What People Are Forgetting About Donald Trump (Odyssey)

The 2016 election will be the first time I’m allowed to vote, so naturally I want to make the best decision when I go to the polls. Therefore, I’ve been keeping up with the presidential candidates. I would be so far out of touch if I didn’t notice Donald Trump…*sigh*.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m getting a few chuckles out of his campaign. Not from his quotations and ideas specifically, but because I follow some hilarious people on Twitter and their commentary helps me smile, as opposed to getting bogged down and angry by his racist/sexist/elitist comments. And while it’s fine to laugh about the situation (because let’s be honest, the Republican Presidential debates seemed more like a circus with Donald Trump as the flamboyant, attention-craving ringleader), it’s important to keep one thing in mind.

Donald Trump might win.

This is not, I repeat, NOT, my way of supporting Donald Trump as President or even as the Republican candidate. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’d move to Canada if he won, but I’d be rather upset. At the same time, I’m not counting him out of the race. As much as I would LOVE to be comforted in the belief that he won’t get the nomination and that we’ll all be able to look back on this situation and laugh, I can’t. Because he might win. And when I think about his policies and ideas for this country, I cringe. I shudder. A refrain of “Dear God, no.” plays through my head.

If Donald Trump wins, he can change policies. He can implement new ones. Thousands, perhaps millions of people could lose benefits and rights that others have fought for over the past few decades. He could appoint officials that will stay around for the next few decades (I’m looking at you, Supreme Court judges), which would affect laws and decisions for who knows how long. He might build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. He may declare a war just to mess with other countries. And he could do so many other things that will affect us for years.

As much as we all like to laugh at Donald Trump and his ridiculous antics, I’m terrified at the thought of people being impressed by his business success and charisma and seriously considering him as a candidate. Don’t get me wrong, he is a great businessman, and the kind of power he holds might be enough to sway a significant amount of people. Plus, I’m sure there are plenty of people who agree with some of his ideas but don’t want to say it out loud for fear of not being politically correct. I won’t know how many people are of that mindset until we get to the Republican primary, but I’m sure the number will surprise me.

As we approach Election Day, I urge you not to sleep on Donald Trump. But more importantly, get up to speed on all of candidates, regardless of their party. Be a part of history, and make your voice count.

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Go To Office Hours (Odyssey)

There seems to be this attitude among students of every age when it comes to office hours. Some people think they’re a waste of time, others are scared, and a whole lot of people think that they won’t gain anything by going to office hours. Personally, I think it’s time to get over the notion that professors are these scary, emotionless, uncaring people and that their office hours are a bad thing. In fact, they could be the very key to your academic and personal success.

I’ve been there. I’ve been that student who wants so badly to do well, but can’t muster up the courage to step into my professor’s office and at least introduce myself. Going to an elite institution makes it easy to feel intimidated and scared. And even though upperclassmen and professors kept saying, “Come to office hours,” it didn’t sink in for me until at least halfway through my first semester. By then, the midterms were over, and I rushed in, panting, and saying some long speech that could be summarized, “Please help me save my GPA.” Not the best situation to be in, trust me. And it’s a really hard habit to break.

My suggestion? Go early. Like, this week if you can. Walk in and introduce yourself and say you just want to get to know your professor. Talk about your background and what made you interested in the class. Tell them why you’re excited now that you’re in the class. Talk about any fears you might have as far as test prep or time management. Ask them if they know of any good resources that successful students have used in the past for their classes. Ask about their research. Get to know them as a person, not just as a professor.

And don’t go just once. Even if you are an active participant in class (which is easier for some classes than others), go to office hours throughout the semester just to ask little questions. If there’s a paper to write, stop by just to share your potential thesis and get their feedback before you even write it. Check in with them if you notice something’s up with your grades.

Whatever you decide to do, don’t be afraid to reach out and make yourself known to your professors. They are here to support you in any way they can, and they do want to see you succeed. Never forget that!

Surviving Songfest (Odyssey)

It’s almost that time again! In just a few days, Emory will be swarmed with bright-eyed, bushy-tailed…squirrels, just like every year. But there will also be a brand new class of freshmen! Depending on if you see them before or after Songfest practices and Creating Emory sessions, they may or may not be so bright-eyed, but they’ll probably be so excited to start their time at Emory and have an awesome year.

Speaking of SongFest… let me give you a little preview of what will actually happen.

If this tradition doesn’t scream “EMORY,” I don’t know what will. It is fun, intense and one of the best ways to bond with your hallmates.

The true test isn’t SongFest, though (well actually, it is because it’s judged, but just bear with me for a second). SongFest is so much more than just the big performance. It’s going through hours upon hours of running through songs that your RAs and SAs put half their summers into.

It is realizing that maybe half of your hall (or less) has a decent sense of rhythm. And the rest, well…they make it work.

And it is powering through all of it with a smile when you just want to go back to your room and crash.

You’ll get annoyed by the two or three people other than your ResLife staff who are SO EXCITED to rep your hall.

You’ll get frustrated because, on top of new classes, homework, stalking OPUS, worrying about auditions for that music or dance group you desperately want to join, or wanting to find a time to talk to that cutie in Turman (you know, a time when you’re NOT sweaty and out of breath from rehearsing on the LSM lawn for three hours), you have to go sing and dance while you’re craving dinner and sleep.

And if you’re in one of the unlucky dorms that has to practice outside in the middle of Hotlanta in August…

But don’t despair!! Once you get to the WoodPEC (the gym, in case you didn’t know…Emory is full of acronyms) and you hear the screaming and cheering of other dorms, and you see Lord Dooley hitting the nae-nae and giving you life, you’ll realize that THIS is your moment, and you’ll want nothing more than to run out on the court, scream at the top of your lungs and prove to your whole class that YOU RUN THIS.

Besides, your professors will understand when your voices are gone the next day.

So smile, young grasshoppers. It’ll all be worth it. And you’ll have plenty of upperclassmen cheering you on, myself included.

And if you’re in Longstreet-Means, which just so happens to be the reigning Songfest champion and my glorious first-year home…make me proud.

Confessions of a Part-Time Humanitarian (Odyssey)

I’ve made the drive in and out of downtown Atlanta hundreds of times. Every time, without fail, there’s always at least one person on the side of the highway holding a sign that says something along the lines of “Anything helps!” or “God bless you!” And even though I find it ironic that, between me and the person on the highway, I’m not the one that needs the blessing the most, and even though my heartstrings are tugged every time, something has always stopped me from putting my window down and giving even a little bit.

I know I’m not the only one who’s gone through this. A lot of people, especially my age, feel a desire to help but need the extra little push to do it. Others have this preconceived idea in their minds that everyone who begs on the street is lazy, jobless, and content with being where they are. (By the way, if you’re curious about some of these common ideas, here’s a great article that explains and debunks some of them). Personally, I got stuck in the “I’m just a college student, what could I possibly do?” mindset. My Facebook newsfeed is flooded with pictures of my friends on volunteer trips in faraway places that cost thousands of dollars that I don’t have. My own schedule is hectic, I don’t like giving money online unless I know it’s a place I can trust, and sometimes it’s hard to carve out a set time each week to volunteer in a particular place (although if you can, PLEASE do).

If you’re in the same boat as me, the key to helping someone out is to think closer to home and starting small. Don’t worry about going to some exotic place to donate your time when there are dozens, if not hundreds, of places near you that could use your skills. You don’t have to raise hundreds or thousands of dollars to make a meaningful impact. Two dollars in a donation jar might not seem like much, but giving that much on a regular basis can really add up. If your school has an organization that arranges community service opportunities (shoutout to Volunteer Emory!), then by all means, give them a try.

And if you can’t give a fortune or a lot of your time, something as simple as listening to someone’s story can make a huge difference and brighten their day. You might even be surprised at what you take away from these conversations. I’ve met business owners and college professors who have taught me some great life lessons and have given me the support to pursue my dreams in times when I really needed it.

As we go into the new school year, I hope you’ll find ways to give back to your own community, big or small. And I hope you’ll open yourself up to new opportunities to help others, and become a better person in the process.