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OMIGOSH It’s New Student Orientation

Katie Deegan

Katie Deegan

By Katie Deegan
Business Major/Honors College
Kennebunk, ME

Beyond the FAFSA and prom (maybe), it’s the second-best time of the year for students who know they are coming to UMaine and for those who have been accepted but are still debating over schools. This is the time when UMaine is in a frenzy to make everything perfect for New Student Orientation (The first-best time of the year, other than major holidays when you get copious amounts of food and presents, is Fall Welcome Weekend.) This is time when your official college career begins.

That’s right folks, this is the BIG welcome, where you can get all the important things you need for school out of the way so that moving in is the hardest thing you have to do come September (which we also make pretty easy for you, BTW).

So, what can you do at orientation?  You can get your MaineCard (please bring a valid form of ID), buy a parking pass (only $50 for the whole year), get your email accounts all set up, buy a sweet computer, check out what campus life will be like (you stay one overnight in a residence hall), go to a cookout, go to a bonfire, see cool things, learn fun facts — the list goes on and on.

But I digress, orientation is very important. You should try to attend the session that is designated for the program you have been admitted to (i.e. Business majors attend the session for the College of Business Public Policy and Health, Nursing students should attend the session for the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture). If you can’t make the session for your college one weekend, try for the other. If you can make it to another session in June but your college won’t be there, you can still do that.

To summarize: It’s pretty much like a giant sleepover with a bunch of other students from your major complete with FREE FOOD! You can even scope out a future roommate that you think is worthy enough to share your living space and arrange it on the spot.

Need more information or would like to sign up? Check it all out here in full detail.

As someone who has attended orientation and who has also helped to run it, I can tell you this: YOU TOTALLY WANT TO SIGN UP. Trust me. Do it. Right now.

Stress Free Finals

Jessica Currier

Jessica Currier

Jessica Currier
Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Brewer, Maine

Finals can definitely be a stressful time for students. To help students relax, the Campus Activities and Student Engagement office on campus planned a week of “stress-free” activities.

Many people resort to food when they are stressed. Now, we all know this isn’t the healthiest path to take, but when it is free and delicious, who can pass it up? CASE had free coffee, lemonade, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and one night, the group even delivered grilled cheeses in the residence halls. Students could get late night breakfast at Hilltop dining, too.

But it wasn’t all about food. Some students took part in yoga, while others made stress pillows, which are little balloons filled with sand and are intended to be squeezed when stressed. For the ladies, there was a manicure party with the theme of “Jersey-licious nails” from the hit TV show “Jersey Shore.” Students could even get massages.

With all of these free activities and food, it was easy to relax about finals. I planned my time wisely so I could take breaks for fun activities like these. I made it through the week, and now it’s time for the ultimate in relaxation: summer break!

 

A Delicious Final

By Jessica Currier
Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Brewer, ME

Jessica Currier in her Food Preparation class.

All Human Nutrition and Dietetics majors at the University of Maine are required to take a course called Food Preparation. This is not your typical nutrition or science course, it is a culinary course. Students learn how ingredients function in baking and cooking and how to modify food products for special diets such as low-sodium, gluten-free, vegan, and diabetic. We learn that baking is a science and cooking is an art, so it is critical to know how different ingredients affect foods for baking.

To teach students how ingredients function in foods and make specific products, students get to cook in the kitchen in Hitchner Hall on campus. This gives students hands-on experience and introduces them to cooking new, unique foods.

Now, some students would be excited just to have the opportunity to cook, but we get to eat everything afterward, which makes things even better. In my lab, there are six groups and each one makes a different dish. Every week there is a general theme, such as dairy products, grains, seafood, beef and poultry, fruits, eggs, microwavable foods, and desserts. Our instructor explains how each ingredient functions in a recipe, and then we can enjoy our samples.

My favorite week was sugar and dessert week. My partner and I made peanut butter Hershey Kiss cookies — who said nutrition majors had to always eat healthy? We also had homemade taffy, chocolate chip cookies, whoopie pies, angel food cake and peanut brittle. I was definitely hyped up on sugar when I left class that day! A few interesting dishes that I tried during this course were homemade California Rolls, pesto and salmon phyllo squares, risotto, homemade jelly, vegetable tempura, corn fritters, jambalaya and cream puffs, all were delicious.

The final week of class, we have a “special project” — we have to prepare a five-course meal. Our meal will include an amuse-bouche (an appetizer plate) with bruschetta and a scoop of curried chicken salad; smoky cream of mushroom soup; sweet potato biscuits; blackened chicken tenders; fresh melon salsa; mushroom and zucchini risotto; and fudge layer cake with raspberry coulis. Staff and a few students from our department will be taste-testers. We will work in groups of four, and I our group is going to make the soup and bread. It is going to be a lot of fun, and if you love to cook and eat, being a nutrition major definitely is a plus.

Four Little Letters

Bradie Manion

Bradie Manion

By Bradie Manion
Biochemistry/Honors
Old Town, Maine

M. C. A. T.

These are just four simple, harmless letters. But in combination, particularly in the order MCAT, these letters strike fear into the hearts of many a Pre-Med student. These letters stand for the Medical College Admissions Test, the equivalent of SATs or ACTs to get into undergraduate school. Only the MCAT is quite a bit harder than the SATs. It tests general chemistry, general biology, general physics, organic chemistry and verbal reasoning. The equivalent of eight science courses plus some reading/English thrown in for good measure. So maybe Pre-Med students are on the right track with fear of the letters MCAT.

As a Pre-Med student myself, I have long awaited the day when I too would sit down for my four hour exam that holds so much sway over the hearts and minds of all aspiring to become physicians. My day came sooner than I would have thought; in fact, I just took the MCAT a few days ago. So I can’t tell you anything specific about the exam, but I can tell you it wasn’t a horror story.

The MCAT is something you prepare for all throughout your college career, whether you realize you are studying for it or not. Each day you work hard in your science courses, you are learning the vital information covered on the exam. In addition, as you develop and refine your critical thinking skills, you become a better test taker. The MCAT doesn’t just test concepts, it also tests critical thinking, a skill vital for success as a physician.

My advice for other Pre-Med students about the MCATs: don’t panic. Really, don’t. It won’t help you on test day or in learning the material. Instead, start studying ahead of time. Like more than one week. More than one month. A few months should do it. And remember, these four letters may feel like the end of the world, but there is more to your admissions packet than just the score.

SEAM Full of Networking Opportunities for Education Students

Kelsey Flynn

Kelsey Flynn

By Kelsey Flynn
Secondary Education, Honors College
Mansfield, Mass.

For education majors, there are many different opportunities on campus to network, make friends, or even just find a place where you feel comfortable. One of these opportunities is a great group that goes by the name of SEAM, short for the Student Education Association of Maine. SEAM is affiliated with the Maine Education Association (MEA) and the National Education Association (NEA).

SEAM’s slogan is “bridging the gap between college and classroom,” and this helps prepare students for a successful future in the academic community. When you belong to SEAM there are many professional opportunities, such as attending workshops and conferences on current hot topics in education.

At UMaine, you’ll often become friends with classmates through clubs and organizations, and SEAM is no exception. It is open to both undergrads and graduate students, and it can be very helpful for first-year students, as they can make friends and find mentors in students who have already been through advanced classes and taken the exams.If you’re an education major, or a prospective one, definitely look out for this awesome group.

In Celebration of Women’s History

Emma Thieme
Broadcast Journalism
Winterport, Maine

There wasn’t an empty seat available in the Donald P. Corbett auditorium last Thursday, as over 300 community members and students gathered for the Dr. Anne Margaret Johnstone Memorial Lecture and Keynote Address, “The Purity Myth.” The lecture was part of the University of Maine’s Women’s History Celebration. Sponsored by the Women in the Curriculum and Women’s Studies Program, the monthlong celebration included workshops, films and lectures marking the accomplishments that women have made and the hardships that we have overcome.

The featured speaker, Jessica Valenti, is the author of four books including her latest, The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women,” and is the founder of the snarky and comedic blog, Feministing.org. Valenti has been called the “poster girl of third-wave feminism” by Salon magazine, and was the perfect choice to lead this Women’s History Celebration event.

Valenti was both hilarious and informative about describing the modern-day sexism that occurs in our society, including the praise of virginity and how it negatively impacts the self-worth of America’s young girls. Valenti opened her lecture by asking the audience for a show-of-hands, how many people in attendance identified as feminists? She was surprised when more than half of the audience members raised their hands. Valenti claimed that she has dealt for years with people turning their noses up at the word “feminist.” According to Valenti, so many people practice feminist behavior but are “too freaked out” to call themselves feminists because of the negative connotations that have plagued it for years.

“If young women knew what feminism was about, they would be more likely to be involved,” Valenti said, addressing the bra-burning man-hater myth that society has successfully attached to the word. Feminist, as defined by the American Heritage dictionary is “someone, male or female, who believes in social, political and economic equality between the sexes.” Feminism is also famously defined by Cheris Kramerae as someone who believes in the “radical notion that women are human beings.” Valenti said that one of the biggest problems with feminism is that there aren’t enough young people involved in the movement.

Valenti began her blog 7 years ago when she Googled “young feminist” and was only returned one applicable result, an article by the National Organization Women from 1991. She then began her blog and centered it on grasping a young audience, in a friendly, witty and communal way. The comment section on Feminsiting.org is one of the ways that the blog connects with its readers. Viewers can comment on a post and get this, Valenti actually writes back, and a conversation is begun. This back-and-forth communication is a very feminist way of creating a sense of community, Valenti claims. The more comedic style of the blog “makes feminism more approachable” to younger audiences.

The main topic of the lecture was about how Valenti believes that America has an obsession with virginity. She backed up this belief by referencing abstinence-only education and societal rewards for saving one’s virginity until marriage. One of these rewards is a “purity ball,” a dance that was at one point federally funded in certain areas, at which a daughter pledges her virginity to her father and symbolic gifts are exchanged. According the Valenti, these rewards create a sexual double standard: they cause young women to believe that their “only real worth is whether or not they abstain from sex.” But at the same time, our society thrives on sexualized images of women in the media. These cultural constructs, Valenti argues, make finding out who you are and realizing your self-worth difficult for impressionable young girls.

“Being a good person should actually be because you are a good person; it has nothing to do with sexuality,” said Valenti.

Valenti has since retired from editing Feministing.org, and is now focusing on being an author and lecturer around the country. Valenti ended her lecture with a question and answer session, and audience members were eager to ask her about the media coverage and education surrounding abstinence. When asked what feminists can do to address these issues Valenti answered, “We need to address the cultural constructions that make everyday sexism possible.” We can do this by spreading the word about feminism and its accomplishments and getting involved in our communities and local governments in order to make big changes in the lives of women.

 

Around the World in a Night

Kelsey Flynn
Secondary Education, Honors College
Mansfield, Mass.

It’s hard to be enthusiastic when you’re just coming off spring break, but recently, something fantastic happened in the Memorial Union. It was called Around the World Late Night, a festival that celebrated UMaine’s multicultural traditions. This entertaining and fun filled night was put on by several student organizations on campus: CASE (Campus Activities and Student Entertainment), SHAC (Student Heritage Alliance Council), Kappa Sgima Fraternity, Iota Nu Kappa, and LASO (Latin American Student Organization).

There were dance lessons, virtual car racing, sushi-making, and piñatas, as well as many more activities. Students wrote my name in three languages, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. The African Student Association had many different cultural exhibits from a variety of African nations. Students were given a passport of sorts, and at every “country” they visited in the union, they got a stamp. A full passport meant you were eligible for a variety of prizes like an iPod Shuffle, an LCD TV, Sony DVD Player, a GPS, and a Kodak digital camera.

Pretty sweet, right? Going around learning about different cultures, plus the change of winning cool stuff? I like it.

 

Bingo? No Fooling.

Jessica Currier

Jessica Currier

Jessica Currier
Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Brewer, Maine

Everyone loves a little competition sometimes, but it’s especially fun on April Fool’s Day. At the University of Maine, Campus Activities and Student Engagement organized a bingo night in the Memorial Union. They do this a couple of times a year. Huge prizes were offered like a 32-inch Vizio TV, Boston Red Sox tickets, and a PS3!

When I heard that I had the chance to win one of these prizes, I decided to play. It was free for UMaine students. When I arrived at the union, I waited in line for a bingo card and chips and then found a seat. The whole dining area in the Union was full — the turnout was great! There were free drinks and chips, and music was playing.

We played five rounds of bingo consisting of five games each. At the end of each round, the five winners went up to the front and had to compete for one of the big prizes. The students who wound up competing were psyched — some screamed excitedly and their friends cheered them on. In the first competition, students had to empty a tissue box as fast as they could. The first one done received an envelope and had to wait until the end of bingo to open it. The other four players all got gift cards to Verve (a local burrito and smoothie restaurant in Orono). This process continued throughout the game. Unfortunately, I did not win once. Although, it was still fun to go out and play a game of bingo like the good old days!


The Capstone Experience

By Emma Thieme
Broadcast Journalism
Winterport, Maine

The patches of snow on campus are quickly disappearing and the temperatures are rising (we’ve already had a 50 degree day in March!). These little hints can only mean two things for me: summer is fast approaching and the deadline for my capstone project is just around the corner. When the days become longer and the weather heats up, it’s difficult for even the most organized students to stay on top of schoolwork. But even if my mind does occasionally drift to my summer plans, it does help that the projects that are standing between my diploma and me actually involve topics that I’m interested in.

In order to complete the broadcast journalism sequence, I have to take Michael Socolow’s CMJ 489: Media Ethics course as well as Sunny Hughes’ CMJ 481: Digital Journalism course. When you reach this level in your college career, your classes really begin to prepare you for life beyond the Orono campus, and your required projects are designed to help you build a competitive portfolio for your future endeavors.

Every journalism major, no matter if their sequence is print/editorial, broadcast or advertising, has to take Socolow’s class and complete a capstone paper and presentation. For the past few semesters, my course load has required me to branch off from the journalism major in its entirety and focus on the broadcast aspect of it, allowing me to become part of close-knit classes that are often taken by the same group of students and are often taught by recurring professors year after year. Hughes’ class is an example of this. However after all that, it is nice to re-group with my fellow journalism majors again in Socolow’s class and find out how my peers have been developing within their respected sequences over the past few years.

In Socolow’s class, we sit in a circle and have in-depth discussions about cases in which the media had to weigh the consequences and make an ethical decision. We read articles, watch videos and observe social media in order to educate ourselves on different ethical situations and what the possible implications might be. In order to complete the class, we are required to choose an ethical case that involves the media and give an educated analysis on it, compiled in a 10-page paper and a 15-minute presentation in front of the class. The case that we choose is intended to be a talking point that would impress a potential employer in an interview.

In Hughes’ class, we are asked to hone in on the filming, editing and interviewing skills we have learned over our college careers, and create six different multimedia stories covering a timely issue. Our entire class decided to focus our projects on sustainability, and each one of us is covering a topic underneath this umbrella. I am focusing on sustainable agriculture and am interviewing farmers, scientists and experts all over the state of Maine. However, some of my classmates’ topics include land-use regulations, alternative energy and wildlife conservation. The freedom of Hughes’ class allows us to work on our own deadlines and experience the independence that our field requires.

It’s mid-March and completing these final projects is definitely going to take a lot of time out in the field and in the library. But this experience also allows me to use the education that I have gained thus far to make a final product that will give me a leg up in my job search. Although my mind often drifts to thoughts of the Maine coast in summertime, I’m still very much aware of my passion for journalism and my drive to make it my career. These final projects allow me to put this into perspective and motivate myself to plan for the future.

Alternative Spring Break in New Orleans

By Jessica Currier
Food Science and Human Nutrition
Brewer, Maine

UMaine students volunteer with Project Lazarus in New Orleans, La.

In March, when students are ready for spring to arrive, some pack their bags and flee to tropical locations so they can relax on the beach. But others go to areas in the United States to volunteer their time and help people in need. Alternative Spring Break is an organization at the University of Maine that helps students do just that.

In October, students fill out an application and list their top three locations or areas of interest. They are then grouped by interest. During the year, students raise money for the trips through bake sales, bottle drives and more.

One member of ASB, sophomore Matthew Flora, was in the group that went to New Orleans, La. They stayed on-site at Project Lazarus, a transitional living facility for HIV patients. They split their time doing aesthetic work, such as cleaning and gardening, and then interacted with residents the remainder of the day. “The residents really enjoyed having us there with them,” Flora said.

Other ASB groups traveled to Georgia, Virginia, Mississippi, Texas and Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, the students worked in a homeless mission. In Mississippi, hurricane relief was the focus. Some of the other ASB projects included building homes for low-income families, working with troubled or at-risk youth, serving meals, helping the elderly, and participating in an urban peace program.

Alternative Spring Break is a great way to help others, meet new people, and to see and experience different parts of our country. There is also an Alternative Spring Break International Program, in which students travel to Peru, Masaya, and Nicaragua. Depending on your interests, there’s bound to be a spot for you. ASB volunteers help many people in need, and it is a great feeling to help others!