Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Favorite Class(es)!!!

Today, I though I'd write about my favorite class that I've taken over my two plus years here at USA. One would think that with (after this semester) over ninety credit hours, I would have one course that truly stands above the rest, but I don't. Instead there are three awesome courses I've taken!

#1. Spring 2013- MA 126H Calculus II-H with Dr. Daniel Silver

As a meteorology major, I need a ton of math. As an honors student, I need to courses with H suffixes, too. This class fulfilled both, and boy was it one of my favorites! I was lucky enough to have Dr. Silver for Calc 1, 2, and 3, but my Calc 2 class stood out in my mind for a few reasons. First, the class was small. I believe we only had twelve students in there. Second, the content was, to me, really interesting. Calculus II includes the study of integrals and their applications, sequences and series, and polar coordinates. All three of topics were, difficult, yet still awesome in their own way. The concepts I learned in Calculus II came back to help me tremendously in Differential Equations and multiple of my upper level meteorology courses. Dr. Silver was also, easily, one of the best teachers/professors I've ever had. He was smart, witty, and a fair grader, would wanted his students to succeed. Unfortunately, Dr. Silver will be retiring at the end of next semester, so I will be unable to have him again. :(

#2. Fall 2013- MET 353 General Meteorology with Mr. Andrew Murray

This was my first three hundred level course here at USA, and was also probably the most rigorous of my sophomore year. This was the meaty meteorology course that covered a ton of topics such as basic meteorological instrumentation, development of highs and lows, precipitation processes, storm development, and a whole ton more! In this course, I not only learned concepts of meteorology, but even in my second course in the field, I learned to apply them through DiFax map, skew-t, and RAOB analysis, weather briefings, basic forecasting assignments, and case studies. This course made me really look forward to more upper level courses in meteorology and my future career in general.

#3. Fall 2014- MET 356 Physical Meteorology with Dr. Chad Shafer

Ha. Haha. Ha. No. This class is definitely not one of my favorites. In fact, I dread it. But, if there is one class where I feel like I'm going to walk out after the final, knowing that I learned something. The class is very, very difficult, likely the hardest 300 level course at USA. Think of a thermodynamics course on steroids and applied to the atmosphere. Yeah, doesn't it sound like fun! But, the class, while hard, is teaching me a lot. During exams, quizzes, and problem sets, I've had many "lightbulb" moments. Chad is also very easy going ,witty, and wants us to genuinely learn, not just regurgitate information.

No matter how hard or rigorous the coursework, I know I will always love meteorology!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

South Alabama! U-S-A! School Spirit!

Happy homecoming week future Jaguars! As most of you, campus has been very busy this week with homecoming and getting pumped up for this Saturday's football game against Georgia State in "The Clash of the Claws". This week has been filled with exciting events (such as Fun Fest, Junk the Jungle and the Homecoming Parade) and philanthropic (such as the canned food drive), each pitting various student organizations, Greek and non-Greek against another.As a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, I get the honor of being in the Greek competition along with the women of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority incorporated. I like to joke that "Three alphas are better than one", as all three of our organizations start with the letter, Alpha.

However, homecoming is not just about football or competition. It is about school spirit, culminating with the football game and USA Day on Saturday, October 18th. This week there is just that extra "pep" in everyone's step and Jaguar red and South blue just seem to pop a little bit more. Today, I am going to talk about a few ways throughout the year that we show our school spirit!

#1. JagWear

Most USA students own a significant number of South Alabama t-shirts in varying shades of blue and red, and lord knows how many colors. Personally, I probably have 15 shirts with a Jaguar head or that say South Alabama on them, in addition to multiple sweatshirts, a fishing shirt, and a polo. But, any who, at many sporting events the athletic department's marketing people throw shirts in the stands. I have caught far too many at games and at this point, just give them away!

#2. The JagSwag App

A great way to show your school spirit is to download the JagSwag app. JagSwag is a smartphone app that allows you to check-in to various sporting events (and other events) to earn points, which as you accumulate them, your accquire "JagSwag", or various South Alabama themed items, such as koozies, t-shirts, polos, and more! You can also earn discounts at Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers and other local businesses as well. There is also space on the app to upload fan pictures at various events, as well.

#3. Everything is #Jag!

If you are a New Orleans Saints' fan, you are part of Who Dat Nation. But, if you are a South Alabama fan or student, you are part of #JagNation, which is Jagtastic, of course. USA students are known for affixing "Jag" to parts of colloquial words and phrases, just like Jagtastic above. Many student initiatives such as JagSmart, and JagBikes also follow the same themes. We also have a population Jag hashtage, too. #JagNation. The Sun Belt conference even uses it when they post about South! Using these phrases and hashtags is a great way to show your Jaguar spirit!

I hope these give you a basic idea of school spirit! But, remember how you represent USA is your own thing. Whether it is Jaguar print t-shirts or a red, white, and blue wig, let your school spirit, shine!

A great way to show school spirit is to download this app!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Experiences as a Member of JagNation

The University of South Alabama has offered me a ton of experiences that I would not trade for the rest of the world, and a good majority of them never, ever, would have happened if I hadn't come to USA. I'm going to talk about some these incredible experiences to encourage you to think about what type of experiences college can do for you.

#1. Added seven (soon to be eight) state to my "States I've Been To List".

I love to travel, and by choosing to go to South Alabama, I've added seven (soon to be eight) new states on my list (which currently lists total of 28), many of which I wouldn't have knocked off until later in life. The states I've been to since January 2012 (when I basically decided to come to South), are: Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, West Virginia, Louisiana, Kentucky, and South Carolina. This November I'll be adding Colorado to my list, when I attend the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference in Denver. All of these states have been apart of my travels while in college, and while for local students, it may be hard to add this many states to your "visited" list, motivate yourself to plan trips during breaks to new and exciting places, even in states you've been to.

#2. Experienced Mardi Gras

One of the best things about coming to USA is Mardi Gras. Mobile is home to the famous celebration, and along with New Orleans, is one to most known celebrations. I have been to over twenty parades in my two years and I look forward to adding to that list over the next two. Mardi Gras parades and themed events are among my favorites. I now have more beads than I ever needed and consumed far more King Cake than I thought imaginable.

Mardi Gras is one of my favorite holidays and something I never would have gotten to experience if I hadn't come to South.
#3. Help start a new chapter of a fraternity

As some of you may know, last Spring, I was offered a bid to be a founding father of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity's colony here at South Alabama. Thus far, it has been monumentally rewarding helping to set the course for ATO and get the Greek experience but in a relatively different way. I've been honored to have great brothers and to have met many great men and women in other Greek organizations. Had I gone somewhere else, more than likely I would not have gone Greek.

Had I not come to USA, I would not have had the honor to help found the USA Colony of ATO.
#4. Go to this place (see picture). 
Gulf Shores, AL.
I had no clue this beautiful place existed, until I came to South. Obviously, going to Gulf Shores wasn't on the agenda had I gone elsewhere.

#5. Watch a football team grow from a transitional FBS member to full member

One rather cool thing that I got to experience was the development of our football team from my first semester when we went 2-11 to last year when we were bowl eligible at 6-6. It's been really neat to see the City of Mobile embrace the Jags and watch the team improve. Up to this point, I have never missed a home game, and save one I have to for personal reasons this November, I don't plan on missing any until I graduate. Had I gone elsewhere, this definitely wouldn't have been my experience.

Watching our football team develop has been a very different experience. 
#6. Win the Ernest Hollings Scholarship through NOAA.

I was fortunate enough last Spring to have been rewarded the Ernest Hollings Scholarship through NOAA. Among the most prestigious scholarships in the country, the Hollings gives my internship and research opportunities, travel funding, and of course, the opportunity to meet other bright young people in my and related fields. I met a ton of awesome people through this, and had I gone elsewhere, my odds of winning, probably would have been lower, as some of the schools limited their applicant numbers. I also am now working with three current students on their applications.

I'm in the back, straight up from the second 's' in scholars.
These are just some of the most important and exciting things that happened to me these past two years. For each person, there experiences will be different, but it is how we live and enjoy them, not how we compare them, that is most important.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What Should You Be Doing Now?

Already it is the end of September! Time really does fly, now doesn't it? By this point, you should be a little over a month into your senior year of High School, and at this point, you should be doing a few things to get yourself ready for college. I have a few of them for you, but please note this list is NOT exhaustive.

#1. Taking the ACT and/or SAT

Most students take the ACT/SAT during the Spring of their junior year. But, many students like taking it again Fall of their senior year to try to boost their score up in order to increase their scholarships, likelihood of getting accepted, among other reasons. If you do take either of these tests now, make sure you send them our way right away! Remember, USA will take your highest score from one test date (i.e we do not super score). Our SAT school code is 1880. Our ACT school code is 0059.

#2. Preparing for AP (Advanced Placement) exams

Yes, I know AP testing isn't until May, but beginning basic preparations now, can mean the difference between a 2 and a 5. During High School, I took six AP exams (Chemistry, US History, Physics B, Spanish Language, US Government, and Calculus AB), and I did quite well on some (US History) and well, mediocre on others (Physics and Chemistry). But, starting your preparations for these tests now will make spending the money on the exam worth while and will make the exam go that much better. You can start making flash cards on material from early chapters, and you also can take practice tests, particularly if you have some knowledge on the subject before hand (for example, if you took a Government or Political Science course before AP US Government, you may be able to get through a practice test or two). You also can look at some old released exams to figure out the format of the test and get used to the way the questions are worded.

These books and flash cards are your friends as you prepare for the ACT, SAT, and AP exams.

#3. Passing your senior year classes

I'm not going to dwell on this one. Just do well in them, Avoid senioritis. Make the honor roll like you did the past three years. You'll be that much more prepared for college. I promise you it.

Have that good grade swag
#4. Preparing to apply for scholarships

While most outside scholarships for high school seniors are not open to application until later in the Fall. You can start searching now. Many national companies (e.g Dunkin Donuts, Lowes, Burger King, Pepsi, and more) often offer competitive scholarships worth quite a bit of money (some as much as $20,000), so it can never be too early to identify ones that you wish to apply for. Also look for scholarships from organizations in your prospective major (e.g American Meteorological Society for a Meteorology major, American Chemical Society for Chemistry majors, etc.) and from your high school. There are literally millions of dollars out there in FREE MONEY that you just got to research out and grab!

Apply for FREE MONEY!!!

#5. Figuring out the requirements for special programs

The University of South Alabama offers a plethora of special and competitive programs for entering freshman, such as the Honors Program, the College of Medicine Early Acceptance Program (COMEAP), the College of Nursing Early Acceptance Program (CONEAP), and many others. These programs typically require an ACT composite score of a 27 or higher, a GPA above a 3.5, and a strong resume. However, you cannot apply for any of these things until you...


The single most important thing you should be doing is applying to college, and specifically, The University of South Alabama. It's best to do your applying early, so you have the best opportunities to snag University scholarships, financial aid, housing options, orientation slots, and so much more! Apply today!
(pictured: Shelby Hall, College of Engineering and School of Computing)
These are just a few of the many things you should be doing right now while in High School.  As said before, this list is not exhaustive, but hopefully gave you a few reminders on things you should be doing!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Transitions, transitions, transitions!

During my high school volleyball practices, practice would conclude with a drill called "Transitions". This drill, simply, would commence with our coach sending a free ball of the net to the varsity side (the drill will varsity v. junior varsity), and they (varsity) would have to play the (now) live ball. The rally would continue until the play was dead. This drill would then be repeated until varsity scored 35-75 points, depending on the mood of the team and coaches. Part of this drill, for me, was not just the transitions occurring on the court, but the transition from the other portions of practice, where there was minimal free time, to this portion, where, as only 12 of about 30 players on the team would be on the floor, there was significantly more free time. College, if you can believe it, is the same way.

The first 80% of practice was composed of stretching, warm ups, jogging, drills, specific game prep, scouting other teams and more, and was long, mentally and physical arduous, and most of all, back to back to back, with little free time (outside getting water). The remaining 20% of practice was transitions, and there practice 'transitioned' to a time where there was more free time. That first 80% is high school, where you have so many different things going on, that free time is virtually absent. College is like that last 20% (and the way time flies, it feels like that's about much you're in college compared to high school), where you still have stuff to do, but you now have free time that you have the responsibility to manage.

When, I first got to South, I had no clue what to with free time. My freshman classes were rather easy to me (outside MET 140 and PH 201), and I spent most of my free time at the rec or sleeping. I'm fairly confident that I averaged 10-12 hours of sleep a night my freshman year. Now, as a Junior, my classes are incredibly difficult, plus I have a job, in a Fraternity, involved in multiple organizations, do research, and on a student meteorologist team, free time is rare, and in very few interspersed bits.

The best way to manage free time is to have a planner. In that planner, write EVERYTHING down, both academic and fun. Use this to make sure you aren't double booked, too overwhelmed in one week, etc. Another great way to manage free time is to have a wipe off board that you update weekly with every major assignment, event, or meeting you have that week. I currently do this, and my board has: MET 356 test M, LG 231 quiz M, Mortar Board meeting M 7:15, MET 410 paper due T, ATO Exec. Board Meeting 7:00 R (Thursday), MET 354 SI 7:30 R, LG 231 quiz F, Work MWR. Now, other than you viewing my incredibly busy schedule, this allows me to know when I have time to work in other smaller homework assignments, time with friends, service hours, etc. It is extraordinarily helpful to do this, and have been very helpful for me as well.

I never thought I'd compare volleyball to going to college... but, I did!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


So for those of who haven't heard... perhaps ignored the massive billboards in Mobile and the surrounding area, or just plain ole' don't follow USA Football yet...

South Alabama Jaguars v. Mississippi State Bulldogs. This Saturday. Three PM. Ladd-Peebles.

and guess what...


That's the truth. While there will be some State fans there, they will fail in comparison to likely over 35,00 Jaguar fans, rooting for the Jags in biggest game in program history, our first home game versus an SEC opponent. I think we're going to win. Vegas does not. But, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and that includes this nonsense of a 14 point spread against us.

If I were to write this a week from today, something that happens at this game would be my greatest memory of jaguar football. But, in preparation for South v. State, I thought I'd share a couple great memories I've had with our Jaguar football team.

Texas-San Antonio @ South Alabama. Saturday, September 1, 2012.

This was my first South Alabama sporting event. It was an incredible atmosphere. While the game was moved from the Thursday night prior due to the effects of Hurricane Issac on the northern gulf coast, the crowd will still quite large, and despite our loss, it was one of the most fun games I'd gone to. It was so fulfilling to cheer for our Jags and to go crazy in the student section.

Troy @ South Alabama. Saturday, September 29, 2012.

This was our first football matchup against our arch rival, the Troy Trojans. I painted my chest for this game with the letter "U" as part of spelling "South in yo mouth!", where mouth was a picture drawn on a friend's chest. It was pouring rain, and while we lost, there was no better moment than watch the Troy players, coaches, and fans groan whenever we did something good. As a USA student, you will learn that "We Hate Troy!" and our rivalry will be better than the school in Tuscaloosa v the school near Opelika.

Florida Atlantic @ South Alabama. Saturday, October 20, 2012.

Unlike these previous two games, WE WON! This was our first win over an FBS and Sun Belt opponent, and best of all, it was on our homecoming. Outside the Troy game, the atmosphere has never been better (at least until Saturday against State). The victory was sweet because many pundits were saying we were going to lose, and that we were destined to be 1-12 (we had a previous win against Nicholls State, one of my least favorite games that I've gone to). But, we did it . We won.

South Alabama @ Tulane. Saturday, September 7, 2013.

Moving into game two of this season, things were looking pretty bleak for us. We had lost the week prior to Southern Utah, and many pundits said we might go 2-10 or worse. But, I, along with many USA students, faculty, and alumni took the Mercedes-Benz Superdome by storm in New Orleans, to watch South play the improving Green Wave of Tulane. We led big early, get close in the 3rd quarter, and watched us hold on for the win. At the time, it was the biggest win in school history (first non-conference away FBS victory). Little did we know, there was more history to make.

Western Kentucky @ South Alabama. Saturday, September 14, 2013.

This was yet another game, where my chest was painted, this time an "S" for "USA Jaguars!" The game was easily one of my favorites I've been, too. The student section was wild and loud, and WKU couldn't handle us, most of the game. Stupid errors by our Jags kept it close, but in the end, the Jags held on. The students and fans went nuts. For the second time in two weeks, history was made. This time, we earned our first win against a team who was bowl bound the year prior. Not too shabby.

Louisiana-Monroe @ South Alabama. Saturday, November 23, 2013.

By this point, the Jags are 3-6: wins over Tulane, WKU, and Kent St, losses to Southern Utah, Tennessee, Arkansas St, Navy, Texas St, and Troy. Every pundit has us out again. But, no student nor fan nor coach nor player thought that.We were determined to be 6-6, and bowl eligible, in the first year we possibly can be. On the coldest day of the Fall, where attendance was light because the cold, the Jags played like they were on Lambeau Field in Green Bay in January, frozen and determined to win. I got the honor of kicking the promotional field goal between the first two quarters (I missed badly, and my foot hurt), but in the end, the Jags beat the very decent ULM Warhawks and moved to 4-6.

Louisiana-Lafayette @ South Alabama. Saturday, December 7, 2013.

We're 5-6. The week prior, a thumping of Georgia State, put us one win away from bowl eligibility. On the Saturday before finals, the student section was small, freezing, and passionate, on a frigid (somehow) gulf coast December day. The Jags were in control early and stayed in control the entire game, winning 30-8, defeating the co-Sun Belt champs, and putting a mark in the history books, becoming bowl eligible for the first time at 6-6.

So, there are some recaps of my top experiences of the past two years and I look forward to adding five more awesome experiences this year in the five games I plan to go to (I already have a pardon for Kicker Aleem Sunnanon, for missing USA v. Navy, for I'll be at a wedding). It all starts Saturday against Mississippi State. And, as a USA student, you will be able to get these experiences and plenty more! GO JAGS! #BEATSTATE #GOJAGS

Gameday at Ladd-Peebles during the 2012 season.
Imagine this place packed with 40,000 for South v. State.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A major life transition: High School to College

Today, I am going to talk about my transition from high school to college. As most know, transitions in life are never usually easy. Often times, these transitions, simple (or not so simple) life changes, often result in changes within you, as a person. I, for one, experiences a lot of change, as I began my career as a South Alabama student.

Definitely, the hardest part about transitioning from high school to college was living so far from my family. My closest family members live nowhere close to Mobile, so I learn to learn to cope with being far away from them and texting, along with e-mail, snail mail, and phone calls being enough to stay close. Luckily, my family didn't want to let me go so easy, so I stay in contact with my parents and grandparents on a weekly basis. But it is definitely difficult for short breaks, when many of my friends leave, and I am stuck alone.

Another difficult part of my transition was having to work part-time. Previously, I had only worked during the summer, as my mother wanted me to focus on getting good grades and being involved in sports and music in high school. Luckily, I found the awesome opportunity to help future jaguars find their homes at South Alabama, and have done so for two years now. But, it was definitely difficult at first to balance classwork, a social life, a part-time job, and sleep, without going absolutely insane.

One portion of my transition that was difficult, but recently was solved with the Mobile Area's (until October 2013) dearth of Dunkin' Donuts. Yes, yes... I know, Krispy Kreme is quite popular here, but their coffee, "bleh". I went through most of my junior year and all of my senior year of high school with a cup on Dunkin coffee in hand in the mornings. So, as one can imagine, my first year and a couple months were inordinately difficult with out my favorite coffee regularly available (thankfully, there was one in Biloxi, MS that I would stop at while traveling West). But, this difficultly all changed in October when a DD opened across the bay in Daphne, and I had my favorite coffee in Mobile. Better yet, my return to Mobile after Christmas break included  me seeing an open Dunkin Donuts on Airport Blvd! I am now a frequent guest there, and it my understanding that two more are being built here. So what was once a horrific and painful transition, is now just plain exciting.

One easy thing about my transition was the classwork. In high school I took accelerated, honors, and AP courses to prepare myself for college, and boy, they did prepare me.While college courses were different, I found that those high level courses prepared me for college level work, and more importantly (in some cases) helped put me ahead in my classes, allowing more time to relax and get used to living in the South. Overall, I found my freshman year classes to relatively easy (outside Calc-Based Physics I), and I owe it all to my high school coursework.

Perhaps the easiest (and most enjoyable) transition was getting used to having the beautiful beaches of gulf coast within a 90 minute drive. I have taken many beach trips and while occasionally, I come back a little redder than I'd like to be, there is still nothing better than knowing the vacation-esque relaxation is a short drive away.

So those were my trials and tribulations of transitioning from high school to college, along with some things that were easy to adjust to. You will find that transitioning to college is different for everyone, and each of us, individually takes it a different way.

The easiest part of my transition to college? How about having this 90 minutes away?
(Picture of Gulf Shores, AL)