When one door closes

At the end of each term, K-State’s Student Governing Association body dedicates its last open period of the meeting to invite senior leaders to give a few last remarks of reflection, gratitude, and even advice accumulated over their years of experience. Although I am not a senior, this meeting marks the last time I will be serving as a Senator for the College of Arts and Sciences and therefore, I feel the need to give a few last concluding remarks. Whether you are currently serving alongside me in the 2013-2014 SGA term, a future leader in student government at K-State, or just a reader who stumbled upon this post: I hope you can take something away from the great deal of influence and impact this organization has had on me, and understand a little more about why it will always hold a special place in my heart. Without further adieu, here it goes:

  1. Do not take the environment for granted.
    •  SGA is a unique organization in that your age, grade, or number of credit hours does not affect the pull that your voice carries. I have never felt so empowered to speak my mind or challenge someone else in debate without feeling judged because of my lack of experience. The Big 12 room allows you to learn so much because you are given an opportunity to do great things from day one—even as an Intern. Use this to your advantage and push yourself to try things that scare you. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to succeed and for believing in me (probably despite your best judgment).
  2. “It’s always been that way”
    • The most important part of our roles as student leaders is to constantly challenge the status quo. Never allow the phrase “it’s always been that way” allow you to be complacent about doing what’s always been done. Einstein always said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Try new things, vote against the rest of the body, and stand up for what’s right, even when it’s not popular. It is your responsibility to represent the underrepresented and be a voice for our constantly evolving, diverse body and always push K-State forward.
  3. Don’t be afraid to love something whole-heartedly.
    • Unapologetically give yourself to something you’re passionate about. Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s wild, it’s scary, and there will be times where your hands are so sweaty you think you might not ever be able to grasp anything ever again. (Maybe that’s just me. Maybe I should get that looked at.) Regardless—there are few times in our lives other than college where we are able to do this as truly and freely as now. The students you will get the opportunity to meet are second to none, and you will learn and be inspired by each and every one of them. Take time to get coffee with that intern. Volunteer to chalk even if you have 1,000 other things to do. Spend those extra ten minutes after the meeting mingling with those you debated against moments earlier. People matter.

If any of you happen to be fellow senators or leaders in SGA, I thank you so much for encouraging me to feel confident in myself to do things I never thought I was capable of. I feel forever indebted for the opportunity I was given to be my authentic self, which allowed me to find my place in an organization amongst leaders quadruple my caliber and become the woman I am today. I’ve learned a great deal from each of you and will forever be grateful these three years which will inspire me for many, many years to come. Thank you for the lessons you’ve taught me and the unforgettable relationships that have cultivated from uniting under a unified passion: serving the best student body in the nation. It’s been an honor, and I’m kind of sorry I was late to so many meetings. Thank you.

Senator Collingwood

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A year in the life

As the new year gently unravels, many tend to reflect upon the past 12 months as a way to bring closure and look ahead to what’s to come. As a self-proclaimed list aficionado, I find myself clicking on almost every “year-end” article shared on Facebook and take great interest in how others recap their year—whether through a list of favorite albums, movies, or even moments in pop culture.  As a college student, all of those things play a large part in my day-to-day life; but as you can probably assume, school plays the main role. In hopes of shedding some light on what a year in college actually looks like, I’m going to share with you a (somewhat Sparknotes) rendition of the most significant moments of my year at K-State:

THE ‘CATS: We kicked off the year by going to watch our beloved ‘Cats battle in the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona. Tons of students road trip down (even though the drive was more than 13 hours!) so it was a blast getting to cheer on our football team with thousands of members of the Family.  Additionally, attending games throughout the year is always a highlight and has created some of my fondest memories.

MAJORS AND MINORS: At the beginning of the year, I finally made the transition from a Marketing major to a Pre-Journalism and Mass Communications student. I begin taking classes in the JMC school in the spring and later applied and officially became an Advertising major in the fall. Although it took me a little longer to finally figure it out, I couldn’t be happier with my academic path and, at last, feel fully connected with my curriculum, fellow students, and faculty.

GREEK LIFE: After falling in love with our chapter’s national philanthropy as a underclassman, I decided to apply for Philanthropy Chair—and was lucky enough to get it! Our chapter has an event each semester, so I was in charge of coordinating both and getting the chapter excited. We helped raise over $6,500 for our national philanthropy, Make-A-Wish, and my position came to a close in December after a full year of hard work. (I also discovered that event planning is definitely NOT my forte.)

STUDENT GOVERNING ASSOCIATION: In late October of 2012, I began working for a team campaigning for Student Body President and Vice President. Campaign season is in full force during January and February, and closes in March. Working as a campaign manager was by far the most challenging, time-consuming leadership position I had ever taken on, but after winning the election and watching two close friends and incredible mentors take office, it quickly solidified my love for student government at K-State and paid off 110%.

In early spring, our organization hosts the K-State Proud campaign, which helps raise money for fellow K-State students who are struggling financially to keep them on campus. I then got to take on the position of Vice President of Membership, which means I basically get to plan fun socials and retreats for our group, along with new member recruitment, selections, and training. In late summer, we took a trip to New Orleans for a national conference where we got to present our organization’s practices and learn from dozens of other similar programs from universities across the nation.

EMPLOYMENT: I spent the year working for New Student Services in Anderson Hall and returned for my 2nd summer serving as a Wildcat Warm-up Counselor for Orientation and Enrollment. Over the course of the year, I was able to give several campus tours, sit on student panels, and help coordinate visits for all of the talented students interested in K-State. Nothing beats the challenge of recruiting the top students to K-State, and hopefully this post has helped express why I’m so passionate about it.

The point of this recap wasn’t to celebrate or show off the feats of my year; rather, to show you how many unbelievable opportunities there are to take advantage of at this university every single day. While I can easily express the things I did over the past year, I cannot even begin to express the personal development I’ve achieved through fully immersing myself in undergraduate life. At the end of the day (or year, I suppose), I owe every ounce of my growth and success to the relationships with the lifelong mentors, leaders, and friends that make this place the unique and special place I will forever call home—from 2013, to 2014, and forever and ever until I’m old and graduated and gray and blogs aren’t even cool anymore.  ‘Cats, man.

xoxo, ellen

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Getting your “phil”

Advice I often find myself giving to prospective students usually runs along the lines of encouraging further exploration and cultivation of passions you already possess. Simply because you are re-planting yourself in a different environment does not mean you should uproot all of the things you’ve grown to love. After first being introduced to the concept of philanthropy through a high school Student Council fundraiser, I developed a deep connection and knew it was going to be an important part of my life for years to come. As soon as I left the comfort of my home community and stepped foot on campus, I began to discover the plethora of opportunities to get involved with philanthropic organizations at K-State.

For those who may not be entirely familiar with philanthropy, I think it can be simply defined as the act of using your unique strengths and talents to help others. Sounds like fun, huh? Here’s some awesome, on-campus outlets for your philanthropic passion:

    breakdown: Student Foundation members serve as ambassadors of philanthropy for the entire University. They work closely with donors who give to K-State, and work to promote a general attitude of philanthropy about our campus. Fun fact: Student Foundation also hosts K-State Proud, a student-ran philanthropic campaign that has raised over $650,000 to help keep fellow Wildcats who are struggling financially on campus. NEAT-O, RIGHT?
    website: http://www.found.ksu.edu/student-foundation/
    website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-State-Proud/110300745700043 

    (Hey, that girl looks kinda familiar! This was a short spot that was actually played at a home football game to a crowd of 50,000. My very short and sweet 15 minutes of fame, guys.)

    breakdown: Relay For Life, a national philanthropy dedicated to raising funds for the American Cancer Society, is an incredible event that you may have even participated in before in your hometown. Our RFL crew at K-State have a blast planning different events throughout the year, and throw one heck of a party on the night of the actual Relay which is at our Memorial Stadium.
    website: https://www.facebook.com/RFLofKSU
    breakdown: Each and every fraternity and sorority at K-State holds philanthropy events for various causes. As a member of the Greek community, I have been able to become the philanthropy chair of my chapter and get to plan events for the entire Greek, K-State, and Manhattan communities to take part in. Whether you aspire to become the philanthropy chair or simply wish to volunteer, Greek life offers tons of incredible opportunities to get in touch with your inner philanthropist.
    website: http://www.k-state.edu/greek/index.html

At the end of the day, it’s always best to fill the cups of others. While you’re at it, why not “phil” yours too by doing a little philanthropy work?

xoxo, ellen

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Nailing the interview

While your campus tour guide might have told you about all of the great job opportunities available to K-State students or the 475+ organizations we offer to get involved in, they might not have mentioned that some of these things require an interview process to get in. For those of you (much like myself) whose heartbeat began racing and muscles tensed at the mere mention of the word “interview”, I’ve compiled a list of tips that have been shared with me over the past three years of my college career to help subside the panic and do your best in these challenging events.

After high school, several interviews will be built around “behavioral-based” questions. If you’re anything like me, I was clueless as to what that event meant, let alone how to go about answering them. With a little help from our friend Google, you can search the most commonly asked questions—and then think about how you would answer them. While you won’t know exactly what your interviewer will ask, you can at least anticipate possible questions and avoid being completely bewildered.

One of the most helpful things I did for myself in regards to prepping for behavioral-based questions was essentially mapping out major leadership or life experiences that have had a significant impact on who I am/how I lead. Brainstorm times you did really well on a group project or achieved a tough goal. After that, think of times you really blew it. And no—I’m not kidding! We experience the greatest lessons by failing big-time, and then bouncing back and learning from it. Potential employers and organizations want to know that yes, you are capable of achieving, but also that you are able to accept your mistakes and show resilience.

This one might be second-nature, but always be prepared to speak to why you are best fit for the position you’re interviewing for. Hint: don’t simply say “because I want it!” Think about your strengths and skill set and relate those things to the position description. Use specific examples as to how your strengths would play out well in said position.

While you can run yourself ragged trying to prepare for questions and anticipate every situation you might face, that’s only half the battle. I’ve felt incredibly prepared for an interview, but then blew it because I got no sleep the night before or was flustered when I entered the room. Get good rest the night before. Eat your favorite breakfast. Wear your snazziest blazer. Show up early and give yourself time to focus, whether that means a little pre-interview meditation, a mini self pep-talk, or simply time to focus your energy. It’ll pay off.

Last but not least—let your personality shine through everything you do. Don’t be afraid to be yourself! An employer or organization would much rather have someone who can be honest and genuine over a robot who answers every question with precise execution.

Remember that practice makes perfect, and that the more interviews you go through, the more comfortable they get. Ask for advice from others who have gone through similar things. Always be learning. Always be improving.

xoxo, ellen

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Tests, life, and the like

As I sat in Hale anticipating my first accounting test, I stared blankly at the closed textbook in front of me; notes strewn across the table, blank notecards standing in a neat stack, and my highlighter sitting with its cap on. For some reason, instead of diving in to analyzing bank reconciliations and internal control procedures, remnants of my professor’s test preparation tips swam about my thoughts. He explained that this test won’t be like most tests. (Cue panic mode.) It will challenge us to not just regurgitate the material, but truly understand and comprehend it. He encouraged us to push ourselves to think past the course material and think about what the information truly means, not merely what it says. The class’s pre-test tension was high, and his advice was met with puzzled looks and sighs of anxiety.

The more I reflected on his test style and advice, the more I began to think about the incredible lesson lying beneath this moment. Many times we cringe when approaching a test with anything but multiple choice questions, but think about it:

How many times in life are there 4 perfectly concise options laid out before making a tough decision?

If you’re anything like me, such situations are few and far between. Most times in life, we are faced with tough decisions and must make them without full knowledge of all possible options or much time for reflection. In that moment, I understood: this professor has our best interest in mind, and is making a conscious effort to better equip us for the real world; not some world in which we answer to option B, or option C. This test serves as a beautiful example of what college is about. It isn’t about memorizing bulleted lists or terms to get an A on a test—-it’s about growing to become better at handling tough situations, learning from our mistakes, and using things that appear at first to be obstacles (accounting tests) as opportunities for growth. I then opened my textbook, picked up my highlighter, and began to study.

In summation: the next time a professor tells you their test “won’t be like most tests”, smile to yourself and be grateful for the opportunity.

xoxo, ellen

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When the going gets tough

Although I’m at the happiest campus in the nation, studying a subject I absolutely love, surrounded by incredible mentors and friends, and in the midst of Wildcat Football season—there are times when I really want to just curl up in a unproductive, pathetic ball and hibernate for a few weeks. To be candid, returning back to the school grind for the third year has lost a little of its luster. Here are three reminders that I keep in my toolbox that have been getting me through:

You’re not alone.
Every college student goes through droughts of motivation. Don’t let the perceived success and happiness of others make you feel inadequate! Keep pushing through, and either find comfort in knowing that there are others feeling the same, or derive inspiration from those who seem to attack apathy with vigor and persistence. Ask those who seem successful what they do, and try it for yourself.

Find your happy place.
Mine involves most places with puppies or large bodies of water. You wanna know the great thing? It doesn’t have to be an actual physical place! Your happy place is anything that re-energizes you, takes your mind off of stress, or simply helps you be you. For some, it means going on a long run. For others (me), it could be eating chocolate. Regardless of what it takes—seek out your happy place, and know where to access it when you’ve hit a brick wall.

Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Sometimes you bite off a little more than you can chew. Sometimes you underestimate how much preparation you need before an important presentation. Sometimes you spill coffee all over yourself and don’t have time to fix it. Remind yourself that despite what your mother might have told you, sometimes, you are simply human. Think about what you can learn from your mistakes and promise next time, you’ll do a little better.

These are great for me, but what are your vices for dealing with those times you run into personal obstacles? Feel free to share—I’m always seeking inspiration. For now, I’m off to indulge in a sea of Accounting homework. (You can find me in Hale trying to take my own advice.)

xoxo, ellen

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Class of ’17: Full speed ahead

In high school, it’s commonly said that a freshman should move swiftly, only speak when spoken to, and be seen and NOT heard. In college, however, the rules seem to shift completely—and the incoming class of K-Staters aren’t waiting around for someone to fill them in.

As the way we communicate continues to progress rapidly through the help of social media, Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram are all key players in the way we get our message out. Now more than ever, these tools are used to build bridges and establish networks from houses, states, and even countries away. On Twitter in particular, the incoming class of freshmen have used the platform to make themselves heard, culture new friendships, and gush about all things EMAW (which you know I can’t resist). I’ve been blown away by the social media presence of these students, and they aren’t even on Manhattan soil yet!

Here’s a few tweets:
(and my personal favorite:)

Want more?! Go check out @KSUclassof17! If that doesn’t stir up a little excitement or Wildcat pride, I don’t know what will. Oh, and:

Hey class of ’17: keep it up.

xoxo, ellen


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Warming up (in more ways than one).

Good evening, friends!

After a year-long break, I’m SO excited to be back doing two of my absolute favorite things: actively writing my K-State story, and sharing it with all of you. Sophomore year is officially in the books and delivered tons of new experiences, a bit of fresh perspective, and quite possibly a little wisdom as well.

Red White and Bluemont, 1st Weekend

After the incredible time I had last summer, I decided to return as a Wildcat Warm-up counselor for K-State Orientation and Enrollment. As a counselor, I had the privilege of connecting with three weekends full of bright incoming freshmen and helping warm them up to their new home. After reflecting on the advice I found myself repeatedly offering, I’ve summed them up into three items. They are:

  1. REACH OUT - There are endless “firsts” during freshman year that can sometimes be challenging. The greatest thing about this? You don’t have to go it alone! Rejoice in not knowing what the heck you’re doing—you are never alone, and there is always someone waiting around the corner with open arms to help you. Those who aren’t afraid to ask for help are the first to succeed.
  2. GEEK OUT -  College is about discovering (or further capitalizing on) the things you love. For me, it was finally finding a field of study that allows me to use my love for communication and connecting with others in a strategic, direct way—and while others might think that sounds boring, I’m a big, shameless nerd about it. So whether it’s in a Chemistry lab, in a Student Senate meeting, or during that last touchdown of your flag football game, find a way to “geek out”—and don’t be sorry about it.
  3. GET OUT – of your routine, that is. My favorite memories from freshman year were not spent in my room or even class—they were spontaneous adventures of exploring MHK, taking weekend trips out of town, or staying up all night for heart-to-hearts with new friends. Make time to work—but don’t forget to make time to play!

In close, it’s important I note that these are merely discoveries from my own trials and errors. Your unique experiences and interactions will help you build your own tips and tricks for success—and they may be completely different than mine!
So now, go out and make mistakes. Lots of ‘em.

xoxo, ellen


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Alma mater

I’ve recently began defining my inclination to develop intense, short-term obsessions over things as having an ‘addictive’ personality. I credit this post to my recent ‘addiction’ to the Latin language.

Here I am, sifting through hundreds of Latin phrases, simply amazed at the beauty this language has contributed to the spoken one we claim as our own today. As I’m searching, I come across “Alma mater”. Visions of strangers huddled close together, embracing one another, bound by the song we all share a deep connection with arise in my mind; along with the tune that instantly began streaming in my head:

I know a spot that I love full well,
‘Tis not in forest nor yet in dell;
Ever it holds me with magic spell,
I think of thee, Alma Mater…

The feelings that swept over me instantaneously were not what sparked this post—it was the words I read upon the screen soon after. It was this: “Alma mater” translates into “nurturing mother”. Alma mater was used as a title to different motherly goddesses or figures in ancient Rome…how incredibly fitting is that as the title of which we address our university?

Kansas State is so much more than a higher education institution. While it has countless impressive offerings in academics—its true wealth lies in the deep nurturing it provides to anyone who walks its grounds. K-State instills a drive to serve something bigger than yourself. It inspires you to volunteer your time and talents to aid in your own personal growth and development while giving back to those you share a community with. At this University, when you find that you’ve lost your way, you will find new lights to guide your path in an entirely new direction. The second you reach out your hand when you’re in need, you will receive tenfold in return, with hearts yearning to help you back on your feet. It provides you not only with a safe, welcoming home, but a network full of people who share similar wants and needs who are there to support you through and through.

For future students: I cannot wait for you to join this family. You have so much to look forward to, and you also have some high expectations. I hope you come, find your niche, and hit the ground running; K-State will build you into a better person from the very start of your journey here. Never be afraid to reach out to others for guidance—rest assured you are at a place that hosts open arms and a true sense of belonging to all.

For the students whose time is up: each and every one of you have made a lasting impression on this University. Through its direction and teachings, you have left behind a continuing legacy of excellence. I say with full sincerity and confidence that Manhattan is a better place because of you. And at least for those of you who have made a direct impact on my own life—I cannot thank you enough for the hope and inspiration you’ve provided to fuel me through the rest of my time left. It’s sad to see you go, but all that you’ve learned from the spot that we love full well will take you to incredible places.

Maybe it’s graduation or maybe just finals that are the cause for all of this sap. Regardless, it’s a pretty emotional time. As a close to my freshman year—I end with a heart full of hope and great pride that I can call this place home.

KSU, we’ll carry thy banner high.
KSU, long, long may thy colors fly.
Loyal to thee, thy children will swell the cry.
Hail, hail, hail, Alma Mater.

xoxo, ellen

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For the love of the ‘Ville.

SPRING BREAK 2012. Literally music to my ears. Finally—-a chance to get away from all of the routine schoolwork and other responsibilities and take off to a faraway, exotic destination. Right?

Well, not exactly.
The majority of my break was actually spent right here at home in MHK. While the town comes alive during the school months, there is a certain beauty that flourishes after all of the students vacate. Instead of blogging about the beautiful beach I visited or mountains I skied, I’m going to tell you all about my 5 favorite spots that I spent time at in Manhattan’s very own historic shopping and dining district: Aggieville. The great thing for students is that it’s within a block from campus!


ACME GIFT - I am a total sucker for quirky gifts. With that being said—–Acme Gift definitely delivers. Their store houses a variety of whimsical objects ranging from giant blow-up mounted deer heads to moustache pint glasses. It’s impossible to choose a favorite part about Acme—-but their floral arrangements are TO DIE FOR. They are beautiful, unique, and very simple to order and get
delivered. (Hint, fellas.) Whether you’re seeking a thoughtful gift for a friend or just a book with cute cat pictures, Acme is the answer.


VARSITY DONUTS – Varsity is a relatively new addition to the ‘Ville—-but it might be one of the most anticipated ventures to start up within the past few years. (For me, anyways.) Without much need for explanation–this place RULES. They have classic selections, but also adventurous treats like Red Velvet, Flat Tire (Oreo extravaganza), Maple Bacon–and, dollar coffee. $1! In addition to donuts, the place hosts Scrabble and ping pong tournaments, donut decorating parties, and even rents out their vintage bicycles. Plus, it makes the entire 4-block radius smell like sugary donut heaven.

SO LONG SALOON – So Long’s is a delicious restaurant and bar that’s known for their incredible burgers and great atmosphere–even though the place is relatively small in square footage. The menu is full of western lingo that will definitely crack you up–example: The Chipotle Raspberry Black Bean Dip (my favorite item on the menu) pictured to your right is explained as such: “Topped w/zesty chz to make yer buds tingle. Tortilla chips on da side fer sum crunch.” I’m drooling now, so, there’s that.

THREAD – THREAD is yet another insanely unique and adventurous business in Aggieville. Their main game is custom-made t-shirts, but they also do stickers, window vinyl, and just as of late, headbands! Just bring in an idea and their creative staff will help you design exactly what you’re looking for. Personally, I’m a big fan of anything with old-school Willie on it. WARNING: visiting frequently will result in an urge to make matching group t-shirts for every event in your life.

BLUESTEM BISTRO – Bluestem is a wonderful locally-owned coffee shop that has great food, great coffee, and is one of my absolute favorite study spots. On top of being delicious, their baristas are extremely friendly. (If I had that easy of access to caffeine all day, I would probably be the same way.) Lunch specials, which are usually only $5, are tweeted daily from their Twitter account. (Follow them here!)


So, there they are! I must admit, picking only 5 was pretty challenging. If you aren’t familiar with Aggieville, a visit is now in high order—get out there, explore, and discover your own fave 5!

xoxo, ellen

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