ETSU 1000 students – who are they?

My spring semester ETSU 1000 class was this incredible mix of students – from those just starting out at ETSU to our senior, Jessica Hayes, who graduated on May 5. Congratulations, Jessica!

During the semester we read an article about how people see this generation of students and it wasn’t exactly positive, so I had the students write on sticky notes how they want others to view them and they posted them all on the board. WOW!

They also created bumper stickers of their experience at ETSU. We combined the two into a video. Take a look!

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Civility Week-every week

This morning, I asked my ETSU 1000 class,  “What do Don Imus, Rush Limbaugh, Mel Gibson, Chris Brown, and Eminem have in common?” (Besides being male).

One student responded that they are all controversial. That they are. What are they known for being controversial for? For saying things that are hurtful and hateful and for showing a blatant disregard for others.

This morning on Borchuck Plaza students will be wearing shirts with words we use to label people. In class we started our own list of labels: whore, slut, band geek, nerd, dumb jock, druggie, redneck, skank, re-tard, and the list went on. And those aren’t the worst of what we say. Or think.

We then discussed what it means to be civil -to use politeness and courtesy in behavior and speech (from the dictionary on someone’s cell phone – yes there are good uses for cell phones in class!) and gave examples of how people aren’t civil. Those ranged from talking in class to cutting someone off in traffic but didn’t get to the truly heinous behaviors that make the Hunger Games seem almost mild in comparison. Why not? Because we don’t want to go there? Because those students are basically really good people who can’t fathom treating someone that way? Maybe.

Or maybe it’s because we all knew we were guilty of incivility in some way ourselves.

Civility shouldn’t be something we recognize once a year.  Civility should be part of who we are and what we do – all the time. As one student said, “But I’m just one person, how can I make a difference?” Oh but you can – and watch how it grows!


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End of semester and still wandering?

Today’s blog post is brought to you by guest blogger Dain Rivers-St. Robert. Dain, from Brooklyn, NY, is a digital media major who is also pursuing a career as a songwriter. When he becomes a famous songwriter, you can say you went to school with him at ETSU! With a name like Dain Rivers-St. Robert, he’s GOT to be famous, right?

Exams are over, campus is much quieter than usual, and even parking isn’t too hard to find, but you may yourself still wandering. (Confession: I’ve been here 15 years and I got lost in Brown Hall this a.m. looking for the ROTC commissioning ceremony. Might have helped if I’d remembered it was in BALL Hall and not BROWN! But even so, after all these years, I still get lost in Brown! Dain’s post hit home to me because it applies not just to finding your way on campus, but to finding your way in life. EXPLORE!

      I cannot count how many times I have been lost on campus trying to find a building while looking on a map and the only information I have to go on is that I need to find building 17. We live in a world where maps are obsolete for most of us. I know it is for me because I use a GPS for everything!  Reading a campus map and trying to find the Digital Media building seemed impossible. It took me three days to find that building.

I asked a woman in the library if she could point me in the right direction and she said, “Look honey it’s here on the map, its building 17 right down there.” I looked at her with a puzzled look on my face and said, “Thank you.” Either she was being smart with me or just had no clue where the building was.

My advice to first year students is to EXPLORE your campus. Just walk around with a friend or by yourself and just see where things are. When classes start there is nothing worse than missing the first day because you couldn’t find the English building (trust me I know), it says ENGLISH on it! Also, you do not want to be the last person to walk into class and have everybody looking at you like you’re crazy (happens to me all the time).   Maybe things would be easier if the buildings were different colors, but that would look tacky and the last thing you want are tacky colored buildings on your campus. I think the school maps should be more detailed so that kids can find things easier and quicker, but until then EXPLORE, EXPLORE, EXPLORE! You’ll figure it out. 


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Response to the Meaning of Life…

Our next guest blogger is Brianna Bogard (who is also on the ETSU Women’s basketball team!). Her take on the meaning of life says much more than “42” (see post  “What is the Meaning of Life?”)

The meaning of life is different for many people.  Some decide to take the so called “safe route” while others like to live on the edge and not follow all the rules.  What I know is whether you choose to take the safe route or the wild side; you still have to make your life what it is.

                 When you are in a school setting no matter which level, you are the one who decides the outcome of your grades and what you get out of the schooling.  A lot of people like to look for someone to blame.  But in reality the only person who can control your success is you.  Now life is not just about school.  School only takes up about ¼ of your life if you ask me.  I believe after your school days, the lessons you have learned from school help you in the real world. 

                The real world is a competitive place.  If you do not make yourself seen or heard someone else is willing to take your spot and leave you in the dust.  You need that competitive nature to get through tough situations.  You cannot just crumble at the sight of something hard.  You have to fight and give it your all!  If you are not willing to give something your very best then why do it?  I live by the rule- if I am doing something I put my heart and soul in to it every time.  No matter what situation it is.  This only helps me achieve everything I want to.  Yes failure is always going to happen, but it is what you get out of the failure that counts.  Don’t let it discourage you. Keep fighting.

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We have another guest blogger! Welcome Taylor Hudson. A little intro from Taylor:

My name is Taylor Hudson. I am a freshman at ETSU. I am currently undeclared, but I believe I will be pursuing a degree in Music Education with a cross major in English. I attended Nashville School of the Arts in Nashville, Tennessee where I played the cello. My passions are music, writing, and animals. I have a dog named Toby and he is the absolute love of my life. I am very open, and I can just about make friends with anyone.

Life lessons…

Fall semester is coming to a close and there has been one quote to help me get through the past five months:

Four Lessons on Life: 1. Never take down a fence until you know why it was put up. 2. If you get too far ahead of the army, your soldiers may mistake you for the enemy. 3. Don’t complain about the bottom rungs of the ladder; they helped to get you higher. 4. If you want to enjoy the rainbow, be prepared to endure the storm.— Warren Wiersbe

These four lessons have come in handy on my journey throughout this first semester as I have learned that everyone is guarding something. If one is keeping something from you and they don’t feel like talking about it, don’t try to force it out of them. Walls, or fences in this case, are put up for security, they are meant to protect something sacred. Would you want someone breaking down the fences around your house, something you had put so much time and effort into protecting, something that keeps your family, your possessions, and yourself safe? Friendships can take years to build, not just a few weeks. Give your friends time to open up to you.

Also, if you become too conceited or too ahead of your friends, they may mistake you for the enemy. Your first semester is for you to gain friendships; if you begin to think you know it all, your friends will take you as that, a “know it all.” Now when it comes to school work, don’t be afraid to jump ahead of the game, there is no shame in doing that. If that is the case, your friends may come to you for help and you are your friends may become closer.

In terms of getting to where you are now in your first semester of college, don’t be afraid to thank those who got you there and don’t be afraid to look back and acknowledge your years in high school. If it weren’t for those influential people in your life and your high school career, you would not be at East Tennessee State University pursuing a degree. It happens to be the small details that create a masterpiece. Don’t be ashamed to thank those who have made an impact. Your mom, your dad, your grandparents, guardians, teachers, or coaches, anyone who has had influence on your decisions has created the character residing in you today.

Your first semester of college will not be easy, there will be difficulties, but remember that with every difficulty, there will be success. With every hill, there will be a downhill. With every battle, someone will win. Just remember to fight your hardest.


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Where’s Waldo? Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? And where are YOU?

We’re now back from Thanksgiving and the end of the semester is sooooo close! It’s a good time to take stock of where you are and where you’re going. In class today I asked my students to tell me what they have learned this semester and what they will take with them into next semester. Here is their list (hopefully I haven’t forgotten anything! I should have take a picture of the white board with my iPad!):

1. Use the tutors in the CFAA. As one student said, “Since I’ve been using a tutor for math, my grades have gone up at least a letter grade. If I’d used the tutoring service even earlier, my grades would probably be even better!”

2. Talk to your professors. If you aren’t doing well or struggling with certain material, talk to him/her and ask for help on figuring how what to do so you’ll understand the information better.

3. Start thinking about a major and planning your classes so that you are including courses in the major.

4. Study! As in actually study – read the text, take notes in class, pay attention to what’s going on, review. “It’s not that hard if you JUST DO IT!”

5. Meet with your advisor. You should have already done this by now for this semester, but that doesn’t you can’t meet with your advisor again! Your advisor can be a great source of information about classes, what combination of courses to take, and what you need to look out for.

6. Look into opportunities you have by combining certain majors and minors or by taking certain courses. One of my students is in computer science and if she takes a certain set of courses she can pursue a particular certification that might even help her get a job!

7. Hang out with people with similar interests and have fun getting paid! (This is from a student in the pep band.)

8. Apply your experiences from work (if you are working) to your academics.

  • Be on time (turn your work in on time and be on time for class – if you aren’t, “your professors will think you’re lazy”).
  • Be respectful to your customers and boss (be respectful to your professors – you might need them someday for a reference and you want them to remember you in a positive light!)
  • Appreciate what you can learn from the worst customer – you might be that person at some point, but if you know how things bother you, you’re more aware of what you’re doing yourself and can act differently (translation – better!).
  • Network – you never know who might be in a position to help you at some point.

A lot of learning goes on OUTSIDE the classroom – take advantage of all of it! You have a lot of life ahead of you and learning never stops. That’s something to be thankful for!

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What is the meaning of life?

I asked my students to write questions they needed answers to on index cards and took them up at the end of class. The next class period I had the class get into teams and we had a competition to see which team could find the answer first. The questions ranged from “When will they pick the new president?” to “How do I change roommates?” to “What is the second part of the advising assignment?” The class did a good job of finding the answers until we got to this one: “What is the meaning of life?”

One student called out, “42!” and the class just starred at him. This is the answer according to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If you’re familiar with that novel and radio series, maybe 42 makes sense to you. It doesn’t to me. BEING 42 didn’t even make much sense except it was another year in my life. :)

Perhaps the better question is, “What are you doing with your life?” 

Registration for spring semester started today (Nov. 14). Exams are right around the corner. Are you prepared? Have you met with your advisor? Have you planned a study schedule for your classes and for your exams? Have you looked ahead to even see when your exams are? Are you going to class?

Is what you’re doing getting you what you want?

Is your answer as meaningful as “42”?

Take some time to sit down and evaluate where you are and what you’re doing now and what you NEED to be doing. Plan your schedule for the rest of the semester (it’s okay – don’t panic, start with a day, then do another day, and then another).

Make your time and actions count. Your results will be on your transcript.

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