Monday, September 30, 2013

Hello from New Panther Blogger Paige!

by Paige R., Panther Blogger

My name is Paige. I am a senior at Ferrum College majoring in Pre-Professional Science and Biology and minoring in Chemistry.  I am also a member of the college's Boone Honors Program. This is my third year at Ferrum and I wouldn't change any of my experiences at this amazing school!  When I graduate from Ferrum in May 2014, I hope to go to graduate school and eventually into the medical field.

I found out about Ferrum when the Admissions Office called my home during my senior year in high school. I had heard of the college before, but at the time, it wasn't one of the schools that I was considering.  After I learned about the numerous scholarships that I was eligible to receive through Ferrum, I came to campus for a visit. Once I visited campus for the first time, I knew that this beautiful community setting was right for me!

Three years later, I still know that I made the right decision. My favorite thing about Ferrum is the one-on-one attention that students have with their professors. I can always go to my professors for extra help with lecture material or homework.  I have many friends who go to larger colleges where their professors do not know them by name or even recognize them outside of the classroom.  I'm so glad that this would never be the case at Ferrum!

Ferrum is not located in a large city or town, so as a student, it is important to find things to do on campus.  As faculty, staff, and students commonly say - boredom is a choice here because of all the clubs and activities on campus. I am president of the Minds-n-Medicine Club, president of the College Republicans Club, and treasurer of the Lions Branch Club.  I am also a member of two honor societies on campus:  Tri Beta and Alpha Chi.  These clubs were originally a way for me to get involved on campus; through these clubs, however, I have developed the best friendships and relationships with faculty that I could ever hope for!  I am an Admissions Ambassador as well, and I give tours on some Saturdays during the semester.  Maybe I will see you on campus sometime soon!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

One Adventure to Another

by Delana S., Panther Blogger

It's been a while since I blogged, and let me say that my summer was filled with a lot of adventure!

The biggest adventure that I had was going to Disney World with my family for four days and traveling on the road for two weeks.  We had so much fun and had the opportunity to go to all of the theme parks and ride all of the rides. It has been years since my family has gone to Disney World, and our vacation this summer will always be in my memory.
The only downside to the vacation was that I was preparing to go to Washington, D.C. for the fall semester, so I had a lot of information and paperwork that I had to complete which required immediate attention. Thankfully, I got it all done on time!  Now, I am in DC having the adventure of a lifetime, and I must say it is interesting.

Life in DC is definitely different from what I am used to, and American University is huge. Ferrum's campus would barely cover a portion of the campus here, and let me just say that it is a bit overwhelming. I have completed about four weeks of classes and things are going great. I have met so many amazing people and have seen so many amazing sights.  It's funny to think about how we can be in a place so long and still be amazed with everything that we learn about it.

My Peace and Conflict Resolution Program is very hands-on and very intriguing because it focuses a lot on the Middle East.  We have two seminar classes and an internship portion that allows you to explore your interests.  Since we are in DC, we have gone to a lot of panels regarding many of the issues that are taking place, and they are all across the city. At the same time, I am going into my third week of my internship at the World Affairs Council of DC, and I am constantly busy!  Sometimes it is a good thing that I always have something that I need to do, and sometimes I would like to rest every now and then.  Every Sunday, my professor sends the weekly schedule of events, and this week promises to be a little more relaxed.

So far, I am doing very well in my classes and getting good grades, but that is because I was prepared for a lot of the material from various classes that I have taken at Ferrum. I am learning a lot and meeting very influential people, but nothing compares to being at Ferrum. At the same time, I am trying to keep a record of everything that I do here and am blogging here to share some of my day-to-day activities and thoughts. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Summer Working at a Boy Scout Camp

by Cari A., Panther Blogger
This summer was one I will never be able to forget.  I met more amazing people than I expected to meet during my time at Boy Scout Camp. That's right - I worked at Boy Scout Camp this summer!  I know most of you are thinking:  a girl? at Boy Scout Camp?  That is exactly the response I got from everyone when I told them my plans for the summer. I even thought the same thing at times leading up to my departure.  This was my first time getting a job all by myself without using family ties or connections to get my foot in the door.  I got one of those dreaded campus emails about locals needing job help for the summer, and Camp Ottari was on that list of places. I was drawn in with the hopes of being able to use my ropes experience from Ferrum Outdoors to work at their 850-foot zip line!

Upon applying, however, the zip line wasn't where I was needed this summer. Having experience as an EMT, the Camp Director thought I would be a great addition to the Waterfront staff.  I cannot say I was excited about that, but I was soon very glad that is where I ended up.  When I was told I would be working at the Waterfront, I figured I would just be a lifeguard and watch kids swim all day long. Relaxing in the sun, tanning and hammocking in my spare time.  Boy was I wrong!  I soon found out that the Waterfront staff had one of the longest days of all the other Camp Program areas.  Most work days lasted from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. with meal breaks.  I wasn't just a lifeguard, I thought.  I was indeed a swimming instructor:  in Boy Scouts, the scouts go to camp to earn their Merit Badges and swimming is a really important one for them to achieve.  I definitely wasn't excited about having to teach 3 classes with 20 scouts each everyday for two months of my summer.  Though there were times I wanted to pull my hair out and throw the occasional troublemaker in the lake, I soon became quite fond of my job.

Camp Ottari is in the beautiful mountains near Radford, VA, where the beauty is like no other and cell service is nonexistent!  Although I still don't full understand why or who decided to put a camp in the middle of a mountain, it definitely made the experience unlike anything I've ever done.

I know some of you are still thinking:  why would you go to a Boy Scout camp where you are barely being paid, you work all day, have to walk up and down the mountain a million times a day, have to wear a Boy Scout uniform everyday, have to see hundreds of scouts day in and day out for 8 weeks, and be happy about it??  I am not sure why I decided to do it because it was definitely out of my comfort zone to go away from home and not know anyone. I had walked into a world where most of the staff were guys who had been in Boy Scouts their whole lives and already had their own group of friends.  Being one of only 8 girls on staff with 40-50 guys on staff, I was in for an adventure.  I almost had to prove to them that I wasn't just there to be surrounded by guys all summer and to get their attention because those were definitely not my intentions at all.  I had to show the guys that I was serious about the job I was given. I believe that I truly made them aware of that within the first week or so.

Being in a group where there are only a handful of girls among so many guys can be weird, but I was part of the family in no time and I met some of my best friends that I will have the rest of my life.  I worked with some of the most dedicated and caring people I could have asked for.  They all had a special place in their hearts for children, and an even bigger place in their hearts for Scout-making.

There are so many things to share about the summer, but I wouldn't be able to put them all into words that would make much sense to someone who wasn't there - many inside jokes, crazy times, and so many times that we made everyone cry and come together.

We all came from different walks of life and had different skills and beliefs, but one of the times where all of that disappeared and we all meshed together was during our campfires.  Every Sunday when we would get new campers, we would have to put on a crazy show to get them so excited to be at Camp Ottari.  No matter how many times we did the skits, we had to be doing them with as much energy as we did the first week of camp.  That was a hard task for some, but for me, I was always really excited for a fresh group of scouts!  On every Friday evening, we would have a similar campfire to close out a great week. These campfires either made or broke the week. It was the tone-setter for the week for sure.  Another special time was when we competed against neighboring camps in what we called the "Reservation Olympics."  Camp Ottari hadn't won this tradition in a long time, but we came together as a team and family, and in the end, we CLAIMED THE VICTORY!!  That was a moment most of us will never forget!

This experience was one of those that make you think.  I learned a lot about myself this summer and couldn't have imagined a better place to spend a summer. I would recommend it to anyone who is willing to go outside their comfort zone and spend 2 months working to make some young scouts' summer dreams come true!

Here's to a great semester back at Ferrum!

- Cari

Friday, September 20, 2013

Settling In

by Chris L., Panther Blogger

I have been at Ferrum College now for just over 2 weeks. The first thing that has taken me a while to adjust to is the heat. Back home in Northern Ireland, it rains almost every day and we very rarely get a full day of sun shine. Our summer consists of day after day of rain, and we rarely have temperatures over 20 degrees Celsius. I am looking forward to the winter as I am not used to this heat!

Another issue I have had to adjust to is the timetable. Back home at my university during my first two years, I was only in college two/three day a week.  Over here, I am in class every day, although it is only for a couple of hours, and then the rest of the day I can spend doing things I like. I have completed as many assignments in the past two weeks here as I have in 1 year at university at home. We do not have to complete that many assignments as they only count as a small percentage of my overall mark for the year. Exams are more important at home.

On Friday the 7th of September, I attended the free bowling night in Rocky Mount with the other international students. Although I am not very good at bowling, it was still good "craic" (craic in Northern Ireland means "fun").  I often say "what's the craic" to people and get weird looks, but it actually means "How are you".

Last weekend, I watched my first American football game and I did not understand it one bit. I couldn't believe how long the matches take -- it took around 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to half time!  Hopefully, by the end of the year, I will understand it a bit better though. Back home, I play rugby, so it was good to actually see an American football game in person to see how it differs.

Great Company, Research, Activities, and Food - An Awesome Experience!

(Sam was one of the two students who worked on the Buried Body Remains and Decomposition Rates project with faculty mentor Dr. David Nicholson during the 2nd annual Freshman Scholars Program in summer 2013.)

by Sam, Freshman Scholar and Guest Blogger

The entire Freshman Scholars Program, including working with Dr. Nicholson and my research partner Samantha (also called "Sam"), was a highlight of my summer. When I arrived at Ferrum for the program, I didn't know what to expect. I knew no one and I was very anxious.  Thankfully, Dr. Goff welcomed me with a smile and I immediately felt better. Research with Dr. Nicholson and Sam began on Monday, August 5th. We studied the rate of decomposition in a pig along with collecting and rearticulating a skeletonized deer.  Throughout the week, I got to witness as maggots, along with a variety of other insects, decimated a 12.2 pound pig.  Not only that, but I got lessons in criminology, entomology, crime scene investigation procedures, and anatomy.  Up until I participated in that program, I had never had more fun in a class setting than I did during those two weeks!
Dr. Nicholson

I am a big eater, so naturally, I love good food. The Caf is a great place to find plenty of that!  The breakfast food over the course of the program was nothing short of great!  I have not once gone in the Caf and not seen something that I wanted. Not only is there a large selection, but there's a lot of healthy food too!

My class experiences were great during the two weeks of the program, but I also had a lot of fun outside the classroom.  We participated in the low ropes course at Ferrum on one day, and that was a blast!  It was a team-building experience in which I really learned a lot about my fellow scholars. Throughout the week, I played a lot of basketball and tennis - I'm a sports junkie.  The next week, we went and conquered the high ropes course!  That was another great team-building experience. The Freshman Scholars Program was an awesome and action-packed two weeks!

Family at Ferrum

by Wynn, Freshman Scholar and Guest Blogger

As someone from one of the largest cities in North Carolina, I was suspicious regarding the alleged compassion of Ferrum's staff; for years, I had been told how unforgiving college professors generally are.  However, I have experienced and wholeheartedly appreciated the true kindness and all-around positivity of each and every staff member I have met at Ferrum.  The staff earnestly works with students to resolve conflicts and pushes students toward success.  My high school teachers did not know me on the level that the professors here did after less than one week in the Freshman Scholars Program!  The activities in the program made me feel as if I know the professors on a personal level that stretches beyond what I have considered to be typical student-teacher interactions.

No faculty other than Ferrum's would put so much time and effort into a program like Freshman Scholars. This program offers something that generally only graduate students have the opportunity to do; Ferrum is allowing freshmen to gain valuable experience and credit hours in the process.  As if the Freshman Scholars Program was not incredible enough, when I had a crucial appointment scheduled during the two-week program, the professors worked with me and changed the schedule to accommodate my personal needs and ensured that I did not miss an essential meeting.  The way they worked with me was far above the call of duty and I am genuinely stunned at the generosity of this faculty; however, this is commonplace with the Ferrum staff.

The kindness of the staff does not end with the professors; the dining hall staff always greets every person with a warming welcome, and I have yet to walk past someone who doesn't smile or give me a friendly greeting. The cordiality of the staff creates an environment unique to Ferrum; happiness and comfort spread to the student body, easily allowing friendships to blossom as everyone quickly becomes a welcoming face.  It is this positive environment that makes Ferrum feel like a genuine home so soon after arrival.

The Beginning of a New Chapter

(Alicia was one of the two students who worked on the Origami and Mathematics project with faculty mentor Dr. Bryan Faulkner during the 2nd annual Freshman Scholars Program in summer 2013.)

by Alicia, Freshman Scholar and Guest Blogger

College is considered one of the most exciting, exhilarating, challenging, and memorable experiences of your entire life. You make new friends, you're in a new environment, and you discover who you are and who you are meant to be in life. As an incoming freshman, I had the privilege to participate in the Freshman Scholars Program held at what is now my school, Ferrum College.

Throughout the duration of the program, I met people who have the same goals as I do while also opening up my mind to accepting different people with different talents, along with their various views and outlooks on life. I had the chance to work with professors who understand who I am. I created a strong bond with them in order to have a better understanding of the curriculum and to gain a higher confidence in myself to get the assigned tasks done.

Dr. Faulkner, my professor, opened up my eyes to many things in the world of mathematics during the two-week program. He also helped me control my anxiety through the construction of origami and through the concentration and patience it takes to create the different shapes. My project demonstrated the unpredictability and uncertainty that lies in certain equations, thus giving me a broader understanding that math doesn't always hold a perfect answer.

Aside from the work on our projects, there were many other activities that Dr. Goff and the other faculty members scheduled for us in order to make our first-time college experience interesting and unforgettable. For example, we participated in many outdoor adventures, such as a low ropes course and a high ropes course.  The low ropes course taught everyone that communication, patience, and critical thinking are the key to success when working as a team. On the other hand, the high ropes course made us utilize what we learned from the low ropes course, which helped everyone make it through the challenging course safely and successfully.

It also intrigued me that the faculty members weren't afraid to take part in our outdoor recreational activities, which created a motivational spree throughout our entire group of scholars to be enthusiastic and willing to push forward through challenges that were at first viewed as "too scary" or "impossible."  This program proved to its participants, including myself, that nothing is impossible as long as you create a support system for yourself through teamwork with friends and your professors; with support, you can have the motivation to keep moving forward no matter the challenge or difficulty.

The Right Choice

by Hannah, Freshman Scholar and Guest Blogger

Anxiety runs rampant in my family, and I thought that I was the one who could avoid it.  Turns out that I can't escape it either. My first day of the Freshman Scholars Program went great. I was roaring and ready to go - ready to meet new people. I was feeling pretty good about everything.  I didn't sleep much that night, so I was really tired the next day. My first roommate wasn't really in the room much and I felt really alone for the first two days. By the third night, I had my first anxiety attack. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to go through, and as a result, I really struggled throughout the next few days as I learned to cope with my anxiety. I never imagined that these experiences would solidify that Ferrum College was the perfect place for me!

My extended family has always lived in Franklin County, and they only live about 20 minutes away from campus. I was able to lean on their support during my struggle that first week. They are the first reason that I think Ferrum College is the perfect place for me for the next four years - I be a part of their lives and they can support me.  Secondly, I also met some really great people during the program who gave me support as I coped with my anxiety. Both of the Sams (there were two in our group of 13!), Megan, and Jessica became really close to me and I really can't wait to see what the next four years has in store for the five of us. I never thought that I would meet people who I could relate to and who would understand me, but they broke that barrier and offered me support. The final group of people who were prominent in my journey during the two-week program are the faculty members. Being at a large college, you never really get to know most of your professors, but here, I have gotten to know my professors on a personal level. The relationship between the scholars and the faculty quickly grew into something that I never though was possible.  Drs. Goff, Nicholson, and Dahl each helped me out so much during my time of need and I will never be able to thank them enough.

These three groups of people are the reason that I believe that I will succeed here at Ferrum College in the coming years.  If you would have asked me at the beginning of the program if I was going to be able to come back for college in the fall and be okay, I would have told you "no."  But through the support of people here and close by, I know I will have a college experience that I won't ever forget.  The Freshman Scholars Program helped me see that with the right kind of support and encouragement, you can achieve and do things that will surprise you beyond belief!

A Great Program for Incoming Freshmen!

(Jessica worked on the Population Density and Habitat Use of The Southern Flying Squirrel project with faculty mentor Dr. Todd Fredericksen during the 2nd annual Freshman Scholars Program in summer 2013.)

by Jessica, Freshman Scholar and Guest Blogger

The most important thing about the Freshman Scholars Program for me was to make friends, and I have certainly made five of the best friends anyone could ask for!  Everything about this college, this program, and the faculty are all just so welcoming and inviting.

I had so much fun working on my project with Dr. Fredericksen. He knows so much about everything. All of the professors, as a matter of fact, know so much about everything!  They are incredibly smart.  I love the fact that I was able to come to the Freshman Scholars Program and get to work with Dr. Fredericksen and the others one-on-one.  When I walked into a classroom on the first day of classes and saw one of their faces, I was able to sigh in relief at seeing a familiar face.

I had a lot of fun working with my friends on the low ropes and high ropes courses.  You might be panicking at the top of the high ropes course when you hear your friends cheering for you, telling you how to make it across, and when you get to the other side, you look down at them to see them smiling from ear to ear.  All around, I had an amazing time in the program and I would recommend any new freshman here to apply for this program!

The Challenge of the Ropes Course

by Daphne, Freshman Scholar and Guest Blogger

Hello!  My name is Daphne, and I'm from Pulaski, VA.  Coming into a program as a freshman can be extremely scary, but some of the best memories are made by overcoming challenges and doing things that once scared you. In the Freshman Scholars Program, we participated in a low and high ropes course. The low ropes course was on the second day of the program with the FOCUS and Freshman Scholars groups together. The low ropes course was a challenge to work together and to help each other as much as possible. Even if there were disagreements on how to complete an obstacle, we all made it through successfully.

On Tuesday of the second week, the Freshman Scholars went to the high ropes course. This part was when things got more frightening and some people had to be taken down in the middle of the course. As we stood down on the ground looking up, we saw the ropes were thirty feet up in the air. The first few groups who went up there did it fairly fast without many difficulties. A few of us below on the ground were cheering on the ones up top.

As my turn came, Jess was already up at the top of the thirty-foot pole. She cheered me on as I climbed up the pole. As I climbed, I felt my heart racing and my body struggling, but I finally made it to the top. Out of breath, I stabled myself on a small platform. I successfully made it through three different ropes!  On the next one, however, I slipped off the rope and fell into my harness, which felt really frightening and caused my anxiety to increase. I finally made it to the third platform with Max's help, and Max and Cari finally got me down to the ground without me panicking too much more.

Once I calmed down, Jasmine and I climbed up a separate pole (again) and embraced each other to slide down the zip line. We were both terrified and had to be taken down on the ropes. We finally went down on the zip line screaming the whole way down!  After I got down there, I felt so accomplished of what I had completed. So, even if you think you can't do something, you can!  Even though I didn't complete everything, I am proud of what I did do.

Not a Straight-Forward Science

(Bailey was one of the two students who worked on the Experiences of LGBTQ Adolescents and Young Adults in Rural Appalachia:  Identity, Risk and Resilience project with faculty mentor Dr. Angie Dahl during the 2nd annual Freshman Scholars Program in summer 2013.)

by Bailey, Freshman Scholar and Guest Blogger

For Peter.

When I heard of Dr. Dahl's study for the Freshman Scholars Program, I thought I was a perfect candidate. As someone educated and open-minded, I thought I was someone who would never judge someone, especially not about his or her sexual orientation. It is only now, looking back, that I see how ignorant I was of my own ignorance. I was guilty of making many of the same assumptions that others do.

In the weeks preceding the Freshman Scholars Program, Dr. Dahl asked myself and Hannah, another Freshman Scholar on our team, to read a book called "The New Gay Teenager." Before I was even on campus, I was learning more about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth than I had ever thought possible. I learned through my readings that research in the past has focused far too much on the negative qualities of being gay and have ignored many of the positive qualities of being gay and the resiliency of those who identify as LGBTQ.

In high school, I had a friend named Peter. We met in 8th grade at a debate about the pros and cons of The Twilight Saga.  I didn't see him much after that until high school. We talked every once in a while throughout high school, bonding over My Little Pony and the musical groups we were a part of, and even though we weren't extremely close, I still considered him a friend. One day, I heard rumors through our school that Peter was wearing a skirt. I stumbled upon him in the cafeteria, and it was true - he was wearing a pink-striped shirt with a pink skirt. I was proud of him for his courage (he definitely pulled it off). I learned later that he did it for three separate purposes:  first, to honor a friend of his; second, to gain self-confidence; and third, to determine how people would react.

There was a mixed reaction to Peter that day. To my surprise, I saw a lot of other students who made nice remarks toward him. However, there were negative remarks as well; I saw my friend being called derogatory names, and even though he didn't show it, I worried that he was hurt. The scary thing is, it also seemed like he was being judged by some of the school staff members. Overall, it was sad to see my school's reaction to Peter that day. There were other times when I saw him teased, and I thought that I was someone who completely understood him and who was completely non-judgmental, but I was wrong. When talking with him recently, I finally asked how he identified since I had not asked before. I had made the assumption of him being gay, and even though I was right, it wasn't proper of me to just assume without asking.

Since working in the Freshman Scholars Program, I have learned something about my assumptions. I now know that there is a difference between sexual orientation, sexual identity, sexual behavior, and gender identity. I now know that there are so many other terms besides lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and realized that individuals who identify as a sexual minority might not want to be put in a box with a label. The people in the gay community are no different than any other human being. They are just people. Peter is not simply a gay male. Peter is a male who is wonderful and funny. He is understanding and strong. The fact that he is gay doesn't define him - it's just a part of who he is, and I'm proud to consider him my friend.

I worry about Peter now that I have left home. I worry that people will try to label him; I worry that he will be misunderstood and that people may treat him badly. But I also know that he is a strong, resilient person who can survive and will thrive.  Yet, I shouldn't have to worry. Peter should be allowed to be who he truly is, without any fear.

During my work with the Freshman Scholars Program, I felt slightly separate from the other scholars. My work wasn't a straight-forward science. I didn't get to trap and track turtles or use fancy machines like some of my peers. My work didn't produce results as quickly as some of the other projects in the program - my work takes time. To be honest, there was a point where I thought my study wasn't worth it and that what I was doing wasn't as important as working toward understanding tuberculosis or finding the effects of urbanization on the turtle population of our local ponds.

Dr. Dahl helped me acknowledge that I was doing good work and helped identify the relevance of my study. However, the person who helped me the most was Peter. When feeling down, I asked for his help, which he readily gave, and when I told him of my study, his reply brought me to tears. He said that I "rocked for writing something so important."  He also shared his excitement when he said my study would help "change the world." That's when I realized - I wasn't doing this for Dr. Dahl, for the three credits, or even for me. I'm doing this for Peter, and for people like him, who deserve the chance to be who they are.

My Surprising Accomplishment

by Jasmine, Freshman Scholar and Guest Blogger

I was selected to participate in the Freshman Scholars Program here at Ferrum College. During this program, we have had multiple evening and outdoor social activities. One of the activities that stood out for me was the high ropes course. The high ropes course happened to be 40 feet off of the ground, and everyone was scared out of their minds!  This activity made me acknowledge how far I can go out of my comfort zone. This specific task involved a lot of trust in everyone in our group and especially trust in myself.  Only the brave went first, and I decided to gawk at the difficulty of the obstacles and the drive everyone had to make it past the first task. It felt good to see and hear our new friends and faculty members cheer us on.  I am really impressed at everyone who was able to get up there and complete the obstacles safely.  I did not complete the high ropes course because I began to panic once I climbed to the top platform for the first obstacle. When Cari attached me to the ropes to climb up the pole, I had already sufficiently talked myself out of it.

Everyone else's accomplishments went out of my head, and I decided not to motivate myself to go on. I felt bad because I felt as though I let my partner down.  There is a mutual trust and motivation you share with your partner, but she was scared too and I did not pursue the motivation. However, I was proud of myself for going as far as I did because after I called down from climbing up to the platform, I went zip-lining!  I could never explain how I got through zip-lining and not the high ropes course.  I felt a lot more relaxed when it came time for me to try the zip-line. I paired up with someone who also had trouble with the high ropes course, and we both loved zip-lining!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Microbiology REU Program

by Blake S., Panther Blogger

This summer, I was privileged with the honor of being a participant in the 2013 Microbiology REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program at Virginia Tech. This was an intensive ten-week research program in which the participants were placed into a laboratory of their interest and assigned a research project to complete.  The project that I performed dealt with the plant pathogenic bacteria Pantoea stewartii subsp. stewartii, which is responsible for causing blight and wilting in sweet corn.

Throughout this project, I analyzed specific genes in this bacteria's DNA to determine whether or not they play a significant role in the bacterial infection.  This was a very interesting experience, and I was exposed to numerous laboratory techniques that I have never even heard of before. The amount of knowledge that I gained from this program was unbelievable, and it has allowed me to develop a greater understanding of various concepts that I am now able to implement into my independent research here at Ferrum College.

During the course of the ten-week research program, we had to make sure that we took time to go out and have some fun too.  The other program participants and I took numerous trips just to get away from the campus and clear our minds from the research. Some of the things we did included hiking to the Cascade Falls of Pembroke, Virginia, going to see a fireworks show on July 4th, and spending a weekend in Washington, D.C.  By participating in these activities, we became very close with one another and formed a family.  When the ten weeks finally came to an end, it was difficult to say good-bye, but thanks to this program, we each now have networking connections with one another from all across the United States.

Our last dinner at Macado's in Blacksburg

The Ferrum faculty help connect their students with great opportunities like this. My professor and independent research mentor, Dr. Gazdik, found out when the applications for the Microbiology REU program were available and encouraged me to apply.  I'm so glad I did!  Being a participant in this program was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it helped me to develop both my career interests and research interests. I highly encourage those who are considering a career in research to apply to the Microbiology REU program, and if anyone has any sort of questions about the experience I had in the program, please feel free to contact me!

- Blake

Friday, September 13, 2013

Finding My Niche at Ferrum College

(Megan worked on the cAMP Levels in Eschericia coli and Mycobacterium smegmatis project with faculty mentor Dr. Michaela Gazdik during the 2nd annual Freshman Scholars Program in summer 2013.)

by Megan C., Freshman Scholar and Guest Blogger

Hello!  My name is Megan, and I am from Yorktown, Virginia.  Let me begin with how much of a blast I am having here at Ferrum!  I am already finding my niche in this place, and I can't believe how awesome the people are here, especially the professors. They are truthfully the best. I really enjoy being around them, and (surprise) they are actually real people.  They all care so much about our education, and they want us to have the best experience that we can at college.

My favorite thing about the professors here at Ferrum College is that they are not only our mentors, but they are also our friends. I had only been on campus for a week and a half for the Freshman Scholars Program this summer, and I felt like I had known them my whole life.  They engage actively with the students, and even eat lunch with us sometimes. They are into pop culture, and they are just as quirky and amazing as we are.  The teachers here laugh and relate with the funny stories that we tell them about college life because (guess what?) they have been through it too!  Sometimes, I feel as if they know me better than I know myself because they have already done the exact same things that we are currently doing.

It's not just the professors here who are fantastic though. The students are really easy to get along with, and we have had so many awesome times together already. I am really glad that I participated in the Freshman Scholars Program because I was able to begin the semester with friends that I knew I could count on. These are people that I know I will keep around for a long time, and I love them all!  We are crazy, yes, and we will never forget this experience that we shared!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hello from Panther Blogger Chris!

by Chris L., Panther Blogger

Hello, everyone!

My name is Chris and I am from Northern Ireland.  I live in the countryside near a village called Cullybackey, and I have a strong Northern Irish accent.  Back home, I have one sister and my mum and dad.  I love rugby and motorbikes -- Northern Ireland hosts the fastest road race in the world with speeds of 200 mph+ and an average speed of 133.977 mph per lap around a road track, which is crazy to watch!
Map showing where I live in Northern Ireland
County Antrim area where I live
As I am on a 4-year degree course back in Northern Ireland, I will study at Ferrum College for one year and then I will go back to Ireland to finish my degree. My major is business.  I picked Ferrum College mainly because it is set in the countryside, which suits me well since I live in a rural area.  As well as this when I was looking into Ferrum, I saw I could do an agriculture course in my second semester, which I am very interested in doing because my granda is a farmer.

As an international student, Ferrum College has made me feel very welcome. Everyone has been extremely friendly to me so far, which has helped me a lot because I am extremely far away from home!  I hope to take part in some of the Ferrum Outdoors activities which all seem like great fun!  I am only going to be here for one year, but hopefully, it will be a year I will never forget!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hello from New Panther Blogger Dannica!

by Dannica B., Panther Blogger
Hello, everyone!

My name is Dannica, and I am currently a freshman here at Ferrum.  I was born in Huddersfield, England.  I have lived in Greensboro, North Carolina for almost ten years now, but I still have a strong British accent!  I have a small family of three and we call ourselves the three musketeers. I love them dearly and I love my family here at Ferrum too!

Huddersfield, England
Three Musketeers!

I chose Ferrum because the second I stepped foot on campus, I felt at home. I knew Ferrum College was the perfect place for me to attend right away. Ferrum sent me an information package through the mail, and after reading it, I instantly fell in love!  I came here with the intention of majoring in business, but I changed my mind only a few weeks before college started.  I'm now majoring in art and possibly minoring in psychology.  I plan on participating in the art club and possibly joining the dance team later on.  I may also join a sorority. I have many goals in life and one specific short-term goal is to graduate from Ferrum and to have an amazing time throughout my four years here. When I graduate, I plan on being an art therapist for children with disabilities.

One of my paintings
Ferrum has such a beautiful campus, and I've met some extremely friendly people who have made me feel so comfortable.  I've been here for a week now, and I have already met some lifelong friends.  I've already made so many unforgettable and amazing memories that I can't choose a favorite!  I've had so many great laughs with some of the most amazing people ever. I really do love it here and I am so happy I chose Ferrum!  I hope you guys have fun too!