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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring Has Sprung

This weekend was a blast! On Friday, the Alpha Omega fraternity hosted their annual Holy Water Luau, where they barbecue a pig, make some delicious “holy water” (which is basically a juice concoction) and announce their new officers. They even make T-shirts each year with funny themes. This year: Jurassic Pork.

It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the sunshine on the plaza as the school day is winding down and everyone can kick off the start of the weekend on a great note. I had a great time relaxing with my friends at this event we have come to look forward to that really signifies the start of spring on campus.

The annual Spring Fest followed on Saturday and it was great as always. The weather was perfect and there was so much to do. The Campus Activities Board hosts the event, and organizations set up booths with games and fundraisers. We also had a big dinner on the lawn. There were also several concerts throughout the afternoon and evening, and this year we even had a magic show! It is always so much fun to spend all day on the lawn with so many students and faculty.

The tulips are in full bloom all across campus, and it’s hard to believe finals will be here before we know it, but for now I am just enjoying our time in the beautiful mountains.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lessons Learned

I attended a career fair in Marietta yesterday, which made me think about the first one I attended last semester. What I remember most was the contrast between the bus ride to and from the event. I’d bought a book with me that I was going to read for a paper I was writing. I don’t think I read a single page of it. I don’t think many of us did anything very productive on the way there. Conversely, everyone was completely relaxed on the way back.

We talked about what we had done right and wrong at the fair, upcoming assignments in the classes we shared, and pretty much anything under the sun. It was at this point that I realized that I wasn’t the only one who had been nervous about the fair. All 10 of us had been worried, and now it was over.

I definitely learned from the experience. One time, I forgot my questions for the recruiter after I got in front of them. I had all of the questions on my cell, but I felt it rude pulling out my phone in the middle of a conversation in order to consult it. This time around, I had an official Young Harris College notepad with a page for each company I was really interested in that had at least five questions to ask the recruiter. In the ones I did do well on in the fall, my questions sprung conversations with the recruiters. Good rapport with the recruiter is the key of going to these events.

These types of fairs are important because now you know someone on the inside, and this can give you an advantage over the person who just applied online that no one at the company knows. For example, I had a really good interaction with a recruiter from a real estate company. When I sent follow-up emails, she replied to me.

I never would have considered a career in real estate but my conversation with the recruiter made me think I could do it. They even have a course that trains you. If I hadn’t gone, I would never have even considered that opportunity. That’s another great advantage of going to fairs like this—you get exposed to a variety of careers and new doors can open for you.

John


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Liberal Arts Life

Every time I go to the dentist or eye doctor, they, of course, try to start up a conversation. I tell them I’m going to Young Harris College. They ask for my major, and I tell them it’s history. The next question is always the same: So, you want to teach? I’m not a fan of this question. Yes, I was in the College’s Teacher Preparation Program for several semesters. It was an awesome experience, but I ultimately decided it wasn’t for me. However, a liberal arts degree like history does have value outside of teaching and creates many potential career paths.

What do I want to be? I would love to be a copywriter, and potentially focus on advertising. I am currently completing an internship that’s teaching me how to write concisely, research and use analytical skills. This experience on my résumé will help me get a job after graduation.

I’ve also obtained research, analytical and writing skills through my coursework. Most of the papers I write for history require 10 sources. This does not mean the first sources a search engine in one academic database brings up because these can be hilariously irrelevant. You need to find a source, read it and determine if you want to use it. You could use the method I used as a sophomore and freshman, which is read the whole article and then make a value judgment. This is arduous and time-consuming. Now, I read the abstract, the first couple of pages and the last page. That’s where the argument is. The rest is where the author attempts to prove the validity of this argument. If those pages engage me, I will read the whole article. If not, I move on to the next source.

Analysis also plays a role in writing. For example, I was doing a paper on the British officer Banastre Tarleton, and I knew what my argument was but I couldn’t figure how to organize my paper. I eventually settled on an overview of what happened to Tarleton during the American Revolution and then focused in on his involvement in the Battle of Waxhaws.  Moreover, my major has also taught me to write concisely. I’ve looked over my old papers and seen just how much fluff was in them. More recent papers have no fluff. Everything is there to argue a point.

Many employers want these skills. I find if shocking how many employers want people with basic writing skills—something my major has taught me how to do well. That’s one of the many perks of having a major grounded in the liberal arts—you can be anything.

John


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Little Friendly Competition

Last week was Greek Week, where fraternities and sororities compete to win bragging rights and a pretty nice trophy. Last year, the sorority I am the president of, Sigma Beta Sigma (also known as “Susan Bs”), placed last. It was a good effort that was poorly executed. But this year was different. This year, we won alongside the Alpha Xi fraternity!

It was really fun to get together with other Greeks, even though it can get heated. We started off the week on Sunday with a kickball tournament where the Susan Bs were paired with Kappa Tau Omega. It was an intense battle and we came out on top!

The next night, we gathered to play our own version of Family Feud. We all sat around eating dinner and talking, and the game was really fun. On Tuesday we had a scavenger hunt-type game called the “Amazing Race” and then there was the vespers chapel service on Wednesday.

Thursday was my favorite day because we had the talent show and the week’s winners were announced. The Susan Bs did a very creative “out-of-water synchronized swimming routine” and placed third.

When we found out we won the overall competition, I was so proud that I can now brag on my sorority—but I’m even more proud of the family atmosphere among our College’s Greek community. We are all friends an enjoy getting together for dances, fundraisers and especially friendly competitions like Greek Week.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

More Than Meets the Eye

There is something to be said for the scenery at Young Harris College. Actually, something has been said for a long, long time. The Enchanted Valley lives up to its name. 

Surrounded by peaks such as Bell Mountain and Brasstown Bald, we have beautiful sunrises and sunsets every day. The fall bursts with so much color it almost hurts your eyes, and the mountain roads make for a fun drive. But that doesn't even scratch the surface of the potential of the north Georgia mountains.

The areas surrounding us have hiking trails that lead you to breathtaking waterfalls. Lake Chatuge has a beach just down the road towards Hiawassee, with grills and swings. When the weather gets hot, that is the place to be. Also, the Recreation and Fitness Center will let you rent out canoes and kayaks, and the beach is the perfect place to get out on the water.
 

There is even tubing in all directions, including Blue Ridge, Helen and Clayton. There is even rafting not far off at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina.  There are an innumerable number of campsites around the College—just off the lake or up in the mountains—great places to hike, rock climb, kayak, or just lay on the beach. 

There is truly much more to the Enchanted Valley than what firsts meets the eye.

-Alex


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Passion for Learning

Hey, Mom and Dad… I want to change my major. Panic! Panic!

Okay, so I’ve never changed my major. I declared it as history before I even arrived at YHC. It was the one subject that I could see devoting four more years of schooling to. 

At the time, though, I had no idea what my minor would be. A minor can enhance your marketability. One of my history professors, Dr. Byron, told me a friend of his had a biology major and history minor, but decided to study history in graduate school. She used her minor to make that dream come true. I entertained the idea of an English minor, but I decided that didn’t suit me.

I thought pre-law may suit me and attended an information session on it my sophomore year. After the session, I was scared to death because of just how few students get into law school. During the session, I heard someone make an offhand comment about going into teaching since law is too difficult. 

That thought moved several gears in my head. I’ve always been interested in education and I’ve always wanted to learn. It seemed to be a natural fit. 

Around this time, we were scheduling classes for the next semester. I got into one of Dr. Brunner’s “Introduction to Education” classes. I was hesitant at first, but before I knew it, I’d taken four education classes. I observed in public school classes as a practicum education students, where my duties included creating a two-week lesson plan and giving several lessons including a 30-minute one to a bunch of third graders. 

After a few semesters, I decided the education program was not for me. I don’t regret leaving the program, and I don’t regret being a part of it. Because of my education classes and practicum, I now have public speaking skills. When I started going to YHC, I was not a strong speaker. I remember giving one speech with my knees jolting the entire time. Now I know how to keep people’s attention. I’ve learned how to just glance at a PowerPoint and then look back to the crowd and talk. I know how to break a complex concept into its component parts in order to teach students. I’m confident in front of people—a big deal for a loner like me.

I won’t graduate in the spring with a minor because all of my elective courses are filled up with education classes, but they were worth it. I have skills that will serve me well in the real world. 

-John


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Helping Yourself and Others

There are many things to consider when starting your college career in order to get the most out of it.

Yes, your grades earn the degree, but I'll let you in on a little secret—employers look for more than that. They want to know that you not only have knowledge of your field, but also the skills and experiences that will help you succeed in the professional world. They look for leadership qualities and communication skills, as well as the ability to work with others. 

These skills can be fostered in so many ways at YHC. Join a club that interests you and work towards a leadership role. I joined S.P.A.G.E. (Student Professional Association of Georgia Educators) because I have a passion for education. I enjoy being able to lead our new organization in developing a strong role and voice on campus and providing professional development for those in the education field. 

I joined Sigma Beta Sigma (Susan Bs) sorority because I wanted a strong support system throughout my time here, and enjoyed it so much I became president! I have loved the chance to be a representative of a great group of girls and lead the sorority in planning events, community service and more. 

Community service, by the way, is one of the best assets you can have on your résumé. Employers look for graduates who have made an effort to impact their community in a positive way. There are constant opportunities for community service on and off campus. The Bonner Leaders host trail maintenance days and sponsor the after-school program for grade-school children down the street in Young Harris. Many organizations hold canned food drives and other programs to support the military, economically disadvantaged families, and more. I have even volunteered my time at a local animal shelter. 

Take the time to consider how you want to be viewed after college, and get involved in the numerous opportunities on campus. Not only will you have an awesome resume, but you will meet so many people, try new things and have fun doing it!

-Alex


Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Trip to the Reece Farm

During the first semester of my sophomore year, my English professor Dr. Jim Bishop took our class on a trip to the Byron Hebert Reece Farm located near YHC.  

In the class, we spent two days studying the Pulitzer Prize-nominated local legend Byron Herbert Reece, ’40. He was a student, then teacher here at YHC despite having not graduated because he didn’t take French or math. We studied his poems and his novel “Better a Dinner of Herbs,” and took a trip to the Reece Farm and Heritage Center. There, we met Dr. John Kay, ’56, a YHC alumnus, former professor and chair of the Reece Society, who gave us a lecture on Reece and took us on a tour of the farm. Back then, it was still very much under construction—the house was nice, but the barn didn’t have any exhibits open at the time. I’d love to see how it looks now.
 

If you’re not familiar with Reece, his work is quite popular throughout Georgia up here for being nominated for a Pulitzer and being true to his farmer roots. He actually considered himself more of a farmer than poet. Interestingly, there is a highway in Georgia named for Reece despite a poem he wrote where he noted his love of nature and farming, and his dislike of roads and the inevitably that roads leads to cities. I pointed this out while Dr. Bishop was driving us to the farm, much to his amusement.

YHC provides many opportunities for hand-on learning, like our trip to the farm. In fact, over the weekend, the entire campus was invited to learn more about Reece there during a special “YHC Day.” It’s great that professors take time to plan these kinds of unique learning experiences. 

-John


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Meeting the President(s)

One of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve had at YHC was taking a Georgia history class. To be honest, I never knew much about the state I’ve lived in my whole life. The remarkable thing about the class, though, was the professor—YHC’s very own President Cathy Cox.

Where else can students be taught a class by the college president, let alone a distinguished public servant? She was elected Secretary of State for Georgia twice. What was her job? It obviously couldn’t have been foreign relations like the U.S. Secretary of State. Well, her duties included supervising elections and maintaining public records, like those necessary for businesses. During her time as Georgia Secretary of State, she certainly learned enough about the state to teach a class on it. Astonishingly, she wasn’t even asked to teach this particular class. She volunteered to teach it because she wants to give her all to this College. 

For the course, President Cox organized a trip to Atlanta to tour the state capitol. During the tour, we met Senator George Hooks, the unofficial historian of the Senate. The coolest aspect of the class was getting to meet President Jimmy Carter. I never thought I’d ever get to meet a U.S. President, and yet I did. We drove from the capitol building to meet him at his Presidential Library. When we were talking afterwards about him, we all could only describe him as a “cool old guy.” He had a self-effacing sense of humor. When he learned that we had read his book “Turning Point: A Candidate, a State, and a Nation Come of Age,” he jokingly apologized that we had to do so. He discussed the book with us and then opened the door for questions. When we were done, he signed all of our books and even took a group photo with us.

Moments like this don’t happen at every college. I am proud to attend a school that offers unique opportunities for all students to take advantage of.  

-John


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A “Minor” Choice

I've always wanted to teach. In grade school, I finished my work as quickly as possible in hopes my teacher would let me help the other students. I've been lucky enough to have been raised with a high regard for education and learning. So, I came to YHC to study education. I started off in music education, but switched to early childhood education with an art minor shortly after. I then changed gears and went for a psychology minor.

Realizing that I had never strayed away from education, I had to ask myself what the purpose of the minor was. Was I taking these extra classes for enjoyment, to impress future employers or to support my major? Music and art are very much interests of mine, but more of hobbies I like to escape to. Psychology is also an interest of mine and I feel it could support my major in that it gives me insight on how brains work. 

The idea of using my resources for professional development in order to be a fierce competitor in the workplace was eye-opening for me. I enjoy my education classes and the experiences I have gotten through observations and student teaching, but there is more I can do to prepare myself for the post-graduation phase. A psychology minor gives me a background that I can use when interviewing for a teaching job or when applying for graduate school.

Picking a minor can be difficult (and not always necessary), but it can also give you more experiences and knowledge outside of your core studies. Even outside of class there are lecture series and faculty "tell-all" presentations that give students an opportunity to prepare for interviews, graduate school, and so much more. Take advantage!

-Alex

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