Monthly Archives: August 2017
August 9, 2017
I arrived to James Madison University in August of 2014 eager to start making the most of the four years I had ahead of me. I quickly made my way to my dorm room where my dad helped me unpack, soon it was time for him to leave and I was left with my roommate who I had just met for the first time not even an hour prior. She was similar to me as we both were from New Jersey, both played sports in high school, and we both committed to making the big move to Virginia. We talked about what we were planning to study, other girls that we saw moving into the hall, what our high schools were like, and what we liked to do on the weekends. We joked about how much farmland we saw on our drives down to Virginia. Right as all of this was unfolding a girl with bleach blonde hair walks into our room and says, “Hey y’all, I’m Alyssa, what’re your names?” After introducing ourselves and talking for a bit she told us our New Jersey accents reminded her of the cast of Jersey Shore, and we started realizing we were going to get a lot of that.
Coming from a small town in Bergen County, New Jersey I was used to people who were like me both in mannerisms, and hobbies, and I expected this to translate to the people at JMU. However, I learned quickly that my sarcasm was sometimes confusing to people and my “Jersey accent” and fast speed of talking was hard to follow. Not only was living in a new town showing me more and more differences everyday, getting to know everyone in my hall, in my classes, and then in my sorority, it really opened my eyes to the different backgrounds that everyone comes from and has caused me to broaden my outlook on the world.
3 years later:
It’s hard to believe that I am going to a senior at JMU and now looking back at my freshman year when that blonde haired girl, who is now one of my best friends, said “hey y’all” I can recognize that this was a pivotal moment in my time there. I can say confidently that I have made the most out of my time at JMU so far and have changed the way I perceive the world and the people in it.
With the open-mindedness that I have developed, it has helped me create what every JMU student calls the experience of a “true duke”. In expanding my horizons, I have made life-long friendships, I do a lot more things spur of the moment and I take any opportunity that is thrown at me while always trying to keep an open mind to any obstacle or possibility.
With one year left at JMU, I am eager to see what senior year has in store for me and am excited to experience so much more. However, one of the most exciting parts about my final year is knowing that post-grad is right around the corner, it’s a whole new world, the “real world” as some put it, and that it will allow me to meet new people, learn more about myself, and allow me to grow and develop more as a person.
August 8, 2017
If you were to ask me what I wanted to do two years ago, I’d say I wanted to be a fashion blogger or stylist. If you were to ask me last year, I’d say I wanted to work in public relations. Ask me at the end of this summer? I’d say, great question. I guess you could say my passion for fashion (cliché, I know) began when I was just a little girl. When I was younger, I’d find myself spending my weekends sketching my favorite celebrities’ go-to outfits. Whether it was capturing their street style, or the perfect evening wear ensemble – I’d ponder over every last detail, and design it to what I envisioned matched their personality best. Crazy, I know – especially given that I’ve never actually met any of these people. But deep down, I was always in love with the story behind one’s style. And it was being able to play a part in mapping out that story – that fascinated me the most about the fashion world. Going to fashion school in the city can be really exciting yet intimidating at the same time. Most people assume that when I say I go to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), I’m studying to be a designer. Or there’s the classic pre-conceived notion that attending the prestigious school makes for a glamorous life. That my classes are filled with sketching models, taking up garments, or building my own capsule collection. I took a chance by choosing to defer from this path, and major in Advertising and Marketing Communications. A major which might I add, has only just started to become popular, and is actually within the business school.
It’s easy to doubt yourself, and your dreams, when you feel like you’re one of the only students that strays from the typical path. But after being a Consumer Lifestyle Associate at MWWPR this summer, I learned more about myself (and my place in the industry) than I could have ever imagined. One of those lessons being, to trust my gut instincts. I learned the importance of being part of team that encourages one another to push themselves to think bigger, and take on new tasks that they wouldn’t normally feel comfortable doing. I learned the importance of holding yourself accountable, and taking your position seriously (regardless, of what tier you may fall under). I learned the importance of everyone having a chance to voice their opinions and ideas to clients, again, regardless of how old they might be. But most importantly, I’ve learned the importance of recognizing and being proud of the projects you’ve created outside of work – because sometimes, they just might lead to new opportunities and insights you can use to grow and build on your own career.
In the NY office, I was told that I was the Associate who was known to “basically be a social influencer,” because of my rather successful Instagram account @emmasquarednyc. The funny thing is, I came into this internship shying away from ever sharing that I had been working on building my brand with one of my best friends (also named Emma) – because I didn’t want to come off as a “full of it millennial” (like many “influencers” my age are portrayed. Instead, I just wanted to come in as Emma – the girl known for being one of the hardest working being in room, driven to this summer one of the best yet! However, once word got out about @emmasquarednyc I decided to own it (even though I was a little gun shy!)@emmasquarednyc is an Instagram that my friend Emma and I created during our Sophomore year at FIT. Everyone would always approach us and say, “Two Emmas? Woah.” Yes, two Emmas- so we decided to capitalize on the concept that was somehow so intriguing to society, and make an Instagram account – purely showcasing what we did on a daily basis. You know those friends that always swear they should have a reality show, because “that would only happen to them.” Well, no matter what we do, it always ends up being an adventure and I guess, people loved the authenticity in that. We soon gained a large following (no buying!) and by the time Fashion Week came around, we decided to blast some emails to about every single designer in NYC. About 30 people responded saying their shows were full, but surprisingly enough, a good 15 said they would love to have us at the show. @emmasqaurednyc took Fashion Week by storm and we constantly posted pictures and stories about our experiences- creating content, content, and more content. It was this same content that my supervisors at MWWPR were seeing, and it ultimately ended up leading me to the cool experiences I’ve been able to have here (like shadowing the social/digital team, getting to work BTS on client photoshoots, participating in influencer program brainstorms, etc.) Turns out that finding my niche in the industry, was really more about capitalizing on my own brand and leveraging it toward learning more about the field here. All in all, I don’t know if I will end up in a social media career, digital analytics or even PR. But what I do know is that everything happens for a reason, and sometimes fate had a funny way of bringing it all together..
August 8, 2017
Ever since I was a little girl, I had always dreamt of being a Michigan Wolverine and bled Maize and Blue well before I started my freshman year of college 2 short years ago. As I enter my 3rd year at U of M, I reflect on why it is such a special place and the multiple ways U of M has helped me develop as a leader, friend, teammate, and business woman. When I truly step back to think about it… one word immediately comes to mind: People. People are the ingredient to success at U of M, and nearly 45,000 people culminate here to learn, enjoy, discover, build relationships, and grow. People are at the core of the many things, that as a university, we pride ourselves on – innovation, intelligence, spirit, alumni, tradition, and diversity. Although we are all separate individuals, it never ceases to amaze me how Michigan is one school, one community, bonded by the common thread of being a Wolverine. Every Saturday, standing in the big house during football season, I am reminded of this incredible “common thread.” As I shout, “Hail to the Victors…,” in the largest football stadium in the country, with the power of 109,901 voices behind me, I am overwhelmed with powerful, slightly illogical emotions that are absolutely tremendous to say the least. As Michigan scores their first touchdown against OSU, I passionately high-five the screaming student next to me that I definitely have never met; however, we celebrate together, understanding and appreciating the unspoken bond that we share. The Big House epitomizes a place that successfully harnesses the power of people within their most natural state. This phenomenon resonates with me: I am part of something much larger, more significant than just myself.
Being an associate at MWW this summer was my first “real-life” internship experience. Throughout the summer, I strived to take my experiences from college, in and out of the classroom, in order to make the most valuable impact within MWW. At the beginning of the program, I made myself a few high-level goals for the summer: be an important asset to the company by making valued contributions, make as many connections as possible, and seek out learning opportunities that I wouldn’t typically be exposed to through traditional coursework. Within a week of being at MWW, I was engaged in tasks as a respected member of my various teams. However, beyond the client work, I could honestly admit that I felt immersed in the awesome workplace culture at MWW. I truly felt a part of the MWW team on multiple facets.
As I reflect back on my time here, the many parallels that exist between MWW and U of M come to light in my mind. Although being a Michigan Wolverine sounds more momentous than being an MWW summer associate, I have discovered numerous similarities between the two. Both of these communities that I am fortunate enough to be a member of have proven the power of people over the individual. Invested people strengthen a cause and keep projects on track for success. At MWW, I have responsibilities that have an important impact on the rest of the company and the clients that we serve. For example, although being tasked to compile a media list seems trivial, my efforts trickle up and essentially result in successfully positioning a client’s brand in the media. Being a member of multiple communities, groups, and networks is what enriches my life. I look forward to using this broader, all-encompassing perspective when evaluating situations, recognizing the extensive responsibilities/rewards that come along with being part of things much bigger than just myself.
August 7, 2017
About ten years ago, I watched my dad jump out of a plane at 145mph. Ever since that moment, sky diving has been at the very top of my bucket list and at 21 years old, I am able check it off. I finally picked a day that worked for both my dad and I, did some research on where to go, made the appointment and prayed for good weather. To me, sky diving is one of those things where people say they want to do it, but never actually go the extra mile to pursue it. That is why I made it a priority to take a chance and experience this opportunity for myself.
For the longest time, I’ve had a close friend that was willing to experience it with me but every time I mentioned it, she would never follow through or take initiative. So, the only person left that I knew I could count on was my dad. So, as a Christmas gift, I treated my dad to his fourth time in the air. At 59-years old, he did not hesitate, for a second,to say yes and there’s no other person in this world I would have wanted to experience this with for the first time.
I’m not afraid of heights, but my knees tend to get weak when I look down and notice how high I actually am. My mom, who is deathly afraid of heights, was convinced I would chicken out. But, she was wrong. I never give up on something I truly want and after waiting 21 years, driving almost two hours and waiting five hours just to get up in the sky, I knew I was going to jump no matter what. Sky diving is free falling through the clouds. At 15,00 feet in the air, you lose sight of any land. Therefore, I knew I wouldn’t have a problem. I had the privilege of being tandem with the owner of Skydive Sussex. Although, to my surprise, as he was buckling up my harness he tells me, “It’s your lucky day, I’m coming out of retirement for this jump.” I was a little confused by what he meant as well as concerned because as a first-time jumper, I wanted to make sure I would get to the ground in one piece!
Due to the weather, wind and clouds, sky diving can be a hit or miss. So as it was our turn to board the plane, the owner announced a wind delay because of how rough it was up in the sky. During that delay, I was so anxious but not once throughout the day was I the slightest bit nervous. As we were approaching the plane, it all hit me and this sensation of pure adrenaline was running through my body. I was the first in line to jump, therefore my dad, was a few people behind me. During the plane ride up, I was overwhelmed with excitement, I couldn’t believe I was actually going through with this. Who would’ve thought voluntarily jumping out of plane at 145 mph would be a form of enjoyment? When we were close to reaching 15,000 feet, my dad called my name. As I turned around to look at him, I had the biggest smile on my face. At that moment, I knew I was my father’s daughter. For my dad and I, jumping out of a plane was never out of the ordinary. I felt like I made my dad proud as he watched his daughter fulfill such an exhilarating, unforgettable moment.
As my instructor and I crawled to the edge of the plane and I watched the two professional divers jump out before me, I knew I was going to have the time of my life. The videographer was hanging on the side of the plane capturing every moment and expression on my face. I felt my instructor rock back and forth but couldn’t hear him counting down. At that moment, I braced myself for what was about to come.
The fall from the plane to the ground took about 70 seconds. Within that 70 seconds, I knew the wait was well worth it. Would I do it again? Absolutely. My advice to anyone – If you are given the opportunity to exceed your limits while on this earth, choose to sky dive. There is no better way to explain the feeling when you are simply free falling!
August 7, 2017
I am grateful for a number of opportunities: an incredible education, a positive work experience, a supportive family and good health. Because I have these chances, I strive to make the most of them both to improve myself and to help those less fortunate than I. This conviction is demonstrated by my involvement in extracurriculars, which began during high school, inspired my joining Alpha Phi Omega in college, and will motivate me to participate in responsibility initiatives in the workplace.
Good health and participation in sports have always been important to me: I feel most alive when I am active. Being a part of an athletic team or program matters to me for two reasons: it is crucial to physical well-being and it fosters community. Because being active has been such an incredible, positive component of my life, I became passionate about enabling individuals who may lack full ability to experience that feeling as well. It was that motivation that first led me to the Westwood Community Center.
My initial involvement with the SNAP program at the Westwood Community Center allowed me to realize that these children do not have the opportunities that I do; they are burdened with disabilities. However, my participation in the program over the last 5+ years allowed me to see that for one hour, one night a week, I am able to impact the lives of children with special needs and help share my opportunities with them. Mike, Mike, and Nevin, otherwise known as “the three musketeers,” and the other athletes remind me how fortunate I am. There are no words to describe what these kids have grown to mean to me, or what they have taught me about myself over the years. They inspire me. And most importantly, they motivate me to make the most of my opportunities so that I can share them with others.
August 4, 2017
Here I am, six-years-old.
I walked into the kitchen and stumbled across a cup of bubbly black liquid sitting on top of the dining table. My eyes glistened in mischievousness and my thin smile broke into a wide grin. I knew, or so I thought I knew, exactly what I was looking at: a shining goblet of Coca-Cola.
Mind you, since I was only six, soda was on the no-no list of things to drink. I have never had soda prior to this moment. My dad was in the garage and my mom was out of the house. An opportunity to be totally unsupervised didn’t come often, so I knew this was my chance to sneak in a few sips.
I slowly approached the cup, and – my dad came back inside. Oh, God! I’ve never booked it to my room as fast as I did that day. I had rug-burn marks on my knees and elbows from falling over. I was in pain.
But, curiosity got the best of me, and I knew I had to go back. I waited in my room until my dad went back inside the garage. As soon as the door slammed behind him, I ran back into the kitchen, looked to my left and right before I once again, approached the cup.
My fingers reached for the sacred chalice, my eyes widened, my mouth began to water, and – my dad came in again! But I was holding the cup, and there was no turning back. My lips pressed against the edge of the cup, I took the biggest gulp I possibly could.
Right away, I realized: 1) this isn’t coke, it’s coffee, and 2) my dad left his used cigarette in the cup – and I just swallowed it. My dad saw everything and immediately ran towards me. Then with a huge swing of his arm, he hit my back, forcing the cigarette out of my throat.
If there’s anything I learned from this ordeal, it’s that my dad’s slap burns like a mother-father. And, don’t sneak behind your parents’ backs! With full determination, that evening, I still managed to sneak in a sip of Coca-Cola…