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. 

Leading at CNU

I’ve found that groups and organizations around CNU are always looking for people to take leadership positions. In fraternities, singing groups, volunteer organizations, and sports teams, leaders are always valuable and desirable. I feel lucky to have become deeply involved in various organizations. In my commitment to these organizations I feel a closer connection to my fellow members and the CNU campus.

I am currently fulfilling my final requirements for CNU’s Leadership Minor. Through the classes I have taken in the subject, I have been challenged to look at organizations and groups through the lens of leadership. This doesn’t just involve watching the president of every organization, this involves focusing yourself to push the organization to be better regardless of the position you are in.

In Phi Alpha Delta (the Pre-Law Fraternity), Trebled Youth (an A Capella group) and even in CHECs (the student judicial appeal) I have seen some of my peers step up to take positions when there is a need for them. In high school it was always frustrating to see individuals pursue leadership positions for the glory or the resume-fodder. At CNU I have seen responsible people take on leadership positions when they see a need, and they feel that they can do the best job. It is for this reason that many of CNU’s clubs and activities are very well-run.

The most visible way that this leadership maturity can be seen is in students’ willingness to take positions like secretary, and treasurer in a group and still deliver their 100% even if the position does not offer them bragging rights. I have seen students defer greater leadership positions that they want to other people that they think can do a better job because they want what is best for the organization.

If you have members of student groups and organizations that care as much about the group as the president of the organization then you have a highly effective group. CNU is filled with these organizations. If you take your time to find a group that follows the same passions that you do, you will find that you become a leader in the group in no time at all.

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.

Scalia: A Love Story

“Forget about state rights. They’re gone!

If there was a list of phrases to never say in the state of Virginia, this one would probably top the list. Yet, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia doesn’t seem to mind much about his audience. When he visited CNU on October 18, 2012 to speak with students, he pulled no punches. Antonin Scalia is appointed to the highest court in America for the remainder of his life. He doesn’t have to worry about embarrassing himself and losing prestige or his job. He doesn’t need to worry about getting reelected. This freedom from societal pressure allows Justice Scalia to be honest and sincere, as well as entertaining. He was easily smartest person in a room full of 1200 educated people.

To the chagrin of all the professors present, Scalia downplayed education in favor of luck and character in terms of its relation to success. “Good luck beats early rising,” he said at the 3pm Student Q&A sessions, during which invited students had the opportunity to candidly ask the Justice and his companion, Judge Henry Hudson, questions. At the evening event he quoted his father, saying, “You can hire brains by the hour. The only thing not for sale is character.” His emphasis on the importance of character and luck stood out in a speaker series that focuses primarily on the importance of leadership through education and making good connections.

What was immediately striking about Scalia was his youthful energy and his enthusiasm to speak his mind. Scalia acted like a man twenty years his junior and had a mind that was as sharp as can be. The short, stocky, overtly Italian Scalia doesn’t need to stand over you to be an imposing figure, but when he cracks his smile and starts speaking, it is clear that he is as easy to talk to as a favorite professor. While many students walked into the events of the day with misgivings and expected a stuffy, unapproachable judge, Scalia’s openness and sincerity helped everyone to relax and enjoy the talks. One line that he used, both at the private Q&A session and at the public talk later that night, laid out why he became a lawyer. He was not initially sure he wished to go into law but his Uncle Vinnie—and “every Italian has an Uncle Vinnie”—was a lawyer so he thought he would give it a go.

Whataya tawkin' about?

Whataya tawkin’ about?

Despite the fact that Scalia has not always been in the majority in the court, and he admitted that his constitutional theory of interpretation is not as widely accepted in the U.S. as he would like, Scalia did not come across as someone who stays up at night worrying about the future of our country. He knows what his place is in the government and when he was asked about his opinions on specific policies he responded by saying, “I am a policy eunuch. They write it. I review it. That’s it.” Echoing the tone set by Chief Justice Roberts in the recent healthcare decision, he explained that the Supreme Court doesn’t decide whether a law is a good one or a bad one. Rather, their job is to decide whether it is constitutional or not.

Regardless of whether or not students agreed with Scalia’s interpretation of the Constitution, everyone seemed to enjoy the man’s presentation. Perhaps this was because it was so clear that he was having a blast with us. When President Paul Trible stepped onto the stage to signify the end of the evening’s Q&A session, Justice Scalia declined to step down, saying, “I’m having such a good time,” This was met with a rousing round of applause that one might expect for an encore performance at a Mumford & Sons concert. His sincerity and obvious love for what he does helped students warm up to the man, even if they still disagree with his opinions.

If nothing else, Justice Scalia represents the pinnacle of success, which he said means, “being the best at what you love”. His definition of success was one that does not rely on power or money or promotions. It is one that emphasizes the importance of character and enjoying what you do. This standard of success is one that every CNU student strives to reach, and is fully capable of obtaining. In this and many other ways, Justice Scalia was the perfect speaker for the President’s Leadership Program and the student body of Christopher Newport University as a whole.

 

CNU Snow

On the 25th of January it snowed at CNU. Being from Maine, I can tell you that the white fluffy stuff doesn’t exactly thrill me when it falls and covers the ground like the coldest of blankets, but since it’s such a rarity in Newport News, people go nuts. I swear, when people around here see a snowflake it’s like it’s Apocalypse 2012 all over again (In other words, everyone posts Facebook statuses about it for a while until the novelty runs out).

Around the city cars drive more slowly and cautiously (for good reason). Many cars lack snow tires and the drivers know that their 0-60 is far less important than 60-0. Businesses shut down in the area, and some students get their classes canceled (but don’t always count on it). Everyone walks a bit more briskly and the smokers even try quitting for a couple days because they can’t stand the cold. You’ll often see kids traveling in packs, walking close together to conserve heat like penguins in Antarctica.

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That said; snow on the CNU campus is beautiful. When it’s falling outside you could curl up with a cup of hot chocolate in Einstein’s or if you live in York East or West you can utilize those fancy fireplaces in the lobby. The fountain freezes over and the basketball court disappears, the roofs of the academic buildings are white and the campus is quiet because everyone is staying indoors as much as possible. In between classes, after a thick snow has fallen, the campus is peaceful and still. If you look over the Great Lawn you might not be able to tell that within the buildings are thousands of young excited people bursting with the energy and drive to be the best that they can be. I often think that if there is a metaphorical winter the world faces today, it will be the likes of CNU students that will bring the spring.

…And We’re Back

There’s a big difference between January in Maine and January in Newport News, Virginia. As winter winds whipped over the rocky coast of New England, I spent my Christmas Break sleeping in, working now and then, and relaxing by the fire reading “Game of Thrones”.  I soaked in the relaxation while I could. I knew that when I got back to CNU, things were going to get tough fast.

I was right.

In the first full week of classes I turned in 3 papers, 3 page-long assignments, and I took two quizzes. The next week I have 4 papers due and at least one quiz to take. At the same time I have volunteering to do, work, and practice. If it sounds like a lot, I can assure you that it is.

As with each semester at CNU, the professors have high expectations of their students. My business professor is all about ensuring we get as much out of each class as possible, already she starts class a couple minutes early and goes until the very last minute, trying to give us as much information as possible while we’re there.

Over break I knew that I would return to late nights and early mornings. I didn’t think of it with dread or apprehension, on the contrary; I was excited to transition back to the intensity of academic challenge. By your sixth semester at CNU you know that you will get what you put in to the semester, give it your all and you’ll end the semester proud.

You’ll find everyone feels about the same when it comes to the beginning of the semester. You pass a buddy who was in your Honors class and ask him, “How’s your semester shaping up?” He’ll respond: “It’s going to be crazy. I’m going to be so busy.” You ask him, “you pumped?” to which he responds, “yup!”

In the eternal words of the Black Eyed Peas, “Let’s get it started.”

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Sorry.

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.