Excitement Before the End

Yesterday marked the end of the semester for the University student newspaper, The Aquinas. It is bittersweet knowing our final issue of the year hit stands Thursday morning, however it’s been quite a year for us!

From heightening our social media engagement, changing the size and format of the paper itself and having some incredible, hard-hitting stories published, I’m so proud to see how far we’ve come. Although this is my first year on the paper, it definitely feels like I’ve been here from the start. The hardworking, talented and fun students on staff, who have quickly become some of my best friends, made the experience worthwhile. Looking forward to next year!

My co Arts and Life editor Emma!

My co Arts and Life editor Emma!

Emma, me and Editor and Chief Carmine!

Emma, me and Editor in Chief Carmine!

As I mentioned in my previous post, last weekend was the University’s Relay for Life! From 5 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday, University students joined together for a night of entertainment, games, raffles, ceremonies and food. Similar to last year, I was on a team with Men and Women for Octaves (Octaves and Royal Harmony). Each group performed two songs; Octaves sang at the beginning to kick off the event while Royal Harmony sang during the beautiful Luminaria ceremony to honor those who lost or survived their battle to cancer. My fellow Octaves pals Jimmy, Jen, Genny, Megan, Alexis and Tom were the ones from our team who managed to make it through the entire night. Describing the event as fun would be an absolute understatement! I love spending quality time with my a cappella group, especially if it means competing in a lip syncing battle, playing basketball and winning gift cards in the raffle (I couldn’t believe I did!). Relay for Life is a beautiful event that really brings the Scranton community together. I’m utterly grateful to have experienced it the past two years.

My friends Hailey, Emily and me at Relay!

My friends Hailey, Emily and me at Relay!

The final 6 at the conclusion of Relay!

The final 6 (minus Tom) at the conclusion of Relay!

Speaking of the Scranton community…HAPPY 5.06! For most of you reading who probably don’t know what 5.06 is, I’ll give you a quick overview.

The second annual 5.06 event, raan by University Advancement, is a day dedicated to donating to Scranton. This year the goal is to receive from 2,016 donors! The money donated can be given generally or to any organization on campus of your choosing. It’s such a lively day on campus! First floor in the DeNaples student center is filled throughout the entire day: table sits for club donations, free popcorn and Ritas, a prize wheel, t-shirts, etc. Check out the website! See if you can find the picture of me and my friend Emily. I donated to the University’s fund for a school in Uganda. To the end day, Octaves will even be performing exactly at 5:06 and later on downtown. It is a great day to be a Royal!

http://www.scranton.edu/development/royalfund/day-of-giving.shtml

Happy 5.06 from me and Emily!

Happy 5.06 from me and Emily!

Set up finished before all the excitement!

Set up finished before all the excitement!

The excitement on campus will continue into tomorrow with USPB’s annual SpringFest! Last year, we were lucky and had a beautiful day for SpringFest, so hopefully it doesn’t rain! The event occurs pretty much all day with games and activities, as well as musical performances later in the night. This year, the musical guests are Anthem Lights and White Panda.

Well there you have it! As you can tell it’s been a busy time on the Scranton campus, a great way to have the end of the semester. But I wish it would slow down!

Be back next week!

Three Weeks Left

Hi there 🙂

Despite the past rainy day, I hope you have all been taking advantage of the gorgeous spring weather Scranton has been blessed with this past week. Of course there are still gray days, but just about anything beats the winter in my opinion!

With three weeks left of the semester, it is go time. Whether I’m writing papers, reading for class, running to a club meeting, singing at rehearsal or working in the AQ office, it is the busiest time of the semester. I know these next few weeks are going to come and go before I know it, but I truly hope it slows down. Despite the stress, the thought of my sophomore year ending surfaces so many emotions I’m not quite ready to accept!

But on a happier note…the U’s community has been super active lately. Events on events on events! Friday, the annual Holi Festival took place on the Dionne Green. For the past five years, the Asia club has organized a celebration for Holi, the festival of colors in the Hindu religion.

The Holi festival! Sadly, I wasn't wearing a white shirt so I didn't participate, but a few of my friends did.

The Holi festival! Sadly, I wasn’t wearing a white shirt so I didn’t participate, but a few of my friends did.

Saturday, the English and Theatre  department hosted a Shakespeare Festival, to celebrate 400 years since the death of the renowned poet and playwright. The Men and Women for Octaves moderator (and active member!) Michael Friedman, an English professor here, couldn’t wait for Octaves to perform at the event. We sang the classic Taylor Swift song ” Love Story.”

The singing didn’t stop there! The U’s photography club invited Royal Harmony and Octaves to perform at their gala. The groups performed “Love Story,” “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” “What Do You Mean” and “Somewhere Out There.” We’ll be performing very soon once again at one of the biggest events at the U: Relay for Life.

Now, as a follow up since I was unable to post last week, my birthday weekend was amazing! Not only was I able to spend quality time with my family and friends, but the weather was beyond perfect. I definitely think it was the sunniest and warmest weekend at the U thus far (and I promise I’m not just being biased!). Sunday, on my actual birthday, I even had a free breakfast with the Octaves when we sang at the scholarship brunch. Overall, it was a wonderful weekend to ring in my 20th.

My mom and I on our way to Longhorn Steakhouse for my birthday dinner.

My mom and I on our way to Longhorn Steakhouse for my birthday dinner.

To end the day, I plopped myself at one of my favorite spots on campus: the statue across from Redington Hall. I always seem to catch the most beautiful sunsets there. thumbnail_IMG_6192

In the hour or so that I was peacefully sitting outside, I couldn’t help but feel utterly blessed. It truly is moments like these that kindle feelings of gratitude, content, awe, joy, even a little pensiveness. The last 20 years of my life have gone by just as fast as my first two years of college. And although, yes I am only 20, I still manage to find so much to reflect upon. But, as one of my favorite sayings goes, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

That’s all for now! Have a wonderful day everyone 🙂

 

 

 

 

Happy Tuesday

Happy Tuesday everyone!

When I was scrolling through Instagram the other week I came across a picture with a saying that began with “Be the person who can make the most out of a Tuesday.” I absolutely loved it. The quote continued telling the reader to be the kind of person who isn’t always looking forward to the weekend, wishing the weekdays away. With April in full swing and the end of the semester just around the corner, I could not agree more with such a statement. Despite all the assignments I have building up, I’m trying to make the most of every day.

Last Friday, Royal Harmony and Octaves were honored to sing the national anthem at a Railriders baseball game! For those reading who do not know, the Railriders are a minor league affiliate of the New York Yankees. NOt only did we get to sing the anthem, but had great seats for the game! Although the night was a little chilly (still not as cold as when we sang at 5 a.m. for opening day last year), it was a wonderful way to bond with the groups.

Octaves and Royal Harmony before singing the national anthem.

Octaves and Royal Harmony before singing the national anthem.

On another note (no pun intended), on Thursday night, Octaves rehearsal was a little out of the ordinary. Octaves member Will recorded our voices to create a preview music video! Our directors Jimmy and Genny thought it would be the perfect way for the group to gain some attention on social media and interst people in coming to our concert. We finished up all the vocals and will be focusing on the video aspect this Thursday. Alexis, our social media chair and mics specialist, got a few shots of us being recorded! 

Me singing "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" by Meghan Trainor

Me singing “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” by Meghan Trainor

 

Two tenors, Ralph and Joe.

Two tenors, Ralph and Joe, singing their part. 

We have our next performance this Sunday at the University’s scholarship brunch. But more importantly…Sunday is my birthday! Just kidding it’s not necessarily more important, but it is indeed Sunday. And if all goes well my parents will be coming up to visit. Since they both work full time it’s definitely hard to find a weekend to visit, which doesn’t bother me too much; being the stereotypical college student that I am, I absolutely enjoy being away from home. However, it will be nice to spend quality time with two people who I love in the place I love most! Hopefully the weather agrees!

Ursinus College Bearitones Growl to Scranton!

To begin I would just like say that I’m glad I was able to enjoy the warm weather while it lasted!

Unfortunately, Mother Nature has decided that the winter season was just not long enough here in Scranton. I’m still hangin’ in there though; hopefully in a week or so the sun will shine once again and I’ll be able to walk across campus on beautiful 60 degree days.

However, despite the chilliness on campus this weekend, my heart was warmed by the beautiful sounds of a cappella. And as corny, cheesy, etc. as that may sound it couldn’t be more true. Last Friday Men and Women for Octaves welcomed the Ursinus College Bearitones, the college’s male a cappella ensemble. To no surprise, I was blown away! These young men were not only incredibly talented, but outgoing, friendly, passionate about their music and all around engaging performers. This was our first “real performance” of the semester and I was so pleased with the outcome. Between having a great turnout, hearing some of my favorite songs sung by a great group of people and of course sharing the stage with Octaves and Royal Harmony, I’d definitely rank the night 10 out of 10.

 

Men and Women for Octaves joined by the Ursinus College Bearitones in the Brennan Theater

Men and Women for Octaves joined by the Ursinus College Bearitones in the Brennan Theater

Speaking of a cappella, I am pleased to announce that next year I will be taking over Men and Women for Octaves with my new role as president!

Although I am nervous about some of the responsibilities, I could not be more excited. I love Octaves and Royal Harmony with all of my heart and could never imagine my college experience thus far without singing and the amazing individuals I have met. Ever since high school I always wanted to be in an a cappella group or just sing at the collegiate level. To not only have accomplished that, but two leadership positions within the group as well, is a milestone I am truly proud of.  

But I am not merely proud of this new role; I am honored and eager. To lead and organize a group of such talented young men and women, to give back to a club that has given me so much in just the last two years, means the world to me. Despite the hard work that will come along with this role, I’m positively anxious to see how my efforts can make the groups better than they already are. 🙂 MW48 pride!

While I’m on this a cappella roll, I should  mention that this Friday Royal Harmony and Octaves will be taking a drive to the PNC Field in Moosic for the Railrider’s game! We’ll be singing the national anthem and watching the game as well. This is my second time going to Railrider’s stadium with the group (last year we sang at opening day…at 4am!) , but this time we’ll be able to sing, relax and enjoy some baseball. This is just another one of the many events we’ll be performing at this semester! We’re pretty booked for the next few weeks until our concert.

Well that’s all for now everyone 🙂 I hope this music-esque post of mine inspired you to listen to some a cappella music. Stay warm and enjoy the rest of the week!

Springing into Spring!

Hello!

I hope everyone reading this had a relaxing, rejuvenating and overall enjoyable week. I know I did! Spring break was much needed and came at the perfect time. I basked in the luxury of not doing any work, seeing my adorable baby cousin, going to the gym, seeing my family, eating diner food with friends and watching Gilmore Girls. Although I would have loved to have just one more day home, as always, I’m glad to be back in Scranton.

The U usually gives its students two breaks: a spring break and an Easter break. However, because Easter came so early this year, we had both breaks in one. And, as I said, although I would have loved to have one more day home, I was thankful I could be home to celebrate Easter and attend mass with my family. My church at home has beautiful services for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil that I genuinely look forward to. I couldn’t imagine not being home to attend those! The Easter season is a unique, revializting time like no other where I find my faith becomes stronger and stronger every year. Being able to attend a school that fosters my faith is something I’m incredibly thankful for.

Alas, we are now into the second half of spring semester!

The weather today, although a little windier than I prefer, has been sunny and warm. What a great way to start the week! I mean, even though it’s Tuesday. There’s nothing worse than waking up for my 8:30 class on Tuesdays and Thursdays with a gray sky and cold and windy weather. The best part? Not being bound by a jacket of course! Soon enough, spring will be in full swing. I’ve realized in the past year that spring might be my favorite season. As much as I love the crisp autumn, snow days in the winter and having no school in the summer, spring brings such a sense of renewal, revival and excitement.

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So with my iced coffee in hand, I’m off to sit in one of the academic buildings next to a window so I can witness this beautiful progress of spring weather while still (attempting!) to stay on top of my work. See you next week!

Busy Weeks and Spring Break

I’m very relieved to announce that my 2 busiest weeks of the semester thus far are now over!
Between writing an 8 page paper or studying for 3 exams, I  was jam packed last weekend. However, I knew the hard work paid off when my teachers returned my grades. Good grades = a great way to start the week before spring break! Although my last essay and midterm this week were slightly concerning, I am relieved to say it all ended well! I could not be more content with the way everything has been for me this semester. I still can’t believe it is already spring break. I haven’t been home in about 6 weeks, so I’m undoubtedly ready to cuddle with my dog, sleep in my own bed and spend time with my friends and family.

But aside from my academic achievements, it was a very exciting week for the University women’s basketball team! Actually, it was an overall exciting season!

The Lady Royals made it to to the sectional finals of the NCAA Division III tournament. Pushing through an undefeated season, the Sweet Sixteen and finally, the Elite Eight. Even students who aren’t necessarily into athletics (such as myself) couldn’t help talk about this. You could feel the excitement and support from the entire student body all over campus! But despite their first and only loss, the Lady Royals had an unforgettable season, their final record being 30-1.

Another exciting happening was this Wednesday when Octaves performed at our first event! The event was called If You Really Knew Me and was organized by the Mission and Identity team on USPB (Scranton’s Programming Board). A representative from the organization Active Minds came to speak and perform, discussing topics related to mental health and mental health awareness. The night included performances by Urban Beats, Royal Harmony and of, course, the Octaves! We sang “Keep Holding On” by Avril Lavigne, in the style of Glee. Considering we are only a little over a month into the semester and have already learned our ENTIRE setlist, I’m incredibly proud of the group and eager to see where the semester takes us. I’m making sure to enjoy every second of singing I can, especially because 6 members of the group are graduating which means it is my last semester singing with them :(. Thankfully (well, I think thankfully..ha!), we’re jammed pack with events to sing at in April so the group will be able to spend tons of time together.

I’m now off to clean up my room a bit, pack and get ready to head home! I’ve been feeling happier and more grateful than ever lately to be spending my college years at Scranton. Each and every day I’m reminded of all the wonderful people in my life who make me genuinely happy, even during some of my most stressful times.

Have a great weekend and Happy Easter everybody!

Musicals, Lacrosse and More!

I’m excited to announce that for the second time this semester the temperature reached 60 degrees! Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day. Consistent spring weather is, hopefully, right around the corner. I am always reminded how much I love my campus when the snow is melted and the sun is always shining.

This week will be quite the busy one. However, I’ve recently noticed that, for some reason, I love the beginning of a week! Unlike most people, I don’t dread Mondays! I’m convinced this new found attitude is the result of a sorcerer or fairy casting a spell on me, but I won’t argue it.

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Of course some of my days seem never ending I’ve been having such great experiences this semester. From taking enjoyable classes, to singing my heart out at a cappella, to editing the newspaper I’m always positively anxious to see what each week has in store for me. My first month of spring semester, February, has come and gone. I hate to see the days go by so fast! Maybe that’s why I have a newfound love for Monday’s. Each week is a new beginning and when Friday approaches so quickly, it’s sometimes a little bit sad.

As I said, this week will be a busy one! I’m writing two articles for the upcoming issue of the Aquinas, the U’s student newspaper. One required me to step a little bit outside my comfort zone: writing a preview article for the school’s women’s lacrosse team! The sports editor has become one of my closest friends on campus and I was super excited to write for him. In this one piece I was able to learn a lot about sports writing from him and our editor-in-chief.

The second article is for my and Emma’s section, Arts & Life, and it is another preview article. This one is focused on the University Players production of Big Fish! I’m looking looking forward to interviewing cast members tomorrow and writing this piece because not only do I love the stellar productions of the Players, but this month the production is a musical! The Players for the most part, lean more towards merely plays rather than musicals, but every two years they bring one to the stage. I’ll definitely be in the audience watching next week. 🙂 I’ve been so caught up in “editor life” of the Aquinas this semester that I have not had the chance to publish an article yet, but now I’ll have two.

Another matter of high importance this week will be to spend time studying for the grammar exam. Yes, you read that right…a grammar exam!

All communication students (whether it’s a major or minor) are required to pass the grammar exam. Whether it’s word choice or part of speech recognition, you can almost guarantee to see it on this exam! The first attempt for the test is scheduled for next Friday. Although I’ve been reviewing grammar rules and techniques in my Writing for Communication course, it’s now time to really get crackin on studying.

That’s all for this now! I’ll be back next week with follow ups on how everything this week goes 🙂

Friends and Warm Weather

Friday night, after almost a semester and a half of saying I would do so, I decided to decorate my room! Well, part of it at least.

I spent one the last days of winter break shopping and browsing stores such as TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, Marshalls etc. in search of some cute wall decor for my dorm! I could walk around HomeGoods for hours; there are so many photos, paintings, frames and word art I would love to own. Nonetheless, after some decision making, I bought a 3 piece set which included the words “Be Kind, Be Positive , Be Courageous.” I stuck those on my walls as soon as I returned to school and now, finally, the wall space above my desk is filled!

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These are only a number of the many photos I decided to order; I’m still not sure how I’ll utilize the rest. Maybe I’ll put them in an album.

After a relaxing Friday night, Saturday was definitely more exciting. Not only was it a gorgeous day (the temperature reached 60 degrees!) but one of my best friends from home came up for a visit. She couldn’t have picked a better day. Tons of students were out and about, drinking Starbucks outside or playing sports on the green.

Sabrina and I decided to stay on campus for lunch and munched on Chick-Fil-A when she first arrived. I gave her a mini tour of the U as we passed and walked through different buildings; she was so impressed! She couldn’t believe how friendly everyone was. As I said to my friends, I was incredibly excited to have to Sabrina not only because I would be able to see one of my best friends for the first time in a month, but because she would have the “Scranton experience” for a weekend! We walked into town later that night, enjoyed a delicious hibachi dinner at Osaka and headed back to Condron and watched a few episodes of our favorite show “Jane the Virgin.” As stuffed as we were after Osaka, we couldn’t help taking a walk over to Good Fellas around midnight to grab some pizza. Sabrina and I had such a great time together; if only she could come to Scranton too!

Overall, my weekend was relaxing, which was definitely much needed. The work this semester is really starting to pick up and that means, as usual, tons of papers, exams and readings! Can’t wait to see what the week has in store for me. 🙂

Love Poems and Beyond

Happy Wednesday!

Last night I attended my first event of the semester: a slam poetry reading by Javon Johnson, Ph.D ! I have never been necessarily interested in poetry until last year or so, but Javon blew me away. Last night really opened my eyes and served as the perfect reminder that poetry is much more than flowery, superfluous words on a page written by someone hundreds of years ago.  His works were personal, moving, empowering and relatable not merely because of the words he chose, but because of the performance itself: how every syllable, every constant and every vowel left his mouth. Unfortunately I had to leave the event a little early, so I only heard a couple of pieces, but either way I’m glad I was able to go.

 

Since we have just finished reading a selection of poems in my African American Literature course, my professor actually arranged for Johnson to speak with my class this morning! When I asked Johnson what his biggest inspiration for his poetry, he had such an insightful response.

 

He said, “Well, everything…But I really only write love poems.”  

 

When one hears the words “love poems”, he or she tends to assume boy/girl relationship-esque love poems. But Javon went on to explain that, although he definitely enjoys and finds a lot of meaning within those specific types of poems, that all of his poems are love poems because they are about everything he loves, whether it’s a person, a place, a thing etc. He writes about the people he loves, his “love for humanity.” He even mentioned that through his writing, sometimes he hopes to create a more lovable word for those around him. It was not the answer I was expecting when I raised the question, but nonetheless was a perfectly beautiful response and made me truly think about the emotions and thoughts that make their way into an artist’s work.

 

This was one of the many interesting topics Javon spoke about during my class period. Because I was so interested in his thoughts on writing, what to write about, how to interpret a poet’s piece, I decided to take a little step outside my comfort zone and attend his poetry workshop scheduled later in the day. As I said, although poetry was never a true passion or interest of mine, I enjoyed the workshop and felt grateful to have had such a great opportunity to expand my writing horizons right on campus!

 

Now I’m off to do some laundry and finish some homework. Tonight is another production night for the Aquinas (our first issue comes out tomorrow!), and as the new co-Arts and Life section editor, there will be much to do. 🙂

 

Hope everyone has a lovely rest of the week!

Salutations Spring Semester

Why hello there! 🙂 For the sake of potential first-time readers, I always like to begin new “chapters” of my blogs with a little introduction about myself.

My name is Catherine, Catie for short, and I am a spring semester sophomore at the University of Scranton. I’m an English major (incase you couldn’t tell by my use of alliteration in that last phrase) and Communication minor, a singer in the University’s co-ed a cappella group and a staff writer/editor for the student newspaper. After a quite long, but much needed, winter break, I am elated to be back on campus. Between singing, writing, attending retreats and meeting new faces every day, I’ve made countless memories so far with my time here at Scranton; how could I not want to come back! Despite a tough fall semester, by the end of break I was eager for the spring to start. The past 6 weeks honestly flew and I definitely think I made the most of my time; but the thought of being back in my dorm, walking to class and seeing the friends I haven’t seen in what seems like forever was all too appealing.

Moving back in on January 31st was, surprisingly, an emotional and insightful experience. Yes, of course I did this last year, so what made this time so different? I noticed that I recognized and appreciated the fact that I had so much waiting for me at this beautiful place. It is my second home. Just like my family, my dog, my high school friends and diner food (haha!) are all in New Jersey, my second family, my hobbies, my classes, so many opportunities, are all in Scranton, Pennsylvania. And as disconnected as I may be from this place for two months during winter break, that could never change. For quite some time I forgot all about that! Because when you’re struggling with academics or dealing with trouble in friend groups or worried about loved ones at home, it’s easy to overlook what’s right in front of you. I feel more grateful than ever to be back.

And what better way to kick off the semester than by spending time with my a cappella family!

On Saturday afternoon, the Octaves took a drive up to Ithaca, NY to witness an ICCA (International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella) Regional competition! We were absolutely blown away by the talent of these groups. About 10 ensembles competed that night, mainly from New York colleges and universities with the exception of two from Canada!

The Midnight Ramblers photographed in the Bridge Lounge on the University of Rochester's River Campus, Wilson Commons. Some of the photos are slated to appear in an upcoming issue of Rochester Review Magazine.The Midnight Ramblers is an all-male contemporary a cappella singing ensemble composed entirely of undergraduates at the University of Rochester. The Ramblers are student directed and managed, and choose their repertoire to cover all the bases of vocal music. Photo by University of Rochester, Brandon Vick

The Midnight Ramblers photographed in the Bridge Lounge on the University of Rochester’s River Campus, Wilson Commons. (They won 2nd place!)

Each group brought something special to the stage in every song they sung; saying the competition was merely entertaining would be an understatement. What could be even more exciting than that? Tom, one of our tenors, went to highschool with and is still friends with a girl in Premium Blend, the all-female group that won first place!

Tom and Lauren, a member of Premium Blend.

Tom and Lauren, a member of Premium Blend.

With one week down and many to go, I’m anticipating great things for this semester. Can’t wait to tell you all about it! I’m off to bed and hope to be awakened by a snow day phone call. 🙂