Memories

For this week’s post I was feeling a bit sentimental, so I decided to tell you guys 6 of my most unforgettable memories. Some of them are good and some of them are bad, but they were certainly unforgettable. I have so many of these memories, but these are some of the most monumental.

1. The first day of kindergarten.

My grandmother took me to my first day of kindergarten, and I don’t remember why my parents didn’t.  Anyway, I remember her walking into Mrs. Kelly’s class at East Knox, and me being so scared of all of the other kids. In fact, I wouldn’t even let go of her hand. I kept pleading with her not to leave me there, but she insisted that she had to go. She took me over to some toys that I could play with in an effort to distract me from her leaving, and before she left she kissed me on the cheek. The rest of the day was filled with meeting new people and playing with all sorts of fascinating toys! One thing did seem odd to me, though. Every time I would introduce myself to one of the kids in my class, or play games with them, they were always giggling. I had no clue why until my parents picked me up that afternoon. It turns out that when my grandma kissed my cheek, she had left a lipstick stain on it, and it had been there all day long. Naturally, being 5, I was mortified. To this day I still ask my grandma if there is lipstick on my cheek after she kisses me.

2. The cat did it

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The Infamous Whiskers and I

Ever since my family moved to Tennessee in 1996, we’ve had a cat in the house. Ever since I can remember, I have blamed him for everything that happened to go wrong in the house. There is one time in particular that stands out to me. I used to torment this poor kitty and chase him all over the house in an attempt to capture him so that I could dress him in my doll clothes and push him around in a baby stroller. Let’s face it, the cat was smart to run from me; he was terrified. One day he decided that he had had enough, and he led me on a pursuit throughout the entire house. He finally made it into the living room and darted under a chair right as I was leaning down to catch him. BAM! I hit my head right on the corner of the wooden arm of the chair. I thought nothing of it, gave up the chase, and went on my merry way. I was walking into the kitchen when my dad saw me. Much to my shock, his eyes got large and he scooped me up and asked what happened. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I looked him sternly in the face and said, “Whiskers did it.” He gave me a blank expression, and told me to go look in the mirror. I obliged and began skipping to my room. On the way, I felt something drip on to my nose and just shrugged it off. I grabbed my ballerina jewelry box to look in the mirror inside, and began crying. I was bleeding quite badly near the edge of my left eyebrow. I ran back to dad and told him it was the cat’s fault that I had ran into the edge of the chair. He cleaned up my face and laughed at me and said, “sure thing, bug.” Every time I see the scar below the outside edge of my left eyebrow, I’m reminded of that time that is was, once again, the cat’s fault.

3. 9-9-1999

My family had all packed into the car to go to Vanderbilt hospital because my mom had an appointment. It was going to be a long car trip, and I was really excited. My sister and I took turns asking if we were there yet from the back seat of the car (we were 6 and 9, give us a break). Everything was going really well on the trip, and I think my parents even let us listen to one of our Disney cassette tapes for part of the ride. It was pretty “magical” (pun). All of the sudden my dad pulled of the interstate and into the central grassy median. My mom immediately asked him what in the world he was thinking, but he wasn’t able to answer. Then, seconds after she had questioned him, we heard screeching breaks, breaking glass, screams, and crashes. I looked out the window and saw a car vertical on it’s front bumper, and quickly slam to the road. My mom screamed, and my sister started crying, so I did too. My mom’s passenger side window was cracked slightly and glass sprayed into our car. After the commotion, my father got out and ran from car to car trying to help anyone that he could. The rest of our time in Nashville was spent filling out witness reports. I will never forget that day.

4. Singing at my high school senior awards night

I had never sang in front of any crowd before, so debuting in front of ALL of my high school peers was absolutely terrifying. At least I would almost certainly get a judgment whether or not I was a decent singer. A friend and I had written a song to perform together specifically for our graduating class, so at least I wasn’t alone. We got up to the mics and I started to shake, I wanted to run away but it was much too late to back out now. My friend began playing his guitar and I immediately scanned the audience and caught a glimpse of my parents and grandparents. They were smiling at me, and in that moment, I knew I could do this. I sang my heart out, and at one point my friend forgot the lyrics, but we recovered like pros. When we finished, the crowd full of my classmates clapped and cheered for us. Later that night, I got so many compliments on my singing and the song and I was on cloud nine.

5. The summer before my freshman year at LMU

I remember getting my acceptance letter and housing assignment from LMU and getting so excited. I immediately began to plan my dorm design and color scheme. My summer was filled with decor shopping trips, buying new “college” clothes, and trying to figure my life out. I would constantly nag my mom about needing to go to Bed Bath and Beyond or Forever 21. I just never understood why she would tell me no. I was starting college. I was an adult and I was ready to be on my own. I quickly realized that was not the case when I had to pick out an alarm clock for the first time in my life. My mom had always come in to wake me up. How was I going to wake up to a beep? What had I gotten myself into?

6. Awards Night 2014

Classmates and me receiving the Biology Department scholarship

Classmates and me receiving the Biology Department scholarship

This is one of the most recent memories I have. It was a huge night for me. I actually wrote an entire blog post about it that can be found here. I got 3 new scholarships in just one night! I also loved being able to see all of my classmates’ hard work get paid off by the recognition/awards they received that night. I’m very blessed to attending a school like LMU, and I always look forward to making more wonderful memories here! I know all of that sounds really cheesy, but it’s true y’all, I really do love it here and have from day one.

I hope you enjoyed those memories from my life. Those are only a small percentage of the memories that I still remember like they were yesterday. Do you have any memories you will never forget? Let me know in the comments below! Please follow my blog, and I look forward to the next time I can tell you all about my ‘wild’life!!

Going the extra mile…or semester

When I went through my freshman orientation at LMU, I was so excited at the thought of just four more years of school between me and my dream career. Little did I know, I was destined for four and a half. I’m not going to lie, I was devastated when I was given the news by my academic adviser. I didn’t want to spend an extra semester in school, it wasn’t fair. I was caught up in the stigma that if you had to spend an extra semester at college, it was because you didn’t work hard enough. Let me just set the record straight: staying an extra semester in college does not, by any means, make you inferior to those able to graduate “on time”. In my case, and many of the others who have to spend an extra semester college, it’s necessary.

As it turns out, my program is quite hour-intensive. We have 66 credit hours (in addition to our general education requirements) to complete before we graduate. That’s a huge amount when distributed over only 4 years. On top of that, the wildlife courses are offered on a staggered schedule. This means that certain courses are only offered every other year during a particular semester. Therefore, when you’re signing up for your classes, you have to be very careful to make sure that you sign up for every wildlife course offered. Unfortunately, this means that many general education courses may get pushed off a semester, and believe me, those classes begin to pile up.

I certainly don’t say any of this to discourage any of you wishing to pursue a degree in wildlife biology at LMU, because it’s well worth it. I just wanted to talk about my own experiences in the program and the fact that it takes quite a bit of dedication and perseverance. This is definitely a career path that requires passion to be completed.

In my case, I could have potentially avoided the necessity of an extra semester by taking college courses while in high school. I didn’t want to do that in high school simply for the fact that I couldn’t afford it at the time. I’m happy that I decided to wait until college to take any college-level courses, though. It may have come with the price of having to spend an extra semester at university, but I was able to get into the college mindset all at once.

I remember going into panic mode when I came to terms with having to spend an extra semester at LMU. First, I was upset that I wouldn’t be able to graduate with my friends. Then, I began freaking out because I didn’t know how I was going to afford an extra semester out-of-pocket. I couldn’t afford that, even in my wildest dreams! All I wanted to do was spend four years at LMU, walk across the stage in May of 2015, throw my little cap in the air and move into my future. This dream was slowly being pulled out of my grasp just because I needed six more credit hours. You heard that right…SIX hours were keeping that from me. I guess that’s to be expected when you sign up for a major with so many credit hours.  

Once I got over myself (did I ever mention I’m a bit of a drama queen?), and calmed down I began to be logical about this. I started to seek out people who were either in their extra semester, or planned on attending for an extra semester to get some input, and hopefully some relief. I was able to speak to several other wildlife majors who explained that having an extra semester gave them more time to job hunt and plan for their future. Luckily for myself, I was informed that our university has an excellent program in place that extends our financial aid packages for up to a year. This includes all of our state and institutional specific financial aid. To be eligible for this financial aid extension one must maintain a certain GPA. This meant that I wouldn’t be paying out of pocket for an extra semester of required classes.

At this point, I will be entering my senior year at LMU in the fall. Hopefully, with the knowledge that I’ll have an extra semester next fall, senioritis won’t kick in….I hope. I plan to keep on trekking through this college journey, and eventually scaling that mountain called “graduation” and reigning victorious. I love LMU and all of the people here, so I’m lucky to have an opportunity to spend more time here and get to know as many people as possible!  Regardless of my extra semester, I plan to make my four (and a half) years at LMU some of the best years of my life.

As always, please follow my blog. I look forward to telling you about the newest chapter in my ‘wild’life!!

 

Jurassic Park in Real Life?

Last semester, I was assigned an extra credit project for my ornithology class. In this assignment, my professor told us to go on to the TED talks website and choose a video related to ornithology and write a summary of it. I found a really interesting video upon searching ornithology, and I wanted to share it with you all.

To start, however, I would like to tell you all what a TED talk is. I had no idea what they were when I was given this assignment, but I had heard of them before. TED is a nonprofit organization that publishes hundreds and thousands of talks and lectures every year with the purpose of spreading knowledge and ideas. It is a wonderful resource that you can use to find a video that covers pretty much any topic. TED even does events at several universities around the United States at which many speakers come and give free talks/lectures at the event venue.

Now on to the good stuff. The TED talk I chose was entitled Building a Dinosaur from a Chicken. Honestly, I chose this talk because it sounded really cool. I mean, who doesn’t want to click on a video with that title?  The author/speaker of this talk was Jack Horner. He is a paleontologist from Montana, credited with several important discoveries in his field. Some of these discoveries include: finding the first dinosaur eggs in the Western hemisphere; finding the first dino babies in nests; and discovering the first dinosaur embryos. That’s pretty incredible, right?

Jurassic Park - Gifs - jurassic-park Fan ArtI’m gonna pause in my video explanation just for a second. Fun fact time: I absolutely adore the Jurassic Park movies. They are some of my all time favorite movies, and ever since I saw them, I have wanted to go to a real-life Jurassic Park (which is odd considering the protagonists in the movie are usually always stalked by raging, hungry dinosaurs). Nevertheless, carry on with the video description…

From his findings throughout his years as a researcher, Jack Horner was able to hypothesize that dinosaurs not only were very nurturing to their young, but they were also quite intelligent. If any of you have seen Jurassic Park, you will recognize this hypothesis. The dinosaurs depicted in the movie were able to learn from their surroundings and find better ways to track down the humans in the film. At this point I was amazed that aspects of the movies were actually based on what researchers believed dinosaurs’ behavior was like.

Horner also had another hypothesis for dinosaur behavior that was depicted in the film. This hypothesis was that dinosaurs were very social creatures. This was brought about due to the discovery of differing appearances of dinosaurs from juveniles to adults. They could recognize one another and this was a huge step forward in dinosaur studies. This was shown in some of the sequels of the Jurassic Park movie in that a mother T-Rex was able to identify her child when it is captured by the humans.

I’m sure at the point you are trying to figure out what all this has to do with a chicken. Well, look no further because I am about to bring this full circle! Basically, since many of the hypotheses for dinosaur behavior matched up with the films depictions of dinosaurs, Horner wanted to see if it was possible to create a dinosaur like they did in the movies. He knew that the method of finding mosquitoes in tree sap was a bit far-fetched and almost impossible, so he went for resources that he knew he had available and just might work. After the movie came out, Horner and his colleagues got a grant to extract DNA from a dinosaur in an attempt to recreate one. So they extracted material from an actual dinosaur bone from a fossil. Unfortunately, they were never able to harvest DNA.

They then began a new project using a T-Rex sample, they named B-Rex. Which is a pretty cute name for a T-Rex fossil, if you ask me. In this fossil they were able to find better tissue from inside the bones, very similar to that of a pregnant bird. They then placed the bone in acid and were left with blood vessels, after an attempt to harvest dino DNA, they were again unsuccessful.

Finally, Horner thought to himself that since birds are dinosaurs and dinosaurs are birds, they could make a dinosaur out of birds. He decided the easiest bird to work with would be the chicken. So he began studying atavisms, or ancestral characteristics, of chickens, and using them to their advantage. So the ultimate goal is to isolate all of these atavism genes and turn them back on, and ending up with, what he deems, a Chickenosaurus. They have not been completely successful, but with time they may be.

So basically, we could have a real-life Jurassic Park soon. How amazing is that?! Here’s the full video, and I would definitely recommend checking it out. Horner is really funny and interesting.

I hope you are all having a great summer break! Please feel free to follow my blog and write down in the comments below how you would feel about having a real life Jurassic Park.

Undergraduate Internships

This summer I was given a fantastic opportunity. LMU sponsors an internship with the University of Tennessee and I was chosen to be a part of it! At this point I am only two weeks in, but I wanted to write this post to tell you guys what it’s been like so far.

My first day of work was the Monday after I arrived home from my vacation. Being nervous on your first day of a job always seemed really cliche to me, so I figured I would be cool as a cucumber. However, the second my hand touched the door to the building I work in, I was shaking like a leaf. Once I met my advisor here, it became much less intimidating. She gave me a tour of the building I would be working in and even showed me to my personal work bench in her lab. I was assigned to the Entomology and Plant Pathology department at UT, and I was given a research project to facilitate. Unfortunately, because it is in progress and is work that hasn’t been studied before, I can’t disclose exactly what I’m working on just yet.

I can, however, tell you some of the things I do at my internship. For the most part, I am in the lab setting up tests and experiments, running the experiments, and collecting the data I receive. I also spend quite a bit of time in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources library doing literature reviews and research concerning my project. 

In addition to my lab work at UT, I will also be participating in some field work as well. For this portion of my internship I will actually travel to West Tennessee to a place called Ames Plantation. This is a large stretch of land owned by the university on which they carry out quite a bit of field work. I will spend a week here observing specimens and collecting behavioral data. I will also spend some time at Ames hand-collecting some specimens from the ground to bring back to the lab on UT’s campus and conduct experiments on.

So far, I am thoroughly enjoying myself. I am also getting valuable job experience in both the field and lab environment in the process, which is quite crucial for pretty much anyone seeking a job after college. I didn’t know much about internships at all until one of my professors approached me and asked if I would be interested in working at UT over the summer.

For anyone that is in college or plans on attending college, I cannot stress enough how beneficial internships can be. There are tons of them available to you, but you have to search for them. Another thing I would recommend is that you start your internships early. Many internship opportunities are open to all grade levels, even incoming freshman. These internships give you excellent job experience, and they will also provide you with important contacts. These contacts can be huge helps in finding a job in the future, and they may even turn out to be your future employer!

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “If an internship is so important, how do I find one?” If so, you’re in luck because I’m going to share with you my method of internship searching.

  1. ASK ASK ASK! This probably the most simplistic method of finding an internship, but the most underused. Don’t be afraid to ask one of your professors if they know of any internships available. The worst they can say is no.
  2. Do Research! Even something as simple as a Google search of “Undergraduate internships in (insert study area here)” would be more than sufficient. Believe me, Google is your friend.
  3. Use Your Resources Wisely. There are several online databases that are created for the sole purpose of students finding internships in their fields of study. One of these databases that I really like is REU. This site lists hundreds of University-sponsored internship opportunities available to undergraduates. Each of the internships is at a different university where you will stay the summer and assist a professor with his or her research project. To be considered for each position, you need only to submit an application they provide on their website.

I hope that this post was helpful to all of you, and I can’t wait until my project is over and I can tell you more about it! In the meantime, follow my blog if you aren’t already doing so, and I’ll see you next time!

Summer 2014

By the time you lovely readers see this, I will be in South Carolina on the third full day of my vacation! I’m getting excited just typing this! Summer is always an exciting time it seems, with school out and vacations galore! I wanted to make a post for you guys telling you what I’ll be up to this first week of summer break.

First thing’s first, I am leaving for vacation the 9th of May and will be gone until the 17th. My family, my boyfriend, and I will be spending the week at Garden City Beach, SC. Many people haven’t heard of this little beach, but I guarantee that you know where it is. Garden city is just 17 minutes away from Myrtle Beach, SC. I prefer vacationing in the quieter, less crowded town of Garden City, but it’s still close enough to be able to enjoy all of the attractions and shopping in the Myrtle Beach area.

So here’s a fun fact: this will only be my third time to the beach…ever! For a lot of people, a beach trip is the “typical” summer family vacation, but my family usually vacationed in the mountains of Tennessee or North Carolina. Honestly, that’s probably a big factor into why I chose my major of wildlife and fisheries management; I  love being in National Parks and out enjoying the best that nature has to offer.

Some of the beautiful architecture for which Charleston is known.

Back on track, though, this year our beach trip will also contain an integrated mini-
vacation. We’ll be leaving the beach on Monday for a day trip to Charleston, SC. It’s like inception, but with vacations. That’s pretty amazing. Aside from our day trip to Charleston, we also have a ton of other fun things planned for our trip this year. One of the attractions I anticipate most when we go to the beach is Brookgreen Gardens. This attraction is a 15 square mile stretch of public gardens interspersed with farmland, a plantation home, and hand carved sculptures, created by the original owners. It’s absolutely amazing to visit and since it’s only a short drive from Myrtle Beach, I would definitely recommend anyone that plans on staying in the area this summer to go and visit. It’s truly a hidden gem.

A view of Broadway at the Beach

Another attraction that many of you probably know about (if you have visited the Myrtle Beach area before) is Broadway at the beach. This is like a paradise of shopping, attractions, and food. To those of you who aren’t familiar with this place, it’s almost like an outdoor mall complete with a Hard Rock Cafe, a Senor Frog’s, a carnival, and Ripley’s aquarium (and that isn’t even the half of it). The first time I went there, it was almost surreal. It seemed so strange to have so many attractions, shops, and restaurants in one area, but it certainly works. Visiting Broadway at the beach is always a highlight of our trips to the beach.

This year, we’re also doing something a little different while at the beach. We’ll be going to one of those HUGE all-you-can-eat seafood buffets. The reason this is different than usual is because we typically go to a local fish market while we’re there and buy some fresh seafood and cook it ourselves at the beach house, but this year we wanted to give one of the buffets a try. We’ve heard nothing but great things about them, and my family and I are huge fans of seafood, so I’m guessing we’ll love it!

I can’t wait to spend some time in the sun and sand with some of my favorite people! What are your plans for summer vacation? Are you going to the beach, somewhere else, or are you having a staycation? Let me know in the comments below! I can’t wait to write a post about all the fun adventures I had while on vacation! Until then, follow my blog if you aren’t already, and I’ll see you for the next update on my ‘wild’life!