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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My Experience at the Fourth Annual Digital Transformation Summit

Source: Maryland Tech Council

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending the Fourth Annual Digital Transformation Summit. My mentor invited me to attend this conference for free, and it was an opportunity I knew I couldn’t refuse. The conference was held in The Hotel at Arundel Preserve in Hanover, MD. It went on from 8am until 6pm, but I did have to leave earlier as I had class and a midterm exam. Nevertheless, I was still able to do a lot of networking and attend a few panels. It was super refreshing to hear about the technological advancements happening here in Maryland, especially because I want to stay in Maryland after graduation.

Source: Maryland Tech Council

The summit was hosted by the Maryland Tech Council (MTC), a technology trade association that wants to build strong technology and life science industries by supporting its members. It’s actually the largest technology trade association in the state of Maryland. MTC isn’t solely focused on technology, though. It’s also able to serve the biotech community with assets like the Maryland Health Care Product Development Corporation (MHCPDC), which aims to stimulate growth of the biomedical industry in Maryland. 

The panels I attended included industry experts that went into great depth talking about important new technologies. One of those panels was about the good and bad of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. It was moderated by Todd Marks, the founder and CEO of Mindgrub Technologies. Mindgrub is a company that creates custom mobile, web, and digital marketing solutions. Something I found really interesting and impressive was that Mindgrub designed and developed USG’s website, which I’ve always loved. There was also an exhibit hall, which I got to visit a few times. One exhibit I liked in particular had a demo of a robotic stuffed teddy bear that could give hugs. 

Source: Maryland Tech Council

A definite highlight for me was hearing the Opening Remarks from Maryland’s new Secretary of Commerce, Kevin Anderson. He was named by our Governor, Wes Moore, in January of this year. I also got to talk to him for a bit, which was a cool experience.

Overall, I had a great time and I would highly recommend that anyone who’s interested look into the MTC and their future events! 

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Past Career Interest Turned Hobby

As a child, I always had a passion for fashion design. I spent countless hours sketching outfits and dreaming up new collections; but considering I was in elementary school, likely none of the sketches were that good. However, as I grew older and started to learn more about other subjects in school, I discovered a love for math and problem solving. I found myself excelling in these areas and realized that engineering could be a great career path for me!

Despite my newfound interest and now career path, my love for fashion never truly died out. It remained a constant in my life, always there in the back of my mind. So, last summer, I decided to pick up a new hobby – upcycling!

The process of upcycling began with me thrifting clothes from second-hand stores. I would search through racks and bins of clothes, looking for items that had potential. It was fun because I never knew what I would find! 

Once I had a few items, I would start the process of reworking them to become cute and unique pieces. This involved cutting, sewing, and adding new elements to the garments. It was a challenging process, but also incredibly rewarding. I loved being able to take something old and turn it into something exciting. This also allowed me to grow my fashion sense and find my true sense of style. 

Through upcycling, I was able to explore my creative side in a way that was different from my engineering internships and classes. It provided a much needed outlet for me to express myself and explore a world with less rules and structure than engineering. I also found that upcycling had a positive impact on the environment. Previously, I used to unknowingly purchase clothes from companies that promote fast fashion. Upon learning this, I tried my best to steer away from giving my money to them. By reusing old clothes, I was able to reduce my carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future. It’s a small act, but it feels good to know that I am doing my part to help the planet.

Overall, my experience with upcycling has been incredibly fulfilling. It allows me to combine my love for fashion with my passion for problem solving. It also allows me to pursue multiple interests and hobbies which has created a more well rounded life for myself!

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Intercultural Festival at USG

On March 9th, the Universities at Shady Grove held their annual Intercultural Festival for students, staff, faculty, and their families. This event is one of USG’s most popular ones as we got to celebrate and learn about different cultures.

A flyer advertising for the Intercultural Festival at USG (Source @uatshadygrove on Twitter)

I have been to international nights back when I was in elementary school, but that was years ago, so this intercultural festival was a refresher from past years. Even though this was my first time attending this event, I decided to contribute towards showcasing my culture by participating in the fashion show and submitting a recipe for the culture cookbook. 

Ten people stand on stage in their cultural attire. (Source: Universities at Shady Grove on Flickr)

My mother and her family are from The Gambia, a small country in West Africa that is surrounded by Senegal (which is where some of my family is also from). So for the fashion show, I wore a traditional outfit called a bazin which is worn in most, if not all West African countries. Bazins are typically worn during wedding celebrations, parties, the Eid holidays, and religious services. I wasn’t really nervous about participating in the fashion show up until the day of the festival, but I didn’t let my anxiousness get to me as I walked across the stage. I feel proud to represent my culture and doing so at USG allows me to celebrate that.

After the fashion show, we played a LoanWord Game. Basically, this game is about figuring out what language words originate from. For example, did you know that “bank” is a French word? Well, if you didn’t, you learned something new! Bank in French is banque, so the pronunciation is the same but with a different spelling. 

After the LoanWord Game, some of the attendees played Loteria, which is similar to Bingo. Loteria uses images instead of numbers and the Spanish word is accompanied by a said image. This game was fun as I got to learn Spanish words. 

We went into a 10-minute break where I got some desserts, talked with other students, and looked around the table displays. When the break was over, we had a bachata tutorial from the Latin Dance Club. A lot of students and staff participated in this dance as we got to learn different dance moves. After practicing for about several minutes, we danced to what we learned to music. 

Belly dancer Crystal Simli (Source: Universities at Shady Grove on Flickr)

Afterward, there was a talent show where a student sang a ballad from The Philippines. There were a few other dance performances as well that went on for the rest of the night. Crystal Simli wowed the audience with belly dancing. Then, the UMBC K-Pop Dance Club performed a few dance covers of some Korean pop songs. Lastly, we closed off the night with Lion Dance from a local dance group. All of these talents were great to have witnessed from different cultures. 

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County K-pop Dance group (Source: Universities at Shady Grove on Flickr)

Since this was my first intercultural festival as a USG student, I really enjoyed my experience at this event. I hope to attend next year’s festivities and more of these events in the future.

Lion Dance to close out the show (Source: Universities at Shady Grove on Flickr)
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Spring Break is almost here!

Spring break is so close! Friday is our last school day before it starts, and I’ve been daydreaming about how i want to spend it. It’s important to relax before the semester picks up. Here is a list of things to consider doing this spring break to help you relax:

Visiting one of the East Coast Beaches

Source: TripAdvisor, Jessica H.

Maryland has a couple of great beaches to see. Ocean City and North Beach are the ones I can personally vouch for. Ocean City is an excellent choice if you love the feel of a lively beach and boardwalk. But if you’re like me and want more of a calm atmosphere, North Beach is the place to be. 

Reading a new book

With so much going on during the semester, finding time to sit down and enjoy a nice book can be tricky. Having a whole week to myself, I am excited to finally read the book my friend recommended to me! The love hypothesis is romance novel and a New York Times bestseller.

Get Crafty

Source: Joann.com

Over winter, I found myself in a Joann Fabric store looking for a zipper for my damaged coat. While cruising through the aisles, I stumbled across the pattern section. Here, they have countless patterns for you to make your own clothing. They even have patterns from Vogue you can buy. So, I ended up getting one and a whole bunch of fabric. Hopefully, by this time next week, I’ll be sitting around in an outfit I made.


Source: iStock.com

I haven’t ridden my bike in years, but this spring seems like the perfect time for that to change! All the trees are blossoming, and the birds are coming back. There is no better way to experience this renewed nature than to go on a bike ride. Beach drive, a road near Bethesda, is a great spot to try, as it is closed on weekends for bicyclists and walkers.

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What Your Semester Is Like Based On Your Zodiac Sign

Source: eartha.life

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

Capricorns! You’ve planned very well this semester, haven’t you? You put a lot of work and effort into studying and trying to keep your grades up. You continue to look ahead into the future and approach obstacles with an open mind. You value the hard work you have put into your studies so far, and are on track to having a well-balanced semester. 

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)

Linked to owls, Aquarius people are often born of wisdom and are highly independent in what they do. Although you have had some difficulties this semester, you know how to creatively get out of them. Did you find some new projects to work on? You definitely had some changes this semester that pulled you in a different direction than the one you would normally go to! 

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

You have been feeling a little frustrated lately, haven’t you? Maybe things are not going as well this semester as you’d have hoped. Don’t worry! Despite being quite emotional, you have a dual nature that allows you to overcome a problem You tend to get back on your feet quickly, which is something that the other signs definitely envy you for! 

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

You made some changes this semester. Your determination and strength allowed you to take leadership roles and influence the course of your life and of those around you. Have you tried something new lately? You definitely are passionate and energetic this semester, which allowed you to complete all of your homework and assignments on time, right? Right

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

Woah, with your stubborn nature and unwillingness to back down, this semester has been quite hectic for you, hasn’t it? How well are you balancing both your love life and your class work? Either you are way ahead of your assignments or you have been procrastinating lately. But we know that at the end of the day you will make sure that everything is going as planned and in your control. 

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

You have made some new friends this semester despite being a little timid. That’s good! You have communicated well with those around you, and might have also done a presentation or two that ended up being quite successful. Keep up the great work! 

(June 21 – July 22)

My fellow crabs! Our current semester is quite different from last semester because our environment and situations changed. We took a lot of risks that ended up being emotionally draining, but that’s the nature of our sign. We are definitely bound to be steadfast in achieving our goals, which is why we are trying to do everything right this semester.

(July 23 – August 22)

Leos! You are proud of what you’ve accomplished so far this semester, but don’t let that get to your head. You might be outgoing, rowdy and determined, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t require some help from your peers and professors from time to time. Yes, those notes you’ve been writing during class will definitely help you get good grades! 

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)

As perfectionists, you like to be organized and balanced in life. This semester, you kept track of all your work despite being a little unserious! We know that you love learning new things. 

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

You enjoy listening to music while you do your work. What has been the latest in your playlist? Surely you’re eager for spring break as a travel enthusiast. But make sure you complete your assignments first! 

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

Are you in your head most of the time? Stop daydreaming in class! Just kidding—but make sure you pay attention to your professor and take down good notes. You’ll need them later.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

Your never-ending curiosity to learn and gain knowledge is a great thing about you! You’re great at studying and love to work together in groups. Continue to do this and the semester will turn out just fine. 

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Food Junkie Coming Your Way!

I love food, and lately one of my favorite things about trying new foods is learning the culture and history behind them! Today I wanted to share a couple of my favorite foods recently, and the cultures inspiring them!


Onigiri or rice ball is a Japanese food made from white rice formed into triangular shapes wrapped in nori (seaweed). It is traditionally filled with various types of fish, however, after becoming popular around the world, the most common ones are filled with spicy chicken, shrimp tempura, brisket, and spam. Before using chopsticks for sushi, rice was often rolled into balls. Deemed as the first traveling food, Onigiri is typically served for a snack or lunch with my next favorite boba! 


Boba, Bubble Tea, or Milk Tea is a tea-based drink originated in Taiwan in the early 1980s. I find this beverage’s culture to be most interesting, because most people believe boba originated in Korea. However, Taiwanese immigrants brought it to the United States in the 1990s, and it has now become very popular across the world largely in East Asia. My personal favorite is Matcha, which is the drink on the right, and the drink on the left is brown sugar flavored. If you’ve never tried it, there are a plethora of shops, specifically around USG, that sell boba! 



Of course, I had to throw in some Perúvian dishes simply because I am half Perúvian! Perúvian food will always be one of my favorites, and there is so much to choose from! Lomo Saltado is a popular traditional Perúvian dish that actually has a history of Chinese origin. Lomo can be described as a stir fry or dry stew, and typically combines strips of steak with onions, tomatoes, and french fries. It is also served with white rice and usually sits in a soy sauce based juice (Chinese fusion). I have eaten this dish a lot growing up, and it is the perfect dinner for the whole family! 

The picture to the right is a famous restaurant in D.C. that serves a traditional category of food called Chifa. This combines Japanese, Chinese, and Perúvian dishes. Chifa started to inspire a lot of dishes because of Chinese immigrants residing in Perú during the 19th and 20th century. 



Salchipapa is a South American fast food dish commonly known as street food. Salchipapa translates to sausages and fries. It typically consists of pieces of sausages or hotdogs served with french fries. This dish is from the streets of Lima, Perú, but has expanded because of popularity among Latin America, such as Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina, and Ecuador. I ate this dish a lot growing up, as well because it’s so simple, and I was a very picky eater as a child!


Now that I’ve grown up, I am happy to try anything new! What are your favorite dishes? Do they have an interesting story behind them? See you guys next time!

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My Favorites of the 2023 Oscar Nominated Movies

Ever since the 2023 Oscar nominees were released this January, I decided to watch as many of the nominated films as I could before the awards ceremony this Sunday. I managed to watch a lot, and I also loved a lot of the films. So, I’d like to talk about five of my favorites (in no particular order) without giving too much away. I hope you’ll check a few of these out if you haven’t already.

Before that, I do have some honorable mentions: Babylon, A House Made of Splinters, Navalny, The Batman, and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On


Source: Vulture

Aftersun was such a simple but heartbreaking movie, which is exactly the type of movie I love. It’s about a father-daughter vacation in Turkey, and their relationship is portrayed beautifully by Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio. It’s just an all-around great debut film by director/writer Charlotte Wells. [Currently available for rent on Prime Video, etc.]

Everything Everywhere All at Once (EEAAO)

Source: Cineluxe

I saw EEAAO last May after hearing so much praise for it, and I’m so glad I believed the hype. I would try to give a synopsis of the film, but I don’t know if I could give one that would do the film justice. It’s such a creative film with a lot of heart. From the dialogue, to the visuals, to the characters and plot, the directing duo known as the Daniels did a great job. I genuinely never knew what would happen next when watching this movie. [Currently streaming on Showtime, etc.]

The Fabelmans

Source: The New Yorker

I went into this movie knowing nothing, except that it was a semi-autobiographical film about director Steven Spielberg. I really loved this movie and I related to the characters and their personal conflicts. I’m a sucker for a coming-of-age story, so I may be a bit biased. [Currently available for rent on Prime Video, etc.]


Source: Variety

I actually knew absolutely nothing about this movie, and I didn’t know how much I’d like it after I found out that it had a 3 hour runtime. However, the 3 hours went by so fast due to the gripping plot and amazing action sequences. The title, which stands for “Rise, Roar, Revolt”, really tells you all you need to know before watching. [Currently streaming on Netflix]

Top Gun: Maverick

This movie was also filled with insane action sequences. Throughout the final act, I was definitely on the edge of my seat. It was thoroughly entertaining when I saw it in theaters this summer. Even if you haven’t watched the original Top Gun, I think you’ll still like the movie. I actually liked it a lot more than the original! [Both movies are currently streaming on Paramount+]

Source: The New Yorker

All I have to do now is (finally) watch Avatar: The Way of the Water and Puss In Boots: The Last Wish and I’ll be ready for Sunday.

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A Lesson From The Pandemic

A struggle I have recently been facing again is finding a medium between being overly worked and being bored. This brought me back to prior to the pandemic; when I felt that the more I had on my plate, the better I performed. I thrived under the pressure and believed that being constantly busy was a sign of success. However, as the world shut down and we were forced to slow down, I realized that constantly being on the go wasn’t sustainable.

I used to fill my schedule with as many activities and commitments as possible. I would work full time, attend highschool while also attending college, and also make sure my social calendar was always full. I prided myself on being able to juggle everything and still succeed. However, when Covid hit, everything came to an end. Suddenly, I found myself with a lot more free time on my hands- I had no idea what to do!

At first, I enjoyed the break; I was able to catch up on sleep, spend more time with my family, and binge watch tv. But as time went on, I started to feel restless. I missed the feeling of being busy and productive. I didn’t want to go back to being overstretched and overwhelmed, but I also didn’t want to feel bored. It took some time, but eventually, I found a balance.

I started to prioritize my time differently. Instead of taking on everything that came my way, I was more selective about the commitments I made. I made sure to schedule downtime and self-care into my day, even if it meant saying no to something else. I also learned to appreciate the slower pace of life and the moments of stillness that I had previously avoided.

The pandemic forced us all to slow down and reprioritize. While for me it wasn’t an easy adjustment, it was a necessary one. So, amidst unprecedented circumstances, this realization is one that I am very grateful for. By finding a balance between being overly busy and bored, we can all create a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle!

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Happy Women’s History Month

Happy Women’s History Month! Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society and has been observed annually in the month of March in the United States since 1987. Women’s History Month 2023 takes place from Wednesday, March 1 – Friday, March 31, 2023. Fun fact, today is actually International Women’s Day! I’d like to dedicate this blog to the most impactful women in my life. I’d like to shout out and express my gratitude to my hard working mother, my loving sisters, and most importantly, my endearing grandmother– this one’s especially for you. 



Here are a few ways you can express your gratitude towards the women closest to you:

  1. Buy them flowers

As cliche as it may seem to some individuals, flowers will always make someone feel special. 

  1. Write them a personalized letter

A personalized letter is something that will never wither, it will be kept safe and will be cherished. Even a simple, “I appreciate you,” goes a long way. 

  1. Do an act of service

Something I’ve grown a habit of doing is warming up my moms car before she leaves to go somewhere, especially during these past cold months. It seems like a small gesture, but she is always very appreciative of it. 

  1. Give them a hug 

I am a huge hugger and when I feel like someone needs a hug, I ask to give them one. Hugs cause a decrease in the release of cortisol, a stress hormone, and other research indicates that hugs decrease your blood pressure and heart rate in stressful situations. Additional research has found that giving and receiving hugs can actually strengthen your immune system. 

  1. Tell them you love them 

Hearing ‘I love you’ is a big reinforcement that everyone needs to hear. Be sure to do this more often, the women around you need to hear it. 

I challenge you to hug at least 3 women in your life today. It could be your mom, aunt, sister, best friend, grandma, partner, anyone! I promise it’ll make their day 10x brighter.

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Winter To-Do List: Final Snow Day Parties

For those of us who like throwing ourselves down mountains, skiing through trees, or snowboarding over hills, this winter has been hard. Not only was it warm and wet, but it also was crowded on the mountains. Seldom was a day found this winter with the perfect snow-making conditions, let alone the perfect winter sports conditions. It has been a hard winter for us, but even a hard winter can end well.

Many of my favorite resorts have already closed their winter hills for spring, especially with the 60-degree weather from the last few days, yet the few still open plan to throw their final-day parties; something I will never miss out on.

Here are some of the parties not to miss during winter’s final days:

1.) Bear Creek Mountain Resort

Photo From Bear Creek: https://www.bcmountainresort.com/events/events-festivals/cardboard-box-race/

Bear Creek always throws the best of parties, filled with so many activities that they never can all fit into one day. For the final days of winter, Bear Creek is celebrating two separate days this year.

  • March 12 – Carboard Box Races
  • March 19 – Pond Skim

On March 12, Bear Creek’s annual Cardboard box race will return to the mountain’s tubing hill once again. Starting check-in at 9am, the cardboard box race will begin with the sled inspection, to make sure that all sleds are made of only cardboard, duct tape, and zip ties. At 11am, the race begins, and whether you are participating or watching, anyone will enjoy the exhilaration of the races and who makes it down first. At the very end of the race, winners will be picked for the most creative sled and the fastest.

If you are looking for a race with a bit more stakes in play, the Pond Skim might be more up your alley. A Pond Skim is a competition known well in the skiing and snowboarding world as the end of all seasons. During a Pond Skim, contestants throw themselves down the mountainside, toward a long lake at the base. Whoever makes it to the end of the lake, makes the biggest splash, or has the best costume usually wins a prize. While Bear Creek hasn’t fully detailed their Pond Skim for this year, we can bet, from prior experience, that Bear Creek with throw the liveliest Pond Skim this side of the mountains.

You can find more details here!

2.) Seven Spring Mountain Resort

Photo by Seven Spring Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKWvpxtv9pk
  • March 25 – Pond Skim

On March 25th, Seven Spring Mountain Resort is hosting its own Pond Skim. 100 brave skiers and snowboarders will ride toward the water’s edge in hopes of being the best; the best skimmer, the best costume, or the best splash. If getting wet and cold isn’t your favorite thing to do on a Saturday, you can watch with a cold beer from one of the most picturesque cafeterias and bars on the Pennsylvania mountainside, the Foggy Goggle.

Seven Springs is also home to an amazing bowling alley, a full arcade, an axe throwing room, and so much more, so once the pond skim ends, stay around for a little while to explore one of the most well-known ski resorts in PA.

You can find more detail here!

3.) Bryce Resort

Photo by Bryce Resort: https://bryceresort.com/events-and-activities/events/winterfest
  • March 11 – Pancake and Waffle Breakfast
  • March 11 – Polar Bear Plunge
  • March 11 – Ski/Snowboard Race
  • March 11 – Costume Parade
  • March 11 – Pond Skim

Saving the best for last, Bryce Resort is never one to disappoint. With a whole day’s worth of activities, there is plenty to keep you busy on March 11th. Starting with a pancake and waffle breakfast, you can sit back and relax as you watch the plunge take place just outside. After breakfast, the race starts, followed by a parade of skimmers in their best attire. Finally, the fated pond skim begins, and the day is ended with a sunset through the mountaintops.

You can find more details here!

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