Honors students celebrate Fall Break

With the start of the new semester and throughout its progression, Honors students and staff have been in the full swing of classes and assignments. Fall break took place last week, and no classes were held on Thursday, Oct. 10 or Friday, Oct. 11. This was a nice break for many members of the Meredith College community. Below, read how a few students in the Honors Program decided to spend their Fall Break.

Katie Thompson, Class of 2021

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Pictured above is Katie Thompson at a crab feast in Annapolis, Maryland.

“Over Fall Break, I visited my family at home in Lorton, Virginia where I took some day trips with friends and family to the historic town of Occoquan along the Potomac River, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania as well as an apple orchard in Maryland along the way. We also went to Annapolis, Maryland. It has been a tradition in my family to have a crab feast in the Fall since that’s when crabs are in season and this year did not disappoint! As someone who loves to explore places both near and far, getting to spend time with friends while traveling was such a great way to spend my Fall Break. It was definitely one that I won’t forget, especially with Ring Week starting just days after!!”

Miranda Demers, Class of 2022

“I spent my fall break catching up with my family. I went home and hung out with my mom, my sister, and my grandparents. One thing my family did all together is we made pretzels from scratch. They were super yummy, and I had a great break!”

Raynor Dail, Class of 2022

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Raynor Dail is pictured at right in Greece. Olivia Slack, another Honors student, is standing second from left.

“I am in Sansepolcro, Italy this semester with the Meredith study abroad program. Over our break, a few of my friends and I traveled to Greece. It is such a beautiful country, and I am so glad I was able to visit during my abroad experience!”

 

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

On behalf of the Honors Program, we hope all students enjoyed their short break to celebrate the midterm mark of the semester. Honors students, continue to work hard. Keep going strong in your studies and beyond!

Study Abroad News from Ireland: Part 2

[The author, senior Nola Grace Brown, applied for an Honors study abroad scholarship (SAS) and received one. How about you?  Do you want to study abroad in Summer or Fall 2020? Watch your email inbox in early Dec 2019 for Honors SAS application materials. Applications are due by 15 Feb 2020. This summer, she completed an eight-week internship in Ireland.]

At this writing, I have just finished my seventh full week of interning at the Irish Wheelchair Association.  It is so hard to believe that I have only one week left!

Some highlights from the last few weeks at IWA include working the “Members Camp,” helping to organize and run a team-building event, and stepping into the role of personal trainer for a variety of new individuals.  

While the IWA hosts inclusive sports camps for kids of all backgrounds all summer long, the Members Camp is only for children with disabilities.  The week was so much fun!  I had a blast playing games and going on field trips with the kids while simultaneously learning so much about caring for upwards of 20 young individuals in wheelchairs, all at the same time!  

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Participants in the Members Camp pose for a photo. Nola Grace is pictured in the back row, towards the middle of the group.

The opportunity to help orchestrate the team-building event was so exciting as well!  The IWA hosted an evening of playing wheelchair basketball for employees of a local company.  The event helped to push the participants outside of their comfort zones while also teaching them lessons in working together and giving them a new perspective on the life of a wheelchair user.  After putting themselves in the position of a wheelchair user for only a few short hours, all of the people in attendance said that their appreciation for what wheelchair users go through on a daily basis had skyrocketed!  They confessed how frequently they find themselves taking life on two legs for granted. 

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Employees and interns play wheelchair basketball to simulate what it’s like to not be able to walk. Nola Grace is pictured in the background.

Then I started to wonder: How often do I do the same?  How often do I overlook the blessing of an able body and the independence that that provides?  How frequently do I complain about what isn’t there when there are so many things to be thankful for?  Even in the realm of travel, how much do I take for granted with my place in the world at home, or with the chances I have had to see brand new, fascinating cultures?  

Finally, I have learned immensely more from my personal training clients than I ever anticipated!  I have been working one-on-one with many people, but two in particular have captured my heart with their determination and desire to grow!  One is a man who suffered a 40-foot fall: Pat shattered his lower spine, cracked every rib on his left side, punctured his lung, fractured his pelvis and forearm, and had a great deal of nerve damage.  Even after all of this, Pat is a walking man.  He is a miracle, and my work with him has taught me so much about pushing the limits of what is said to be “impossible.”  

Another stand-out was sweet Miss Brid, a remarkable 78-year-old woman with Guillian-Barré Syndrome—a neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system.  She inspired me every day with her radiant positivity and her passion to see improvement. 

As my trip is coming to a close, I am overcome with thankfulness and gratitude for the experiences I have had, the people I have been blessed to meet, the lessons that I have learned, and the gorgeous places I have been able to see!  A huge thanks goes to API, the OIP, and the Meredith Honors Program for helping to make this dream come true!  Cheers! 

Honors Study Abroad News from Ireland

[Editor’s note: Nola Grace is a recipient of an Honors study abroad scholarship.]

On June 19, I was greeted in Dublin, Ireland by two staff members from Academic Programs International (API) and 17 other American students who were preparing for internships as well!  All of the American interns and I settled into our student apartments in the heart of Dublin, and after a weekend of touring and getting acquainted with Irish culture, we dispersed throughout the city to begin our internship placements.

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Nola Grace Brown, second from left, attends a Welcome Lunch in Ireland with other student interns.

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Nola Grace poses for a photo after a full week of interning at the Irish Wheelchair Association.

My placement, hand-picked for me by the wonderful API staff, is at the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) in Clontarf, Ireland––a beautiful small town on the coast of Dublin.  IWA is Ireland’s leading representative organization and service provider for people with physical disabilities. On-site at their campus, they provide group exercise classes, personal one-on-one training, occupational therapy, physical therapy, wheelchair services, corporate training, outreach services, enhanced home-care services with specialized on-campus apartments, a driving school with specialized hand-controls, and sporting events with levels ranging from recreational to elite paralympic!

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Nola Grace stands at the James Joyce Bridge in Dublin, the capital of Ireland, on her first traveling day.

At the time of my writing this, I have just completed my first of eight weeks of working at this amazing facility! Each day has been very unique and has come with its own challenges and adventures! So far, I have learned so much and been able to apply a great deal of what Meredith has taught me! Thanks to my fantastic Exercise and Sports Science classes at Meredith, I have felt so capable in the tasks I have been asked to take on! Additionally, thanks to the incredible preparation provided by Meredith’s amazing Office of International Programs, I have felt so confident in my traveling abilities, whether it be in my commute to my internship each day or to explore various Irish towns and countrysides on the weekends!

 

Honors Study Abroad Update: Costa Rica

[Ed. note: The author, Briana Petrusa, is an Honors student and athlete.]
In my month of Spanish study in Costa Rica, I had the best time ever. I learned so much Spanish and so much about the culture of Costa Rica. The people there were kind and welcoming, especially my host family. We had class almost every day of the week at a beautiful institute in the center of town. We were given fresh fruit and coffee each day at the institute.
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Honors student and athlete Brianna Petrusa stands with members of her host family while studying abroad in Costa Rica this summer.

Some things we did outside the classroom included trying local food and visiting the beach. We also went to the rain-forest, to an amusement park, and even to a movie theater where we watched a movie in Spanish. Costa Rica also has the coolest malls. I went to mass with my family three times and visited a volcano with them, too.

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Petrusa, pictured at right, visits a beach in Costa Rica.

My favorite part of my stay was our side-trip to La Paz. We saw beautiful waterfalls there, and so many types of animals. We also ate a lot of food. My favorite aspect of Costa Rica was the people’s laid-back mentality and an overall sense of calmness. I loved spending time with my Meredith College classmates and exploring Costa Rica with them. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity and I plan to return back to Costa Rica soon. I already miss it so much! I learned so much about myself and gained a whole new family, too.

Honors student reflects on Italian culture

[Editor’s note: The author, Hannah Jones, is a recipient of a 2019 Honors study abroad scholarship. She studied in Sansepolcro, Italy, in May 2019. Below, Jones discusses her experiences, and how she hopes to implement her knowledge into her future classroom.]

Before I even stepped foot on Italian soil, my study abroad group spent a whole semester learning about the country’s culture, history, and customs. I was amazed to discover that so much of how I structure my day is dependent on where I was born geographically. Italians, unlike most Americans, have crafted and cultivated the art of appreciation, especially when it comes to time. Each morning we would drink a cappuccino and eat a pastry at Caffe Gerasmo. Then we were ready to take on a full day.

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Because we were primarily studying the educational practices of Italy, we typically headed to a different school each morning to observe and ask questions. Each school was so gracious in sharing with us just what they were learning and how proud they were of their students. In Italy, it is common practice to complete your school day by 1pm, then to head home for a family lunch and an afternoon of homework or other responsibilities. Lunch is the largest meal of the day, typically several courses long and not rushed. Instead, it is the centerpiece for a culture built on family and food, which I am thankful to have caught a glimpse of through our lunches in the Palazzo Alberti. [Editor’s note: at left, students eat lunch in the Palazzo.]

After experiencing Italian culture, I am certain that I want to cultivate a lifestyle and future classroom that value quality work and integrate an attitude of appreciation for each moment that I experience and each person that I encounter. 

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A group of Meredith students pose with their Onyx. Hannah Jones is pictured second from left.

 

5 Tips for Finishing the Spring Semester Strong

As Honors students begin to see the first flowers bloom and bright rays of sunshine that signal the start of warm weather, this time of year is also one that can be chaotic and hectic– exam season! Exams are just around the corner and will be upon us in the next few weeks. Whether you are feeling stressed or excited to take on this challenge, read on to find some tips to help you finish the semester strong!

1. Plan out your exam week schedule ahead of time– and stick to it. Sitting down and writing when all of your exams take place will help you stay in a much calmer mindset throughout, and ensure that you won’t forget any tests or assignments. Using a planner or calendar is also a huge help–this will help you make certain that you can give 100% of your time and effort to these deadlines.

2. Take breaks, and take care of yourself. This tip is a game changer. Studying and putting a lot of effort into finals is important; however, it is still crucial to find time to eat well, hydrate, sleep properly, and exercise. This combined with taking mental breaks will help you put your best foot forward during exam week.

3. Manage your time well, and don’t wait until the last minute to start studying. Set aside a period of time every day to study chunks of material rather than cramming the night before your finals start. Not only will this decrease stress and prevent your brain from being overloaded with information, but there are also countless studies that prove this is the most effective way to study for exams. This is definitely a win-win situation: there is a better chance that you receive a good grade and you are more likely to feel prepared for your exams, thereby setting you up for success.

4. Study with peers and classmates. Reviewing lessons and concepts with those who have been in your classes all semester may give you a new perspective on the material. In addition, teaching the material to others and studying in a group setting can help you retain more information.

5. Contact professors if you come across any questions regarding content and class materials. Asking these last minute questions will give you all the avenues necessary to tackle your exams head-on!

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Honors students, hang on these last few weeks of the spring semester! Good luck to all on your final exams, and the Honors Program hopes you will have a fun and restful summer break!

5 Ways to Practice Self-Care over Spring Break

College is a busy time, and a journey filled with ups and downs. Although we wouldn’t trade these experiences and memories for the world, let’s face it: it can be hard to find time to relax, rest, and take time to focus on ourselves. Extended breaks and holidays are perfect opportunities to practice self-care. Below are five simple ways to help Honors students relax over spring break.

  1. Sleep! This is definitely the most important on this list. Sleep is a necessity and often sacrificed in order for Honors students to fulfill other commitments and obligations. Take advantage of this time to regain energy, and your body and mind will thank you.
  2. Spend some time outside. Whether it be taking your dog for a walk or going for a jog in the park, find time to be active. This will clear your mind and will help you come back to Meredith feeling refreshed and motivated to finish the second half of the semester.
  3. Catch up with people you don’t see as much during the chaos of college. This may be your best friends from home, your parents, or your favorite teacher from high school. Hanging out with loved ones and others who support your endeavors will provide encouragement, which in turn will keep you in a positive mindset.
  4. Schedule time away from the screen. People are spending more time than ever on social media, and technology is becoming a crucial part of day-to-day life. Although technology is fabulous, too much time on these platforms can, sadly, bring us down. It is essential to put away electronic devices in order for us to recharge and remind ourselves of our potential.
  5. Explore the world around you! Projects, tests, and assignments can make it difficult for spontaneous travel to occur. Utilize spring break to travel near or far. Try out the new coffee shop in your hometown, spend a day at the beach, or drive across the country to adventure. Whatever the expedition may be, make the most of it by soaking in every second, and taking lots of pictures!

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Happy Spring Break, Honors Angels! Enjoy your time off with friends and family, and congratulate yourself on all of your achievements so far this year!