Self-care is essentially self-preservation. It is taking steps to ensure that you maintain physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. I believe it also means balancing physical, mental, spiritual and emotional wellness as sometimes we are quick to focus on one aspect of self-care and neglect another.

During the University of Maryland School of Social Work orientation, faculty stressed the importance of self-care. I thought this was wonderful and therefore started to assess myself. I realized that I felt that I was targeting all the aspects of self-care, but I honestly wasn’t. I decided to set pen to paper and think of positive aspects of self-care that I am already incorporating into my life, as well as deficits in my self-care. I realized one of the most significant deficits is on my physical wellness.

Self-care can be developed/taught. From a young age, we are taught the importance of hygiene and therefore incorporate routines, i.e., brushing our teeth, combing our hair etc. Thus, for us to teach ourselves self-care, we need to set routines.

How do you make it work? Well, through a self-care plan! A self-care plan is essential because you can prioritize self-care in your life. In Swahili, there is a proverb that states, Usipoziba ufa, utajenga ukuta. In direct translation, it means if you don’t fix a crack, you will build a wall. This proverb is true to self-care. If you don’t address the small issues and problems, they will fester and become more significant problems. If you don’t pro-actively take care of yourself, you may suffer burn out or worse.

I am happy to report that I completed my self-care planning last week. During my preparation, it dawned on me that physical wellness was difficult to implement given the nature of my busy life. It is easy for me to reach for junk food as I am short of time juggling kids, work and school. I am currently re-evaluating my physical wellness plan to ensure that I implement it successfully. I am aware that self-care may take some effort, it may also be difficult- but I must be committed to sticking to it!

Remember, it is not selfish for you to care for yourself. Conduct a self-assessment to see how well you are caring for yourself then start a self-care plan!


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The Case of the Missing Medicine

Today is the day I’ve been waiting in anticipation for since the beginning of the school year. It’s the day of APhA-ASP OTC Medicine Safety’s very first Medicine Mystery outreach at Olney Library (please see my post When Language Meets Medicine for some background about OTC Medicine Safety).

A nineties child, I grew up watching Scooby-Doo reruns on Cartoon Network and reading as many children’s mystery books as I could get my hands on from the library – Nancy Drew, The Babysitter’s Club Mysteries, The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley, A Series of Unfortunate Events… you name it, I read it. It’s really my love for a good mystery that served as inspiration for OTC Medicine Safety’s inaugural Medicine Mystery outreach.

So, what is it? Medicine Mystery is an event that gives children the opportunity to learn about various OTC medicine safety topics such as poison safety and prevention, proper administration of liquid medications, and differentiation between candy and medicine (e.g., gummy vitamins vs. fruit snacks). Upon completion of a station activity, children will receive a clue to record in their detective’s notebook. Collecting all six clues will lead them to the culprit (aka the naughty child who took medicine from Jackie’s cabinet without asking for permission from a trusted adult).

Unfortunately, it would be much too complicated to throw in suspect motives, red herrings, and other elements that make for an exciting mystery. But we’re hoping the event will be fun and educational for participants nonetheless! For cracking the case, each child will receive a Junior Detective certificate to take home. Shout out to OTC Medicine Safety’s amazing committee members who helped with organizing and advertising this event, as well as to the volunteers who will be there today.

Thanks for reading; hope you all have a restful weekend!


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Are You Man Enough?


A cool poster produced by The Oregon Center for Nursing who supports informed, well-prepared, diverse and exceptional nursing professionals.

If you think of a woman when you hear the word “nurse”, you’re not alone. It is true that nursing has been a predominantly female profession since way back in the days of Florence Nightingale. (True or False: Louisa Parsons, the founder of the University of Maryland School of Nursing, was a student of Florence Nightingale’s. That would be a resounding “True”.)

In 2017, 13.6% of the BSN students at the University of Maryland are men. The 2011 U.S. Census reported that 9.6% of working registered nurses are men compared with only 2.9% in 1970. Is it just more accepted now or are these just super smart dudes who realize this is an amazing profession? Well, if you go by the men at USG in the school of nursing, the latter would be true.

Thanks to these classmates for agreeing to share some thoughts on their choice of nursing.

  • Originally from the Philippines, Christian Flores says that God called him to be a nurse to fulfill his goal to help people in whatever way possible. Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 7.43.49 PM
    His mom is also a nurse so his family was very excited to hear he would be going to nursing school. He believes the most challenging part for this program is how to study, but knew the studying was worth it when he first walked into the hospital setting. “There was a feeling that I belong in this kind of setting.” Christian would love to see the world and learn about different cultures so his plan is to pursue a career as a travel nurse.
  • David Freeman comes from a family of medical professionals. “Everyone in my family is a medical professional (doctors, nurses, CNAs, physician assistants, nurse practitioners), so they were all excited that I was following the family footsteps in entering the medical field.” Something that surprised him about nursing school is the enormous amount of knowledge that nurses bring into the field. This is important because “nurses provide continuous care in order to properly manage patients with different health problems. How great is that!” He sees himself taking care of critically ill patients in a trauma ICU or step-down unit.
  • Over the years, Maurice Alvarado had met many nurses who suggested nursing to him, but it took years to make up his mind and build up the couunnamed-2rage to take on nursing school. He says, “The most challenging part is how busy we are and how it cuts into what was once leisure time. The workload is manageable, but it comes at a price: sacrificing your evenings and weekends.” He did not expect there would be as much camaraderie as there is with his classmates. “Having been to college before I only had a few close friends but now I feel like we’re all related. We are on the same path so it makes more sense we are supportive of one another.” After graduation, he wants to work as a nurse with the elderly, the dying and those who lack access to healthcare.
  • Adam Steffes, a Patient Care Tech in the ER at Suburban Hospital, said his family was surprised when he decided to go to nursing school since he has a background in business and foreign language. Now that he is at USG, he said that the most challenging thing about being in school is simply being back in school. He says, “I love to learn new things, but I hate being ‘in school’. I like to learn by doing and working, so taking classes and tests are difficult for me to sit through.” He says that his girlfriend has been most supportive. “She has my back no matter what I decide to do, and encouraged me to get out and explore things when I was wavering and unsure.”
  • EMT Patrick McNamara said he first knew he wanted to become a nurse when he was in high school and his grandmother ended up Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 6.00.03 PMin the hospital after a series of accidents. Whenever he would go and visit her, there was always a nurse there that he and his siblings called “Tall Mike”. “He was always attending to her every need and I believe he instilled hope in her to survive. My dad called him her guardian angel in disguise.” Patrick’s dad is his biggest supporter. “He really wants me to succeed in life and accomplish my goals and dreams.”
  • Ravi Patel decided he wanted to be a nurse when he was in high school and volunteered at Children’s National Medical Center. He says the most challenging part of the program is not having enough time to study for exams. “As soon as you finish one,” he says, “you are getting ready for the next.” His goal after graduation is to be a pediatric nurse in a neonatal or pediatric intensive care unit.

I consider myself very fortunate to be able to attend USG with these smart and driven men. Thanks again for sharing your stories.

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School spirit is one of the most defining aspects of campus culture. However, in a campus as disjointed as the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) where there are students from 9 universities on 1 campus, it is impossible to create the feeling of school spirit. Or is it possible?

On the unique USG campus, there are Hawks, Bulldogs, Bees, Terps, Sea Gulls, Retrievers, and Tigers. With this amount of different representation, one wonders: What is the point of school spirit? Is it recognition? Reputation? Community? School Pride? These questions and more crossed my mind when I saw the flyer shown below for the USG Spirit Contest.USG Spirit Contest

While the prizes should have been enough motivation for anyone to participate, I battled with the decision for over a week. These days the items such as sweaters, t-shirts, and socks that are usually worn to show school spirit are overpriced. One of the first things I learned upon starting classes at USG for my program with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore was not to buy anything affiliated with my school from the bookstore. “You are going to waste your money on overpriced stuff,” many seniors in my program warned me. So when the spirit contest came around it wasn’t something that I right off the bat wanted to participate in because in my Macklemore voice “50 dollars for a t-shirt, that’s just some ignorant stuff”.

Torn between my desire for the prizes and my lack of cash to splurge on clothing that would showcase my school spirit, I decided to ask my fellow students on the campus what school spirit meant to them. If I was going to win this contest, I needed to really understand what it was that I was going to be portraying. I got some very generic answers such as “school spirit is the attitude students have about their school,” and “school spirit is wearing shirts or jackets that identify what school you attend.” I really couldn’t relate to these as I have never visited my college’s main campus, the only university I know is USG. The only information I know about my school is that it offers two degree programs at USG. The only school pride I have was formed through the relationships I have with others here at USG.

The USG campus has an advantage because it creates an environment where students are part of a tight-knit community. I am fortunate to be able to recognize my fellow students and also socialize with them. The night before the contest I realized that school spirit need not depend on the institution I attended. School spirit could depend on the relationships I have formed at the USG campus. It could depend on the community that I am part of. And it could depend on the pride of the programs that I have the honor of representing. That being said, for the spirit contest I needed to showcase all of these things. Donning college apparel with my school name on it wasn’t going to do this and also was going to clean me out more than $50.

With the advice of a wonderful colleague, I decided to make my own costume that would showcase my school spirit by representing the two programs that my university offers at the USG campus. I headed to the art supplies store Michaels and then to 5 Below to pick up all the supplies I needed. I got everything needed for under $25 and spent the rest of the evening letting my creative juices flow. Below are a few pictures of the final product, overall I think I did alright for my first time making a costume.

Through this experience that USG provided with the spirit contest, I learned a lot and really got to feel like part of a bigger community. On a campus where there are so many students from different schools, it was terrific to see that school spirit could thrive. I look forward to next year’s contest, and I would urge everyone to participate. You definitely won’t regret it.

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Time is Moving Fast; So is The Construction of the BSE Building!

Now is it just me or did we blink and it became October? I was thinking that as I was walking out of my last class this past Monday. I mean 2017 just flew by. That being said, when I walked out of Building 3 the first thing I saw was the construction of the new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Education Facility. I was reminiscing back to when there was a huge parking lot there and that didn’t seem like too long ago but here we are and it says construction will be done by 2019.


A current look of the construction process!

2018 is less than 3 months away. Let that sink in.

I then finally took the time to read all of the panels that are considered the “sustainability story” of the building. I know right….”Go home, Andrea” but it was actually quite interesting. If you haven’t stopped to read, here are the snippets!

  1. Sustainability at the Universities of Shady Grove:
  • Water Efficient landscaping: 50% less water needed to irrigate
  • Reduce energy consumption by 22%
  • A good portion of the materials and resources are recycled
  • More efficient indoor environmental quality

2. What is LEED®?

It must follow sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy & atmosphere, material & resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in Operations & Regional Priority guidelines. This building is striving to reach the minimum of LEED® Gold Certification.

3. Integrated Design Process: the entire building project team came together to discuss all possible outcomes of this project. They imagined and evaluated major design, performance, functionality, and cost issues.

4. Construction and Pollution: BSE construction provides different methods for containing storm water runoff and pollutants from construction.

  • Silt fencing and booms
  • Curb inlet protection – a filtering device to remove debris and pollution from entering the stormwater piping.
  • Stabilized Construction Entrance (SCE) – a barrier that keeps dirt in construction site and prevents it from entering our streets!

5. Storm water Design

  • Use of bioswales and rain gardens
  • Eliminating pollution from stormwater runoff
  • What is Bioswale? It is a method of replicating the natural site hydrology processes and managing onsite runoff!

I know 2019 sounds like a long time from now but so did 2018. Now we’re less than 3 months away! I don’t know about you but to think all of that is being taken into consideration to make sure we meet the LEED® standards is incredible! I’m excited to see the final project, are you?

Thanks for reading!

Note: All information was found on the panels by the BSE construction site and their sources were and LinkedIn.


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Health of a College Student

College is the point in our lives where we spend 4 years to get a degree. As we spend each day getting closer to graduation, there are some things we may forget or not have enough time to dedicate to: our health.

We often rush to our classes, and have no time for breakfast so we opt for coffee and a pastry. Though this settles the hunger craving for a bit, it benefits little for your overall health. College students tend to spend less time on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and more time doing homework. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to do your homework! It is just as important as being healthy.

There are several ways you can balance homework and a healthy lifestyle, and it doesn’t have to be entirely time consuming. Instead of staying up late at night, try to go to bed at a reasonable hour. This way, you will be able to wake up sooner and have a well-balanced breakfast.

Another way you can eat healthy is by preparing healthy meals in advance. Though this may take significantly more time to prepare, it allows you to have your meals ready. If you have a day of the week that you have some free time, you can prepare healthy meals to eat throughout the week – this includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is getting proper exercise. It is recommended that we exercise at least 30 minutes a day. This doesn’t have to be consecutive, it can be broken down into smaller bits. Some ways you can “naturally” exercise is by changing some things in your daily routine. For example, instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs. You might not realize, but doing this consistently is beneficial to your health.

If you’re at home studying, take a 5-15 minute break every 45 minutes or so. During this break, do some push-ups, stretches, planks or other exercises that can be done at the drop of a hat. You can also walk on a treadmill while reading through your textbooks.

So let’s review – here are some things you can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle while balancing college life:

  • Go to sleep at reasonable hours to have a proper breakfast the next morning
  • Prepare healthy meals ahead of time
  • Skip the elevator and take the stairs
  • During study breaks, do some quick exercises

The good thing about being a USG student, is that you have free access to the USG Rec Center. The Rec Center is a good place to exercise for a bit. They have different types of equipment for different exercises. The Rec Center also hosts different events during the semester. On Wednesday, September 27th, the Rec Center held a soccer tournament at the soccer field (behind the construction of building 4). The Rec Center is currently hosting an 8-Week Steps Challenge, that started September 25th, and is running until November 13.  The goal of the step challenge is to record your daily steps during those 8 weeks. Once the challenge is over, the challengers with the most steps win prizes. That is really cool!

8 Week Steps Challenge 2017

The Rec Center is a great source for getting proper exercise without the hassle of a gym membership. Hopefully you guys can find time to exercise and make use of the Rec Center!

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Education, Work Experience, and Community all at USG – Learn about Graduate School on 10/5!

I’ve asked friends and strangers alike their opinions on being a student at USG. Every single person I have asked has proclaimed their love and appreciation for USG. I was familiar with the campus, but was not a student until I entered graduate school in the fall of 2016 as part of the Smith Part-time MBA program…and I couldn’t be happier.

Finding a reputable graduate program that could accelerate my career, allow me to stay close to home (save money), and also foster a balance between academics and working full time were all important to me. USG allowed me to check off all of those boxes and feel comfortable entering a graduate program.

USG is hosting a Graduate Open House on October 5th. At this event, you can learn how USG works, meet with representatives from your graduate program of interest, and get to know the beautiful USG campus and its facilities.

The event is conveniently at 6pm, so you can attend after work or picking up your kids from soccer practice. It is little details like the timing of this event that shows USG understands you are a working professional, looking to balance a personal life and a bright professional career.

Please know you can leave a comment below to discuss any questions you might have as a grad student. We’re all in this together! Happy Monday!


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My First Chapter at USG

This year has been a year of many “news.” From my being a new student UMCP at USG  studying Physiology and Neurology, to my becoming a Student Ambassador and Student Blogger! I look back at how far I’ve come and can’t wait to go even further. I struggled with what to write for my first blog but I decided to keep it as a sort of introduction. A little about me so that we can all get along.

Like many of the students here, I am a first generation college student, meaning I’m the first to receive a higher education in my family. Speaking of my family, they consist of myself, my brother, my sister, my parents, and my guinea pigs. My parents are immigrants from El Salvador who moved here to seek out better opportunities and an escape from the violence and poverty plaguing El Salvador. Not taking their sacrifices for granted, I decided to achieve my full potential.

My path to USG has been long and arduous. I attended Springbrook High School and when on to attend Montgomery College, graduating with an A.S. in Life Sciences. Since sophomore year in high school I knew that I wanted to become a doctor, and after some research that dream became specific and I knew that I wanted to become a family physician.

In order to prepare myself for medical school and the field of medicine I exposed myself to as many experiences that would help me grow as possible. I started volunteering as the local volunteer fire department near me. I work as a medical scribe taking notes for physicians and gaining new insights of the world of healthcare. The more I have gotten out of my comfort zone, the more confident I have grown.

My blog, I hope, will serve as a guide for those that are currently at USG enrolled in a program here. My blog may even become something that brings people to USG. I want to talk about what USG has to offer, from the small class sizes to wide range of resources. I want to give my perspective of why USG is the place to be.

Glad to have you follow me along my journey!!

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Missing summer? Me too.

Anyone else reminiscing on this past summer? I know I am. I had an amazing summer! I was able to spend over 4.5 weeks in Peru. I was volunteering as a teacher for Spanish to English classrooms. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy to be back at USG. I’ve missed my friends dearly so I’m happy to be back with them. My trip has inspired me to work harder this last and final year. I will be graduating in May, yay! But anyways, on my trip, I met so many inspiring people who introduced me to new things and new opportunities. It’s hard being overloaded with work, but I feel inspired to push myself harder, study more, and go the extra mile this year.

Now to tell you about my trip! Like I said, I was a volunteer teacher assigned to teach English classes. Myself and 12 other teachers traveled from all over the U.S. to spend over a month in Peru. We lived in a small village called Huchuy Qosqo, near Lamay, Peru. This was about a 45-minute bus ride outside of Cusco. Our village was situated in-between the Andes mountain range in an area called “Valle Segrado” or Sacred Valley. Our village was next to a strong flowing river and we could see a snow capped mountain from our houses. I was there from the end of June to the end of July, which meant this was their winter time. It was COLD! I had to buy warm gloves, jacket, and a hat, because it was much colder than I expected. Plus the altitude…we lived at close to 9,000 ft. Compared to Rockville MD, at sea level, this took some adjusting. I had a few bad headaches when I first arrived, and exercising was very difficult.

I really enjoyed being able to try teaching and also in a subject that is challenging for me. See, I’ve been studying Spanish for over seven years, but have never been immersed. I was able to improve my conversational Spanish and listening skills. So teaching English was challenging for me but I also really enjoyed it. I also loved being able to play soccer (or Futbol), with the kids after class, and/or integrating English into a soccer game.


Class in the village.

One of the best parts of my trip though, was meeting 12 new amazing people, who were the other teachers. It might sound cliche, but I feel like I truly have 12 new friends for life. Each and every one of them were unique, funny, nice, and simply loving people. I had the pleasure of going to Machu Picchu with my friends Cameron, Sean, Bailey, Shay, and Gloria. Another weekend, Sean and I went to the Rainbow Mountains. This was one of the most amazing places I have ever been.

Anyways, back to hitting the books! I have some pep in my step this semester that can’t be stopped! Happy to have had great experiences this summer that will impact me forever.


Sean, Cameron, Shay, myself, Gloria, and Bailey. (left to right)


Sean and I at Rainbow Mountain.

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Leadership over lunch with our very own Dr. Edelstein!

One of my main goals in life is to become the Secretary of Education for the United States. I want to have opportunities to meet great leaders and ask their stories. Therefore, I decided I would go to the undergraduate lunch with Dr. Edelstein yesterday to see if he could tell me his story and provide me with details on how he became the leader of our beloved school, USG. (I also really wanted free lunch before class, so might as well kill two birds with one stone.)

He told us that he really cared for our opinion and wanted us to share our opinions about USG. He, then, proceeded to explain how our introductions to each other had to go. As we went around the room, I got to see and hear the ambitions we all had. It was truly amazing to see that not only does USG have amazing people with tremendous goals in life, but think of ways to collaborate together with each other. It got to my turn, and he seemed amazed and confident that USG will prepare me to reach my goal. He also gave me many resources for internships, and said he could help me set something up with the county! (Keep an eye out for any big news to come.)

After all the intros, he opened up the conversation and I asked him his pathway to USG. I did say I was a student blogger and was going to make my very first post (YAY!) about him! So here is a shorter version of his short version of his pathway to USG. My only disclaimer to you all and Dr. E, if he is reading, is that he was speaking fast, so I hope I wrote the fact down correctly.

Dr. Edelstein…

  • was born in New York
  • went to a music school because he loved to play the piano. However, he dropped out because he felt he didn’t have the dedication the other students had
  • attended the University of Buffalo and was a chemistry major
  • was the student body president from 1964-1968, which was during the Vietnam war and the Civil Right Movement
  • had a couple accidents in the Chem labs, so they had him switch to a safer major
  • switched to psychology
  • moved to the University of California, Berkley to get his Ph.D. in higher education
  • Came to UMD College Park
  • was an administrator for the Psychology and Social Sciences department there
  • became Senior Associate Dean there
  • came to USG when it was first built in 2000
  • became Executive Director in 2002
  • has loved USG ever since

He has had a very interesting life. He reassured us that he has so many more plans for our campus and for his own life. As a student and hopefully a future leader, his story was truly an inspiration. Seeing how open-minded and caring he is about the students and school shows that he really wants to put his students first and ensure our education is exceptional!

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