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!!

 

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!

LMU Awards Night

It’s currently two days into finals week at LMU, and I am almost completely done with my junior year of college! Isn’t that incredible?! I can still remember my senior year of high school around this time when I came to LMU for my new student registration. It feels like the time has just flown by, and just yesterday it was my first day of classes as an incoming freshman and I was terrified. The more time I spend here, the more this school feels like home. I look forward to starting every year, and all of the events that a new year brings.

One of the events that I look forward to the most during the year is awards night. I’m not going to lie, I kind of freak out when I get an email saying that I have been invited to the event. It’s such an honor to be invited, and I get to dress up all pretty and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love that?

Basically awards night is an annual event at which the university awards scholarships to students who excel academically, are in leadership roles, and/or have good performance in music, sports, and their specific majors. These scholarships are credited towards each student’s tuition for the following academic year on top of the institutional aid they may receive.

This year I was fortunate enough to be awarded three additional scholarships. These included a donor-based scholarship, a scholarship for excelling in my leadership role on campus, and a scholarship for excelling in the biology department. There were  264 students students to receive $540,000 in scholarships at this year’s award night, and all of them were very much deserving. If you excel during your time at LMU, the university will reward you for your hard work.

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Because we are a smaller, private university, the ceremony itself was very intimate, and each student is individually recognized and introduced. Then you make your way to the front, accept your scholarship and get to pose for a picture with the president of the university, presently Dr. B. James Dawson. Personally, I see the president as some kind of celebrity and I feel like a movie star or something when I get to pose for a picture with him. He’s actually really active with the student body and extremely kind. In fact, this year at the awards ceremony he posed for a “selfie” with a student accepting an award! How awesome is that?!

Another factor of our awards night that I believe sets LMU apart from other schools is that we actually get to interact with the donors that provide much of the funds for our scholarships. There is a banquet held each year along with the awards night ceremony at which students and the donors of their scholarships get to eat dinner together and get to know one another. I think this is an excellent opportunity for students and benefactors to intermingle and get to know one another.

In addition to the banquet, LMU gives each student that receives a scholarship on awards night the opportunity to send a hand-written thank you card to the donors directly. I was quite surprised when I heard about this aspect of the scholarship process and was honored to be able to reach out to the donors of my scholarship and thank them directly.

As I am finishing out of my sixth finals week at LMU, I am reminded of how thankful and blessed I am to attend this university. It is so satisfactory to be rewarded for the time, effort, and hard work I put into my studies. These times may be stress-filled, but I always leave for the summer with a strong feeling of accomplishment and pride in my school.

As always, feel free to follow my blog to keep up with my ‘wild’life. Have you ever received an award from your school or university at an awards night? If so, what is your school/university’s awards night like? I would love to heard about it.

“Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow.”

Studying is a hot topic for many, both those who are currently in college and those who plan on attending college. In my experience with studying, I have found that it isn’t as static as a term as many people think. In fact, to many people’s dismay, there isn’t a correct way to study; it’s different for each person.

My first encounter with “studying” was not pretty. I remember it all too well. It was freshman year of college and my biology professor told us to make sure we studied at least a small amount every night after lecture. Being fresh out of high school with a 4.0 and barely doing any studying, I thought I had studying all figured out. Unfortunately for myself, it caught up to me after receiving my first exam grade back. A few minutes of flipping my scan-tron answer sheet over later, it finally sunk in that I had made a 68. This was nothing like I was used to. I could get by perfectly fine in high school without once having to crack open a textbook. So naturally, I blamed the professor. I approached him after class and asked him if he had given me the correct grade because there must be some mistake, I don’t make 68s. He quickly reassured me that it was indeed my grade, and because it was so low and I was visibly upset by it, I should meet with him during his office hours. Reluctantly, I accepted his offer and met with him the next day. Little did I know, that meeting would be one of the most beneficial meetings I would ever attend.

When I arrived in his office, he told me to take a seat. I panicked. I thought for sure I was in trouble. He obviously saw the unease in my face and told me to relax and that he simply wanted to have an informal conversation with me. After about five minutes of awkward silence following this remark, I finally spoke up. “Is there any way I could make this grade up?” I asked very cautiously. The answer shocked me. “No. . .” That word echoed in my mind over and over until I heard him say, “but I do have a suggestion.” I immediately gave him my full attention, and was on ecstatic to hear of this miracle solution. “Caitlin, I know you’re more than capable of doing well on my exam, but you’re going to have to study.” I was offended. Granted he complimented me, but how dare he suggest that I hadn’t studied. I defiantly stated, “I did study. I read over my notes the night before. I just think your exam was too hard.” Now would be a good time for me to recommend that none of you ever tell a professor that his/her exam is too hard. Seriously, that’s just asking for trouble. He quickly pointed out that several students in my class had made As and Bs, so either they were certifiable geniuses, or that my argument was simply invalid. Once my ego was out of the way, he told me that, though reading through my notes is an acceptable way of studying, I shouldn’t only do it the night before an exam. He also suggested that after each lecture I should read back through the material and write down any questions I have about that section so I can ask them in class.

All in all, this was probably one of the most crucial moments of my time in college. From this point on, I began experimenting with different ways of studying. First, I tried my original method of reading my notes–this time beginning a few days before my exam–no matter how I manipulated it, this method just didn’t seem to work for me. Then I tried holding study sessions, in which I was forced to make and read a study guide aloud to fellow classmates. This method was super beneficial for both myself and my classmates. While I read the study guide, I was teaching my classmates and myself the material. Finally, because hosting study sessions wasn’t always an option, I began making flash cards of the information on my study guides. This method of studying, by far, has been the most successful form of studying for myself.

 

Though I am still not happy about the 68 I made in Biology 111, I will never regret it. That score alone led me to break out of the academic ego I had acquired in high school, and have one of the most important conversations I have ever had in my college career.

Do any of you struggle with studying? If not, what method works best for you? I would love to know, and if you’re struggling I would to help you out! Leave your comments on the matter below, and if you’d like to read more of my posts feel free to follow my blog. I would appreciate it!