Endings and Beginnings

It’s mind-blowing to think about, but this will, sadly, be my last blog of the 2016-17 school year here on Around the Grove. Ending the school year is always bittersweet – there’s the relief that you can finally relax, the sense of accomplishment, but also the overwhelming realization that you might not get to see people again. As classes wrap up, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my time at the Universities at Shady Grove and how honestly grateful I am that I was able to come here.

I never expected to go to school at Shady Grove. I spent three years at another school out-of-state and I thought it would be the perfect place for me. But circumstances led my to a crossroads in life where I realized I needed to move back home and change schools. It was really tough to make such a huge change, especially when I just had a year left at my old school, but as I wrap up here at USG, I realize I would have missed out on so many important experiences if I hadn’t ever ended up here.


For anyone considering Shady Grove, here are some of the greatest parts of the USG campus and community:

  • Small campus. USG is a tight-knit community. You usually know everyone in your program and it’s much easier to get to know your professors.
  • Opportunities for leadership. Because the campus is so small, it’s easier to get involved in campus activities and have the opportunity to take leadership roles. I’ve had the chance to build my resume, self-confidence, and skill set through these opportunities that I didn’t have had the chance to participate in elsewhere.
  • Great staff. From the first time I set foot on USG’s campus, I was so impressed with how helpful the staff members were in making sure I had a smooth transition to a new school. When I had issues with credits transferring, a UMBC staff member here at USG spent hours calling other administrators to get help for me.
  • Student services. USG has so many great services for students – the Counseling Center, Career Services, Academic and Student services, summer GRE prep classes – and the staff are always very attentive and friendly.

USG is such a great concept, allowing people who are working or who need to live at home to have the chance to get an education in a way that fits their needs. This is so important in a society where changing careers is becoming more common and people need more and more higher education to get a job.

USG provides the individualized support you need to succeed and fills an important niche that has been overlooked. It can be very lonely being a commuter at a traditional university, so it’s refreshing to attend school where everyone is in the same boat as you.

I’ve learned so much from my fellow students and professors, and been so encouraged by the support of USG’s staff as well as the opportunities I’ve had here to grow and be involved. So I’d like to extend a thank you to the entire USG community. You guys are great and will always have a special place in my heart!

This summer, I am excited to have the chance to continue writing here on Around the Grove about a fellowship I will be working at. Stay tuned and best of luck with finals!

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Therapy Dogs At USG Today…and Tomorrow!

Are you a crazy dog person? Do you stop your friends and family members just to detour your path and pet the cute dog you spotted across the street? Dogs make us feel great..don’t they?

As part of De-Stress Lounge week, USG is hosting Pause for Paws! The purpose of this is to give students the time to relax and play with therapy dogs. Finals can be a stressful time, but we should all take small breaks to do things we enjoy…whether that’s working out, cooking, or petting a friendly dog. Happy studying!

2017-05-09 08_58_34-De-Stress Lounge & Graduation events - farzin.melissa@gmail.com - Gmail

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USG Thank you

USG Staff thank you for everything!


This will be my last post but I wanted to take the time and say thank you for all the great opportunities with USG Blogging and USG ambassadors. It has been great to be able to meet the great people of USG and the staff. It was great opportunity to be able to have the chance to be involved with the school. The more I became involved with the school the more I learned about the great opportunities that USG had to offer. If I could give new and current students is get involved with the school make your invest count. Also network as much as possible because you never know who knows who! I had to share some of my business mindset (Sorry). USG has been great to me and I happy that I decided to come to this campus. If you have the chance to join the USG ambassadors or USG Bloggers take it because it offers you great opportunities to meet some people that might help you and also attend some great events. USG staff thank you and thank you to the founders of USG for making a great invest in the students and future of Maryland.


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Quynh-Nhu Nguyen, ½ PharmD

At 9:41 a.m. today, I submitted my LAST exam of the year. Assuming that I passed all my classes this semester, I am officially a P3 and 50% pharmacist!

This morning, one of my friends posted on Facebook a “self-reflection rant”. Five paragraphs long, it described the challenges she faced this year related to exams, meetings, deadlines, event planning, etc., but served primarily to recognize the amazing friends, family, and classmates who helped her get through it all. I am so glad she posted this because it’s really something I (and many of my peers, I’m sure) can relate to. This academic year has honestly been the most difficult I’ve ever experienced – even beating out those semesters in undergrad with organic chemistry, physics, and advanced genomics!

As with many professional and graduate programs, the pace at which we zip through material in the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy PharmD program is mind-blowing. While the struggle was definitely real this year, I’m proud of all that I was able to accomplish. I’m glad that it’s over for now, though, and am looking forward to sweet summertime. For those of you who are in the midst of studying for upcoming exams, May the 6th be with you! Below are just a few things that I’ve completely (or almost completely) pushed aside due to the stress of school, and am more than ready to make up for:

  1. SLEEP. Not 4-5 hours of sleep like I’ve been getting this past month… a normal, healthy amount of sleep.
  2. Family time. I’ve been neglecting the most important people in my life! I’ve even missed three family birthday celebrations :/
  3. Exercise. So excited to resume my morning jogs!
  4. Current events. I miss my lazy mornings with coffee and theSkimm. It’s time to catch up on the world beyond my bubble, starting with Trumpcare.
  5. Organization. My bedroom literally looks like a tornado just hit. Clothes, paper, random materials from all the events I’ve been involved with scattered everywhere. Starting tomorrow, I’ll be snapping my fingers and singing “A Spoonful of Sugar”.
  6. FUN. While executing events, studying therapeutics, and attending banquets are “fun”, I’m ready for fun in the conventional sense!

That’s all for now — have a fantastic summer everyone! Best of luck on internships, rotations, jobs, and summer classes. Please don’t forget to relax, have fun, be adventurous, and most importantly — make time for those who matter most to you.


Me (all the way in the back) with some of my USG classmates celebrating the end of P2 year at Ted’s Bulletin

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Share Your Work!

Hello everyone,

We are almost done with the semester! That means final exams and projects. For many of you, these next few weeks will be entirely stressful. Make sure you stop by the destress lounge, from Monday May 8 until Thursday May 11 for some rest & relaxation.

Today, I want to talk to you guys about Student Research Day that happened yesterday, May 3rd. Students got to present some projects they have created or research they conducted. I took part of Research Day, and I want to share what the experience was like.

Opening Presentation

To kick off the event, students from the criminal justice program shared a presentation that talked about the poverty in Montgomery County. They raised awareness of the causes of poverty, and ways Montgomery County is taking action.

Poster Presentations

After the opening presentation, attendees walked around the room, and checked out the various posters. I saw a wide variety of posters, ranging from historical events to computer gaming.



Normandy RememberedIMG_0737

These students’ presentation discussed the historical events in Normandy. Their presentation informed viewers about some background information. They also included videos, and discussed the differences between them. For example, some directors focused their videos on the invasion while other directors focused on the journey American soldiers went through.

While some presentations focused on the past, other presentations focused on the present. Some of my fellow classmates presented their capstone projects. They brought laptops so people could play test their games.


While I am not entirely sure what kind of game it is, I can say it looks pretty interesting.

Although this video doesn’t show you much of the gameplay, it hints at what the game offers. From what I could tell, it is a first person explorer game, located in a library. The goal is to explore the area to pick up hints. These hints eventually get you pass codes that can open up doors.

Since I also took part of the event, I wanted to share with you what I presented.

Interior Environment


During this semester, I am taking a 3D modeling course. One of the projects I made in this course was a group project. It was an interior environment that showed remnants of a struggle. I was proud to present it with my group members (who are not in this picture), and people were interested to hear about it.


I had a really good time seeing different projects from various students. I even met some students from Montgomery College who had great presentations. If any of you are looking for an outlet to share your work, start planning for the Research Day during the fall semester! I am looking forward to seeing you there.

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Stay Healthy 

Finals are just around the corner and we all know what that means:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Questionable eating habits and
  • Illness

We have all been there, these last few weeks where all the papers seem to be due at the same time. Exams to cram for, I mean study for and on top of that some are already stressing about what to do over the summer (internship), while others are trying to plan out life after graduation.

This is a lot to ask of our body and brain to keep up especially if we are not giving our body what it needs. Believe me, I do my fair share of procrastination and in turn end up doing last minute cramming sessions. However, we all know that it is during these stressful times that we seem to start getting sick and have even less energy to complete our tasks.

So today I wanted to share a few tips to survive the next few weeks:

  1. Stay hydrated and eat healthy: fueling our bodies with caffeinated drinks and sugary foods only causes your body to crash. Usually we tend to drink these drinks and eat these foods because we are exhausted, so give your body what it needs.
  2. Sleep: taking the time to let your body recover is vital to the learning process as well as staying healthy. I know it’s hard to break that habit of staying up all night to study for the exam or to finish a paper but when your body is tired it is in your best interest to give your body what it needs. Even a 15 minute power nap can go a long way.
  3. Find ways to de-stress: Everyone handles stress in different ways. Some people tend to over eat, others don’t eat. Some people become very tired others cannot sleep. Since there is no specific form that stress manifest itself, it is important to identify ways that relax you. It could be taking a yoga class at the Rec center or using the machines. Maybe a Zumba class helps you clear your head or a nice walk around campus. 

Remember we are almost at the finish line for this semester! Also please take advantage Pause for Paws. It’s a nice time to mingle with cute puppies and take your mind off of exams and papers. 

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Writings are Souvenirs Too

I posted my first blog post on the Around the Grove blog on September 29th, 2015 – and now today, May 2nd, 2017, marks my last blog post on the Around the Grove blog.

I think back to my first ever semester at the Universities at Shady Grove. I remember seeing the email calling for students to become USG bloggers, and being excited about the prospect of writing meaningful posts and sharing them with a new community. I remember nervously walking into the conference room to meet with the interviewers for the blogging position, and coming out of the room wondering if I had made a good enough case for why I would be a worthy blogger. Luckily, I was given the chance, and it has been an incredible two academic years of blogging for the USG blog.

I think back to who I was as an individual my first semester at USG and contrast it with the person I am today. I have certainly grown (though not in height!), and a part of that includes my growth as a writer. As I scroll through my page on the blog, I find myself reliving all of the events from these past 2 years. While I certainly have captured memories through photos from my time here, I believe my writings serve as souvenirs as well.

From USG events such as Student Leadership Bistros, Open Houses, Scholarship and Donor Recognition Luncheons, Etiquette Dinners, Leadership Bashes, USGFest, Octoberfest, International Night, and more


personal events with my Smith community such as our Spring Break at Deep Creek, summer internships, study abroad programs, and more


simple posts with encouraging messages with the desire to make even the smallest impact on someone who happens to stumble across them.

It’s been an incredible honor to have been given the opportunity to publish posts for the USG blog. I encourage anyone else who is considering applying to take a leap of faith and do so! A quick story to conclude with: last semester, when I was interviewing for jobs, the partner I was interviewing with Googled my name prior to the interview and read some of the posts I had published on the blog. It initiated a great conversation that led to one of the best interviews I ever had. So in addition to everything else, sometimes you never know where something simple as writing can take you!

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
― Anaïs Nin

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Losers, We Were!

A few months ago, I wrote a blog called “Let’s all be Losers” to talk about my struggles with weight loss and my recent diagnoses of diabetes and hypertension. I really wanted to transition to a healthier living so I’ve decided to participate in USG’s Biggest Loser Challenge, a 10-weeks weight loss contest hosted by the USG Campus Rec Center.

It really helped me. For the most part, I was more physically active each week. I also started being more conscious of the type of food and the portions I was consuming. I somehow internally feel better. I was no longer panting climbing up 3 flights of stairs. I felt sluggish when I wasn’t moving so it motivated me to move even more as well.

However, the last two weeks of the challenge has been very difficult for me. While I had lost over 20lbs and 5% of fat during the challenge, I had gain half of it back due to my stress-eating in that two weeks. I think my lack of sleep and physical activities contributed to that too. Even though I wasn’t on track with my diet plan anymore, I still tried to think of my food choices to an extent.

Our last weigh-in date was April 26, and that was when the USG Campus Rec Center announced the Biggest Losers.

… and guess what?!?!?  I won!

Christine & Gary - Biggest Losers

USG Biggest Loser Contest Winners: Christine & Gary

There was one female winner (me) and one male winner (Gary). USG awarded our efforts with a very nice Fitbit!

Even though I was in a slump and gained some weight back, it felt really nice to know that my 8 weeks worth of efforts weren’t in vain.

This is why I have become more encouraged and even more motivated to live a healthier lifestyle. This can’t be rushed, and it can be easily reversed. This is why it’s very important to lose weight slow and steadily. Baby steps.

Losers, we were!

And losers, we will continue to be!

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Can you learn to deal with rejection?


How do you handle rejection? If you knew how many people swiped left on your tinder, would it bother you? How many jobs or colleges have you applied to and been turned down? Or how about asking someone on a date? We all experience these at some time in our life. For some people, rejection can cause feelings of anger, disappointment, stress, or even depression. Yet like all things in our life, you can control how this affects you.

Have you noticed that some people are less deterred by rejection? There are a few characteristics that can help a person handle rejection. And most importantly, anyone can develop these characteristics. Being self-confident, self-reliant, and having strong self-esteem can prepare you to deal with rejection. Oddly enough, dealing with rejection can develop these characteristics.

People who have worked in retail sales and telemarketing deal with high rates of rejection. Any activity or job that puts you in a position to deal with strangers on a routine basis will develop this for you. The more ‘meaningless’ rejection you experience, the more likely you are to develop a “tough skin”. So, go out there. Ask that cute guy or girl for a date. Volunteer with a non-profit that needs staff to get people to take surveys. Try a part time job in retail sales.

Being rejected is okay. It doesn’t mean that you’re not an awesome person. It may just mean that your proposal wasn’t a good fit for the person you were approaching.

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Making History Happen: UMBC @ USG’s Public History Minor

The highlight of my time attending the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s undergraduate program at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) has been completing a minor in Public History. Many people have never heard of public history before, but it essentially means any work people or organizations do to make historical information more available to ordinary people instead of just academic historians. This could be anything from designing a museum exhibit to creating interactive websites about history to leading history-themed summer camps for kids.

The neat thing about public history is that it allows you to combine other interests or skill sets you might have – theater, writing, designing, programming, working with kids, music, cooking, etc. – with history. There are so many creative avenues to use to study and share history with other people. Public history is also great in that it aims to bring more diversity and depth to the study of history, and a big focus of our program is trying to represent more people in the history we tell.


Students investigating a house dating back to 1797 on a field trip in Baltimore. (Photo: Rebecca Gale)

The public history minor is open to anyone who is enrolled in UMBC’s program at USG. It’s only 18 credits, so it’s really easy to complete in addition to your major. The professor in charge of the public history minor, Dr. Melissa Blair, is not only a great teacher who is extremely knowledgeable, but also so helpful and approachable when it comes to getting advice about your future career. The classes I’ve taken for public history have been my favorite – really interesting, thought-provoking, and helpful in planning what I want to do after I leave Shady Grove.

Something I often hear when I tell people I’m a history major is, “You’re going to have a hard time getting a job with that!” The Public History minor allows you to explore the different career options available to people who are interested in doing work related to history. A major element of the Introduction to Public History course is learning about the huge variety of careers related to history, which can intersect with other areas of interest too. I like to think of public history as a chance to get your hands dirty and think about how you would use the things you read in your textbooks in other classes in the real world. If you’re a person like me who likes to get out and do projects, not just study things, this is a great program.

One really exciting opportunity the public history minor provides in this regard is the Service Learning in Public History course, which is offered every spring to people who have taken Intro to Public History. Each year, the class works with a local African American historic site, Pleasant View, about ten minutes from campus, which has a church, school, and cemetery that was crucial to the African American community in the Gaithersburg area after the Civil War and into the Civil Rights era. Each class has a central project they work on to help preserve the site and educate the public about its history.


Pleasant View Methodist Church, part of the historic site public history students help work to preserve. One exciting part of public history is taking field trips, and we visit this fascinating site many times! (Photo: Rebecca Gale)

This semester, we have been working on researching more about Pleasant View’s history and nominating it to be on the National Register of historic places. We also created designs for signs telling about the site that will hopefully be put up in the future to raise awareness about the site. With schoolwork, we don’t often get to make an impact on the community around us, so it’s been exciting to do work that is so meaningful.

One last major element of the public history minor is doing an internshipI completed mine last summer and fall and learned so much from it. It also gave me inspiration for my senior thesis paper topic, a requirement for all of us history majors. You can read about the internships UMBC public history students have done on our blog Retrieving the Past.

IMG_20160731_003311The historic Japanese pagoda at National Park Seminary historic district, where I completed my internship. (Photo: Rebecca Gale)

If you’re interested in the public history minor, consider signing up for Intro to Public History (History 300) this fall and seeing what this is all about! It’s a fun class (and includes field trips!) and is open to any major.

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