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Features

Volume 85 (Fall 2013 - Spring 2014)

Ten Commandments of College Life

As a graduating senior, I have had my share of experiences at the University. Whether it was finding myself at McDonalds for midnight dollar big macs, all night sessions in the library, painting splatter paint squares at 3 am (long story), or explaining to all my peers  and professors why I had a cast on my hand in class  when it had not been there 48 hours before (even longer story).  With less than two months left before I walk across the stage at PNC and shake President Paul Brown’s hand, there are some things that I learned over my four years here.

10. Thou Shalt Get Involved

I know, I know. You have heard this from every professor since your freshman seminar class, but it is the truth. Often I have heard, “there is never anything to do around here unless you are in Greek Life.” While I love and respect all my Grecian peeps, there are so many other ways to get involved on campus, from the outdoors club, the harmonic jewels glee club, community service club, and not to mention all our intramural sports. Also remember being in a club is only half the battle. You have to contribute otherwise it will feel like there is no reason to be there, and you might be missing out on meeting some great people.

9. Thou Shalt Cut the Cord

Coming from someone who is extremely close with her family, I understand how hard it can be away from your family in college. It is a big change and there is always the “what if” scenario running the back of every student’s mind (even if we don’t want to admit it). Trust me, there were several days during my freshman year I would have done anything for a hug from Mom. However, remember you are in college to make something on your own, to grow up and be independent. That doesn’t mean you completely have to shut your parents or siblings out to have your space, but you also don’t have to go home every weekend either.

“It is important to test your wings,” said Lorna Schmidt, professor of communication. “So getting away from your parents gives you the opportunity to do that. Then when the parents still call, I usually have a tendency to email the student saying, ‘Your mom, or your dad called,’ and then the student usually takes it upon themselves to say, ‘okay, I’ll take care of it.’ ”

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Storing Data in DNA

From a blade of grass to the wing of a falcon, to the seed of a coconut to the stem cells in your bone marrow, almost all known life uses DNA as an instruction manual of sorts to carry out its representative functions. Recently, a team of biomedical engineers at Harvard led by Nick Goldman has successfully stored 739 kilobytes of hard-disk storage into synthetic DNA, sequenced it, and recovered the original content with 100 percent accuracy, according to Nature.

So what really is DNA? It is an acronym for deoxyribonucleic acid, a double-helical molecule that is found in the nucleus of our cells. Its hereditary nature manifests itself as one copy of a person’s genes are inherited by his or her mother, and the other from the father. Genes are linear segments on the DNA molecule that provide a blueprint of protein synthesis accomplished by an intermediary known as RNA, ribonucleic acid from an alphabet of four nucleic bases known as A, T, G, and C. The proteins synthesized therein take control of a myriad functions inside our body such as antibodies for the immune response to pathogens, enzymes for metabolic regulation, and hemoglobin for oxygen delivery, to name a few.

Goldman’s team encoded 5.2 million bits of information into DNA and developed a new code in which every byte (a string of eight ones or zeroes) was represented by a word of five letters that were each A, T, G, or C. The team broke the DNA into overlapping strings, each 117 letters long and indexed the information to show the respective location in the general code. The system was managed in such a way that the data was encoded in partially overlapping strings such that any errors in one string would be cross-checked against the other three strings. The strings were synthesized by Agilent Technologies in Santa Clara, CA and shipped to the researchers who were then able to reconstruct the files with complete accuracy.

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Movin’ On Up: Preparing for Sophomore Year

Declaring Majors, Minors and More

In a few short weeks students will be picking their new classes for the 2014-2015 school year.  For freshmen this is especially important because this also means transitioning to a new academic advisor and possibly changing or declaring a major.

Misty Hinshillwood, a freshman, explained that she came to the University undecided, but quickly chose a major. “When I started here, I was unsure what I wanted to do but then I saw how all the humanities courses fit together,” she said. “This made me decide to choose to major in politics and minor in philosophy even though I have enjoyed all the courses in this area.”

The first year in college is an opportunity for many students to try different courses to see what area of study will best fit their interests and strengths and try to help them decide on a potential major to declare prior to becoming a sophomore. While the University does not require that students declare a major until the end of their sophomore year, the sooner they start, the better.

The office of first year advising services helps students decide on which major is best for them if they are unsure and allows them to take career and interest inventory tests to help them decide on a possible major. When freshmen prepare to become sophomores, they have an advisor from their respective major. Sometimes a faculty member from the major area will be the advisor if one is declared prior to starting college.

Assistant Dean of the School of Humanities, Golam Mathbor noted that he sees a significant increase in a student’s confidence level from freshman to sophomore year. “I feel students have a smooth transition because they know more about the resources available to help them,” said Mathbor.

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No Plans? No Problem! How to Spice Up Your Spring Break

As we hit the mid-point of the spring semester (if you can even call it spring), students are navigating through midterms, anxiously waiting for summer, and of course gearing up for spring break. If you are like me, those nine days are full of glorious naps, Netflix binging and possibly a little spring-cleaning. Others are packing their bags and heading for warmer waters for some fun in the sun. However, if you have no plans whatsoever, have no fear, for there are plenty of local trips and activities to partake in during spring break.

One of the many great things about living in a metropolitan area is there are several day trip activities that you can take. With Philadelphia and NY only a train ride or car trip away, there is no reason you have to sit at home during spring break. While day trips may not be as exciting as Cabo or FL, if you are limited to where you can go, it can turn a boring week at home into a series of mini adventures with friends or family.

“Anything that takes you out of your daily schedule is a treat and should be appreciated,” said Robyn Asaro, Assistant Director of Study Abroad. “Whether it’s bike riding on Sandy Hook or studying abroad in Australia. One benefits by living more in the moment and seeing life through ‘new eyes,’” she said.

And there are several things you can do, especially on a budget. If you love the arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC is filled with different pieces spanning across cultures and centuries from the Egyptians to the Renaissance era. The museum takes donations instead of having ticket prices, so along as you make some sort of donation you can spend hours in the Museum, never seeing the same piece twice.

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The Seven Deadly Sins of College

The lifestyle of any college student can be difficult to conceptualize in its entirety. From cursing at your alarm clock for not allowing you to attain more than five hours of sleep, to trying to find the perfect time to cuddle up next to the remote controller, college is often a tug of war game between what students need and what students want.

There are constant forces in play that are guiding students in their decision making processes. So with a tip of the hat to Dante Alighieri and his Divine Comedy, here are the seven sins that seem to capture college students into a web of marionette strings and manipulate them like dolls throughout their four years.

Lust

The obsession with personal gratification or pleasure, that doesn’t necessarily need to be sexual, is lust. The football player that you can’t seem to take your eyes off of as you see him sprint off to the locker room or the sorority girl whose triad of letters glistens in the sunlight as she prances to class.

Every person has desired a fellow classmate because some aspect catches their eyes more than any other. Whether it is a simple hook-up or an urge to embark in a committed relationship, students lust for attention.

According to Dr. Gary Lewandowski, Chair of the Psychology Department, a sociological study using the General Social Survey comparing hook-up rates among today’s students with students from a decade ago found that both groups reported similar rates of hooking up. He said that 31.9 percent of students from 1988 - 1996 reported having more than one sexual partner in the past year, differing only by 0.3 percent today. Regardless of the decade, this excessive sexual appetite for the campus cutie seems intoxicating.

Envy

The mean, green, jealous machine. Envy is having an unusually obsessive fascination with another  individual to the point of developing a strong jealousy towards them. 

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Breaking Bad Habits

Bad habits. They start pretty much as soon as we’re old enough to walk, whether it’s sucking on our thumbs or not sharing our toys. As we get a little older, the habits change, for example, my younger brother used to color himself with markers every time someone was in plain site. A habit he luckily grew out of. As we get even older, the habits can be little things we don’t even notice, like chewing with our mouths open, or worse habits, like smoking or drinking all the time. Even if you have a clean record, can anyone truthfully say that they do not have bad habits?

I thought about my bad habits as I sat in class one day, pulling my split ends apart and picking at my nails. These are two things I do when I’m nervous or anxious about something, or if I’m just really bored. Are they the worst bad habits I could have? Probably not. But I now have nubs as nails, so I should probably stop anyway.

No one is perfect, everyone has a bad habit they know they should get rid of. Everyone does something that isn’t great for them or that bothers someone else. Bad habits are something we pick up on as we grow, and since everyone has their own little quirks, just how bad are bad habits?

Junior Regina Zucchi said, “Bad habits are a comfort zone and as soon as you break those habits, you break out of your comfort zone. It’s a hard thing to do because it’s a change in your life, and change is hard for some people.”

Junior Lauren Walsh, agreed. “I think it’s easiest to break a bad habit if your gradually try to give the habit up a little bit at a time, rather than try to break it suddenly. I think if you give yourself time to adjust, you will be a lot more successful in breaking it.”

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The Spring Break SlumpIt

It is almost time for a much needed break from school and for some, a fun get away with friends. But with an abundance of snow days putting classes behind on work and nine more weeks after break to cram in work, there is still a long way to go.

Kylie Powell, a freshman, knows a few tips to ensure she does not get affected by this.  “I always make a to-do list to prioritize what must get done, however, for many this means that summer vacation is around the corner and they start to fall behind,” said Powell.

Freshman Noel Labb also feels the same way, though the slump does take its toll on her.  “It affects me a little, I try to stay motivated knowing I’m almost done with the semester,” she said.

It is important to remember that Spring Break, while associated with a week off, is actually a mid-semester break like fall break is in October, though this one is a bit longer. This means that work is still in progress in the semester and with the rough winter, more work may be assigned this year.

Sophomore Stephanie Mamo feels her work load is actually balanced.  “A few of my classes are hybrid and online so the work kind of balanced out and was completed online during snow days as a result,” she explained.

Some students feel that their work ethic actually increases between spring break and summer.  Junior Lauren Muffley said, “I actually think that work ethic increases after spring break. It’s right after we get our midterm grades back and usually a lot of projects and papers are due right after the break. It gives students a chance to make up for any lost points they may have had before break.”

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Chris Miller: A Voice for Disabilities

Interning in Washington and working with the Chinese Ministry on Civil Affairs are accomplishments worth bragging about for any college student. But for Chris Miller, a political science major, such an experience was much more significant.

Miller has Cerebral Palsy, a group of developmental disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and develops in the brain during pregnancy or shortly after birth, according to cerebralpalsy.org. He is able to move in a motorized wheelchair but requires assistance for some daily tasks that most others might find simple.

Having a disability, however, is an obstacle that Miller overcomes with passion, motivation and drive. Not only does he pursue his own dreams and ambitions, but he encourages others with disabilities to do the same through a presentation he calls, “Voice on Wheels.”

Through this presentation Miller teaches others about “people first language,” meaning that the person should come before the disability in conversation. He explains in “Voice on Wheels” that disabilities are something that people have and are not defining labels. For example, we should not say that someone is disabled, but rather they have a disability.

Serving as the Vice Chair of the NJ Council for Developmental Disabilities, Miller is able to teach people on campus as well as in the state capitol of Trenton about disabilities. After meeting Advocacy Training Coordinator Dennie Todd in Atlantic City, NJ, he was invited to participate in a program called Partners in Policy Making which is a leadership training program where he also teaches person first language.

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Starbucks vs. Local NJ Coffee Shops

Local coffee shops can’t compete with the big chains on visibility, marketing and brand-name recognition. But what really counts, they say, is what’s in the cup, and that’s where they think they can hold their own.

North Jersey coffee shop owners are spending more time- and money- focusing on getting better coffee beans, and sometimes roasting their own. And they’re also reaching out into their communities, building relationships, name recognition and their own brand of loyalty with their best customers.

It isn’t easy, in a saturated market where the big name retailers like Starbucks, with 47 stores in Bergen and Passaic counties, and Dunkin’ Donuts, with 50, seem to be on every corner. They’re competing for an ever-increasing number of people seeking their daily caffeine fix. The National Coffee Association’s latest survey last Sept. showed that 83 percent of adults in the United States drank coffee in one form or another, up five percent from 2012, and one third of consumers drink a “gourmet” coffee each day, or something other than your average blend.

That’s not news to Terry Jung, co-owner of Ridgewood Coffee Co.

“We are in the third generation of coffee consumption,” said Jung, who purchased the Ridgewood, NJ, shop in Dec. “Coffee started with the daily, instant-style dollar-fifty kind of coffee. Then it moved to the Starbucks-style, which educated customers to pay more. Now we are where customers know and understand coffee, and are willing to pay more. But we want to be more than that; we want them to taste and see why.”

Soon after buying the business, Jung upgraded the quality of its coffee beans, to put his coffee a “step above” the coffee joints he was familiar with. The shop now serves Chicago-based Intelligentsia brand coffee and espresso, which was rated the 10th-best coffee roaster by USA Today. Jung pays $25 to $30 per pound of coffee, up about five percent from what the previous owner was paying. He said the coffee beans account for 25 percent of the store’s expenses each month.

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The Winter Olympics Call Attention to the Genetics of Risk Taking

The Winter Olympics have brought upon us a generation of seemingly fearless athletes intent on advancing through extreme feats such as snowboarding and slopestyle and half-pipe skiing. The intensity with which these athletes train to ultimately endanger their lives for the sake of the sport truly makes us wonder, what is the inherent difference between these risk taking competitors and the rest of the masses content with simply watching them on TV? The answer may verily lie within our DNA.

Debate over the environment being the sole mold of our personalities is shifted in this argument by a recent genetics study revealing specific genes. These genes are responsible for an individual’s tendency for sensation seeking by pursuing thrilling experiences and taking risks to that effect.

The gene activity promoting risk taking has been linked to the varying levels of dopamine in our brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is very involved in reward-motivated behavior. Additionally, dopamine is associated with the pleasure centers of the brain so the increased release of the neurotransmitter by athletes participating in risky sports promotes their activities further.

The intrigue of such genetics studies however, lies within the evident difference in how dopamine is processed by those who are risk takers and those who are satisfied with just watching. The answer to this lies in a variation of the DRD4 gene which is closely related to the function of dopamine and its connection to risky behavior.

A sophomore clinical lab science major Kerianne Fuoco, said, “It is not surprising that there is a genetic basis to risk taking behavior since other aspects of individuals’ personalities, like temperament, have already been discovered to have a biological link.” She added, “It will be interesting to see if more evidence for the connection between the DRD4 gene and risk taking is revealed as further experiments come to fruition.”

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Transfer Services Makes Monmouth Home to New Students

Attending a new school can be a nerve wracking situation for many. It is a new surrounding with new people, new schedules and new experiences to adjust to. For transfer students at institutions all over, this is a commonly shared feeling of anxiety.

At the University, the transfer process is made easier on students, and it is all due to the  people at the core of Undeclared-Transfer Services. Located in the Center for Student Success, they work daily in order to ease this transition. After all, most students would not ever know where to begin when it comes to transferring in credits or even making their academic schedule.

Comprised of Dean Mercy Azeke, Assistant Dean Jean Judge, Student Development Counselors Lori Lichter and Jean-Marie Delao, Coordinator of Undeclared Majors and Transfer Program Sherry McHeffy and Assistant to the Dean Karen Wallendeal, Transfer Services does its part to assist transfer and undeclared students. Each weekday, they can be found smiling and opening their doors to new students.

Sophomores are able to be advised as “undeclared” students in this department up until they have reached 58 credits. Upon this completion of credits, then it is time to choose a major. Deciding on which major is a best fit can be difficult, but Azeke and her team strive to help this decision flow nicely and help to understand every individual’s passions, which make for another milestone in academics.

New transfer students are in luck as well. The counselors assist with setting up appointments with a student’s department advisor, evaluate credit transfers, aid with transitional concerns and are also available during each Fall and Spring Transfer Orientation. To top it all off, Delao is the advisor for the Transfer Student Connection Club, which helps students not only to make friends, but to ask questions pertaining to transitioning at the University and more. Meetings are currently held every other Wednesday, in Edison 113 and are open to everybody, whether students have transferred here from a former institution or not.

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Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey
07764

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu