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.

…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.

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.

Judging

Tonight I am going to be judging my ex-high school’s Poetry Slam. Now, contrary to popular belief, a poetry slam does not involve a bunch of miss-aligned youths sporting oversized pants and sweatshirts talking trash in rhyme over microphones on stage. Instead what you have is a bunch of student, each student wrote their own original poem, and they’ll be presenting their poem however they see fit.

Back in my freshman year of high school, I won the first annual Hampden Academy poetry slam with a poem about my everyday life as a skinny white kid with a broken leg. I literally just wrote about myself with a humorous twist.

Above: Poetry.

With that in mind, you can understand that any student could write about anything for this Poetry Slam and walk away with the coveted title: Slam Master or, as one of the English teachers refers to it, a Grand Slammer. Either way, it’s pretty cool because the top three poets get some neat stuff ranging from gift cards to a book store to free journals they can fill in with all their poetry. Every year there are a lot of kids and a lot of talent.

…And this year I have to judge that talent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited to take part in the process. It’s an honor to be a part of something like this. Back in 2006, there were only ten or so kids that presented, each year that number has grown. I don’t know how many are scheduled to present this year, but if the trend has continued, I wouldn’t be surprised to see 30 or more students.

But how does one judge poetry? Of all the arts, it seems, to me, to be one of the most subjective. We all know that art is supposed to mimic reality, but we all view reality differently. These students should not be aiming to mimic the reality that we judges perceive, they should try to mimic their own.

The judges will have a rubric that we can use to determine score and it’s influenced by performance, the level of writing, the flow, the rhythm, etc. All these things are important when presenting a poem to others. My hope is that the students’ experience tonight will reinvigorate them to write more poetry, because there is nothing more honest than poetry.

However, I also hope that the students that don’t win or end up in the top three won’t lose their interest in poetry. Though it is a wonderful thing to share your poetry, in the end a poem isn’t really meant for someone else. Even love poems you write for the light of your life isn’t really meant for them. A poem is for the poet. If there is a poet tonight who believes their poem is the best despite not getting the title, we are not telling them that they are wrong. We are picking out the poems that speak to us individually, obviously the poem that will speak to the poet best is their own.

Poetry is taking a piece of your soul and putting it to paper. That, in and of itself, is a greater victory than any of us judges can give to the poets.

High School Fights

So my little sister comes home from school today and says, “There was a fight today.”

After realizing that she was not, in fact, referring to my completed mission to clear a fort of bandits in Skyrim I asked her where this fight took place.

“At school,” She replied.

Now I want to apologize to any Hampden Academy alumni who remember differently than I do, but I don’t recall there ever being a fist fight in my high school when I was there. So, as one can imagine, this news disturbed me somewhat.

So here’s the hardcore, hearsay driven rumour that ended up coming to me this fine evening: Two female freshman high school students found themselves in a bit of a disagreement. Apparently one girl, henceforth referred to as Girl A told the other girl, henceforth referred to as Girl B, that she was going to get someone to beat her up (Girl B, not Girl A). I’m not really sure when young women resorted to hiring hitmen to solve high school problems, but considering the lack of maturity in all high school problems this can’t be all that surprising.

Apparently this makes more sense than starting a nasty rumour or something…

Anyway, apparently asserting that someone is going to track you down and give you a black eye is worthy of a reaction. Most people would say, “That’s really stupid.” However, Girl B is not “most people”. Girl B says, “Do it!” and then pushes Girl A, single-handedly making the delicate art of body language obsolete.

Now lets pause for a moment and reflect. What would a normal person do in this situation? If you’re thinking, “But Ryan, normal people don’t tell people they are going to get someone to beat someone else up, nor do they resort to fighting over petty high school problems.” To which I would respond: “Good point.”

Unpause. Girl A decides the best way to resolve the situation is punching Girl B in the face. This is entirely logical considering the fact that nothing about these two girls seems to be logical. Below is the most accurate depiction I could find on the internet…

plus cuteness, minus the stupid.

Girl A allegedly channels the spirit of Glass Joe and misses. Girl B then goes all out Mike Tyson and “Took her down”. She then proceeded to punch Girl A “a whole shit ton” which, it turns out, is “eight times or more to the face”. If you’re wondering where I am getting all these quotations, it’s because Girl B was kind enough to tell her whole story in her Facebook status: “Suspended 3 days. Sooo worth it.” I wish I was kidding.

I’m not though, and here’s the real sad thing: the vice principal decided to give Girl B a three day suspension rather than a week long one because she has been “good” lately.

All that work with Pennies for Peace sure paid off.

So here’s to you Girl A and Girl B. One of you probably stole the other’s boyfriend or something, but it doesn’t really matter because regardless of the problem, you’ve brought problem solving to a whole new low.
Congrats.

Now grow up.