The Young Harris Culture

There are many things you have to learn from experience that people just don’t think to tell you about. What’s popular and what’s not? What useful resources are at your fingertips and often forgotten? What do I wish I knew when I was a freshman?

“Late Night” in the dining hall is something many students go to. It’s like the Taco Bell “fourth meal.” It happens between 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and often includes themed celebrations and events hosted by the Campus Activities Board. Right before finals, faculty and staff serve us at a special Late Night called “Cram Jam” where they wish us luck and raffle off prizes.

When the weather gets warm, you can probably convince your teacher to have class outside (except Dr. Steve Harvey who does not like bugs). Don’t be surprised to see tons of people having class on the grassy lawn or at the gazebo at the beginning and end of the year.

The library rents out laptops so you don't have to use a desktop. They stay open as late as 11 p.m. on most nights and have a 24-hour study room with access to computers, comfy couches and a vending machine. Next year, students will get to enjoy the new three-story Zell and Shirley Miller Library and I can only imagine how amazing it will be.

The Academic Success Center has free printing and tutoring. Rhetorica is a tutoring building by the Campus Gate Art Gallery with students that will help you practice a speech, write or edit a paper—basically anything related to speaking and writing. Many classes even require you to visit Rhetorica at least twice a semester. Trust me, it is worth your while.

There are many little things that come together to build the culture at Young Harris. We now also have to take into consideration that there is a huge and fancy new building that is going to be ready in the fall—the Rollins Campus Center. It will have the library, dining hall, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and so much more all in one place.

Many things are going to change next year, so I would like to challenge upcoming freshmen to make Young Harris culture represent you and the student body. This campus will never lose its history, but it’s always striving to make a new future.

Teaching Moments

Yesterday I was able to represent YHC’s chapter of SPAGE (Student Professional Association of Georgia Educators) in a Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) meeting. The Education Department at YHC got together with principals, administrators, and teachers from Towns and Union counties schools.

We discussed goals to continuously improve the program to produce competitively qualified teachers. I was able to give a unique perspective that the teachers and administrators valued. Plus, it was an awesome opportunity to network! In a year, I may be sitting down to an interview with one of these council members.

Just as I have these opportunities in my own field, Young Harris College has a variety of opportunities like this in every area of study. It is a way to show your professors and possible future employers your competitive edge and get ahead of the game. 

There are many ways to prepare yourself for the professional world outside of the classroom. I am so thankful that I attend a school that can give individual students such unique opportunities to succeed in their goals.

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.

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.

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.


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!


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!


Finding Myself

In high school, I wasn’t very involved, my grades were average and I spent a lot of time at home with my TV. During senior year, I saw myself as no one important—someone with no special talents or unique characteristics. So when I came to college, I assumed it would be the same. I would not stand out, and definitely would not make an impact. I soon discovered I was dead wrong.

My sophomore year at YHC, after I got the hang of college classes and living away from my parents, I decided to join a sorority to find a group of friends I could depend on to support me throughout my time here. What I got out of this experience was inspiring. I found myself. 

After one semester in my sorority, I became vice president and learned how to run meetings and handle the business of an organization. Let me tell you, this is not just a group of girls that throw parties. My time management skills skyrocketed as I made time for sorority activities while also staying on top of classwork. Last semester, I was voted in as president. I was honored that these girls wanted me to lead them and represent them on campus. I had so many ideas to help the sorority grow and this was my pathway to enacting them. Through this role, I gained leadership skills I never knew I was capable of. I made friends with so many other Greeks through collaboration and friendly competition. And now, I sit back and smile because I know exactly who I am and who I want to be.

Social organizations at YHC do not force anyone into a pre-set idea of who they should be. They build confidence in order for members to find themselves. Sigma Beta Sigma has so many different types of people with different goals and values—that’s what makes it work so well. Just like in the real world, people will have different backgrounds and viewpoints, and you have to learn how to collaborate and cooperate. I believe the most important asset after college, in order to succeed in a professional world, is knowing who you are—your values and beliefs—and the ability to consider others’ values and beliefs. Young Harris College is a perfect place to foster that.


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