Welcome

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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Moving Forward

I cannot believe how fast this semester has flown by. Only one month left. But what a great month to end on, it being the most wonderful time of the year! I have had many great experiences this semester and look forward to even more next semester. So, for my last blog post, I’d like to reflect on these experiences and set new goals for the spring.

Starting the Translational Life Science Technology(TLST) major was intimidating. The TLST program is based on Applied Biotechnology. Although I got my Associate in Biological Science, there have definitely been things I missed by not getting an Associate in Biotechnology. Thankfully, my professors have been fantastic in teaching the lectures. Still, the one major part I have seen myself struggle with is the labs. My experience in Biological Science labs did not fully prepare me for the labs in this major. But this has actually been positive. My shortcomings have brought me closer to my classmates as they shared their knowledge with me. Our continuous communication over academics has opened the way to more personal topics. And now the entire class now feels like a small family. Just the other day, after a class field trip to Fredrick, we all went to see Sailing Through the Winter Solstice. Here, there were beautifully lit boats all along the canal. And fun fact, Kanye apparently was there that day too (no I did not see him).

Beyond just being a student at USG, I have had the wonderful opportunity of also being a Student Ambassador. I may have been paid for the job, but it honestly felt like being part of a club. Our meetings have included icebreaker games and problem-solving as teams, where we have all gotten to bond. It has been a fantastic opportunity to meet many incredible people outside my major. And although stressful at times having to host significant events on campus, I have felt safe knowing I can rely on my fellow Ambassadors. Especially for giving campus tours, the Senior Ambassadors have gone above and beyond to help us newbies feel comfortable. Going out of my comfort zone and joining the program has made me want to try even more opportunities on campus.

USG Ambassadors at Open House

I plan to join other clubs and check out the entrepreneurship lab in the spring. And if I’m lucky, I may be accepted into the USGLeads Emerging Leadership Program. Whatever the future holds, I feel confident I’ll be able to make the most of it!

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Reflecting on My Journey at USG

For my last blog post this semester, I thought it’d be a good idea to talk about the past year I’ve spent at USG. Even though USG has been around even before I was born, I hadn’t heard about it until I was getting ready to leave high school. This was back in 2019, and I was introduced to it through a program I was in at school: the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES) program. I also got to visit the campus for a few days during an ACES summer event the summer before my senior year. At the time, I had my sights set on other colleges, so I really wasn’t considering the MC/USG pathway.  

Source: Maryland Matters

However, things don’t usually go as planned, and I started the journey towards my associate degree at MC in the Fall of 2020. I’d always heard it was never too early to start your transfer plan. That’s when I discovered that there was a new undergraduate program added at USG: a degree in Computer Science with a Cybersecurity track, offered by UMBC. It just seemed like it was meant to be, and I decided that I wanted to transfer there.

I graduated from MC in the Fall of 2021, and I finally got to start attending classes here this January.  It was nerve-wracking to start classes at a new school, especially in the Spring as that was a first for me. It was also a little daunting to be on a campus that offers as many programs as USG. But the small class sizes and kind professors quickly reminded me of why I chose to go here. And on top of that, the facilities and buildings here are full of great resources. Specifically, the new BSE building, which is where I spend most of my time on campus. 

Source: Greenroofs.com

It’s nice to look back at the past and see how everything worked out as I wanted to, if not even better. I’ve had so many amazing opportunities because I transferred here, and I can’t wait to see what USG has to offer in the next year. It’s so crazy to think that by this time next year, I’ll be finishing my last semester here. 

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Get Involved!

Somehow, this semester is almost over! In a matter of weeks it will be 2023, and that means the start of the spring semester. If there is anything I could advise anyone of any year to do, it would be to get as involved in college as possible. Beginning the spring semester, we all have the chance to join any and every extracurricular available. So, I wanted to use this opportunity to express how valuable getting involved in clubs and jobs in school has been for me!

For my first year and a half of my undergraduate studies, when I was only at University of Maryland, I joined Engineers Without Borders, Alpha Omega Epsilon, Women in Engineering, and Intern for a Day. My involvement with Engineers Without Borders actually allowed me to have my first internship after freshman year, which taught me more about the research and engineering process than a typical academic environment could. This experience taught me a lot about myself and my preferences for my future career.

Alpha Omega Epsilon is a half social and half professional sorority which brought me many close friends with like minded goals to mine. Furthermore, the professional aspect of this organization provided me countless opportunities, including connections and information which lead me to my internship for this upcoming summer- which I am beyond excited for! 

Women in Engineering gave me the chance to mentor a student, and Intern for a Day gave me the chance to connect with an accomplished individual who became my mentor. Both of these experiences gave me insight in so many ways- they taught me so much!

Since coming to Universities at Shady Grove, I additionally got involved in Control AI, OnCampus Advertising, and of course USG Blogging! Control AI is a new club where Biocomputational Engineering students started to explore more machine learning methods. Oncampus Advertising allows me to be an ambassador for various companies which pushed me past my comfort zone and taught me a lot about myself and communication in general. Finally, being a blogger allowed me to develop my communication skills, as well, and gave me an outlet for creativity. 

All of these experiences contributed greatly to who I am today. Being in touch with campus and student life builds countless opportunities and connections which are the fundamentals for growth. Personally, I learned and thus grew so much these past 2 years, and from my experiences which is why I encourage everyone else to get as involved as possible!

source
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Take a Trip to the Nation’s Capital!

Not sure what to do with your friends and family this holiday season? Take a trip to Washington DC and enjoy some FREE events happening this December! 

Something I love to do during this time of year is getting my family together and walking around DC. Areas like the National Mall and the Capitol are a must in order to visit the annual Christmas tree that is lit each year. It’s fun to walk around, laugh, and enjoy the sight of all the lights and the sounds of holiday cheer. I don’t enjoy driving in cities, so riding the Metro is always my family’s go-to option in order to avoid any extreme parking fees or tickets! 

Here are a few things you can do in DC this holiday season:

  1. The District’s Holiday Boat Parade is returning for its 30th anniversary! Watch festive boats with decorative lights on the waterfront at the Wharf in DC. This Saturday, December 3rd from 6pm-9pm there will be live music performances, ornament decorating, photos with Santa, s’mores with a fire pit, an ice skating rink, and more. 
the Holiday Boat Parade on the waterfront at the Wharf
  1. The Embassy of Canada houses a beautifully red lit Christmas tree that is perfect for picture taking!
  2. The Capitol Christmas tree. What more do I even have to say? This is a must. 
the Capitol Christmas tree
  1. The Downtown Holiday Market is lit with hundreds of Christmas lights and is surrounded by many small business booths from the metropolitan DC area, and the majority of them are minority owned businesses. Be sure to check them out and support your local small business. This began on November 18th and will close on December 23rd, but is available from 12pm-8pm daily on 8th & F Streets, NW. Enjoy yummy treats, hot chocolate, and more. 
  1. CitycenterDC has cool lights and visual art exhibitions that little ones would be sure to enjoy. As for grown ups, I’m sure they’ll enjoy the stores nearby as well for some holiday shopping.

There is so much more that you and your loved ones can enjoy to make fun holiday memories! These are just a few things I’ll be sure to do when the semester ends and I hope everyone can do so as well. Stay up to date on holiday events in DC through social media and the Washington Post Magazine. 

Happy holidays USG folks! 

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Tis the Season for New Gift Ideas

Photo From USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance

Tis the season to stress over what gifts to get everyone for the holidays. The worst feeling is feeling that you’ve already given your favorite people the best items you can find… or at least that is how I feel around this time each year. Recently, I have begun my arduous search for unique gifts for my loved ones, and I thought I would bring you along for the fun! Here are 5 unique websites to try out if you have tried everywhere else for gifts this year:


1.) Outdone.io

This website is one of the coolest I have come across in my searching. You fill out a short quiz on the person you are shopping for, and Outdone.io recommends to you four different shops that have the similar vibe of the person you filled out your quiz for! You also can pick your price range, so they won’t recommend anything out of color for your needs!

Website: https://www.outdone.io/data


2.) Goldbelly

If you are shopping for a foodie, this is the place for you! Goldbelly allows you to purchase and ship well-known gourmet foods from folks like Gordon Ramsy and Martha Stewart to your (or your loved one’s) front door. If they are a cooker, Goldbelly provides meal kits from the pros. If they would rather enjoy the fruits of the chef’s labors, the completed meals can be sent their way as well!

Website: www.goldbelly.com


3.) Made Trade

Made Trade aggregates ethical and sustainable products from multiple shops into one site, making it one of the best places to shop for those you may know that prefer the more organic parts of life. From furniture to home goods to clothes and shoes, Made Trade makes it easy to shop for those you love while also feeling good about the limited impact you might be making on the world around you.

Website: www.madetrade.com


4.) Lucy & Yak

Lucy & Yak is one of the coolest online stores I have come across in a while. While promoting ethically sourced clothing and accessories, Lucy & Yak also provides the vibrant and exciting colors that are so big today. Almost all their clothing is 100% cotton, and they partner with and donate to various foundations (like Doctors without Borders) through their sustainably focused brand.

Website: https://lucyandyak.com/


5.) Hello Subscription

Hello Subscription is a fun break from the usually shopping status quo since it is a blog of available subscription boxes rather than a store itself. Not only does it let you know the ins and outs of nearly every subscription box there is, but it also tracks any deals there might be for the boxes you are most interested in. if there is a box that you truly love, they link you straight to the site, and give you all the details you might need to get a deal on that subscription.

Website: https://hellosubscription.com/

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The Art of Projection

Today is the first day of classes. Your professor hands the class a syllabus detailing all the readings, assignments, and projects for the next several weeks. Maybe, your professor might throw in an oral presentation or two.

After weeks and late nights preparing for big exams and assignments worth a quarter of your grade, you’re ready to give your presentation. That is…until the professor and the rest of the class can’t hear what you’re saying. If you’re like me, having a quiet and soft voice can be quite challenging especially when public speaking occurs. There were (and still are) times when I got a little nervous presenting or even speaking up in class because I didn’t want to feel embarrassed about what I would say and how I would say what I wanted to share with my classmates.

Recently, my communication theory professor suggested that I should read out loud the readings she assigns to the class as a way to practice projecting my voice. Another piece of advice she gave was to read aloud the play The Good Doctor. Taking her considerations into mind, I tried to read out loud in order to make my voice louder.

Even though I was at home, raising my voice felt like a challenge as this was not something I was used to. If anyone knows me, it is that I’m quiet and often don’t speak up. Occasionally I can be a bit more talkative than usual, but that’s honestly rare these days.

I still challenged myself despite being overwhelmed and constantly overthinking. A couple days ago, I had to give a presentation for my communication theory class. I practiced the day before what I was going to do and tried to raise my voice louder than normal. Even if my family was around me, what reason should I have to worry if they would hear me projecting my voice? And for a presentation at that.

A couple of other ways I practiced raising my voice was by reading books out loud to myself. This might have been new to me, but I found this to be very helpful with my voice. Lastly, I went to a workshop held by the Macklin Center for Academic Success on public speaking. We got to learn about how to improve our skills in public speaking. During the workshop, we got about 1-2 minutes talking about a specific topic we had in mind. First, we had to write down what we wanted to say and then we each got to deliver a mini speech. Afterwards, each of us students got to critique one another on our performance.

Source: Macklin Center for Academic Succes

Believe it or not, speaking up does take some skills to learn and become better at. Maybe try different exercises to raise your voice like I did. Better yet, you can attend the workshops at MCAS and ask questions in order to gain benefits from the workshops. One day, you’ll find your voice.

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Resolutions: For the Here and Now

New year’s resolutions are overrated. They aren’t a bad idea, they just aren’t the most practical. I mean, there’s a very weird, annual pressure to overperform and be the best you can be all at one time. While this sounds good on paper it might not be the best way to start the new year. So, maybe don’t start in the new year.

New York Times

I believe in incremental daily changes. One should start off small and steady, adding on more things as the initial steps become routine. I don’t like the idea of starting at a time designated by an external voice, group, or notion coming from beyond yourself (i.e. for New Year tradition sake). Start your resolutions today, tomorrow, or December 15th at 5:50 p.m. while eating dinner, whatever feels right to you. Starting before the New Year gives you a couple of weeks to make it routine, not only that, you don’t have the New Year pressure everyone collectively faces on January 1st

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GIPHY.com

Think about it. New Year’s Resolutions don’t really seem like the most mentally healthy way to start the year. People give themselves a spectacular list of things they’d like to accomplish that is usually far beyond their daily routine with the added expectation of consistency right from the initial stages. If you did this on any normal day of the year you’d be overwhelmed and maybe even feel defeated before starting.

Dreamstime.com

For instance, I wanted to present myself professionally in school and work settings. It wasn’t a resolution or some daunting task, just a desire I’d had for some time. I’ve slowly been giving myself more time to get ready, laying out possible outfits, and showing up to places with a slightly more sophisticated look. I started this a couple of weeks ago and have already gotten used to it. By January, I probably will have built my closet with more of the aesthetic I desire and will be leaning more into this preference, organically. What will look like a New Year’s resolution to some would have been a minor detail I added weeks ago that has blossomed into a habit. 

Pinterest.com

Take the pressure off. All a resolution is is the desire to be a better version of yourself. So, be better now and grow in that path as steadily as you’d like.

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The Path to Having a Great Resume 

Thinking back on it now, the first draft of my resume was probably not the best. I cringe at the fact that I sent my unpolished, amateur resume to a bunch of colleges and internships. But over the past years I’ve had the opportunity to attend various workshops and get hands-on help from people who were able to teach me the best ways to prepare them. Now I’ll be sharing these tips with you!

Source: Giphy.com 

  1. No more than 1 page

You’d be surprised by how many people don’t realize this! The less you put on paper, the easier it is for people to pull out important information. You don’t want to overwhelm the person reading your resume nor provide details irrelevant to their interest. Even if you end up typing a lot of words, there are ways to cut them out. 

  1. Contact information 

Make sure you include your full name, email address, city/state, phone number and a Linkedin link (if you have one). Never, and I mean never include your home address (as silly as it sounds, I’m only saying this because I used to put it on my own resume).

  1. Academic Background

After bolding the section name, list your current university and any community colleges that you attended. Avoid listing high schools, since prospective recruiters are not really going to care about them! In italics, add your major & minor too, with corresponding GPAs.

  1. Professional Experience 

Where have you worked? What internships are crucial for you to include most? Remember to organize them in reverse chronological order, meaning most recent ones should be first! Add about 3 bullets per experience, utilizing strong, active verbs to describe your tasks and accomplishments. Diversify those words and include numbers to give more credibility to your work, showing the impact you have made on the organization. 

  1. Leadership Experience

Again, start with your most recent experiences first and include approximately 3 bullet points for each. Include active, engaging verbs to showcase your achievements and contributions. Don’t forget to numerate your sentences (if applicable) so that recruiters can be impressed with the amount of work you’ve done for the team. Any positions, where you are distinguished from your peers, need to be emphasized here!

  1. Skills

Although not as important as the other sections, listing your skills enables people to understand the potential value you might bring to the team. Are you good with Microsoft applications? Do you use various softwares? Speak many languages? Have certifications with credentials? Include them all! It will definitely make you stand out.

Also, don’t forget to include the city and date for each task on the right side of the page! Good luck! 

Source: Tenor

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Gaining Confidence

These past two weeks have been super busy, and boy, have I learned a lot! On two separate occasions, the phrase “practice makes perfect” rang true. My first experience began at the USG Open House, and the second was learning to network.

Seeing as I mention I’m a USG ambassador every time I write a blog, you might think I’m lying when I say the open house was my first ambassador event. But it’s true, at least in the sense that it involved non-USG workers. And I had quite a few jobs throughout the event doing things an introvert usually doesn’t, like talking to a whole bunch of people.

The first part of the event I got to help with was a tour. Thankfully the senior ambassadors handled most of the talking. Still, they did include my fellow shadower and me in personal experiences, which was a great introduction to tour giving. And with the confidence I got from being a part of the tour, I put it towards the rest of the event. I may have stuttered here or even attempted to help someone who was also working there (whoops), but at the end of the day, I was thrilled to have played a part.

Beyond my present job, I also got to prepare for future employment by working on networking. My class was fortunate enough to have two representatives from UMBC’s career center come and give a presentation. Although I cannot relay the whole presentation, I can say you should consider utilizing Handshake and UMBC’s Retrievers Connect. Handshake is a great way to communicate with employers for jobs or internships. Within just a few days of signing up, I have already had an employer reach out! And for UMBC’s Retrievers Connect, it’s a similar networking site but specifically for UMBC students and alums. These platforms highlight you are a student, so employers know you might not be able to work right away and can plan for the future. I’m hoping to get an internship for next Fall, so these sites are just what I need to start looking for one!

Til next time, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Taking Things One Letterboxd Review at a Time

Source: Letterboxd

Although the semester is almost over, this part of the semester can actually be more stressful than you’d think. And everyone deals with this stress in different ways. I personally love watching movies, and it’s always been a good way to cope with my stress. This semester, I’ve really tried to watch more movies than I typically would during the school year. I’ve decided that I shouldn’t wait until the end of the semester to enjoy my hobbies like I’ve done in the past. Doing things you like for only few months out of the whole year sounds, and is, kind of terrible. 

Letterboxd, if you don’t already know, is a social network where users share their opinions about movies. I’ve heard a lot about Letterboxd, but I always thought it would be a lot of work to make an account and if I thought that if I were to start one, I would definitely want to rate all the movies I’ve ever seen, which is probably not going to happen. But I ended up downloading the app anyways because I thought it could help me accomplish my goal.

Some of my favorite films

Setting up the profile was super easy, and the hardest part was honestly picking my top four favorite films to display on my profile. I ended up going with four of my favorites at that moment. So, the four movies I chose were Back to the Future (1985), Interstellar (2014), Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022), and IT (2017). I’ve just had a really good time watching all these movies and I think that’s enough to consider them some of my favorites. 

Source: IMDb

After I set up my profile, I got on with rating movies, which has been pretty fun so far. I’ve watched some really good movies in the last few months for the first time, like Miss Congeniality (2000), Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train (2020), Wendell & Wild (2022), The Bodyguard (1992), and most recently, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022). The next movie I really want to watch is The Woman King, which just came out this year.

This isn’t to say that everyone reading this needs to make a Letterboxd profile right away. But, if you’ve been super busy these last few months, student or not, I think it’s a good idea to try balancing what you love doing with your other responsibilities (if you don’t already).

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