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

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Gaithersburg Book Festival

As I mentioned in my last blog post, my 5th-grade class wrote a play with John Morigello, a member of Best Medicine Rep. This play was chosen to be performed by Best Medicine Rep at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, and John had invited me and members of my school community to come to see the play.

As a Howard County native and someone who now lives on the opposite end of Montgomery County compared to Gaithersburg, I had not heard of the Gaithersburg Book Festival until now. I had no idea what to expect, so I expected nothing.

So, on May 18th, in the blazing sun (welcome, summer-y weather), I wandered over to Gaithersburg with two of my team teachers. As soon as we crossed from Gaithersburg High to the festival grounds, I knew we were in for an adventure.

There were white tents, food trucks, and people everywhere. One of the best parts? The first thing I passed through was a stand from Book Crossing, which was giving away free books. It’s kind of like a “traveling books” company. I was able to bring four novels home, excited for some beach reads.

We were running late for the performance and managed to run in halfway through scene 1. It was fantastic, especially seeing a few of my students in the front tables chomping on festival food, watching their parents performed by professionals.

After our play and another class’s play was over, we wandered around. The festival was so much bigger than I could ever expect. Tents featured things such as:

  • Guest authors speaking about their novels.
  • Dozens of local authors with their books. They were so lovely to talk to. We were not expecting to buy any but alas, two of us left with a new local read.
  • Performances!
  • The Politics and Prose Bookstore
  • Kid-friendly activities. One of my favorites was a multi-lingual story-time station.
  • So much food.

I sincerely wish I took more pictures, but I’m also thankful I had the opportunity to take it all in. With phones, Reddit, and Kindles seemingly taking over the world, it felt good to see that there were so many people attending a festival fully dedicated to books. I’ll be sure to attend next year.

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Thank you, Next

People do NOT notice this, but when you are about to graduate, you tense up and feel nervous. I certainly do!
Did I forget to mention the cost of graduation? Yes, graduation costs $170, but this memorable occasion only happens once, so……yeah.

Am I happy to graduate? Um..suure. It feels like the time just vanished! I remember that I wanted to get out when I was in school, and now that I am almost out, I don’t want to leave. Dead o Dear. ‘Everyone’s gotta grow up right?’

Since this may be my last blog, I want to use this opportunity to thank:
All my classmates who struggled with me. Its been too real.
My employers who knew that as a student, I cannot be working all the time and was patient with me.
Teachers! Thanks for the support.
The cafeteria for feeding me.
The snow days that gave me breathing space. Whew, I needed that.
My credit card for all the support.

And USG for putting students first!

I will now proceed to the next chapter of my life. Thank you, Next

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Graduation is comin’!

Hiya! This is the last blog of the semester and I get to write it! I have been following all other bloggers at Universities at Shady Grove website, who are sharing their experiences of this semester and getting geared up for graduation. I must admit, I am feeling a bitter sweet now,since I know many students in my classes, with whom I have bonded with in the last two years and I believe, have acquired  lifelong friendships. As I feel happy for them, as they are graduating, I will miss their presence in class rooms. Its not just the students, I must admit even the professors. Even though I have one more semester to go I am done with most of my classes and I will be seeing some of those professors passing along the hallways, as I am done with their classes.

For students who are graduating USG is celebrating graduation gala today , you can check out the flyer below.Graduation Celebration final-front

Last week, communication department hosted the annual film festival at USG, which, showcases the films and photography. Students received special certificate in the field of acting, directing, producing, screenwriting, editing, and photography. USG will be posting the latest creative work every Friday, of the winning movies.  You will be surprised with the raw talent and creativity that my fellow class mates poured into these movies. So, if you want to see us comm majors in our element, go ahead and watch it here. Please don’t forget to subscribe and hit like button.

It has been an amazing, crazy semester for me, I am sure it is for you as well. I have one more class next week and than a final push for the exams. Till then, I am like, all you exam-o-phelleic people hanging in there, as its just few more days. 24djve

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National Biking Month!

Yes, we’ve all heard: it’s the end of the semester, and for many, this is the last push before a glorious one or two months off of school work, exams, and long hours at the library. This final push can also be exhausting, as we can feel incredibly burnt out by now.

Best way to deal with this? Incorporate something new! Luckily, May is national biking month!

Realistically, it would be hard for me to preach biking to work for the rest of this month or biking to USG from the other side of the county. However, there are several ways to celebrate National Biking Month that can also benefit your worn out mind…

  • That 2-5 minute drive to the grocery store? Why not bike?
  • Yes, a study marathon may be unavoidable. But a 10-15 minute break benefits your mind, body and sanity. Why not take a bike ride? Especially with the beautiful weather.
  • Don’t have a bike? There are Capital Bikeshare stations all over the place! A single 30-minute trip is only 2 dollars; if you wanted to use it for a day and bike to work or class, it’s just 8 dollars! Think of it this way: this would probably be less than the cost of gas and the daily cost for many gyms out there. You get your commute and workout all in one nice bundle.
  • Montgomery has dozens of fantastic bike trails. Take advantage of this! No need to weave in and out of traffic in the city or worry about a driver not seeing you. These trails are both safe and beautiful.
  • If you do have the opportunity to ride to work, National Ride to Work week is next week! If you just don’t have the energy to do it all day, the National Day for it is next Friday, May 17. Though some of us might not work, I’m sure nobody would be on your case for riding to class instead of work 🙂

I’m not an expert in biking. I ride around downtown Silver Spring occasionally and in the trails back at home in Howard County. However, I’ve always envied how my co-worker, who biked to work every day the first half of the year, in heat, rain, or ice (once his brakes froze!), game to work energized. He never seemed quite as tired as the rest of us.

If you are interested in learning more, the League of American Bicyclists has a page all on National Bike Month.

Happy Biking!

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For Happier Days


With the second half of the semester so busy with exams lined up and papers abound, I lost track of time, and hadn’t even realized it was the end of the semester. Already my junior year here at USG comes to an end, and with it lies my last post for the USG blog. Endings and farewells are always bittersweet – I realize through my posts how much I’ve grown here, how much I’ve learned, and how many experiences I’ve had with both new and familiar faces.

But more than anything, I would like to say thank you. Thank you to the people of the Universities at Shady Grove, the University of Maryland, from my advisors to my classmates who have made my first year here so incredible as it was. During this first year, I had been able to take courses with amazing professors who have taught me so much, had been able to intern at a public accounting firm to gain experience, and grow so much as both a student and person. It’s exciting to know what the second and final year here at USG will bring!

Whether you are currently a student about to transfer to USG, or a student graduating this year, I hope that everyone has had a wonderful experience and will continue to do so! You might be continuing your studies either here or abroad, or you might be taking your first step to a career. There’s no strict timeline or path you must take, as long as you are moving forward at your own pace.

Good luck everyone, and congratulations!

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The Faces of Depression

I work in a suburban hospital emergency room and each and every day, we care for at least two (oftentimes more) individuals who have attempted or are contemplating suicide, what we call “suicidal ideations”. Sometimes these patients come in on their own, sometimes they are brought in by the police or paramedics, and sometimes family or friends bring them in for treatment. They are assessed by the ER team and then see a hospital psychiatrist to see if they need to be admitted to an inpatient facility or can be discharged to outpatient care.


Why is Sansa Stark here? Keep reading.

It’s a challenge to try to get to the crux of why someone would want to kill themselves. Depression is an insidious disease that will make someone feel worthless and alone. When people say how “selfish” it is for someone to commit suicide, they have no idea how the brain works and how the depths of depression are, well, so deep. Trying to lift the veil of depression can be a struggle for the clinician and patient alike and often requires therapy and perhaps even medication. All good things if they help a person feel better.

Social media has made it easy for us all to think our lives are not as exciting as someone else’s and cause us to compare ourselves to others’ job successes, school achievements, amazing vacations, children’s accomplishments, just to name a few. So when I see a high profile person come out and reveal something private about themselves in a public forum, I pay attention and wonder how their words will affect others.

In scrolling through my Facebook feed (while trying not to compare myself to others, of course), I came across this Dr. Phil podcast in which Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones, reveals her depression diagnosis and that she once thought about committing suicide. Even I had these thoughts: Doesn’t she have it all? Isn’t she engaged to Joe Jonas? Isn’t she slim and beautiful? How could SHE be depressed? Even me. Me who has struggled with depression and knows that there is no rhyme or reason to how it makes a person feel.

Please take a few minutes (6 to be exact) to watch this portion of the podcast. I could not love Sophie Turner any more and am sure that she will help many by coming forward with her own struggles. And remember that there is always someone to reach out to. If you are depressed or have thoughts of killing yourself, please reach out to a friend, family member, doctor, nurse or call the hotline below. There IS help and it DOES get better. And if someone tells you they are feeling suicidal, please listen closely, provide the phone number below, and know how hard for them it was to share their personal struggle with you.


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Thank you and Good Luck!

I cannot believe that next month is May already! Also, since this is my last post, I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you and congratulations to all. For those graduating next month, congratulations on finishing your program! For those who are finishing your first year, you did it! You are half way through your program! We are all at a point of our programs where we should celebrate because we accomplished something. Whether you transferred from a community college or returning to school to obtain your master’s or doctorate degree, we all know that this transition is never easy. Luckily, USG is a well-equip campus and the different student services are dedicated to helping students achieve success. It has been a pleasure being a graduate student blogger for the last two years. I enjoyed sharing some of my stories and tips to help you during your time at USG. I hope you enjoyed my blog posts as much as I enjoyed writing them. Attending my graduate and undergraduate programs at USG was a decision that I am glad that I made. I was able to be part of the USG community and give back to the community at large. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my experiences as a graduate student at USG.

If you missed any of my blog posts or would like to revisit any of them, below are the links to all of them.

Fall 2017
Mind and Body Wellness
Life of a Graduate Student: Time Management and Organization
Work and Life Balance
Old Habits Die Hard: Procrastination and Tips to Overcome It
Grad School Application
Writing & Study Tips
Career Planning

Spring 2018
Holiday and Winter Break Highlights
Giving Back to the Community
Cultural Tea Time
Spring Break Ideas & ASB
Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week
Benefits of Having a LinkedIn Account
Owl Hours & Study Tips
Attention Soon-to-be Alumni!
Minimalism & Zero Trash Lifestyle Change

Summer 2018
Balancing Act in Grad School
Get Interested in Uninteresting Topics-Reading Strategies 
Welcome, New Students! 
Questions to Ask in Grad School
Garden of Unity and Peace
Event Planning-Wedding Bells

Fall 2018
Welcome Back!
USG Mobile Market
Cultural Awareness via Traveling
Be the Voice – GSA
Writing Tips – Short on Time or Lacking Motivation?
Customized Gifts for the Holidays
Finals Week & GSA Raffle

Spring 2019
Holiday/Winter Break – Vegan Meals
Reflective Thinking
Spread the Love
Goal Setting and Motivation 
Stress Management
Spring 2019 Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week
Overcoming Procrastination

Again, thank you and good luck to all!

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Less than a month away

For those of us graduating this spring, reality is starting to set in for us.
What am I going to do after graduation?
Where can I find a job after graduation?
Should I pursue a master’s degree?
What have I been doing before now?
What now?

As a senior, these questions are starting to look too real. I have asked myself these questions over and over, and if this is you, don’t worry, you are not alone.
If anything, here are some things that I learned. Hopefully, it might benefit you juniors and seniors before it is your time to leave.
1. Apply to jobs early, its hard.
2. Network! People you know may get you to places you never thought you can get
3. Don’t be discouraged.
4. You will fail, but that is ok.

My teacher once said, “reach for the stars and you might touch the ceiling. If you reach for the ceiling, you will never leave the ground.” Seniors, make the most of the time you have left. Start looking into your future now,and use your experiences to help people below you. You may never know what is in store for you. Become an advocate for others, and use your experiences to help someone.

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Watch and learn!

Being a Communications major, I am learning about social media. The big five of social media sites i.e Facebook, twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, Youtube are something we cannot live without. Social media has given its users a voice, and existence that they could never think of. Lets not forget the sites that started it all i.e. MySpace, Orkut? Friendster? Napster? As the time is passing social media is becoming more sophisticated and have more options to integrate with their users lifestyle. Social media is informing us, educating us, and also entertaining us. Where else would we get our daily doses for ‘memes’ if it wasn’t for Facebook and Instagram? Where else would we see our latest sports highlights? or our favorite recipes for pie if it wasn’t for YouTube. I, myself could not help but think that besides Netflix,  YouTube, plays a huge part in providing me various mode of entertainment according to me mood. It could vary from my favorite music artists, to a cooking recipe or latest review on new technology. Over the years I have subscribed to various vloggers (video bloggers) and entertainers. I love watching dance videos. There are some Youtube channels and stars that I think are the best and most fun to watch.

  1. Superwoman  If you don’t know who ‘Lilly Singh’ is, you must be living under a rock. A Youtube-er from Canada, now living in LA. She got her popularity from making satirical and most entertaining videos of her Punjabi, Indian background. One can see her later acting and production work in many cameos and  music videos. She is going to be the host of much awaited talk show ‘A little late with Lilly’ on NBC.  Lilly-Singh-1200x675
  2. 5-Minute Crafts  I know  that I, myself is watching it,  my kids are watching it, and my friends are sharing it on Facebook. From learning how to  recycle old bottles and turning them into plant pots, or hot glue created cell phone cover or 5 different ways to make chocolate desserts this lifestyle changing channel is helpful to all. It only takes 5 minutes!
  3. T-Series  If you grew up watching Bollywood movies (Indian Movies) like me, you probably are already subscribed to it. It’s the most subscribed channel on You-Tube on 2019. You can get the latest  Indian movie trailers, and musical dance numbers here.
  4. The Ellen Show  The day time talk show queen Ellen DeGeneres, will give you a daily dose of snippets of her show on her YouTube channel, One does not have to worry about missing her show on t.v. Her interviews, games and philanthropic work are showcased in her show in the most ‘Ellen’ way and one can watch it all in YouTube.
  5. Buzz Feed  It started out as a channel that would cover news and topics that no one else would cover. It still does the same. It follows all viral trends and more.

Universities at Shady Grove have their own YouTube channel which you can visit and subscribe here.  Universities at Shady Grove is also hosting its annual Film Festival, which will showcase the work on Communication students in Building 1, Auditorium on May 2nd,2019. If you want to catch previous work from past film festival movies, created by students, you can catch all of them here and don’t forget to subscribe!

Film Festival

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The Value in Arts

While I’m tired, groggy, and in a consistent haze due to allergies, here we are, back in the classroom from our short-lived spring break. In all honesty, some days, it takes careful thinking and mindfulness to remember the positives that come from working in a classroom filled with 5th graders who have their own version of senioritis. This morning I got an email from a man who came to our school to work with our students as an author-in-residence…even though he was really a playwright. Turns out the play my class wrote was chosen to be performed by Best Medicine Rep, a local nonprofit professional theater company, at the Gaithersburg Books Festival.

Ironically, just two weeks ago, I received a very different email from the same playwright, detailing how funding and grants for opportunities like the one my class had would be cut.

While I’m in a STEM-focused program, you may have heard “STEM” being broadened to include the arts, with the new name “STEAM.” With all the complications and nuances with education policy right now, the struggle to close gaps and understand how to best structure a classroom and school so that every student can succeed…I can understand why decision makers feel a need to push aside the arts in order to prioritize things like math and reading. However, this decision is without it’s faults and detriments to students.

I had never seen my kids collaborate as well as they did when they were working on writing this play. I had never seen certain students break out of their shell all year….until they had the opportunity to audition for the role of Mercy Otis Warren. It’s such a wonderful opportunity, and it would be a shame to see opportunities like that go away.


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