improvement.)

Learn to forgive yourself.

You’re still here? Reading this 1000+ word article? Great. Then I can feel good about sharing this last one with you. It is the MOST IMPORTANT key to improving your self-discipline. You need to be able to forgive yourself. So, you had a bad day? You left your healthy lunch at home and decided to eat fast-food for lunch? So. What.

So, what?

It really doesn’t matter. It won’t affect how well you do tomorrow. It’s not going to prevent you from ever doing anything great ever again. So don’t dwell on it. Instead, do these four things, and move on.

  1. Acknowledge the mistake and the outcome. “I did x instead of y. As a result, I will not be able to achieve my goal today”
  2. Accept that we are all failable and that failure is the road to success. (Consider reading some smart quotes about failure from successful people.)
  3. Commit to doing better tomorrow. Tell yourself, out loud, in front of a mirror, “I will do better tomorrow.”
  4. Do better.
image credit: Justin Mazza, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 urlhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/mazzastick/8471029060
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#Winning at Research Papers

We all dread seeing those two words on a class syllabus: Research Paper. For me, the most overwhelming part of writing papers is getting started…which means I avoid starting, which means I end up scrambling to finish the thing a few days before it’s due. I’ve slowly come to realize that this is a terrible way to go about writing a research paper…It’s really important to start early!

A great first step to get started writing a research paper is to find and order the resources you’re going to use. One amazing perk of going to USG is that you have access to all books in the University of Maryland library system, which is really extensive. Best of all is that you can have those books sent to USG’s Priddy Library for you to pick up instead of having to drive to another campus to check out books.


Typically, the books only take two or three days to come, which is perfect if you’re on tight schedule (aka you procrastinated). And if there’s a book or article you need that isn’t available in the UMD system, Priddy Library has instructions on their website for how to order something through Interlibrary Loan.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for how to order books from the Maryland universities library system (learned through my own trial and error):

  1. Go to the homepage of USG’s Priddy Library.
  2. On the giant search bar at the top of the screen, select the “WorldCat” tab. Unfortunately, this doesn’t show you a picture of every cat in the world, but it will send you to the University of Maryland library system page once you enter a search term and press enter.lib-capture1
  3. Scan through the options that come up to find the different materials available to you. (You may have to search the books on other sites to find summaries and reviews.)
  4. If you find a book or document you’d like to order, click the “Place Hold” button, which will take you to a page where you can select what school you attend.library-capture2
  5. After you log in with your school’s account, you will get a screen where you are asked to select a pick up location. Select “Shady Grove Library” and your book will be shipped directly to Priddy Library for you to pick up.library-capture3
  6. Once you get an email letting you know your book has arrived, go to the resource desk at the front of Priddy Library and tell them you have a book to pick up. You’ll need your USG ID. When you’re finished with your books, you can return them to Priddy Library, who will send them back.

If you ever need help finding sources for a paper, overcoming research shock, or navigating ordering books, Priddy Library has an incredibly helpful library staff. You can even talk to them via online chat or text message.

Best of luck researching!

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