Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Being Thankful

It is that time of year again. Next week, many of us will be sitting down with out families, eating a large meal, and giving thanks for all the good things that happened to us over the past year. Not only will I get to celebrate a special meal with my family, but I also will have the opportunity to be in my father's wedding! So it will be an extra thankful and celebratory week for me.

Today, I thought I'd write about some of the many things I am thankful for being a student here at the University of South Alabama.

#1. I am thankful for my major.

At many schools, a degree in meteorology or atmospheric sciences does not exist. I am thankful that South not only has a meteorology program but we have a great meteorology program. I am thankful I've gotten to take, not only required courses such as Physical Meteorology and Dynamic Meteorology, but also elective courses in Meteorological Phenomenology and TV Weather. These courses are truly preparing me for my career and I am thankful for that.

#2. I am thankful for caring professors.

Today, I had a sit down with my Intermediate Spanish professor. We had a slight row earlier in the week, but it is now water under the bridge. We talked, and I realized this professor, despite her being angry with me on Monday, actually cares about my values, interests, and life, despite her being only a teacher for a general education course. I am thankful that I have a professor who cares about my well-being and that wanted to get to know me. It isn't just this professor though. Virtually every professor I've had at South, has cared about me and genuinely wanted to know about me. This has helped made my college experience monumentally better.

#3. I am thankful for coffee and caffeinated beverages

Without coffee, mountain dew, or pepsi, many homework assignments would have gone undone, and tests unstudied for. I am thankful for the existence of these. 'Nough said.

#4. I am thankful for my car.

For some odd reason, waking up for my 9:00am classes has been difficult as of late. I am thankful that I have a car and that South allows all students commuter and resident, in state and out of state, to have a car. It has made my life significantly better.

#5. I am thankful for my elective classes.

If you come in with extra credits or you plan smart, you will have (at least most majors will have) opportunities to take electives outside your major that help with your career plans or interests. I am thankful I've gotten to diversify my education beyond my gen eds by taking courses like: Linear Algebra, Radio and TV Performance, Karate I, Mardi Gras, and next semester, Landscape Processes. I see all of these as opportunities to enhance my resume and prepare me for my career and the world I live in.

#6. I am thankful for true friendship.

For those of you that I have followed my blog since we started, you may have noticed my life today is very different since them. I have joined a fraternity, investing time and effort in to different things, and through my fraternity specifically, made some new, incredible friends. It goes without saying, that had I not come to South Alabama, I never would have meet these guys. I am thankful to know that if I'm hurt, sick, or in danger, I can call them and know they'd be on the way to help. I am thankful to know them and I am thankful to call them my best friends.

So those are six things (or concepts) that I'm thankful for this holiday season. I hope you found this an interesting read and hope you and your family have a joyful and happy Thanksgiving.

On another note, the week following Thanksgiving, will be my last week working as a JagGuide. It has been an honor and pleasure to help many students along their journey and I hope to see y'all on campus. GO JAGS!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Top Favorite Places on Campus

We here at South Alabama have the good fortune of having an amazing campus. From our state of the art academic buildings to our new recreation center. USA has one of nicest campuses one could find. Here is a listing of my top 8 favorite places on campus.

#8. The Life Sciences Building.

This building, home to Earth Sciences, Biology, and Marine Science, is relatively new to my favorite buildings list, as I had really never gone into it until this past summer when I took GIT 460, Intro to Geographic Information Systems. But, anyway, the reason this is among my favorite buildings is because when I walk into this building, I know I'm taking a class relevant toward my field, whether it be Dynamic Meteorology I this semester, or Radar Meteorology next semester, I know walking into this building will lead me to classes that are the building blocks to my career as a meteorologist.

#7. The Student Center

Our student center features a food court (Chick-Fil-A, Quiznos, Pizza Hut, Burger Studio), the USA Bookstore, a Provisions on Demand, and a Java City. There is also ample meeting room space, offices, a computer lab, and ample lounging area. I love the student center because it was recently renovated and it is nice to walk through. I often use the SC as a cut through from the parking lot to Life Sciences. It is also a place where see acquaintances I may not have seen in quite some time.
Student Center Main Entrance

#6. Shelby Hall

Perhaps there is no greater building to have a love-hate relationship with than Shelby Hall. I, for one, hate this building, because my department (Earth Sciences) was not deemed worthy to be in it. But, I also love Shelby Hall because of its professional atmosphere and because I took my favorite math class of all time (MA 237, Linear Algebra I) in one of the classrooms. Shelby also hosts the Meteorology program's SeCAPS (Southeastern Coastal and Atmospheric Processes Symposium) every spring. There is also a Starbucks bodega in Shelby as well. Shelby houses the College of Engineering and the School of Computing. 

Shelby Hall Main Entrance

#5. Jag Gym

I don't have too much to say about about Jag Gym, home to South Alabama Volleyball. I do love the facility (which was recently renovated as well) and enjoy the sport of volleyball.

#4. The Marx Library

Another recent addition to the list, the Marx Library is, simply, our main library. Home to books on virtually every subject and a full-service Starbucks. The library has become a place where I can study peacefully, with its ample study spaces and whiteboards to do problems on. The library, this semester and hopefully beyond, will provide me another place to focus on my studies. 

The Marx Library

#3. The Student Recreation Center (aka the Rec)

I'll just use pictures for this one.


moving on now... 

#2. The Bethel

The Bethel is home to the USA Honors Program, which I am a member of. I still spend a great deal of time relaxing and studying here. I always feel at home and safe in the Bethel. It really has become my home away from home more than my dorm or apartment every could have become. 

My home away from home, The Bethel.
#1. The Mitchell Center

The Mitchell Center is home to our basketball teams, and many of our Meteorology classes, as well as the Coastal Weather Research Center and Meteorology Broadcast Center. This building, like the Bethel, is like home to me. It is here where I first learned about fronts, precipitation processes, and contouring. It is here where I will take Synoptic Meteorology, Atmospheric Analysis, and Severe Weather. I also do AtmosCenter from the Meteorology Broadcast Center. The Mitchell Center also hosts a variety of shows and acts and in 2016, I will graduate in the Mitchell Center. There is no other building I'd rather be in on that day. 


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Activities on Campus!

One great thing about college is the buffet of extracurricular activities and events going on campus. I could write a thesis paper on the number events and activities that go on annually here at USA. Many events, such Chi Omega SongFest, Alpha Omicron Pi's Alpha Male, Pi Kappa Phi's War of the Roses, and Alpha Tau Omega's Cancer Car Bash, are philanthropy events put on by the various Greek Letter organizations on campus. Other events, such as the Homecoming Parade, Fun Fest, and Oozeball are put on as fun events by major campus organizations (SGA, Jaguar Productions, and Southerner's, respectively). Plus, you cannot forget about all of the sporting events on campus, from Football to Soccer, from Basketball to Volleyball, Jaguar sports events are a ton of fun, I personally am proud to say, I have gone to at least one of every spectator sports event for each team (except Tennis). I plan to go to a Tennis match next semester. And finally, there are also many smaller social events put on by various organizations and Greeks that are only for them, such a social events for clubs, swaps, and more!

Personally, my favorite event that I have gone to, just recently happened! It was our homecoming parade this year! I got the honor of riding on the float made by my brothers in Alpha Tau Omega, ladies of Alpha Omicron Pi, and Alpha Kappa Alpha. Our float was "haunted" themed, and I had a blast throwing beads/throws to the crowd, and to my friends and coworkers. It also was fun, because in general parades are awesome, and it's even better when we have them on campus and show school spirit!

When you come to USA, you will definitely find events that are right for you! Your best bet will be to go to as much as you possibly can and never say no to anything. It may just be your new favorite event!

P.S- There are other events that I've gone to/been apart of, too, that I have loved. They include going to see Stevie Starr: The Regurgitator, ATO's swap with Chi Omega (LazerTag), and our course, the ATO Cancer Car Bash. Feel free to message me, if you want to learn more!

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!