CNU Bucket List

As I have been spending my last couple years at CNU, I have been developing my bucket list. …Now I don’t mean to say I’m going to die anytime soon. I actually think I’ll live forever, based on what I have experienced so far, I have little to suggest otherwise. But I digress…

The purpose of this bucket list is to be able to check off things I definitely want to do before I leave CNU. I can’t think of a student here that does not have a CNU bucket list. Some people want to lead a church small group before their graduations, others want to be able to say that they did some love-making with someone in every residence hall on campus, still others want to be able to say that they knew President Trible personally by the end of their senior year.

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 (By the way: Paul, if you are reading this- let’s do a poker night again real soon.)

By the time I am done with school at CNU I want to be able to say that I:

  1. Had a splash-fight in the CNU fountain next to the Luter School of Business
  2. Beat my girlfriend (at least one time) in a legitimate game of tennis
  3. Had a recognizable name on campus due to my writing
  4. Represented the CNU Student Honor Council well through-out my tenure in the organization
  5. Made a legitimate and delicious dinner in my apartment
  6. Ended poverty.

Other optional goals include, but are not limited to:

–          Getting married and then accepted into Catholic seminary school.

–          Representing CNU in the Ultimate Frisbee World Championship.

–          Actually losing at UNO.

–          Creating a teleportation device so that I can visit my family in Maine on a daily basis.

Just like in life, there simply is not enough time to do everything that you want to do while at CNU. I’d love to be the president of three organizations, but unlike in high school, if you want your organizations to succeed, you really can’t head more than one. This lack of time and realistic restrictions on what you are able to do in your time at CNU can seem constricting. However, the triumph of success and the meeting of goals at CNU can be the greatest feelings of your life. 

Valentine’s Day

It’s that day again.

You know, that day where all the single guys, all the single girls, and most of the guys who are in relationships groan and complain about the dumbest of holidays. 

Valentine’s Day is only as important as your enthusiasm lets it. If you want to go all out to make someone’s day, then Valentine’s Day can be pretty fun. If you don’t care then Valentine’s Day just turns into another one of those Catholic martyr holidays about guys who died horrible deaths thousands of years ago.

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         I’m not lion when I say, it was harsh…

And those that detest the holiday find special irony in the fact that the patron saint of lovers was so well acquainted with pain and suffering. St. Valentine has widely been accepted by the church as dying after being imprisoned and tortured while visiting Rome (When in Rome…). That said, there are debates about nearly every detail of St. Valentine’s life; from what he did, to who he was, to even the question of if he was one person, two people, or no one at all. Then again, judging by the standards by which someone becomes a saint, I could be made a saint thousands of years from now after all the details of my life get confused and then glorified.

But I digress…

At CNU there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of students that view Valentine’s Day moderately. People either go out to dinner, make cards, write sappy poems and light some candles, or they complain about people that go out to dinner, make cards, write sappy poems and light some candles on Tumblr.

But I would argue that, violent torture deaths and Tumblr aside, we should all embrace Valentine’s Day. The only downside to the day is the downside we make out of it (if we choose to). If you’re single on Valentine’s Day, this is your one day to ask someone out at random and you have no risk of making it look creepy. If they say no or look at you funny you just shrug and say, “Happy Valentine’s Day”. Perfect cover: You’re just festive.

If you’re not ballsy, then use the day as a chance to catch up with the family. Call your mom, dad, sister, brother, cat and let them know that you care. I called my mom to say “hi” yesterday. I felt good afterward. You probably would to.

If you’re not ballsy and you don’t have a family then just go to the grocery store, pick up some chocolate fondue and some strawberries. Return to your home and proceed to dip the strawberries in the chocolate. Before taking a bite, reflect upon the beauty of the melted chocolate dripping off the juicy red strawberry. As you eat your chocolate covered strawberries, you’ll realize that there is always something to love on Valentine’s Day.

Service at CNU

                It was just this year that I took the position of Community Service Chair for Phi Alpha Delta (The International Pre-Law Fraternity). CNU’s chapter of Phi Alpha Delta is modest, but filled with people who have the common goal of getting into Law School. Phi Alpha Delta offers many different benefits for students looking to go into Law School, from unique visits with Lawyers, judges and Law School Admission Deans, to volunteering opportunities.

                Just this year I’ve worked to set up CNU’s Phi Alpha Delta with the Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia. The Legal Aid Society offers legal assistance to people who cannot afford to hire an attorney to help them with such legal issues as writing a will, getting a divorce, or bankruptcy assistance. I as well as a number of other Phi Alpha Delta members now volunteer at the Hampton office at least once a week.

                This type of service is beneficial on multiple levels. Not only do the Phi Alpha Delta members get real-world experience in a legal office dealing with real issues, they are also helping people who have a serious need. While I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering at the office I have done everything from opening and closing cases, to drafting letters for clients and I’ve even had the opportunity to sit in on an attorney-client meeting. The Phi Alpha Delta members and I have been able to learn, first-hand, how lawyer-client interactions take place, the kind of work attorneys do on a day-by-day basis, and we even get the chance to see what kind of civil law looks most interesting to us.

                In the mean time, we are helping people that would be helpless without us. The attorneys at Legal Aid have their hands full and anything that we can do to lighten their load gives them a chance to help more people. Some of these people are in desperate need of some financial relief through bankruptcy; others have had a bad split with their spouses that they want to legally move on from, some of them just want to make sure that what they leave for their children when they pass will actually go to them. The people that Legal Aid (with the help of Phi Alpha Delta members like myself) assists are so thankful that someone is willing to help them, that it is not unheard of that they get emotional when they thank the attorneys for the help.

                All service that CNU students partake in is meaningful, but it can be rare to actually see the positive impact that the service is making. I count myself as lucky and honored to take part in serving people in such a way that I can see the impact I make.

With A Little Help From My Friends

I’ve had many close friends over the course of my life. When I came to CNU I hoped I would make many new friends along my journey to becoming all I could be at the University. I never knew that within a week of moving in I would discover what would be the biggest impact of my CNU experience:

I met my best friend Michelle.

I know I’ve used this picture before.

Make no mistake, college can get very challenging at times. Like zubats in a dark cave in a Pokemon game, you will encounter all-nighters and scheduling conflicts with frustrating frequency. When you get really gung-ho at the beginning of the semester and take on much more than you are actually capable of, it usually doesn’t hit you until midway through the semester, at which point you find yourself lost and angry crying, “What have I done?” like Anakin in Revenge of the Sith.

At times these, you need someone to make you feel better about yourself, someone who cares about you, someone who’s willing to sit down and listen to you vent about whatever has got you stressing. Since your mom can’t go to college with you, it’s your best friend that comes to your aid.

In a way, a best friend is like family that you’re not related to. I’m an out-of-state student from Maine, so my family is even further away than most of my peers. This makes Michelle an even bigger impact on my time here at CNU. She’s the second sister I never had.

At CNU every student faces challenges, and every student at some point will feel truly victorious. When I’m stressing over a Spanish test Michelle offers to go through flashcards with me, when I get a call from a potential employer, she’s there to celebrate with me.

As anyone who’s ever been to CNU will agree, it’s not just about the classes that you take. This University has more to offer than small class sizes or the best rated residence halls in the state. This University has soul and it comes from the people in it, from the dining hall staff, to the faculty, to the friends you’ll have for a lifetime.

Rain: CNU’s Reckoning

Legend has it that there was once a great bright light that came from the sky. This “sun”, as it was called, was said to warm the land and keep it dry and comfortable.

I have been in Newport News since Saturday and I have to admit that this legend becomes more unbelievable by the day. I had no way of knowing that my Ford Taurus would act as a submarine the day I moved back onto campus. The not-so-ironic names of the James and Warwick River dorm buildings were not lost on me as I watched the rains flood the hallways of the first floor.

From the high-ground of the second floor I watched as the flood waters receded but the rains did not relent. Nervous rumors spread of President Trible’s plan to build a giant water craft with which to carry two students from each class. …The rumors have not yet been rejected by the administration.

Illogically, the temperatures in each of the academic buildings seem to be trending downward. The David Student Union is roughly the temperature of your average house-hold refrigerator. McMurran Hall has been approximated at Maine temperatures and the Forbes Science Hall is a glacier waiting to happen.

We are all soaking wet when we struggle through the doors of our respective halls. When confronted with the sub-zero temperatures hypothermia sets in fast. First the science students lose feeling in their fingers, then the government majors develop a slower heart rate and they fall asleep in their classrooms. The theater kids are the last ones to go because they have developed a tendency to share bodily warmth in the costume closet.

Realizing that we are ill-prepared for the unforgiving conditions, some of us attempted to seek out natives who would know how to survive. We realized, to our horror, that we kicked them half-way across the continent 200 years ago. Moral is as low as our hot chocolate supply and none of us dare make a Harris Teeter run because none of us have scuba gear.

We must keep calm and carry on. Wish us luck.

CNU Changes

Have you ever found yourself in an entirely new place but you get the strange sense that you have been there before? This sense of deja vu is common for students of Christopher Newport University. After a summer away from their place of academia, CNU students return to a campus that looks only vaguely like the one they left the year before.

What used to look simply like this…

Is suddenly replaced by stuff like this:

Glorious.

Just last year, as I was getting ready to start my Sophomore year, I decided to take my sister on a tour of the campus. It was embarrassing. There is no question why the vetting process is so extreme for tour-guide-candidates. The campus is changing faster than the emptying of your bank account. I turned a corner and gestured to the hall that I had my first American history class and I had to stop and do a double take because the building was literally gone. (It has since been replaced by the ironically-named Luter School of Business)

Subtle.

I had to discontinue the tour of the campus because I was learning as much about the campus as my sister was at that point.

This year I will be returning to a school that allegedly has a new, “double-wide” dining hall, a new dorm building, a completed business building, and a chapel. Another dorm building is under construction on the far side of campus. I’m particularly interested to see what the great lawn is going to look like when we return to campus.

It seems that the great lawn changes by semester. In the last two years they have taken out trees, added trees, gotten rid of some paths, added some paths, painted the grass green and put up “stay off the lawn” signs (no joke). As I head back, my expectation is that the great lawn will be painted blue with a big Captain Chris head smiling menacingly in the direction of McMurran (anything less will be a disappointment to us now.)

All that said, CNU has something that other universities are missing. Whereas most schools will have buildings that will be recognizable to all alumni, CNU goes a step further and inadvertently provides memories that all the alumni can share. If there’s anything that every single student at CNU can relate to, it’s the enjoyment of learning in a University that is exploded with culture, success, and good people.

And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.