The First Second

The first second after you wake up is the most peaceful thing I can think of. That one second you don’t remember anything – what you ate yesterday, who you talked to and even how the night before history was made. It is the moment where a person is at complete bliss since they haven’t had a thought cross their mind yet. An emotion hasn’t been selected yet, their eyes are about to open and for that one second nothing has come to mind. Although, that second second is when the gates of ideas, memories and emotions open up and flood the mind. This is what I had experienced today.

 

When I woke up, I looked at my phone where I had received hundreds of messages from my friends, family, and peers, all pertaining to the results of the election. Most messages were filled with anger, others sorrow but one was filled with hope for the future.

 

My mother had sent me a message at 8:14 a.m., and the main idea in it was that we must rise above, have faith in God and in our country. “We will get through this,” she said. This was the first text I had read this morning and it had connected with me deeply. This message set the tone of my mood to be at ease and be hopeful. My mother was right – that to rise above we must come together as a country and have faith.

 

The next set of messages I received were from a few friends discussing how they were disappointed with the results. They were very angry and filled with hate. I sent them a screenshot of my mother’s message to me and told them the same thing as she told me, to essentially not be filled with hate or fear from this news. It is okay to disagree with others opinions, just don’t diminish them for their different beliefs and ideas. Years of history will not be set back if we don’t allow it to be. The strides made by us as a nation should not be set back by one person. Our ancestors who made the largest impact on our lives and government did not approach the situation with anger and disgust, they came up with peaceful acts, protests and legislation to better our nation.

 

I normally write about school-related things. This post is not any different. I know my peers here at this school will respect each other both intellectually as well as spiritually. If that is not the case for some, I know that students would stand up for those who cannot speak up for themselves in a respectful nondemeaning manor. For me personally, I as a Latina woman will not have the hatred of others affect me. I will not approach situations with hatred or anger, but instead with faith, hope and love. I believe that everything happens for a reason. This is a test not only for me but for everyone in our nation to be strong, keep our heads held high and to overcome whatever is to be thrown our way.

Perks of being on a small campus

There are definite perks to attending a small campus like Saint Xavier that make college life great. I personally enjoy being able to walk around campus and not feel a sense of being lost. But aside from that, these are a few more things that sold me on the SXU experience:

 

Knowing Everybody

The great thing about being on a small campus is that you know a great deal of students, teachers and faculty. It is much easier to find a group of friends that you feel comfortable with much faster than at a larger school. Networking with successful alumni also becomes more accessible, helping you to stand out more for guidance when it comes time for the career world. You can get to know people one on one and make lasting relationships academically, as well as socially.

 

Athletics

On campus, everyone can have the opportunity to join an athletics team. If a team or particular sport is not available, you can join an intramural, where they have such sports as as dodgeball, ice skating, basketball and even ping pong. Getting involved with one activity encourages you to get involved with others, not just athletics. Many of my peers who are involved with sports are involved with other clubs and organizations. As students, our eagerness to get involved supports a strong and active SXU community.

 

Small Class Sizes

Having smaller more private classrooms allow students to become less distracted and gives professors more of an opportunity to work one on one with you, helping with communication. I have had the opportunity of being able to message my professors and had been given a response within minutes. Not to mention when you aren’t in class, they take notice. This makes me feel at ease since it shows that they care about their students.

 

Another thing is that the campus is small enough where you could get to your classes in less than 10 minutes approximately. (I should know – I wake up 15 minutes before classes and only take 5 minutes to get ready.)

 

Last but not least, small classrooms also mean the opportunity for you to keep running into your friends… who can save you a seat in class!

Striving for Excellence

The hall resounds my footsteps as I amble down an empty hall. Not a sound besides myself occupies the hall on a dreary Tuesday morning. The occasional murmuring of one of the janitorial staff draws my attention from my fixed view of the empty diner. But overall, the most deafening noise was the silence in what should be the busy and bustling heart of Saint Xavier. But then I remembered and slapped my forehead disparagingly. On Tuesday of this week, day classes were cancelled for Faculty Development Day. It was no surprise that I was disappointed in waking up early, but then the feeling of being overjoyed replaced my disappointment. How lucky to have some free time to get homework done, socialize and just laze around. And I can assure you that I did just that. It sounds like fun and games, and it was, but beyond the face of the situation was more than just a day to laze around. Well, maybe it was like that for us students, but for the professors and educators that form the bedrock of this institution of higher learning, it was no laughing matter. That Tuesday was more than just a day for the professors to sit around in a conference room listening to someone recite a PowerPoint. It was a time for professors and another faculty at our school to continue on their path toward excellence. And make no mistake, that is the goal.

 

In the School of Education, one of the primary aptitudes that are cultivated and improved on is the pursuit of excellence. Teaching is much different than educating a person. I can teach little Jimmy not to lie to his friends or how to dig a hole for a tree sapling. He’ll do it but he won’t understand why. And that’s the biggest thing that should be asked of students. Why? Why pursue this career? Why are you here? Why does such-and-such thing happen? School should be a place that strives to build up students, to have them think critically and face the uncertainties of life with a raised chin. It should not be a place that accommodates stagnation, self-aggrandizement or sheltering oneself from ideas and beliefs different than one’s own. It is a place that educates, that shows us the world we live in and allows us the capability to lead, to think and to grow. By not challenging us, the professors would be stifling our learning and that cannot happen. That is why our school has days such as Tuesday to have professors bounce ideas back and forth and find better ways to educate the youth in an ever-changing word.

 

We get a day off, and it’s great. We get to sleep in and do nothing. We can afford that moment of lax bliss. But what students forget is the reasonings behind these things. An educator cannot afford to stand idly when the road of excellence is ever expanding outward. One can never reach the end but to not continue on the journey means an end of the journey. And when a teacher ends their journey for excellence, they cease to be an educator but an arbiter of stagnation. The sole responsibility of a teacher, an educator, is the personal growth of their students. That is what happened on Tuesday. We all know that one good teacher. For whatever reason, there is something about them that we cannot forget but somehow they have changed and touched our lives. It is because they continue on that path of excellence. They strive for it. And if you’re open to it, you will find someone like that here, too.

Day for Getting Ahead

There are definitely some nights, even weeks, where it is just too chaotic to get anything done. Everyone experiences it at some point; it is inevitable. I felt this way within the past couple of weeks between balancing work, school, home and keeping a social life. I indeed had to make some of these responsibilities suffer to catch up. Falling behind can happen in more than one way that it is out of your control. Although, in one day and with one organized list, you can get right back on track.

 

First thing to focus on is organizing around both your work and school schedule. With your class schedule set at the start of the semester, if you work, you are usually able to set your work schedule around your classes. From there, once you know what your free time looks like, you can then get on track with the rest of your responsibilities.

 

Finding extra school time to study can help you get ahead of schedule. On Tuesday, I had the whole day to catch up on my math and to get ahead so that I could finish early. The reason I could do this was because my classes were cancelled, so instead of being lazy, I did extra work for my classes.

 

Home life is tricky, especially for students who live far away from home. This weekend, I had to work long hours and could not make it to a family event. So, to make up for this, I went home today, where I got to see my family as well as my dogs. I picked my siblings up from school. We did our homework while eating snacks. After we had finished our homework, my family and I went for burgers together. Simple things like this make spending time with the family that much more special.

 

As far as my social life, I value spending times with my friends. We had the chance to catch Game 1 of the World Series and eat at Gilhooley’s. We discussed our day off to one another, and we showed off our Halloween costumes to get opinions on how to improve them. We even expressed our stress about exams and homework due at the end of the week. Yet, we are all excited for Halloween weekend and to go to Regina Hall’s Super Saturday Halloween party.

 

With one day, you can catch up on all the responsibilities you had allowed to suffer. If you do, you’ll be able to accomplish important tasks, or even get ahead with your responsibilities. I’m about to write my next couple of blog posts right now actually!

 

Getting ahead and staying on track with responsibilities helps when you have a day off of school to work everything out. If balanced correctly, I shouldn’t fall behind again.

Is Hell Freezing Over?

So, I was going to write about my week in school. I was going to discuss how the week went, how I was doing and what not. However, I simply cannot avoid talking about the history that was made in the city of Chicago over the weekend. So if you’ve been keeping up with Chicago sports, specifically baseball, the Cubs have been on a quest to make it to the World Series, which would be their first since 1945. Well, the Cubs are now just four games away from a World Series championship. Yes people, this is actually happening.

 

Now I doubt I’ll be the only one talking about this but the Chicago Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 on Saturday in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series to punch their ticket to the World Series. Yes, you read that correctly. The Chicago Cubs are going to the WORLD SERIES. It almost doesn’t seem real. It sounds so weird just mentioning “Cubs” and “World Series” without any negativity whatsoever.

 

Now for people who don’t care too much about sports, specifically baseball, just know that this is a HUGE deal. For starters, the last time the Cubs reached the World Series, World War II had just ended, the first ballpoint pen went on sale and Franklin Roosevelt was president. Yeah, it has been that long. The Cubs worked their tails off all season to reach this goal, and it finally paid off. Although the journey has just begun, this historical accomplishment has hit home for many Cubs fans, especially for me and my family.

 

Watching the Cubs in the playoffs this year has been remarkable. Yes, it was stressful at times but the Cubs have shown time and time again why they are the best team in baseball. Their win on Saturday night was just another reason for me and Cubs fans to stay calm and just enjoy baseball. After the Cubs turned a double play to end the game, my family was thrilled and excited beyond belief, especially my dad, who was the most excited out of all of us. He has been a Cubs fan his whole life. He enjoyed watching Cubs greats growing up, such as Ryne Sandberg, Dave Kingman, Andre Dawson, Rick Sutcliffe, Mark Grace and many more. He shared his passion with the Cubs with me at a young age and, of course, with the rest of my family. He supported this franchise for many years and to see his support pay off with a Cubs World Series berth just warms my heart. However, we weren’t the only Cubbies fans getting emotional. We watched endless clips of fans at Wrigley also feeling what we felt. Fans of all ages were yelling, cheering and crying tears of joy. In my neighborhood, “W” flags flew, horns sounded, and fireworks lit up the sky. It almost felt like a dream. I did nothing but smile and thank the Lord. It didn’t hit me until I woke up Sunday morning and realized what we had just accomplished.

 

Though it was a great weekend for baseball, us Cubbies fans can’t get too ahead of ourselves. It was good to see our team reach the World Series but the journey is not over yet. The Cubs are going into Cleveland Tuesday night to face an extremely talented Indians team in a seven-game set. These games will definitely not be easy by any means but after a brilliant performance by the North-siders in the NLCS, I can definitely say that the Cubbies will put on the show of a lifetime. The trip to the grandest stage of them all was stressful but exciting, and now it is time to relax and let the Cubs be the Cubs. Even when the Cubs were struggling, they managed to get themselves together and never quit. They showed their “Never Back Down” attitude and it is just a reminder to me of how good of a baseball team we really have. The Cubs’ chemistry is at an all-time high and the bond between every single player is stronger than ever. Of course, it is a huge accomplishment itself just reaching the World Series but getting that illustrious ring after 108 years would be the icing on the cake.

Giving What is Precious

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It flows through our veins. It is both the symbolic and literal essence of life within us. Blood, it has many connotations, and its importance is as much a part of us as the heart that beats it and the words that give it its poigance in our lives. And it is this importance that has ironically led to its spillage. Wars both small and large have resulted in its waste. From the streets of Chicago to the battlefields of distant lands, blood is a tangible resource and its value forgotten and yet remembered.

 

Here in the United States, a shocking statistic is that most blood centers barely have enough blood for a few days at a time, if that. Most of the time they are hemoragging blood, pardon the pun. That’s where these blood drives come in. Every year, we have several blood drives at Saint Xavier. And every time, it is a packed house. This semester, people had to wait for hours since the lines were backed up, and the organization that was doing the blood drive was overburdened. Now you can say this was an unfortunate incident with an unorganized company. But I say it was the real spirit of the SXU community.

 

This school is built on the spirit of giving, of sharing. The Sisters of Mercy are renown for its commitment to service. It is one of the very pillars in which this school has been founded on. And every aspect of life here has something to do with it. From the service club that sends volunteers for the bread truck or the drives that collect clothing or school supplies for those less fortunate, there is always something going on that take the chance to help someone. That was exemplified this week with the blood drive. Dozens of students took time out of their days and in many cases, including mine, missed class for a chance to contribue if only a little to help. Because that’s what this community is about, that is why I have remained here and am confident in SXU’s core values.

 

When I was a child, my father told me a story, actually more like a series of great epics of his life in a poor village to a great war in his homeland to his escape to America. And the only part he always remembered telling me was the time he donated blood. It was prior to his visa being approved to come here after the Vietnam War. He said that, “if this land takes me in, I give them what is most precious to me for it has given what is most precious to it.” It is that commitment to service that was exemplified by my father, by this school and by this community which I find so inspiring. We hear so much sadness in the world. And as a result, some people find it difficult to find a reason to try and make a difference. How can someone be the change they want to see if they don’t work at it. A mountain is not built from the top most rock down. It takes the small stones that form its base. And it is the practice of giving that allows mountains of change to occur.

The Wolf of SXU

Here at Saint Xavier University I knew exactly which major I had wanted to choose, which was business marketing. Many people ask me why I chose to be a business major, and I won’t lie my decision was not only heavily influenced by family but media as well. This is a very serious topic for me, which I hope you’ll find inspiring. And if you’ve read this much, then I’m quite sure you will finish the rest.

The deciding factor for me choosing my major was not just the hope of successfully landing a job straight out of college but was because I had watched movies like “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Now before you go and start judging me for basing my decision of my educational future off this film — hear me out! I completely get that this movie is over dramatized, but the core of the plot of this true story is what I am mainly focused on. It’s about a man who worked all his life as the little guy and made a couple smart decisions that made him a millionaire. There is also that drive given whenever you see or hear stories to further understand what exactly is going on in the business world as well as how to get in the game yourself. All business majors are not in it just to learn about business; they are in it to get smart about the world of economics and make money, at least in my opinion.

Watching this movie the first time, I was heavily confused on the terminology that the characters were using until I had taken a few business courses here at SXU. Going to classes such as Business 101 and even macro/microeconomics heavily improved my knowledge on the business world. Now, when I watch the movie I’m not confused about terminology like GDP or concepts, such as product differentiations.

Here’s a short list of my favorite business movies to check out that not only are entertaining but informative in a way as well.


1. The Wolf of Wall Street

2. The Big Short
3. Margin Call
4. Joy
5. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
6. Food Inc.
7. The Intern
8. Wall Street (1987)
9. The Pursuit of Happyness
10. The Company Men

An Art Talk

When you enter Saint Xavier’s Visual Arts Center, you often are met by silence and the occasional sound of the extremely noisy ventilation above the nave. The smell of paint thinner and charcoal present in the air tells of the place’s purpose. But this week was different. Instead of the tranquil silence of the VAC which would allow artists the quietness they need for work, there was a steady murmur of focused dialogue. The smell of paint is replaced by caramel and apples. The nave, empty of all but the movable panel walls for paintings and photo prints, is now filled with chairs and people intent to listen and analyze.

This week, we had a very important and memorable event at the Saint Xavier Art Department. Every semester, the Art Department hosts two senior seminar art critiques, one for the midterm and another for the final. It is always exciting to see the progress of fellow students and getting inspiration from them. There was a lot of interesting projects and theses.

This year, we had a smaller graduating class of seniors than the year prior, eight in total. Seven of them I knew on a personal level. It was amazing seeing the hard work they had pushed out this first half of the semester. As an artist, it proved an invaluable experience as I prepare to take their place next year. It is often said among the seniors that senior critique is a grueling and terrifying time to be at hand. While that may be true in certain regards, it is also a very rewarding and liberating time as well. The professors giving detailed and poignant advice and critiques on certain pieces, which opens one’s eyes to what is to be expected and what areas one should focus on.

Open to the public, the art critiques are wonderful events for people to come by and see what exactly goes on in the Art Department and what our promising young people are dreaming up. Here at Saint Xavier, we’re known for our Nursing and Education departments. But it should be remembered for its artists as well. Often times, the works of art that decorate Saint Xavier and give the walls and halls color are from the people that once walked those same halls wondering of what the next painting or sculpture or photo would entail.

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Homecoming Week here at Saint Xavier is one of the most exciting week of events that the school hosts. Every single day we were able to do something from October 1-8. A couple of things I was able to do was receive a waffle on a stick that was chocolate-dipped and sprinkled with Butterfinger crumbles, courtesy of SXU Diner. Another fun activity held was the movie in the quad where they showed the film “Now You See Me 2.” To top it off, there was even a dance called the Heritage Ball. Students were able to dance the night away before the big game held on Saturday.

On Saturday, October 8, the SXU football team won 25- 21 against Concordia University Ann Arbor. From the moment you walk into the stadium, you are given face stickers that you are able to put on as well as a $5 concession stand voucher. (I personally got a walking taco … It was delicious!) The SXU cheerleading team as well as the dance team the Paw Prints had got the crowd full of spirit motivating the Cougars to push through to the very end to win. Outside of the stadium, Cougar fans were tailgating and coming together in support of our home team. It’s a time for students to get to know each other outside of a school setting while having loads of fun.

I am most looking forward to next year’s homecoming game because of how successful this year was. My friends and I got closer and made plenty of memories as well as made brand new friends. If there is any event you should attend, it is this one! So mark your calendars, people, because before you know it the year will end and a new one will begin!

Getting to know my fellow cougar pals outside of the football stadium before the big game

Getting to know my fellow Cougar pals outside of the football stadium before the big game.

Beverly Art Walk

Gray dusty-looking clouds, an unpleasant dampness in the air, there’s a cold chill in the wind that never gives a reprieve for those outside. That’s what it should have felt like. But the sounds of rain pattering on the sidewalk and the skidding of tires on wet asphalt was drowned out. I heeded no sounds of sirens or of disconcerting chatter and fits of cigarette-induced coughing. I saw no stoic men in blue or sad dirty faces or the frail forms of old women outside hurrying to wherever they were going. There were all inside, away from the cold chatting and laughing at a common thing to behold. All I heard and saw was the common love for art. This weekend was the annual Beverly Art Walk, a one-day event that brings together the local artists of the Beverly area and the greater community of Chicago.

Here in Chicago, the arts scene is very much alive, and Beverly is no exception. Artists working in oils, others in ceramics and others working with what they’ve found lying on the sidewalk all coming together for a whole day showing their practice in a massive open reception for all to see. A stone’s throw away from Saint Xavier University, the Beverly Art Walk was a sight to behold. Packs of people hopping onto the trolly on a scenic route through the major parts of the Beverly area with stops at the studios and homes of many prominent local artists.

Portrait in Broken glass by Dalton Brown

Portrait in broken glass by Dalton Brown

One such artist I met was Dalton Brown, a prolific black artist whose primary theme in his works is “seeing and feeling.” Working in oil paints, he began dabbling with broken glass due to his background. The picture above is of one of his portraits. What first caught my eye was that it was done in broken glass he collects. The glass is from alcohol bottles which are a meaningful part of the piece since he said the portraits were of members of his family who were or have dealt with alcoholism. He had a lot of good advice for fellow artists: He said it’s not enough that an artist paints or does their craft; they also have to be able to “see and feel” what it is they’re doing. Without that passion for art, it will show in the quality and the heart of the heart.

Wall dedicated to prospective Saint Xavier Students from neighboring high schools.

Wall dedicated to prospective Saint Xavier students from neighboring high schools.

 

Wall dedicated to Saint Xavier

Wall dedicated to  Saint Xavier students.

SXU Beverly Art Walk Mural Wall

SXU Beverly Art Walk Mural Wall

One of two pieces of mine showcased at the SXU Beverly Art Walk Gallery.

One of two pieces of my work showcased at the SXU Beverly Art Walk.

Here at Saint Xavier, we didn’t have that problem. While renowned for our education and nursing programs, SXU has a thriving and well-respected artistic community of which I am part of. For the past three years, SXU has had its own gallery location to showcase the art of current students, alumni and of prospective high schoolers. It was a wonderful thing to see professors from the University and members of the community come and support us and the school and those hopefully soon on their way to join the SXU community. We probably had a good 300 people come through over the course of the day. We had a huge wall, which we left blank for anyone and everyone to come and leave their mark. Children barely able to walk and elderly folks in walkers and canes all came together to create art filled with more than skill but heart. The most meaningful part of the whole event for the SXU Gallery, in my opinion, was being able to talk to the high schoolers, the fresh faces on the block, and learn about their art endeavors, see where they were coming from in their mindsets and give them tips. For now, it is done. But the future is unknowable and uncertain. I just hope to see those fresh faces on campus here at Saint Xavier.