Monday, September 2, 2013

Bye Bye Blogger

Zach and I got some webspace and I decided to make the switch to Wordpress so that I could also use it to format my website.

You can now follow my posts >here< & find mywebsite at

Merci beaucoup, mes amis!


Thursday, July 11, 2013

"What's alive in you?"

It has taken me quite some time to truly figure out who I am and what makes me tick. As a teenager, and young adult, I've struggled with discerning my own identity and personality. I'm not going to tell you I have it all figured out now, because I certainly don't, but I do want to acknowledge how far I've come. I feel as though I recently made a lot of progress developmentally in relationships, be it with friends, acquaintances, or strangers.

Since moving to Seattle, I've encountered more homeless individuals in the past year than I did in my entire life. For the first few months, I struggled with A) interacting with them, and B) not having my spirits crushed every time I walked by one. Growing up, I was fortunate and privileged enough not to experience much poverty in my neighborhood or my household. It makes me feel vulnerable and naïve to admit my lack of experience with social justice in general, but better late than never, right? As a "poor grad student," I very rarely handed out money to panhandlers, despite my crushing guilt. Each day I'd vow to do something to change this habit, but I never quite knew what to do with my limited resources and knowledge.

Yesterday morning I noticed that a loaf of bread I hadn't touched yet was about to expire. I don't know where the idea came from, but the thought popped into my head that I could give it to homeless individuals on my way to internship downtown that day. I decided to make some peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and include inspirational quotes in the bags.

That was the easy part. The hard part was approaching strangers. I was clueless as to what I should say and how they might react. Another question that crossed my mind was: how was I going to pick and choose the four strangers to offer sandwiches to out of the hundreds that I might see that day?

I walked down to the Seattle waterfront, took a deep breath, and approached a homeless man holding a cardboard sign that said "Anything helps."
"Hi, sir."
"Hi, can you help me?"
"I don't have any change, but I had some extra food in my place. Can I offer you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?"
"Yes, please, thank you so much. God bless. You are kind."
And that was that! The rest of the sandwiches went fast. I actually had 2 individuals turn down my offer, but I guess it's comforting to know that they weren't as desperate as I thought they were. For each sandwich, as I walked away from the person I would turn around and watch as they read the quote. All 4 of them smiled, and some even looked up at me to nod or wave.

After the experience, I felt so incredible. I walked home that day with a genuine bounce in my gait. I know I can't solve homelessness, but if I can make just a tiny dent, and encourage others to help here and there, we can make a difference in the lives of so many people, right in our own communities. Plus, I didn't waste that entire loaf of bread!

I think my decision to hand out sandwiches stemmed unconsciously from the positive experience I've been having at Summer Search Seattle as their intern. Summer Search (SS) is a college access non-profit organization, whose mission is to "find resilient low-income high school students and inspire them to become responsible and altruistic leaders by providing year-round mentoring, life-changing summer experiences, college advising, and a lasting support network." My position there partially entails advising/mentoring high school seniors on their transition to college. One of my first days on the job, I got to meet a lot of the seniors involved with SS at an event where they shared their stories, fears, and future plans. Most of these individuals have endured intense and personal hardships, some I can't imagine experience myself as a 17/18 year old. It was so inspirational to hear about their growth and dedication to improving themselves, and from the first week at this internship I knew my heart would be set on this career.

My supervisor has been an incredible resource, mentor, and friend to me as well; that's another big reason I love this internship. The rest of the staff in the Seattle branch are also incredibly welcoming and kind. I feel as though I fit in well with this crowd, if only because we have in common an innate desire to help people and build community.

I'm finding my niche (FINALLY!). I'm finding my way. I'm finding myself.

I want to help people, but I want to help people in the most meaningful way that I can. Unfortunately, student affairs in general hasn't been fulfilling for me, but I think I've found what I need/want in the college access area. Here I can really make a difference in people's lives, and develop those personal relationships I've always wanted.

Since I'm on the topic of homelessness, I also wanted to reflect about an article I read in Real Change newspaper, whose mission is "to provide opportunity and a voice for low-income and homeless people while taking action for economic justice." The article, titled Ending Homelessness, One Tweet at a Time, was about media guru Mark Horvath. Mark experienced homelessness for quite some time when he lost his job and his home; he now encourages homeless people to use social media to share their stories via The article included an interview with him, and there was a quote that struck my heartstrings so hard that I had to put the paper down and grin. This man helped me explain my own sentiment perfectly:

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what's been alive in me lately.


A few weeks ago, hubby asked me "What's alive in you?"
I was taken aback by the question. Usually when I come home, he asks "how are you?" "how was your day?" This one made me turn inwards, reflect, and think. What is alive in me? What means the most to me right now in this moment? 

He has asked me the question several times since, and I fall more and more in love with it every time. It makes me think about what's really going on in my head mentally and physically in a certain moment. It forces me be more conscious of my thoughts and intensions. I plan on asking myself this question daily from here on out. 

So, readers: What is alive in you?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Early Summer Reflection

The past few weeks of transition have been intense, but incredibly good for me. In April I was still working two jobs (almost 40 total hours per week), tackling 2 classes, and trying to prepare for my summer internships. Somehow, I managed to earn As in my classes, pull off my last week and last event at my graduate assistantship, and hit the ground running at internships when my summer began the week of June 17th (just two weeks ago!)

I have to say, this summer has been amazing so far. Only 2 weeks in and I'm already smiling ear-to-ear when I come home every day. And not taking summer classes is allowing me to focus on my two internships to pour my heart into and get the most out of them. One of my internships in particular is becoming vital to my professional growth and development. A while ago I thought that I should delve into non-profits, but I didn't really know where to start. Now that I've put some time into one, I'm starting to see the worth, dedication, and passion involved in non-profit environments and I'm definitely starting to figure out  that non-profits are where my heart lies.

It's strange to think that a year ago I thought I'd end up in international education. I even focused a lot of my reading and papers on international students, study abroad best practices, cultural competency, etc. Looking back, I could never picture myself in the international education field quite like I can with non-profits. Thankfully, there are plenty of transferable skills that I will take from this master's program to wherever I end up. Who knows, maybe I'll end up in an international education themed non-profit, if such a thing exists? The best thing is, that I'm okay with wherever I end up. I like having a flexible plan for the future!

The husband and I are still considering the JET program after I graduate from SU. I can't wait until the application is released so we can soak it in and possibly start filling it out. Hard to believe we could be moving to Japan in a year, but I am stoked for the possibility. Zach has been studying his Japanese... I have to get on that!

As you can probably tell, I've been quite happy and inspired lately. I just wish this could translate to my paintings! Having a creativity-block lately has been frustrating, but I hope to pick up the pens/pencils/paintbrushes again soon.

art station
My classmate Evinn, me, and Zach at an end-of-year BBQ
Here's some paintings that I've been working on lately:
Painted this Totodile for my little brother (watercolor)
I do love how this cherry tree turned out! (watercolor)
Gorilla behind bars (pen)

To close this post, a quote to keep in mind:
"Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate."

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Now that I'm down to 2 grad classes and 1 job, I have time for self-care and I've been healthily giving in to it. For one, Zach and I have been painting a lot. I don't think I'm any good, but it's therapeutic to me playing with the colors.

Here's a few doodles I've done lately, some in collaboration with Zach
acrylic on canvas with Zach (unfinished)

acrylic on canvas

acrylic on canvas with Zach (unfinished)

acrylic on cardboard (unfinished)

acrylic on cardboard

acrylic on cardboard

Watercolor on paper

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Practice what you preach

The post title is quite vague for the specific topic I want to talk about today. But I'm keeping it that way because it's a good reminder to all of us to be mindful and intentional about what comes out of our mouths, down to the very vocabulary and jargon we use on a daily basis.

Friends and colleagues: we should NOT be calling the college students that we work with "kids." I realize that this is an easy slip-up for all of us, right next to the "you guys" habit (which I'm STILL trying to break) but there really is no excuse.

Yesterday my division had an in-service, aka professional development opportunity, that focused on strategizing for collaboration across differences. Dr. Rev. Jamie Washington spoke with us for three hours about how to work together and be authentically engaged with multiple identities in the room. It was a fantastic experience, and if you ever get the chance to meet or hear Dr. Washington speak, I highly recommend you jump on the opportunity.

It was Dr. Washington's words that inspired me to write about this topic today. Some say that if you are apathetic to an oppressive act, then you are an oppressor yourself. It is up to you and only you to speak up about injustice. Don't stay quiet so that you can save your reputation and still come off as "nice," because "politeness is one of the glues that keeps oppression alive and well."

I'm curious if some critics would argue that I'm taking this a little far. Do I really think that calling college students "kids" is a form of oppression? Absolutely. College students are already oppressed for their age group. Ever heard of ageism? The privileged population is people aged early 30s to 50s, and the marginalized population is generally anyone who falls outside of that category. College students are stereotyped enough. We can at least do away with hammering down their hopes of being considered an adult by not calling them "kids" anymore.

Here in the student affairs field, we preach a lot about equality, equity, social justice, fairness, and ethics. So if we're going to practice what we preach, we need to quit belittling the population we work with, and quit categorizing them as children, or, as some might claim, baby goats. Despite the fact that many of us will argue that a large portion of college students are far from being adults, they are not "kids" either, and we should stop calling them as such. When you're talking about a group of students, call them students. It's that simple.

Adams, Bell, and Griffin (2007) say that "social justice is both a process and a goal." Be a part of the process, and change your colloquial habits. Work to change the habits of your colleagues as well. There is no reason we should be belittling students in this manner.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Unpaid Internships

As I began my quest to secure 300 hours of internships before June 2014 graduation, I will be completely honest with you, my first thought was MONEY. Are these internships paid, or unpaid? Hourly or stipend? The most important question was whether these internships I've been looking for are paid or unpaid, because, let's face it, how else can I afford rent this summer otherwise?

I don't consider myself a money-centered woman, or very materialistic for that matter. But, as you may or may not know, Zach and I have struggled financially during our first year here in Seattle since moving here from the midwest last June. An understandable condition when you consider the fact that we moved out here with practically just the clothes on our backs, no connections, and no jobs. It was a risk we were willing to take for both adventure and personal growth.

So as I rifle through business cards, information sheets, and websites upon websites of student affairs graduate internships, I can't help but have money on my mind. If I'm working so many hours at an unpaid internship, well when will I find the free time to get another hourly PT job in order to keep us afloat?

I know for a fact that there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of other college students and college grads on the internship search with the same concern on their mind. It has made me ponder what their impact is on industries, the economy, and the college student him/herself. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of opinion articles and research studies out there that cover the concept of the internship. A great many of them support unpaid internships, but plenty others disagree with the lack of ethics and accessibility surrounding them.

I personally do not support the idea of unpaid internships, in particular unpaid internships that are 40 hours per week. There is a big difference between a college student interning unpaid just 3 to 14 hours per week to obtain unique career-related experiences and the recent college graduate interning unpaid for 40 hours per week with hardly anything to show for it afterwards.

Let me back up here and clearly indicate that I do understand the importance, value, and unique offerings of unpaid internships. I had an unpaid internship myself during my undergraduate studies. For about 4 months I worked 7 hours per week as an event planner and receptionist for a local mental health clinic.  There, I had the opportunity to network around my college town, gain valuable insight to the mental health field, and interact with seasoned mental health professionals. This internship was a required facet of my Bachelor of Science degree in Community Psychology, and I am glad that it was included in my curriculum. The hours were reasonable, the experience was well worth it, and I learned more than I can ever express.

Undoubtably I will be holding unpaid internships in my future. Right now I am waiting to hear back from a few potential student affairs internship positions for this summer, none of which are paid positions.

I guess my point in all of this is: I do not personally think unpaid internships are good for the individual or the industries they permeate. I think all companies and institutions should value their interns enough to pay them, even if only a stipend. It's more than a matter of monetary compensation for time and effort, but it's also a matter of respect and gratitude. Skyrocketing tuition costs should also be taken into account. With students picking up summer jobs and part-time jobs to offset rising costs of college, where will they find time to pick up an unpaid internship?

An opinion article I came across today reinforced my own opinion on unpaid internships. The article, titled "Unpaid Internships Reinforce American Inequality" (by Clara Ritger) discussed the author's opinion that because students from wealthy families can afford unpaid internships, they are put at a further advantage in the working world than their low-income counterparts, who might not have the option. This is yet another example of institutional/system discrimination that gives the wealthy a leg-up and the low-SES a disadvantage.

It was from Ritger's article where I found out that in 2010 the Obama administration announced plans to crack down on unpaid internships. I wonder where that goal has gone? I certainly haven't heard it discussed by our government recently.

It makes me wonder why there aren't scholarships for unpaid internship opportunities. If the industries and institutions absolutely must continue to offer unpaid internships, there should be opportunities to fund those who wish to pursue them! Just like scholarships, students should be able to apply for aid if they want to accept a rigorous, and/or out-of-state unpaid internship. Wouldn't that be a good idea? Maybe that's my calling. Maybe I'll do something with that someday. I'll let it brew in my mind for a while and come back to it.

I also took a gander at an article titled the The Impact Unpaid Internships Have on the Labor Market from There, I found a section on Best Practices for Internships and I'm determined to keep these in mind as I am pursuing my own internships:

  • "The student's experience with the employer should emphasize unique job or career related activities that the student could not otherwise obtain outside the specific internship.
  • The employer should inform company managers and supervisors of the objectives of the internship program and the presence of the intern.
  • The employer should provide a company and worksite orientation that clarifies internal rules, operating procedures, and internship expectations." 
These might seem quite obvious, but I think they are valuable and applicable to any internship in any field. 

As I continue to evolve my own interest in career education and planning, internship discernment is something I will also continue to think about and consider. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Where I'm at now

There are just 2 weeks left of Winter Quarter. Lucky for me, I finished up one of my classes in January (horay for weekend classes!) so for the past few weeks I've been able to focus on the other two classes I'm taking: Higher Education Law and The American Community College.

This quarter has been a roller coaster ride, to say the least. January was absolutely insane with how much I had on my plate, and how much I filled up all of my work and personal calendars. There was International week at SU, events at SSCC, major projects already due, and then I had weekend class to juggle. I don't think hubby or cat saw me much at all in January. But I'm so glad that's over! I have been able to balance everything much better with just two classes, something I plan to continue practicing so long as I'm working full time. Next quarter, I'm only signed up for two, and they are Leadership in Education 1 and Leadership and Governance of Post-Secondary Education.

I just finished up making major progress on a paper (I know I know, it's Saturday night and I'm working on homework, this is my life now) and I'm hoping to accomplish a little bit more before bed. I can't wait to have free time again. As great as this program is, and as much as I'm learning, I need a little bit more freedom and flexibility in my life!

On top of assignments, I'm also anxiously working on securing an internship for the summer. I have a few promising leads, but I'm still waiting on a few responses from a couple institutions. Cross your fingers for me! There's one I'm really hoping to get in LA for 10 weeks in the summertime :)

Aside from grad school, I have been working on my own happiness and personal growth. I've learned a lot about myself from this grad school experience, and it has made me incredibly reflective. I started reading a book called Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh that has been very eye opening to the way I comprehend and express my emotions. Of course, school readings always come first, so it's taking me a long time to finish, but I already know that I'm going to read more of his work. If anyone has recommendations for me about other reads that are similar, I welcome them with open arms!

Zach found it at a used book store for me :)
In other news, I am looking forward to visiting Milwaukee for the first time since December of 2011, and the first time I'll be in one of the houses I grew up in since May 2011! My flight leaves Seattle on March 27th and I don't come back until April 2nd. I just know that no matter how it goes, this trip home will be a grounding experience. Spending time with my roots, re-defining myself, realizing who I am now and remembering who I was then. I especially cannot wait to spend time with my family and get to know them once again. My brothers have changed so much in the past few years... makes me feel quite old and emotional, to be honest.

For my weekend class this quarter, one of our assignments was to bring an artifact that represents our culture. I brought in a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.”
Since that assignment, I have been true to my artifact and have been selecting and collecting the words and sentences that in all my readings have been to me like the blast of a trumpet. I started compiling them on a Tumblog called Quotes Etc. I like that I have a place to compile those quotes, phrases, and lyrics that help me better understand and be comfortable with existence.

Right now, I am thankful we have 2 whole days of weekend. Tomorrow is Sunday and that means pancakes and cartoons with my honey!

Our friend Amoolya from college was in Leavenworth  WA to visit some friends for a few days, and we were so excited she had a whole afternoon of free time to visit with us! We took her all over downtown, Pioneer Square, the Waterfront, and the International District.