A couple weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be able to visit my 90-year old grandmother in Cape Cod. She’s truly a force of nature -- she lives alone, survived a massive tree falling on her house this winter without batting an eye, and schedules more weekly social events than I do as a millennial living in the city. Among the incredible life experiences she’s shared with me from her time raising a family and traveling the world, one thing that’s resonated has been her love and pride for her alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley. I was reminded of this as I was coordinating some weekend Commencement livestreams for Apogee partners while at my grandmother’s house. I found myself immersed in a deep conversation with my family about why the word “Commencement” symbolizes a beginning, and defines the ceremony rather than “graduation,” an end. I felt a wave of nostalgia thinking back to my own Commencement and all of the wonderfully terrifying beginnings that came with graduating from college – to a point where I actually found myself switching back and forth between watching the royal wedding on Stream2 and the University of New Hampshire’s 2018 Commencement ceremony. My grandmother even started telling us about the dress she wore on her Commencement Day over sixty-five years ago.
When I first arrived on campus in the summer of 2011, I’d just returned from an amazing six-day pre-orientation trip in the woods and was bubbling with the excitement of new friendships and a fresh start (and okay, some nerves too. And mud). As I walked by the Sexual Assault and Rape Prevention Center (SHARPP) on my way to the dining hall with my new friends, I vaguely remember thinking it was odd that there was an entire building dedicated to these services. How common, really, is sexual assault?
As graduation approaches and the final chapter of my time at George Mason University closes, I can reflect back on my time as a student ambassador for OrcaTV and what a wonderful learning experience it has been. I’ve always been a shy person and so reaching out to so many student organizations was a daunting task. Being a student ambassador, being able to find my professional voice, and feeling my confidence grow has been life-changing. I have learned not only learned valuable skills, but I have also been a part of helping Mason grow into an active community rich with student organizations and lively, engaging events.
March usually embodies the naïve hope of spring: warm weather, green grass, tulips, frolicking in fields…. As I’m writing this blog post warming up my frigid fingers after being slammed by Winter Storm Toby, it’s hard to imagine what a green world feels like. Yet the Orca team has been psyched to be collaborating with universities to promote “green” (like the segue?!) and sustainable initiatives throughout March and into Earth Month in April.
Most notable in March was our initiative to promote the nationwide Recylemania tournament. I was made aware of the tournament after a December phone call with facilities administrators at Southwestern University. They mentioned that Southwestern would be competing in the 8-week competition beginning February 4th. Recyclemania is a “friendly competition for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities.” Competing schools raise awareness about waste reduction, increase recycling efforts, and report weights to benchmark against other schools.
After a slower January in which many schools were still on winter break, February has been a busy month for the OrcaTV team. Aside from the personal weirdness of being a Patriots fan living in Philadelphia (ask me about my friends who stole my Pats hat ON MY BIRTHDAY, please!) I’ve been working with schools to support important initiatives through the OrcaTV channel. In February, I was ecstatic to see vibrant Black History Month conversations and some creative campus events celebrating diversity and inclusion. On OrcaTV channels nationwide, campuses advertised events such as the University of Mary Washington’s Step Show, which is sponsored by the James Farmer Multicultural Center and features step teams from around the country. At Pace University, our student ambassador, Rachel, put together a breathtaking slideshow to feature fashion designs from a Pace freshman who was using fashion to inform conversations about Black History Month.
After upwards of fifty school visits in 2017 and countless student engagement-related phone calls, I’ve learned a lot. I get really excited to fly out of Terminal D in the Philadelphia airport because I know there’s a Jamba Juice there, and parking on a new campus is by far the hardest part of a school visit.