Reflection of my first year of college

Written by Summer Graham, WLLC 2015-2016

Since the 4th grade I had been looking forward to attending college. It was my dream come true when my parents pulled up to Halls and helped me bring my stuff in. I had finally made it.

I thought that coming in to college, I would study hard, make a lot of friends, and that this would start off being the best year of my life. My expectations fell short in many areas. About two weeks after Orientation Week, I had made a few friends, but not as many as I had hoped. Classes were three times as hard as anything I have ever did in high school, and honestly I felt like DU wasn’t a better experience than high school so far. I mean I have more freedom, but that’s like the only perk of being here vs. being at the school I was at last year.

Second quarter and this quarter I found myself in a really dark place. The Dark Side of Light Chasers says “Most people are afraid to confront and embrace their darkness, but it is in that very darkness you will find the happiness and fulfillment you have been waiting for.” This summer I am going to reflect and determine, what I did wrong, and what I did right when it came to my first year of college. I didn’t work hard all through high school to find myself unmotivated and unhappy.

In the article Concerning Grace one quote that really made me think is “God never stops loving us, but we stop loving ourselves”. Now I wouldn’t say that I have stopped loving myself but I have not been as kind to myself as I should have this year. I want to take a serious look at how this quarter went and learn how to change my outlook on life, so that my next three years of college are much more enjoyable and memorable

 

Success is in Belief

Written by Sarah Thomas, WLLC 2015-2016

From the beginning of the quarter to the end, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to participate in a community partnership. A partnership takes time, work, caring, and most of all commitment. Life can seem to complicate this and so can our level of business. A good amount of the success of the project has to do with your viewpoint. As the article From notions of charity to social justice in service-learning: The complex experience of communities says, “Viewing communities from the perspective of justice rather than charity promotes examination of the power relationship that exist in the community-university partnership.” I agree with this statement, because if you view the work you’re doing as charity, you only see it as a good deed. This is not all bad, but it tends to defeat the sense of urgency and passion that a fight for justice promotes. Justice matters. It brings about a sense of necessity because everyone deserves justice and many are willing to fight for it. If the community project is viewed in this way, it is much more likely to be tackled in a way that involves an understanding of its severe importance. The article Using Relational Dialectics to Address Differences in Community-Campus Partnerships perfectly sums up this concept when it says “The actions, attitudes, and perceptions of individuals may greatly influence the outcomes of a relationship or partnership.” If there is no sense of purpose of motivation behind a cause, it is bound to not be successful. Half of success is in the belief in it, the other half is time commitment and hard work.


Works Cited

Mitchell, Carol, and Hilton Humphries. “From Notions of Charity to Social Justice in Service-

learning: The Complex Experience of Communities.” Education as Change 11.3 (2007): 47-58. Web.

Dumlao, Rebecca J., and Emily M. Janke. “Using Relational Dialectics to Address Differences in

Community-campus Partnerships – Campus Compact.” Campus Compact. Journal of

Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, n.d. Web. 13 May 2016.

 

Community Project: CAPE

Written by Athena Wilkinson, WLLC 2015-2016

As our course readings have said and as has been talked about through the quarter, the importance of communication and partnership is what truly shapes a strong project and work environment. Through our work with CAPE and talking to other groups about their work with their community partners, that need for a strong partnership has become prevalent. I think our partnership with CAPE has been pretty good throughout. Our group communication has been good, especially within the three of us (Brenna, Sophia, and me), which has lead to a much easier and clearer process. At the beginning of the process, we had some disagreement between our group ambitions and Gillian’s ideas, but we ended up combining our ideas and came up with the idea of using the bystander intervention questions and generating ways to improve the CAPE and BOSS training programming.

Through this process and this project, I have learned more about engaging with community partners and my own group: continuing with strong communication and have learned how to present ideas in a way that will still encompass the partner’s ideas. I hope that CAPE has and will benefit from my group’s work, and I think CAPE will. Our work was thoughtful towards the community and the content of sexual assault, especially regarding bystander intervention. I think the information we gained will benefit the DU community by providing relatable, and real answers from DU students, instead of answers from more un-relatable adults or teachers.

The Power of Stories

Written by Jacob Cody, WLLC 2015-2016

For our community engagement project, we have been working with Kavod Senior Living Center. It has been quite a burden to find a ride out there every week to have our meetings with Mandie and to participate in the events held at Kavod. Sometimes I was wondering if what we were doing was even worth it or if it was all just busy work.

However, last Tuesday we held a meet and greet event at the Senior Center and it was different than every event we had held thus far. We posted up in front of the dining hall and asked seniors simply just to talk to us in return for entry to a raffle to win a Panera gift card. It was comical because many of the residents couldn’t even talk with us due to a language barrier (most of the residents speak Russian and some speak only Russian). Other residents gave us quite the conversation.

One senior, named Joel, has a hat for nearly every event he is going to. I met Joel for the first time on Tuesday and he was so excited to see me after visiting with Nikky and Nicole a few times. It really made my day with how pleasant he was, as he continued to crack jokes and ask us about our time in college. Another woman took up quite a bit of our time. I don’t remember her name, but she talked with me for over half an hour about her life as a Broadway star while also educating me on economics.

After this rather extensive conversation, I realized that most of these elderly people just want someone to talk to. They’re often ignored in the Senior Living Center, but have a lot of information about themselves and the world to share. This made me realize how we are really helping these people with their social wellness, and how important it is for these people to have someone to talk to. With our final project being a video to encourage visitors to come, it makes me happy that we are doing something that will actually have a positive impact on this community. I realized it is all worth it.

Working with Fisher Early Learning Center

Written by Alina Naismith, WLLC 2015-2016

Throughout spring quarter, my community wellness group has been working closely with the Fisher Early Learning Center in order to conceptualize and embark on an extensive service project in which “integration of learning goals and service goals” (Defining Service-Learning) are created and executed in a “meaningful” and “sustainable” (WELL 2014 notes) way.

Our project revolved around the barren garden in the children’s playground – we decided to create a garden committee, ensuring that the garden this spring will be utilized to the fullest and there will be special interaction between the kids and nature, compared to the past few years of which the garden wasn’t a big deal. This service project was particularly an “organized, structured process” (Defining Service-Learning) in which we had to carefully plan out… First, we met with our community partner in order to come up with a comprehensive list of needs and supplies for the garden, purchase the materials, collect biodegradable cans and jugs to plant the seeds in, work with the classrooms to figure out the best schedules for us to come, and interact directly with the children in each class to plant seeds in jugs filled with soil and teach them about gardening, nature, mindfulness and yoga.

The amount of time that this project took to complete was shocking, thus I believe that we put in the “duration and intensity sufficient to produce a meaningful learning and service outcome” (Defining Service-Learning). Going into the classrooms and actually interacting with the children in itself was the most rewarding part of the experience – they get so excited when visitors come to speak to them, and seemed to be very invested in our lessons and gardening activity. I hope to be involved in meaningful service projects like this again in the future.

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Clayton, Patti H. “Defining Service-Learning”. 2009.

The Public Good at DU

Written by Brenna Flynn, WLLC 2015-2016

The article “A Case Study of Institutional Visioning, Public Good, and the Renewal of Democracy: The Theory and Practice of Public Good Work at the University of Denver” provides differing definitions as to what the “public good” actually is. At first, this article discusses the public good in definitional terms. It states that “when faculty and staff at DU refer to ‘the public good,’ they are often thinking about using University resources to augment civil society, strengthen social capital networks, and create public spaces for deliberation and decision making” (pg. 89). Although I know that the different projects we’re assisting in for our Wellness class have an impact the public good, I did not believe that this definition exactly explained the public good in the right context for our projects. Upon further reading, I saw the public good defined as “the intellectual and relational engagement with critical community issues and community members” (89). To me, this definition appeared to hit what my group is doing for the public good head on.

Currently, I’m working with CAPE to attempt to provide student-related feedback as to how sexual assault can be better prevented on campus. Sexual assault at DU is indeed a critical community issue. For instance, there have been various reports about sexual assault on campus this year alone, not to mention all of the sexual assaults that go unreported.   My project in working with CAPE also engages members of the DU community. My group’s goal at the end of the quarter is to have a report written about how DU can improve BOSS training, through using student feedback. Not too long ago, at the Consent Carnival, we obtained student feedback as to how they would handle certain situations regarding sexual assault. CAPE will use this information to provide future students with examples of ways in which current students handle different situations that could result in sexual assault. Also, in this way, we are bettering the community by bringing awareness to the issue of sexual assault on campus, as well as possibly preventing future sexual assaults from occurring. Overall, this project contributes to the public good as a whole by informing the DU community of an issue the campus faces quite often.

Freshmen Year: A Look Back

Written by Riley Robert, WLLC 2015-2016

Looking back on freshmen year I have such mixed feelings about so many things. Untitled.pngFrequently I ask myself if I made the right choices, if I’ve put myself on the right path. Unfortunately, I never seem to be sure of the answer, even know, two weeks before freshmen year is over. I noticed that most of the time when I’m questioning my past choices it involves relationships, my major, my lifestyle, and just where I am at in life in general.

When I question my relationships, I often question if I made all of the right friends, or if I should’ve spent more time expanding my circle and branching out to new people. I often call my sister and talk to her when I’m upset, and she tells me truthfully that I have quite a few “toxic” friends at DU, even though I have some good ones as well. When I’m not caught up in thought about if I made the right friends, I’m caught up in thought over if I spent a fourth of my college years dating the right guys. I came into college in a relationship with a guy who not only didn’t appreciate me, but was controlling and borderline emotionally abusive. After that I dated another guy who was brilliant but even more controlling, and then I decided essentially to be by myself. Occasionally I would start seeing someone, but I always cut it off before it got too serious. I got very good at being by myself, until I started falling for my best friend. Eventually I fell for him, hard, and now although we are close, he isn’t coming back to DU next year. So, once again, I am alone. I always think back if I should have spent more time not going out, or giving other guys my time, instead of making the choices I had. I’m curious as to if my commitment and abandonment issues from past relationships made my relationships in college different or harder than they should have been.

Another thing I’ve been questioning a lot lately is my choice of major, that also impacts my career path. I want to be a doctor. It’s all I’ve wanted to be since I was in middle school. However, the classes I’ve been taking have stomped out my motivation, I consistently feel like I’m awful at everything. Often times I’m not even sure of the relevance and necessity of the classes that I’m taking for what I actually want to do. I’ve even spoken with doctors that are friends of my family, and they’ve said that the classes I’m taking are useless and removing some of our brightest minds from the field. Even with that knowledge, I don’t know if I can put myself through three more years of this. My friends that also want to go into the medical field have expressed similar concerns, but now the fear is not only is this the right path for me, but how much time and money have I wasted if it is not? I don’t know how far behind I’ve put myself by attempting to follow my dreams.

When it comes to my lifestyle, obviously coming into freshmen year at DU I didn’t expect to move out of the dorms into an apartment. I also didn’t expect to be on anti anxiety medication, to still struggle to sleep at night, or to be seeing a therapist regularly. Sometimes I wonder if DU was the right choice, and while I don’t plan on transferring, I do question where else I could have been. My lifestyle is not bad, I love it. I love living in an apartment, and I love the job I’ve recently acquired. I actually look forward to working, more so than I’ve ever looked forward to any class. However I do wonder where I would be if I started working sooner.

Untitled.pngLooking back at the entire year, I am happy with the choices I made, but I am not convinced that they were always the right ones. I feel like I will always question if I am doing the right thing and if I am moving in the right direction, which is something I have to accept. My freshmen year had its downs, but it also had its ups. As it closes I look forward to summer to attempt to calm some of those questions, and focus on them. To be at peace with my past and my choices is to be mentally and emotionally well, and I would like those to be my goal of the summer. I want to improve my emotional and mental wellness with regards to my relationships, my major, and my lifestyle. Hopefully I will reach that goal. Wish me luck, wellness friends.