Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Senior Year: Another Time for Changes

by Rachel W.

The beginning of the end.

To say that becoming a senior in college can be overwhelming is an understatement.  There are so many emotions that flood my heart when I think about this being my senior year:  happiness, sadness, stress, and relief.  The thought that next year at this time I will hopefully be working hard in the Social Work field gives me so much pride and so much fear.  I have worked hard to make it this far and will continue to work hard the rest of the year.  It just hard to imagine that in a few short months, I'll walk across the stage and make the transition from student to alumni.

Ferrum has been a second home for me since I moved in freshman year.  I have been involved in clubs and organizations from the first time I attended the famed club fair.  In my first three years, I have proudly served as President of the Social Work Club, and I have been involved in the Lions Branch Club, the Leadership Fellows Program, and many other service learning programs as well as being a mentor.  However, when you become a senior, a lot of things change.  My classes are very demanding and I have an internship that takes up almost all of my spare time.  One of the most important things I've learned already this semester is how to say "no."  Knowing when to say "no" and taking a step back from extra-curricular activities is important.  It's hard not to be heavily involved in clubs and organizations, but the truth is that I have so much going on this year, I would be spreading myself too thin if I tried to be as involved as I have been in the past and that would be unfair to myself and the organizations I'm involved in.  I can thankfully be involved in the Social Work Club as a member and attend activities as much as possible, but now I don't have to run meetings, make agendas, and do all the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on in managing a club.

The other really cool part is that I get to, in a sense, mentor the current president of the Social Work Club.  I am here to help answer any questions or help fix any problems.  I'm not leaving a club to start over or remake connections that have already been made throughout my time here. It's really awesome!  It's also really awesome to see the changes and new project the club is already talking about! It's something I can take pride in knowing that the club will thrive long after I'm gone!

Friday, September 26, 2014

I'm in Alicante, Spain!

by Delana S., Panther Blogger

I officially just completed week three of my time in Spain, and let me say that it is amazing!  I live with a wonderful host mother named Andrea, who is an amazing cook and very funny.  We live in an apartment building where there are three other students in the same program.  All of us have become pretty good friends and hang out frequently.  Things are great here and yet, I am also doing a lot of work for when I go back to Ferrum in the spring.  Everyone in the program comes from many different places around the United States, and each has a unique story and background that brings us all closer together.

As far as the city itself goes, it is beautiful and hot.  There is never a lack of sunshine here, and it makes taking a siesta more necessary than in the United States.  Also, it's too hot to do much of anything else, except go to the beach, which I have done a healthy amount of.  In all honesty, it feels like I traded one beach for another, since most of my time at home this summer was spent at the beach there.  The only difference is that this one is nicer in the sense that I can walk all the way out to my shoulders before it starts to get deep, and I can see my feet.  The water is not super-clear, but you can see the bottom and that is always a plus when swimming!

The Universidad de Alicante (University of Alicante) is where I am taking classes and spending an ample amount of my time during the week.  Granted, I do not have Friday classes and that is a huge plus in my book, and I am only at the University when I need to be.  The University used to be the airport during the civil war and there are some remnants of that through one of the buildings and the setup of some of the university walkways.  The campus is huge and it is taking a little bit of getting used to, but it is pretty diverse with a multitude of cafeterias, a bookstore, ATM, fountains, and fauna.  The best part of the University so far is that it is close to the city, but not in the middle of it since it is a little set off and makes its own mini-city within the campus.  It is also very common to find friends sitting/laying in the shade just hanging out or doing work.

When it comes to meeting people within the city, we all know that I am not shy and love interacting with strangers.  With Alicante being on the coast and a great tourist location, you can meet a lot of different people outside the university.  I have made a British friend by the name of Alexius, whom I met one day when I was asking for directions.  He remembered me the next time we saw each other and we became friends from that point on.  I have also made friends with two Spanish girls, Veronica and Esther, who are both really interesting to talk to and help me with whatever I need to do or get around here in the city.  They are also great people to go out with and eat tapas or grab ice cream with.  Tapas would more or less be the United States version of appetizers.

I do have some plans to travel and visit a few places around Spain, and so far, I have been to Valencia. It is a unique city that they say is similar to Alicante in many aspects, but at the same time, it is different.  While there, we toured around the city and during my free time, I was able to go with a group of my friends to enjoy some nice Paella, which had chicken and mushrooms in it.  Paella is a Valencian rice dish that can contain an assortment of ingredients.

Every day is a learning experience in Alicante.  It is not my first time in Spain, but it is in this new city, and I have figured out my way around it mostly.  More is sure to happen as my time here continues, but until then...

Returning Home

by Brett W., Panther Blogger

This summer, I spent almost the entirety of the time from May 1st to August 26th back home with my family in Richmond, Virginia.  I attended a couple classes at the local community college to pick up a few credits when I could, and worked a couple jobs in retail and the restaurant business.  Living with my parents and my three younger siblings, life at home this summer was hectic yet boisterous.

Yet after my seeming four-month vacation to visit my family back in Richmond, in late August, I was able to finally return home.  Starting my third year here at Ferrum College meant that I was finally considered an upperclassman and that was something I could not wait to take advantage of.  First off, that means that in my upper-class 300 and 400-level classes, I am no longer seen as the weird freshman taking harder classes.  It means that now I am on my way to being at the very top of my major and having the feeling of all that is under my belt is incredible.  Second, after four months, I FINALLY got to see my friends again!

Going through high school, everyone kept telling me that the friends you make in college you make for life.  Being the moody teenager at the time, I shrugged it off thinking "yeah right, college is not going to be any better than high school."  Well, three years later, I can easily and honestly say that everyone was right.  I have made friends in this short amount of time that I know will last forever.

Third, and maybe even better than seeing my friends again this year, is that Ferrum is a community where as an upperclassman, I can finally be myself.  Going through high school was a mix of being told who I was supposed to be and struggling to figure out who I really was.  Coming to Ferrum was probably the best decision of my life because now, three years later, free from the pressure of everyone telling me who I am, I have finally figured it out on my own and can be supported and thrive in this beautifully small, private campus.

It isn't all rainbows and sunshine though. Being an upperclassman comes with a lot of hard work and new responsibilities, such as being an Active Sweetheart in the sorority Zeta Chi Epsilon, as well as being on the Executive Board for the Ferrum Greek Council, and all the other plethora of activities - including the Boone Honors Program - that being a successful, involved college student requires.

I cannot wait to see what this semester and year have in store, but I know one thing:  it'll be something to never forget!

Monday, September 22, 2014

From Ferrum College to Zambia, Africa

by Brittany Gale, Alumna and Former Panther Blogger

Changing the world may be as simple as passing by someone on the sidewalk and saying "hello" just to make them feel appreciated, or it could be cracking a joke and making them smile or laugh.  We do not always understand how much those things can change someone's day, but coming from such a small campus, many cannot imagine changing the world one person at a time half a world away in an area where nothing is like the "norm" that we are used to in the United States.  It is that once-in-a-lifetime experience that pushes someone to recognize the amount of objects and opportunities that we have placed in front of us.  So, what can we say from experiences like this?  Yes, it is life-changing and makes us appreciate what we have, but most of all, it pushes us to come back and give everyone we have in our lives a much-deserved thank you for everything they have done for us.

OMNI, Orphan Medical Network International offered such a wonderful trip to two lucky students for the second time this past summer, and not only did myself and Blake Sproles have a wonderful time, but we have taken advantage of the opportunities that we came across while on a medical mission in Zambia, Africa.

From October 2013, Blake and I were in close competition with several other students to be selected by a panel of professors who have been pushing us and making us grow as students to earn the two spots for the trip.  For the second time, Ferrum College had made their selection between the students and narrowed it down to just a few students who would then go on to have a phone interview with Karen ReMine.  After the phone interview, all of those who had talked to Karen were nervous and we all exchanged our thoughts about what we would do if we got to go.  Once Blake and I got the phone call back from Karen, we could not help but celebrate and express our joy to everyone.  It even became a joke that some of our close friends would call us Miss and Mr. Africa.  Needless to say, we were not the only ones who could not wait to enjoy the experience and come back with so many heartfelt memories.
Well, what happened after we got our spots with OMNI?  There were monthly phone conferences where we would discuss several different aspects about the upcoming trip.  Karen and several others would inform those of us who were new on the trip about the culture, including food, water, rituals, clothing, politics, and religion.  After the conferences, Blake and I were getting really close to the time of last-minute packing and flying for over 24 hours.  On the flight there, I had the great pleasure of celebrating my birthday with the OMNI team.  Before that day were just people on the team, but from the time we walked into the airport and boarded the plane, we became family.  Several hours later, we finally reached Ndola Airport and saw that this airport was not much like those in the states.  Instead, there were only one or two guys actually pulling our luggage from the plane to the building and hand-throwing the luggage to us.  Woo!  The beginning of a new experience.

As we left the airport, we got to meet our wonderful body guards who were very helpful, and we began our journey for the next two weeks filled with eight clinics in several different communities and tribal areas.  During those clinics, we triaged almost 4,000 patients ranging from newborns to some that were over 100 years old.  We each had the chance to triage patients, work in wound care, pharmacy, lab, fit some patients for glasses, and shadow doctors with several ranges of specialties.  Some of the stories that I walked away with are hard to tell others, but they leave a meaningful spot in my heart no matter what is going on in my life.

The most memorable story I can share is this beautiful girl named Miracle, who was only 8 years old.  She was the first patient that I had worked with in the lab where she was tested for malaria.  She was so strong with no mother by her side, but her loving little sister was by her side the entire time. I had to prick her finger and let the test run for 10 minutes, and in that time, I could not help but play with the little girls who broke my heart because I found out their mother had died from AIDS and they were living with some family friends.  Not only was she strong enough to help care for her sister, but she was also something I would consider one of my Miracles from the trip.

Over the two weeks, there were thousands of smiles, thousands of broken hearts, thousands of tears, but more importantly, thousands of people who love one another and work together to get through one day at a time.  No matter the hurt on someone's face, they always found a way to thank us for our work and service that we had provided for them, which is more than anyone on the trip could ask for.  Although some cases broke us down, there was always one way to brighten our day and make us laugh, and that included the children of the villages.  They loved interacting with us from something as simple as taking their picture, playing ball with them, showing them hand tricks, or even the children teaching us their hand games.  The best smiles I can remember were from the OMNI school children singing songs as we pulled into the school on that very first day.  At that moment, everything became so surreal and moving to know that these children are here because they want to learn and thank us for helping them.

From beginning to end, we each changed as individuals to become better people who understand that we have so much to appreciate. It is easy for us to wake up in the morning to take a hot shower, have hot food on the table, electricity, and easily accessible medical attention even if we have a simple cold.  It is hard to put into words the ways I have changed since the trip, but that is also something that almost anyone would feel if they had such a wonderful opportunity and experience.  I left Africa in tears because the area had really shown me something new and provided some light into what I want to do with my life.  The trip has helped me realize that I will always want to help people, and even though I may be taking the long road currently, I want to go to medical school and become a doctor like those who have inspired me from the trip.

What was once a group of 21 individuals became a 21-person family who can all call upon each other if we need anything or just want to talk.  No matter what the experiences may be like, they are always life-changing and present us with wonderful memories that we can tell others.  Within the many stories that I can tell, there is one piece of advice I can offer, and that is that if you are asked if you would like to participate in something that may benefit your future, try it at least once.  There will always be lessons to learn and events that help you grow as a person.

Thanks to Karen ReMine and the wonderful OMNI team for allowing us the opportunity to join you on the trip to Zambia this past summer.  It means the world to both Blake and me, and we look forward to traveling with you all again!  2-4-1!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Favorite Courses in the Rec Program

by Caleb T., Panther Blogger

As I mention in my video below, I'd like to tell you a little bit about some of my favorite classes from the Recreation Program. There are some classroom-based classes, but we still spend most of our time outside the classroom.  The Rec Program is really good about providing hands-on experiences!  The classes I tell you about in my video below help you test your leadership skills as well.  This is just a taste of what the Rec Program has to offer.  Please check out my video!  Thanks for watching!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Introduction to New Blogger Stephanie!

by Stephanie D., Panther Blogger

My name is Stephanie and I am a senior at Ferrum College. I have studied at Ferrum for the past three years, and as I head into my fourth year, I plan to graduate with a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Criminology and minors in sociology and accounting.  My favorite hobby is reading and my favorite book is Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight.  I have been a cheerleader for almost 13 years. I have a brother who is a sophomore at Villanova University.  My family is my support system and without them, I wouldn't be the person and student I am today.

I am involved in many things on campus.  I am a captain on the Ferrum cheerleading squad, an active sister in Theta Gamma Omega, a PAL (peer assisted learning) tutor for accounting 201, and a member of the Criminal Justice Club.  I'm from Chesapeake, Virginia and an alumni of Hickory High School.  After graduating, I plan to attend graduate school and study for a master's degree in either criminology or something related to criminal justice.  I have not decided on the school I would like to attend and I am currently studying for the GRE.

I'm also a resident assistant at Ferrum College and absolutely love my job!  I chose to attend Ferrum College because of the beautiful campus and scenery change!  Going from the beach to the mountains is something I look forward to every year.  Ferrum has changed my life and I am so thankful that I am a student here.  I have benefited very much from the small classroom sizes and the individual attention I can seek when I need it.  There are many resources for students that have helped me immensely, such as the math center and writing center.

This past summer, I studied abroad through an E-Term course and had the time of my life!  I went to Belize for 15 days and it changed my outlook on life.  I can't thank Ferrum enough for all it has prepared me for and all it has instilled in me.  I am looking forward to being able to call myself an alumna of Ferrum College and continuing to do what Ferrum has prepared me for:  going after my dreams and not settling for anything less!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My New Perspective from Zambia, Africa

by Blake Sproles, Alumnus and Panther Blogger

What fun would life be if we never did anything new?  If we were simply to stay in the same location and do the same exact things day upon day and never push ourselves to do something extreme, then life would very quickly become nothing but a tedious chore.  Sometimes, life can seem to become a bit boring due to the repetitive work days, overbearing workloads, and stressful situations that we as individuals experience on a daily basis.  However, it does not have to be this way. By allowing ourselves to experience new things and step out of our comfort zones, we are capable of breaking free from the same old average daily routine and really grasp life by the horns!  I did exactly this when I traveled to Zambia, Africa this past summer as part of the Orphan Medical Network International medical mission team.

I am grateful that I was selected by one of my Ferrum professors to apply for a position on the trip. I was first interviewed by a group of professors, then had an interview with the OMNI president, Karen ReMine, after which Karen selected me to be a part of her medical mission trip.

A view of Zambia from the airplane.
This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that really impacted me as an individual and allowed me to reevaluate the manner in which I live my life.  While in Africa, I saw things that I had never seen before, did things that I had never done before, and had my eyes opened to a completely different world.  The experiences that I had while on this trip changed my life and have encouraged me to explore new opportunities each and every chance that I get.

Enjoying a ride through Zambia on the back of a truck!
Cleaning a patient's wound.
During our time in Africa, we held a total of eight different medical clinics, typically seeing about 500 patients in a day.  These clinics were held in various tribes and villages, in which we were able to observe a very different type of lifestyle than what we know and are used to here in the United States.  There is truly one thing that I can say from my observations of the individuals living in these tribes and villages, and this is that family is the most important thing anyone could have.  In the country of Zambia, people are not rushing to work in vehicles, continuously holding a phone in their hand, or always on the computer participating in social media.  Instead, they are helping out one another by weeding the gardens, caring for the livestock, watching over the children, and doing absolutely everything and anything possible to ensure that they can make it through another day.  In Zambia, it is not a common feeling to have the promise of a tomorrow, and the only way to obtain this is to work extremely hard each and every day, and to keep your family close to you at all times.  The feeling of security is something that we oftentimes take for granted and commonly forget about here in the United States.  However, I now know just how blessed I am to have a wonderful family that loves me and that I can wake up every day knowing that everything is going to be just fine.

Performing tests in the medical clinic
Throughout these clinics, I was allowed to participate in the various clinical departments of triage (questioning patients to obtain information regarding their medical needs), pharmacy, diagnosis, wound care, eyeglasses, and the lab.  By working in these various departments, I was able to see many different individuals and medical needs that I could never have even imagined would exist.  Perhaps the one individual who sticks out in my mind the most is a beautiful seventeen-year old girl who had become paralyzed from the waist down at the age of eight or nine due to a severed spinal cord.  This young girl has been reduced to living in a small wooden cart, about half the size of her body, that is equipped with handle bars that she can rotate with her hands to transport herself from one place to another.  Because she is paralyzed and cannot be easily removed from her cart, she obtains frequent pressure sores on her sides due to lying on the cart's hard wooden surface.  These could be easily treated, however the closest medical clinic is more than thirty miles away from where she lives, and this same medical clinic is limited in the supplies and medical instruments that they have.  Thus, she waits to visit the Orphan Medical Network International clinic every year to receive the supplies and care that she needs.

A student of the OMNI school.
Another amazing aspect of this trip was getting to see the impact that OMNI is having in the lives of so many individuals over in Zambia, Africa.  Since the founding of this organization, OMNI has not only been taking annual medical mission trips over to Zambia to help those with medical needs, but they have also started a teaching facility for children who are orphaned or have troubled homes.  These children do not yet have any mode of transportation, so they will walk miles to go to school.  Throughout the school day, these children are not only taught the typical classes such as English, math, and science, but they also learn life skills that directly apply to their lifestyle in Zambia, such as how to properly grow and take care of a garden and livestock.  Not only do these children come to school because they love learning and singing, but it is also perhaps the only way that they can receive a meal during the day.  After getting to visit the school, meet the children, and see the great services that OMNI has provided for these people who are living in a troubled country, it really encourages me to know that we are making a great impact on the lives of these individuals and that what we are doing really does matter.

All in all, there are so many stories to tell about what all I saw during my trip to Zambia, and there really is no way to sum up everything that I have seen into a few words.  However, I can say that this was, without a doubt, one of the greatest experiences that I will ever have.  The time that I spent in Zambia will be with me forever, and I will always be able to look back and reflect on my experiences.  The experience that I gained during this trip in the medical field was priceless and has encouraged me to explore the medical sciences to a greater depth.  I also made some great friends and many new connections during the short period of time that we were in Zambia.  It is a huge honor and blessing to say that I have been offered the chance to return again for another medical mission trip, and I've got to say that I cannot wait for the next trip that I get to take back to Africa.