3 Reasons Spring at K-State is the Best!

Since coming to K-State, Spring has become my favorite time of year – there’s always something to do, someone to hang out with, and often times, a lot of free food! While studying for finals has to remain a priority in my schedule, there’s a ton of opportunities to meet new people, have fun, and give back to the community that can be found in March, April, and May. Here are three of my favorites:

1. Intramurals – I love the intramurals that are offered in the Spring. Doubles tennis is my favorite to play, but I really enjoy watching my fraternity brothers compete in slow-pitch softball as well as the annual three-on-three tournament we hold in our backyard. The weather hasn’t been too consistent so far this Spring, but after being cooped up inside for several months, I’ll take just about anything; it feel great to get out and exercise around Manhattan in the Spring.

2. Philanthropies – Philanthropies are an example of a concept I knew nothing about before coming to college, but they’re everywhere in the Spring. The concept is a simple: an organization (often a fraternity or sorority) puts on an event, and the proceeds go to a local or national charity. Recent example at K-State include a Miss K-State pageant put on by one of the fraternities and a 5K “paint run” hosted by one of the sororities here on campus.

3. Planning for Summer – This might sound weird, but one of my favorite parts of the last few weeks has been getting ready for this summer: I’ll be working in Manhattan part-time as an Orientation Leader for K-State (look out incoming freshmen!) and also interning for the City Commission here in town. I’m excited for my jobs, and I’m also REALLY excited to be living with three of my fraternity brothers for a couple of months and hanging out in Manhattan for the summer!

-Eli

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3 Tips to Survive April

It’s April. For both high schoolers and college students, it’s hard to truly express how crazy this month can be – there’s so much going on! Amidst applications for summer jobs and internships, gigantic end-of-the-year projects, and weather outside that makes studying impossible, it can be hard to maintain sanity. Here are my 3 tips to survive the month of April!

1. Say “no” – nothing like starting off my list with something I’m bad at, right? Regardless of that fact, saying no when you’re going through an extremely busy time on year (to things you might usually say “yes” to) can be a necessity. This can mean a lot: it can be saying “no” to an extra few minutes of FaceBook or to hanging out with your friends for the fourth night in a row. It might not be fun in the moment, but will be worth it in the long run.

2. Focus on 6 hour blocks of time – usually, I try to make a to-do list each day, for the entire day. When I get super crazy busy and super crazy overwhelmed, though, I find it helpful to focus on an even smaller increment of time – like 6 hours, for instance. I make a list in the morning to accomplish by lunch, after lunch I make one to accomplish by dinner, and after dinner I make one to accomplish by bedtime. It’s a small thing, but it can make the day seem more doable, and for that, I consider it to be worth it.

3. Have an outlet – this one’s pretty simple: have something you enjoy doing that you can do every evening (maybe before bed) to reward yourself for a hard day’s work. I’m obsessed with the shows “The Newsroom” and “30 Rock,” so I try to watch an episode with my roommates when I can. It’s a good outlet because it only take 25 minutes or so, but can allow me regroup and be more productive once I get back to it!

April is crazy – but it’s possible to get through at K-State. It’s one of the most fun times of year on campus, and the above tips can make it less stressful and allow you to enjoy it!

-Eli

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Showing Campus Off!

Over Spring Break this past week, several of my relatives visited from Iowa. Naturally, they wanted a tour of K-State’s campus, and I was more than happy to give one! It’s weird that I’ve come to feel the way I do about our campus, but I love showing it off! I took my guests to the world-renowned School of Leadership Studies, to the largest building on campus, Hale Library, and to our Student Union to give them a taste of what life is like on a daily basis for K-State students.

It’s a unique time to give a tour of our campus, and an exciting time to be a future Wildcat. A number of high-profile construction projects are currently underway across campus, from the completion of our Recreation Complex (complete with climbing wall!) to the entirely new West side of Bill Family Snyder Stadium, things are on the up-and-up across campus. Justin Hall, the headquarters of the College of Human Ecology, recently got an update as well, and plans are moving forwarded for a new College of Business Administration building too.

The student voice has always been highly valued at K-State – we get to make some of the most major decisions each year that affect the future of campus. One such decision the K-State student body will be making soon deals with the future of our Student Union on campus. Basically, the building is in need of an update, and so on April 10 and 11, all K-State students will have an opportunity to vote for one. (Check out www.ksu.edu/YourUnion for some renderings – they’re pretty impressive!)

Buildings alone can never make a campus, but I do think they can enhance the educational and extra-curricular environment of a university, and there’s been no time in recent memory when more positive updates were occurring across campus. It’s a good time to be a Wildcat!

-Eli

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3 Ways to “Get Out There” During College

I’ve talked frequently about the importance of trying new things in college, of getting involved on campus, and of meeting new people. I believe it’s also worth noting, however, how important it can be to immerse yourself in an entirely new culture – whether elsewhere in the United States or a new country entirely. Experiencing the world and meeting people different than yourself is the best thing that can be gained in college – otherwise you’ll be crippled upon entry in to the real world and unable to relate to or understand those who may be different than yourself. There’s a lot of different world views out there, and a lot of different ways to approach the contentious issues of our time, and I strongly believe that something new can be learned from everyone – the more different than you, the better!

The best time for college students to step outside their comfort zones and travel is during the summer. Here are my 3 ways to “get out there” during college and experience the world around you – all made possible thanks to K-State:

1. International Service Teams (http://www.k-state.edu/leadership/programs/internationalteams/): 

K-State’s world-renowned School of Leadership Studies has a student group called “International Service Teams.” Each year, students are selected to go to a number of different locations around the world for the summer to take part in service-learning initiatives according to specific community needs. Projects often relate to health, education, and youth development needs in the communities. This year, four different groups (each made up of 4 or 5 students) are traveling to one of either Brazil, Kenya, Mexico, or South Africa to serve the local communities, develop leadership skills and lifelong friendships. My friend Kaitlin Long went to Kenya a couple of summers ago as a part of International Service Teams – see the photo above!

2. Studying Abroad (http://www.k-state.edu/studyabroad/):

K-State provides a ton of opportunities to travel to other parts of the world, study abroad while attending a university there, and get course credit in the process! While I haven’t studied abroad, those I know who have say that it’s truly a life-changing experience. They came back with a much more complete view of the world and its citizens, and with connections and memories to last a lifetime! My friend Brad Ellis (pictured to the left) studied abroad in Spain last year, and has nothing but positive words to say about his experience.

3. Internships:

I’ve had the opportunity to spend the last two summers in Washington D.C. doing a couple of different internships. While Washington D.C. certainly isn’t a different country, I still managed to meet a lot of different people with different views than my own, and I gained career experience in the process. No matter how far one travels to complete a summer internship, I believe just as much can be learned during business hours at your internship as can be learned outside of work from those you meet.

Summer vacations during college provide a unique opportunity to travel the country (and world!) to gain course credit, serve those less fortunate, and gain knowledge for eventual careers. Above all though, experiences like those above can broaden your world view and enable you to approach situations with holistic wisdom upon your return. K-State makes each of these opportunities possible – just another reason to bleed purple!

-Eli

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What I’ve been up to…

You may have noticed that my blogging has been a bit irregular lately – I’ve been busy! I haven’t blogged about it yet, but over the past few weeks (“months” is actually more accurate), I’ve been campaigning for the position of Student Body President here at K-State. I ran for the position with a guy named Jake Unruh, a junior in Finance, as my Vice President and running mate. We spent a TON of time meeting with students and faculty members one-on-one, developing our platform, building a campaign team, speaking at organizations, meeting with our Advisory Board, chalking and hanging signs on campus, participating in debates, selling t-shirts, and MUCH more – it’s hard to understate how big of a project it was! Last Wednesday, Jake and I were elected into office! We’re working through the transition period right now before we’re sworn in on April 11.

The process of running for office, in addition to being a ton of fun and a little bit exhausting (by “a little” I mean “A LOT”), reminded me of a few things about my college experience:

  1. First, that K-State provides a number of incredible opportunities outside the classroom to get involved and make a difference. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m mildly obsessed with the activities I’ve gotten involved in at college, of which student government has been one of my favorite. I can say with absolutely certainty that the lessons I’ve learned through my involvement will serve me just as well – if not better – than what I’ve learned in the classroom in college.
  2. Second, that I’ve been fortunate to meet some incredible people at K-State who are willing to give up time in their already-packed schedules to help me out. Running for Student Body President was above-all a humbling experience – the people here at K-State who served on our campaign team and Advisory Board are dedicated to the extreme!
  3. Finally, that the support I continue to receive from members of my fraternity is invaluable. I can’t count the times during the campaign that my fraternity brothers helped me out – late at night, early in the morning, when they were already busy…pretty much ALL the time. My decision to join a fraternity when I was a high school senior continues to teach me the importance of relationships and daily improvement in all aspects of life.

Jake and I are excited for the year ahead! Stay tuned for more regular blogging and updates on my transition into office!

-Eli

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Why I’m an Evernote Addict

Time to reveal to the world – as if everyone didn’t already know – how nerdy I truly am: today in my blog, I’m going to talk about my love for Evernote, and more importantly, the need for all K-Staters to have a note-taking system of some sort, whether on paper or computer.

First, what is Evernote? It’s a note-taking software program that allows me to take notes in class, “clip” interesting web articles I want to read later, make audio recordings of what professors say, and much more. It’s accessible from smart phones, tablets, and computers, and it’s what I’ve come to rely on to take notes in classes and meetings, as well as to capture any sort of inspirational lessons I encounter throughout the day at K-State.

Enough about Evernote, though – above all, K-State has taught me the importance of capturing everything down on paper (or electronically) that I can throughout the day. It seems like wherever I go, whether it be class, an interesting lecture on campus, or just hanging out with friends, I learn bit of information I want to capture. I feel I’ve learned even more outside the classroom at K-State than I have while within it, and I don’t want it to go to waste. I’ve even found value in taking time at the end of each day to journal my thoughts – as you might have guessed, I usually do so on Evernote. Journaling helps me get all my thoughts out (let’s be real – my friends don’t need to hear me talk more than I already do!) and allows me to process through everything I’ve involved in…I’d recommend it!

An average day at K-State is busy with note-worthy happenings and chalked full of inspirational interactions with others; I’ve learned to do my best capture them.

-Eli

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Purposeful Peers

At K-State, we pride ourselves on having a “family atmosphere” and being “different” from other universities. While it sounds cheesy, I’ve always believed these claims. My interactions outside of class with professors, with the advisors of the organizations I’m involved in, and with my fellow students have left no doubt in my mind that Manhattan is a special place. It never hurts, however, to be reminded of that fact. Two recent experiences I’ve had have done just that.

First, I’m enrolled in LEAD 405 this semester, Leadership in Practice (part of K-State’s awesome Leadership Studies minor -check it out!). The class is already stretching me outside my comfort zone (in a good way)! One of our tasks for the semester is to work in small groups to address a need we see in the community, and through the volunteering of our time, take action to make Manhattan a better place. Yesterday in class, we spent over an hour discussing all the needs we saw in the community. I wasn’t surprised by the quantity of needs that were listed – I was shocked by the amount of passion seemingly everyone in my class had for dedicating their free time to tackling the issues at hand. I’m excited to work with a community volunteer group called Hand to Hand this semester to tutor children in area schools who are struggling academically!

Second, I was reminded again of the caring nature of K-Staters when I attended my first meeting of Wildcat Buddies on Sunday. Wildcat Buddies is an organization started by one of my fellow Blue Key members, Courtney Frantz, that pairs K-State students up with special needs adults in the Manhattan community, providing them with a friend to hang out with a couple of times a month. I think the organization provides an incredible volunteer opportunity and I believe it fills an often-overlooked need in the Manhattan community. I’m excited to get started, and I’m proud to know the organization’s founder!

The spirit of volunteerism and sacrificing personal comfort to help others is another part of the K-State experience that I feel blessed to be a part of each day! K-State is different, and I’m continually reminded of it.

-Eli

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Spring is here – at least sort of!

Hey K-State Family!

It may still be freezing outside, but the spring semester is upon us at K-State! Fun fact about me: I love the spring semester. In my fraternity, it’s recruitment season, and we switch our focus to the next set of new members. On campus, it’s “application season,” with a number of campus organizations having membership drives and holding interviews. Preparations for K-State’s largest student-led, campus-wide philanthropy, K-State PROUD, are revving up, and the spirit of helping fellow students is contagious. Finally, it’s Student Governing Association Election season, and campus will soon be covered by the banners and colors of various candidates seeking office.

Like I said, I love the spring semester. Even more though, I love the beginnings of semesters. I’ve mentioned before my affinity for fresh starts and goal-setting. The opportunity to improve upon my performance last semester in a number of areas really excites me – yeah, I know I’m freakin’ weird! As I begin this semester, a quote I read recently stands out to me:

“Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.” -Thomas J. Watson, Sr.

Many of you may have heard this quote before. It stands out to me because of the focus it places on the relationship between external leadership – of others – and internal leadership – of oneself. In college so far, I’ve gotten a couple of opportunities to lead my peers. As I do so, it’s good to remember the importance of leading my own life well if I’m to influence those around me in a positive way.

My goals this semester reflect my desire to lead myself – and consequently, others – in this manner: I want to be disciplined academically and spiritually (and as I study for the LSAT in June – LOTS of discipline will be needed for this one). I want to exercise adequately, work hard in the organizations I’ve involved in, and make time for the relationships I have that make everything worthwhile. Leading myself well each and everyday will be worth it, and I invite you to follow along this semester on my blog!

- Eli

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Reading – It’s Not Just for Kids!

Happy Winter Break! I hope you’re enjoying your time off with family – mine’s on the left!

With the extra time I’ve had over the past two weeks, I’ve been able to catch up on a favorite pastime: reading. If you’re like me, you may be able to remember – WAY back in “the day” – when you first started to read chapter books. After spending much of your first couple years of school advancing your reading skills, being able to read a full-length, “big kid” book seemed pretty cool – I can remember reading a number book series in elementary school, like the Hardy Boys mystery series, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, and eventually my all-time favorite series, the Harry Potter novels. While I really enjoyed these books I’ve mentioned, I didn’t always find reading to be enjoyable. Having to get through an assigned number of books each year by my teachers could make it more of a task on my to-do list than an enjoyable activity.

As I’ve entered college at K-State and gotten busier, I feel I’ve been able to rediscover the enjoyment of reading, and not only that, but the importance of reading everyday for enjoyment, to gain knowledge, to keep up on current events, and in order to be renewed. I think it’s especially important to become a passionate reader in college – reading for fun can give my brain a break in the midst of studying and reading an inspirational autobiography of someone I look up to can help me push through when I’m discouraged. Reading even helped me a lot last year as I worked through my academic major change – I found my love for public policy and legal issues through some of the books I’ve read.

If you’re looking for some books to try out, one genre of reading material in particular has consistently stood out to me: I’m a big fan of a leadership and self-development books. This spring, as a part of Blue Key Senior Honorary, I’ll be teaching a course for freshmen and sophomores called Catalyst. In the self-development training class, we’ll discuss three books, all of which I’ve enjoyed reading so far on Winter Break: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The Other 90% by Robert K. Cooper, and Habitudes by Tim Elmore. Elmore’s book in particular is intriguing – he believes that leadership is best taught using images, so as a visual learner, it’s fun to “re-live my childhood” by learning leadership through the images in his book. Elmore will be coming to campus in February to give a presentation to the student body, and I’m excited to hear more from an author I’ve really come to respect.

Reading – whether it be the news, an enjoyable book, or simply my Twitter feed (I find myself doing this last one A LOT) – can be a great break from the busyness of college. K-State has taught me the importance of being a lifelong learner, and reading is the single best way I know of to learn.

-Eli

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Preparing For Finals

It’s December – wait, what?!?! Since coming to college, my favorite month of the year has at times been far from care-free, brought on largely by the stress of finals week and end-of-the-semester academic requirements. To be honest, I’ve never really felt like my professors asked too much of me – I’ve mostly felt like my prioritizing and time management skills haven’t always quite been up to par. Today, I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve learned so far at K-State for effective end-of-the-semester management – I’m by no means an expert at this, and I’ve often found that just because I know that I should be studying doesn’t necessarily mean I do, so take my advice with a grain of salt! Here goes:

Hale Library - frequent study spot!

1. Prioritize and plan your days: with so many competing classes, work requirements and extra-curricular activities vying for your time, the simple ability to not only make a to-do list, but to make one that is prioritized, is really important. I’ve found that no matter how busy I get or how much studying I have to do, I can find comfort in a list of what I need to get done in order of importance.

2. Be disciplined: once I’ve made my list, reality sets in – I actually have to do it. No matter how good being organized may feel, hard work and discipline is still the one and only essential ingredient in the quest for success. Take your prioritized list one step at a time, take reasonable breaks, and stay active – it’ll be worth it!

3. Sleep, Eat, and Exercise: the boring stuff, right? As fun as pulling all-nighters may seem (OK, maybe people other than me don’t find that fun) and while sacrificing a bit of sleep to study more can occasionally be worth it, it’s just not maintainable over the long haul – at least not that I’ve found. In addition to getting enough sleep (or close to it), healthy eating and exercise are two other important parts of college life – especially at the end of the semester.

So there’s my advice! Nothing earthshaking or incredibly innovative, but rather the truth that I’ve found to work for me. I like a challenge – the opportunity to push myself excites me, and finals week and the end of another semester provides just that!

-Eli

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