Monday, March 31, 2014

My Favorite Tennis Match

by Sam B., Panther Blogger

My favorite tennis match was against Covenant, a school in northern Georgia.  We, the Ferrum Men's Tennis Team, had stayed the night in a hotel about 10 minutes away from Covenant the night before and our match was scheduled on a Sunday at 12:00 PM.  We arrived at the courts at 10:30 AM to begin warming up on the warm but overcast day.  The other team arrived and we got into the "game time mentality."  I play sixth seed, so I'm the last person to start my match.  I walked around cheering on teammates, waiting for my chance to play.  Everyone was playing really hard, and for the most part, really well.

When I started my match, I had no idea of the overall match score when I finally did get to start my match. The kid that I played and I were fairly evenly matched, so we battled in the first set, and I was able to pull it out 7 games to his 5.  After the first game of the second set, everyone who attended the match as well as both teams crowded around my match as we were the last match playing.  At that moment, I realized my match must mean something because some people will watch me play, but I never attract literally everyone at that the match!

There are 9 matches that factor into deciding which school actually wins the overall match. Six players' singles matches and three doubles matches are what determines who wins. At this point in the day, the match score was 4-4 and whoever won my match would determine the overall outcome. This was all running through my head as I watched everyone crowd around, and I tried to take some deep breaths to hold my composure.  I lost the second game of the second set, and I was quickly down 0-2.  Whether I was winning or not, there were cheers of adulation or comforting words from the Ferrum fans and men's and women's teams after each point. 

I managed to string some points and then games together; I won the next 5 games to go up to 5-2.  All was looking well for Ferrum until I dropped the next game. The score was now 5-3.  It was my serve and I decided to play aggressively since I had the lead.  After 3 serves, I had the lead 40-0, and I had 3 match points to clinch the win for Ferrum.  Of course, I double-faulted away the first match point and the score was 40-15.  I served, returned his shot and charged the net.  My return forced him to hit a weak shot and I was able to put a volley away for the win!  I will never forget that moment!

A couple of the guys ran on the court and hugged and high-fived me. Everyone's effort that day gave us the 5-4 win over Covenant and our only win of the season thus far.  For the rest of the evening and the ride back to Ferrum, the guys would just not let it go.  They kept telling me that I was "clutch" or that I had ice in my veins and other ridiculous things like that.  I also pointed out that if other guys hadn't won, my match wouldn't have mattered.  On the bus ride home, I put on my headphones, turned up Casting Crowns, and I thanked god for that incredible experience. He put me in that situation and He carried me through because I certainly couldn't have done it without Him.  That was, at this point in my young life, one of my proudest moments.  Once again, the glory of all my successes goes to God because it was His strength that carried me through. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Snowboarding and St. Patrick's Day

by Chris L., Panther Blogger

Hullo everyone!  I've been very busy lately doing lots of assignments.  However, I got the chance to go snowboarding with Ferrum Outdoors Club, and it was so good!  I've skied before in Italy but never snowboarded.  I got a lesson but still found it very difficult.  I could only seem to turn left and not turn right!  My body was in agony afterward because I fell so many times!  It was an extremely good value, plus in Ireland, we don't have any ski slopes, so it was nice to do something I wouldn't get the chance to do at home.

Monday the 17th of March was Saint Patrick's Day.  I was so happy when I woke up and read the email that classes were cancelled because in Ireland, it is a national holiday, so everyone gets the day off.  People on campus may have seen me walking about with my leprechaun hat as I wanted to remind myself of home and to signify that I am proud of my country.

It is hard to believe that I have only 6 weeks left of my year abroad in the USA - time went by so fast.  In some ways, I will be glad to go home to see my family and friends!  However, I will miss Ferrum greatly, and the friends I have made here will be lifelong friends. The whole experience of a different educational system has been an eye opener and a great experience.  If I had to choose between studying in Ireland or the USA, I would pick the USA because you guys seem to have an education system with more gradual assessments and many more chances to improve your work and grades than I would have at my home university.

Ferrum's 2014 Women's Leadership Conference

by Jessa K., Panther Blogger

On March 11, 2014, Ferrum College hosted the Women's Leadership Conference.  The annual conference focused on immigration issues this year.  There was an alumni panel, a panel of young women from Bassett High School, a keynote speaker, a movie, a call to action, a parade, and an artist speaker.  The entire day was filled with a lot of great information.  It was helpful to those who agree with the subject matter as a rallying event, but it was also really great for those who may not agree with immigration reform or who may not have understood what immigration reform was all about.

For me, the best part of the event was the panel of seniors from Bassett High School.  There were two undocumented young women as well as two first-generation U.S. citizens.  Their stories were truly touching - there was not a dry eye in the room.  These young women have had to face the difficulty of their family members having to return to Mexico, as well as face the realization that those who are undocumented will not be able to attend a college or university the same way their U.S. citizen friends will be able to.  One of the alumni on the alumni panel, Norma Valez, explained the response to the panel of Bassett High School girls when she said "if you don't agree with immigration reform, go talk to someone who is undocumented. If your opinion is still the same after you have heard their story, I will respect your opinion."

In order to create a documentary about immigration reform, my Spanish 302 classmates and I videoed the majority of the speakers and got interviews with many of them.  It was truly amazing to be a part of the 2014 Women's Leadership Conference on campus. At Ferrum, there is no shortage of ways to make our country a better place!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Surviving Exam Week

by Sarah H., Panther Blogger

There is nothing worse than looking at the Exam Week schedule and realizing that most of your exams are 8 a.m.'s on back-to-back days.  How am I going to beat the exam week blues?  By setting a schedule for myself and focusing on one thing at a time. I have always been one to over-think tests, causing me to stress and forget the things I knew so well the night before.  Over the years, I've slowly learned how to cope with the stress and learn the routines that help me best.

First of all, don't over stress.  Yes, exams are extremely important and are sometimes just what you need to get that grade up, but over-stressing just makes things worse.  This is when the phrase "just breathe" comes in handy!  Breathe calmly through the exam, and just focus on one question at a time.  Don't overwhelm yourself with the whole test at once (another thing I am very guilty of).

Second, make sure you are eating healthy foods and getting enough sleep. Without proper care, your brain is going to focus on how much sleep your body needs or how many meals you have skipped while trying to study.  While especially focusing on enough rest and nutrition during the week of exams, it's also important to make sure you get into good habits way beforehand.

Third, study in the way that's best for you.  Every student's study habits are different...just find the one that's right for YOU.  One way of doing this is going to your professor and seeing what he/she recommends.  Another way to learn what works for you is to find a tutor.  Ferrum offers great programs for tutoring, including PALs.  A PAL is someone who will sit in the library with you and help you study as well as answer any questions you have. There are certain PALs assigned to certain classes, so all you have to do is ask your professor.  Once you have found the study habits that help you the most, find a study group and spend a few hours studying with them.

Finally, never hesitate to ask for help. Whether it's the professor or someone in the class who understands what the professor is going over, there is always someone who can help you.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Huge Success for Lady Panthers Basketball!

by Laken P., Panther Blogger

One of the best experiences I have had at Ferrum was this past weekend cheering on the women's basketball team during the USA South Conference tournament. This year, the #1 seed happened to be the reigning champions, our very own Ferrum Panthers!  Games started Thursday afternoon and finished with the Conference Championship on Saturday afternoon, in which Ferrum took down Maryville.  The gym was filled with students, parents, faculty, and fans of each of the teams competing in the tournament with hopes that they would be the new champion.  At the end of the tournament:  a Conference title, championship rings, and a berth to the NCAA tournament.  The Panthers dominated the 2013-2014 seasons winning both the regular season and tournament championships and placing several girls on the All-Conference basketball team.

Standing on the sideline and cheering on the girls had no paralleled match in my cheerleading career here at Ferrum. The look on the faces of the girls, coaches, and fans with 2:00 minutes on the clock -  the moment of realization that victory was ours - was a priceless moment.  I will never forget leading the crowd into championship cheers and supporting the girls in their crowning moments. After the game was finished and the pictures had been taken, seeing the girls cut down the net was also an experience I will never forget.

Not only was last weekend a celebration for all Panther fans, but it was also the beginning of something bigger.  Ferrum not only won the USA South women's basketball championship, but they also won the bid to host the first two rounds of the NCAA regional tournament games.  Capital University, Christopher Newport University, and Eastern Mennonite University traveled to Ferrum for the games.  After hosting the regional tournament games, the women received Ferrum's first-ever NCAA tournament win!!

Unfortunately, we lost to CNU in the second round game, but the women can hold their heads high knowing that they have such a successful season behind them. For the seniors, they will be greatly missed and never forgotten as Ferrum completed a 3-pete of Conference Champions.  They made it to the NCAA tournament the last 3 years, won their first game this year, and had several players reach the 1,000 point mark this season.

Women's basketball tends to be one of the most popular sports at Ferrum, and one trip to a game can easily show why.  I have truly been honored and enjoyed cheering on the sideline for these girls and cannot wait to see what they accomplish in the upcoming seasons. Being a cheerleader gives the ultimate vantage point at games. We are right next to the action, we get to watch the fans interact, and we get to see the moments of pure joy and excitement as the women's basketball team continues to dominate the court. It is an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything.  Go Panthers!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Future Ferrum Gave Me

by Grant W., Panther Blogger

I have some big news!  After years and years of hard work and dedication, it has all paid off.  I have been accepted into the Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2018 at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech!  What a mouthful!  I am so excited and cannot wait to spread my wings and fly into my future career (less of a career and more of a lifelong love).  I plan to specialize in food animal medicine and possibly may be part of the dual degree program (DVM/Ph.D.), but I am waiting to hear back from that program.  Through all of this excitement, I am not the shining start, but instead, I am a mere reflection of those who directed and impacted my path.

Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech

Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
at Virginia Tech

Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
at Virginia Tech
Those who have impacted my path make up a massively long list that I could never repay.  First and foremost, my parents, grandparents, and family not only helped bring me into this world but have also given me the tools to succeed.  In the same sense, I owe my success to the many faculty, staff, friends, and mentors in my life -- from my AP Biology teacher Mrs. Tangie Duncan who introduced me to my amazingly directive advisor, Dr. Aylesworth, to Dr. Gazdik who inspired me, to Dr. Grochowski who gave me connections to succeed.

Ferrum College often times receives a bad reputation as a school of dropouts and students who will go nowhere, but many of my classmates/friends and my own successes for the future shout quite the opposite.  Ferrum College possesses a special niche in every person's life that it touches.  The faculty pour their lives into the students, and the students pour themselves into each other.  The Ferrum community not only brings a bright new chapter to life, but also provides the breeding ground for successful futures.  Don't let prestige guide your path, for pride leads us astray, but instead, seek out the hidden benefits.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Strides Event with Ferrum's Lions Branch Club

by Jessa K., Panther Blogger

Sponsoring an event on campus can be a very overwhelming task!  On February 22, the Ferrum College Lions Branch Club sponsored a Strides event.  Strides is the Lions Club International's diabetes awareness campaign.

Our event was targeted to the Ferrum and Rocky Mount communities as well as the Ferrum College student body.  As Saturday morning rolled around and all of our members were at their stations waiting for the flood of people to arrive, we began to realize one very sad fact:  nobody was going to turn out.  When all was said and done, we had less than 10 students and about 5 community members attend.  Many of the club members and I walked away from the event feeling disheartened, but I began to realize that even though we had a small turnout, everyone who attended learned so much about all types of diabetes and the effects the disease has on its victims.  I also remembered overhearing one community member say that he had learned a lot about his own diabetes, and then it sunk in.  Yeah, it's a shame only a handful of people turned out at the event, but someone really benefited from us having this event and that is what truly matters.

I do not think that any of us would have changed one thing about that day because we were able to learn many valuable lessons about organizing an event and about the true importance of an event like Strides.  After listening to the keynote speakers, Jill Maddy and her daughter Emily, the branch club really started to get excited about our work with Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)!  I know that all of us are geared up to help raise money on behalf of JDRF this fall in order to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Post-Graduation Plans

by Blake S., Panther Blogger

Perhaps one of the most conflicting moments in one's life is deciding what the next step after graduating from college is going to be.  For some individuals, going straight into graduate school may seem to be the best path. However, for many others, including myself, taking some time off and going into the work force may be more appealing.

For a long time, I debated on whether or not I was ready to go straight into graduate school. I knew that I wanted to get a higher degree pertaining to the biological sciences, however there are so many different and fascinating options available. After looking at biomedical, microbiology, plant science, and environmental science programs, I decided that perhaps the best thing for me to do is to take some time off after graduation and experiment around to find out what interests me the most.  That way, I can be sure that I am partaking in a graduate program that I will thoroughly enjoy.

A petri plate containing many different species of microorganisms.

I am currently planning on participating in a few different experiences, all of which I am very interested in, to help me determine what area of the biological sciences fascinates me the most.  One of these is a trip during the summer to Zambia, Africa in which I will be part of a medical mission trip that is organized by Orphan Medical Network International (OMNI).  I will have the opportunity to help save lives and gain experience in the biomedical field.

I am also working on applying for a laboratory technician position at Eastman Chemical Company, in which I would be able to gain more experience with the laboratory aspect of the biological sciences and determine whether the laboratory research field is more for me. I am also planning on volunteering at a few state parks to gain experience in the environmental sciences.  These will all be very helpful experiences that will aid me in determining which career path best suits me.

An outdoor laboratory that is used for environmental science studies.
I strongly encourage all recent college graduates to make sure that the choices they make regarding life after graduation are the right ones for them. One should not feel pressured into applying and attending a graduate school if they do not personally feel like it is what they should do.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a little time off to ensure yourself that the path you are choosing is the one you will be glad you took!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Skits in Biochem Lab!

by Paige R., Panther Blogger

One of my favorite things about Ferrum is the faculty-to-student ratio and consequently, the small class size.  Because of these things, Ferrum students are often given the opportunity to do projects and activities that may not be possible at larger colleges or universities.

In Dr. Smelkova's biochemistry lab on February 27th last week, students used their theatrical skills to perform skits that represent signal-transduction pathways.  These signal-transduction pathways take place inside of our body regularly.  Examples of such pathways include the insulin receptor signaling which regulates metabolism, the epidermal growth factor hormone signaling which causes the growth of epidermal and epithelial cells, and the beta-adrenergic receptor signaling which binds with epinephrine.

I was in the beta-adrenergic receptor signal-transduction pathway skit group.  Our seven group members worked together to determine how to represent the pathway that has many components.  I think my fellow classmates would agree that these skits were a great way to learn the material and a fun activity to do in lab!  This was my favorite lab so far in biochemistry!