Outdoor Tour

Recently, Montgomery County lifted most mask mandates for vaccinated residents. As such, I’m optimistic that (at least some) classes will be on campus in Fall. However, when we do return, many students will not know how to get around. So, I developed a guided tour to make the eventual adjustment period a bit easier.

Please note that the location of your classes depends on your home campus and major, so this is not an exhaustive list.

Let’s begin at Building 4, the Biomedical Science and Engineering building. This is the newest building on campus and has lots of outdoor seating. According to the USG map, the Biomedical Science and Engineering building is home to:

A gray stone building surrounded by a gray brick walkway, black chairs, and round, black tables. The entry reads, "Biomedical Sciences and Engineering."
Building 4, surrounded by bricks in varying grays and outdoor chairs and tables. Image Text: Biomedical Sciences and Engineering.

Let’s say you’re at the main entrance to Building 4, facing the parking lot. If you walk left for a few yards, there is more outdoor seating around the corner. If you walk to your right instead, you should walk directly to Building 3, the Clifford and Camille Kendall Academic Center. Almost everything is in this building, including:

A modern looking building with lots of windows and a striped concrete entryway. Image Text: "Clifford and Camille Kendall Academic Center."
The entrance to Building 3. The name is slightly cut off by trees, but the building is the Clifford and Camille Kendall Academic Center.

If you keep walking straight, you’ll reach Building 2, ideal for administrative needs:

Building 2 also hosts the Marriott Teaching Kitchen and programs from University of Maryland, Eastern Shore.

A building entryway with a blue door and horizontal stripes made of brick. Image Text: "Shady Grove Center, University of Maryland System."
The main entrance to Building 2. Image Text: “Shady Grove Center, University of Maryland System.”

I find that the best way to get to Building 1 is to pass Building 2, cut through the campus relaxation area (recognizable by its rock sculpture and decorative arches), and follow the sidewalk. You’ll know you’re going the right way when you pass the outdoor amphitheater. The entrance to this building is yellow-ish and reads, “The Shady Grove Center, University of Maryland System.” It is across from a side door to Building 4, just past a collection of hexagonal picnic tables.

A yellowish stone entryway. The entry reads, "Shady Grove Center, University of Maryland System."
The entrance to Building 1. Image Text: “Shady Grove Center, University of Maryland System.”

From this point, if you cross to Building 4 and turn left, you should see a wooden bridge. Follow the wooden bridge past the campus pond and a red brick building. The red building is the UMD Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, also known as Building 5. At the end of the bridge, turn left, keep following the sidewalk, and the entrance to Building 5 will be on your left. Watch for geese!

That’s all I have today! Remember, if you lose your bearings on campus, look for the sundial in the center of campus and you should see most buildings. Plus, don’t be afraid to ask a security officer, staff member, or fellow student for help. Chances are, someone is going to the same place as you.

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Graduation Experience

Graduation Cap I wore for graduation! Shout out to my sister for decorating the cap for me!

May 21st, 2021 marked the end of my undergraduate studies. I got excited when UMD announced that their graduation ceremony would be in person. That meant I could have somewhat of the graduation I expected and also finally see my friends in person after not seeing them in so long. My seat happened to be in the field of the stadium and many of us know that it was very hot that day and I could feel myself getting hotter by the minute. However, it didn’t bother me too much as I was more excited to finish my studies and begin something new.

Being able to turn my tassel from one side of my cap to the other symbolized the finish line to one race and the start line of another. After the ceremony, I finally could reunite with my friends which was an amazing feeling after not seeing them face to face in over a year! I managed to find many of my fellow classmates and have a good time with them. After that, I got to take some nice photos with UMD’s Mascot, Testudo. It’s still a shock to me that I finally graduated and will start school again in August! I have said before that I will continue going forward with my higher education; I’ll finally be a part of UMD’s main campus while I study for my Master’s in Journalism! These four years of my life have come and gone and now it’s time for me to begin anew once again.

Hopefully in about two years from now, I’d actually be crossing a stage to receive my Master’s in Journalism and proceed forward in life. I’m proud to have earned my Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degrees within the four years of my undergraduate studies; so earning my Master’s Degree will be the third degree I receive! I want to thank everyone who was involved in my journey for always being a support system to me, I wouldn’t have made it without all of you by my side! If you got any questions, concerns, or suggestions on what you want to see soon, let me know! I wish you all a nice few weeks and I’ll see you in the next blog!

Photo with me and two of my friends I made while at USG!
Photo with UMD’s Mascot Testudo!
Another photo with Testudo!
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Top Podcast Suggestions

Image by PourquoiPas on pixabay.com

I am a big fan of listening to podcasts. You can get great advice on the go! Listen while you are at the pool, doing the dishes, on a road trip, etc. (great for multi-tasking!). Below are just a few podcasts I have gotten into and would recommend. Each are inspiring, informational, and great for college students!

The American Life

The American Life is a weekly public radio program and podcast. Each week a theme is selected and stories are presented on that particular theme. It’s journalism, but in a story telling format. The podcast has a variety of interesting, funny, emotional, and compelling stories and speakers.

WorkLife With Adam Grant

Adam Grant is a organizational psychologist, TED talk speaker, and best selling author of 5 books. He gives advice on how we can find motivation and meaning, and how we can all live more creative and generous lives. Adam is the host of WorkLife, a TED original podcasts. How To Love Criticism is one of my favorites!

Millennial Money

If you are looking for a quick, digestible podcast about how to save money, start a side hustle, invest intelligently and reach financial independence… Millennial Money with host Grant Sabatier is what you are looking for. Millennial Money’s episodes are under 10 minutes, straight to the point, and super useful.

The Good Life Podcast

“We’re on a quest to help you live a more meaningful, connected and vital life.” (GLP) I have listened to The Good Life Podcast since high school. The speakers – husband and wife team – Stephanie and Jonathan Fields, bring on deeply-authentic and inspiring teachers and people who are living extraordinary lives. On the The Good Life Podcast their guest speakers share their inspirational stories, experiences, and ideas. I would definitely recommend!

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Changing your Mindset

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

My final semester at USG is this fall 2021 semester. Woo!! Most the time I feel excited to finally graduate and thrilled for what’s to come post college. There are some moments of fear… that I am not ready for this next step in life. Often I think I confuse my excitement for fear.

Learning and growing doesn’t end after traditional school is done. I will always keep learning and growing – I think it is valuable to keep this in mind coming close to graduating. I won’t be completely prepared for the changes that are coming and that’s okay.

These are some things to keep in mind as we are all approaching big life changes (whether that’s graduating, starting a new job, or moving).

  • Focus on the positive aspects. Don’t focus on the negatives. If you don’t get that dream job… then there’s a job that’s better suited for you with a company that will value your strengths and see that you are amazing!
  • Prepare. Solid preparation will help you take on change with stride and confidence. You can only prepare so much… but do what you can to make changes less stressful.
  • Change your mindset. See change as an opportunity to grow. Whether or not this new phase or change works out – it’s an opportunity to learn something about yourself.
  • Failure is apart of success. No one was successful without failure. Fear of failure has been one of my biggest weakness and a tough one to overcome. Being fearful about changes or starting something new will only hinder you. So let that go and remember that failure is apart of success so minds well not be fearful of it.
  • Find people who will support you and celebrate yours wins with you. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and support your goals and aspirations. My support group is my parents and boyfriend. My parents supported me playing soccer in college and deciding to take time off school to work full-time. My boyfriend has supported me when I’ve questioned myself or the path I have chosen in college. Whether it’s family, friends, or a counselor – find someone you can lean on or go to when you are going through big changes.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself. Things may not work out in a change or new life phase. It’s okay to feel upset and down but remember to see the positives – eg. how can you approach a job interview better next time?
  • Trust in your abilities. Trust that you are prepared and focus on your strengths. Changes can be scary. Trust that after graduating USG your skills and your education will help you in this new phase of life post college!

“Change is the only constant”

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Undergraduate Journey

As I finish the end of my undergrad that I have always been so excited to do I have become more and more emotional. These last five years have been the hardest but the most amazing time of my life. When I was 18 and just beginning at Montgomery College just getting through the first semester seemed impossible. How was I going to work full time, go to school full-time, and do well at both? As the semesters went on I of course learned how to make it happen, but even just an associate’s degree did not feel possible for me. 

After three years at Montgomery College, I finally graduated with my associate’s degree and it was time to go on to finish my bachelor’s. Finishing my associate’s degree gave me more confidence that I could finish my bachelor’s degree but I still had this weird small feeling that somehow I wouldn’t make it. Fast forward to May 2021, I am graduating with my bachelor’s degree and preparing for graduate school. Reminiscing about the last five years there’s a few things I wish I could say to myself back then. But because I can not turn back the clock may this find someone who feels similar to what I did five years ago. 

My brother and I at Montgomery College Graduation 2019
  1. You are stronger than you think. This sounds so corny. But even if you are not that strong you ARE strong. You have gotten yourself through every obstacle that has come your way. Every obstacle has prepared you for the next in some way even if you don’t understand it now. Pay attention.
  2. You are on your OWN timeline. If it takes you 7 years to do something that takes another 4 years it does not make it any less valuable. It took me 5 years to get my bachelor’s degree and it is just as valuable as if it took me 4 years. Speed means nothing just don’t lose your direction. 
  3. Be your own inspiration. You are tremendous. You are the only one who is going through your situation. You are the only one who understands the difficulties of it but still manage to make what you desire happen. You are amazing and be confident in yourself. 

I am wishing you all lots of luck and success on your finals this semester. Congratulations to all my 2021 graduates!

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An Open Letter to All Parents for Mother’s Day

To the Moms of USG Students,

Thank you for sticking by us in this unpredictable, draining, ridiculous year. It hasn’t been easy to be a student during The Quarantine, and having someone in our corner makes all the difference. And, to the moms who are watching someone graduate tomorrow, don’t worry. They may not be babies anymore, but they’re still your babies.

To the Students who Are Moms,

Thank you for showing your children what a role model looks like. I don’t know how you manage it all, but you do it anyway and I greatly admire you for that. Thank you for teaching resilience, drive, and responsibility.

Three Latina women, a mom and her two daughters, smiling.
A mom with her two adult daughters. Image Credit: Gabriel Tovar via Unsplash

To the Faculty and Staff who Are Moms,

Thank you for doing your best to give us the same quality of education that you would want for your children. Sometimes, it’s hard to establish a connection with students virtually, but we see you trying anyway. I promise.

To the couples made up of Mom #1 and Mom #2,

Thank you for showing your children that who they are is okay. Not just okay, but wonderful. Thank you for teaching your child what self-acceptance means and what support means all at once.

To the Mother Figures,

This one goes out to the grandmas, aunts, considerably older sisters, and beyond. I know that not everyone has a mom, and that your relationship may look completely different. So, thank you for showing that different can work just fine, too.

To the Dads,

I see you, too. Maybe you see yourself as mom and dad rolled into one, maybe you’re with another guy and being “the mom one” is too heteronormative, or maybe your situation is completely different. Either way, you love your family. I’m sure of it, and so are they. So, thank you for the love, however you define it.

A Black man in a gray sweater coloring in pictures. He is holding his baby daughter, who is wearing pink and a tiny hairbow.
A dad holding his baby daughter and coloring with her. Image Credit: Humphrey Muleba via Unsplash

To Those for whom “Mom” is Too Gendered a Term,

Thank you for showing that family is not defined by binary.

To Those For whom Mother’s Day is, Emotionally, Really, Really Hard,

You can get through this, and you don’t have to be perfect while you do it. Whatever you’re going through, you have more support than you might know. Thank you for doing your best.


To My Mom,

I love you much more than I could fit into a blog post. Thank you for everything. Happy Mother’s Day from Smidge.

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Final Weeks

Image by Sven Lachmann from Pixabay

I’m in awe at the very moment; Is this really happening? Am I close to the finish line? Did two years really go by this quickly? I guess the idea that time goes by quickly really does apply to this moment. One moment I was stepping onto campus for the first time excited and nervous about what was to come; and then the next I’m in my bedroom attending classes through Zoom so that we can all be safe from COVID. If you had told my 11 year old self that I was going to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree during a pandemic and have a full ride to study for my Master’s in journalism at UMD, I’d probably think you’re crazy and….who are you? Yet I’m glad I made it to this point so I want to share some memories I hold dear and will remember when I leave USG.

Getting a part time job: The Center for Recruitment and Transfer Access was the first job I’ve ever had. I got to work with a lot of amazing people like Mrs. Jessica Diaz Council, the ACES Coach at USG, Melissa Herrera, the CEO Coordinator at USG, Jennifer Riehl, the Student Ambassador Program Supervisor(Mainly helped with the orange sheets that held prospective student’s information to join our campus) and many more. It prepared me to take on a future job and I’m sure the experience here will help me once I start my fellowship at UMD.

Friends: I came here thinking I wouldn’t make as many friends but boy was I wrong. I became close with 3-4 people in my major and they’ve been one of the driving forces that helped me persist through stressful times. We all know the struggle and always had each other’s backs through thick and thin; I’m very grateful to them for being by my side these past two years! It was an honor and blessing to have met them along the way!

Classes: Classes are something to remember. Some were easy, some were difficult, some were alright, but they all had something to teach us. Many of the professors here have been wonderful and it was amazing to have been part of their classes. I’m grateful that I could take some courses outside my major to expand on my interests like criminal justice and solidified what I want to do after I finish my undergraduate studies; to study journalism and become an investigative journalist.

USG has been such a blessing and it has been an honor being a student and a soon to be alumni. I never would’ve made it without the USG community; for that, I am eternally grateful to you all and it has been an amazing two years with you all. I don’t think I’ll ever find a place just like USG, you are truly a one of a kind place! I will continue to blog with USG once I’ve graduated so stay tuned for the next blog! 🙂

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Book Recommendations

I enjoy reading! BUT I often start a book and don’t finish it. Maybe people can relate? I definitely go through phases where I enjoy sitting down and diving into a good book. Typically, during the semester I am too busy and more invested in school readings and homework. I look forward to the summertime when I have a bit more spare time and can to pick up a non-textbook book.

My book recommendations consist of books that I have been recommended, have enjoyed (so far) and have been meaning to finish!

The Four Agreements, The Alchemist, Untamed, Greenlights, The Henna Artist

Summer Reads:

  • The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

I gifted this book to my mom for Mother’s day one year (which is coming up btw! Sunday, May 9th). I was in Barnes & Noble trying to find a book and asked for good book recommendation from an Barnes & Noble employee – she took me straight to this book! My mom loved it and I decided to give it a try. I would recommend this book to anyone no matter what stage or point in life that they are at. It’s a super quick read. The author, Don Miguel Ruiz, reveals the core source of self-limiting beliefs that steal happiness and creates suffering. The four agreements are based off ancient Toltec wisdom. The book offers a practical guide to reflect on and improve your belief system. This is a book I have read, reread and referred back to. I would definitely recommend!

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This another quick read. If you are looking for a short, adventure, fiction novel – The Alchemist might be good for you! The book is based around the story of a shepherd boy, named Santiago. He meets a gypsy who interprets Santiago’s dream as a prophecy telling Santiago that he should travel from Spain to the Egyptian desert to uncover a treasure. Santiago has multiple trials and tribulations in his travels and we see how he maneuvers these challenges.

  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle

This is another book I gifted to my mom and ended up borrowing after she finished. I heard Glennon speak on a podcast where she spoke about her new book at the time. I am a bit picky when it comes to self-help books… but Glennon’s stories and struggles are relatable and empowering. In the book, Glennon explains how she “quit abandoning herself and instead abandon[ed] the world’s expectations of her. She quit being good so she could be free. She quit pleasing and started living”. I tend to be a people pleaser and can often put others needs and wants before my own – I found her story/memoir relatable and helpful in creating boundaries in my own relationships.

“Glennon is church… [Her] humor, warmth, and honesty are profound reminders that there is beauty in our struggle.”

-Brene Brown, PhD
  • Greenlights by Mathew McConaughey

I have always been a big fan of McConaughey movies (Failure to Launch and The Wedding Planner… to name a few)! I have listened to interviews and podcasts he’s been on. His book is full of his experiences, insights and life events leading up to becoming a well-known, big time actor. The book is told in chronological order from McConaughey’s perspective. McConaughey describes ‘Greenlights’ as “an affirmation of our way. They’re approvals, support, praise, gifts, gas on our fire, attaboys, and appetites”. And his stories and experiences lend as a guide to catching more greenlights.

  • The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

I follow Reese’s Book club on Instagram and this was a book that Reese spoke highly of. I started The Henna Artist last summer on a beach trip and I am looking forward to picking it back up this summer. The storyline follow seventeen-year-old, Lakshmi, who escapes from an arranged and abusive marriage. Lakshmi finds her self living in the city of Juniper, working as a henna artist. It’s a story about going against the grain, perseverance, and finding fulfilment in life. Lakshmi struggles to find purpose and fulfilment in a society that is shifting from traditional (old-fashioned) to modern – definitely an eye opening book!

Hope these recommendations inspire you to pick up a good book this summer and get back into reading! I’m always looking for good books to read – please leave book recommendations/suggestions in the comments 🙂

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Student Engagement Awards Night

Getting involved on campus during college can sound overwhelming. College is hard enough why should I add more stuff to my plate? There are so many benefits to getting involved on campus. Benefits of getting involved include finding new interests, building confidence, strengthening your leadership skills, making new friends, and more. 

At the Student Engagement Awards on Friday, April 23 an amazing amount of students were given awards for Leadership, Service, and more. Passionate and motivating speeches from our Student Council President Tiffany Flowers highlighted how getting involved in student organizations and clubs can allow students to find leadership and confidence in themselves. In addition to the motivating words of our fellow leaders, simply seeing so many students receive awards for their hard work was moving as well! Some of my favorite people I saw win awards were my fellow bloggers! 

I am so grateful for being awarded the Student Organization Officer of The Year award. I have always felt honored to be Vice President of the Social Work Student Association and to be awarded an award for it means the world to me. In my role of Vice President, I was able to grow my outreach skills and find new ways to connect our very own students to resources they need even virtually. Student Ambassadors and Social Work Student Association also won Student Organization Collaboration Award. Student Ambassadors and Social Work Student Association worked together to run a COVID relief drive. We collected items such as sanitizer, tea, water, batteries, and more. On behalf of the Student Ambassadors and Social Work Student Association we are so grateful or everyone who nominated and voted for us! 

My Student Organization Officer of The Year Award and I

Student Engagement was very influential on who I am today. I will always encourage students to get involved on campus, the benefits are just too high not to. If you’re looking for ways to get involved on campus check out USG’s student engagement page!

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Summer Schedule Solutions

It’s April already. I know, I can’t believe it either. But, here we are, and it’s time to start making plans for summer! Here are a few ideas.


I love museums. They make learning interactive (the way it should be) and there’s one out there for every interest you can think of. At the time of this writing, most of the Smithsonian museums are still closed for COVID-19, but here are a few museums that are excited to welcome you.

Working Out

I never thought I’d get tired of sitting on the couch and watching TV, yet here we are. If you’re in the same boat, Gaithersburg has you covered. You can try the Cardio and Core workout at the Gaithersburg Concert Pavilion, play a round of mini golf, make an appointment at the Bohrer Park Fitness Zone, or, if you have your own equipment, spend an afternoon at the local skate park.

A hiking trail surrounded by trees, meant to represent some of the available trails in Maryland.
A hiking trail shaded by trees. Photo Credit: Oscar Portillo via Unsplash.


For the outdoorsy type, check out one of Maryland’s several state parks. Depending on the park, you can try hiking, swimming, camping, and many more activities. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is also working to make the parks disability accessible, and has even organized the parks on their website based on how far along they are.


Of course, you can’t have summer fun without the right fuel, and locally grown food tastes the best. This summer, stop by the local farmer’s market for the freshest food available. There are going to be markets at Pike and Rose, Northern Virginia, Bethesda, and Montgomery Village. Yum.

For food with a more global twist, visit The Mansion at Strathmore for their cultural Afternoon Tea. May events include Scottish, Israeli, and Chinese Tea, and check back to see what they’re up to in June. Each tea time comes with musical accompaniment, and seats fill up fast!

This list is just the beginning. With the COVID vaccine open to any Marylander aged 16 and up, opportunities are finally coming back. Let’s make the most of it! Happy summer!

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