Gym Time?

As some of you may or may not know, freshmen at The University of Scranton get the unlimited meal plan. This means that they are able to enter the buffet-style cafeteria an unlimited amount of times during the day. I remember when I was a freshman living in Driscoll Hall. My roommate was Bobby Dudik – him and I went to high school together, although we did not really know each other well until the end of senior year. When we came to Scranton, we were awestruck with the unlimited meal plan! Each night we would both eat at least five plates of food without any guilty conscience – that is until we decided to start power lifting.

Freshman year is always a time for firsts. From my personal experiences, including those I have witnessed as a Resident Assistant to freshmen, it is a pivotal time in a person’s life. People may find their first love, meet their first best college friend, or even first start power lifting – such was the case with me. During my freshman year, I thought to myself, “Wow! It’s a new beginning, I get to be whoever I want to be, and there is a clean slate ahead of me!” Therefore, I had the not so genius idea to begin exercise and attempt way too much on my first night. Goodness, back then Bob and I knew nothing at all about the gym or how to use even half the machines in the darn place! I recall that on the first night him and I went to the gym, we tried way too much; I distinctly remember working triceps and chest that night. When Bob and I returned to Driscoll Hall, I do not believe I had ever felt a worse pain than I had when I stepped into the shower. He went to shower at the same time that I did and he still laughs to this day when we reminisce over past gym experiences. I was leaning on the shower wall divider and moaning in pain, “Oh my goodness… What the heck did I just do to my muscles? This is the worst thing in the world…”

This was over two years ago. I can gladly say that he and most certainly myself improved significantly. During my freshman year when everybody would talk about how much they could bench press, I was barely able to do the bar. Due to the fitness movement I started my freshman year between my roommate and I, we have bettered ourselves exceptionally and we are all the more proud of it.

Segway into fitness related story: The University of Scranton is a Jesuit institution; therefore Lent is a big deal to the community. Bob is a Christian but he doesn’t routinely go to mass. Believe me, I have tried to drag his butt to church on many occasions! Every time he would not budge, it was a defeat for me. However, the one triumphant victory I had over him resulted from his will bending when I asked him to Participate in the Lenten season. Together, him and I gave up all manners of sugary drinks for Lent, minus our whey protein supplements. The only thing we were able to drink was water. At first, this task was hard but Bob and I stayed ever faithful to the plan and as a result, him and I both cannot stand drinking soda, or even anything sugary for that matter! On second thought, this is mostly true; I occasionally cheat when I indulge in sweet tea. Sweet tea is truly my kryptonite. It really doesn’t help that one of our cafeterias has a Chik-fil-a that dispenses the world’s greatest sweet tea. Regardless, I still keep up just fine with Bob in the gym, if not out-lifting him!

The gym empty on a Saturday morning...beautiful.

The gym empty on a Saturday morning…beautiful.

The Sweeping of the Streets

The University of Scranton never ceases to amaze me; the students graciously gave back to the neighboring community during the Street Sweep event! Let me give you the rundown on this occasion: Student Government holds a biannual event called Street Sweep in which clubs, who have mandatory community service requirements, are allowed to sign up in order to complete such requirements. Members of clubs that sign up for Street Sweep are led by zone captains (usually the various Student Government senators) into the neighboring residential areas and downtown areas that border The University of Scranton; their main objective is the mass collection of rubbish left behind by non-environmentally friendly hooligans! Every so often groups are given special tasks like clearing overgrown vines in the residential areas or replanting potters in the urban areas.

The senators arrived to the Mulberry parking lot that would later serve as the staging area for all the clubs and their members arriving. As we scrambled to prepare all the tables for signing in and distribution of supplies, ominous clouds rolled eerily overhead. This was not necessarily the blessing I was looking for; in Street Sweeps past, they were typically days of moderate weather. The skies, however, suggested a different outcome for Street Sweep Fall 2014.

Eventually the participants strolled into the parking lot, forming a line that stretched for a block and a half. This turnout was better than I possibly could have expected! In fact, this massive line was sustained with the arrival of new participants for a decent thirty minutes. The turnout was impressive and all but tragedy struck before Street Sweep had a chance to get underway. The skies quickly darkened and rain descended upon the eager volunteers with shocking aggression but despite its malice, the spirits of these brave souls did not waiver. Even though the administration (all of the senators on Student Government) were thrown into chaos in attempting to expedite the sign-in process, the fortitude of the volunteers remained resolute as they patiently waited on line.

Eventually, all the participants were checked in and the zone captains were rallied. Each zone captain tirelessly called out, searching for the respective members of various clubs they were in charge of leading. This year I fearlessly led my team, accompanied by a sophomore senator, Bridget Keehan, to a section of residential area. Whereas the entire sign-in process consumed a fair amount of time, the cleaning process did not take much time at all…possibly due to expert directions administered by the best zone captain in the history of zone captains ever but nobody knows. Bridget, my team, and myself finished our assigned zone within five minutes and headed back to the Mulberry parking lot. Upon arrival, my group was told that their services were no longer required and that they had met their community service requirements for the Street Sweep event. As a whole, despite the sudden monsoon, the Street Sweep event was a fantastic success. There were approximately 440 volunteers that signed up for Street Sweep! This is precisely one reason why I love The University of Scranton.

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Midnight Madness

In past years, Midnight Madness was an event traditionally hosted by Student Government. However, things have taken a turn here at The University of Scranton and a new order has been founded! Actually this organization has been around forever but this was their first year hosting Midnight Madness; the University of Scranton Programming Board (USPB) hosted Midnight Madness and may I say they did a fantastic job!

I’ll begin by explaining a little about what exactly goes into Midnight Madness: virtually it is a huge school-wide pep rally that lasts until midnight. This darn thing happened just last night and my voice is recovering from all the hooting and the hollering I did at the event. Basically, it is an excellent night filled with activities, tributes to sports teams, and awesome shirts. The senators from Student Government came out to support their comrades over in USPB by helping out with the organization of Midnight Madness and serving as traffic control.

The event was set to launch at 10:30pm and by 10:15 there was already a line stretching about two city blocks long from the entrance to the Long Center; the Long Center is where Midnight Madness is always held – it is a large gymnasium where our Scranton Royal’s basketball teams play their home games. For the occasion, as you can see below, I painted my face solid with purple and white body paint. Perhaps it was not the best idea to paint my face as close to my lips and eyes as much as I did but certain sacrifices are required for the type of school spirit that I am dedicated to! Eventually the clock strikes 10:30pm and floods of students come bursting the Long Center’s doors. As an admissions fee, students either donated $2.00 that went to a local charity or they also had the option to donate a can of soup that would go to a local food pantry. Regardless, all the Royals did not care because this was really another way of giving back to the community.

Very soon, the bleachers filled to the very brims, so much to the point that students even sat at the feet of the bleachers. The house was packed and the stage was set. Our excellent masters of ceremonies for the night, a student, Avery, and a fellow senator, Jimmy, kicked off the festivities with a few introductions of some of the fall Varsity sports teams. The senators and USPB members scrambled about in the background grabbing giveaways to toss into the crowd. As we took the floor such excitement and passion roared into our ears as the crowd responded to all the hype. Throughout the night, there were other activities like pie eating contests, as well as a 3-point shootout between the men’s and the women’s basketball teams.

At the end of the night, I was all partied out but I needed to muster just enough strength to finish out Midnight Madness! When our two glorious MCs finally let the masses exit the Long Center, they stampeded out the gym’s doors and I knew exactly where they were headed: the shirts table. The sight was slightly intimidating but I knew that the team working the tables and myself were all bracing ourselves for the rush. Then, it happened just like that; an unstoppable force met an immovable object. There were hundreds of students who showed up to Midnight Madness in order to support their school and show school spirit. Now all those hundreds that sat energized in the bleachers of the gymnasium were at our toes looking for just the right sized Midnight Madness shirt. It definitely would have been an excellent selfie if only I were taller and could get above the huge mob. As chaotic as it was, the mob quickly dispersed and headed back to their dorms, leaving the USPB team, the Student Government senators and myself to recover from the exuberant night of awesomeness.

Open House!!

Open House day! Open House day! I can’t believe Open House day came!!! This is one of the few holidays (or serious workdays, depending on one’s point of view) that are on the Admissions calendar of The University of Scranton. Open House is a grand time of merriment when hundreds of prospective students descend upon The University of Scranton in their search for THE right college. Now one might ask where a lowly student like myself fits into all of this excitement. Royal Ambassadors are students who provide help during any sort of Admissions-related event. Yes, this is where I fit in; I am a “podium speaker” to be precise. If any students come to The University of Scranton looking for a tour, individual tour guides guide tour groups of approximately two to four families, each, around the campus. Especially during Open Houses, students get to experience the campus when they join tours but due to the sheer number of students that attend the Open Houses, a single tour guide cannot lead around small groups. To make the touring process much more efficient, tour leaders lead large groups around to five designated stops around the campus; at each tour stop, there are “podium speakers” (that’s me!!!) that stand atop large black boxes and speak about their specific stops.

During this year’s Open House, I was a podium speaker in the Loyola Science Center, or LSC for short. The Loyola Science Center was opened in full capacity during my freshman year – Fall of 2012. In telling this fact to the tour groups that came to my stop, I began to feel rather old. Like I said before, there were five key stops during the tour – tour groups got to see Loyola Science Center, the DeNaples Center (our students center), the library, a freshman dorm, and the fitness center – but clearly my stop was the best of the five! In LSC, there are 34 different laboratories, 24 classrooms, and one 180-seat lecture hall. I mentioned that there are 34 laboratories because Loyola Science Center is well equipped to handle a vast amount of research. “Research” was a term I heard thrown around my freshman year (enter flashback):

“Are you doing research?” Friend 1 would ask.

“Maybe, I think it looks good on your resume,” Friend 2 would reply.

I asked my professor, Dr. Voltzow, what research was and she told me that she did research in histology. Basically, one takes really thin slices of tissue, mounts them on slides, and then uses a special dye on the slides in order to determine the different types of cells within the sample of tissue. At least this line of work was fun to me.

In short, that was one example of the many research programs available in Loyola Science Center. At my stop, I also talked about how great the community is at The University of Scranton. I began by stating some “fast facts”: Scranton is about 4000 students large, has an 11:1 student to faculty ratio, and has an average class size of approximately 20 students but capped off at the most of 40 students. What all of that means is that the University’s community is a tight-knit community where all the students, and especially the professors, get to know each other. I chose Scranton because I saw that the community was incredibly friendly upon my first visit when I was looking for colleges; this was a population unlike any other college I had visited. The students were all so accommodating when I was lost looking for the Admissions building, as well as during my freshman year. I could definitely see that my Scranton story made contact with many of the students standing in the crowd as I preached to the masses. Hopefully they all got to see just how enthusiastic I feel about The University of Scranton. Needless to say, the Open House was incredible; there was a turnout of about 1300 people and they all took home a little Scranton experience.